Thursday, February 3, 2011


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Terumah

30 Shevat 5771/Febuary 4, 2011

Rosh Chodesh Adar I

Recently, I was walking by a non-kosher bakery and peered in the window to see their samples of pastries. Just then a young boy walking with his father – both of whom did not appear to be Jewish - asked his father if he can have some cookies. The man replied, in a voice loud enough that I could hear, “Oh no, we can’t eat that it’s not kosher.” He winked at me and then moved on. From his appearance it didn’t seem like he was too particular about eating only kosher; his son didn’t seem to know what that even meant.

Why do people feel the need to demonstrate their Jerwishness?

Just this week Chani and I were passing a fruit-drink stand during our mid-winter break and stopped to analyze the ingredients of a drink to see if it had kosher certification. There was a man sitting at the counter by himself, sipping a drink. After we had finished analyzing the box he looked up and asked us what the criteria is to make food kosher. After we finished giving him the ‘kosher in ten seconds’ speech, he gave us a rundown of his political views regarding the Palestinians, Iran, and the mistakes America is making by not being more supportive of Israel. He then quipped that he really likes the Jews. “You guys are like a club. If you need a plumber you’ll call your buddy and he’ll come do it. Then if he needs someone to fix his roof he’ll call his buddy. And then when the roof guy needs an electrician he’ll call you if that’s what you do. Because you’re all part of the club.

“Let me tell you something: I’m not Jewish but I went with a Jewish girl named Eileen. I spoiled her rotten and we had a great relationship. But her father would hear none of it and he sent me packing. Now both of us are alone. But I knew there was nothing to talk about, because I’m not part of the club.

“You guys take care of each other, and now that’s nice. We’d be a lot better off in this country if everyone would be a little less selfish.”

Although we were more than ready to get out of there when he finally finished his speech, we appreciated his candid portrayal of our interaction as a people. Kosher, Shabbos, Tefillin, Davening, and on some level even ‘Zei gezunt’, it all makes us belong to a regal club. And a club takes care of each other. So even an individual who doesn’t have the education, or perhaps the fortitude, to express his Jewishness externally, wants other Jews to know that technically he belongs; he’s a card-carrying member of the club.

So now whenever someone makes a ‘Jewish comment’ or wishes us ‘zei gezunt’, we understand that he/she wants us to know that he/she is a member of the club. And when we got into an elevator and an elderly woman began telling us about all the shuls her son davens in we knew that she too wanted us to know that she is in the club!

Welcome to the club!

Good Chodesh

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum