It’s Jewish Book Week.

February 26, 2010

Here’s one.

Bought Ledger. Goldberg the upholsterer.

Happy Purim to everyone.

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A guide to orthodox weddings.

February 22, 2010

I’ve attended a Hindu Annaprashan, a Catholic wake and even a Zoroastrian Navjote ceremony.  However, none of these events left me feeling quite as much an outsider as the ultra-orthodox Jewish wedding I attended recently.

At a non-Jewish function I can get away with making mistakes.  If I do I’ll be politely guided in the right direction, usually the bar, but with Jews I feel I should know better, and I don’t.

Here follows what advice I can offer based on my limited experience.

The fundamental differences between frum and mainstream Jewish weddings are worth noting.  Firstly, there is no free kippah at a frum wedding.  It is assumed you will bring your own.   Make sure you do so. You do get benchers but they’re of no use because there’s no English to tell you which bits to skip. Bensching is virtually impossible to follow because everyone goes solo after the first few words. The way to handle this is to “humble” (that’s mumbling and humming at the same time), tap the table after about 4 minutes then humble again for a minute.  You’ll know when the bensching is over because riotous singing begins.

Also, the food at the simcha I attended was so unbelievably glatt kosher that those of us who are less observant were provided with an individually wrapped and sealed non-kosher meal.

Should you ever find yourself at a frum function you’ll notice that most people spend the entire time on their mobile phones. The reason is that a person never sees his or her spouse.  The phone is the way by which a wife finds out what is happening on her husband’s side of the mechitsa, and how a husband finds out when he’s supposed to leave.

Non-orthodox women who wish to fit in should tug at their hair every now and again.  This will make it look as if they are wearing a sheitl.  Pretending to be wearing a sheitl does not, however, remove the requirement for a woman to cover her hair.  Double cover is the height of fashion in chassidishe circles.

Finally, instead of an embarrassing best man’s speech (so you see, charedi weddings do have something to commend them), you are treated to a series of interminable droshas delivered by various rabbis and heads of yeshivas, largely in a language I call  “100mph Yiddish”. Each will pound on about the groom: he’s a talmud chocham, such chesed, a good son, he’s sure to make a fine husband, etc.

Similarly, the bride will be lauded: her father is a talmud chocham, such chesed, a fine father, etc.

But let’s not dwell too long on the girl.  Let’s talk about the marvellous groom.  A talmud chocham, such chesed…

It’s not polite to leave during the speeches so order your taxi for no earlier than 2am.  Sorry.


New incentives for those making aliyah announced.

February 18, 2010

The Israeli Government has announced a new scheme aimed at encouraging diaspora Jews to take up their “right to return”  and emigrate to Israel.

Minister for Immigrant Absorption, Sofa Landver, announced the incentives this week saying:

“In spite of international criticism, the Government of Israel is committed to its policy of fighting our enemies on all fronts.  The doors remain open for a diplomatic solution, our military and intelligence operations continue to protect our nation, and we have always seen immigration as playing a crucial role in ensuring that Israel remains a vibrant and safe haven for all Jews.”

The Yisrael Beiteinu MK continued, “The new initiative I am pleased to announce today takes the unprecedented step of offering new immigrants the opportunity to make aliyah and in return we will make it possible for them to travel to other parts of the world without having to leave their home.  This wonderful opportunity has been made possible after months of careful planning between the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and another government organisation that, at this time, prefers to be unnamed.”

When asked if that unnamed department was intelligence agency, Mossad, a government spokesman stepped in to say “There is no evidence that the Israeli Government had anything to do with the death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, if that’s what you’re getting at”.

So far, only Dubai has been named as one of the places new Olim will be visiting, or at least, some recent immigrants had visited Dubai.  It’s not known if there will be further opportunities to go there, however, Ms Landver stressed that it was likely that some would be able to stay at home while visiting the Palestinian Territories and there’s every chance they’d be able to go nowhere while on missions, correction, holiday in places as far away as Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.


My wife likes a drink after a long day.

February 8, 2010

She has a drink problem and I don’t know what to do about it.

She doesn’t drink that much. We have a well stocked drinks cabinet that contains pretty much the same bottles that it has contained since we got married. The cherry brandy has hardly been touched. The Advocaat gets sniffed once in a blue moon. There are a few decent bottles of whisky that get to blink every now and again when they are brought out into the light and there’s a large bottle of Cointreau that my wife bought for a desert she was experimenting with. Judging by how much is left in the bottle it must have been one of her rare failed culinary experiments. In the fridge sits plenty of beer and there’s always the odd bottle of new world wine knocking around.

Oh, and there’s some green stuff. Neither of us has a clue what it is. I’m not even sure it was green when we first acquired it.

You’d have thought that would be a sufficient range from which to find something to flop down with after a long day having her nails painted, but no. What’s her tipple of choice? Kiddush wine.

She likes the sweetness. Is there any other component to kiddush wine?

She tells me it’s cheap and it’s kosher so why am I complaining?

I wasn’t complaining until this Friday evening when I went to fill the bechers for dinner and found that the last bottle of kiddush wine was empty. I was furious. Friday night dinner without proper, horrible kiddush wine is not Friday night dinner. We may as well have cancelled Shabbat.

Saying the bracha over a Snowball isn’t quite the same is it?