Monday, December 06, 2004

I'm still dreydling around in New York (rather unproductively). A few short notes:

Last Monday in vaadat chukah in the Knesset, the cat came out of the bag. The discussion involved minority rights in the constitution. The offer put on the table was full equality for all citizens, collective rights for minorities (Arabs) in exchange for recognition that Israel is a Jewish State. All the Arabs -- including MKs and reps of groups funded by American Jews through the New Israel Fund -- declined the offer. It's time liberal Jews who think they're funding the Arab equivalents of Martin Luther King wake up to reality.

I spent shabbos with my parents in The Neighborhood Where I Grew Up. Friday night I tagged along for a gathering of their friends of many decades. A dozen refugees in their 70s, without benefit of any formal education, Jewish or secular. They put their kids' generation to shame. The number of places they've lived, languages they've spoken, experiences they've endured is simply of a different order of magnitude. Girsa deyankusa -- pesukim, midrashim, chassidishe stories -- roll off their tongues effortlessly. The group included people who've worked for a salary their whole lives as well as some of the richest people in the world. There is no way a stranger could have known who was who. It also included some women who cover their hair and some who don't. (There is no way a stranger could have known who was who.) I like them.

True confession. The best part of this trip was walking around Manhattan taking in the "Holiday" atmosphere. Gevalt, do those goyim know how to throw a yontif! I stepped into a certain upscale department store on 3rd Avenue near 60th Street (Note to Mr. B: you want advertising here, you'll have to pay for it). From the Salvation Army bells out front to the buzz inside, from the store decorations to the background music, it was perfect. The smell of chestnuts at the corner vendors, the likes of Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis crooning seasonal nigunim -- is this just nostalgia or does somebody here know the melacha? A far cry from those thin-lipped Catholics in weird costumes intoning in Latin about dominoes. That's just plain spooky.

In case you're wondering what I was doing in that particular upscale store, that's a Novardek story. I used to be very bashful about buying things that women usually buy for themselves (if you get my drift here). I've "worked on myself" (to use the felicitous phrase of the American pseudo-mussarniks I'm glad to have escaped) to overcome this bashfulness. This effort has proved so successful, that I've become downright brazen. I'm beginning to enjoy it and even the sales ladies seem charmed. (I'd try asking for nails in a pharmacy just to test my limits, except that nowadays they have them, so the exercise seems pointless. You think they started carrying them because of all those Novardekers?)

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah... Ben. I miss Manhattan during the yontif season! The storefronts on 5th Ave (even the inevitable Lubavitch dislpay in whatever vacant venue that has gone belly up that year)... the smells... the garlands hanging from all the light poles... and especially the music.

I just cued up Vince Guarldi's A Charlie Brown Xmas soundtrack in my office!

Do me a favor... go pay retail for something and have me in mind.

~treppenwitz~

3:18 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

It's a shame your trip has been unproductive in light of your Friday night spent with some big time givirim.

Nisht Shabbos Geret?

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

now the novardoker all get online and work on telling the whole world what presents they buy for their wives.

4:59 AM  
Blogger DovBear said...

A question awaits Ben Chorin here

11:01 PM  

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