Thursday, April 20, 2006

So after doing the seder at home, we did the Pesach at a hotel on the Dead Sea thing. The crowd is the interesting thing at these extravaganzas. It consists mostly of clans headed up by sponsoring patriarchs.

The patriarchs tend to have a lot in common with each other: wealthy enough to afford it, heimish enough to go to a non-gebrocht place with all the usual frumkeiten but modern enough to be willing to eat out of the house on Pesach. Think Eastern European-Belgian-American diamond dealers with homes in Israel.

But time is like a prism that refracts the homogeneous light of the patriarch's generation into distinct colors. The sponsored generations come in three primary colors: American, Israeli and European. But geography isn't the main issue -- we're talking platonic forms that transcend location. Here are the three forms:

Prost Amerikaners -- grossly overweight Yankee fans from Lawrence. They sweep what's left of their hair straight back under quartered leather yarmulkes. Their wives wear expensive hats. They make deals in the jacuzzi. They're cynical about anti-materialism.

Self-righteous Tzionim -- olim to "Aretz" feigning discomfort with the whole bourgeois hotel scene. The men have brooms up their tucheses, the women can tie a head shmatte a hundred ways all of which look like skinned cats and the kids are way funky peyos-growing hippies. They're cynical about materialism.

Pseudo-Yeshivish Eurotrash -- Antwerpian West Side Boro Park Bnei Brakers who are fluent in five languages and illiterate in every one of them. The men wear Italian hats, suits and shoes and big zilbeneh atarahs. They're either learning or in import-export, depending on who's asking, but in fact are loafing and mooching. The women wear long straight sheitlach with wide bands across the front, Barbie make-up and -- this seems to be the key -- perfectly unchanging vacuous expressions showing no sign of affect (apparently a perk of a fully scripted life). They're cynical about materialism and anti-materialism.

Like I say, all these are platonic forms one can only aspire too. Most people take a little something from each column. If you think of the three extreme points as defining a triangle, each person lies somewhere in the triangle. What you want in a hotel crowd is for most people to be closer to the center of the triangle than to any of the corners. If the crowd average is near one corner and you're not there, well, that's about the only thing worse than five days of rain on chol hamoed.

7 Comments:

Blogger garik said...

"cynical about anti-materialism"-the line of the month; way too good to be yours.

As I look in the mirror (just back from such a hotel) I see

paid bill for kids and their kids-check

grossly overweight-check (or at least feels like it, especially after week-long nonstop eat-a-thon)

Yankee fan-check

Lawrence-no (UWS) but plenty were; it probably nosed out UWS and Flatbush as the number one point of origin

hair-sorry, full head and hardly any gray at 50+, eat your heart out

expensive hat- one or two and the wife's shaitlech and falls were what, cheap?

quartered leather yarmulke- black kippah srugah

Jacuzzi- a likelier venue on the Dead Sea then where I was. At my hotel they made deals on the terrace outside the shul overlooking the lake, during davening.

Best post in months.

2:35 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

"way too good to be yours"

Ouch. And, nevertheless, I fargin you your hair ad meah ve'esrim.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Tzemach Atlas said...

ben, you should start putting titles in your posts. This is very important for search and other traffic.

6:51 AM  
Anonymous yehupitz said...

"The women wear long straight sheitlach with wide bands across the front, Barbie make-up and -- this seems to be the key -- perfectly unchanging vacuous expressions showing no sign of affect (apparently a perk of a fully scripted life)."

ROFL! The wittiest and most insightful line on the blogosphere in weeks! (A line befitting Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand would be proud.)

5:03 PM  
Blogger Jonathan B. Horen said...

"...perfectly unchanging vacuous expressions showing no sign of affect (apparently a perk of a fully scripted life)."

More likely, the side-effects of long-term medication; Xanax, Zoloft, and Prozac are pretty big in that community.

Does "Stepford Wives" ring a bell?

6:59 PM  
Blogger meryl said...

great post. this is a breath of fresh air. but now that you're dishing out the well-deserved ridicule, how bout offering a shmaltz free paradigm?

3:53 AM  
Blogger Mata Hari said...

Love this post. Very well written. Sad that so many people can fit into these narrow stereotypes - but don't forget to look beneath the surface. There may be more depth than you think. You don't want to get too cynical about people

3:33 PM  

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