Columns - 1997

    Mezuzapalooza '97

    by Doug Brook
    Southern Shofar Columnist

    By popular request, and just in time for the Christmas shopping season, The Beholder's Eye presents live coverage of Mezuzapalooza '97 -- the largest festival of innovative Jewish gift ideas ever to be reported in this month's column.

    After combing several malls, crafts fairs, and her hair, our investigative mole has assembled this product information to help you bring a little more flair to your Chanukah celebration.

    (Technically, this is not true. The Party-Popper Menorah, very popular with the kids, had to be pulled from our review because of allegations that it violates certain strategic arms limitation treaties.)

    The popularity of these items is such that we guarantee you won't find any of these gifts in stock at your Temple gift shops or other fine stores. Nevertheless, we'll report these hard-to-find items just in case you're lucky enough to find one to put under the Menorah of a (soon to be ex-) loved one.

    Motion Detector Mezuzah. According to Exodus, the Israelites covered their doorposts in blood so the angel of death would pass over their homes and spare them of the tenth and most devastating plague: A PC with Windows 95 pre-installed.

    The blood was actually a ruse. The angel of death was somewhat forgetful, so the blood was used to convince him that he'd already been there (that they'd already called Microsoft technical support, gotten frustrated, driven to Seattle, kidnapped the tech support consultant, and returned home to mutilate his body).

    Since then, the mezuzah has hung on the doorposts of many homes, buildings, public schools, and federal courthouses; its purpose still is to ward off evil spirits and UPS carriers bearing overdue Microsoft upgrades.

    How does the Mezuzah counteract Microsoft products? Simple. It contains a small scroll recounting the biblical declaration that there is only one Lord, His last name is not Gates, and He does not try to push a monopoly on the rest of the world.

    Originally designed to keep away the angel of death and other evil spirits, the mezuzah is still ineffective against one nefarious species: Annual Campaign solicitors. Sources at the ADL (the Anti-Donation League), who conducted the 12-year study, were unavailable for comment due to a sudden meeting to restructure their fundraising strategy.

    But fear no more. The Motion Detector Mezuzah (MDM), easily installed upon the doorposts of thy house and upon thy gates, will warn you when solicitors approach. The MDM hooks directly into your house's electrical system. Upon the first sign of trouble it turns off all TVs, Nintendos, and lights in rooms with open windows facing the street, so it appears that nobody is home. The MDM detects when the intruder has left and automatically returns your house to its normal state. It even lets you resume play on your Nintendo where you left off.

    In the spirit of tradition, each MDM comes with a traditional parchment inside, and a small vial of blood taken from a Microsoft technical support consultant.

    Beenie Baby Beanies. The Beenie Baby Beanie is a miniature of the traditional Jewish beanie (Yiddish for "yarmulke"). In the past (1996), it was alleged that beanies were worn by Jews to cover our horns. As we all know, this is untrue. That's what tefillin straps are for. Beanies were, in fact, the precursor to the modern toupee.

    The Beenie Baby Beanie is approximately the size of a thumbtack, which is convenient because each Beenie Baby Beanie comes with a stylish thumbtack to hold it in place. The manufacturer hopes that this will encourage more Jews to be comfortable enough to wear a symbol of their Judaism in public without the fear of anyone actually noticing it.

    Latke Liniment. Suffer no longer from grease-burned tongues on Hanukah! Latke Liniment is a special ointment, the formula for which was taken directly from the Mishnah tractate Baba Gump. The official hechsher is pending on Latke Liniment because of rumors that shrimp is the active ingredient in the formula.

    Womenorah. For those of you who want inclusion for the four foremothers with the three forefathers (you do the math), this year we have a new, gender-specific candle holder for the holiday season. On a Menorah, you add candles from right to left, but light them left to right. In the tradition of Moses waiting 40 years before asking for directions in the Sinai, there have never been any instructions provided on a Menorah. The Womenorah changes that with handy directions etched artistically onto each candleholder. A map is included on the base to add to any confusion.

    These are the top products of this season. Honorable mention goes out to other worthy products, including: Missile Toe -- the real way to keep warm during the holiday season; the Tickle-Me-Maccabi doll, and the new seasonal music collection "Jingle vat? Oy, ve!".

    These are the new products this year. Get them while they're hot, but before they burn anything down.

    We conclude today's service with a ritual lesson:

    On Purim, it is custom to drink until you can no longer tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai. Whether this refers to alcohol or dizziness from being water-logged is the subject of rabbinic debate. Hannukah is customarily the holiday for people who can't tell the difference between 7 and 9 when sober (or dehydrated).

    Repeat after me: A "menorah" has 7 candles, a "chanukiah" has 9. We light a chanukiah on each night of Chanuka, we light a menorah under the Christmas tree at the office holiday party.

    Doug Brook is a technical writer in Silicon Valley who is strongly considering having his investigative mole surgically removed.

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.