Columns - 2002

    Judaism in Jeopardy

    By Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    Violence in the Middle East. Violins during shabbat services. Vile inns booked at the last minute for out-of-town bar mitzvah guests.

    These are just a few of the countless perilous issues that face the Judaic world today. There are others, though the rest of them are not nearly as homophonic (and mostly not homophobic).

    With the state of the world and the random senseless acts of senselessness that have people incensed as they burn their incense, I must give my two cents. I sense that there are those who say that we've gotten to a point where the very existence of Judaism is in jeopardy. That being the case, there's only one thing to do:

    Take "Judaic Holidays" for $200.

    Answer: Most Jews are actually saying a blessing while sitting down for a meal.
    Question: Why is this night different from all other nights?

    A: It's the one day of the year when Jews are supposed to focus on one huge money raising effort.
    Q: What is Super Sunday?

    A: It's the one day of the year when Jews are actually focused on a very large money raising bonanza.
    Q: What is Super Bowl Sunday?

    A: It's the way that your grandmother would covertly try to find out if your girlfriend is Jewish.
    Q: What is "what's her last name?"

    A: Christina McPherson.
    Q: What would be a really good name to give your Jewish daughter if you want to mess with the head of someone's grandmother in the future?

    A: It's a tragedy.
    Q: What is eating a bacon cheeseburger pizza on a Friday night?

    A: It's a bigger tragedy.
    Q: What is eating that same pizza on the Friday night during Passover?

    A: It's a you-need-a-real-good-alibi tragedy.
    Q: What is eating that same pizza on the Friday night during Passover with the real Christina McPherson?

    A: It's a Shakespearean tragedy.
    Q: What is you, that pizza, Kol Nidre night, Christina, and two tickets to The Merchant of Venice?

    A: Originally a failed attempt at a band to wear around the waist, it's a group of hotels and bungalow colonies in the Catskills.
    Q: What is the Borscht Belt?

    A: Fast.
    Q: What is the one thing that any fast day is not?

    A: Originally a hairless toupe, this object became a common piece of religious attire.
    Q: What is a kippah?

    A: In Yiddish, it's a yarmulke.
    Q: What is a kippah?

    A: It's a herring or salmon that has been split, salted, and smoked.
    Q: What is a kipper?

    A: It's a mean thing for a synagogue facilities chair to do.
    Q: What is hanging a clock in the sanctuary?

    A: It's a really mean thing for a synagogue facilities chair to do.
    Q: What is hanging an NBA shot clock in the sanctuary with a sign that says "Sermon Time"?

    A: It's your mother's.
    Q: What do you think are the best matzah balls in the world (or else)?

    A: It's the amidah.
    Q: Just as Paul Simon wrote "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover", what could be called "18 Reasons to Stand in Uncomfortable Shoes For a Long Time in Silence"?

    A: It's the literal english translation of the title of the book of Joshua.
    Q: What is "When the Walls Come Tumbling Down"?

    A: It's a person who drives you around town all day.
    Q: What do most people think a shofar is?

    A: Ark.
    Q: What do most people think is the shared last name of Noah and Joan?

    A: Abraham.
    Q: Which patriarch was most likely to think Billy Idol was a smash hit?

    A: A fiddler on the roof.
    Q: Without our traditions, what is life as shaky as?

    A: A fiddler on a hot tin roof.
    Q: Even with our traditions, what are we often as ridiculous as?

    A: It's a common misconception.
    Q: What is people thinking that Joseph's coat of many colors was really in black and white until the mid-1960s?

    A: It's the worst thing that can happen to a nice Jewish boy.
    Q: What is growing up to be a Yankees fan?

    A: Not in my lifetime.
    Q: What did the Big G say when asked recently if he thought there would be peace in the Middle East?

    A: Originally created by a cat shredding people's clothes, it became a piece of religious attire.
    Q: What are tzitzit?

    A: Actually an African bloodsucking fly, it is not an exotic type of moth that attacks Judaic ritual garb.
    Q: What is a tzetze fly?

    A: This question.
    Q: What is the end of this column?

    Doug Brook is a technical writer in Silicon Valley. His play Retrograde is in the 8 Tens @ 8 Festival anthology, available everywhere. For more information, online ordering, an archive of past columns and other writings, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.