Columns - 2003

    Statue of Limitations

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    Many of us recently sat (stood, sat, stood, bowed, and sat) through another series of High Holy Day services, the holiest services of the year that money can buy admission to. Included in the Rosh Hashanah services were the usual traditions of hearing the shofar (except on Saturday, due to a contractual day off for the Shofar Blower's Local 103) and the congregational re-enactment of the Exodus immediately after the sermon.

    As Shakespeare once wrote, "A Rosh, by any other name... is known by many other names." And it's true. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah (literally, "head of the year") is also known as Yom T'ruah (the day of truth), Yom Hadin (the day of a moderate din reverberating throughout the sanctuary for the entire service, not just from the teenagers in the back), and Yom Hazikaron (I don't remember why).

    I was gratified to learn on the first day of Rosh Hashanah that the Big G sometimes smiles over me, and not always while laughing. (He spends the rest of His time over me reading this column).

    While Jews throughout the southeast languished in ignorance through sermons as their teams took the field, I was two hours behind. I'd miss only the first half of Alabama-Arkansas.

    I got home to learn (thanks to my shabbos goy/cat turning on CBS for me) that Al Mighty rained down thunder and lightning upon Tuscaloosa exactly long enough for me to help keep a minyan at the end of the Rosh Hashanah service at the largest temple in the South Bay, and still catch the opening kickoff.

    To start the second half, He breathed life into His mighty Tide. Then, during the second overtime, the Big G didst grin, and hadeth a bit too much fun.

    And that was most definitely the wrong time for a 20-year-old with a history of wrecking cars to ask his father for a new car. If this was Texas, the only charge brought against the father would be for missing.

    But anyway, as everyone in the state of Alabama knows, everyone outside of the state of Alabama now knows Alabama for yet another dubious distinction. Mississippi and our newest readers in the Florida panhandle can rejoice once again at the presence of our state borders.

    Yes, before anyone could pass a gag order, the final score of the Northern Illinois game had gotten to the news wires.

    But we're not here to talk about that. After all, the only thing Jewish about anything on the football field is a few of the team doctors and people holding microphones.

    Before you go knocking college football, though, remember that it provided a significant service to congregations nationwide. People at fall Saturday morning services who practice the time-honored tradition of sneaking a radio with an earplug in their tallis bags needed some cover. Thus was created the assisted listening device.

    After months of painstaking research, our investigative mole discovered several subtle ways to tell if someone's using an ALD or listening to another painful LOSS:

    • Is the congregant awake during the sermon?
    • Does the congregant look like he's paying attention to the rabbi? (If so, he's listening to the game and pretending.)
    • Does the congregant look angry or sad? (If so, he's an Alabama fan.)
    • Is the person pretending to use an ALD eleven years old?

    But we're not here to talk about football all day. There's not enough beer in your refrigerator. (You should fix that. Seriously.)

    We're here to discuss the other reason Alabama is once again famous for the wrong reasons.

    As I cruised last month through Alaska in search of the mythical kosher moose, the United States Court of Appeals ruled that the Ten Commandments cannot be taken for granite. This was a significant setback for Judge Roy Moore and his supporters who feel that these ancient biblical edicts are more monumental.

    The newly, allegedly-elected governor of Alabama, whose victory confirmation was left hanging longer than a semi-perforated chad in Dade County, came out in support of Mr. Moore's initiative.

    Since then, a significant majority of state voters came out against his constitutional referendum. Since only one of five CPAs even understood the amendment, it doesn't take Joseph to interpret the meaning of that little dream.

    Alabama, if you need any tips on how to run a recall election, write to California. We'll tell you in exacting detail precisely how to make it as painful and costly as possible.

    Of course, the entire issue is one of mixing church and state which, according to the U.S.S. Constitution's Bill of Lading, is about as proper as mixing milk and meat.

    (Wait a minute. Cheeseburgers are yummy. I mean, so I'm told. Hmm... Better analogies... mixing Alabama and Auburn fans into the same gene pool? Coke and Pepsi? Jack Daniels and Diet Rite? Politics and Jewish satire?)

    The large clear glass windows and doors of the state judicial building where the monument resided were conveniently symbolic of Mr. Moore's desire to have no barriers between the bible and... anything.

    His piece of stonework (Aramaic for "the brainchild of someone who must have been stoned"), actually managed to take up residence for about two years before its exodus.

    (I throw in words like exodus so people reading this who think I have no idea what I'm talking about can realize that I know biblical stuff. As Leviticus said as he created algebra in the book of Numberology, "do unto others so they won't do on you.")

    Protestors, driven by the consensus opinion that less is Moore, had several choice words for the target of their disdain. One short, round-headed kid in a yellow shirt was seen leaving the scene muttering one word, "blockhead."

    Fortunately, we were still within the statute of limitations on addressing this statue of limitations on the separation of church and state. More legal minds prevailed and the statue was escorted out.

    Of course, the ruling in this unappealing affair was appealed, though the U.S. Supreme Court decided to not get caught between that rock and hard place.

    Meanwhile, up in Birmingham, the mighty statue Vulcan just resumed his pedestal after an extended sabbatical and some reconstructive surgery. Word from Montgomery is that there might be some spare rocks available for use on the refurbished anvil.

    Let's rock.

    Doug Brook is a technical writer in Silicon Valley who is actually more embarrassed when asked to explain the Northern Illinois or Arkansas game than the statue. His play Retrograde, which is in the 8 Tens @ 8 Festival anthology, last fall had its professional New York premiere on 42nd Street. For more information, past columns, other writing, and other current events, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.