Columns - 2005

    Bubbe, You Can Drive My Car

    As long as there have been automobiles in the world, there have been Jews driving them.

    While many Jews would prefer that their cars be convertible rather than their children, little attention is paid to the Jewish automotive experience. Until now.

    "Oy vey! What the h*ll's the matter with you, you g****m meshugena sch***k!"

    This, and not the weather, is why you don't see people drive in Manhattan with the top down.

    But have you ever wondered what it would be like if Jews controlled Detroit, Japan, and Germany the way we control Hollywood and Washington?

    (I mean, the way we "allegedly, yet are erroneously said to control." Phew. Almost gave away The Big Secret in print there, didn't I?)

    But think about it. Soccer moms across the country would be driving miniyans, capable of transporting at least ten people in comfort.

    The seat belts would be elongated tefillin straps, and it would be possible to actually conduct a morning or afternoon minyan while vanpooling for work. You'd just have to ensure you're driving due east at the proper times. (Good luck with the Torah readings on Monday and Thursday mornings.)

    In Texas, car hoods would now be adorned with ram or antelope horns. The metal gefilte fish would easily take over the top spot, ending the decades-long feud for dominance between the Jesus and Darwin fish.

    The Ford Escape would be the Ford Exodus. It might not be your father's Oldsmobile, but it could be his Goldsmobile. "Volvo -- For Life" would be "Velvel -- To Life."

    The Toyota Rav4 would be the most common vehicle spotted in spaces reserved for clergy. Mazda would be Masada, but the Miata name would remain. After all, the sporty little car makes people on the street turn their heads and ask "Who are you?" And a popular new model in the early fall would be the Kia Nuamecha.

    Your local Nissan dealer would somehow stay in business despite being open only one month a year, around April. Nobody's Harley-Davidson would be their hog.

    But enough about changes to what we already have. There would also be radical innovations in automotive features.

    For example, have you ever gone on a long family road trip? This could be either a twenty hour drive through five states (anxiety, confusion, hunger, exhaustion, and fratricidal), or even twenty minutes to and from temple.

    Haven't you ever wished you could tune out your spouse/parent who's driving, and the yarns they tell to pass the time, without resorting to turning up the radio or just opening the door and jumping for it?

    Wish no more, thanks to the incredible new Schtick Sift. This revolutionary device is an easy-to-use buffer that filters out all of the bad jokes and pointless pontifications so you can shift gears and enjoy the remainder of your ride in peace and comfort. (Yes, it works on the kids in the back seat, too.)

    How can a simple device discern which of your spouse's jokes and anecdotes it should filter out for you? Easy. It filters out all of them.

    In another innovation, the flooring for each passenger would be highly stylized, thanks to the industry-leader, Car Matsvah.

    There would also be radical improvements in enforcement of driving laws and etiquette. Cars would be programmed to inflict guilt on you when the vehicle detects it has been taken through a red light, you cut someone off, left your seat belt off, or you forgot to reduce your speed below 30 mph as you drop your kids off for Hebrew School.

    (For a nominal fee, the voice of your mother can be NOT the one encoded in the system.)

    And, finally, a special feature catering to the stricter adherents to the rules of Shabbat. As you know, some rental trucks include regulators preventing them from exceeding the federally-mandated speed limit.

    After years of determining how to make a computer chip understand the Jewish calendar, a special regulator would be available to prevent any vehicle from operating on any holy day upon which driving is forbidden.

    (A special override code would be available both for shabbos goys as well as for anyone to use in a life-threatening situation, such as forgetting to pick up the challah.)

    And, of course, all vehicles would be engineered to minimize reliance on foreign oil.

    Doug Brook, is a senior technical writer in Silicon Valley whose car is far more convertible than he is. For more information, past columns, and other writings, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.