Columns - 2008

    Hot dogging holidays

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice columnist

    By the time you read this, you'll be sick of matzah.

    This would be just as true if you read this the day after Passover ends, the third day of Passover, two days before Passover, or any day starting with "Yom."

    I could have waited another year to write about Passover, but in stark defiance of the modern age of instant gratification, instant news, and instant coffee, I'll opine about something that already happened.

    So take this opportunity to enjoy for another year being done with matzah, having tucked it safely in the recycling bin with the matzah cartons. (Why not recycle? They're made from the same material. The question is, which came first: the carton or the egg matzah?)

    But before I put the carpas before the horseradish, let's begin today's Passover story.

    As I passed over thousands of homes between California and Alabama, I counted the miles for two reasons.

    First, my connecting flight in a torpedo (somewhere between puddle-jumper and actual airplane) was made better when a hottie sat in the exit row with me.

    You'd think I'd therefore enjoy the several times a sleeping head hit my shoulder. Except that she gave up her seat to a 6'4" guy who was having two inches more discomfort than me as the airline acquainted us with how a torpedo detonator feels.

    I was concerned when I saw the same guy boarding my return flight but thankfully, realizing I'm not that kind of girl, he slept with someone else this time.

    The second reason I counted the miles was that one of the temples in California was chagrined I wasn't around to handle some Torah reading. I told them I'd do it real loud from Birmingham and perhaps the speed of sound and the two thousand plus miles would time just right.

    There's no fooling Silicon Valley engineers. They probably figured out before I did that they'd still have to start about 80 minutes earlier to time it right. As of this writing, I'm not aware that they did.

    So I got home, remembering that while "seder" means "order" it does not mean "special order." Especially not in the form of a request to the cook when we've finally reached Gefilte Time after ninety minutes praiseworthily expounding on the story of Passover.

    While I was home, it was proven that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Even when it comes to Passover.

    A rabbi, who I'm leaving unnamed so I don't owe him royalties, recounted a pre-Passover Pop Quiz (his father was asking) about what animal has the biggest role in the Exodus story. (Think Bible, not Leon Uris.)

    Lamb, you say? Calf? Giraffe?

    It's the dog. (Don't feel bad. The rabbi didn't get it right either at first. But his internet connection was slow and he was on speakerphone.)

    Yes, the dog. Look it up. Exodus, chapter something, verse seven. (I told YOU to look it up.)

    After the tenth plague was regifted to Egypt, it's written that the dogs would not bark at the Israelis as they left. This change of nature is regarded as a pivotal, yet obscure, miracle in the Exodus story. A true story of Spot changing his stripes, though maybe the dogs just smelled the matzah and hid.

    So, in honor of this, a new item appeared on our seder plate first night to commemorate this canine canonization: a hot dog.

    Yes, a hot dog on the seder plate. Tell me why that's any stranger than pet bar mitzvahs.

    Just as for Neil Simon's first play, the reviews were mixed. An anonymous member of my family said it was the wurst idea I'd ever had.

    Of course, my mother didn't spell it that way. But now that I have, she'll probably say that I'm already topping myself. These are the family memories to relish in our old age. (I'll stop before these go any furter.)

    But wait, there's more. Later in Exodus, the dogs get a treat. Not all ritual slaughterers are perfect. Sometimes they miss. But instead of letting the meat from improperly slaughtered sacrificial lambs (read: Alabama quarterbacks) go to waste, it's to be given to the dogs.

    Yes, the Jews invented the doggie bag. Remember that the next time you're at a Chinese restaurant. (And what's more Jewish than a Chinese restaurant?)

    Since I'm writing this on the plane back to California, home of (per capita) more authentic Chinese food and less authentic Saturday morning synagogue attire, we'll skip thinking about Chinese food.

    Besides, the flight attendants are coming with the first in-flight meal I've seen in two years. Breaded chicken. I guess flying six miles up I got too close and Someone saw an opportunity. Time to open the doggie bag.

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley whose cat expects equal press, as soon as she can find biblical citation for it. If he's slow answering his email, it's because the cat's online searching Jewgle. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.