Sunday, January 29, 2006

Another Astounding discovery about Texas

If you read my previous post, you will know that Jason's Deli gave me enough corned beef in their gousih Reuben sandwich to feed the average Third world village for a week. Thusk, I decided to skip dinner, but I did stop in the HEB store in a small south Texas town (aka "God's country") to get a snack and some alcoholic beverage.

The grocery stores here limit their alcohol sales to beer & wine, and I wasn't in the mood for Beer. Perhpas it was the six-pack of Lone Star I bought on my last trip that gave me a headache and gas pains. I was only able to drink one bottle, I left the rest for the hotel maid. I guess that was OK, they didn't call the police the next time I checked in. But no, I think I just wanted something cold, sweet, and not too filling. But not "Jack Daniels Country Cocktails"

These are "alcopops" that the activists like the Center for Science in the Public Interest claim are inducing teenagers to drink. Well, the CPSI may have data to support its claim, but in my experience, if these alcopops were the only alcoholic beverages arounbd, I'd have no problem keeping dry. They, like the Lone Star Beer, gave me gas pains and a headache.

But I had a powerful thirst, and I wanted to kill a few brain cells in the bargain. But what to drink? A bottle of wine? No, too much, and after it's uncorked, it goes bad. But I look some more, and what do I see in the chiller right next to the alcopops, but an older favorite: Woodchuck Draft Cider!

I can't believe it. Here in the heart of Red State God's Country. They actually sell a product from granola-crunching Vermont! And a product I happen to like. Well, I've downed half a sixpack, and so far, nothing but a pleasant buzz, no gas, no headache. Obviously because, unlike the products of mass-marked breweries (and alcopops are basically just sweet flavored beer), Woodchuck is nothing more than fermented apple juice, no chemical additives.

But still, I don't know what's happening to Texas. First, I find a very well-made Chardonnay (Becker Vinyards). made in Texas What's going on? Chardonay is the drink of effete Ble-staters like John Kerry. A real manly Texan eat beef and only beef, and chardonnay doesn't go with beef. Real Manly Texans drink Lone Star Beer with their barbecued beef and grilled steaks, unles they're obscenely rich oilmen, in which case, they drink red wine from fancy Bordeaux first growths. Chardonnay? From Texas? And now I see that they also drink wimply Vermont cider.

Oy, what;s the world coming to? How will to make sense of the world through simplistic cultural stereotypes. What will I find out next? That people in New England like country music? That not all Jews are smart?

The world is too complicated. Better open anpother bottle of Woodchuck.

Texas Jewish Deli alert -- Bware the goyish sandwiches, even if they taste OK

So, on a mission of vital importance to the Jewish people, here I am blogging from a South Texas hotel room. I had a nice day driving my poseur SUV across the range, observing what pastrami and corned beef look like while they're still alive. But when I returned to San Antone, I was mighty hungry, and lots of interesting Barbecue joints and Tex-Mex places flashed by on the 410 Loop, and I couldn't figure out which exit I was supposed to use to get to these places. This is the curse of the Frontage Road, the evil gift of Texan highway engineers to frustrated motorists and suburban sprawl.

Finally, in desparation, I just slid off the freeway, and rode down a frontage road. What did I see but an establishment called "Jason's Deli," which, as I found out when I entered the place, is a chain that is metastisizing across the southwest, the south, and the Great Plains. Well, I was hungry, and, with some trepidation, despite the appetizing smells emanating from kitchen I ordered a Reuben.

Soon enough , the Reuben arrived, and what can I say? It was goyish. Not bad, but goyish.

Oy! all you frumsters, Orthodox or Conservative, will say. What do you expect, a Reuben is, by it's nature, treif. It's corned beef sauerkarut, russian dressing and Swiss Cheese on Rye. Milk and meat. Treif! Treif! Treif! Of course it's treif. I can see them telling me, you should have looked up the web site for Congreation Rodefei Shalom, which has information about the local Va'ad, or

DELIcious Foods
7460 Callaghan Rd. #300
San Antonio, Texas 78229
Phone: (210) 366-1844

Or at the very least, just go into any H.E.B store, there's plenty of stuff with hekhshers, even local Tex-Mex cuisine stuff. Yes, I can hear it now. Why, CA, you nudnik, do you order a treif menu item and then complain about it being "goyish?"

Well I say you're all wrong. Just as I, CA, am an apikorus, not a goy, there are dishes that are treif, but not goyish, and the Reuben in one of them. I'm sure Lenny Bruce did a skit about this....Reuben Sandwiches are Jewish, Tuna Salad sandwiches (even ones with a hekhsher) are goyish...

What made Jason's Reuben goyish? The corned beef wasn't bad, and they did pile it high in true New York Style. No, the problem was that they didn't grill the damned thing. A true Reuben has to be grilled on a scuzzy-looking griddle using too much stale oil, and lots of black stuff from the griddle have to be incorporated onto the outer surface of the grilled bread. Also, the cheese needs to actually melt onto the meat, thus ensuring that the halachic prohibition against cooking meat and mik is truly violated. Also, to my taste, the ratio of sauerkraut to beef and cheese should be rather low.

Jason's chefs violated all thse rules. The sandwich was assembled and apparently just run under a toaster. In fact, the lower slice of bread was totally soggy and worthless as a sandwich wrapper, and I was forced to eat it with a fork. Of course, the cheese wasn't really melted, and, most definitely, the whole assembly was entiurely too hygienic to rate as an authentic deli Reuben. The whole point of a Reuben is to get a years worth of saturated fats into your body in one sitting, and thus keep your cardiologist employed. Alas, Jason just didn't quite do this.

But it was filling, and thus allowed me to skip dinner and pocket part of my meal allowance from the expense account.

In doing so, I made another astounding discovery about Texas..

More to come...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

This is the Torah that Moses Gave to Israel: "Hook 'em 'Horns!"

I found out last week that Jesus is a Texas fan.

No, not that Jesus, I'm talking about my buddy and colleague Jesus from south Texas. I went down there last week, and all I heard about was the Rose Bowl. But there's one curious University of Texas football tradition that puzzles me.

That is the "hook 'em Horns" gesture.

University of Texas at Austin cheerleader Harley Clark knew what he was going to teach football fans at a 1955 pep rally was going to catch on faster than poodle skirts and leather jackets. It had to. After all, the Texas A&M Aggies' "Gig 'em" gesture had been around for years.

Clark sold the student body on the symbolic approximation of the horns of Longhorn mascot Bevo and, thus, began the "Hook 'em Horns" hand signal.

The salute quickly took its place beside the university traditions of singing The Eyes of Texas and lighting the Tower orange.

Even President Bush has made this gesture.

(I guess he's not planning any visits to USC anytime soon.)

Now some say this gesture is satanic, but they are full of it.

I have seen this gesture in shul. No way it can be satanic.

Yes, in shul. And I've seen it not only in my local Conservative hotbed of apikorsus, but also in some very erlicher frum places. And I don't live in Texas, so it's not a case that the worshippers are Texas fans.

The gesture is made during the ritual of "hagbah'ah," when the sefer Torajh (Torah scroll) is lifted in front of the congregation, and the congregation chants"

"v'zos hatorah asher sam Moshe lifnei b'nei Yosrael:
Al pi adonoi v'yad Moshe."

(This is the Torah that Moses gave to the Israelites, spoken by the LORD and written down by Moses.)

And as the holy scrolls are lifted into the air, what does the Congregation do, it lifts it's hands and gestures as they point to the scrolls: "Hook 'em Horns!" .

Now they never used to do that in shul when I was a kid; this busines only started a few years ago. For the life me me, I can't figure out the significance of this gesture (when used in a Jewish ritual context), and I have not been able to find anyhting about this on the internet. Theonly thing I can think of is that using this gesture is a reminder of the sin of the Golden Calf. By reminding God of this sin, we are asking him to be merciful to us. After all, we might be sinners, but our sins are nowhere near as bad as that of the Golden Calf, and I God could forgive the Israelites for that one, then He can certianly forgive us for the little insignificant sins that we commit.

The only problems with this explantion is that (1) the Golden Calf was probably not a Texas Longhorn, and (2) calfs, even male ones, don't have horns.

If any of my readers has abtter explantion, I will certainly be interested in hearing it. Jesus will also appreciate it, too, so if you don't want to do it for me, do it for Jesus.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

What would Jesus eat?

"While traveling through the Lone Star State,
I lost my lunch before I ate..."

K. Friedman, possible next Governor of Texas

(Q: If elected, can you, make the Democrats and Republicans work together?
A: I'm running for governor of Texas, not God.)

Anyway, I was in this bookstore in Kinky's very own hometown of Kerrville, Texas. (Don't snigger, you arrogant members of the bicoastal elite. They have books in Texas, and they even know whaqt to do with them. And I don't mean burn them. Texas is a much more nuanced, complex place than DovBear's rants indicate. You can even buy kosher food in Del Rio.)

Anyway, as I was searching through the "Religion" section to see if I could find any Judaica --- yeah, I know that's a fool's errand,, but after I found herring and matzah for sale in Del Rio, every time I go to Texas, I look for evidence of members of the tribe where yo don't expect 'em. -- any way, after perusing the 7 shelves of Jesus books, I found on the bargain shelf, a tome called "What Would Jesus Eat?"

I know, I accidently enetered the alternative universe of Christian Health food nuts. (I'm sure there's also an alternative universe of Orthodox Jewish health food nuts, too, but you could,'t tell that from the Shabbos tables of my black-hatter neighbors.)

Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that Dr. Colbert, the author, is sophisticated enough to know that

"Jesus was a Jewboy hisself..."

as Kinky points out in his immortal song "Tramp on the street." Thus, Dr. Colert advocates that all right-wing bible-thumping evangelical Christians eat only kosher meat. Unfortunately, the good doctor must have gotten his information about kashrut from a 19th or early 20th century Reform rabbi, becuase he claims that kashrut was mandated "for health reasons."

Who should volunteer to enlighten the good doctor as to the real meaning of kashrut? Not me, I'm a cynical apikorus, and based on my experience of running a kosher kitchen, I think it's all a plot by the rabbis to drive the Jewish people crazy (as if they don't need any help.) And molst important, this must be done carefully, so as not to disillusion the doctor. Imagine what would happen if all the Chrisitans started eating only kosher meat. Avialability would go up and price would go down. Even cynical little apikorus me might enterain the possibility that mashiach is on his or her way.....

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Italy, a great place for atheist troublemakers

Mis-nagid, or maybe even Rabbi Slifkin, lehavdil, should move to Italy and subpeona some of the gedolim.

Italy apparently has a law that prohibits "abuse of popular credulity." Recently, an atheist who was heavily attracked in a church newsletter sued the Priest, and the latest is that an appeals court ruled that the priest had to appear before the trial court and prove that Jesus Christ existed.

Imagine if Mis-Nagid, or the Gadol Hador or even DovBear were able to supeona their favoraite gadol or "kiruv clown" and force them to prove Torah m'Sinai in open court.

Now, that's entertainment!

Monday, January 02, 2006

I wonder if they required m'tzitza b'peh?

Ah, the Maccabees, those fine fighters for religious tolerance:

42: Then there united with them {the Maccabees} a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the law.
43: And all who became fugitives to escape their troubles joined them and reinforced them.
44: They organized an army, and struck down sinners in their anger and lawless men in their wrath; the survivors fled to the Gentiles for safety.
45: And Mattathias and his friends went about and tore down the altars;
46: they forcibly circumcised all the uncircumcised boys that they found within the borders of Israel.

I Maccabees 2:42-46

And, no doubt, required the use of "metzitza b'peh," which is, if we are to believe the frummer rabbis, the equivalent of Shabbos.

Chappy Hanukkah!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Macabees -- frum Jews or not?

Aside from the fact that they claimed both the kingship and the High Priesthood, in violation of jewish tradition, we have this little gem:

25: And Simon sent and took the bones of Jonathan his brother, and buried him in Modein, the city of his fathers.
26: All Israel bewailed him with great lamentation, and mourned for him many days.
27: And Simon built a monument over the tomb of his father and his brothers; he made it high that it might be seen, with polished stone at the front and back.
28: He also erected seven pyramids, opposite one another, for his father and mother and four brothers.
29: And for the pyramids he devised an elaborate setting, erecting about them great columns, and upon the columns he put suits of armor for a permanent memorial, and beside the suits of armor carved ships, so that they could be seen by all who sail the sea.
30: This is the tomb which he built in Modein; it remains to this day.

-I Maccabees 13:25-30

Hey, thhat doesn't seem to comply with the guidelines set ourt by Rabbi Lamm in The Jewish Way of Death and Mourning.

And Toby Katz and the other right-wing frummers think that the Reform are evil becuase of their organ music in shul and the Cinservative are evil because of their lady rabbis.

Well, the holy Macabees went out and bult pyramids!

So there.

Chanukkah -- the rest of the true story

In our last episode, we saw how the evil Menelaeus (a sort of composite of Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay) usurped power from Jason, who usurped it from the rightful high priest, Oniais III. There are two points to remember:

1) Jason might have been a Hellenizer, but at least he was a legitiamte priest, and so the frummers (i.e., Mattithias et al) didn't raise too much of stink over Jason's "reforms," amd certainly didn't start an uprising,

2) Antiochus, at this point seemed to be moreinterested in the wealth he could extract from the Temple, rather than the possibility of forcing the Jews to be little Greek clones.

But then Antiochus had the rather bad idea of trying to conquer Egypt. The Romans decided to block this, as they didn't want anybody inteh Eastern Med to get too powerful. So Antiochus was rather deicsively defeated.

Unfortunately, in the days before they had instant telecommunications, the message got garbled, and the word came to Judaea that Antiochus had been killed. Jason, thus thought it was his chance to make his move, and he attacked the forces of Menelaeus in Jerusalem.

The only problem with this was that Antiochus was not dead, and also that Jerusalem was on his "retreat route." You can imagine that Antiochus was more than a little pissed to find out about a rebellion against his puppet ruler and source of Temple wealth. Besides after having his butt kicked, Antiochus was more than eager to kick a little but in return. So he marched his army to Jerusalem, defeated Jason's insurgents, and looted and otherwise desecrated the Temple.

The he started thinking about how to pacify thise quarrelsone Jews in the long term. I suspect that becuase Jason's faction had the tacit support (or at last the non-opposition) of the frummers, Antiochus blamed the rebellion on the Jewish traditionalist. So then he started puttingin place his infamous decrees banning observance of the Torah, whether of the frummer variety or in the form of Jason's "Reform" Judaism.

As we know, the rest is history. But we need to remember what happened after the Macabee victory:

73: Thus the sword ceased from Israel. And Jonathan dwelt in Michmash. And Jonathan began to judge the people, and he destroyed the ungodly out of Israel.

-I Macabees 9:73

As we said, "religious freedom," my ass!