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A Very Jewish Christmas

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My boyfriend BG and I have been totally lackadaisical about every holiday this year. My birthday is July 4th, but instead of going into the city to see the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks spectacular, I fell asleep on the couch before they even showed it on TV. For BG's Halloween birthday, I had all sorts of ghoulish plans, but they all fell through because BG decided to just stay home and party. For Thanksgiving, we ordered up a turkey dinner of dubious quality from the local diner.

Likewise, this Christmas looks to be the most ascetic we've had yet. We didn't put up BG's small plastic tree this year, but instead went uber-minimal by turning on the fake bonsai with fiber optic lights that BG's brother gave him last spring when BG's whole family got together. Although at the time I thought it was way tacky, it is actually quite beautiful with different lights slowly changing colors and flowing into each other. I think of it as a Zen Christmas tree — simple and elegant.

As Christmas approaches, I find myself thinking about the connection between Christianity and Judaism, maybe because our little Zen bonsai looks more like a Hanukkah bush, if there really is such a thing. Not to mention the fact that my mother was Jewish, which makes me automatically one of the tribe by Jewish law.

From what I understand, Jesus was a learned Jew, and was likely referred to as a Rabbi in his day. In Judea, the Romans allowed the Jews to practice their faith and in essence govern themselves. In matters of civil and criminal law, the elders of the Temple prevailed above all. The emergence of Jesus was a threat to this authority, as well as an affront to their religious traditions and rituals.

Jesus was far from the first or last man claiming to be the Messiah, and I'm sure the elders saw him as just another false prophet. Although it may not be politically correct to say this, I have little trouble with the notion that the Jews, rather than the Romans, were ultimately responsible for killing Christ. However, it was his destiny to be betrayed by his own people, for he was the ultimate sacrificial lamb.

In the Jewish tradition of old, as in other ancient religions, offerings were made to the Lord, including animal sacrifices. The story of Abraham and Isaac demonstrates how crucial this ritual was for the Jews, and how seriously they took any edict from a demanding G-d, even if it meant (potentially) sacrificing their own son, as G-d did Jesus.

There is an old saying, profound in its simplicity: "It's hard to be a Jew." The Jews have been persecuted since time immemorial. They were slaves in Egypt and perpetually wandered the world trying to find a hospitable home. In modern times, the Holocaust and the rabid anti-Semitism of many Muslims proves that the most virulent and unreasoning hatred of the Jews is very much alive and well. Just as the Elders of the temple viewed Jesus as a dangerous blasphemer who mocked their traditions, so some gentiles still see Jews as an affront and a threat.

For me, Jesus was the ultimate Jew. He was persecuted and martyred, but by his own brethren. More ironic still is that, rather than follow his simple teachings during the centuries that followed, some Christians made it their mission to convert the Jews or kill them if they failed to comply. It is sad indeed that some forget the simple fact that Jesus was Jewish, and the sacrifice he endured was the logical culmination of what it meant and means to be a persecuted minority.

If the Jews were the Chosen People, they were, I believe, chosen to suffer as part of the price for being so because their G-d, like a demanding father, expected obedience and sacrifice from his most favored children. Jesus, to me, was the ultimate chosen one of the Chosen People — G-d's only begotten son — and those who adhere to their Jewish beliefs continue to be maligned and persecuted to this very day, much as Jesus was centuries ago.

One of the most moving films I've even seen is The Last Temptation of Christ, which explored the notion of Christ as half-human and half-divine. Because of his humanity, he suffered as any man would suffer, experiencing pain and doubt and fear. This is one reason his sacrifice is so meaningful. To me, this is why Christ represents the essence of what it means to be Jewish as well as Christian.

This week, Jews and Christians celebrate two miracles – the Miracle of the Oil, and the birth of Christ. So to all who celebrate one, or both, may you have a joyous Hanukkah and a very merry Christmas.

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About Elvira Black

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Elvira,

    I don’t agree with much that you say here – but what you say, you say well.

    Let’s let it stand with that.

    Shabbat Shalom,
    Reuven

  • Donnie Marler

    Elvira, Thanks for sharing a bit of you in this article. I hope you and BG have a wonderful holiday together.

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Ruvy:

    Many thanks–I was thinking of you as I prepared this article–I was hoping that I wouldn’t alienate you completely. As always, I’d really value hearing anything you had to say on the subject, but I understand if you’d rather not get into it.

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but you were the very first commenter on my very first article here on BC. It is always a treat and an honor to get your feedback.

    Good Shabbes (sp?) to you–hope everyone in your neck of the woods is safe and sound.

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Donnie:

    Thanks so much. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read by you so far; only problem is that I’ve been in such a slump that I wasn’t writing–or reading–much of anything for awhile. I’m trying to catch up now…

    Happy holidays to you and yours!

  • A Concerned Citizen

    Elvira, you’ve written a wonderful piece. Few people realize, or like to admit, that the original spirit of Christianity is so deeply entwined with Judaism.

    More ironic still is that, rather than follow his simple teachings during the centuries that followed, some Christians made it their mission to convert the Jews or kill them if they failed to comply

    My only problem with this statement was that in the beginning it was the exact opposite — it was the Jews slaughtering Christians (take Saul of Tarsus as a primary example). It wasn’t until Constantine, and the merge of religion and government, that Christianity’s history of anti-Semitism began. Until then it was the Christians who were brutally persecuted.

  • Alan B. Cohen

    Interesting perspectives, but you are showing the typical American flaw of not understanding (or even knowing) history. Judea was consistently under the occupation of the Roman Empire’s Army from the fall of the Hashmonean Kingdom (63 B.C.E. by Pompey) on through the entire life of the man you call Jesus (a Greek translation of Yeshua or Joshua – a Jewish name for a Jewish guy.) During the period surrounding his death, Rome appointed a direct governor, Pontius Pilate, remember him? According to ROMAN records, one of the bloodiest rulers of Roman times. He was constantly on guard for signs of rebellion in the province, ON THE BORDER WITH THE PARTHIAN EMPIRE – ROME’S BIGGEST OPPOSITION at the time. You may not know this, but Rome had just put down a Jewish rebellion in 14 C.E., thirteen years before. And the next three rebellions, 66-73, 112-115, and 132-135 C.E., sapped the empire’s strength. There was also several campaigns back and forth cross the entire area between the Romans and Parthians in the early 100’s. Rome stopped expanding and started to contract during this same time period. Rome went from a citizen army to a mercenary army because of the losses fighting the Jews. Jesus would have looked like just one more rebellious Jew from the hinterlands of Galilee to the Romans. The Romans killed him, like they did many others by way of the ROMAN METHOD OF EXECUTION. In fact, under Jewish law at the time, the death penalty was almost never used. You had to commit murder in front of at least two suitable witnesses who had to have warned you that you were about to commit a crime punishable by death first. Later writers of the Gospels, trying to market their product (Christianity) to the pagan masses of the Empire, went out of their way to avoid accusing the Romans of killing Jesus to minimize the opportunity of Roman oppression. The oppression occurred anyway, at least until Constantine. Since the Jews were clearly on the outs with the empire, blaming them was easy. Along the way, they added the Trinity, Hell & virgin birth and dropped circumcision and kashrut to further separate themselves from Judaism. And Jesus’ teaching were almost exclusively mainstream Jewish theology of his time. For example, the ‘Golden Rule’ was stated very similarly by Hillel a hundred years earlier. “That which is hateful to you, do not do to another.”

    And, this bit about Christmas being Jesus’ birthday; he was born according to your records, at the Roman census, the SPRING. The church, wanting to replace observation of Saturnalia (the Roman Winter Solstice holiday), mandated a Mass in honor of Jesus on THE SAME DATE as the Solstice (Saturnalia) that year, December 25th. Later calendar adjustments moved the Solstice to occur on December 21 or 22, depending on the year.

  • SHARK

    A. Cohen has it 100 percent correct. Good stuff.

    Thanks for your contribution.

    S

    PS: re: “…Jesus would have looked like just one more rebellious Jew from the hinterlands of Galilee…”

    Which was also a hotbed of rebellion. See “zealots” and “essenes” for more.

  • A Concerned Citizen

    A. Cohen, was that for me or for Elvira Black?

  • Lisa

    It saddens me that someone born to a Jewish mother is so completely lacking in knowledge regarding Judaism. In addition to Alan’s comment, by the time JC supposedly lived, the Sandrehin (Jewish Court) was stripped of its ability to sentence someone to death. Prior to that, historically, a court that sentenced even one person to death in 70 years was noted for that one act. Also, the Sadducees (people who ran the Temple as priests) were not involved in the Sandrehin, the Sandrehin was made up of Pharisees. The Pharisees were made up of the common population and stood against the Hellenized Sadducees who promoted assimilation amongst Jews.

    As for the importance of sacrifice in Judaism, if one were to study the Tanach (not to be confused with the Christian Old Testament), one would know that sacrifice is the least of the three forms of atonement and was only suitable for unintended sin and even then was only follow-up to repentance. In fact, we are repeatedly told throughout the Tanach that HaShem does not only need sacrifice, He does not desire sacrifice. There are countless other errors in your article that I don’t have time to correct but please try to learn something about your heritage from actual Jews.

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Hey all:

    I’m not afraid to admit when I’m an idiot. That’s why I’m so glad for all the comments here. No need to get in a tizzy though. Religion is always a hot button topic. I wasn’t there…what do I know?

    I do cherish my Jewish heritage. After my parents died at 15, I went to live with my mother’s sister and her husband, who are Orthodox Jews, ’til I went off to college. I learned a lot from the experience, and I’m sure I could learn a lot more. Probably should too.

    As to Jews persecuting Christians–no group is exempt from being victim or victimizer. It seems to be hard wired into our brains as a species.

    Many thanks to all for the great comments.

  • STM

    Good on you Elvira. While these kinds of celebrations are undoubtedly religious in origin, they have also become all-encompassing (if you want them to be).

    That is, it’s just a time for giving, and being happy, if you don’t subscribe to the religious bit.

    We give Hannukah presents to our Jewish friends and they give us Chrissy pressies.

    It’s all good.

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Hi again.

    At least some of what you guys have said is not completely new to me.

    A Concerned Citizen:
    Many thanks–really enjoyed your comment. I am somewhat familiar with the story of Saul/St. Paul and how he morphed from rabid Jewish persecutor of Christians to converted saint. Go figure.

    Alan B. Cohen: Great stuff–thanks. My dad (Christian) used to tell me all the time that Christmas was a pagan holiday.

    You said:
    “And Jesus’ teaching were almost exclusively mainstream Jewish theology of his time. For example, the ‘Golden Rule’ was stated very similarly by Hillel a hundred years earlier. “That which is hateful to you, do not do to another.”

    Quite so! Which in essence is was what I was trying to convey. If we all just followed that one edict, the world would be a better place for sure.

    Shark: Nice to see you as always.

    Lisa:

    Many thanks for the comment. You wrote:

    “Also, the Sadducees (people who ran the Temple as priests) were not involved in the Sandrehin, the Sandrehin was made up of Pharisees. The Pharisees were made up of the common population and stood against the Hellenized Sadducees who promoted assimilation amongst Jews.”

    Were the Pharisees/Sanhedrin not also Jews? With my admittedly limited knowlege, my perception was that Jesus, though Jewish, was appalled at what he saw as the moral disconnect of the Jewish “establishment” of the time (including the Pharisees), and perhaps the disparity between following Jewish law to the letter while eschewing the spirit. (Thus, let he who is without sin cast the first stone; the ousting of the moneylenders from the Temple, etc.) Of course, Christians do the same all the time.

    Sacrifices may not have been a primary component of religious obligation, but again I was comparing what in a very real sense can be seen as a metaphorical/philosophical connection bridging the two religions.

    I was really trying to connect the two religions in this broader sense, though the historical perspective is fascinating as well. Is the story of Abraham and Isaac true? Darned if I know. Did Jesus really walk on water and raise the dead? Got me there.

    As far as the “truth” of the Gospels, to me it’s all legend. They were all written after Jesus was long gone, I believe, and of course putting political spin on religious doctrine is probably as old as mankind itself.

    But perhaps my perception of Jesus is a bit too “Mel Gibsonized.” I’m dealing with popular perceptions rather than historical truth per se. And in this sense, perception is “reality.” But yes, historical perspective is vital as well–absolutely.

    STM:

    You said:

    “That is, it’s just a time for giving, and being happy, if you don’t subscribe to the religious bit.”

    That’s it in a nutshell. Happy holidays to you!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Elvira,
    Shavua Tov,

    This is scary. I find myself agreeing with Shark!

    Alan Cohen has it on the money, all of it. I needn’t add another word to his fine comment. But, since I know just how much bitterness Jews can toss at each other, and how much sin’át Hinám (needless hatred) characterizes us, I did not wish to enter what could have been a nasty argument.

    There is nothing wrong with making mistakes. L-rd knows, I’ve made more than I care to count. There is nothing wrong with being wrong. The key is to learn from the mistakes and to be able to admit to being wrong. B’ezrát Hashem, I should be able to follow my own advice…

    Enjoy the holiday!
    Reuven

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Ruvy:

    You said:

    “There is nothing wrong with making mistakes. L-rd knows, I’ve made more than I care to count. There is nothing wrong with being wrong. The key is to learn from the mistakes and to be able to admit to being wrong. B’ezrát Hashem, I should be able to follow my own advice.”

    That’s part of my personal “gospel.” ..

    Ruvy: “But, since I know just how much bitterness Jews can toss at each other, and how much sin’át Hinám (needless hatred) characterizes us,”

    Do we mean self-hating Jews also?

    Isn’t that quintessentially Jewish though–throwing verbal barbs back and forth, endlessly debating, deconstructing, down to the molecular level and beyond? But in the end, being able to disagree without actually slaughtering each other, because it’s one of your family with a capital F?

    Bring on the debate.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Elvira,

    Powerless people de-construct to the last molecule, throwing verbal barbs at each other. But unfortunately dear, members of the Family have killed each other and have been responsible for the death of many Family members. The hatred that went on between sects of Jews in eastern Europe was perhaps part of the reason that Hashem saw fit to allow the murder of so many of our brethren in concentration camps in Europe.

    Even now, the secular élite that runs Israel has a hatred for religious Jews, screaming coercion at the least opportunity. Recently, Yossi Lapid, the head of the now defunct Shinui party, an important member of this secular élite, admitted that one of the big reasons for targeting Gush Qatif for expulsion was to “get the Jews” – Torah observant Jews who had successfully built an economic model while also observing Torah. And religious Jews themselves are not immune to this virus. Not long ago, a religious woman was beaten on a bus in Jerusalem for refusing to sit in the back of the bus as was demanded of her by male passengers on that bus.

    So I’m not eager to enter into debates which can only create bitterness and hard feelings. Whatever our opinions as members of the same Family, we need to treat each other with a measure of love and respect. This is demanded of us in Torah, and the least I can do is to try to follow its commandments with respect to Family members, that is to say fellow Jews, as I am commanded to do.

    “You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him. You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against your people; you shall love your fellow as you love yourself.” [Vayikrá/Leviticus 19:17-18]

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Ruvy:

    “Powerless people de-construct to the last molecule, throwing verbal barbs at each other. But unfortunately dear, members of the Family have killed each other and have been responsible for the death of many Family members.”

    Powerless in one sense, very powerful in another.

    My point exactly–no one is immune from the hate virus–if you’re human, that is. Jew against Jew, Jew vs. Muslim, ad nauseum–it doesn’t really matter. Take one from column A and one from column B. Serve hot with a light beverage.

    Here is my somewhat “self-hating” take on observant Jews. It may be totally inaccurate, but this is my “perception” of “reality”:

    The Orthodox in Israel can have as hefty a sense of entitlement and smug superiority as some Orthodox here. Not all, mind you. But I’ve known a few (American) who will not associate with you if you’re not glatt kosher. In fact, they will treat you with nothing but disdain.

    I’ve heard stories of Israeli orthodox stoning those who aren’t Shomer Shabbos (sp)? and dare to “labor” on the Sabbath. That’s as oppressive as the Muslim flavor, in its own way. I have no way of knowing if this is true or not.

    Another thing that gives me pause is the fact that some Orthodox in NY have very big families, and if the husband studies for a living and the wife keeps having another child every 10 months, they have to go on public assistance. My aunt’s friend used to work for the welfare office. She was also orthodox but I heard the stories. Ten, eleven, twelve mouths to feed…? Yes, I know we lost millions, but couldn’t the community also help their own? On the other hand, I still support it–children take precedence, and from what I can see, the Orthodox are usually exemplary parents.

    Does that make me one of the secular elite?

  • sr

    Elvira and Ruvy. You will always be a class act and I will maintain my status as the village idiot. Why do Jews make such wonderful food? If I were a Jew I,d be so fat and attracted to Rosie the whale. Now when it comes to pickles my favorite is Claussen Kosher Dill Spears. Im a pickle freak. Any recommendations? What was this blog about? Now I remember.

  • Nafi Sahgem

    I never read or join in a Jewish American thread before, being a non American and a Muslim. Oh my G-d! Ms. Elvira Black’s piece is charming.

    Yes, Jesus was a Jew and Jesus PBUH, is a Prophet recognized by Muslims.

    Happy Holidays oh People of the Book : )

    Nafi Sahgem
    Brunei Darusallam

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    sr:

    The best pickles can be found a few blocks from where I live (though I’m moving out soon) on Essex off Grand St on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Huge barrels full of pickled everything. You can get sour, half sour, or new dill.

    Kossar’s Bialy’s, also on Grand Street, is a good tourist stop too, because it is very hard to find bialys, which I believe originate from the town of Bialystock, though I could be wrong. They make great bagels there too.

    Down the road on Ludlow and Houston is Katz’s Deli, where Meg Ryan did her fake orgasm schtick for Billy Crystal in When Harry met Sally. Their slogan during WWII was: send a salami to your boy in the army.

    Also on Houston: Russ and Daughters has the best appetizing stuff: creamed herring and all that. And of course Yonah Schimmel’s knishes.

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Nafi:

    Thank you for your beautiful comment. I am truly touched!

  • SHARK

    Elvira: “…Is the story of Abraham and Isaac true? Darned if I know. Did Jesus really walk on water and raise the dead?”

    Um, yep…

    and uh…

    ….

    …and Santa Claus will come down yer chimney tonight.

    Really.

    =======

    EB: “… But perhaps my perception of Jesus is a bit too “Mel Gibsonized.” I’m dealing with popular perceptions rather than historical truth per se…”

    [note: please not to mention “Mel Gibson” in a post by and about Jews. Thanks in advance]

    Anywhoo — Elvira, don’t be too hard on yerself; it’s a very complicated, convoluted subject that one can’t really pursue lightly — and some of the “historical” — um, let’s say– clarifications, assessments, etc. — have only been assembled during the last few years. Things are evolving so fast relative to new discoveries, etc — that it’s hard to keep up, even for scholars.

    =======

    Dear Ruvy,

    You know we agree more often than not — and that we’re VERY similar in nature: both brilliant, skeptical, hot-headed, intellectual FANATICS who love guns bein’ the Underdog.

    Happy Candelabra Thingy!
    xxoo
    S

  • SHARK

    oh, and btw:

    the “…Zen Christmas tree ? simple and elegant…”

    Buddha called it a Bo Tree. He was sitting under it when he became Enlightened.

    But that’s where the similarities with Jesus ends. Buddha wasn’t born from a virgin. How silly!

    He emerged from his mother’s side.

    Gotta run! The Easter Bunny is scratchin’ on my window!

  • http://healthreports.blogspot.com/ Howard Dratch

    Elvira. How did you manage to repeat such wrong things and do it so charmingly? Then learned from your errors when they were pointed out. Kudos.

    If only the Christian world would merely sit down with some history and think for a minute to remember it was the Romans and not their next-door neighbors who got out the hammers and nails.

    Great example for the Christmas season.

  • http:ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Elvira,

    Whatever your attitudes may be, you are not part of any secular élite. The secular élite wields power in a very destructive way in this country. You write a blog, and while you may be as cunning as a shit-house rat, you do not ruin reputations, ruin lives, or bring people down to the grave – all things the secular élite in this country does.

    Unfortunately, too many “religious” Jews walk with their noses up in the air and their heads up their asses all at the same time. This has alienated non-religious Jews in a big way. I speak from personal experience here.

    There is a real difference between a “believer,” that is to say, someone who loves G-d and his people in his heart, and someone who mumbles the rituals of a ‘religion’ by rote. Bit by bit, this difference is also emerging. It is this difference that I’m interested in highlighting, as opposed to the stereotypical infighting that has gone on for several generations now. Hence, my attitude here.

  • http:ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Shark,

    “You know we agree more often than not — and that we’re VERY similar in nature: both brilliant, skeptical, hot-headed, intellectual FANATICS who love guns bein’ the Underdog.

    Looks like I’m swimmin’ with the big fish now, eh? Gotto admit, though, I’m gettin’ tired of being an underdog, in spite of all the fun as it is being a subversive and all…

    Shit, I better quit now, before my head swells so much it explodes…

    Merry Christmas

  • A Concerned Citizen

    cunning as a shit-house rat

    Is that a compliment or an insult?

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Shark:

    You’ll never guess who came down my chimney tonight–Mel Gibson! I think he took a wrong turn somewhere, so I gave him some cookies and a little rum punch and sent him on his way.

    Thanks for making me feel a little less like a total dummy–Elvira of the half-Jewish, half-baked ideas…

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Howard:

    Thank you! Who knew being clueless could pay off so handsomely? The comments here have been enlightening, to say the least.

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Ruvy:

    I’m so glad you responded again. I was afraid I’d offended you in my comment #16. Almost as soon as I’d posted it, I realized I’d offended myself.

    Thinking back, there was essentially only one person I knew who fit the snootiness I described: my cousin’s wife–but she made a lasting impression on me. Most other Orthodox I’ve known have been very warm folks.

    I think I asked and answered the public assistance issue–at least for myself.

    But I’m still curious about the stoning thing–did it really occur? Does it still?

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    A Concerned Citizen wrote:

    “cunning as a shit-house rat

    Is that a compliment or an insult?”

    It’s kind of an inside joke…the name of my blog is Shithouse rat (as in “crazier than a…”)

    Why Shithouse rat? Because in addition to my myriad other flaws, I also have bipolar disorder (aka manic depression).

    I don’t mind admitting I’m crazy, but I never thought of myself as cunning…that does sound a tad sinister.

  • Donnie Marler

    “I don’t mind admitting I’m crazy, but I never thought of myself as cunning…that does sound a tad sinister.”

    LOL! Thanks for the laugh, Elvira. And may I say, you make ‘cunning’ look spectacular!! :-)

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Thanks Donnie–in addition to admitting owning up to my own stupidity when appropriate, I try to laugh at myself as well. And if all else fails–well, I’m crazy, so what do you expect?

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  • http://gsimplysaid.blogspot.com G

    You know the saying, put two Jews in a room, get three opinions. This is a great discussion and I truly appreciate the weighing in by those who know their history. It’s not that your post wasn’t eloquently written – it was, but slightly flawed. Kol Hakavod (hats off to you) for opening up a lively discussion though.

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Thanks G!

    That reminds me somehow of the old joke that goes something like this:

    Q: Why does a Jew always answer a question with a question?

    A: Nu, what’s wrong with answering a question with a question?

  • Ruvy in Jeruslem

    “Kossar’s Bialy’s, also on Grand Street, is a good tourist stop too, because it is very hard to find bialys, which I believe originate from the town of Bialystock, though I could be wrong. They make great bagels there too.”

    Is Ratner’s still there? My father, may he rest in peace, used to take me and my cousin Dave there, explaining, that if you ordered pea soup, they would keep bringing rolls till you rolled out the door…

    In those days my cousin was opening for the Doors and was as skinny as a rail, and needed every dime he could lay his hands on. He doesn’t talk about those days too much…

  • http://elvirablack.blogspot.com/ Elvira Black

    Ruvy:

    Alas, Ratner’s is gone–replaced, I believe, by some fancy bar or bar/restaurant called Lansky’s Lounge, as I recall.

    I don’t know if you remember the Garden Cafeteria (where I.B. Singer used to go) but that’s long long gone too.

    Yep, you couldn’t go wrong at Ratner’s with the challah. As I remember, I don’t think anyone minded if you took the rest home with you either…lol…

    Your cousin opened for the Doors? This sounds like an intriguing story…