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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Gentile Ben and Chanukah Hummers

Where do Gentiles learn about Chanukah?

  • That nifty section in our Bibles called "Between the Testaments" that links Malachi to Matthew ("Antiochus IV sacrified a pig in the Temple. This happened over two thousand years before Austrian rock singer Falco wrote 'Rock Me Amadeus.'").

  • Noted theologian Adam Sandler, who reminds us: "O.J. Simpson - not a Jew."

  • Blogs of semi-practicing Jews.

(Aside: what does it mean to be a "practicing" anything? Would you prefer a practicing doctor, or a real doctor?)

So, let's visit the Empire's co-ruler Inland Empress:

So, where do Jews in the outer suburbs go to meet? Why, Target, of course.

And how do they celebrate Hanukkah? In a Hummer, naturally.

You didn't know this? You didn't realize our ancient ancestors gathered in big-box retailers and then paraded in SUVs the size of small planetoids?

Neither did I. But now that I've brushed against rabbinical greatness, sort of, I'm an expert in the ultra-Orthodox observance of this otherwise minor holiday and therefore feel obligated to enlighten you all....

It unnerved me that there was actually another person crowding the tiny display rack with me. Who was he? What did he want?

The man turns to me and says, "So, you going to the big lighting?"

What big lighting?

Twenty minutes later, I am armed with directions and a stern lecture that I must compete with Christmas lights and Santa or my son is doomed, doomed I tell you. I am obligated as a parent, as a Jew, as a carbon-based life form, to bring my son to "the big lighting," whatever that is....

The directions take me to the biggest intersection in town. I'd need a helicopter to find a menorah there. I'm thinking, no way a town of 67,000 that can count its Jewish population in the mere double digits is holding a religious shindig at rush hour smack in the middle of its busiest thoroughfare....

And there, in front of a car dealership, is an enormous line-up of Hummers, each with a giant menorah on top and a sign saying, "Happy Chanukah from the Chabad."

The Chabad is a community center for the super-duper, industrial-strength, extra-ultra Orthodox. You don't get much more kosher than a Chabadnik....

[I met] the rabbi's wife. It took 10 minutes of staring at her head before I realized she was, indeed, wearing a wig. They do that. They wear wigs. Something to do with only your hubby seeing your real hair, which means that the stereotypical ultra-Orthodox woman looks as if some exotic and badly groomed acrylic animal is nesting on her head.

Now I've known the Empress to write fiction every once in a while, and I have a Reed education, so I researched the whole wig thingie for myself:

What about the long sleeved, stockinged, and bewigged women?...

For women, these matters are tied up with the laws of Tzniut (modesty of dress and behavior). Varying traditions and interpretations play a role too. Thus, the different "dress codes" traditionally adopted by different communities. But covering the hair (for married women) and the body (for all women and men) is a matter of Torah law.

Some women wear a wig because they feel it is ultra modest, as it securely hides every strand of their own hair. Others prefer scarves and the like because they feel wigs are too natural-looking and attractive, which is the very reason that yet another set of women prefer wigs to scarves. I guess from every perspective, wigs are the hottest items (again, pun intended). On the other hand, some women wear scarves or hats in a manner that allows some hair to show, relying on the authorities that permit such and not wanting to appear too extreme.

OK, OK. But Hummers aren't dictated in the Torah...yet they're all around:

Hummer Limousine Mitzvah Scavenger & ice-cream feast

Making a difference: Ride in style and do Mitzvot at the same time (receive your own camera to record it all!)

Friday November 7, 6:00 PM

But wait! There's more:

For a question such as this, I resolved, AIMĀ® or even iChatĀ® wasn't going to cut it. I left my coastal villa and took upon myself the hardships of journey over the Mexican desert hills in my air-conditioned Hummer.

Upon arrival at the Guadalajaran Shteibl and Mind-Body Fitness Center, I prepared myself with the ritual immersion in the heated pool followed by the traditional shot of kosher tequila....

But, truth to tell, I found photographic evidence of the very Hummer Chanukah parade that Inland Empress mentioned:

No photos of the rabbi's wife, however...

What, you didn't believe me? I'm hurt. Truly.

Hope you and yours have a lovely Christmas. I'm not making that up, either.

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