Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Latke to Learn

Now that Hanukkah's in the rear view mirror — which is funny, of course, because as everyone knows Jews don't have reflections — let's see what I can do to impart some knowledge upon you poor, poor souls who have yet to enjoy a December holiday.

Alex J. Cavanaugh asks:
How many Jewish homes have caught fire due to Shabbat candles?
None. But throughout history, 482,378 Jewish homes have caught fire due to Shabbat candle owners. I tell you, we Jews are an unstable, arsonistic bunch.

Bonus trivia: In Brooklyn between 1961-1964, approximately 83 homes burned due to the Shabbat Candles, a local gang whose favored method of warfare was lobbing Manischewitz Cocktails. (They easily bested the rival Maccabeasts until the latter began wielding sharpened dreidels.)

Aunt Sharon asks:
What do you eat during Hanukkah?
On the first night, I eat latkes with sour cream and applesauce, tsimis, and a tuna curry my dad makes. On days two through five I partake in a variety of meats, fruits, vegetables, breads, and ice creams. Day six is all about Thai food. Day seven, nothing but Christmas cookies.

And then, on day eight, I finish out the holiday by feasting upon a still-beating human heart, freshly carved from the chest of a non-believer.

Of course, only the latkes and tsimis have any cultural relevance. But hey, you asked.

She also asks:
Is any one of the eight days more important then the others?

MoZ asks:
I want to know more about the yarmulke. We can start with what styles and colors are in this season. Is it common to have seasonal yarmulke(s)? When does The Professor get to wear one?
This winter, the hottest trend among fashion-conscious Jewry is a red 600-thread count satin kippah edged in 24-karat gold filigree with three small diamonds set at its center (which, obviously, represent the Jewish holy trinity: diamonds, diamonds, and diamonds).

Some prefer seasonal yarmulkes, but many choose their style based on current fads and popular culture. In recent weeks, for instance, aluminum R2-D2 and BB-8 style skullcaps have been flying off the shelves. And throughout the election cycle, the most politically conservative Jews have been sporting a Trump™. (The most liberal Jews have also been sporting a Trump™. They've just been doing so ironically.)

As for The Professor (i.e. my son), he's only half-Jewish. So he gets to wear one half the time. We have an alarm set to go off every other minute.

Naomi asks:
How upset were Mary and Joseph when Jesus betrayed their faith and converted away from Judaism?
They weren't upset at all. Two reasons.
  1. He never converted. What, do you think he became a Buddhist? A Zoroastrian? A Roman? Hardly. He was exploring other options, sure, but he was a Jew to the end. (He would have made a great Buddhist, though.)
  2. You can't stay mad at Jesus. Go ahead, try. You just can't. He was too good a guy. And his parents loved him. Sure, they worried about him whenever he ran off with his roving gang of disciples, but he was their son, and they were proud of him. Also, disappointed. What, he couldn't find a nice Jewish girl and settle down? And what does a woman have to do to get some grandkids?

And Josh brings us to a close with:
What the heck is going on with those silly Eruv strings? Or, put another way, how much string should a rabbi string if a rabbi did string string?
Eruv strings? In essence, they're a life hack. That's right, Orthodox Jews are gaming the system.

Strict Jews are prohibited from carrying items (such as babies or keys or medicine) out of their home on the Sabbath. An eruv, a ritual enclosure that acts as a shared public domain, is often defined by walls, but its borders can also be demarked by wires or strings. This allows Jews to carry things (such as silly string or a tune or on with an affair) within their neighborhood without the scorn and crippling shame they would otherwise feel.

Your move, G*d.

As for the alternate version of your question, the answer is simple: 1.72 hectares per cubic second.

And that'll do it for this year's Jew & A. Especially since my son's yarmulke alarm is going off again. Time to get it back on his head.


  1. I learn so much from you...I can't wait to take all of this information back to the classroom. Oh wait, all religious references of any sort have been banned in the schools. (Hence the Polar Bear who brought gifts of fish and seal blubber for the children this year.)
    Happy New Year! Wishing you and yours a healthy and peaceful 2016.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I hope you have a wonderful 2016 as well, full of fish and seal blubber.