Aired April 7, on Dave’s Gone By.
Youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mov2WBjah6k&feature=youtu.be
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of April 8th, 2012.
“The mezuzah stays up!”
No, that’s not what my wife says when I take Viagra. It’s what a lawyer told the public after both sides settled a brouhaha over a Jewhaha.
A week ago, a woman living in a ritzy-titzy condominium in Stratford, Connecticut, was ordered – ordered! – by her co-op board to take down her mezuzah. A mezuzah, of course, is the tiny scroll of parchment that Jewish people put on their houses to ward off Jehovah’s Witnesses. We place a mezuzah on the frame of every doorway, so whenever we walk into a room, we know there’s a shriveled little piece of paper watching over us. Well, it beats a rabbit’s foot.
Jews have been doing this for thousands of years based on a mandate in the Torah that we should affix certain phrases to our doors. And not just phrases like, “please, no more menus.”
So out in Connecticut, Barbara Cadrenel, a plucky middle-aged Jewess, did what the Torah asked her to do: she put a mezuzah on her door frame. “No!” said the co-op board. “You are structurally changing the design of your home, which goes against our bylaws.”
How did the co-op board explain the presence of crosses on many other doors in the complex? Simple. The crosses were nailed to the doors – not the door frames. Ohhh. Must be nice to have a lawyer in the Klan.
But seriously, to me, the most infuriating part of this double standard was that the lady didn’t even nail her mezuzah to the frame. She velcroed it. Velcro! The best thing to happen to a pair of shoes since taking them off.
And still, the co-op board threatened to fine Cadrenel fifty dollars a day if she didn’t take the scroll down. One week, one lawsuit and a media firestorm later – I am happy to say, everything has worked out for the best. The co-op board apologized to the woman and said, in no uncertain terms, “we were stupid, we were ignorant, the only Jews we’ve ever seen are on `Seinfeld,’ please put your mezuzah wherever you want, so long as it doesn’t put some voodoo hex on our crèche.”
By the way, if you think I’m exaggerating the board’s dumbness, this is what their attorney said in settling the case. Quote: “I didn’t realize, and the board members didn’t realize what a mezuzah was. I didn’t realize the significance.” Unquote. The board members didn’t know what a mezuzah was? Is this a co-op or a yurt? And while I appreciate their apology, don’t tell me the second they started threatening this woman with fines and legal fees, and she came back to them saying, “this is a religious symbol. My people have been doing this for thousands of years. Walk through a Jewish neighborhood – okay, maybe not in Connecticut but in New Jersey. Open a goddamn Wiki page!” Why does it take a week of closing in and lawyering up to come out and say what you must have been told the first hour this mishegoss went down?
Now, I’m not pointing fingers or shouting “anti-Semitism” or calling for a Million-Jew March down Milford. I’m just saying that even in this day and age, when we know something about everyone, and we’re a mouse click away from knowing too much about everybody, it’s amazing how people can have no clue. Next time I see someone sitting on a subway holding a rosary, I think I’ll say, “Hey! Nice beads. Do they all go in your vagina or do – what? You mean that t-shaped thing in the middle isn’t a battery-operated control stick?” Well, whaddya know.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.
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