SHALOM, DAMMIT! Here’s Rabbi Sol Solomon

BRUCHIM HA’BAIM to the digital home of Rabbi Sol Solomon, founder and spiritual leader of Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

Brilliant, prolific, and kinda cute, Rabbi Sol has appeared off-Broadway in his one-man show, SHALOM DAMMIT! AN EVENING WITH RABBI SOL SOLOMON, and he created 10 episodes of the groundbreaking program, SHALOM DAMMIT!, which aired on Long Island television in 2007.

Rabbi Sol’s mini-sermons, called RABBINICAL REFLECTIONS, air on the Dave’s Gone By radio program, which broadcasts and streams Shabbos mornings on http://www.uncradio.com.

So this is your portal to all things Solomonic, including video of his stage show, his TV programs, and the text/audio of his Reflections. We welcome you to the life and mind of the one, the only, the Jewish, Rabbi Sol Solomon.

Visit our ABOUT page or surf the menus above to get fully Solomized!

Rabbi Sol Solomon in "SHALOM DAMMIT!" Live - March 13-17 in NYC

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RABBINICAL REFLECTION: Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #158 (1/2/19) – Farewell 2018

Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #158 (1/2/19) –  Farewell 2018

 Airs Dec. 31, 2018 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube: https://youtu.be/8RIIElz0hH8

Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the New Year: January 1, 2019.

Well, you can’t say it wasn’t interesting. Even though we had no major war, the economy was robust, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg somehow stayed alive, 2018 was still a pretty goofy year.

We had winter Olympics in South Korea, while President Trump flirted with the supreme leader of North Korea. And who knows what the real relationship is between Trump and Vladimir Putin? Robert Muller is trying to figure it out, although his investigation is going on longer than the Torah portion at a stutterer’s bar mitzvah.

Meanwhile the stock market, which has been on an almost uninterrupted winning streak since the final weeks of George W. Tush, finally obeyed the laws of gravity and dropped 4000 points by early winter. That said, the numbers have been so topsy-turvy, by mid-January we might be back at new highs again—and even newer highs now that Jeff Sessions is out as attorney general. So it’s likely just a matter of time before—just as in Canada now—you can get marijuana anywhere you wanna.

Sessions wasn’t the only one through the revolving door of Donald Trump’s cabinet. The EPA-hating head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, resigned in July. Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over his support of the Iran deal. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis disembarked after disagreeing with The Donald about having troops in Syria and Afghanistan—because they’re doing so much good there, right? And even UN Ambassador Nikki Haley hailed a cab—but not before she and the administration made good on their promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The new Embassy opened on May 14—the 70th anniversary of the founding of Eretz Yisroel, so whatever else bad I have to say about our President, he gets a big “mezuzahs up—way up!” from me about that.

But not everything was good for the Jews in 2018. In October, a racist lunatic opened fire on Shabbos services, killing eleven at the ironically named “Tree of Life Synagogue” in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, in Israel, Bibi Netanyahu has a friend in Trump but not many supporters on his home turf. He’s likely to be indicted in two separate fraud investigations. His wife Sara is already indicted on charges that she bilked the government out of $100,000 worth of free meals. I know Kosher food is expensive, but sheesh!

Speaking of folks facing prison time, Bill Cosby is doing 3-to-10 in the pen as punishment for decades of making women stir his pudding. Harvey Weinstein lost his movie company and faces criminal charges over his naughty behavior. And Kevin Spacey struck a blow for equality by proving that gay men can be just as creepy as straight ones.

One creep who got away with it and then some is Brett Kavanaugh, who probably did some bad drunken things to even drunker girls back in the day. But without any real evidence against him, he beat the rap and is now tilting the Supreme Court so far right, it’s a wonder all the benches don’t slide to the window.

And yet, even with so many countries—like Brazil and Hungary—electing hard-line xenophobic nationalists—under the guise of “populism”—good things have also occurred. By a popular vote of two-to-one, Ireland repealed its ban on abortion. India finally decriminalized homosexuality. Iceland made it illegal to pay men more than women for the same job. And after a 35-year ban, Saudi Arabia reopened its movie theaters and gave women the right to drive. They even opened an amusement park with a house of horrors—no, wait, that’s just the Saudi Arabian Embassy.

In the 2016 US midterm elections, a record number of women were voted into Congress—most of them Democrats, so the GOP now faces a government more split than Chris Christie’s pants. Even before the House pivots left next week, the White House faces gridlock. As we speak—well, I’m speaking—we’re in a partial government shutdown because the President wants a wall, and the Democrats prefer a bridge. At stake are a few measly billion dollars, which, considering we’re facing a trillion-dollar deficit next year, is really chump change. And hopefully we’ll change the chump in 2020.

Some not-so-nice changes happened to the internet this year. Facebook knows your voting habits, food preferences, and underwear color—and they’ve been selling that information to data-mining firms for years. And the FCC torpedoed “net neutrality,” so now big media companies can charge more for faster internet—or slow down or block sites that aren’t theirs. You think it’s no big deal, but just wait till it takes eight hours to watch a threesome on Redtube.

And speaking of hot, California nearly burned to the ground with wildfires. Too bad Indonesia didn’t loan them their tsunami water. And summertime saw heated protests over gun control after yet another school shooting—this one at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed, though many who survived created the gun-control activist group, Never Again. I kind of wish they’d pick another phrase, since that one is reserved for a previous horror, but be that as it may, one kid who survived became a real spokesman for the movement and has just been accepted into Harvard. Boy, the requirements to get into the Ivy League just get tougher and tougher, don’t they?

We had some tough losses in 2018: Penny Marshall, who was in a league of her own. Stan Lee, who was Marvelous. John McCain, a war hero who voted his conscience. (He didn’t always have the brightest conscience, but who does?) We lost both Barbara Bush and George Herbert Walker Bush, who had a mediocre Presidency but absolutely horrible sperm. He also had a funeral that lasted longer than a stutterer’s Bar M—oops, I used that one already. Farewell to film directors Milos Forman and Bernardo Bertolucci, who made people say, “I can’t believe that is butter.” Goodbye to Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, who were luckier than 99 percent of the world population but still chose the next life over this one. Aloha to Stephen Hillenburg, who had this crazy idea that a sponge and a starfish would make a fun cartoon, and Stephen Bochco, who actually believed TV viewers would want to spend an hour every week with lawyers. Go figure. Farewell to Burt Reynolds, who posed in Playgirl magazine to show his longest yard. We lost Bill Daily of I Dream of Jeannie, David Ogden Stiers of M*A*S*H, Harry Anderson of Night Court, and Hugh Wilson who created WKRP in Cincinnati. Novelist Tom Wolfe, who had the right stuff. Country musician Roy Clark—Salute! Aretha Franklin—Respect! Dolores O’Riordan, who should have lingered a little longer. Neil Simon, who, lucky for us, was always Broadway bound. Stephen Hawking, who popularized physics but bashed and boycotted Israel, so wherever he is, I hope he’s still in a wheelchair.

Returning to happier news this year, Ethiopia and Eritrea declared a truce after 20 years of war. Who knew? And a whole soccer team and their coach were rescued after three weeks trapped in a cave in Thailand. And water was discovered on Mars. Meh. If they discover seltzer there, then they’d have something. But everyone was looking up at the sky on August 11th, when a partial solar eclipse made us put aside the violence, the politics, the dysfunction, and just take in the wonder of nature. It was the moment we all realized that no matter how crazy things are every day, at any minute the earth could spin off its axis, and we could all be obliterated, so why worry?

My hope for 2019 is that we all work together, we all help each other, and that we actually do discover seltzer on Mars. Hey, it’s better than getting chocolate milk from Uranus.

I wish you all a most happy and healthy Shanah Tova Americana. This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

(c) 2018 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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RABBINICAL REFLECTION: Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #157 (12/15/18) – Cold Outside

Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #157 (12/15/18) –  Cold Outside

 Airs Dec. 15, 2018 on Dave’s Gone By.  Watch on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY54SIUvu0M&feature=youtu.be

 

Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of December 15, 2018.

(sings) “I really can’t stay (Bubbie, it’s cold outside). I gotta go away (Bubbie, it’s cold outside).”

What a catchy holiday-season tune that is—and what a surprise entry in the hashtag-Me-Too era of political correctness. In case you haven’t heard, two weeks ago, a radio station in California banned the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” on the grounds that it has sexist overtones that could encourage rape.

Written more than 70 years ago by a nice Jewish boy named Frank Loesser, who also gave us the forgotten sexist musicals, Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” does have an uncomfortable undertow. After all, it’s all about a man imploring his date to stay the evening and cuddle instead of braving the icy winter weather. Just because the air is frigid doesn’t mean she has to be. However, one line in the song has the lady questioning what’s in her drink—which is what every woman who ever dated Bill Cosby would like to know.

So the champions of other people’s feelings decided that this song—which has been performed by such chauvinist pigs as Eydie Gorme, Bette Midler, Anne Murray, Lady Gaga, and Idina Menzel—this song was suddenly inappropriate for radio airplay. God forbid a woman who was coerced into an uncompromising position—or several uncompromising positions—should be sitting in an Uber and hear this come on the speakers. Oh trauma! Oh PTSD! Oh, come on now.

I’m not saying there isn’t something a little ooky about Leon Redbone begging Zooey Deschanel to stay for another round of spiked eggnog, but this is sensitivity gone berserk. If you start taking songs written a zillion years ago, with PG-rated intentions, and see them with modern, X-rated glasses, you’ll never put on Spotify again.

Remember when “Louie Louie” was banned because radio programmers couldn’t figure out what the lyrics meant? Remember when the BBC banned The Who’s “My Generation”—I kid you not—because they thought Roger Daltrey was making fun of stutterers? And, yes, The Bangles’s “Walk Like an Egyptian” was banned by Clear Channel so as not to offend people of Middle-Eastern descent. Perhaps they should have changed the song to “Walk like a Saudi Arabian?” (sings) “Go in the embassy don’t come out. Get yourself hacked into bits…”.

As someone who appreciates art, and comedy and free speech and pornography—and not necessarily in that order—I am sick to death of the political correctness blanketing and suffocating the writers and performers of today. Look at Kevin Hart. He does a stand-up routine eight years ago poking fun at black people by poking fun at gay people—and suddenly he can’t host the Oscars anymore. And I thought gay people liked being poked.

And what about Michael Richards, from Seinfeld? He tries improv-ing a riff on race at a comedy club, fails miserably—and for a decade, his career was laid flatter than Rachel Corrie.

Now, if Rachel Corrie’s family is listening, I apologize for that joke. I’m not sorry for making it, but if I personally hurt your feelings, my apologies. And, of course, that’s never enough. Nowadays, if you apologize for offending someone—that’s getting you off too easy. You have to make believe you personally are filled with remorse and disgust for even thinking of the terrible thing you blurted out. Well, I’m sorry, but I’m not that sorry. If you can’t listen to a joke without getting heart palpitations, your cardiologist owes you an apology, not me.

But back to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”—which, by the way, was reinstated by that California radio station after an overwhelming number of listeners objected to the ban and said the tune was part of their harmless holiday hoopla. I’m gonna add one more h: hypocrisy. How easy for a self-righteous, snowflake radio programmer to say, “ooh, lemme score brownie points with women listeners by pulling this questionable song off the playlist.” Sure, but aren’tcha being a bit selective? The history of popular music is replete with tunes that are sexist, racist, and tasteless. Heck, the Rolling Stones wouldn’t have a career if they treated women as equals. “Under My Thumb”? “Look at that “Stupid Girl”? “Let’s spend the night together, now I need you more than ever?”—that sounds like coercion to me. “Midnight Rambler”—“I’ll stick my knife right down your throat?” And don’t get me started on “Stray Cat Blues”—“I can see that you’re 15 years old. And bring your friend who’s even wilder than you are.,,`cause baby, it’s cold outside.”

And the Stones aren’t the only ones. How about the Beatles? “Catch you with another man, that’s the end little girl” —that sounds like a direct threat and grounds for a restraining order. The Beach Boys: “I wish they all could be California girls.” Why, Brian Wilson? Because they’re blonde and white? Whatsamatter with girls from Boro Park or Harlem? Led Zeppelin—forget Jimmy Page shtupping an underage groupie in real life—even their songs. “Gonna give you every inch of my love?” What if she only wants half your inches? Or a third. Who are you to force her to take the whole megillah? I mean, in my case, it’s two-and-a-half inches, so no harm done, but be that as it may…

So many songs push the envelope of discomfort. If we censor one, must we not censor all? Even the less overt ones? Take “Blowing in the Wind.” Oh, sure, most see it a protest song, but I’ll betcha it triggers a girl or two who was blowing in the back seat. And what about “America, the Beautiful?” Alternate national anthem, you say? Homophobic, I say! “Above the fruited plain”? Fruits belong above with everyone else—just like in the West Village.

Goyim, are you dreaming of a White Christmas? Maybe it’s because you’ve zoned the blacks out of your neighborhood. Simon and Garfunkel—“The Sound of Silence.” Silence has no sound; you’re just fooling deaf people. How cruel! And speaking of sadism, let’s not forget that bastion of insensitivity towards the differently abled: “Amazing Grace.” “Was blind, but now I see.” So you’re saying you’re better than people who are still sightless? “Oh, I was blind, but then I cleaned up my act and now, “Pfffth on you, Ray Charles! Go read a waffle iron, Helen Keller! I’m in the seeing crowd now!”

I’m not saying every song is kind and correct. Some tunes could use a parental sticker: “Warning: Written in 1947 when women were still considered property.” But it’s time for the arts to kick out bleeding hearts. Too many careers are being stunted, too many writers are self-censoring, too many knee-jerk decisions are being made on the basis of, “Gee, there’s a manic depressive somewhere who might hear this and kick over the stool.” Let’s all calm the hell down. If we’ve gotten used to the President’s tweets, we can sing along to a tune with a wince-worthy lyric.

After all, on Passover we end the Seder with “Chad Gadya,” a children’s ditty about animals being beaten and butchered, eating each other, the angel of death kills a guy—if there’s a song that’s gonna send some nine-year-old into math class with his dad’s AR-15, “Chad Gadya” is it.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

(c) 2018 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #156 (8/11/18) – Joke Time

Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #156 (8/11/18) –  JOKE TIME

 Airs Aug. 11, 2018 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube:

Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of Aug. 11, 2018.

Well, my friends, I hope you’ve been having a terrific summertime. I haven’t. I’ve been in pain, I’m getting angry letters from my accountant, and my local deli raised prices on everything but the free mustard, so I am seething, my friends. But what better way to get me out of my funk, out of my relentlessly pissed-off state than with jokes? I love sharing jokes with a Jewish flavor and then offering a bit of interpretation, some talmudic reconnaissance, if you will, to put the comedy in a Kosher context.

Full disclosure: This joke comes from the comedian Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling, who is not Jewish but might be circumcised. It’s about a guy who has suffered for years with terrible headaches. He’s been to doctors, neurologists, acupuncture, meditation—nothing helps. Finally, he visits a specialist who checks his eyes, checks his pulse, listens to his heart, and tells him, “Okay, I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news. The good news is: you can cure your headaches completely once and for all.”

“That’s amazing!” the guy says. “What do I do?”

“The bad news,” the specialist says, “is that you must have your testicles removed.”

“What?” screams the man. “Castration?”

“I’m sorry,” says the doctor. “That’s the only way. Chop off the testicles, and you’ll be fine.”

Distraught, the man goes home to think it over. But he can’t think because his headaches are so bad. Finally, he says, “I can’t take this anymore. I’ll do it.”

So he goes for the surgery: cuts his nuts off. After a couple of days recovering, he’s walking around the house cleaning, dusting…and he realizes, “Oh my God! I’m not in pain. My headache is gone! I feel great!” He starts dancing, singing—he’s so happy, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. That’s when he thinks, “You know, I feel like a new man, so I’m gonna change my life. And the first step is getting myself a new suit of clothes. I feel like a million bucks; now I wanna dress like it.”

So the guy does some research and learns that the best tailor in New York is, of course, in the garment district. He makes an appointment saying money’s no object, shows up at the cramped little shop on 38th Street, and asks for the famous Chaim Shmulovitz.

After a couple of minutes, a wizened old Jewish man shuffles out of the back room. He says nothing as he stares at the visitor, taking him in from head to toe. “Okay,” says Chaim. “You need a Borsalino hat, short-brim, size 7 1/4. Then we’ll get you a double-breasted, executive-cut suit, two buttons, size 40 regular. The pants also 40 with a 28 inseam. Silk tie with patterning. Shoes you’re an 8 1/2, wide-width, Oxford. Oh, and can’t leave out the underwear: you take a Hanes medium V-neck and size 38 briefs. Come back in a week, and you’re all set.”

“Wow,” says the guy. “I heard you were good, but that’s amazing! Just by looking at me, you got my whole style to a T, including the sizes.”

“Of course I did,” says Chaim. “I’m not in the business 60 years without being the best.”

“However,” says the guy, “you did make one mistake. For the underpants, I take a 34 brief, not a 38.”

“Mister, don’t tell me my job. You take a medium undershirt and size 38 on the briefs, and that’s that.”

“Excuse me,” says the man. “You may know your job, but I know myself, and I’ve been shopping for my own clothes all my life. I take a 34 or I take my business elsewhere.”

“Okay, okay,” says Chaim. “The customer is always right—even when he’s wrong. You want a 34? 34 it is. But I warn you: if you wear size 34 briefs, your left testicle is gonna slide out the side and hang down, the right testicle is gonna spill out and mash against your thigh, the middle will pull up in between. You will get the most terrible headaches.”

 

Now what do we learn from this joke? First of all, if you do business with an old Jewish man who has six decades experience, you probably want to listen to him—just as when we consider laws in the bible. HaShem invented these rules for living 2000 years ago, so even if we think we know better, we probably don’t know better. So if you’ve been coveting thy neighbor’s ox, even today, you’re better off disregarding your neighbor and buying your own ox. And getting therapy.

We also learn from this joke that sometimes the solution to a problem is easier than you think—you just haven’t thinked it yet. God knows how many different chemical compounds Alexander Flemming was futzing around with before he came back from a vacation, saw mold growing in a petri dish, and bing-bang-boom! goodbye syphilis. So whenever you think you have a solution for a crisis, take one more moment to make sure you’re not cutting off your beitzim to spite your punim.

 

On to the next joke:

Irving, my second cousin, is a very troubled man. Every night, he gets drunk on Manischewitz, and then his wife starts yelling at him, “Oh, you’re killing yourself with that alcohol. You keep drinking that much, you’re gonna die.”

Finally, last week Irving wakes up after passing out the night before, looks across the room, and starts to laugh. “Serves you right, Marjorie,” he yells. “You’re so worried about me killing myself with booze, but you’re the one lying dead with your head bashed in.”

 

What do we learn from that joke? Nothing, we learn absolutely nothing from that horrible joke. Let us just move on.

 

Although he denies it, my uncle Benny has been having hearing problems. He and my aunt Sophie argue about it all the time. Finally, she demands he visit an audiologist. Benny tells the guy, “I’m fine. There’s no problem. I’m only here because my wife says she has seen some changes.”

“Oh?” says doctor. “Can you describe the symptoms?”

“Of course I can,” my uncle says. “There’s Homer, who’s bald and yellow. His wife Marge who has big blue hair…”

 

Ah, the vanity of older men. We don’t want to admit that once we’re 50, everything goes downhill faster than a Raisinet falling out of the box and rolling under your couch. For many of us, admitting to a physical or mental weakness is tantamount to giving up. Today we spot one gray hair in the beard, tomorrow we’re in a nursing home. But as we live longer and longer in the world, we have to get used to diminished capacity and asking for help when we need it. If you can’t walk across the room without a cane, you don’t vist avek forever in a chair; you grab a cane and walk. If you have diabetes, you poke your thumb every morning and get on with your day. If it’s your anniversary and your wife wants a little fun, you take a blue pill, you wait an hour, and then you give her the best two-and-a-half minutes of her life. In all cases, you acknowledge the obstacle and then work your way around it. Just remember: whether it’s diabetes, hearing, or headaches, change your underwear first. You never know.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

(c) 2018 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

 

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #155 (6/10/18): 2018 TONY AWARDS

Airs June 9, 2018 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube: https://youtu.be/QIP-56ZFO50

Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of June 10, 2018.

Being Jewish, I don’t know a lot of guys named Tony, but I do know and love one Tony: The Tony Awards! They happen every June, and they celebrate excellence, artistry, and producers’ amazing ability to congratulate their own good taste and wealth. If you love Broadway, ya gotta love the Tonys: the one award ceremony per year that isn’t devoted to horrible country music.

Of course, being a Rabbi, I have my own thoughts on the Tony nominations, which I share each year in a special theatrical Rabbinical Reflection. Basically, I look at all the categories and try to find the Jews. For example, this season’s nominees for Best Play are unbelievably goyish. There’s Junk, written by an Arab; Latin History for Morons, written and performed by the Hispanic John Leguizamo; there’s Harry Potter, which has a black Hermione and a WASPy everyone else; and a drama called The Children, which deals with the aftermath of a holocaust. Don’t get your hopes up. It’s a nuclear holocaust—not the other one.

Jews have better luck with the Best Revival category. Yes, there’s Eugene O’Neill and Edward Albee, but there’s also the half-Jew Kenneth Lonergan and his play, Lobby Hero, which is all about a nebbishy security guard. That character isn’t explicitly Jewish but…come on. Come on! Also in the Revival category, you got Tom Stoppard. A lot of people don’t realize he’s a Yid whose family fled Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation. People also might not know that Stoppard’s 1974 comedy, Travesties, deals with two Jews: performance artist Tristan Tzara, and Vladimir Lenin, whose mother was of hidden Jewish ancestry. In fact, there are a lot of things we don’t know about Travesties because no one can understand the fucking thing. But it seems really funny.

And then there’s the elephant in the room—the circumcised, payes-wearing elephant—Tony Kushner and Angels in America. This play starts with a rabbi and goes downhill from there. Seriously, Angels is widely considered a modern classic: the most important play of the latter 20th century—with the possible exception of my own Shalom, Dammit!. (But mine is a musical, so I understand the nominators’ confusion.) My sole quibble with Angels in America is that its focus is on three Jews, and they’re all wretched. Louis is a gay New Yorker sleeping with a shaygitz who gets AIDS, and the symptoms are so horrible, Louis can’t take it. He dumps the boyfriend and starts banging a Mormon. This leaves him with tremendous guilt, which is the one thing a heterosexual Jew can relate to in this play. Meanwhile, the other big Jew is Roy Cohn, the hateful, closeted son-of-a-bitch who helped Joseph McCarthy destroy suspected communists. Among them: the third character, Ethel Rosenberg. She and her husband Julius went to the electric chair for treason for funneling secret documents to the Russian government. Obviously, this was before colluding with Russia became something that got you elected president. All told, as a multi-dimensional drama, Angels in America is major. As a show to bring a group from the Hadassah…I’ll stick with Perfect Crime.

Now, before we get too depressing, let us note that all three Tony nominated musical revivals have Jewish DNA. Carousel: by yidlach Richard Rodgers and half-Jewish Oscar Hammerstein II; My Fair Lady by yidlach Alan Jay Lerner and half-Jewish Frederick Loewe; and Once on this Island, by yidlach Lynn Ahrens and an Irish guy. Strangely enough, all three musicals tell of incandescent women suffering at the hands of asshole men—which is why I’m not taking my wife to any of them.

I am dismayed by the paucity of Jews in the lead acting categories. Andrew Garfield stars in Angels in America, and Amy Schumer made the critics laugh in Meteor Shower, but don’t be fooled! Lauren Ridloff, of Children of a Lesser God, has a Jewish name, but I’m pretty sure she’s a schvartze; and Jessie Mueller looks Jewish but she’s Lutheran. Worse, Josh Groban, who co-hosts this year’s Tonys with Sara Bareilles, had a Jewish father who converted to marry his Christian mother. Everyone assumes Groban is a Yid because of the beard and old footage of him playing Tevye in high school, but he’s as goyish as pulled pork on a Triscuit. People are so worried about fake news; we should worry about fake Jews!

But I kid, because one of the new musicals up for a Tony, and the one most likely to win, is a minyan unto itself. Of course, I am talking about The Band’s Visit, an off-Broadway smash that is wowing them uptown at the Barrymore Theater. It’s written playwright Itamar Moses, whose parents are Israeli, and scored by David Yazbek, who comes from a Lebanese dad and a Jewish mama. More importantly, the musical tells of an Egyptian police band accidentally stuck in a nowhere, hick town in Israel. Is there fear, mistrust, miscommunication? A bit, but there’s also music, empathy, helping, romance, niceness, clever lyrics, lovely music—what’s not to enjoy? The Jews in The Band’s Visit aren’t perfect; in fact, they’re gruff and neurotic compared to the decorous Egyptians, but everyone’s human, everyone’s making the best of a weird situation, no one talks politics, no one wants to talk politics, and by the end, everyone’s a little bit better off through the commingling of cultures. I know I was. Except when I had to explain to my dear wife Miriam Libby why I had to cover my lap with my Playbill every time Katrina Lenk walked onstage. My God, that woman could melt hummus. Was the musical worth sleeping on my couch for three days? Damn right it was. And I will be rooting for The Band’s Visit to win many Tony Awards on Sunday, June 10th, at Radio City’s Hall of Music.

Win or lose, I congratulate all nominees of all de-nominations, and wish for a wonderful night of glamour, showtunes, and chorus boys who don’t have to worry about Kevin Spacey buggering them in the lounge. There’s nothing like live theater and nothing bigger than Broadway. It’s like eating deli; even when the sandwich is mediocre, it’s still deli! And I am hungry for a Broadway feast.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York. Curtain up!

(c) 2018 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #154 (3/24/18) – DimonaLand

Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #154 (3/24/18) – DimonaLand

airs March 24, 2018 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube: https://youtu.be/azlmn6yQcSs

Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of March 25, 2018.

What does Israel really need? What’s missing from the land of milk and honey? Oh, some would say peace between Jews and Arabs. Others might suggest curing cancer or irrigating more of the Negev. But a couple of Rabbis have a different idea. They say what Israel needs most of all is a theme park.

No, I am not kidding. A story in the Jerusalem Post explains that entrepreneurs have been visiting Eretz Yisroel in the hopes of building a Jewish equivalent of Disney’s Magic Kingdom. In fact, planning is well under way for a 60-acre tourist attraction in the heart of Dimona—a city which, until now, was best known for housing the secret arsenal of Israel’s nuclear weapons. What better place to bring kids for a Hebraic vacation or, as I call it, Shlepcot.

The theme park will consist of five “worlds”: “World of Spirits, World of the Jewish Nation, World of Society, World of Time, and Oasis.” Someone got lazy with the last one, there. (Either that, or Noel Gallagher is really out of ideas.) But this is beautiful – Lea Malul, CEO of the project, told the Jerusalem Post, quote, “The park will have the same rides and the same layout as Disney World but with content. It will be 90% fun and 10% content.” Because God forbid Jews should have 100% fun at anything. No, always gotta make room for disappointment and boredom. Even at Passover, a happy holiday where we escaped from slavery and entered the holy land, we pour out 10 percent of our wine glasses. Why? Because Egyptians died, and we’re not supposed to celebrate too much. So now they’ll have a theme park where the last 10 seconds of the roller coaster slows down for a physics lesson.

But seriously, although the original idea for Shlepcot was put forward by a New Jersey Rabbi, the venue won’t be one of these biblical passion pageants. Nevertheless, it will promote Talmudic values. For example—and again, this is right from the Jerusalem Post—the popular Splash Mountain ride will include a theme of six work days and then, after the drop, a calm zone representing the day of rest. There’ll also be a People of the Book Roller Coaster. Which I guess means that Genesis and Exodus go really fast, and the last three books go two miles an hour and put you to sleep before Deuteronomy. They also might consider branding the long lines in the hot sun as representing 40 years in the desert, and making The Haunted Mansion Leona Helmsley’s old apartment.

If the project goes forward, developers expect the surrounding area to be built up with shopping malls, hotels—I’d say falafel stands are a good bet. More importantly, officials from Dimona hope to make that city an international destination. Said one official, quote, “Every year, four million cars pass by en route from Beersheba to Eilat. We want them stopping in Dimona.” What they don’t say is that the city was originally settled by North Africans and later got an influx of Russians. So the theme park will have both rhythm and fixed elections.

Here’s one more quote from Malul, the CEO: “Jewish history is mostly sad – with the Holocaust and so on.” I love that, `the Holocaust and so on.’ Like she’s browsing through a catalogue. But, she says, “this will be a unique way for Jewish values and learning to become fun.” Well, 90 percent fun.

Most promising is the idea that this park will not have Mickey Mouse or Goofy but “alternative characters who will represent the heroes of tomorrow,” unquote. One can only imagine: Ephraim, the plucky lizard. Stingy Duck. Winnie the Jooh. Captain Shnook. Shmuella DeVille. Shimon E. Cricket. And of course, Lilo and Stitch, the stitch being part of grandpa’s hernia operation. And I guess you need seven dwarf-equivalents: Yitzi, Chaiki, Shloimi, Rivki, Doc (who is a Jewish doctor), Gassy, and Grumpy because, let’s face it, Grumpy was always the Jewish one anyway.

Jokes aside, I am all for anything that brings joy and tourism to Dimona. And if some shmegegge employee accidentally pushes the wrong button, and instead of starting the Magic Carpet ride blows up half of Lebanon? Well, that would sure be worth the price of an E-Ticket.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York. (sings) “Leave a small tip after all, leave a small tip after all…”

(c) 2018 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #153 (1/14/18) – Jokes for the New Year

Airs Jan. 14, 2017 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube: https://youtu.be/iQj24DuYeM0

Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of January 14th, 2018.

Since we’ve just begun a new year, I don’t wanna get into race and immigration and fires and floods and Kim Jong Un and Palestinians and black dresses at the Golden Globes . . . I just wanna have a little fun. Let’s keep the brightness of the shanah chadashah going with something this old Rabbi loves almost as much deli meat: jokes. Jokes with a Jewish perspective.

For example, my cousin Irving is an actor in New York, so, of course, he’s unemployed. He gets a call from his agent who says, “I’ve got a job for you. It’s a little unusual, but it pays well, and it uses your mime skills—which, let’s face it, how often, right?”

“Great,” says Irving. “Where do I go?”

“The Bronx Zoo,” says the agent. “And bring a banana.”

So, warily, Irving makes his way uptown and checks in with the zookeeper, who says, “Here’s the deal: Koko, our 38-year-old gorilla, died over the weekend. While we’re waiting to buy a new ape, we don’t wanna lose the crowds. Your job is to dress up in a gorilla suit, go in the cage, and act like a monkey. Fool everyone, and you’ve got the gig for a couple of weeks.”

With no better prospects, Irving agrees, gets in the cage, eats the banana, and starts behaving in an ape-like fashion. And he really gets into it: jumping around, mimicking the crowd, throwing his feces, swinging on the bars. In fact, Irving is so method, he climbs on a rope and tries to swing himself to a tree branch. Unfortunately, he loses his grip and falls into the lion’s cage.

“Gevalt!” screams Irving. “Help me, help me!” as the lion strides towards him. Suddenly, the animal rears up on its hind legs, crouches over Irving and whispers, “Be quiet, schmuck! You wanna get us both fired?”

Now, this is not, per se, a Jewish joke, except for the schmuck part and the out-of-work Jewish actor part. But we can say the perspective is Jewish-esque because it concerns people doing whatever they must to get by. Heaven knows, and heaven does know, what the Jewish people have endured and the sacrifices they’ve made, just to survive in ancient Egypt, or 15th century Spain, or the Warsaw Ghetto, or the 15-items-or-less line at ShopRite. If that means letting someone in power make a monkey out of you, at least the gorilla eats and lives to swing another day.

Now, from swinging we move to skiing, and the Olympic tryouts in Montreal. Vying for the last spot to get into the Olympics were three champion skiers: an American, a Muslim, and an Orthodox Jew. In the final qualifying round, each athlete was allowed to have his trainer place something on the course to motivate and inspire them, which they did.

The trials begin, and the American zips down the slope in record time: 45 seconds. Then the Muslim shusses down the same course: 43 seconds. He’s on top. Finally, the Chassid starts his run, and everyone’s waiting and waiting and waiting. Five minutes later, he finally crosses the finish line.

So the athletes are on their platforms, and the reporters ask their trainers what happened. The American trainer says, “Well, at the starting gate, I put a pile of money. This was a reminder of the commercials and endorsement deals he’d get if he makes the Olympics.”

The reporters then ask the Muslim trainer, “Hey, congratulations. How’d you motivate your athlete to win?”

The trainer says, “Simple. At the finish line, I held up a giant poster of 72 virgins. Who wouldn’t wanna ski towards that?”

Finally, the reporters turn towards the Jewish trainer. They say, “Yankel Bernstein was favored to win this race. Instead he made the slowest time ever. What happened?”

“I dunno,” said the trainer. “I certainly tried to make him feel at home here in Montreal. That’s why I put a mezuzah on every gate.”

This silly but adorable joke gives us another insight into the Jewish character. Looked at one way, we can see that religious life is filled with time-consuming, seemingly unnecessary rituals: do this, wash that, don’t eat that, say this prayer, go to that shul. But we also receive great comfort from engaging in the same activities, in the same way, that our great-great-great and not-so-great grandparents did. More importantly, this joke reminds us that there’s always time to stop and take a moment and center yourself in the universe. Buddhists might set aside a meditation break, Arabs kneel and pray five times a day, Protestants have their four-o’clock gin and tonic. So for a Jew to plant a shmutchka on a Torah scroll when going into a room? Whom does it hurt?

Okay, time for our final joke. Benjy’s been working for the company five years, never had a raise. His wife hocks him and hocks him, so finally, timidly, he goes up to the big boss and says, “Look, I don’t wanna make trouble, but my wife says we need help with the bills, she says I deserve more than I’m making, she says I’m entitled to ask for a raise.”

The boss looks at Benjy and says, “Tell you what: come back tomorrow; I’ll give you the answer.”

“Okay,” says Benjy. “But why not now?”

The boss says, “I have to ask my wife.”

If you are married, I do not have to explain this joke. If you are not married: please, go out and live a little for the rest of us!

Meanwhile, the rest of us will regale ourselves with jokes, and start the new year with a spring in our step and a wiggle in our payes. And may we be blessed with that luxury for just another 51 weeks.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York.

(c) 2018 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #152 (1/1/18): Farewell 2017


Airs Dec. 31, 2017 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube: https://youtu.be/LZok1OAX8Gk

Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of January 1, 2018.

Hard to believe, but the tumultuous, ridiculous year of 2017, or, as I like to call it, 5777-5778, is coming to an end. We’ve made it through 365 days without a nuclear war, an ice age, and a new Renny Harlin film, so why grouse?

As I did last year, I have chosen to summarize the events of the past annum in a poetical-artistical form, so I hope you will bear with me as we bid shalom to the current year and, well, shalom to the next. Seriously, whoever invented Hebrew really dropped the ball on word coinage. Anyhoo, here goes:

`Twas the night before New Year’s and throughout this great land,
Americans took about all they could stand

The country was split between blue states and red
And folks on each side wished the other side dead

The Democrats never imagined they’d lose
To a man who refers to the truth as “fake news”

A man who will speak without filters or grace
Though he could not repeal and he could not replace

And so, onto migrants Trump’s temper did fall
But Mexico said, “We won’t pay for your wall!”

“Now, folks,” said The Donald, “I’m just getting warm!
I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll do tax reform!”

And just before Christmas, the bill it did pass.
It’s great for the rich, not the poor and middle-class.

The stock market soared, the jobless claims fell
And still we all feel like we’re going to hell

Big hurricanes drowned with their winds and their waves
And statues came down `cause their subjects owned slaves

The national anthem brought teams to their knees
While Hollywood drowned in an ocean of sleaze

Oh Spacey, oh Keillor, oh Lauer, oh Franken
A few should get jailtime, the others a spankin’

The Democrats grinned when Fox News canned O’Reilly
Till the axe fell on Schwartz, Hockenberry, and Smiley

And suddenly hashtags were filled with “Me Toos”
Against a whole passel of rich, horny Jews

Yet Hollywood shlock remained vegetative
“Star Wars” 26 – how innovative!

But at least cinema took our minds off our woes
Prince Harry did, too, when he chose to propose

But still there were shootings by Muslims and crazies
With Jason Aldean fans all pushing up daisies

Now, that Vegas massacre was not by a Muslim
But they sure got mad at a Jewish Jerus’lem

And speaking of mad, how about North Korea
Which seems like it’s ready to start World War Threea

The pundits were urging our chief to stay calm
While Rocket Man threatened to liquidate Guam

But Trump was no Scrooge, no fiend out of Dickens
Why, he tossed paper towels at wet Puerto Ricans

He railed against Clinton, he’s threatening DACA
He kisses hot women but won’t use Binaca

He seated Neil Gorsuch upon the high court
To make it much harder for girls to abort

He praised Neo-Nazis so white folks were mollified
And all his appointees were ultra-unqualified

That said, he bombed Syria for murder by gas
So why does he Tweet and kiss Putin’s ass?

O.J.’s a free man until his next trial
And Mary Tyler Moore turned off her smile

This year we lost Domino, Berry, and Petty
And Allman and Cassidy and enough already.

2018 is just up ahead
With midterm elections to fill us with dread

The Winter Olympics will bore us with thrills
So doctors, please don’t ban our opioid pills

We’ll need them to get through each day and each night
Happy New Year to all, and to all a “La-La-Land.” I mean, “Moonlight!”

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York. Shana Tovah!

(c) 2017 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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