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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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #144 (3/5/17) – Playboy

playboycover

Airs March 4, 2017 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube: https://youtu.be/HhgXViF07kA

Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of March 5, 2017.

Remember New Coke?  It was Coca Cola’s attempt to fix something that wasn’t broken.  Take a formula that merrily rotted people’s teeth for years, change it for no particular reason, market the hell out of it, and watch customers start drinking Pepsi.  The Coke folks realized their error, and they reinstituted the classic recipe, and everything went back to normal levels of thirst quenching and obesity.

So who was the latest company to overthink its brand and screw the pooch?  None other than Playboy magazine.  In a stroke of madness—well, stroke may not be the best word—Playboy changed its whole ethos. Like so many magazines today, Playboy has felt the terrible pinch of the digital era.  Circulation is down—and I don’t mean sales, I mean Playboy readers are so old, their bodies have no circulation.  Meanwhile, along comes Maxim, also targeting the men’s-lifestyle market, and they eat away at Playboy’s potential younger audience.  And unlike Playboy, Penthouse, Juggz, and my favorite, Barely Legal Anal Nurses, Maxim’s photo shoots are scanty but still clothed.  The honchos at Playboy must have been scratching their heads, along with their crab lice, and wondering, “For years, men lied about reading us for the articles.  Now there’s this other magazine with articles, and they’re proud to read it for the bikinis.  What the what?”

So Playboy made the decision a year ago to eschew nudity.  Think of it: Playboy without nudity.  That’s like Auschwitz without Jews in it.  This was the magazine that put a naked Marilyn Monroe in its first issue, the magazine that made stars of Dorothy Stratten, Anna Nicole Smith, and many others who died of natural causes; this was the magazine that served as ground zero for the sexual revolution, mainstream pornography, and the worldwide Kleenex shortage of 1967.

But times change, and for three decades now, Playboy has had to compete with digital magazines, cable TV and home video, changing popular tastes, and shifting cultural landscapes.  It hasn’t helped that the visionary founder of Playboy, Hugh Hefner, is still alive.  If he’d dropped dead years ago, he’d be extolled as an iconic, nostalgic reminder of America throwing off the shackles of the 1950s and embracing a world of new freedoms.  But as a 90-year-old coot, Hef just makes people think of airbrushing, exploitation, and Bill Cosby honing his groping skills in the grotto. And what’s with those twins Hef was dating?  How sexy is it to have two curvaceous, nymphomaniacal hotties give grampa a reacharound…just to change his ostomy bag.

But back to the nudity, or the removal thereof.  When Ringling Brothers, responding to pressure from animal-rights groups, got rid of its elephants two years ago, what did that lead to?  That’s right: the end of Ringling Brothers.  When Playboy bid byebye to boobs and bushes…what happened?  Actually, to be honest and surprising, sales went up a bit, especially for a younger demographic.  And the magazine was able to be displayed more prominently on more newsstands.  But it still wasn’t enough.  Readers would look at Playboy, glance at the photos—instead of staring intently at them for several minutes— and then ask themselves, “Why am I still reading this?”

Cooper Hefner, the son of Hef and company COO since his sister stepped down in 2009, admitted putting ponchos over pussies was a mistake.  In fact, “Nudity is Normal” is the motto on the cover of the March/April issue—an issue with mega-hot model Elizabeth Elam topless on the cover. Why, Playboy is even bringing back its party jokes, so all is right with the world.  Who knows, maybe they’ll even bring back those cartoons with the wrinkly old, sex-crazed granny.   I mean, she’s only 80 years older than Hef’s next girlfriend.

So welcome back old-fashioned Playboy.  You’re still a dinosaur on the way to the amber yard, but at least along the way, you’ll help a few more teenage boys explore the wonders of gynecology.  In a time when our government seems intent on yanking America back to the days of “Father Knows Best,” it’s heartening that once more, Playboy will leave it to beaver.

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

(c) 2017 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #143 (1/8/17) – Obama & the U.N.

Airs Jan. 7, 2017 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube: https://youtu.be/2EY_QSuKYss

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Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of January 8, 2017.

Remember that old Billy Joel song, “Leave a Tender Moment Alone?”  He was talking about how he couldn’t just enjoy a romantic interlude; he had to undercut the good feelings with a gripe or a joke.  Of course, the joke was on him, since he chose Cutty Sark over Christie Brinkley.  But the idea of not leaving well enough alone, of doing your best but then having the world remember your worst — that can be applied to our outgoing commander in chief, Barak Obama.

This is a man who took on a country that was in the toilet financially, emotionally, and seemingly irremediably.  Eight years ago, you couldn’t pay the bills, you couldn’t get a job, you couldn’t sell a house, you couldn’t retire, you couldn’t visit New Orleans without scuba gear.  Since President Obama has been in office, change has been slow, but to deny that an epic turn-around has occurred means that either you’re a retard or a Republican.  On top of this, we killed Bin Laden, pointless laws about harmless crimes have been easing up, and faigelehs can marry whomever they want and, therefore, be as miserable as the rest of us.  Through it all, Obama has maintained his poise, his cool, and his through-the-roof hipness quotient, kind of like yours truly.

And yet, mistakes were made.  He rammed Obamacare up the American tush like a bad thermometer, giving people who never had health insurance coverage, but giving the rest of us a severe pain in the wallet.  He completely screwed the pooch on managing the rise of ISIS, or ISIL, or Islamic Gee-Whiz, or whatever nickname the religion of peace is using these days.

But the most resistible piece de resistance of Obama’s legacy came right near the end.  He and his minion, John Kerry, saw an opportunity to take a little dump on Israel.  The United Nations, a toothless and brainless entity that has kept exactly zero wars from happening since its founding in 1945, voted last month to condemn Israel for settlement building.  These houses, built on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, are controversial because the territory was annexed when Moses kicked Mohammed’s ass in the Six Day War.  In other words, it’s been legitimate Israeli land for 50 years, but the Palestinians are still screaming for it like babies ripped from their mama’s boobies.  And, of course, the greater Arab world agrees because any reason to hate Israel is fine by them.  England agrees because they’re still pissed at Israel for pushing them off the sand.  Other countries agree because anti-Semitism has proved a lot more durable than communism.  But the United States, our friend and ally, has always stood with Eretz Yisroel against these bullies and bastards.  Until December.

See, the left-wing liberals don’t like Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, because he cares more about the safety and security of his nation than playing diplomatic blind man’s bluff. And he says, “Why the hell should we stop building settlements on our own soil until we actually make a deal—God forbid—to give the land back?”  If you’re gonna sell your house when you’re 80 years old, does that mean you can’t put in a new bathroom when you’re 58?

Like every American president, Obama wanted to be the one who made lasting peace in the Middle East.  He yearned to be the great statesman who solved the Israeli-Palestinian problem.  How do presidents do this?  By asking Israel to suffer.  Give up this, give up that, and maybe the Arabs will promise to leave you in peace.  Give away land you won fair and square in 1948 and 1967 and 1973, and maybe the Palis will cease lobbing scud missiles at you.  Maybe.

What do the Arabs have to give up?  Ummm.. ummm.. oh yeah.. they must make the terribly difficult sacrifice of admitting that Israel exists.  Oh, the poor dears.  Even John Kerry, in his misguided, hot-headed speech after the UN vote, reminded the Arabs that if they want Israel to come back to the negotiating table, they have to call it “Israel” and not “that smudgy place next to Egypt on the map.”  But shamefully, Kerry and Obama made the United States abstain from the UN condemnation vote, rather than veto it.  It was Barry’s last dig at Benjy.  His way of saying, “You won’t obey me?  Fine, I’ll tell mommy, and you’ll get in trouble.”  Netanyahu, hearing this, stuck his tongue out and replied, “Nyah-nyah, neener-neener.  So you’re the big peacemaker with Muslims?  Do they know that in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen?  Pick a country; there’s a genocide.  But Israel is the bad guy for constructing houses and universities on its own terra firma.”

I have long said that when it comes to Jews and Palestinians, I am in favor of a two-state solution: the Jewish state of Israel, and an Arab state — in Lebanon, or Libya, or Lichtenstein or Mexico, or the North friggin’ Pole — anywhere except on the tiny sliver of real estate set aside for a Jewish homeland.  To demand as a condition of peace that Israel chop itself up and bestow its backyard on its worst enemy is unfair, unsafe, and untenable.  Suppose a fly is buzzing on a windowsill, and there’s a cobweb in the corner.  Suppose the fly surrenders half its rightful window to the spider?  How long you think that fly has before he’s an entrée in Charlotte’s web?

Now, America gives a lot of money to Israel and has throughout Obama’s term in office.  The President has stood with Israel on other issues, and, in the main, relations remain beautifully strong and important.  With Donald Trump coming into the White House, complete with an Orthodox Jewish son-in-law and a converted Jewish daughter, ties between the two nations are likely to get even cuddlier.  So it’s just a disappointment that a mere month before he sneaks his last cigarette behind the oval office, Obama chose to snub the only democracy in the Middle East, and the only true friend America has anywhere in that part of the world — all in the name of appearances and the pie-in-the-sky lie of the two-state solution.

You know, the Democrats thought they had a two-state solution for the last election: New York and California.  We all saw how that worked out.

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

(c) 2017 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #142 (12/25/16) – 2016 Farewell

Airs Dec. 24, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube:

2016sucked

Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of December 25, 2016.

Events of the past few months notwithstanding, it is not yet the apocalypse. However, we do have a stunning occurrence coming upon us: as we speak, Chanukah and Christmas have arrived at exactly the same time. I have spoken before, some would say at unconscionable length, about not conflating the two holidays. They come from two very different, irreconcilable religions. I don’t begrudge my Christian brethren and sistren, but don’t put a Jewish star on top of a Christmas tree and expect me to feel grateful.

In fact, the only thing I feel gratitude for these days is that 2016 is coming to a merciful end. I don’t need to tell you what a long, meshuggenah trip it’s been. Or maybe I do, in verse form.

`Tis the first night of Chanukah
From Tampa to Tulsa
The candles are burning
Just like my ulcer

The dreidels are spinning
The latkes are frying
The Muslims are killing
The people are dying

The year has been tough
That couldn’t be clearer
So Twenty-Sixteen
Here’s your rear-view mirror

The campaign for president took a dark journey
As Democrat dummies picked Hil and screwed Bernie

Huckabee, Kasich, Rubio, Paul
The louder they got, the harder they’d fall

Jindal and Christie, Carson and Cruz
But then Donald Trump bubbled up from the ooze

He battered Ms. Clinton for being a female
She stumbled and fumbled and mishandled email

Trump lied and insulted and mocked with each Tweet
But then he fell in with the party elite

And lo and behold, as he, alone, expected
The con-artist clown is the guy we elected

If that’s not enough to make us all wretch
There’s plenty more reasons about which I’ll kvetch

There’s Brexit and Brussels and murder in Mosul
While Syria looks like a garbage disposal

All across Europe, security sucks
Who’s teaching these young Arab men to drive trucks?

The Istanbul bomber ignited our fears
Another putz shot up a club full of queers

Mosquitoes with zika came in for the kill
While lyin’ Ryan Lochte shamed us in Brazil

Hurricane Matthew brought death and disaster
A wild Turkish cop shot the Russian ambass’dor

An EgyptAir plane crashed into the sea
And North Carolina won’t let trannies pee

All over the world, ISIS steps up attacks
While our police fire at black people’s backs

If that’s not enough to make you all wince
2016 took Bowie and Prince

Gene Wilder, George Martin, and Elie Wiesel
Scalia and Castro — well, they went to hell

So long, Leonard Cohen
Farewell, Harper Lee
Goodbye, Abe Vigoda . . . finally

We lost Garry Shandling, who wasn’t a sick man
We lost Alan Thicke, and Alan Rickman

Muhammad Ali is no longer standing
And hero John Glenn came in for a landing

Merle Haggard, Ed Albee, and Zsa Zsa Gabor
And Fyvush and Blowfly and too many more

But okay, let’s admit the pipeline was stalled
The Cubs and the Indians played ball in the fall

The stock market zoomed to new heights every day
And Hamilton swept all the Tonys away

Manatees moved from endangered to threatened
And a new subway line was built in Manhetten.

So though it was harsh, absurdist, and mean
Shalom to the year 2016

The lesson it taught us with every new curse:
As bad as things are, they’re bound to get worse.

Happy American Rosh Hashanah everyone! See you in 5778!

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

(c) 2016 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #141 (11/6/16) – ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION

Airs Nov. 5, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cX5zCpfhuk&feature=youtu.be

Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of November 6, 2016.

Well, my friends, this is it.  In three days, we drag ourselves to the local junior high school, sign our names in a guest book, hold our collective noses, and pull the lever to choose which nightmare we wish to endure for the next four years.

On one side, we have Hillary Clinton: experienced, resilient, hardworking, honest as the day is long.  At the South Pole.  If you ask this woman, “what color is the sky?”, her answer’s gonna be, “Well, depending on the time of day and the light refracting away from various planets, we could be somewhere in the azure-like spectrum.  But until I’ve done more research, I have to reserve comment on that.”  Hillary Clinton gets a memo with a giant “C” on it for “Classified,” and she thinks the “C” stands for, “Come, put this on your home computer — where you haven’t updated Norton Utilities in three years.”

And two-faced?  This woman has more faces than Mount Rushmore in a hall of mirrors.  She tells rich fatcats she’s for open borders, but then she tells middle-class Democrats she’s for protecting trade.  She bashes her opponent as a sexist pig but persecutes any woman who humped her husband.  Which is a full-time job, by the way.  Hillary promises to get tough on America’s enemies, but when was Secretary of State, the Middle East turned into Terrorist Disneyland.  Heck, Hillary Clinton wouldn’t even be the nominee if Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her party apparatchiks didn’t treat Bernie Sanders like a naughty puppy who was soiling the carpet by lifting his leg to the far left.

For all his faults, people still love Hillary’s husband, Bill.  He’s got the twinkle, he’s got the polish; he’s got another box of cigars at the ready.  But that popular love just doesn’t transfer to Mrs. Clinton, who’s been in the political game too long to ever be a real person again.  Even people who don’t dislike her understand that if she’s elected, the country will stay the same.  The economy will still grow at a pace that makes photosynthesis look like the Indy 500.  ObamaCare will put more people in hospitals . . . with heart attacks after they see their premiums.  And America will still lag behind the rest of the world in everything except obesity and unwatchable cable TV channels.

And yet, of the two candidates running for the two major political parties, Hillary Clinton is the better choice.  I know that’s like saying a bowl of chocolate-covered horse radish is preferable to a dish of month-old sheep vomit, but if you had to pick, you go with the maror over the moron.  No question, Donald Trump is a wildly successful businessman.  He’s successful, and he’s wild.  I like that he has balls, but then again, what else do you shoot with a loose cannon?

Now, I don’t hold against Donald Trump that he’s gone bankrupt a couple of times.  It takes a savvy entrepreneur to pick yourself up, dust yourself up, pay your creditors two cents on the dollar, and start all over again.  And I don’t mind that he hasn’t paid any taxes since the Hoover administration.  If I could find a legal way not to pay sales tax every time I bought a pastrami sandwich, I’d be owning Trump Hotel.  Which would be especially ironic since neither of us owns it.  For all his building development, Donald Trump does not own most of the buildings he has his name on.  But I don’t hold that against him, either.  After all, if my last name were Parkinson, would I want my name on a disease?

What I do begrudge The Donald are his deals with the devil.  When The Orange One first announced his candidacy, his whole shpiel was about being an outsider.  He wasn’t a lifelong politician and therefore took no money and owed no favors.  That’s tremendously appealing, especially when you’re also plain-speaking, pro-Israel, and promising to play by your own rules.  Had Mr. Trump gone with a third party or created his own party—and I don’t mean the kind of party where he offers a supermodel $10,000 to polish his cornerstone—I mean Ross Perot-ing it.  Saying “shtup you” to the Pelosis and the Paul Ryans, because he could.  Between his bank account and grass-roots support among the kind of white people who think Canadians are as exotic as foreigners should be allowed to get, Donald Trump could have funded a truly “outside” campaign.

Instead, he gets in bed with the elephants.  The same people who gave us eight years of George W. Bush, not to mention Fox News, Richard Nixon, Sarah Palin, Strom Thurmond, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  So the Republicans think they can corral Trump, Trump thinks he can streamroll the G.O.P., and I think they should both go down in flames.  Trump wants to build a wall to keep out Mexicans?  Who’s gonna pick my etrogs for Sukkos?  He’s gonna give tax credits to the ultra-wealthy so their money will trickle down?  Wanna bet it trickles down into their yachts, their jewelry, their private islands . . .  Trump wants to pick Supreme Court justices who will protect the Constitution.  The Constitution doesn’t need protecting; it just needs an annotated edition with color pictures, a worksheet, and an interactive website.  Actually, the Torah could use that, too.  I’ll have to tell that to God next time we talk.

Anyhoo, Donald Trump says, “What have you got to lose?”  Everything stinks; maybe I’ll stink less.  Of course, the last guy who said that was Ralph Nader, and we all saw how well that turned out.  So for what it’s worth, I endorse Hillary Clinton for President in 2016.  It is not a ringing endorsement.  In fact, it’s more of a thudding endorsement.  But look at the alternatives: the Trumpster fire?  The Libertarian guy who thinks Aleppo is a tiger with spots?  The independent party run by a dude named “Joe Exotic?”  Look him up.  He’s got eight rings in his ear, a Fu Manchu moustache, and a mustard-yellow leisure suit that should be kept 1,000 feet from any building and detonated.  Or the guy from the Legal Marijuana Now Party — because, of course, the most urgent problem facing our nation today is finding a place to get your mellow on with some sweet bud?  Or the guy from the Nutrition Party, whose sole claim to fame is inventing the Muscle Maker Grill?  I mean, I like George Foreman, but I wouldn’t want him negotiating with North Korea.  Except about barbecue, and even then, kimchi would be a dealbreaker because who the hell wants to eat that?  Seriously.

So we come to the long-awaited end of this contentious, obnoxious, unfathomable election cycle in America.  A cycle that had one candidate call a war hero a coward and another whose every private email makes the New York Times bestseller list.  Meanwhile, the rich get richer, the bridges are crumbling, the schools are stupid, the terrorists are multiplying, and Steven Tyler is making country music.  We’re in big trouble.  But vote anyway because if we’ve gotta choose between an egotist with a messiah complex or a liar who understands complexity, I’ll take the one who isn’t relentlessly battling crucifixion.  Let’s face it…what Rabbi wouldn’t?

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York.  Vote early, vote often, try the veal.

(c) 2016 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #140 (6/12/16) – TONY AWARDS 2016

Airs June 11, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By. YouTube link:  https://youtu.be/RghaoMma4aU

Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of June 12, 2016.

Lovers of the theater — and by that I mean geeks, shut-ins, homosexuals, and the desperate — rejoice! The time has come once again to celebrate Broadway — the talent and creativity that bring a bissel fun and sanity to this increasingly meshuggenah world. Huzzah for the Tony Awards.

Now, it is hard to deny that Broadway has become a playground for the rich, a parcel of real estate increasingly off limits to working people who just crave two hours of tits, tunes and tears. But remember: many places offer discount tickets and two-fers — trust me on this, I know from bargains. And even if those prices are beyond your purse, for three hours this Sunday night, you can sit in front of the TV and watch the dazzle of 42nd Street unfurl before your glazed, lower-middle-class eyeballs.

You can’t get into Hamilton? Alexander Hamilton couldn’t get into Hamilton. But Sunday, June 12th, you get a digital front-row seat to the cast of Hamilton doing a song . . . and then winning every Tony Award known to man. Actually, they won’t, they can’t. They have 16 nominations — a record! — but they have multiple nominees in some categories, and not every race is a shoo-in. So Mel Brooks’s The Producers will likely remain the all-time Tony Award winner. Ah, if only I’d bought 112 shares of that show. Quel dommage. But there are other reasons to watch the Tony Awards either in person at the Beacon Theater or on CBS, whose viewership is so old, they should be nicknamed The Yahrzeit Network.

Seriously, though, what I love to do most of all this time of year is look through the Tony nominations and find the Jews. There’s generally a batch of them, this being theater and all, and it’s a point of pride when my people are being recognized for their brilliance — and for briefly escaping Equity’s 95 percent unemployment rate.

First and foremost, let us exult that Fiddler on the Roof is back, and this time, they have a Jew playing Tevye! He’s Tony-nominated Danny Burstein, who starts off as a modern guy who comes onstage reading the stories of Sholem Aleichem. Then he takes the jacket off and turns into Tevye the milkman. This has confused some matinee audiences. I guess when you get to a certain age, it can be hard to make the mental leap of: no jacket, 1910 Russian village; yes jacket, 2016 Sears men’s department. How these audiences survive Tom Stoppard is beyond me.

By the way, in the lead-actor category, Danny Burstein is up against Zachary Levi for She Loves Me. Now, this truly is confusing because Levi has a Jewish name, but he’s a gentile. Worse, in recent interviews, the Welsh actor said he was turned down for parts in Hollywood movies because he looked too Jewish. Levi said, quote, “I guess they were looking for more of a corn-fed, white boy look. My family is from Indiana, come on!” I feel for you, Danny. It’s like that time I auditioned for the Carolina Chocolate Drops. I nailed it; sang like an angel. But did they call? Did they write? Not a word. And don’t even get me started on how I tried to get into the Celtic Women. Actually, I almost got into one, but she found out I was married.

Anyhoo, moving on to other Tony categories . . . where the hell are my people? Where are the Cohens and the Rothsteins and the Schiowitzes and the Bermans? This year gives us names like Brooks and Nyong’o and Pigott-Smith and the erotic-sounding Sengbloh. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for diversity. But it’s not so diverse if Jews are virtually absent.

Thank God, thanks to Hamilton, we do have a featured actor in a musical: Daveed Diggs. Yes, he’s a schvartz, but his parents gave him the Hebrew name for David because he’s half schvartz and half-Jewish. So I’d let him marry half my daughter. And speaking of halvsies, hooray for Sophie Okonedo, the celebrated British actress who already won a Tony for A Raisin in the Sun two seasons ago. Yes, she looks black, but there’s cholent under the chitlins! Okonedo’s mom is a Jewish Pilates teacher, and her parents were emigrants from Eastern Europe who spoke Yiddish! As Wikipedia notes, Okonedo’s father took a powder, and her single mom raised her in unavoidable poverty, but, says the actress, “We always had books.” If that isn’t Jewish, I don’t know what is. Well, a synagogue is Jewish; that kind of is. And Hebrew. And mezuzahs, but you know what I’m saying.

The wonderful lesson that we take from Daveed Diggs and Sophie Okonedo is that we can integrate, we can intermarry but not lose the spark of Yiddishkeit. We will no longer look the same or sound the same. And we will probably have better hair. But Jewish upbringing, connection, and belief need not go by the wayside, even if our people are far away from Bayside.

And so, on Tony night, when Lin-Manuel Miranda is giving his 32nd speech about inclusion, please remember that we are not as ex-cluded as it might first appear. Just look at the best-musical nominees: Hamilton, School of Rock, Shuffle Along, Waitress, and Bright Star. Hamilton deals with money, which Jews are always worried about; School of Rock concerns education, which is sacred to us; Shuffle Along is what every Jew over 70 does, and Waitress is what we all holler in a restaurant. As for Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Bright Star, who’s to say it isn’t six-pointed?

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York. On with the Tony show!

(c) 2016 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #139 (5/8/16) – DONALD TRUMP

Airs May 7, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube clip: https://youtu.be/UcZDJBjwbW8

Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of May 8, 2016.

Just over a year ago, I did a Rabbinical Reflection about the 2016 presidential candidates for the Republican Party.  There were a dozen and a half of them—remember?  Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Scott Walker—a veritable who’s who of who’s hooligans.

Almost as an aside, I included the candidacy of Donald Trump.  I said, and I quote, “Donald Trump, who went bankrupt three times and yet brands himself as a financial genius.  Donald Trump, who has a magnificent knack for self-promotion but spends money he doesn’t have like it’s going out of style—why isn’t he running as a Democrat?”

The idea of Donald Drumpf actually getting traction as a viable candidate, and the thought that more than a few flakes would vote for this narcissistic, self-aggrandizing Oompa Loompa was downright comical.  And even if he did ride the cult of celebrity for awhile, you had fifteen other G.O.P. hopefuls with their own deluded followers.  But then America happened.  And the people rejected Chris Christie and his highway robbery.  They rejected Marco Rubio the wind-up doll.  They rejected Ben Carson, who didn’t need anaesthesia during heart surgery because he could put patients to sleep just by talking to them.

By the time the conservative muckymucks realized that Donald Trump was not just
a fad but a movement—and I don’t just mean the kind of movement I have every other morning if I’m lucky and drink my prune juice—by the time the powers that be of the G.O.P. realized their conservative groundswell was getting dug up by a real-estate developer, it was too late to stop him.

My God, their best shot was Ted Cruz, a man who couldn’t find one person to like him—even when he was looking in the mirror.  Ted Cruz was a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, vehemently pro-Israel (God bless him for that), and seemingly in line with everything the Republican party wanted to roll back from the last eight years.  And yet, not a single soul in the House or Senate wanted to work with him.  Former speaker of the house John Boehner called Ted Cruz, quote, “Lucifer in the flesh!” and “the most miserable son of a bitch” he ever worked with, unquote.  This from Boehner, a man who always behaved like he had a stick so far up his tushie, you could see splinters on his uvula.

And yet, this loathed and despised senator, Ted Cruz, was the Republicans’ last hope of putting one of their boys into the White House.  Oh, wait, I’m forgetting about John Kasich.  Because we all forgot about John Kasich.  The past three months, he should have just changed his name to something Chinese, like: “Oh Him Too.”  Especially since his name was on ballots like those restaurants in Chinatown that keep items like putrefied eggs and pig bladders on the menu even though no one in their right minds would order them.

To be fair, Kasich seemed like he had a brilliant strategy compared to go-for-broke losers like Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz.  Why spend money?  Why knock yourself out in races you can’t individually win?  Just keep treading water, don’t make waves, and when it’s time for the contested convention, make your perfect dive.  What Kasich didn’t realize is that voters saw through his shabby chicanery with Cruz and voted straight up for the man who wasn’t endorsed by the party, wasn’t owned by the Koch brothers, and wasn’t a career politician.

So when the dust settled last week, and the delegate votes were counted, the only candidate with a clear mandate was the one with the cloudiest agenda: Donald Trump.  The clown had become the clown prince.  This despite—or maybe because of—his penchant for school-bully insults and his crazy, off-the-cuff statements about the Klan and Mexicans and ugly women and pretty women being punished for their abortions.  They used to call Reagan the Teflon president because everything stupid slid off him.  Well, Trump is Teflon sprayed with Pam, coated with goose grease, and dipped in K.Y. Jelly.  Whatever he says, his followers counter with, “He really speaks his mind” or “well, he may say one thing, but we know what he really means.”  Do we?

Look, I’m the first to admit—or, if not the first, maybe the 12,030th—to admit that Donald Trump’s wildcard, shoot-from-the-lip status has a visceral appeal.  If the two parties running, and usually ruining, the country for the past 30 years don’t approve, he must be good, right?  And being a great persuader, he appeals to our emotions—unlike Hilary, who appeals to, well, not even her husband.

But let’s not forget that Donald Trump is a man who promises a robust job market, and yet he grew famous from a TV show on which he fired everyone!  This is a man who used to be pro-choice, but when he becomes a Republican, hup!, he suddenly turns anti-abortion.  This is a man who vows to fix the country’s troubles by collaborating with the best and brightest, but he couldn’t even find enough intelligent minds to teach in a bogus university.  This is a man who wants to keep out immigrants, unless they’re six feet tall, anorexic, and look good on a bearskin rug.  This is a man who wants to help the little guy, by building casinos to take their money and hotel rooms that only movie stars can afford.

In other words, the wizard behind the curtain has done very, very well for himself.  For others?  Not so much.  For better or worse, we’ve spent the last eight years led by a community organizer who, perhaps naively, thought he could bring everyone together to solve problems.  Are we now ready, instead, for a semi-benevolent dictator who thinks he knows everything and whose answer for every crisis is, “It’ll be amazing.  It’ll be beautiful.  Believe me.”

We’d like to believe you, Donald.  We’d like to believe in something.  But 240 years of politics, not to mention the Bernie Sanders campaign, have taught us the futility of belief.  And I’m a Rabbi saying this!  So if the votes are counted on November 8th, and America chooses the bloviating, thoughtless TV star over the jilted, calumniating harridan, all we can do is what we always do every four years on January 20th: pray.

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

(c) 2016 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #138 (4/24/16) – SHMURA MATZOHS

Aired April 23, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://youtu.be/9e-dOyy_cQA

Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of April 24, 2016.

Among the great inventions of mankind are the wheel, the lever, the polio vaccine, and the computer microchip. But let’s not leave out one of my favorite all-time creations. Something so simple yet so perfectly imperfect. Something both great and crummy — pun intended.

You take flour and water, mix them together, roll it flat flat flat—flatter than a ten-year-old’s training bra—poke the dough with tiny holes, and push it into a super-hot, dry oven. After a couple of agonizing minutes, shazam! Matzoh! Somehow, this flour-and-water combo doesn’t turn into pita bread, it doesn’t become olive loaf, it doesn’t blossom into a Pepperidge Farm cookie. It just stays matzoh, and that’s good enough for me. Almost.

See, you can get Streit’s or Horowitz-Margareten or Manischewitz and other commercial brands of matzoh, and they’ll get you through the Passover holiday just fine. You make matzoh brei, where you dip it in egg; you can crumble it and make matzoh meal pancakes, which iHop would not be remiss in adding to their international breakfasts. Dear God, they make chocolate-covered matzoh, which sounds gross, but hey, if they can do it with crickets and bumble bees, why not the bread of affliction? (Chocolate-covered matzoh is not to be confused, by the way, with chocolate matzoh, which is just a giant chocolate bar made into the shape of a matzoh. In other words, a thousand times better. Chocolate-covered matzoh is to chocolate matzoh as a gold-plated watch is to a Rolex. If you promise your grandchildren chocolate matzoh, but you give them the chocolate covered, don’t expect them to visit you in the nursing home years later.)

But I digress. Matzoh is a tasty, non-nutritional but sustaining food meant to remind us of the bread our ancestors ate when they high-tailed it out of Egypt. `Cuz when you’re leavin’ hasty, you ain’t got time for pastry.

However, my reflection today is not just about matzoh; it’s about a special version of matzoh. The platinum standard, if you will. And I will. When I’m conducting a seder, or kicking back watchin’ baseball during chol hamoed, I want me some shmura matzoh! That’s the stuff! That’s the bread of affection! It’s the same flour and water, the same procedures. But with shmura matzoh, the harvested grain is guarded from the very first second it’s plucked to the moment the Rabbi slides it and its compadres out of the oven.

Shmura matzoh is the ultimate homemade bread. No machines, no slicer cutting the edges into right angles. No opening a box where every piece looks like a ceiling tile in a suburban office. Shmuras are individually mixed, rolled, and baked. And they don’t look beautiful or symmetrical. They’re lumpy, they’re brittle, often overcooked, and the burnt parts are all over the place. In fact, shmura matzohs are so ugly, they could replace Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

But oy my God, are they delicious! There’s something so real and so pure about them. Everything else you get in the store is machine-pressed, dye-cut, flushed with preservatives, and so far away from actual food, you’re not even sure what the hell you’re eating. With shmura matzoh you taste three things: flour, water, and Rabbi sweat.

Now there’s all sorts of hoo-ha/doo-dah rules about using shmura matzohs. You’re supposed to eat them only at the seder and no other time — not even the rest of the holiday. I’m sorry, but at $17 a box with six pieces of bread in it, I’ll eat it on Christmas if I want to. Also, since the matzoh is utilized during the seder ceremony — including breaking it for the afikomen, the bread has to be complete, unbroken. You think it was tough for the Jews to cross the Nile out of Egypt? Try getting a one-millimeter cracker from a Brooklyn factory to a Staten Island dinner table without having a few oopsies.

Still, it’s worth it because shmura matzohs are the bomb. Yes, they’re impossible to butter, and they don’t actually break in half; they splinter — leaving shards of crumbs everywhere you look. But I don’t care; their deliciousness trumps all. I mean, on Passover, we have to eat raw horseradish, and then we have to take yummy charoset and ruin it by mixing it with horseradish, and then for eight days: no pizza, no pretzels, no ravioli, no danish, no muffins, no waffles, no wafers, no hoagies, no heroes, no oatmeal, no beer. So if I want a piece of homecooked unleavened bread that looks like a manhole cover but tastes like Judaism, I will seek no further than shmura matzohs. Mmm mmm flavorless — and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

(c) 2016 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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