As the “holiday season” winds down, the “return” and “regifting” season begins in earnest. If you are a Member of the Tribe, you very likely received (and gave) gifts, be they for Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa.
At this time of year, please join me in contemplating the Hanukkah gifts you really needed, but probably didn’t receive (or even know you needed!):
The official Glatt Kosher Water Filter – By now, you surely know that the Kashrut status of New York City water came under attack a few years back, as it was suggested that tiny crustaceans might inhabit the drinking water in New York City. Whether it is coincidence that the problem only appears to exist in the city with the largest Haredi community in the world is unknown. What is known is that an unprecedented number of water filters with rabbinical endorsements have been sold. Even if you’re not in New York City, why miss this product?
I Don’t Roll on Shabbos T-shirt – The t-shirt that immortalizes Walter Sobchuck, the famous Shomer F---ing Shabbos character in The Big Lebowski. By the way, I did receive one of these last year!
The All-Kosher Julie Wig – The website selling this wig declares that it is strictly Kosher (in case you get hungry, no doubt) and is guaranteed not to use any Indian hair (as you may remember, there was an uproar, by some of the same folks who demanded Kosher water, about Indian hair wigs that were supposedly used in some Hindu ceremonies. Don’t take my word; check out the NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/14/nyregion/14WIG.html?ex=1399867200&en=09708f0acc11c172&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND ). It’s not clear whether the model that appears wearing the Kosher wig is also Kosher.
Women’s Tefillin – For the woman who prefers not to be bound in leather during prayer, lace women’s tefillin offer an attractive alternative. These are designed by noted artist Ayana Friedman, and are probably not available in any of the Jewish bookstores on Long Island.
The Bencher Pen – Should you ever be out on the road and need to recite a quick Birkat Ha-mazon (grace after meal), this fully functional pen has a pull-out text of the prayers. Available in Ashkenazic and Sefardic models [although no self-respecting Sefardic Jew that I’ve ever met would be caught with one of these!). Another version of the pen has the afternoon Mincha service. Sorta like a Jewish pocket protector.
Dog Kippah & Tallit – So this woman goes into the Rabbi’s office, says “I want my dog should have a Bar Mitzvah.” “You can’t” says the rabbi, “Only human being can have a Bar Mitzvah.” The lady replies, “But my dog has turned 13. I want him Bar Mitzvahed.” “Ma’am,” the rabbi says, “I wish there was something I can do for you, but only people can become a Bar Mitzvah.” “Listen, Rabbi,” the woman replies, “I have been a member of this shul for 40 years, have paid dues, am a member of the sisterhood and of the synagogue board. I am planning to donate $10,000 to the rabbi’s discretionary fund. I want my dog to have a Bar Mitzvah.” “Oh,” exclaims the rabbi, “Why didn’t you tell me the dog was Jewish?”
For only $22, your poochie is ready for his/her Bark Mitzvah.
Schmelvis: The DVD – The true story of an Orthodox Jewish Elvis impersonator and his search for the Jewish lineage that many Elvis biographers assure us actually exists! Of course, the factoid that the King was rather tight with the Jewish community of Memphis early in his career, and did in fact serve as a Shabbos goy, complicates matters, but that’s another story. Yes, Amazon does sell this one.
Meshuggah Beach Party - So, I’m driving around, minding my own business, and I hear some really impressive California beach-style guitar work on the radio. Except that the music sounds oddly like Zemer Atik, the musical background to my favorite Israeli dance. Turns out that it really was. Truly marvelous.
Ruin Jonny’s Bar Mitzvah – An all-star punk lineup, including some Members of the Tribe, trash every Bar/Bat Mitzvah entertainer and playlist under the sun. Includes memorable renditions of Hava Nagila.
<Kinky Friedman for Governor Bumper Sticker – A true country music legend, known (along with his band, the Texas Jew Boys) for such songs as “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore,” “Ride ‘Em Jewboy” (a truly moving song, also the only country song I know of about the Holocaust) and “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You” (a funny, but also serious poke at organized religion, including Judaism. Features the classic line “Baruch ata Adonai, what the hell you doin’ back there, boy”). Ran and lost for governor of Texas on a platform that included support for school prayer (“What's wrong with having a kid believe in something?”) and legalized gay marriage (“I believe they have a right to be just as miserable as the rest of us."). Although he lost, his campaign items are bound to be Jewish collectables.
He-Brew Beer Cap – The official cap of the Schmaltz Brewing Company, brewers of He-Brew: The Chosen Beer. I bought the cap at Yussel’s Place (a wonderful Long Island Jewish bookstore), allegedly to include in the Hanukkah grab bag at the office. What do you know…I forgot it in my car. Didn’t get to participate in the grab bag, but got the gift I really wanted!
Yarmulkebra – Found at the website that bears its name, this is a product that will have you never looking at kippot in quite the same way. So wrong that it’s really funny.