Monday, September 29, 2008

New Year Sounds.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year is almost upon us. Preparations for this holiday are extensive, physical (cooking, cleaning) and of course spiritual as we consider how we can be better people in the coming year.

Central to the religious celebrations is the blowing of the shofar which is made from a ram's horn. The sound is to inspire us, but actually getting a sound out of the thing is a trick - you don't actually blow, you sort of purse your lips and spit.

It is a trick my son intends to master. So he has lengthy sessions spitting into my shofar. He can get a sound, but instead of the pure and clear inspirational note, it sounds like a herd of very sick alpacas.In fairness, I'm not much better.

We also went to our synagogue and helped set up the hundreds of chairs needed for the services. My son was great, working harder - pound for pound - than anyone else. However, he also learned a few things about human nature as he watched a few dozen grown-ups argue about how to best arrange the chairs to maximize comfort vs. seating capacity vs. aesthetics. Then, after rows of chairs were set up, competing factions would adjust them, changing spacing - creating new access rows...

Watching this, anyone who believed in the Zionist Conspiracy would have been quickly disabused of the notion.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Old Jokes & A New Hope

One of the pleasures of my life is that my wife has not heard many old jokes. What is stock to most of the joke-hearing world is unknown to her. This is great for me, I can crank out "Priest, minister, and Rabbi" jokes as the day is long. It also makes teaching them to my son that much more fun.

Of course he is still learning the construction. I've tried to explain the maxim articulated in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors: "If it bends, it's comedy. But if it breaks..."

Sometimes his efforts at jokes are sound like a joint effort between Henny Youngman and Lawrence Ferlingheti. Just the other day he tried one on me:
Why did the chicken cross the road?


To fix the tractor.
But sometimes he gets it just right.

One of his jobs is to get my newspapers in the morning (I get three - I don't exactly read them, I just get them). Usually he doesn't "feel like it" and I've fired him a dozen times. But this morning he hauled them in and said, "Daddy, you need to get two more papers."

"Ugh, why? When would I read them?"

"C'mon Daddy, you can never refuse a fifth!"

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Daughter's Dibbuk

For a traditional Jew Shabbat is a special day, a day of peace, reflection, and joy. For me it is also a day of just a little fear.

There is a beautiful tradition in which parents bless their children - placing their hands gently on the heads of their offspring and reciting a blessing in Hebrew.

My daughter hates this custom. At first we thought perhaps I was squeezing her head too hard (my son had that complaint, but I became more careful.) My little girl runs screaming when I approach, yelling, "Don't bless me! Don't bless me! I don't like this!"

My wife still blames me (a good first instinct on most things) and my heavy hands. But I have my own theory - I am waiting to see if she spins her head all the way around.

Anyone know a rabbi who does exorcisms?

Meanwhile, my son offers to be blessed twice, I keep trying to tell him it doesn't work that way.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vacation sans kinder

Not much blogging, in great part because Mother Goof and I headed off to Belgium for a week. (There was a beer festival in Brussels, although really a beer festival in Brussels is a bit redundant.)

Did we bring the little Goofs? That would not have been responsible. They were watched by my mom. Many friends of mine drop their jaws at this, "Your mom stayed with your kids for over a week while you went on vacation? You are sooo lucky to have such a great mom!"

I remind my friends of what Bill Cosby told his children about their sweet grammy and gramps, "They aren't nice, these are old people trying to get into heaven."

Still, we were grateful and my mom deserves something special for this. One possibility I proposed was some special time with her grandchildren. Surprisingly my mom passed.

Missing Scent

My son is a sensitive kid and we were worried that he would really miss us. So my wife gave him a shirt she had slept in. He slept with it and he didn't miss us as much.

His little sister is more independent and self-possessed. But, this morning, just before she shooed me out of her classroom, much to my surprise, my daughter informed me that we should have also given her a shirt to sleep with while we were away. I asked her if she would have liked a shirt from Daddy. She rolled her eyes, "A Daddy shirt is just stinky."