Autumn Stonehenge

The ancient Druids studied the movements of the Cosmos for millenium before the construction of Stonehenge. The earliest potholes date back to 8000 BC. The designs were laid out to measure the passage of the Sun.

Two days ago the sun shone between the two autumn stones as it had thousands of times marking the equinox..

The new season has begun.

Autumn.

The season of changing colors.

OI VEY CHEESECAKE by Peter Nolan Smith

As a young boy growing up outside of Boston, my classmates and I were jealous of the liberal closed-day policy of Beaver Country Day School. The predominantly Jewish school had more snow days per annum than any other institution south of the St. Lawrence River and the shuffle of holydays shortened their school year by weeks. I begged my parents to transfer their second son to Beaver Country Day.

The year was 1964.

“And I’m not sure that they let in gentiles.” My mother dreamed about my becoming a priest. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was a non-believer.

“I sure if you gave them enough money I could get in.” I had pitched Beaver Country day as the best school within the 128 Belt and as the # 1 7th Grade student at Our Lady of the Foothills.

“No way I’m driving you 45 minutes to another school.” My father’s commute headed into downtown Boston. in the opposite direction.

“Please.” My reasons were two to be exact.

They had a short year and Jewish girls were rumored to be easy.

At 12 my body was going through changes and so were those of young girls.

“Not a chance.” My father ended my early attempt to become the shabbos goy

2014 AD or 5774 by Jewish reckoning had eighteen high holidays scheduled throughout the year. High holydays such as Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover were familiar to many gentiles in New York, however the significance of Succot, Sh’mini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Yom Hashoah, Yom Haatzmaut, Lag B’Omer, Shavuot, Tisha B’Av, and Purim draw blanks from the city’s goyim., although I attained that status after long years working for Manny in the Diamond District. I learned why rabbits are tref, girls shaved their heads, and why Jewish brides smiled going down the wedding aisle.

Manny never closed his store, except for Passaich and Yom Kippur.

Manny and his son, Richie Boy, were also bacon Jews i.e. eating bacon isn’t a sin.

So far this year they had ignored Tu B’Shevat, Purim, Shushan Purim, Passover, Second Passover, Lag B’Omer .All the others were workable days for their firm, since the first rule of selling diamonds is ‘nimmt geld’ which is Yiddish for ‘take money’. I no longer worked for them, but dropped by 47th Street to wish Manny a ‘Happy Shavuot’.

“Happy for what? Business sucks.”

“For Shavuot.” Seven weeks had passed since Passover.

“Shavuot isn’t a holiday. Today is a Wednesday. I’m open for business.” I once calculated that Manny had worked basically seventy-five years since his Bowery diamond store had remained open seven days a week from 1954 to 1989.

“Shavuot honors Yahweh’s giving the Torah to his people.”

“Like I said it’s not a real holiday.”

“It is for the Hassidim.” And Beaver Country Day School

“Who cares what those gonifs think?” Manny would have worked Christmas if he had a chance.

“They believed in the Torah.”

“All they care about is making money. Same as anyone else, so we’re open tomorrow. Same as any other day.” His work ethic rejected the holiday madness of Beaver Country Day.

“What about having some cheesecake?” Cheesecake and sweets are Shavuot traditions.

“If you want cheesecake, eat all you want.” Manny was worried about putting his hand in his pocket. These were hard times and his family looked to the 80 year-old for sustenance.

“What if I buy you a piece?”

“Save your money for your kinder in Thailand and stop trying to be such a good Jew. You’re a goy and not a yid.”

“I had once been the Shabbos goy.”

“Not anymore. You don’t even have a job.”

“That’s true.”

“So worry about yourself and not cheesecake.” Manny was a tough guy from Brownsville. He would have no weekdays off until the 4th of July. The Diamond District was closed for that week and then Manny was driving to Florida. His girlfriend was waiting in Miami Beach and being with her was no cake walk for Manny.

She was a schitzah and those girls were trouble at any age.

“I’ll see you around.” I left the exchange.

The best cheesecake in New York was at Junior’s. Flatbush Avenue was on my way home and nothing tasted better after a long bike ride than a slice of cheesecake.

Especially for the Shabbos Goy.

KOSHER PIG by Peter Nolan Smith

Two years ago business in the Diamond District was almost non-existent during the high holidays of Rosh Shananah and Yom Kippur. The Hassidim disappeared to the various shetls scattered around New York and tourists entered our diamond exchange to gawk at the diamonds and jewelry. At least twice a day out-of-towners asked in complete seriousness, “Are they real?”

“Everything is real,” I answered before launching into a short spiel about the value of diamonds and gold. “Years ago we told the customers that diamonds were a good investment. It was sort of true then, but now diamonds appreciate in value better than houses plus they’re easier to convert into cash at times of need.”

The tourists nodded with sadness. Their homes had lost value three years in a row.

“What are you wasting time on these rubes?” My boss Richie Boy doesn’t have the patience for these goyim and called them tire-kickers.

“Because they sometimes buy and it’s not like anyone is in the store.”

Suit yourself, but they’re a waste of time.”

Otherwise known as WOTs, but later that day I sold an Italian diamond bracelet to a Vermont couple celebrating their 60th anniversary. Richie Boy warmed up to them after hearing they lived a few mles from his ski shack. My sale turned him on like a drag car on nitro and on the Thursday after Yom Kippur he delivered a 31-inch diamond necklace set with GIA-certified .40 ct. diamonds to a hedge fund investor.

The magnificent platinum piece blazed with a rainbow of reflected light. His customer coined millions every day. He could have shopped at Harry Winston, but Richie Boy and he went back to the 80s. Both were loyal to each other. Richie Boy returned to the store after closing and said, “That’s it. I’ve had enough of Yom Kippur. I’m headed out to my surf shack.”

“What about tomorrow?” his father asked from his desk. Manny would have remained open 24/7, if the exchange didn’t close at 6.

“Fridays are dead and nothing is deader than a Yom Kippur Friday.” Richie Boy needed his rest. He had rescued the firm through a series of near-miraculous sales. I had helped with a few deals out of the blue and neither of us were broke.

“What about trying to run this store like a business?” Manny hated his son’s laissez-faire attitude.

“There’s more to life than work.”

“Like what?” Manny lived for his work. His father had been the same. Somehow that relentless devotion to the grindstone had been lost on Richie Boy.

“Surfing.” Richie Boy’s place in Montauk was a five minute walk from Ditch Plains.

“What are you doing this weekend?” asked Marvin, the newly-married diamond dealer across the aisle.

“I’m having a kosher pig BBQ.” Richie Boy

“How can pig be kosher?” The balding 50 year-old might have been a shrewd diamond buyer, since he figured everything was worth a third of its value, but he had been the president of the glee club of a summer camp in the Jewish Alps and was as gullible as a cheerleader on quaaludes.

“Yeah how?” Richie Boy liked answering questions with questions.

Well, a special rabbi consecrates the pig before killing it in accordance with an ancient Hebrew tradition predating the Torah.”

“Really?” Marvin swallowed the possibility of kosher bacon with a kvelling smile.

“100%. Come out to my BBQ and I’ll introduce to the delight of kosher pork.”

Marvin promised to show up at the beach BBQ and returned to his booth.

We laughed at his schmielism and Richie Boy prepared for his early departure from New York, while his father kvetched like an old yenta.

“This store closes at 5:30.” At 83 Manny’s only choices were work or death.

“Which is why you and the goy will close the store.” Richie was ready to go. “So I can be a human.”

“My hero.”

“Manny, we could close and join him?”

“Not a chance. There’s no such thing as kosher pig.”

A few minutes later Richie Boy left the exchange.

Manny and I argued about closing early. We fought every day. I didn’t mind, since our arguments flushed the blood through his body. I hoped that he lived to 103.

At 59 I had more in common with him than most of the people on the planet, but I convinced him it was time to go at 5.

“You know the reason why pork is tref?”

“It caused people to have worms in the old days.” Manny checked the exchange. The religious don’t have a funny bone over pig’s feet.

“No, it’s because Yahweh asked the Hebrews to give up something really good and there’s nothing better than bacon.”

“That’s bullshit and I don’t expect any else from a bullshitter.”

“It’s in Exodus. Check it in your Torah.”

“I don’t have a Torah.”

“What about a Bible?”

“Not a chance.” Manny believed in one commandment, which was ‘nimmt geld’ or take money. “But I don’t need a book to tell me that pork is tref no matter what. Leviticus condemned pig for its cloven food, so there is such a thing as kosher pork chops. Not for the Hassidim, unless you’re starving and even then I think most of them would prefer to die than eat a cloven-foot pig.”

“What if scientists genetically modified a pig to have feet instead of hooves.” I had eaten pigs’ feet in Berlin, which was considered the city’s signature dish. “Schmackhaft. “

“Stop. That’s sacrilege.” Manny hadn’t been to the temple in years, but once a Jew always a Jew.

“Sacrilege and heresy are my specialties.” I set the alarm and I started packing for the night. It was 5:30.

“Always in a rush to leave.”

“I have places to go.” Actually only home since I was saving money to visit Thailand. I hadn’t seen my family in the long time. “What about driving out to Montauk for the kosher pig BBQ?”

“Feh, only one thing is more tref than pig and that’s driving out to Montauk on a weekend.

“I know what you mean.” Nothing was worse than sitting in a car for three hours at 10 mph.

“Beside I like steak at a BBQ.”

“It’s not ref.”

“Never was, never will be.”

Manny got out of his chair with a groan.

“Let me help you pack.” He glanced at the empty exchange. “Tomorrow’s another day.”

And about this Manny was as right as Scarlett O’Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND.

Tomorrow was another day.

Kosher pig or not.

Mea Culpa Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the Jewish day of atonement on which the tribe fasts and goes to temple to privately confess your evil deed, thus earning a tabla rasa for another year to repeat the ways of the flesh in violation of the Ten Commandments. Personally I wouldn’t go to temple, since attendance is the surest sign of guilt, then again we are all guilty of something, which is how the police justify arresting the wrong person.

“He committed a crime. The question is only what crime.”

Last year I lied, denied the existence of God, and nearly killed the driver of an oncoming car, when i fell asleep at the wheel. I did not cheat on my wives, I honored my father, and I worshipped no false god. No true god either.

This omission could endanger my immortal soul. The only remedy would be an act of contrition via the sacrament of confession.

“Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been a long time since my last confession.”

I can’t remember how long.

Two decades? Three?

Although I did swim in the Ganges at Varanasi in 1995. That feat expiated all my previous sins. So I only have 18 years of sins to negate somehow. Good deeds. I’ve done a few of those on occasion. But the road to Hell is paved by good intentions, so my good deeds are irredeemable at the time of judgment.

I am sorry for a lot, but then again too little to mention, because I did it my way.

When in doubt, quote Frank Sinatra.

Old Blue Eyes won’t steer you wrong.

Yom Kippur Squirrels

Yom Kippur 1972.

Syrian and Egyptian tanks swarmed over Israeli defenses on the Golan Heights and the Suez Canal. The Arab Forces initial successes were reversed by strategic blunders and Israeli air cover, however the losses to the IDF were catastrophic for the small nation. If a country the size of the USA had suffered the same casualties, the deaths would have mounted into the 100s of 1000s. Russian intervention was deterred by a stern warning from President Nixon.

DefCon 3 to DefCon 4.

Nuclear war.

MAD.

Cooler heads prevailed and prevented Mutual All-Out Destruction on a global level and Yom Kippur has resumed its position as a day of atonement for the Jewish People with Bobby Vinton leading the way by singing his hit I’M SORRY.

No holiday is without humor.

A small town had two churches, Presbyterian and Methodist, and a Synagogue. All three had a serious problem with squirrels in their buildings. Each in its own fashion had a meeting to deal with the problem.

The Presbyterians decided that it was predestined that squirrels be in the church and that they would just have to live with them.

The Methodists decided they should deal with the squirrels lovingly in the style of Charles Wesley. They humanely trapped them and released them in a park at the edge of town. Within 3 days they were all back in the church.

The Jews simply voted in the squirrels as members. Now they only see them at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Of course my late father hated squirrels. Not so much hated them, but cursed them during his visits to my mother’s grave. The town cemetery was overrun with the tree rodents. They scrambled into the paved roads before cars.

A game for them.

An accident waiting to happen for humans.

My father swerved away from a daredevil squirrel and crashed into a gravestone almost 100 feet from the road.

“Damn Squirrels.”

He drove over the next squirrel brave enough to play ‘chicken’.

And he was a Convert to Catholicism.

No Yom Kippur for him.

For him the only good squirrel was a dead squirrel.