Purim, and the Megillah RV Camper
Only in New York, I am thinking. Only in New York. I am looking at Orthodox Jewish men dressed in suits and black hats and clown costumes, and tallit sticking out from under their shirts, dancing around Union Square in downtown Manhattan. In front of an RV camper that reads "CruiseAmerica.com." With a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, may he rest in peace, plastered all over the RV.
Yes, it's Purim, folks. At least, it was on Tuesday.
Fortunately, A had his camera on hand. We got asked the standard opening question: You Jewish? Yes, we replied. You know about Purim? I don't tell them about our previous lives when we lived in Miami Beach, when we were surrounded by chasidim just like them, and that a Lubavitcher rabbi gave A his bris. They explain Purim. Queen Esther was married to a Persian king, and evil Haman tricked the king to signing a decree for all the Jews in the kingdom to die. Queen Esther saved the day, and the custom is to celebrate the happy fate of the Jews. You know the joke: The Jews were meant to die, but they didn't, so you eat! Which is why we eat Haman-taschen on Purim. Yes, we eat Haman on this holiday (actually, it's his hat, or pockets, depending on the translation used).
The chasidim offered to read the Megillah for us. We accepted.
"Go inside," was the instruction.
We climbed into the RV. There were cookies and vodka. A dark guy with a nose ring and t-shirt that read "CUBA" was already there. A German-looking dude was there, too. So were two other kids, with noisemakers in their hands. A was close to laughing at the scene. Besides that we were being read a Megillah in Hebrew at mind-bogglingly fast speed. They had to get us out quick, you know.
"You know why we have the vodka?" asked one chasid.
No, we replied. He smiles.
"Because you put all the other liquids in the freezer, and they freeze. Right?" Right.
"But Jews are like vodka. You put vodka in the freezer, what happens?"
Blank stares. I speak up.
Vodka doesn't freeze.
"That's right. It stays the same as before."
We all "get" the message that is coming.
"So just remember, be proud to be who you are. And don't change. Okay?" He smiles a sheepish smile.
I look at the guy with the nose ring.
In the end, it made for good photos.