A New York State of Mind

Sarah and I had planned to go to New York for the wedding of a dear friend to a nice fellow (whom we like but don’t know as well), and decided to make a whole vacation of it – so we ended up seeing Book of Mormon and Wicked (the latter is a notably better musical and story than the former, and I’m not only normally predisposed to prefer comedies, I thought that Orgazmo was top-5 funny). Of course, our plans were made before both of us got sick: man trakht und Gott lakht, I believe the saying goes (man plans and God laughs). My hands have been a source of much consternation, and Sarah came down with a case of the barfies on the trip up.

We actually had to drive up (!) because we needed to be in multiple parts of the city and state over the weekend, and I got the most-excellent awesome parking space right across the street from our friends’ apartment in Manhattan. Whoo hoo! Of course, when I had to move the car for the street cleaning I apparently came too close to a fire hydrant (NY standards in this regard are thoroughly ridiculous: 15 feet? Seriously?), but happily, it turned out that the ticket I got was given by someone who can’t tell the difference between Washington DC and Washington state, and according to the official rules of the city of New York, §39-02, if any required information is missing or incorrect, then the ticket is invalid. Yay!

One thing that was really nice about the stuff in Manhattan was getting to go to restaurants which are high-quality, kosher, and completely non-hamish (I realized that hamish doesn’t translate well – perhaps “folksy in a traditional Jewish way”). I get pretty tired of the decor and style of a lot of the kosher restaurants – the more that the place brags that it’s kosher, the lower my expectations get – and many of the places I can get to are festooned with pictures of rebbes or other decor that would get tossed out of a movie set for being too stereotypical. Bleah.

A surprise, for me, was a direct example of the paradox of choice – I went to the Strand books store and was sufficiently overwhelmed that I walked out with exactly nothing. It was like staring at the sun…

Anyway, from the über-cosmopolitan Manhattan we went to Queens for shabbat. Now, all I knew about Queens was that it was the right place for a prince to find a wife – so as a wedding-weekend location, that works out pretty well. The shul is a small congregation in a mid-size building which has some neat elements but could use a pretty thorough renovation (the stained glass is excellent; the kitchen, not so much). The people were pretty friendly – another Washingtonian and I were amused by how politics is discussed outside the Beltway (very, very differently, but it’d be hard to precisely capture what the difference is), and one visiting rabbi (R’ Schwartz) gave a talk where he mentioned a famous (but new to me) Rashi regarding Adam and Eve – that the phrase describing Eve ezer k’negdo (a help-meet for him [lit. “opposed to him”]) is used to teach us that if he is zokheh (idiomatic – closest is “proper/worthy”), then she is an ezer (helper) and if he is not zokheh, then she should be k’negdo (opposed to him). Not a bad message, all told.

The wedding itself was lovely, although from a selfish perspective I wish I had been feeling better: clapping and dancing was quite painful, so I didn’t do much of that, but my natural instinct is to want to be one of the people in the thick of the scrum of the dancing (or as close to dancing as the typical male “festively shuffle-in-a-circle” gets).

This week has been slower, thank God, except for preparations for both a sheva berakhot party (Friday) and for Passover (10 days – eeek! Our hosts in Queens were already thoroughly into their Passover cooking…). Recipes tomorrow, sleep tonight.

About thegameiam
I'm a network engineer, musician, and Orthodox Jew who opines on things which cross my path.

One Response to A New York State of Mind

  1. Foxfier says:

    Perhaps “hamish” could be translated as “camp jewish”? Or “Not campy about being Kosher”?

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