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Children Are Always Cute When Saying the Four Questions

And that’s just about the only time.

Yeah, I’m being serious.

Small children at meals usually mean that I need earplugs and two Advil. There’s just something about their voices screeching in unison at unholy pitches that just goes straight through the brain. With babies it’s somewhat more tolerable, since they don’t know what they’re doing, bless ’em. It’s the walkers-and-talkers who are germ-spreading, attention-seeking little future-people.

But at the Passover seder, it’s different.

The first night, I dined with YJP (which was supposed to be at the Concourse, but ended up moving to Chabad, oddly enough) and there were no children, so that was cool.

The second night, I returned to Chabad for an undergrad seder. Basically, it was four long tables of loud, obnoxious undergrads over whom the rabbi had to shout the seder.

At the normal point, the rabbi asked everyone to quiet down for the Four Questions, which the youngest children traditionally sing. The baby is still a baby, but fortunately most of the wild undergraduate elephants quieted their roar for the shy, overshadowed middle child to say the four questions with the help of his father. The talking got a little louder when the older, outspoken one started to do it double-time, English interspersed with Yiddish, but strangely, I found myself siding with the kid rather than the crowd. Maybe I like the underdog, or maybe I just intensely dislike the JAPs who go to Chabad because a) their parents told them to and b) they’re getting free food. And they’re probably going to hit up Wendy’s or Chipotle at the soonest opportunity. Or maybe because it’s actually a legit part of the seder.

The cool part of the seder was, after dinner, the rabbi directed anyone wishing to sing more songs over to our table. Because that’s how we Chabad regulars roll.

Not a lot of new visitors over the past few days, but welcome to The Bahamas. Bring friends. And now that I have people who actually read/comment…I’m taking suggestions.

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Lights On But Nobody’s Home

Walking home from Chabad earlier tonight, I saw a car parked outside my building with its lights on.

And the motor running.

And the keys in the ignition.

I don’t know why people think that this is a good idea; it wastes gas, and of course, it would be so easy for someone walking by to just break a window (or open the door, as it’s most likely unlocked) and drive away. I looked to my left and my right, and seeing no one. I just stood there and stared at the car, as if I expected the driver to be hiding on the floor to jump out and surprise me. I walked up to it, very close but not touching, and contemplated just getting in and driving away…serves you right, lazy bum who didn’t want to pay for parking because you were only going to be “just a minute” and your high beams are blinding everyone who is trying to walk down the steep hill. At night. When it’s cold. And there’s a frozen lake at the bottom. I should just move it up the street a little, to mess with you. You made it so easy.

Anyway. Decided to go inside instead, up to my nice warm apartment.

Oh, and as I walked in, a tall, friendly-looking Asian guy was walking out. After he left, I watched to see if it was indeed it his car, and it was, and he drove away. Eh, I wasn’t in the mood to fuck up your day anyways.

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Putting Chabad Houses in Proportion

Since I didn’t have any work to do today, I decided to spend my Shabbat relaxing. It wasn’t exactly a conscious decision as I was asleep until about noon, but it was as relaxing as it could be, I guess. I did something that I don’t normally do on Saturdays, but should more often: go to the Chabad House for Shabbat lunch.

I got there, and I didn’t even know anyone was there – that is, until I heard children’s voices, then Rabbi’s head poking around the corner, saying “come join us!” I stepped in, and to my astonishment, instead of the normal four or five tables, they only had one set up, with 13 seats around it – exactly enough for everyone, once I was there. As the semester has ended as well as finals, just about everyone who can leave the frozen tundra of Madison (even if it’s for the frozen tundra of Milwaukee or Minneapolis) has done so. The diners assembled consisted of myself, the rabbi, his wife and three kids, four workers at Epic (who apparently never have vacation time, ever), and two other students who have chosen/were forced to stay in town until next week. Every time a new conversation started, so did a new round of screaming started, either by oldest boy who should know better, the middle boy who doesn’t know better, or the baby who’s a baby. And a sick baby (yeah, I don’t know either…). Usually once one started, another would join in yelling and screaming for no apparent reason and usually in a dissonant manner, and right behind my head. And of course, the rabbi’s response is timid laughter, unlike what I would say, which would not be appropriate to say in front of children that age, which is why I am not their father.

He also said, “Isn’t it funny, that the smaller the crowd, the louder the children?” Well, rabbi, you and I have different concepts of “funny,” but it’s actually kind of true. Back in Houston, I knew that whenever the children outnumbered the adults, it meant we were in for six more weeks of whining, and I was out of there.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s post:

Putting Chabad Houses In Proportion

The older the rabbi, the more awesome he is.

The younger the rabbi, the more he thinks he’s a college student.

The greasier the food, the better the cooking.

The sugarier the desserts, the colder the climate.

The prettier the sheitl, the more adult children of the rebbetzin.

The more the children, the higher the likelihood you’ll leave with a runny nose, a cough, pinkeye, or streptococci.

The nicer the silverware, the more the donors.

The more plastic on the table, the more drunk college students.

The more the alcohol…yeah, that doesn’t mean much.

The more decrepit the house, the more like home away from home it actually is, regardless of what you’re used to at home.