I love being Jewish. I love Jews. I love talking to Jews. I love speaking in front of Jews.
What I’m not always crazy about is working on committees with Jews. Oy the agony! Like the old joke, “two Jews, three opinions” multiply that by say, 15 Jews, and the opinions exponentially grow to 150.
Here’s my list of Jews Committed to Jewish Committees.
To our marvelous credit, We Jews by committee can do anything from putting on a show to reviving the Dead Sea (should it be important to Israel). But face it ... as a group we’re a little, forgive me, unorthodox.
So you don’t pelt me with matzah balls, each are eager, passionate, bright, and have ideas – which are expressed at the same time in double decibels and in proper pecking order. Many committee members have three goals:
- to accomplish a noble mission;
- to maybe have a dinner (okay, a brunch) in their honor;
- to keep as much from their beloved Rabbi as possible.
This is not a job for the faint-hearted, or a Gentile.
For one thing, screaming is sometimes involved. Curses on heads have been known to come up. Debating for an hour whether chicken soup or barley will be served can lead to a string of “Fehs,” “Poohs,” and “May you’s” involving boils.
After being on a number of Jewish committees in my life, I’ve observed certain types of characters who always show up – no matter what. So here’s my list of…
Jews Committed to Jewish Committees:
Macher-Macher Man (MMM): Often the president of the Congregation, macher- macher man is not to be fooled with. (Believe me, the Rabbi tried and almost lost his tzitzit). Growing up, our MMM, “Farber,” anointed himself King of Jewish Queens. When we put on our shul’s production of Fiddler, was there any doubt who’d play Tevye? With, nebuch, a voice like sandpaper and a dance repertoire that consisted solely of the cha cha, he was to Tevye like I am to Bar Refaeli. His wife got to play Tzeitel, his daughter. The fact that she was 66, “vouldn’t matter!!” The whole cast was on Medicare. Which is why the MMM himself ordered my 18-year-old brother to do the Kazatskeh. He was the only one who could bend.
Macher-Mavin (MM): Him (or her) you can spot right away by the name: Phredrik or Phryda. The MM is the one who did two weeks of stand-up in the Catskills, a faux painting for the shul, self-published a book of Zen-Jewish poetry, or directed “I’m A Little Jewish Teapot” for the Day School. All of which makes the MM, “the expert” whose face twists at every suggestion from “a commoner,” thereby scaring the committee with an attitude we don’t know from: menacing silence as we all wait for “the verdict.”
The “Sha” Lady
The “Sha” Lady: It’s her job to “sha” you. You mumble? “SHA!” You yawn with a little throat clearing? You hiccup? “SHA!” You excuse yourself to get a piece pound cake? “SHA!!” She will hunt for extraneous sound with the sensitivity of a VU meter. No decibel shall interrupt the machers, nor will a moving member get the edge on the cookies. Worse should such extraneous sounds be allowed, it could, God forbid, lead to an extraneous joke, which might sabotage the serious work of the Committee – finding a free cookie vender.
The Gantseh Balaboosteh: God bless her! She’s the one who silently shleps the pound cake, cookies, prunes, snacks, juices, plastic forks, cake plates, sets them up, dishes them out, washes up, wraps in plastic, and makes sure the leftovers go to the Shul. Quiet, unassuming, she asks for no help … and believe me, she wouldn’t get it anyway. What she will get is, “Mamala, next time you’ll bring for lactose intolerants?”
The Screamer of Consciousness: This one suffers from TMIS (Too Many Ideas Syndrome) and hocks you with 50 ideas in 30 seconds, in no special order and by no special subject. He figures, “I’m gifted, if they can’t follow they’re shmegegges.” This, while the rest of us are saying: “What was that?” “Oy, I missed it.” “I thought we were talking about the silent auction?” “That was five seconds ago. I think he’s talking about miming the musical.” “Wait … he mentioned something about his mother-in-law.” Focus on Idea one, and he’ll come back at you, eyes rolling, with Idea 48 until the whole committee is farmisht– and told to “SHA!”
The Man from the Land of Luftmensch: This dreamer, who never wakes up, has terrific suggestions – if only the committee had the budget, the know-how, the talent of Steven Spielberg. You’re talking places to hold the event, he suggests Sinai – the Mountain. You’re talking staging, he had a friend who, in 1965 did the lighting for the Rockettes at Radio City. Perfect! His cousin’s wife knew Barbra Streisand’s hairdresser. Would it hurt to ask if she’d sing Sunrise, Sunset? The man could be a hit, if only his friends would return a phone call – and he remembered to make one.
Kisser-Upper: She adores everything! If she wasn’t Jewish she would have been head cheerleader in High School. “Shall we serve chicken or fish?” will get a “WONDERFUL! I LOVE IT! WHERE DO YOU GET SUCH BRILLIANT IDEAS!?” With an ego of hock fleish, her goal is to make macher friends, but more, not make an enemy, thereby contributing to world peace.
The Chutzpenik: He or she can be any of the machers above.
You’d think in such disparate dysfunction the Jewish committee couldn’t put together a chair from IKEA. If you thought that, you’d be wrong. Somehow, it is through this unique Yiddishe mish mash that Jewish committees are the most powerful force on Earth. They build cities, raise funds for Israel, keep Shuls going, and could’ve found Bin Laden 1-2-3 … had anyone bothered to ask.
Perhaps it’s our unique process of rachmones and sachel: We often have to make a tumult to solve one.
God bless them all.
A tour bus with 25 Hadassah ladies aboard turned over and all were dispatched to heaven. On their arrival the admitting angel told them that the computers were down so they would just have to wait. At that moment God intervened and said that he would speak to Satan to see if they could be temporarily housed in his domain. All went down to their temporary quarters.
A few hours later God received an urgent call from Satan: “Take these Hadassah ladies out of here, already!”
“What's the problem?” God asked.
Satan replied, “'They’re ruining my set-up. Only a few hours and already they raised $100,000 for an air conditioning system!”