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How many Jews does it take to…

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How Many Jews Does It Take To…

by CM Fried

There’s no set number of Jews that it takes to form a community, but there’s a minimum you need just to make it functional.  The minyan thing is obvious, yes, but you should probably also sprinkle in a few more guys for the occasional funeral and wedding. Any case that requires three witnesses can be covered by those same men, but don’t forget about the minyan at the Sephardic Breakaway Shul across the street, too. You don’t want to keep those poor guys out front yelling at every suit that walks by YOU DAVEN ALREADY? COMECOMECOMECOME!!! even longer than they already have to. There have to be at least two women if one is going to go to the mikvah to make sure the other’s dip is kosher, and you might even want a few extra hands around if one of them is giving birth. Whatever, you get my point. We need each other,if for no other reason, to perform a variety of mitzvahs.

Now how many Jews of a community does it take to keep everybody religious? I have a theory that without that one archetype, the Extremely Pious Woman, the rest of us ladies would never make it to shul. You can’t let Extremely Pious Woman make everybody else look bad, so you go to help her Occupy Ladies’ Section. Now your attendance guilts your neighbor into attending, she guilts her daughter-in-law, and it goes on down the line. There you go: the other side of the mechitza has been established.

When you want to fine tune your community’s weekday shacharis to start at a decent time, you need Starts Work at an Ungodly Hour Man. This is the one that shows up to shul even before the gabbai and glares at whoever is unlucky enough to be unlocking the door that day. He has everyone’s phone numbers and isn’t afraid to use them even before it’s necessary. If you don’t answer texts, that’s no problem. He’s already dialing your wife.

For shalom bayis reasons, you need Four Thousand Dollar Sheitl Lady. She raises the bar in terms of beauty and keeps the womenfolk striving to look b’chein for their husbands. She’s tznius but fashionable, with a wardrobe that would break the bank for anybody in the shul aside from her husband. It’s an impossible standard for the women to attain, but sometimes you need those extremes just to balance out those of us that don’t take our shabbos robes off until we make havdalah on Tuesday.

There’s always another guy you need, typically someone involved in chinuch, called Makes Brachos Out Loud Guy. He’s the last to wash his hands before you cut the challah even if it’s not his house. He waits calmly until everyone is seated and already scaring off the shechina by making funny faces at each other when he empties the washing cup, turns around with a big toothy smile, hands raised like he’s ready to go into the operating room, and in his best corny voice loudly pronounces the bracha so that you all have to snap out of it and say Amein in reply. If it weren’t for that, the crowd would descend into making fart noises and pointing fingers at each other, kidding themselves into thinking that the ikar is not keeping your mind on the coming blessing, but simply not saying anything out loud.

And speaking of eating, the only person that keeps us from paying the bill and making a beeline for the door of the restaurant is Just Home From Seminary Girl. You’ve packed your pockets, car keys in hand, and have already made a production of shoving back your chair when she quietly announces, “I’m just going to bentsch real quick”. Ah yes, of course you are. Me too.

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  • RaananInAlbany

    Rebbetzin Fried, you nailed it on the head. A few others to consider needing in your neighborhood is the Never-Shouts family, who’s kids are model children, and the parents are awesome, quiet people. You know, the people your kids yell at you, saying, “Why can’t you be like *their* parents!?” To the other extreme, Hocker Guy. iPhone, blackberry, and a bluetooth in each ear. On the phone even when it’s his turn in line for coffee, paying at the supermarket, in a restaurant, or how he spends half of chazzarat hashatz outside the door of shul. We NEVER want to be him.

  • Telz Angel

    Bravo! Love it. And Welcome.

    Hey, what about “Creepy Guy Who Peeks Over the Mechitza Looking For Fresh Meat”? (gigiddy giggidy). And the “I Heard There May Be A Problem With That Hashgacha But I’m Not Really Sure So We Don’t Use It In Our Home, But I Guess You Could Use It In Yours Since You Are Not As Machmir As We Are” woman who sincerely thinks she is raising the level of the community with her random comments. And one more — the “I’m The Only Guy In Town That Wears This Kind Of Bekeshe Because I Became A BT and Decided To Affiliate With An Obscure Hassidic Group That You Never Heard Of Before, But Despite My Peculiar Outfit I Really Want To Be Part Of This Community, But Only To Show That I’m Not Really Part Of It” guy?

    It seems to me that most communities have these people too.

    • Mendy

      Every community needs at one begger that go around during morning shachris to beg for spare change. Preferably not when the congregation is saying the morning Shma.

      • The Mrs.

        I imagine you’re right. Reminding us to give tzedakah, of course! Mitzvah opportunities abound.

    • Rob Schwartzman

      Don’t forget the Creepy Social Parasite Middle Age Socially Awkward Bachelor

      And his complete opposite:

      Middle-Age Hot Chani Divorcee Who Makes A Different Frumster.com Shnook Shlep Into Town Every Other Shabbos And Follow Her Around Like A Puppy On Leash And Then Dumps Him After He Buys Dinner at Le Marais

      • The Mrs.

        Yes, but how do these people keep us religious?

        • Rob Schwartzman

          By showing us what not do

      • Yochanan

        FYI, Frumster is now JWed.

        • Anonymous

          I know, but Heshy got married before it changed. I didn’t want him to think he missed anything.

  • http://learnedmule.blogspot.com ?????? ???????

    3 witnesses?
    ?? ?? ???? ???? ???? ???!
    besides for that, fabulous, fabulous

    • Anonymous

      Yeah; the first guy, he’s okay, the second guy not so sure, so there’s a replacement/backup guy.

  • Should be working

    Funny! Is this why Heshy hasn’t been blogging so much? Because he has some serious satire competition at home to contend with??

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      Nope, it all has to do with mountain biking.

  • BZ

    And then there are shuls where the breakaway Sephardic minyan is *in the same shul*. They don’t seem to lack a minyan, but kohanim is a diffrerent story. In fact, on som Yomim Tovim our kohanim have to do triple duty (there is also the early minyan). They don’t mind, though, since they get to eat the Sephardic kiddush (yes, they have their own kiddush and they’re allowed to stay in the shul)

    • Rob Schwartzman

      The breakaway Sephardic minyan *inside* my own shul is now stealing kiddush sponsors! Probably because a kosher caterer runs that minyan and his sephardic catered food is better than the kugel and herring from the ashkenazi shul sisterhood volunteers.

  • Rob Schwartzman

    A Few More:

    Eldery Gabbai Who Knowbody Can Hear And Has Old Man Smell So Bad That You Gag When You Lean Over To Tell Him Your Hebrew Name

    Off The Derech Ex-Husband Guy Who Just Wants To Play Golf On Saturday And Attend Minyan Only For A Simcha

    Eccentric Widow Who Wants Tells Everybody How Frum Her Cock-Tease Non-Shomer Single Daughter Is

  • Micah T

    Welcome Mrs. Fried. Excellent post! Hope to hear from you on a regular basis.
    And thanks for convincing Heshy to keep doing what he does so well.

  • Tinok ShenishBeth

    I just loves you, Mrs. Fried!

  • nycnyc

    is Joseph Fried a relative? why don’t you write about the trial?

    • Mrs. Fried

      Who is Joseph Fried and why should we write about him?

  • Israelit

    Great Post! We’d love to see you write more often. Two more necessities for a community to stay frum:
    Lady Who Starts Her Pesach Cleaning as Soon as Kislev is Over and Informs Everyone They Need to Bleach Every Toy, Lightbulb, Book, and Surface in the House. Without her talking about her earlier-than-thou Pesach cleaning, the rest of us would probably wait til 3 days before to even buy the bleach and scrubbers.
    Grouchy Old Man Who Shusshes and Glares at Everyone Who Shifts in Their Chair or Whispers to Their Neighbor in Shul. Without him the old ladies Occupying the Women’s Section would be conversing so loudly that no one could hear a word of the Parasha.