We sat armed with projectiles made of milk chocolate, ready aimed and poised at the target. The target unknowing of its being locked on went on reading the haftorah as if nothing was different. We sat in angst waiting, impatiently, crinkling the wrappers of the miniature nestle crunch, and baby ruth bars, normally I would have eaten mine already convincing myself that it wasn’t a k’zayis and indeed didn’t have to wait for kiddish to enjoy this mid-davening treat. I would have devoured it secretly in the coat room or away from the crowds as if I was having my own private kiddush club with just one guest Mr. Nestle and his luxurious rice crisp encased in a heavenly coating of milk chocolate. I would normally sit and lick gently at its surface as if not to run out of this treat too fast, and enjoy this moment of respite before the Rabbi speaks after laining. But here I was candy rocket in hand with the traditional chatter that boys have around a bar mitzvah ceremony of “I’m gonna hit him right in the head” and the like, and afterwards everyone would claim that they hit the kid the hardest and “did you see him cringe when he was pummeled with candy rockets and zip locked bags full of red and yellow Sunkist candies.” The bar mitzvah brings me back to elements of my youth. Its not even the bar mitzvah that brings me back it’s the throwing of the candy- which I am sure brings fond memories to many of my readers as well.
Suddenly the haftorah was over and the laser guided projectiles hit their mark, 15 people including the Rabbi hit him square on the head, as we were in a room about the size of a small studio apartment. One entering the minyan at that point would have thought us to be insane, having walked in when a 20 year old kid who clearly knew what he was doing was in fact having a bar mitzvah, almost like a ghetto renewing of the vows ceremony. But no this was actually not a bar mitzvah but rather we were putting bored college kids, funny antics, and left over Halloween candy from the kitchen of the interfaith college chapel to good use. In fact we may have elevated Halloween candy from its mere status as candy to its status is bar mitzvah projectile in matter of seconds. This candy was simply left hopelessly hefker lying in a basket waiting for some of the Jesus Freaks, Jewish Nuts or Crazy Muslims on campus who actually know what the Interfaith chapel is to devour these last remnants of yet another holiday that according to left wing anti-capitalists was created by large corporations to give youanother excuse to run up large credit card balances and support their even larger coffers of money made during the holiday seasons.
I felt proud as my fellow daveners proceeded to collect the candy that hit its target and safely landed at the bottom of the bima to the glee of all the people that were waiting patiently to gorge themselves full of miniature baby ruth and nestle bars- which after they ran around the bima did so lovingly. I was reminded of all those throwing candy events, the ones that I reigned king and me and my brother were victorious in the candy gathering wars. We would run in right when the Rabbi would clop on the bima signaling all hell was ready to break loose, then the chazzan would slip the talis over the bar mitzvah boys head and boom everyone caught as bystanders would be pummeled with those little inedible sesame bars, Sunkist fruit candies, twinkies, fizzers lolly pops, and an array of those frummy candies that they only sold in boro park like the candies attached to paper, and those lolly pops with the sugar and the already mentioned twinkies. When all was said and done, the simin tov song died down, we would go on full attack, us little kids running around in circles, knowing exactly how far a 45 year old women with a white doily on her head could throw a 1.7 oz candy bar. We had the engineering of candy collecting worked out, we knew which section had thrown the most etc… Countless times was I crowned victorious king of the candy collectors, happens to be I would run around collecting candy until the ripe old age of 16- sounds nuts I know but then again the shull we davened at was a little off the beaten path the West Side Institutional Synagogue- quite an eccentric crowd if you asked me, did not find this weird at all. We were more like part of the scenery roaming around, breaking windows, throwing things off the roof, playing games to see who could break the most chandeliers and taking out those little yertzeit bulbs and lining them up in the street and waiting for cars to run them over and explode- thinking their tires were shot- yes we were little devils. Oh and every time something bad happened ranging from getting too much candy to breaking windows with football games inside the ball room- the old man would come up yelling and beat the crap out of me in an old school Yiddish guy in back of the shull sort of way.
Who ever thought the simple act of pretending to have a bar mitzvah could bring back so many fond memories of my youth?