An interesting shabbos in Dallas

I got back to Dallas on Tuesday night, but like most people I waited until last minute to make shabbos plans. I was debating what to do, and decided to call the “cool” chabad Rabbi who deals with the younger crowd here in Dallas, he either didn’t understand the true purpose of my call, which was to mooch a meal at his house – mostly because he is one smart and cool fellow whom I wouldn’t mind schmoozing, or he chose to ignore my lonely plea for some sort of human interaction. I have noticed that the chabad folks in Dallas are not like the ones I am used to, I am used to fighting off their invitations to come over any time and in Dallas that has simply not been the case, in fact I haven’t actually received any true invites at all, even though I daven at chabad for weekday mincha and maariv almost every day of the week.

So I debated going back to Ohr Hatorah, the kiruv shul I spoke about when I first moved here, but I wanted to do something different. Even when visiting someone in a new community my goal is usually to daven in and see as much of the frum community as possible. I called up this one guy my age I had met and he said he was eating at this guy Josh’s house, however he didn’t think to mention that maybe I could eat there, I guess I am more about reading hints, being a perceptive fellow and all, I kind of got this little bout of loneliness because I had no idea who this Josh was and where exactly he lived anyway, I called my trusty roommate and he hooked it up, turned out that this Josh and me had a lot of friends in common who kept telling me to get in touch with this dude in the first place.

So I had my place for shabbos set up and the worst part about it was that I would have to sleep at my house because this dude lives up by me, its come to my understanding that most “normal” people would much rather stay in their own house and eat out then go away for shabbos, but I am the opposite, I am alone in my house all week – using the Jewish Blogesphere as a socializing point and would rather be with a family for shabbos. Luckily the meals all took up loads of time so I wasn’t sitting all by myself reading in a 5 bedroom house for hours until I went to bed.

I davened at chabad of north Dallas which is a beautiful building, and the chairs are those conference style chairs that they have in hotels whenever some corporate event that calls for business casual dress takes place, armrests in shul always score brownie points with me. Another score for the north Dallas chabad is their ability to make a real lively after lecha dodi Carlebach style circle dance. Most shuls that try and do this by pulling unwilling congregants into the circle do not succeed, they simply fail at trying to pose as lively Carlebach types, I can spot them a mile away, trying to pass off the frummy side to side wedding shuffle with sweaty hands placed on your back as a hopping Carlebach circle. Despite the dismal attendance at shul last night, everyone was into it and dancing, there were none of those party poopers, you know the type, they either pretend to be learning or they just refuse the casual advances of bearded fellows trying to pull them into the circle. I am guilty of this during weddings if there is any sort of food on the table, I am that one guy during the first dance eating soup.

After davening the entire Dallas singles community got together for a meal, there were 18 of us in total, not bad I though, two of the people present recently got married so I guess there were really only 16 of us. Still, I almost felt as if I were on the upper west side, except there was none of the shallow snobbery or conversation consisting solely of Jewish geography questions. It also wasn’t an academic meal like last weeks meal in Baltimore although I wished it would be. In Baltimore last week, I ate at an Academic meal as I would term it, a bunch of brainy, interesting and super left wing folks enjoying a vegetarian shabbos meal – those are my favorite kinds of meals actually, but Dallas isn’t very academic like the east, its more real you may say, not to say that academia isn’t real, but its more graduate college and get a job rather then reading Celan, smoking pot and wearing tweed jackets, oh never mind.

When I walked into the meal there was this kid who was unmistakably Brooklyn, he was spewing forth Brooklyn with his glasses short haircut and one of those really round black velvet yarmulkes that adds an inch to your height, when he answered that he lives in Galveston I was taken aback, I totally did not expect such an answer, don’t worry he is originally from Flatbush and after spending some time with his and his amazing personality I came to the conclusion that he was the only REAL hocker I have ever met. This kid works for homeland security, has a government vehicle, hotel room and gets to travel all around the world – when he gets back to Flatbush those guys buying out life insurance policies from old folks will have nothing on this kid, plus he was laughing his ass off at my humor which I am not sure many of the other people at the meal would have done.

I should give honorable mention to the host who is definitely one of the best hosts I have ever seen, this dude was serving people drinks the whole time, I think everyone besides me was getting wasted. I should probably do a little rant right about now concerning my lack of wanting to get drunk, I was recently discussing this with someone who told me that I am the first talented artist type he has met who doesn’t have a vice, my vice is wanderlust, but no I am not into drugs or alcohol and that works to my disadvantage I have discovered. You see alcohol is the activity of choice for most people my age – and since I do not drink – yes I like beer and white Russians (which aren’t kosher anymore) but I don’t really enjoy bars or clubs much, unless there is music or great people watching I tend to enjoy the more personal coffee shop or taking a walk. This in turn leads me to seem “anti social” which I am not, but it has forced me willingly to be more of a loner. People do wonder how someone as talkative and extroverted as me can be a loner and I cannot answer that but I can tell you that very few people go to concerts or movies alone and I am always impressed when I meet them.

The challah was phenomenal, there was this cinnamon challah which was dense and not fluffy at all – just the way I like it and there was this whole wheat challah which was undercooked and was heavy enough to kill someone if you pummeled them with pieces, and I enjoyed it immensely. Deli roll and rice with sun dried tomatoes were the two highlights of my meal, everything was good and I also thought of the following chidush: you can always tell a singles meal or chabad group meal by the fact that there is no white meat chicken – am I the only one under 30 who enjoys white meat chicken? Or is it simply cost prohibitive for large meals.

After the meal I wandered back over to chabad for this shalom zachor that someone had told me to stop by. I walked in to find a rabbi and 4 or 5 people sitting around some wasabi peas and half drank bottle of grey goose, it was classic, except it wasn’t one of those “lets sing vesamachta” ten times over and over again while banging our fists on the table and ignoring fallen bottles of seltzer and scattered nuts.

The Rabbi announced to my chagrin that I was some sort of world famous comedian/blogger and suddenly these 4 guys wanted me to rant, it was kind of embarrassing because as much as I like attention (what you think I don’t?) I don’t like when its forced, I kind of like keeping a low profile until I can find someone I really get along with – which is quite harder then you think – I find that with me its either you love me or hate me – some people are indifferent the classic “yeh he’s a nice guy” but most people will probably say something along the lines of “dude he is hilarious” or “that guy is such a shmuck” and I notice that with people my own age especially – I myself dont find many people that interesting – I like all people – but many of them bore me even though I can talk to them and be “somewhat entertained.

The rabbi who was there is a really interesting guy to talk to although we did have a philosophical disagreement about the purpose and choice of community – that will be a post later in the week. I did meet some very cool and interesting people at this shindig, mostly because I have a special affinity for self made business people who are doers, I myself hate the 9-5 corporate world, I cannot do it, and I am sitting all of these people from random industries who made it in their own way, and they were laughing at my jokes, it was a good time.

I couldn’t sleep Friday night, it was too warm in my house, probably because it was 80 degrees outside and the heat was set to 68, I opened up the windows and still it was a rough and sleepless night. I woke up late, on purpose, because lets face it me and shul don’t do well together- thanks to chabad starting later then regular people I made it on time for laining, I relished in this weeks parshah even though I read the wrong one – I find that unless you are a devoted shul attendee you really never know what parsha it is that week. I also started feeling the dread of having to deal with every parsha after the first few in sefer shemos, I absolutely hate everything later in the torah and always flip back to bereshis or learn prophets during laining.

Luckily for my shul attention deficit disorder, chabad has chairs outside a great parking lot to walk around and cool people to talk to, although their bulletin board kind of sucks. I wandered around and thought of what to write about, this is what occupies my mind, writing and how I am going to make enough money to eventually afford fresh basil instead of the dried kind, (I grow it in the summer months). I noticed a man wearing a Yechi yarmulke, I wanted to ask him if he believed that the Rebbe was moshiach, I didn’t but I really wanted to because he didn’t appear as if he realized what he was wearing.

One of my curses in life is that I am blunt, opinionated (rarely right) and I tend to offend people. In casual passing while talking to this other girl (who is probably the one of the few people at the meal who agreed with any of my remarks) I said that I felt Niveh – the girls BT school was a brainwashing institution, another girl who recently returned from a 10 month stint (not married to an ohr someyach guy) obviously disagreed, but she was pissed, you can tell I struck a soft spot. Of course one blow is never enough and I launched into a tirade backed by this one other girl who was an FFB who attended Niveh, about how Aish was of the militant kiruv breed convincing individuals to throw away all of their secular music, deny they ever did anything not kosher and become marketing experts for Aish on who they should send to Israel based on the most promising professions to bring them the most donations. I tried to back track and just offend everyone by acknowledging that all kiruv institutions have some sort of cult like agenda, which usually involves the Baal Teshuva fast track “from pork eater to violent shuckeling proselytizer in 3 months” or paying you to learn gemara during lunch so you can get a free trip to Israel where they espouse why chabad or insert other kiruv organization is doing evil. I wasn’t really trying to offend, I could have done that way easier, but she was pissed and I tried to bust out one of those “you know I’m full of it” but I didn’t mean to offend you – which she didn’t buy and it created one of those awkward situations that made me want to dump the crock pot down the front of her shirt – except it was one of those shirts that didn’t allow any sort of access through the front.

It was a fun shabbos, and although everyone besides for the girl that was brainwashed by niveh to get offended when people bash their school (ever hear the Beach Boys song- be true to your school?) I had a good time, I should mention that people in Texas bash the usage of chrain, which meant my fish went without its red succulence, but the guacamole was quite good.

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