The rabbi of Congregation Shomer Negiah

In my little town, where the local theater is called the Monoplex because it only shows one movie (“The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T“), I’ve become good friends with the rabbi at Congregation Shomer Negiah, whose synagogue is off the expressway behind a grove of trees. I first heard him playing harmonica in a pick-up bluegrass band at the Dance Hall. That’s what we always call it, though nobody has danced in the Dance Hall since 1951; at least, nobody sober. At first I didn’t know he was an Orthodox rabbi. Then I noticed the yarmulke under his Bob’s Feed Store hat.

The rabbi was slow in warming up to me. It turned out that he had become a little gun-shy around inquisitive Gentiles, ever since Sid (of Sid’s Crawdad Palace) found out he was Jewish. Sid had been a fan of pro-Israel preachers like John Hagee since way back, and he couldn’t get over the experience of meeting his first real Jew. He immediately began trying to scheme up a promotion that could draw a large portion of the rabbi’s congregation into the Crawdad Palace. First he wanted to host a Shomer Negiah Singles Slow Dance. Then he proposed a Yom Kippur Banquet. Finally his eyes lit up.

“This is it, Rabbi, an offer you can’t refuse,” Sid said.

“So try me,” said the rabbi, polishing his harmonica.

“Listen to this: a Saturday All The ShellfishYou Can Eat Buffet. Just for your congregation. How about that?”

All the shellfish we can eat?” asked the rabbi, though he had heard Sid the first time. He was hoping it would sound better the second time.

“Yeah,” said Sid. “What do you think?”

The rabbi thought. “Is the price more than a dollar fifty?”

“A dollar fifty? That’s the price of a soda!”

“That would be fair. A least we could drink the soda.”

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