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Rabbi Yossi's Blog

Welcome to Rabbi Yossi's Blog; where you can expect to find thoughts on current events, Torah learning and Jewish spirituality. And of course, some good Jewish humor.

Days of Their Lives

On a drizzly and drunken New Year’s Eve in 1978, I twisted two bunches of my shoulder-length hair into curls hanging alongside each ear. Then I popped a thrift-shop fedora atop my head. Thus attired, I threaded my way through the revelers in Times Square, tugging on the sleeve of one after another, and asking in my best Yiddish accent, which actually was pretty lousy, “You are Jewish?”

This spectacle amused mostly me. I was imitating and ridiculing the young men of the Lubavitch Hasidic sect, whom I’d often seen descending on civilians from the mobile homes known as “mitzvah tanks.” They especially targeted the ones like me, whose dark hair and olive skin raised the odds they were Jewish. The Lubavitcher shlichim, or emissaries, wanted us to put on tefillin, the phylacteries an observant Jew dons each weekday morning, or to wave the lulav and etrog, the branch and fruit associated with the holiday of Sukkot.

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