Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's got the Hebrew for me, and the Scotch for you

As I entered a new shul (synagogue) this past Saturday morning, it looked like many I had seen before from any one of many states. It was cozy with dark wood benches facing a small, well-adorned ark, the cabinet where the Torah is kept. There were the usual pieces of furniture that you might find in any synagogue; bookshelves, a table to read the Torah from, nothing unusual. Unfortunately, being in my late thirties meant that I was one of the youngest adults there, also not unusual.
As the rabbi was getting ready to give his sermon he walked over to one of the bookshelves in the room. This particular shelf like many others had prayer books of various sizes lining the top shelves and cabinets on the bottom for storage. As he was waiting for the congregation to finish the prayers he started to open one of the cabinets.
Up to this point I had not really paid anything other than cursory attention to this bookshelf. As he stood there, I noticed a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label Whiskey sitting on the top of the cabinets. This bottle was not sitting in the corner of the bookshelf, as it might for decorative purposes. This bottle was not there for ambience. It was not as if an important congregant had given it to the synagogue and it was being displayed. This bottle was open and ready for business.
The rabbi, approximately fifty years of age with the first signs of gray in his full but not long beard, proceeded to get himself one of the small plastic disposable cups from the cupboard and pours himself a little bit of the scotch. I notice that other people quietly finish and have a bit of the whiskey. When one of the men recognized that I have finished the rabbi offers me some of the scotch. At that point I declined explaining that I drink vodka.
When the group was done with that section of the service, the rabbi started to give his sermon. He explained that before he does anything else he wants to take a moment to discuss some synagogue business with us. Apparently, he bought some Johnny Walker Blue Label Whiskey (Really Expensive), for the congregation and it appears to have been misplaced could it be returned. He goes on to explain that while he does not drink the whiskey there are members of the congregation that do.

Just remember, in business it is most important to please the customer. By the way at the Oneg (Light Lunch), after the service there was a bottle of vodka.....

I think they are on to something.


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