September 2020

Mazel & Mishagoss: Hopeful High Holidays Happening Here, “Honey!”


By Stephanie Lewis

This year it’s not looking too hopeful for the High Holidays to be held amongst family, friends, fellow congregants, and your favorite Rabbi in synagogue. How do you like them apples? (And honey?) Well I don’t like it at all. I’m not good with change. I like my Jewish laws to stay consistent and my traditions to remain stable (and I REALLY like the round chocolate chip challah a certain Temple member always makes!) so I’m sad the pandemic keeps cancelling everything, because then I miss out.

But I have a Jewish friend who finds silver linings in everything — even CoronaVirus. Deborah, (whose favorite phrase is “No Worries!”) claims facemasks are wonderful because they hide her double chin. She also points out mandatory mask laws make 2020 a dandy time to straighten her teeth since she was too embarrassed to let the orthodontist do his thing as a teenager. You go, girl! Keep that (double) chin up! Hmmph.

Okay, okay, if I’m going to be totally honest here, there’s something about having a 24/7 good-natured, round-the-clock chipper friend that tempts me to test her limits. Or at least get her to admit she views the world through rose-colored glasses. And once those rosy spectacles are removed, she’ll discover that (just like the rest of us!) sometimes she wishes she could remove other things from her face as well. Like itchy masks. And painful metal braces. Listen, I’m not saying to do it, only confess that you’d like to.

Yes, I have a classic case of Misery Loves Company. Not very mensch-like of me, I’m aware! (I’ll throw an entire loaf of bread in the ocean this year to atone.) I should just cultivate a positive attitude and join Deborah with looking on the bright side in 2020. But having an inquisitive personality, (you might know this trait as being a nosy Yente!) instead I quiz Deborah about what she’s looking forward to regarding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? After the way Passover went down, I really want to hear her reasons.

Her cheery answer? “The New Year brings fresh starts, clean slates, renewed beginnings to all!” (Spoken like a true optimist.) What nonsense! Covid-19 doesn’t follow the Hebrew calendar and it won’t mysteriously evaporate at the first trumpeting of the shofar. Speaking of that lovely tradition, I’m also upset at not hearing it in person this year. That’s when Deborah (and her equally “Glass is Half Full” husband) inform me they’re organizing “Drive-by Shofar Blowing” experiences throughout San Diego. I sit there amazed by their upbeat attitude, picturing frightened mailmen, anxious dog-walkers, and the ice-cream truck guy getting blown away (literally!) on every cul-de-sac by a blasting ram’s horn emanating from the open window of a diligent Rabbi’s Toyota. What’s planned for Tashlich? A “Gloved, Drive-Thru Breadcrumb Toss” into Lake San Marcos?

When the subject switches to attending Kol Nidre on Zoom, Deborah expresses glee at only being visible from the waist up. Evidently classy (and comfortable!) white pants and skirts are difficult to find. I envision only the top half of Deborah ascending with the angels. Hey, Levi Strauss….take some notes, will ya?

But when I bring up the idea of fasting alone for twenty-four hours, I finally see Deborah frown. Aha, gotcha girl! Everyone knows Jews need to suffer in crowds for it to be deemed effective. Self-affliction doesn’t count if there’s nobody around to hear you moan and groan –AND commiserate over having C.B.B (Community Bad Breath!) from not brushing or chewing gum. Deborah’s joyful answer? A “Drive-By Kvetch” session? Or a “Zoom Gloom N’ Doom No Food to Consume” gripe session? Nope. Deborah smiles, showing her crooked teeth in all their glory, “My braces go on the day before and they’ll make my teeth so sore, I won’t want to eat anything at all!” Then she added, (you guessed it!) “No Worries!”

Find Stephanie D. Lewis on the Huffington Post Comedy section and at



Shield of David

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