The Jewish Godmother Series: High Holiday Anxiety Part 1

For those of you unfamiliar with our beloved Jewish Godmother series, click here to read our introductory parts 1-4

The race was on for the best seats!

Hello my friends, It’s Jose, I’m sorry that it has been a while since we have last met. I’ve been so busy at the deli with the overwhelming demand for take out orders and outdoor dining that I haven’t had a moment to continue my stories of our infamous gem of Brooklyn. But I have some time now that things are getting back to normal and The Godmother is back in action. So my dear friends, let me fill you in with what’s been happening.

It was a sticky hot August day in Brooklyn, and in the backroom of the Oy Va Voy Deli there was a flurry of activity.  It was 3 weeks until the start of the Jewish High Holidays which is usually a time of self-reflection and atonement.  But for us here at the deli, it is about opportunity.  For in the Jewish community there was fierce competition for the best seats at the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services in all the better synagogues.  Throughout the year The Godmother gathers intel and dirt on all the big wigs and Rabbis from all the shuls in Brooklyn.  Because of this, she was in possession of tickets for all the prime seats.

This time of year the stakes were always high, but this year because the synagogues were re-opening and seats were limited due to social distancing, it was mayhem. We needed to pull staff from the kitchen to help with ticket sales and worked at limited capacity in the deli. It was like nothing we had seen in previous years. It was the perfect storm and people were frantic. The possibilities were endless and there were no holds barred; everything was up for negotiation and it wasn’t just about money. It was about position and reputations. It was dirty dealing.

Don Bubbieberger was known as the Ticket Master or should I say “mistress” of the high holidays. The back room was busier than a bookie’s office before the Kentucky derby.

We had 5 phone lines open where Avi and I along with some of the kitchen staff were helping.  We were all crammed in the back with The Godmother in the middle wearing a visor and chewing on a Cuban cigar.  We ran a silent auction with Martha manning the big dry erase board and the high bids were constantly changing. 

Francine was on the phone negotiating when she called out, “Ma, Mr. Hershowitz really needs those seats at the Baron Hirschberg synagogue right behind Michael Bloomberg and his family!”

I put my hand on the receiver of my phone, “Oh those seats, the ones called the Bloomberg seats? Those are the best!”

Godmother replied, “Tell him to bring me his spleen and he can have the seats!

Francine answered, “He can’t, he says he gave it to you last year!”

 The Godmother became agitated, “Tell him to bring someone else’s spleen and the seats are his!”

Francine was puzzled, “Ma how many spleens do you need?” She quickly turned to Avi, “Avi, how many spleens do you have in the walk in?”

Avi put his phone down and looked up trying to think, “Eh, Not enough, there is high demand for spleens in Bulgaria.”

I then called out, “Rabbi Brenner from Beth Akiva is on line 3, he says the seats in the second row near the bima are no longer available.”

Godmother was astonished, “Why not?”

I replied, “He says Bebe Netanyahu will be in town and has requested them.”

Upon hearing this Martha started to erase the tickets from the dry erase board, but The Godmother stopped her by throwing a bagel at her head and blurted out, “Horseshit! Those seats are mine to sell to whomever I wish. You tell him either I sell those or I post on Facebook and Twitter about the fishing trip he took last summer with Saul Kirshbaum when he ate an entire lobster with the bib and the butter!”

Avi was shocked, “But Godmother, what about the Prime Minister?”

Godmother retorted, “He can have the seats next to the falafel table instead!”

Avi, then receiving another call said, “Hiram Cohen is having emergency knee surgery, he will be bedridden for a month and he would like a refund on the seats he bought.”

Godmother was furious, “What do I look like? The layaway department at Sears Robuck? He will be lucky that I don’t send you over there to break his other knee!”

Francine then blurted out, “Ma, Miriam Silverstein wants to know what’s the highest bid for the seats at Bnai Shalom near the bathroom.”

Godmother answered, “I bet she does! Tell her I want to know why her grandson sold me those Cutco knives above retail! When I get a break then she gets a break!”

I had another call, “Godmother, Sylvia Nessbaum has a problem.  She found out the seats she got at temple Kol Rashi are next to Bruce Grossman.”

Godmother, “So? What’s the problem?”

I then explained, “He has a personal hygiene problem, he constantly stinks, he vowed to never bathe until we elect a Jewish president.”

Godmother replied, “No take backs! Avi, what do you suggest?”

Avi slowly answered, “He jogs every night at 6pm in Prospect Park.  Night before services, we kidnap him, take him into woods, with towels, high pressure firehose, steel wool and tide detergent. We make him squeaky clean and smelling like roses from Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.”

Godmother, nodding, said, “Make it happen.”

Avi whispered, “We also can take spleen if needed.”

And so my friends, this was Godmother’s favorite time of year; when she went from the red to the black!

I must go, but when we meet again, I will tell you what develops in the days during the high holidays. And how we untangled a very messy ticket situation!