For those of you unfamiliar with our Godmother series, you can read parts 1-4 of our introduction series on this blog.
Hello my dear friends, It is me again, Jose, here to tell you how The Jewish Godmother and I both realized that the only way to rescue Brooklyn from El Diablo was to turn to a higher power. We needed someone who had more influence in the community than Don Bubbieberger herself, someone who could break the will of evil itself. That was obviously Ruth Esther, The Jewish Godmother’s very own Mother!
Don Bubbieberger knew that her mother was the only person in the world who could get rid of the Devil. After all, she was the original Jewish Godmother. She handed down her Dynasty to her eldest daughter Sylvia when she retired. During her reign as Godmother, all feared and respected her. She got the nickname the ‘Poly-Esther Don’ because like the fabric, nothing could stain or ruin her reputation.
But even in her retirement, she continued to wield her power at the B’nai B’rith Senior Housing Center on Ocean Avenue. She controlled most of the daily ins and outs of the place and resolved the disputes between the residents.
As we walked into the Senior Center, Ruth Esther was seated at her favorite canasta table across from two residents, Goldie Bernstein and Fruma Sternbaum. They were having a dispute. Fruma was fuming as she pointed to Goldie, “She cheats in bingo and she stole my favorite wig yesterday and she’s wearing it.” Goldie was angry as well, “It’s my wig you nudnick, you are meshugana! My beloved Morty, may he rest in peace, bought this for me, he said it made me look like Goldie Hawn.” Fruma began to bang the table, “It’s my wig! You’re a liar,” she turned to Ruth Esther and pleaded, “Help me get my wig back!” She tried to yank it off of Goldie’s head. There was so much commotion, the two cans of Dr. Brown’s cream soda fell off the table.
At that moment, Ruth Esther stood up and the room grew quiet. She said in a deep voice, “I have a solution.” She turned around and addressed an elderly Latino gentleman who was holding a broom in his hand. “Guillermo, bring me my sewing shears.” I, Jose Flores de las Guiterrez Perez de Fernandez de Leon de Jesus, saw my future at that moment. But, I digress.
Fruma asked, “Ruth Esther, what’s with the shears?” Ruth Esther then grabbed the wig off of Goldie’s head and with the shears in one hand and the wig in the other she proclaimed, “I am going to cut the wig in half so you can both have it!” Goldie said, “Great idea, you’re so smart.” Then, with terror in her eyes, Fruma leaned forward reaching out to Ruth Esther pleading, “Not my wig, my darling wig, don’t destroy it, just let Goldie have it, I’d rather you do that then cut it in half.” And that’s when I knew Ruth Esther was using her old “King Solomon” technique and the wig was handed over to its rightful owner and Goldie accepted defeat. The ladies then grabbed their walkers and headed over to the cafe for the pastrami on rye sandwich special.
Don Bubbieberger gave her mother a kiss on the cheek. Ruth Esther then turned to me and asked, “Did you bring the cigarettes?” I handed her the case of Pall Malls. She whispered to me, “I mark up the price 3 times to these shmendricks!”
Don Bubbieberger said, “Ma, I need your help and guidance, I need you to come to the deli.” Ruth replied, “Ok, but only for a few hours because Judge Judy comes on at 4:00. Guillermo! Get my good walker, the one with the wheels, we gotta go back to the deli!”
In the Lincoln, The Godmother filled Ruth Esther in with all the details regarding the Devil issue. Ruth Esther seemed unfazed, for she had seen it all. As a matter of fact, she revealed to us that this was not the first time the Devil had visited the deli. “He was young, handsome and he had a way with words. He even knew what my favorite flower was! Pink Chrysanthemums.” She continued, “We had a fling, he was an amazing lover, very limber, and don’t even get me started on his forked tongue!” Don Bubbieberger was shocked and asked, “Ma, why haven’t you ever told me this before?” Ruth Esther said, “Must you know everything, what are you, the Yenta of Brooklyn? I got a life too!” I could see this perplexed Don Bubbieberger, “This could really gum up the works!” She knew her mother was stronger than anything, but now how can she possibly get rid of the devil if she had a weakness for him? We arrived at the deli with great trepidation.
Upon entering, we found the devil sitting at the counter sprinkling bacon bits on his French toast. As he turned to see Ruth Esther walk in, his face turned whiter than usual, he clutched his chest and he fell to the floor. As she rolled her walker to him he cried out, “How are you still alive? I thought you would be dead by now!” Ruth Esther peered down at him, “You would like that wouldn’t you? It’s been 40 years, you don’t write, you don’t call, nothing! You just disappear, every Shabbos I set a place at the table for you with a bowl of matzah ball soup, your favorite.” Guillermo then handed her a cane and she proceeded to clunk the devil over the head with it. “Is this how you treat a lady, you love them and leave them, you should be ashamed!” I could see a smile form on the corners of Don Bubbieberger’s mouth, she knew her plan to bring her mother in to get rid of the devil was going to work. The devil, still on the floor looking like a crumbled nebbish, cried, “Forgive me Ruthie, please, I was young and impetuous, I did love you, I just couldn’t take the constant nagging and criticism, it never stopped, even me, the devil has a breaking point, it was so awful.”
Ruth Esther said, “Oh so you think that was bad? I haven’t even started yet! Why are you bothering my daughter? When are you going to get a real job? By the way, you look too thin, stand up already, your posture is terrible! You’re too pale, what’s with your haircut, it looks like you have horns coming out of your head, straighten your tie, you look like a shlump. I’ll help you, come live at the Senior Center, I’ll make you a changed man!”
The devil, barely recognizable as the demon he really was, looked more frightened than a lamb in a slaughterhouse. My friends, we were watching a true legend at work, no one could dole out the Jewish criticism and guilt like Ruth Esther. He quickly gathered his things, bolted towards the door and Ruth screamed, “Where do you think you’re going?” He answered, “Just like 40 years ago, I’m going back to hell, It’s better than an eternity of this!” And with that, the devil vanished.
Ruth Esther then asked us, “So do you have an extra slice of that Devil’s food cake? I heard it’s the best in town!”
Yiddush and Hebrew word glossary: *Nudnick: an irritating person, a boring pest *Meshugana: silly, crazy, nonsensical *shmendrick: a foolish or stupid person *Yenta: a busybody, a person who is a gossip *Shabbos: The Sabbath *nebbish: a man who is ineffectual and submissive *shlump: a rumpled or dowdy person
You can click on our team follow through link or the related posts below to read The Jewish Godmother parts 1-4 or The Devil and Miss Bubbieberger parts 1 and 2.
Back when our daughters were in middle school, they were required to do community service hours. Both girls really loved animals, especially cats, so naturally we went to the local cat rescue center, The Cat Cottage. This was a privately run organization that rescued homeless cats and helped them find their ‘fur-ever’ families. The girls had to participate in a rigorous training program which taught them about cat care and cat behavior and upon completion they received a certificate, cat ear lapel pins, a cat lover mug and the title of “Cat Socializer.” A Cat Socializer is someone who volunteers their time by petting and playing with each cat. The goal was for the cats to experience frequent interaction with humans and thus becoming more readily adoptable. Of course, My friend and I had to complete the training with the girls because they were under the age of 18 and could not volunteer without a parent.
So for the next year and a half, we took the girls every week to volunteer and play with the cats. This place was unbelievable, you can just imagine how much we saw in that time, and how much material for blogging we have. We have to begin with a description of the facility. It was divided up into different rooms which had certain types of cats housed within. The rooms were divided as such: The newborn/kitten room (up to 10 months), the toddler room (ages 10 -18 months), the teenage room (ages 18 months- 2 years), The middle aged room ( 2-6 years), The senior room ( 6 -10 years), The elder room (10 and up), the infirmary for sick cats of any age and last but not least, the quarantine room for cats with cat related communicable diseases. Each room was decorated in a strict color coordinated scheme. The rooms were filled with beds, litter boxes, toys, cat condos, blankets and chairs for humans to sit on all in the same color! Also in each room was a very large hi definition flat screened television that played videos of fish, squirrels, mice and birds on a continuous loop throughout the entire day. Some of the rooms had a screened patio for the cats to sun themselves! We always said that adopting a cat from the cat cottage would actually be a punishment for the cats, talk about a downgrade!
On top of all that pampering, they had weekly activities, events and contests that would take place, comparable to what you might find in a retirement community, or better yet, a college dormitory. One contest in particular that we found “interesting” was ‘Honorable Mentions’ similar to what you would find in a high school yearbook. The categories were as follows:
Most likely to succeed
Least likely to cough up hairballs
Best at catching toy mice
Best at bird watching
An example of one of the weekly events was they would have members of a local Senior Center come visit and play with the cats and read books to them. Each book was about cats in general, no other subject.
Let’s delve deeper into where those books came from, shall we?
The Cat Cottage had a small library in which Cat Socializers and volunteers were encouraged to check books out and read them to the cats. Examples of some of the books were: Cat in the Hat, Puss in Boots, Little White The Feral Cat Who Found a Home, Black Cats Tell All, Chicken Soup for the Soul;My Very Good, Very Bad Cat,Pete The Cat, A Series and Felix the Cat.
Each “cat” was allowed one book per day to borrow. The book had to be returned by the end of the day. Being that cats have no thumbs, my friend and I surmised that this was really the human beings’ responsibility to check out and return the books. Everything in that facility was geared towards the cats being the dominant species, the humans were just their servants. (not much different than being a cat owner). If books were not returned by closing time, this was noted on each cat’s identification card that was placed on the bulletin board of their room.
One time when we were volunteering, the full time staff and volunteers were dressed in costumes similar to the ones worn in Cats the Musical. Upon inquiring as to why they were dressed in costume, the Volunteer Coordinator explained to us that they put on monthly shows and skits for the residents (in case you were confused, she was referring to the cats!). She went on to say that the cats absolutely loved it and looked forward to it every month. She also told us they keep the music lower so as not to frighten the cats. She swore that their favorite numbers from this play was “Mr. Mistoffelees.” My friend and I could not keep a straight face. As they rehearsed in the hallways outside of the cats’ rooms, We would like to describe some of reactions of the “audience members/residents.” In the blue room, one resident was sleeping and another was cleaning his behind. In the red room, there was a calico named Vanilla Sundae who had her backed turned to the performers the entire time. In the Green Room, someone was growling at them and another was sleeping inside the litter box. In the Leopard Print Room (which was also the senior room) none of the residents even seemed to acknowledge that anything was out of the ordinary! If this wasn’t enough, playbills were printed so the cats could follow along.
As time went on, we began to realize that the people working at the Cat Cottage were a bit “off.” I know that at that time we were two “up and coming” middle aged Jewish women and we really did not know from this insanity, but even we recognized this was very strange. Something “fishy” was going on, there was more to this story that meets the “cats” eye.
This quote I have shared with you came from a perfect stranger whose name I do not know. One day I walked into a small hardware store while vacationing in a sleepy town in North Carolina. At the front counter there were several oddly named candles on display. I saw one that was called ‘America.’
Obviously my curiosity was peaked so I picked it up and took a whiff only to be met with a scent that was not pleasant at all! It did not surprise me of course, because really how do you sum up America in a smell anyway?
After putting it down, I started perusing the other candles. Just then, a young woman came up next to me, saw the candle, picked it up, smelled it and exclaimed “Oh my, America smells like armpits and leather?”
By the way, if you know a way that a candle can sum up the smell of America without being unpleasant, please share!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with our beloved Jewish Godmother, you can read parts 1-4 of our introduction series on this blog.
Hello my friends, it is me, Jose’, here to tell you what happened with The Jewish Godmother and The Devil. Last time I told you that he offered her a chance to become more powerful, in exchange for her soul. It was a lot for our dear Don Bubbieberger to take in. So, maybe it happened as a result of the stress or maybe it was because of some “devilish” intervention, but Don Bubbieberger and I both came down with a nasty bug. Usually when this happens, her operations slow down and she is forced to deal with things through Google chat, or I assist her daughter Francine in running the business. Well this time, The Godmother and I were bedridden and quarantined. The only thing that kept us alive was the chicken soup from the deli that Francine brought up to us every day. She assured us that everything was running smoothly and it was business as usual.
But was it?
After 5 miserable days we were finally on the mend and ready to go back to the deli. Upon arrival, we noticed the blue tablecloths were replaced with black lace. Red curtains hung from the windows and we smelled a hint of sulfur. Every table had a hookah pipe on it and the waitresses were scantily clad. There were strangers lined up at the counter. The Godmother took it all in, and screamed, “What has happened to my beautiful deli, this place looks like an opioid den joined forces with a brothel!” She then grabbed my arm, and we stormed to the back office behind the Chinatown screen.
The Godmother was going to get to the bottom of this!
We found Francine sitting at the Godmother’s table staring at her laptop intently. The Godmother cried, “Francine, you betta explain to me what is going on around here!” Francine said, “Ma, isn’t this great? Business is booming ever since we hired that guy you brought in.” Godmother replied, “What guy are you referring to?” At that Francine answered, “Luke, of course, he was in the other day to see you, remember? He gave the deli a makeover, the kitchen is humming, new delicacies are on the menu and the employees are happier. Also, business is booming, look at the books, and besides, Luke has such dreamy eyes, what a charmer!” I couldn’t believe what I saw next; the Godmother gave Francine a hard ‘patsch’ on the top of her head! “Listen, Francine, the Godmother said very sharply, “There is something you gotta know about this Luke fellow, but first I need to know, where is he now?” Francine answered timidly, “He’s right behind you ma!” Suddenly, as if out of nowhere was El Diablo.
The Godmother turned around and the devil said to her in his hypnotizing voice, “It’s so nice to see you Sylvia, you are looking so well with color in your cheeks.” The Godmother was enraged, “Speaking of color, what have you done with the drapes and the tablecloths, what gives you the right to take over while I’m gone? What have you done to my business?” The devil answered, “I’ve only made it better my dear, revenue at the deli has tripled, your influence has reached further throughout Brooklyn and to other boroughs, and I have secured for you a cut of the very profitable Shmurah Matzah business.” When she heard that, she responded with a puzzled look in her eyes, “How did you get those ‘Chassids’ to agree to that? I’ve been trying to infiltrate them for years.” “Well, I gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse,” he said with a slight chuckle. Francine looked smitten as she chimed in, “He can be very persuasive.”
That’s when the devil put Godmother under his spell:
And persuasive he was! The Godmother seemed to calm down as she started to read the new menu items under her breath, “Cauliflower crust pizza… Devils food cake… Gluten free bagels… Deviled eggs…What kind of garbage is this…but if it’s bringing the people in, I guess it’s ok…..” She softened a bit and started to agree to the idea of the devil helping her.
But all of a sudden, the Godmother’s eyes narrowed as she stared more intently at the menu and it felt like the air got sucked out of the room. She grabbed my wrist tightly and said, “Everybody, get out, I need a moment to take this all in, talk amongst yourselves.” As everyone filed out of the back room, she pointed to an item on the menu. I read it aloud, “Bacon topped deviled eggs.” Oh no, the devil brought traif into the deli, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Godmother instantly broke out of the devil’s spell and came back into reality. She turned to me with frantic eyes and said, “We gotta do something about this, we gotta put an end to this, but I am not powerful enough to have a standoff with the devil. What will I do? Who can I call upon? Who is strong enough to go against such an evil opponent?”
I replied, “Godmother, you may not be strong enough, but I know who is.” At that moment, we looked at each other and whispered in unison, “Ruth Esther!” Godmother directed me, “Jose’! Bring the Lincoln around to the front, we are busting my mother out of the nursing home!”
So my dear readers, the next time we meet I will tell you how the devil was defeated!!
Yiddush and Hebrew word glossary: *Chassids = Chassidic Jews *Traif= non kosher food *Shmurah Matzah: matzah made under special supervision *patsch: a smack
(You can Click on our team follow through link or the related posts below to view Jewish Godmother parts 1-4)