If you haven’t read the latest, catch up now, Part 2 of the Dueling Dons is coming soon!

Part of the Jewish Godmother series….

Mona Lisa’s Panettone “Jewish style”

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.

Hola Amigos and welcome back. I must say that we were all relieved when El Diablo was dispelled from the deli and life was back to normal. The Godmother returned to her responsibilities of solving the problems of her fellow Brooklynites and it was business as usual. Today I would like to tell you about the “Mona Lisa Horowitz incident.” She was a Jewish-Italian girl with quite the conundrum.

One morning The Godmother was happily rolling quarters from her recent Ma Jong game winnings. Suddenly, her daughter Francine ran into the deli in a panic. She was trying to catch her breath as she spoke, “Ma, I gotta tell you something, you’ll want to hear this!”

The Godmother was annoyed, “Wait, wait, you know I don’t like to be interrupted when I’m counting profits!”

Francine answered anxiously, “Ma, this is important! You remember Mona Lisa Horowitz don’t you? She was in last week.”

“Rabbi Horowitz’s daughter?” replied the Godmother. “Of course I remember her! She is the only girl in Brooklyn who can make Panettone from a loaf of Challah! But boy does she have problems. With genetic predispositions like that, I could make an entire living with her as my only client! Don’t get me started!”

Francine answered, “Yes, her. You know she came to you because she had a problem with her landlord?”

“Yes I know,” The Godmother said as she continued to count quarters. “She has too many cats. I told her I would fix it for her and I would pay a visit to her landlord.”

“Well things got a little more heated and apparently she was getting very close to being evicted! I suppose she got desperate and she went elsewhere for advice.” said Francine.

The Godmother’s interest was peaked…..

The Godmother stopped counting, “Who else could she go to? I deal with all of the problems in Brooklyn.”

Francine replied with trepidation, “Well you know her mom is Italian, so she decided to skip boroughs and went to the Bronx for a second opinion!”

Godmother put the coins down and slowly stood up, “What are you saying? No one crosses boroughs on my watch!”

“Ma, she went to see Don Bustamonte and he gave the landlord an offer he couldn’t refuse!” cried Francine.

My friends, let me explain. Rudolfo Massimo Bustamonte was the head of the last remaining Mafia family in New York City. Unlike The Jewish Godmother, he was a man of few words. He wielded an enormous amount of power throughout the Bronx and beyond. They say his family was responsible for the New York Mets winning the world series in 1986 and for the downfall of the “beanie baby” craze. It is rumored that he proposed a new idea for 2 Mafioso themed beanie babies, “Tony the Fish” and “Fat Paulie the Walrus” and they turned him down.

The Don, at 65 years young, was virulent, tall and considered quite the lady’s man. He was always dressed for success and his nickname was “Rudy the Romantic.”

The Godmother couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “She went to The Godfather? That spumoni loving shyster? How dare he overstep his boundaries! This disrespect will not be tolerated.” She then turned to me, “Jose’, get the Lincoln, we’re going to The Bronx!”

I looked at The Godmother sheepishly, “What are you going to do Don Bubbieberger?”

The Godmother screamed, “I’m gonna clean his clock, that’s what I’m gonna do! Better yet, I’ll clean his Cannolli!” Her proclamation was heard throughout the deli as she swung her arm across the table sending hundreds of quarters flying through the air like a swarm of locusts. Customers cowered under the tables as she stormed out the front door.

Next time we meet my friends, I will tell you what happened next. Adios!

Italian and Yiddush word glossary:

Pannetone: A sweet Italian cake/bread traditionally eaten during Christmastime

Challah: A Jewish traditional egg bread eaten on the Sabbath

Spumoni: a molded gelato with colorful layers containing candy and nuts

Shyster: a person who uses unscrupulous methods in business

Was it really worth it?

One evening our small synagogue held a fancy fundraising event to benefit the synagogue’s preschool. It was held at our local Ritz Carlton resort and it was the gala event of the year. Not only did they charge a hefty sum per person, but entire tables were being sold for $1,000.00! This was a very spectacular event. We looked forward to getting dressed up in formal wear and eating delectable foods, while benefitting a good cause.

When we arrived at the event it was amazing! The entire ballroom was decorated, they had a roaming magician, extravagant items for auction and open bar. It was very classy! One of the highlights of the evening was that on every table there was a huge platter of very pricey beluga caviar. We had no idea how our synagogue pulled that off so we figured that it was donated. My friend happens to absolutely love caviar, while I am not really fond of it. She was over the moon when I gave her my portion, especially since it was beluga. Everyone at the table enjoyed it immensely!

That’s when the trouble began!


The waitstaff started to clear the unfinished caviar on the tables to prepare for the first course. It was then that my friend noticed that the table next to us which was bought by Natasha Sokolov, was completely empty. As a matter of fact, Natasha had not been seen since the evening began. Maybe she was running late we thought, but my friend was not going to let the caviar on the empty table go to waste! So, without hesitation, my beluga loving friend sauntered over to Natasha’s table and took the platter of caviar. The minute she turned around to come back to our table Natasha appeared out of nowhere, shaking her finger in my friend’s face and said eerily in her thick Russian accent, “That was not nice, you will regret this!” My friend, who has a phobia of confrontation, stammered, “Natasha! Where did you come from?” To which Natasha sarcastically replied, “Moscow.” She then walked away and my friend proceeded to eat the caviar anyway. I felt uneasy, it seemed as though Natasha put a hex on my friend, or a Russian version of a fatwah.

Natasha strikes back

Suddenly, the lights in the ballroom went out. It was only momentary but in that time there was a slight panic, people started murmuring and stirring in their seats. When the lights came back on, Natasha was no longer standing next to her table. It was then that we heard a scream from across the ballroom. We looked over and saw that on the far wall, something was written in Russian with smeared caviar! It was then that Irving Zelensky, a member of our synagogue who majored in 18th century Russian literature stood up. He was waiting all these years for the moment to actually be able to put his degree to use. He said, “It reads: ‘Give us what we want and nobody gets hurt.'” Irving continued, “This looks like Natasha Sokolov’s handiwork, everyone knows she has ties to the KGB and she’s an heiress to the Russian beluga caviar empire, where do you think all of this caviar came from?” (Everyone knew, except us apparently) I looked over at my friend who had caviar hanging from her lip and I said to her, “Look what your obsession with stupid fish eggs has done!” My friend replied, “I know what she wants, she has been nagging my brother who is in the export business to export items that are very hard to find in Russia.” At that moment, my friend’s phone rang, it showed up as unknown. She answered and a man’s voice was at the other end. He said in a heavy Russian accent, “Have brother send items to Russia and no harm will come to anyone and you will be forgiven for stealing the Sokolov family’s beluga caviar.” He then listed the items to be sent: “12 boxes Stove Top Stuffing, 15 boxes of Rice a Roni the San Francisco Treat, 10 cases Root Beer; the one with no caffeine, 20 boxes of Mike and Ike candy, 3 pairs of women’s Levi jeans in sizes 27, 29 & 32, 13 jars of peanut butter and 25 tubes of Preparation H extra strength. These items must be sent every 3 months until we say no more.” With that, my friend spoke to her brother and to this day he is still exporting those items to Russia. Also, my friend has not eaten nor gone near caviar since!