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!

So let me tell you what happened as Yankel hobbled away from the deli with the gefilta fish pressed against his groin… The Godmother’s friend Lucille walked in to deli. She approached Martha who was working behind the counter. “I’m here to see the Godmother,” she proclaimed. Martha replied without speaking as she timidly raised her arm and pointed to the back of the deli. Just then, you could hear the Godmother bellowing, “Where’s my borscht?” Martha with hand shaking, gave a plate to Lucille and said with great trepidation, “Here, you bring the borscht to her, it might help your plight!” Lucille walked slowly towards the back and approached the table. She set the borscht down next to the Godmother. “Here’s your borscht,” she said as she kissed the Godmother’s ring and then remarked, “You look younger every time I see you, what’s your secret?” The Godmother replied, “An ounce of shmaltz and a good shtupping daily, it keeps you regular!” Lucille sat down in an empty spot next to Francine with Mah jongg tiles set up. That’s when the Godmother blurted, “Jose, sit down and be our fourth for Mah jongg!” I obediently sat down and we proceeded to play. The Godmother started the conversation. She said,” So Lucille, to what do I owe this pleasure, you didn’t just come for the Mah Jongg.” Lucille, who as East, started the game said, ” There’s talk in the street I think you should know about, 2 Crack.” Then Godmother replied, “Tell me more, 5 Bam.” It was my turn and I said, ” Are you referring to the alleged illegal high stakes Mah Jongg game, 7 dot.” Francine mumbled, “what are you talking about Jose?, red dragon” Lucille revealed, “Yeah, it’s real, it’s in Sheepshead Bay, 6 crack!” Godmother then took her turn, ” Everyone knows I run the Mah Jongg ring in Brooklyn, 1 dot!” I then turned to the Godmother and replied, ” Well this one you don’t know about, I’m in this deli everyday and I witness everything as I sweep, I hear it’s run by the Russians, 9 crack.” Then Francine exclaimed, ” Oh the Russians, why do they meddle in everything? 4 bam.” Then Lucille chimed in, ” Instead of betting in change they are betting in BIG dollars, Svetlana Oosterveld, was seen carrying 50’s and 20’s down Sheepshead Bay Road last night, Soap!” Godmother gasped, ” 50’s and 20’s? Where’s my cut? Red Dragon.” I then added, “And I heard that they are photocopying the Mah Jongg cards, North!” Everyone fell silent. The Godmother uttered, ” This is a mockery on so many levels,” as she stopped playing . She then tasted her borscht and immediately spit it out. ” The borscht is scalding hot”, she shrieked, “Martha, who is responsible for this?” Martha came running to the back of the deli and nervously replied, ” We have a new cook, Alejandro, he just got off the boat from Columbia.” Francine with her face twisted confusedly asked, ” Columbia University has a boat?” I then shook my head and went to get Alejandro from the kitchen. Alejandro walked in holding his dishtowel in his hands as he shakily whispered, “Si, Godmother, Si.” She replied, ” I’m going to send you back to your home country in pieces!” Alejandro, confused spoke the only 4 English words he knew,

” I no speaka English.” Godmother sneered, ” Let me put it in a language you’ll understand, borscht is a dish best served cold, like REVENGE!!! ” She then flung the scalding borscht in Alejandro’s face. Alejandro ran screaming through the front of the deli covered in borscht, ” El Diablo, La Abuela del Diablo!” And with that Godmother says, “Mah Jongg!”….Tune in next time ( in 2 weeks) for the rest of the story….