Ask Izzy #2: Kiddush Conundrum
I seek your advice. I frequently go to Shule on Shabbos but have difficulty getting food at the Kiddush that follows the service. No matter how hard I try, I always seem to end up standing with an empty plate, looking in dismay in the direction of a table of food that is surrounded by an impenetrable circle of men and women who shield whatever food that is left from any attempt by me to retrieve some small scraps.
What am I to do?
BD33, Caulfield, VIC
Not long ago I was at a kiddush for the baby naming of a friend’s great-granddaughter. I went to get a knish, and there happened that there was only one left. I could see that the Rabbi had his eye on this knish too. Well, just because he’s the Rabbi, I suppose I’m meant to just let him have the Knish. Far Vos?
Anyway, both the Rabbi and I grabbed this same knish, and one thing led to another, and as I rained down blows upon him, I realised there had to be another way. But I don’t really know what that way is exactly. Anyway, I need to go out to the bank now, and then to pick up some bagels, so I’ll hand you over to by son-in-law Hymie who wants to write something to you.
It’s Hymie here. I know exactly how you feel. I have much the same problem myself. You want to be polite. You wait for the brocha to be recited. You are careful to avoid pushing past elderly men and women. You politely engage in small talk with someone who says hello. And before you know it – whoosh – the food is gone.
My own friend Morry has no such problems. Even though he is much more portly than me and normally very slow moving, he manages to weasel his way right next to the table, stands there with a plate chock-full of food, eating and talking loudly, an immovable object planted right in front of a platter of cakes, blocking any attempt by me or anyone else to retrieve even one small rugelach.
It got so bad for me, one day I decided to bring my own food to Shule.
I made myself a bagel with smoked salmon and tomato and pickles. My wife Miriam had made an apple strudel and a chocolate babka and I took one piece of each. I hid this food in various pockets of my suit and made sure I took the largest tallis I had to provide additional camouflage at Shule. But I must say I didn’t enjoy the service. I was as nervous as anything. Of course all the food I brought was strictly kosher and the particular service I attended that day was, how should I put it, not at one of the most orthodox Shules. But the thought of being discovered made me nervous and I couldn’t concentrate on any of the service.
Once the service was over, I avoided the rush to the food at the Kiddush, took an empty plate, and then managed to retrieve all my food from the various pockets of my suit and sit down at a table. Everything was now going very well. The cakes were extremely good. For the first time ever, Morry left the food table and came over to say hello. His eyes went wide with envy when he saw my plate. He even asked where I got the cakes from! Oh joy! I told him I just managed to get the last piece of chocolate babka!
I tell you, the walk home from Shule that day was one of the happiest in my life. It was so good I took some extra detours to make the journey longer.
Unfortunately, Miriam wasn’t in a good mood when at last I arrived home. “Why did you take one slice from each of the cakes I left out? How can I give them away tomorrow at the fete … etc. etc.” My good mood was fast dissipating. When at last she finished I apologized to Miriam. I asked her what she was going to do with the left over cakes. “Oh,” she replied “Morry came by after shule so I gave them to him”.
So you see BD33, I am not in a position to advise you. And of course I’m not going to ask Morry. How to get food at a Kiddush is still a mystery to me. But I think it has more to do with personality than with technique.