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First Chapters

Ask the Rabbi’s Son
Jeremy Goldscheider & Malina Sarah Saval
DEK: The rabbinical offspring answer to

Jeremy Goldscheider is not a rabbi. He is, however, the 34 year-old son of a prominent East Coast Conservative rabbi with a vibrant Long Island congregation.
A documentary filmmaker who suffers stage fright when ordering fries at a Burger King drive-thru (cooked in vegetable oil, they’re kosher enough), Jeremy was not blessed with his father’s oratorical skills. Neither was he granted the gift of Talmudic analysis. In fact, Jeremy spent most of his career as a high school student at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County sneaking peaks at the Playboy he kept furtively folded within the pages of his Chumash. Jeremy also plain sucks at creative writing, which is why he hired me, his stand-in sermon scribe, to pen the introduction to his inaugural column.

The idea for this column came about six months ago. Jeremy became fed up with the cluster of secular Jewish friends convening regularly at his Los Angeles apartment barreling through lists of questions about Judaism as though Jeremy were an ordained member of the rabbinate with a degree from Jewish Theological Seminary. Ranging from the fairly ubiquitous—"Do Jews believe in the afterlife?"— to the downright absurd—"Can I be both a Satanist and a good Jew?"— Jeremy finally gave up on trying to explain that being the progeny of a rabbinical scholar does not make him one. So far as Jeremy’s friends were concerned, Jeremy was the next best thing to an actual rabbi and maybe even better. Because when it came down to it, the half-baked answers that Jeremy clumsily provided resonated far more profoundly with the secular Jewish twenty-something set than would have the correct ones delivered by Jeremy’s father, Rabbi Harvey Goldscheider. What made Jeremy a double authority on second-hand rabbinical text was that his older brother is also a rabbi, and an Orthodox one living in Jerusalem at that.

There are many reasons that one should listen to a rabbi’s son when searching for information on Jewish-related subject matter. For starters, since lots gets lost in the translation you’re bound to walk away with half-truths and downright falsehoods, many of which are far more clever and original than the fact-based explanations. And if you’re a young, fledgling, relatively unaffiliated Jew living away from home, it’s often easier to practice a watered down brand of Judaism than to abide by strict biblical law. Of course the best part of all is that if you don’t like the answers, you can always change them to suit your own needs or go in for a second opinion.
Like with a real rabbi.
— Malina Sarah Saval

Q. Can I be buried in a Jewish cemetery if I have a tattoo?
A. First off, let’s assume you’re Jewish. If so, then the answer is, yes, you can be buried in a Jewish cemetery if you have a tattoo. Unless you’ve got a pictorial representation of Satan inked on your body—anything idolatrous in Judaism is strictly verboten— even a Chasidic black-hatter from the Satmer sect will grant you a proper Jewish burial in the cemetery plot of your choice (I highly recommend Sharon Memorial in Sharon, Massachusetts). You might also consider going back to your tattoo artist and having some work done on that cross you got needled onto you neck that self-hating, drunken, keg party night at Harvard. Perhaps it can be turned into a Torah scroll or a Star of David.
Q. Do Chasidic Jews have sex through a sheet?
A. Chasidic Jews do not have sex through a sheet. They have it through a brick wall with a hole drilled into it. You’ve never heard the joke about the Rebbe from Chelm whose you-know-what got stuck…? Never mind. In any case, word on the Boro Park streets is that the Chasidim actually have better sex than the common secular Jew because the physical restrictions create a heightened sense of anticipation and sexual tension. The sheet myth was used as a propaganda tool to cover up the sex secrets of the Chasidim whose sexual prowess is said to rival even the most experienced practitioners of Tantra.
Q. If I’m a practicing Jew but my fiancé is a German-born killer shikse with long, blond hair and blue-green eyes and not an ounce of fat on her derriere, can we still be married by a rabbi?
A. If Sharon Osbourne (non-Jew whose father is Jewish) can renew her wedding vows to Satanist Ozzie Osbourne on MTV in a service officiated by Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, the President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, then anybody can find a rabbi to do anything these days. As they say in Los Angeles, so long as there is an audience, there is a rabbi to perform.
By the way, if you’re a practicing Jew, what are you doing marrying a shikse?
Q. It’s my father’s yahrtzeit (anniversary of his death) this Yom Kippur and I’m supposed to say Kaddish. The only problem is that and I’m a struggling actor and I’ve just landed my first Tv commercial for Mercedes and the shoot in on Yom Kippur. What should I do? Did I mention my dad is a Holocaust survivor?
A. No problem. I’m sure your Holocaust survivor father is simply sitting thrilled up in heaven over his beloved son forgoing saying Kaddish—never mind Yom Kippur services—in favor of filming a TV commercial for a German car company. Go for it!

© Jeremy Goldscheider March 2003
& Malina Sarah Saval

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