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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sunday Times

One of the few things I miss about our former life in the 'burbs of Connecticut is the Sunday New York Times

Despite its name, the Sunday Times would actually show up on Saturday morning, giving us the entire weekend to fight over the various sections and wade through our favorite features.  Even when the Times' politics would piss me off, I still loved it for its comforting heft... its smell of affluence... its smug exclusiveness.

Therefore, as an homage to the 'Gray Lady', I've decided to provide a treppenwitz Sunday wrap-up.

[Note: It's worth mentioning that I regularly break nearly every rule set forth in the 'New York Times Manual of Style and Usage')]

Anyhoo... here you go:

Metro Section:  This past Friday night I was asked to address an intimate mob of people at my synagogue.  Here it is two days later and the reason they asked me to speak (as opposed to, say, anyone else on the planet), still eludes me.  Suffice it to say I dislike public speaking in English to the point that I refused to even offer public remarks at my own wedding! 

Friday night I spoke for about 15 - 20 minutes in Hebrew (a language over which I hold only the most tenuous command), on a topic that even the small children in attendance grasp better than I. 

The extent to which one bombs at such events can best be measured by the number of days later one is still getting 'pity pats' on the back from people who witnessed the spectacle.  I got two such 'pity pats' on my way to fetch the newspaper this morning.

Society Page: His Aussiness, Dave of Israellycool and his wife have welcomed a new member to the tribe (actually, he won't officially be given membership in the tribe until Thursday), a little boy weighing 4.050 kilo/8.9 pounds (keneynahora, tfu tfu tfu)!    Go on over and wish him Mazal Tov!

Health & Fitness:  There is a longstanding tradition in some Israeli neighborhoods of holding Saturday evening services under the streetlamps to spare the menfolk the trouble of walking 'all the way' back to synagogue.  In an effort to raise bone-laziness to new heights, last night the usual crowd of my neighbors gathered less than 200 meters from the synagogue to usher out the sabbath queen. 

The thing that made this shameless display of sloth noteworthy was the presence last night of a familiar face that has been missing for many months from our weekly gathering:

Elroi Refa'el. 

Apparently Elroi was home from the rehab facility for shabbat and a few soldiers from his unit had joined him at his parents house for the weekend.   It was wonderful to see his friends wheel him out to the parking lot in his wheelchair and to see him joking and shaking hands with everyone like old times. 

He has regained a little bit of movement on his left side... but it is still premature to say that he has any meaningful 'use' of his left arm or leg.  However, looking at how far he has come, and the determination on his handsome face, tells me that the end of this story has yet to be written.  Please keep Elroi Refa'el ben Galia Glynis in your thoughts and prayers for a full recovery.

Classified:  A few of you have continued to look for fresh ads to click over on the lower right hand side of the page.  I would just remind you that each advertiser you visit makes it possible to put cake, cookies and drinks in the chilly hands of the young men and women who have the thankless task of manning the outposts and roadblocks throughout the Judaen hills.  Keep up the good work!

On Language:  I don't know how I managed never to have heard this word before, but until recently I had been blissfully unaware of the word 'tzimmer'.   But as usually happens, now that I've heard it once, it seems that nearly everyone I know is sprinkling their conversations with it.

Unlike William Safire, who would have done exhaustive research on the etymology of the word and then provided a detailed definition and usage guide, I can only offer my vague contextual understanding of the word 'tzimmer':

The word 'tzimmer' seems to encompass a range of vacation accommodations from stand-alone bungalows to full-service bed-and-breakfasts.  Typical usage:  "We had wanted to go camping up north for the weekend but it rained so we stayed in a 'tzimmer'''.  The origin of the word sounds to my untrained ear to be Yiddish... but that is the wildest of guesses and should perhaps be taken with the usual grain of salt.

Religion:  I try not to discuss religion or politics here too often in deference to the diverse readership that treppenwitz is privileged to enjoy.  But a passage in this past Shabbat's reading always makes me marvel that anyone can deny the scripture's prophecy:

"You shall call him Ishmael... he shall be a wild ass of a man; his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him."

Genesis 12:11

Hmmm... Someone remind me again... who considers themselves to be the descendants of Ishmael?  Oh yeah, now I remember... that would be our cousins; 'The religion of peace'. 

Opinion:  Most of the time the moonbats in the tinfoil hat brigade reality-challenged members of treppenwitz's readership confine their manifestos thoughtful inquiries to emails that you, dear reader, never get to see.  But once in a while an 'interesting' comment is left and you all get to glimpse the glamour pageant known as being a blogger/journaler. 

This past week treppenwitz received another such communique from the edge insightful comment which has made me feel compelled to make the following clarifications:

a)  I am not now , nor have I ever been, a Rabbi (although I've played one on television).

b) I am not the elected representative of all religious Jews.  In fact many self-respecting religious people actively deny any affiliation with me or my sinful sometimes irreverent journal.

c)  My brand of humor is best described as 'an acquired taste'.  If it offends you or you 'don't get it', please don't feel bad.  The problem is clearly with your meds me, not you.

Well, that's pretty much all the news that's fit to print for now... so enjoy the rest of your Sunday!


Posted by David Bogner on November 13, 2005 | Permalink


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WHAT? No accompanying crossword puzzle to work on for the next 2 days?

Posted by: Pearl | Nov 13, 2005 3:13:00 PM

I'm not giving up my subscription to the New York Times just yet in favor of the Treppenwitz Times, but...that was great! You are far wittier than the NYT (I guess I have acquired that taste), and reading you offers less newsprint coming off on my fingers...once you get a Sunday magazine and a book review, I'll be ready to make the complete switch.

Thanks for the update on Elroi Rafa'el. Glad to hear he is improving.

Posted by: mcaryeh | Nov 13, 2005 3:26:23 PM

I personally love etymology, and make sure to read Safire's column every week.

You've given me a good challenge, and using my google-fu, I've been able to determine the source of the word tzimmer:

It comes from the German word for "room" - zimmer.

And where does "zimmer" come from? The same source as the English word "timber".

See here:


Posted by: Dave | Nov 13, 2005 4:10:54 PM

Very nice, David! I had just finished going thru the Times and yours was a nice 'additional section' to read thru!

So glad to hear about Elroi - actually brought tears of happiness to my eyes... so glad he's up and around and sharing in your lazy-@ss ways over there! ;)

Posted by: val | Nov 13, 2005 4:18:02 PM

Thanks for the update on Elroi Rafael. He remains in my prayers.

Heading over to click now.

Posted by: Rahel | Nov 13, 2005 6:51:07 PM

thanks! almost as good as the real thing... except for the sunday morning bagels and coffee...
i gave a drash this past shabbat and while i refrained from mentioning the yishmael pasuk in my shiur simply because i did not want to "get into it" in a public forum, i did discuss it later with a few of my friends -- basically how blown away we are by it's accuracy. yet, on the other hand, if the disturbing nevua is so accurate, it would be comforting to think that the positive nevuot in tanach are similarly on target (oops -- jargon?).
shavua tov!

Posted by: nikki | Nov 13, 2005 7:14:06 PM

Love the treppenwitz times! And I guess I also "get" your humor. Thanks for the update on Elroi.

Posted by: Essie | Nov 13, 2005 7:17:04 PM

Actually, the plain definition for tzimmer - in yiddish - is room.

Although, most people speaking Yiddish, don't use these words anymore. Most of it is mixed with English, like room - tzimmer, steps - shteegen, etc.

So next time, you want to send your kids to your room in Yiddish, you can say "Gei arein in dein tzimmer" (go into your room)

Posted by: Shevy | Nov 13, 2005 7:56:09 PM

A definite improvement. I'll take fit to print over print to fit any day.

Posted by: Scott | Nov 13, 2005 8:46:04 PM

I look forward to many more of your sunday times editions. I'm sure they will be a big hit.
P.S. Ever since I got married I stopped reading the times. My parents had a subscription but I refuse to buy a paper where the news is fit to wrap fish in.

Posted by: Jewish Blogmeister | Nov 13, 2005 8:47:35 PM

OMG!!! I'm so glad Elroi's home and mobile. What a wonderful surprise! (I know, the fight's not over, but it gets a tentative woohoo! anyway)

Could you maybe put a tiny reminder about clicking at the top right somewhere? Even if it's just an asterisk that links to the ad section?

Posted by: Tanya | Nov 13, 2005 9:24:02 PM

Pearl... Sorry, since Eugene Maleska died I haven't been able to put my heart into the Times crossword puzzle. My wife still downloads them and does them (in ink!) but I can't remember the last time I attempted one.

Mcaryeh... You're probably too young to remember, but I remember a promotion where the Times gave away white gloves so readers wouldn't get their hands dirty. They have long since changed the ink to be less 'smudgy'. I appreciate the compliment... and I don't blame you for holding on to your subscription. :-)

Dave... Thank You! My brother-in-law the big shot lexicographer is often quoted by Safire in his language column... and I briefly considered asking him the 'tzimmer' question. But I try not to 'go to the well' too often... I save him for the really important words. :-)

Val... He's not really 'up and around' in the real sense. But even sitting up in a wheelchair and doing physical therapy is a dream that nobody dared have a few months ago.

Rahel... Thanks, I knew I could count on you. BTW, I was thinking about you this past shabbat. Our neighbor's flowers were in full bloom and the local honey bees were working the blooms all day on Saturday. Fun to watch them work...

Nikki... We get H&H bagels here in Efrat. H&H boils them and then ships the uncooked frozen bagles to Israel. Our local super takes the frozen bagels and bakes them fresh. I appreciate the compliment. BTW, If people would just look around the world and name every single hotspot or insurgency (with the sole exception of North Korea) they would see the legacy of Ishmael at work.

Essie... Glad to hear someone appreciates my humor... I get very few laughs here at home. :-)

Shevy... With the exception of telling Yonah to 'lay keppie' when I want him to put his head down on my shoulder, I don't think I've ever used any Yiddish with the kids. But I appreciate the help you offered, just in case I'm ever tempted. :-)

Scott... The truce I arrived at with the times was not to read the first few pages. Invariably that's what would get my blood boiling, so I just skipped straight to the sections I knew I'd enjoy; Arts & Leisure, Science, Circuits, Metro, Travel, and of course the Magazine section (with On Language and The Ethicist).

Jewish Blogmiester... I wouldn't hold my breath. I just did this today because I had a sudden pang of nostalgia for the times. I don't think they have to worry about any competition from me in the future. :-)

Tanya... Yeah, I should probably move them up the page altogether... but they are so unsightly. I'll see what I can do. Thanks for clicking.

Posted by: David | Nov 13, 2005 10:33:49 PM

Hmmm. Scotch whisky is an acquired taste, too, but I like it, as I do the Wisdom of the Staircase.

Suburbs of Connecticut, eh? Where would that have been, I wonder? The Elisson clan has lived in Glastonbury and in Trumbull.

Posted by: Elisson | Nov 14, 2005 4:25:03 AM

Just wanted to let you know that I am available to heckle your public appearances in English and Hebrew.

The advantage to having me do so is that if you bomb you can always blame me or you can always speak about how well you did in spite of me.

My rates are pretty affordable.

Posted by: Jack | Nov 14, 2005 4:54:04 AM

Elisson... Why thank you! I grew up in Trumbull and graduated from Trumbull high (the same graduating class as one of my daily reads; Weese. My parents sold our house after I graduated and they now live in Westport. A few years after Zahava and I got married we bought a house in Fairfield to be closer to my parents and we lived there until moving here in '03.

Jack... any price you want to charge would be a bargain, because just having you around makes me look good by comparison. :-)

Posted by: David | Nov 14, 2005 1:43:41 PM

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