Sunday, September 30, 2007
The Stodge of our Fathers
It's the Jewish holdiday season, and today I was called to play a Sukkot celebration in Budapest. Sukkot, or sikkes as we would say on my part of the Ashkenazic bloc, is the annual Harvest feast, the festival of eating in tents, and after the serious business of Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur, it serves as the first of the "happy holdidays" for kids. The Orthodox Jewish school in the 7th district set up a sukkot tent and hired a magician for the kids, while the parents wandered about being... well... orthodox. After playing I always let the kids play with my fiddle. This is where you have the ultra orthodox Jews of tomorrow playing the fiddles of today. At this age, they are just absolutely normal kids ... OK, with big payess, but as curious as kids can be and they are being raised in a rather protective environment - it must be hard to grow up in a country where the political opposition press has nothing better to do besides spout anti-semitic garbage all day. And you are the lone hasidic seven year old. It has to have an effect on a kid, although if you are from an ultra-ortho family, you probably don't spend very much time glued to the TV watching secular local politics. As a musician, it's kind of hard playing for the dancing at these events - most of the folks at this event are grounded in Israeli Litvakish tradition, and don't know much of the older Hungarian Vizhnitz, Satmar and Sighet music that we usually play, while we don't always know their Israeli modern melodies. But after a week of eating wonderfully non-kosher Romanian and Japanese food in Transylvania, you know that sooner or later the kosher kitchen has to catch up to you. You can't escape. The Stodge Monster of Our Own Tribal Tradition awaits you. Ultimate Orthodox party chow. Roasted beef flanken, cholent beans, and at least two kinds of starchy stuffed kishke dishes. That's kishke stuffed in a goose neck with some kind of semolina stuffing, and a much heavier potato and onion stuffed kishke. Just so you can choose. Do you see any fresh vegetables? No, I don't seem to see any fresh vegetables. Oh well. There were cookies, however. But no fresh anything. Jews don't do fresh. Sorry. Since most of the congregation at this event spoke Hebrew and seemed to have stepped off the plane from Erets three minutes ago, how did they go from those light Israeli Mediterranean salads to heavy Ashkenazic stodge so quickly?