There used to be a synagogue on St. Charles Avenue ... Beth Israel, where I went to Hebrew School in my formative years before my Bar Mitzvah. It was orthodox (the most religious) and so were we ... well my dad and my brother and I ... my mom's family was a mixture of Catholic and crazy. So she didn't participate.
The Hebrew School bus would pick me up three times a week after school. I was the only passenger from my school and I asked the bus driver, Higgins, to pick me up a few blocks away. I didn't really talk about my religion to the rest of the students ... ever since one of the guys in my gym class rubbed his hands on my head and told about a conversation with his parents: "They said, Jews were born with horns and if you ever saw one ,,, feel his head to see if he has nubs where they sanded them down."
Hebrew School was run by the rabbi. He wasn't child friendly ... of course if I were teaching us, I guess I wouldn't have been too child friendly either. Ira Middleberg sat in front of me. He always sat in front of me or was in line in front of me .... Middleberg and Momberg. We were arch enemies since elementary school. He would always try to get me in trouble. I remember once during "freeze" (that was when recess was over and the whistle blew. You had to literally freeze where you were ... no moving) he pushed me over the bike rack. I hit him, we fought ... and of course I'm the one whose parents had to come in. Then there was the time that Ira told me to look through the base of the venetian blinds that covered the windows at school. They were hollowed from one end to another. I stupidly did as he commanded and he slammed a pencil through his end into my eye. If you look at my eye today you can still see a dark spot right next to the pupil where it landed.
My favorite day that I will always remember didn't involve Ira. I think it was Lenny Pailet who got sick and raised his hand to go to the bathroom. The rabbi kept on talking. Lenny started to turn green and literally fell to the floor on his knees but the rabbi just told him to take a seat. Lenny then proceeded to throw up all over the girl who sat next to him. She got sick and threw up on Elliot Shushan's head ... then (I swear this part is true) he turned and threw up in Lenny's face. It was a mess. They kept getting sick and throwing up on each other. For some reason, I didn't throw up that day.
I think I was just laughing too hard.
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