For most of his life, Uncle Slappy was a rabbi at a small east side congregation, Beth Yuiz Miwo Mannow. He worked there for over fifty years. They made him Rabbi Emeritus a few years back and stripped him of his congregation. Said he was too old and opinionated. Since that point, Uncle Slappy has moved from his junior-four on East 87th Street and moved to Boca. He's rarely gone to synagogue, finding the rituals too constricting and the rabbis too, in his words, pusillanimous. For whatever reason, he decided to go with me yesterday for the morning service.
He started in right away.
"You know how you can tell who's the rabbi?" he poked. "He's the one with the goyische name." The rabbi at my synagogue has the last name of "Cosgrove." "Is his name 'Cosgrove Elliot or Elliot Cosgrove?" Slappy went on.
I knew enough not to answer.
We went through the metal detectors at the synagogue. "The only religion in the world where you need to go through a metal detector. And no one says anything about it," he barked. The metal detectors pushed him over the edge.
He softened a bit when in the sanctuary he bumped into Mindy Haubenslag. They chatted for a while, then kissed each other goodbye. Uncle Slappy explained. "I grew up with Mindy Haubenslag. For sixty-five years or so I've had a thing for her. In fact, every year when she would return to Beth Yuiz Miwom Annow, I would espy Mindy from the pulpit. This is not a violation of any commandment. I was not coveting, just noticing. Like me, Mindy Haubenslag is over 80. She still has a well-turned ankle. Now, Mr. Big Pisk," he said using the Yiddish for mouth, "don't say a word to Sylvie."
We finally sat down in our assigned seats. I could see right away the old man's mind wandering. "Oy," he exclaimed after about 20 minutes, "my foot's asleep...do you mind if I join it."
With that, Uncle Slappy nodded off, silently davaning in his sleep.