October 25, 2007


SAM SMITH - According to the Washington Jewish Week, "That signature piece of Judaica is a fixture (literally and figuratively) on doorposts almost anywhere there are Jews. But in some isolated communities where the Jewish population is shrinking and scribes are becoming an endangered species, the supply of mezuzot is dwindling as well, and that's where [Aviva] Gottlieb comes in. The 27-year-old member of Kesher Israel Congregation in the District hopes to counter that trend by hunting for surplus mezuzot to ship overseas to communities that no longer take them for granted. . . The Mumbai area has long had the largest concentration of Jews in India, but "they are only about 4,000 in number a mere fraction of the vitality they once generated in the city," according to the Web site the-south-asian.com.

So now what the hell am I meant to do?

We bought our house from the estate of a recently departed Jew and have left the mezuzah on the door frame for the same reason Alfred Einstein had a horseshoe over his door. Asked a friend, "You don't believe in that, do you?" Replied Einstein, "Of course not, but they tell me it works."

I first became aware of the problem when the air conditioner guy started using all sorts of Yiddish expressions. I had to apologize for not understanding his references. He also apologized, saying he had just assumed I was Jewish because of the mezuzah. We immediately dropped consideration of BTUs and turned to the far more interesting matter of whether the devices provided protection for goyim as well as Jews. We eventually agreed it was best to hold on to it.

We've had an exceptional happy time in the house since then and the air conditioning has worked just fine; and so, despite the problems of the good people of the Mumbai area, I'm going to hold on to it.