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How the Grinch Became a Bar Mitzvah

04/06/2015 07:53:00 AM


How the Grinch Became a Bar Mitzvah
Hanukkah, 2004/5765
by Rabbi Edward Feinstein

Oh the Jews of old Jewville 
They loved their shul so 
On Shabbat mornings, 
That's where they'd go. 

No soccer, no shopping 
Could get in their way, 
And keep them from shul 
Each Saturday. 

They'd enter with reverence 
With tallis and kipa, 
They turn off their cell phones 
And switch off their beep'a. 

They'd sing out the Shema 
And chant Barchu, 
They bowed to the floor 
When they sang Aleynu. 

When the Torah was read, 
They felt like good Jews, 
When the rabbi would speak, 
They would all take a snooze. 

At the end of the service, 
They'd all say the Kiddush 
And wish a Good Shabbos 
In Farsi and Yiddish. 

Then descend on the tables 
Like a great swarm of locust 
On herring and kugel 
Their attention was focused. 

But there was one among them 
who got no joy and no nachas 
From praying the schachrit 
Or saying the brachas. 

Synagogue made him so angry and blue-ish 
You'd hardly have guessed that he was born Jewish. 

He was short, he was green 
And he gave off a stench, 
He was nasty and mean, 
And they called him the Grinch. 

He lived on a mountaintop 
Far above town, 
And each Shabbat morning 
He'd say with a frown: 

"At Bar and Bat Mitzvahs they get so excited, 
But to none on their simchas am I ever invited. 
I sit here alone while they read the Torah, 
I sit by myself while they dance the hora. 

"Who cares? Who needs them? 
With their songs and their brachas, 
To me the whole thing is a pain in the tuchas! 
The service is long and the service is boring, 
I honestly don't know why they're not snoring! 

"Listen you Jews, take my advice, 
Fire that Feinstein, get rid of Schulweis. 
Go to the gym, go and play tennis, 
Go get your car washed, go to the dentist! 
You shouldn't be spending the morning in the shul! 
Next Shabbat morning, take a dip in the pool! 

"I know what I'll do, I'll liberate them, 
From all of this nonsense, I separate them. 
I'll close down the shul, and once and for all, 
Get them on Saturdays out to the mall!" 

Like Pharoah and Haman and Nebuchadnezzer, 
Destroying what's Jewish gave the Grinch pleasure. 
He'd do something evil, 
Like Osama bin Laden, 
Like cruel Antiochus, 
But with tools that are modern. 

So he made up a plan so mean but so simple 
One Saturday morning, he snuck into the Temple. 
While the Jews sang the prayers with good Cantor Fox, 
The Grinch stole the herring, he took all their lox. 
There was no one to stop him, not even Sigfredo, 
The Grinch swept up the Kiddush like a mighty tornado. 
He stole all the cookies and all of the cakes, 
All of the kugel that the Sisterhood makes. 

"No Kiddush, No Yiddish!" 
The Grinch started to sing. 
When they see there's no kugel, 
They do Burger King! 
Or Islands or IHOP 
But one thing is clear. 
With nothing to eat, 
They won't be back here!" 

With a huge bag of Kiddush food, away he did sneak, 
But he stopped by the Sanctuary to take just a peek. 

As mean as the Grinch was, 
There was one person scarier, 
He wasn't so green, and he sure wasn't harrier. 
He taught the Bar Mitzvah's since '73, 
And even Rabbi Schulweis was afraid of ŠYossi. 

He looked out at the shul with a frown and a glare, 
And said, "Hey green man, green man over there! 
Put down that bag and come up here to me, 
Put on a tallis, Œcause you've got Shlishi!" 

No one crossed Yossi, not even a Grinch, 
Grinch stood there in fear, he moved not an inch. 

"You talking to me? But I'm not a member! 
I haven't been here since my 13th September! 
I had no Bar Mitzvah, when I was a kid, 
I came down with flu, so here's what they did ­ 
They cancelled my service, and Mom got on the phone, 
They called off my party, with one call to Steve Cohen. 
I'd never return, that was my vow 
So why should I come to the Torah right now?!" 

Then out of the crowd came a voice like no other, 
"Do what he says, because I'm your mother!" 
The Grinch started trembling, in confusion and fear, 
He cried in alarm, "Mom, what are you doing here?" 
In tallis and kipa and you look oh so nice, 
But Mom, you belong to Stephen S Wise!" 

"This is the dress I would have worn with such nachas 
As you stood on the bima and said all your brachas, 
And right here in my pocket I still have the speech, 
Of all of the things I wanted to teach. 

"So Grinchy, stand straight, 
Tuck in your shirt, 
Listen to your mother, 
It really won't hurt. 

On the day you were born, they brought you to me, 
You were soft, you were warm, you were sweet, you were green! 
So I said to your father, "He'll be a green Jew, 
Would we feel any differently if he were born blue? 

"We sent you to school to learn with Neal Schnall, 
For Hebrew and Torah, you loved it all. 
He had hair just like yours, you were in the same boat, 
So he sat with you weekly to learn Pirke Avot. 
Taught Rabbi Shammai, chapter one, line fifteen 
Mikabayl kol adam b'saver panim 
All people are precious, be they purple or green! 
Because in each one, God's image is seen. 

"So put on that tallis and make your mom proud, 
Step up to the bima, say the brachas aloud, 
Accept this aliya, in lieu of the other, 
Today's your Bar Mitzvah, and I am your mother!" 

His eyes filled with tears as he walked to the bima, 
To show love of Torah and honor his eema. 
Yossi showed him place, and with a big loving smack, 
He said, "I won't need my Polaroid, this one will be back!" 

To top off this great celebration, 
There came the shul president for a gift presentation. 
"Here's a Kiddush cup engraved with your name and the date 
A year in the youth group so you'll find a nice mate. 
In your name a tree's planted in old Tel Aviv, 
And a book by the rabbi -- 
"For The Grinch Who Can't Believe." 
Know this truth, Grinch, and you can't go wrong dear, 
Hide as you might, you still belong here!" 

Then the rabbi said, "Grinch go ahead, it's your turn, 
To share with us all something you've learned." 

He thought he was dreaming, 
So he gave his leg a strong pinch, 
Then declared from the bima, 
"Today, I am a Grinch! 
But a Grinch who belongs to shul full of friends, 
Who accept what I am and demands no amends. 
So before God and my mother, I make this affirmation 
That I'm going to keep learning till I reach Confirmation. 
ŒCause I know the truth, if you're green or you're blue, 
You've got to learn Torah to be a good Jew." 

The Grinch kept his word, and he learned all the Torah, 
He learned all the Mishna and even Gemorah. 
He teaches Bar Mitzvahs when Yossi's away, 
He teaches with love, and that's why they say: 

"Study real hard, a Bar Mitzvah's no cinch, 
And you'll make your mom proud, just like the Grinch."


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Tue, August 11 2020 21 Av 5780