Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I had no idea how much I missed living in Center City until I watched an elderly African-American cowboy, ten gallon hat and all, lasso a stationary bike post on Walnut Street today. Exactly three onlookers hooted and clapped while the man smiled broadly, flashing just a few front teeth. I, of course, was one of the three freaks cheering. I even encouraged my 6 month old baby, smiling in his stroller, to clap along as well. You just don't see that sort of thing here in Penn Valley.

But before I go off on a tangent about how boring the burbs are in comparison to the city, where we used to live conveniently across the street from the sex shop, head shop and psychic (yes, all on the same block!), I should tell you that things are about to change. Someone is firing up the grill over at Main Line Reform Temple.


SHA-BBQ is coming to town. What?! At first, when I saw the big sign outside the temple, I nearly crashed my car. I thought it meant that Shaq was coming to a bbq on the main line. But, it's even better than that! SHA-BBQ is a bbq outside the temple on shabbat! This has to be the most exciting new concept to sweep the Jewish community since a bubbe accidentally dropped some matzoh in chicken soup thousands of years ago. And I wouldn't miss it for anything! I have somehow enticed my husband into accompanying me to SHA-BBQ, with the promise of kosher hot dogs and a possible game of Frisbee with the rabbi.

So what will actually take place at this shabbat bbq? Your guess is as good as mine. Will the rabbi be grilling brisket or burgers? Will we sing Shabbat Shalom or Kumbaya? And who exactly will be attending this shabbat shindig? I'm guessing Main Line families, members of the temple, well-dressed and educated, looking to spice up their usual shabbos dinner with the family. What will their reaction will be when our crew rolls up? 2 lesbians with their adorable African-American baby, 1 former alter boy turned atheist, and 1 Irish-Jew who used to cut Hebrew school. What a shanda! Will they welcome us with open arms or stare at us, wondering if this is just an ABC 20/20 "hidden camera investigation" to test their reactions? Should I introduce myself as Stacy, or my Hebrew name, Chava, or simply Chavs, the badass nickname my Italian husband gave me?

I'm wondering what I should wear to SHA-BBQ too. Typical temple clothes seem inappropriate and way too stuffy. For some odd reason, I'm envisioning this SHA-BBQ to be like a great western bbq, the kind you would find in Jackson, Wyoming, with real cowboys manning the meat and telling ghost stories of fallen heroes on the plains. I can just see the men throwing in their keepahs in exchange for cowboy hats. I picture a mechanical bull and the cantor reaching his highest notes as he fights to stay on the bucking beast. I can see the rabbi riding in bareback on a wild mustang to a roaring crowd.

I'm not sure if the rabbi will really go all rodeo on the congregation, but SHA-BBQ promises games and sports, so you never know. If the games include bowling, horseshoes, or any parlor games, my husband is sure to be a hit on shabbos. As for my lesbian friends, our gracious hosts at this SHA-BBQ, well, the last time I played any games with them, it was at their "sperm party," when they were trying to decide whose sperm to use for artificial insemination. Needless to say, I don't think we'll be playing "pin the sperm on the egg" at this bbq.

What does one bring to a SHA-BBQ? Perhaps a guitar, although I'm not sure this cantor will be as cool as the one from my temple, who promised my dad she would learn Bob Dylan's Forever Young to sing at my Bat Mitzvah service. I certainly hope that there's a vibe of peace and love in the air, and even some mj would not be opposed. I think I'll leave home the Buddhist prayer wheel that I keep in my living room, which my dad bought for me after spinning it quickly in the store and chanting, "Baruch ata adinoi......that's all I remember....." Yes, that's it. We'll just try to blend in with the people and not draw attention to ourselves. In the meantime, stay tuned for pix and tales from next week's SHA-BBQ.

Shabbat shalom, party people!


  1. So, I'm wondering why Michael Jackson's music would make an appearance at such a venue but then it occurred to me that's not what you meant by mj. :)

    I miss living in center city too.