When I went to shul this past friday I saw something quite amazing in my shul. Something you don't often see in my part of town let along Los Angeles. Chassidim! Four of them. And they weren't your boring Lubavither chassidim, these were chassidim with huge shtreimels and the socks up to the knees. It was really weird. And not just for me, but for many people at shul that night. It was like seeing a very rare speciman of an animal at a zoo. Seriously. Kids were staring at them in amazement. Anyhoo, on the seats there was a flyer informing us of a tish for that night. I had a friend with me and I was like "No way." He persisted a bit telling me its lots of fun with plenty of singing. So I figured, why not. Its an experience, right? Might as well see what its all about.
After shabbat meal at my place we head out. After the recent hold ups in the neighborhood I am constintly looking over my shoulder. We arrive at the home where the tish is going to be held on time. 8:30. Outside, I notice a woman waiting with some men. A woman? HA! Fat chance she is going to be invited in I thought to myself. We are finally let in. Its a huge house and we are escorted some windy steps downstairs into some large waiting room with a big table. And the woman? Well, she was told its only for men, and I think she was delegated to wash some dishes (or she chatted with some other women there, I forget which one it was). So we wait and wait and wait. Finally, the rebbe shows up only about 45 minutes late. At the table, the Rebbe preceded with some sort of prayer. It sounded like 'Shalom Alecheim,' but I couldn't exactly make it out. Kodesh Boirech hee?????? Elohainee??? Anyways, from the start, till he finally made the blessing over the grape juice was about 40 minutes. OY. Now, everyone had plates, but only the rabbi was being served the food. To tell you the truth, it looked odd. The chassidim he had with him were serving him like he was a king. Nobody got anything till he ate first. The first course was this huge fish on a platter put right infront of him. Then, he dug into it. Literally. He used his hands and simply started taking bits out of that fish and eating. After a bit of that, I guess they finally decided that they should feed the poor serfs that came as well. So half the time someone finally brought a fork and placed some fish on the plate, while the other times, he simply used his hands to cut the fish and plop the piece on somebody's plate. Not sure why, but I skipped that cource. Then came a bit of singing and some Dvar Torah. It was mumbled half in Yiddish and half in Hebrew. I diden't understand a word, till the other chassid interpreted it for us, in which I realized I was better off NOT understanding the dvar torah. God! It was so empty. Nothing inspiring whatsoever. He was basically saying we have to be holy. That our Avot were holy and therefore, we have to be holy. Thanks. I've only heard this about a million times. Then came more food....for the Rebbe. It was a big bowl of soup for him in which he ate most of it, then passed it down the table. We kind of looked at each other wondering if he expected us to eat it. Someone had the sechel to just take it to the kitchen. Then, they brought him a whole chicken. So he did with the hands again and dug in to eat some pieces. By then, it was late and we only sang two songs. My friend and I decided it was time to leave.
In the end, I was quite disappointed. No drunken chassidim. No food. Crappy songs and a stupid Dvar Torah. I expected much more. But what can you do. Maybe LA needs to do some sort of campaign to bring more chassidim to our lovely city. Then we can have a real tish.