Monday, January 08, 2007

That Scandal is So, Like, Eighteen Days Ago...

Stuff this! A mezuzah case, 3.5" long, from

Now that Hanukah is well over, news (if you can call it that) of "Mezuza-gate" seems to have dried up. According to Gawker, would-be OJ publisher Judith Regan "once claimed to staffers that, as a joke, she went through her old apartment building on the Upper West Side, took all the torah scrolls out of the mezzuzahs at the doors and replaced them with torn-up dollar bills."

Much ink and many bytes have been spilled over this, with people arguing about whether the above story proves that Regan is an anti-Semite. I'm not wading into that fray, though I had to snicker over the quote from a former colleague, who said she was an "equal opportunity offender" who insults everyone in good measure. It's funny when Ari the Agent abuses his hapless staff on "Entourage," but not when someone does it in real life, as I know happens all the time in Hollywoodland. (Maybe that's why Regan relocated there.)

What that anecdote does prove, however, is that Regan and whoever told on her (not to mention those who spread the story unreflectively) don't know squat about mezuzot. First of all, they are affixed steadfastly--nay, intransigently--to the doorposts. In older buildings on the Upper West Side, you'll often see what look like painted-over Tootsie Rolls bulging from the side of apartment doorways. (When I was a kid I really did think they were Tootsie Rolls.) No way one can sneakily pry those off and replace them without the neighbors noticing.

Even if the mezuzah (which has as many spelling variations as Hanukah--or zucchini), isn't mummified under a gazillion layers of paint, it is attached with sturdy nails or screws. It's a bit noisy to install one, especially if you bang your fingers with the hammer and/or drop the nails. I did both (with blue-tinged exclamations) the other day, when after a year I finally put up the mezuzah from our old house in Virginia. I'd attached it with threaded nails, and hate to think what removing it did to the doorpost. (We'd left without it & I had the buyers mail it to me.)

Last, I defy anyone to remove the scroll from its little slot at the back of a mezuzah and quickly and NEATLY replace it with torn-up dollar bills; or torn-up anything, for that matter.

Yup, that was some joke that Regan told, all right--on the people who swallowed it hook, line and matzoh ball.

1 comment:

sarala said...

I never heard this one. I do find this joke pretty offensive. Like making a joke of blowing one's nose into the holy water or something.
Not being a New Yorker, I've never seen a painted over Mezuzah. It's sort of sad--did they not bother to take them down when they moved or did an old person die and no one cared to remove it afterward?
It makes me feel guilty that I do not currently have a Mezuzah up.