Jewish Mud Runs?

Chai Lifeline has probably done more for the health of the Jewish community than any (non-existent?) health awareness drives. Granted, we still eat too much chulent Thursday night. (Any chulent Thursday night is too much, imho.) But many people are choosing to pair their charitable efforts with a push at fitness, raising money and racing at the same time.

Right now would-be contributors have a choice between running a marathon and a Lake Tahoe bicycle century.  This is not, I think, enough options. I mean, it’s all lower body! It’s great for a Jew to be able to leave an area fast, but honestly. Maybe we’re a stiff-necked people because we don’t exercise our shoulders enough?

Which is why mud runs are such a great idea. Yes, you’re running. But only between obstacles. Mud runs require a well-rounded fitness level, so you can crawl through tunnels, climb ropes, nets, and walls, scramble over hills of straw or tires, swing across monkey bars, and swim under buoys.  Sounds like fun, right?

Alas, few of them are on Sunday.

Which got me thinking: wouldn’t this make the most amazing chol Hamoed event?

You know, a thematic mud run: Escape from Egypt!

Participants would start out scrambling over a field of straw. They have to haul an oversized brick up a mountain, slide down into a pit of cement, and scramble out via cargo net over bullrushes. (Yes, I’m mixing things. Don’t quibble.)

From here maybe you’ll have to climb a pyramid, dodge Egyptians trying to hit you with (padded) sticks (the children of runners can take this part), and swing hand-over-hand across a row of staffs. (That one needs work.)

Maybe from here you’ll have to duck into a dark tent and scrabble in the sand for some gold. (Find a token and you’re eligible for four cups of win at the finish! Okay, maybe that’s not such a great idea. You come up with a better one.)

You should probably have to catch a goat at some point, but to keep PETA away, we may have to go with a lasso/ring toss type of thing.  Then: can you get through Egypt’s border defenses without breaking your matzah? Think tunnels, cliffs, barbed wire, moats… If you have issues with gebrokts, maybe you’ll want to wrap your matzah in a garbage bag.

Demonstrate your emunah by wading into the Red Sea — and if it splits for you, consider that an automatic win.  For the rest, consider swimming.

Think you’re done? Uh uh. You have to do a little dance with tambourines first while singing Az Yashir. Then off you go, dashing across the hot desert to a water station… which is salty. (Hey, complain to God, not me. …wait, I sounded like Moshe there, didn’t I?)

Dash up a flaming mountain to retrieve your stone tablets, and please don’t comment that it looks like the brick you hauled up there earlier in the race. This is all metaphor, and we don’t have any other slaves to haul things up and down hills for us.

But whoever is playing God up there isn’t giving you your tablets unless you first recite what’s supposed to be written on it. (Go on: can you? Can you? Okay, just sing the Mah Nishtana and get out of here you shameful Jew.)

Anyway, if you make it back to your encampment, you can get your crowns. All finishers receive complementary sticks of marror.

It needs a little work, but I think there’s something there.

Anyone want to produce it, please, please?

Happy Fourth of July!

May your day be full of barbecues, bargains, and byrotechnics. (Give me points for trying!)

Off Topic: Howarya?


How are you?

To be honest, I don’t care. I only ask because everyone else asks, and I don’t want to be ruder than I am naturally. But I wish they wouldn’t. It’s so insincere. I mean, seriously, who cares?

The first time someone ever greeted me with “Howaryou” instead of “Hello” I gave an honest answer. The first few times, actually. It was the first person I’d met from the Midwest, and after a while I realized I was getting funny looks when I answered “tired” or “bored” or “awesome!” So I keyed it down and answered with a generic “fine” and the universe righted itself again.

At this point in my life, I’m thinking it’s some dumb Midwestern politeness, because if come from west of Delaware you can’t seem to just acknowledge people. You also need to pretend to care how they are.

And it’s not like they even listen for your response. I’ve had the following conversation multiple times:


Me: Hey, whatsup?

Midwesterner: Fine, thanks, you?

Wait, what were we talking about again?


And then, just the other day, I had this one:

Me: Hello, howarya?

Midwesterner: Hello howarya?

Me: I asked first.

Midwesterner: Wha—?

Hello! Do you even listen to yourself?


This led me to believe that the person doesn’t need any response at all. They’re asking merely for their own gratification. So now I let the conversation go like this:


Midwesterner: Hellohowarya?

Me: Hi.


And guess what. Nobody has ever chased me down the block going, “But you didn’t answer! How are you doing?”


This dynamic is highlighted when you’re approaching/passing someone in the hall.

Me: Approaching greeting zone  Hello

Midwesterner: Hello, howarya? As we pass

Me: Dying slowly, you? Ten feet distance and receding fast


Take a guess on whether the person turned around and asked, “Oh, is there anything I can do?” That would begin a conversation, which nobody really wants to have, because nobody really cares, which is why we ask the question while moving apart at the speed of feet while not actually listening for a response.


Therein lies the dishonesty. I mean, think about the people about whose wellbeing you really care. Do you say hello while brushing past? No, of course not. When you see them you stop and block the hallway and have a proper conversation. There’s no need to ask “howarya” because you’re either about to get a full update, or you got one earlier.


Am I the only one bugged by this insincerity?


The influx of Midwesterners into the tri-state area is damaging the integrity of our greeting process. Instead of being able to just nod, or smile, or say “hello,” we now have to also ask how people howtheyare. Keep this up, and we’ll soon be going through elaborate, Japanese-style ceremonies every time we bump into someone at the water cooler. Soon, people will be afraid to walk out of their own homes, for fear of meeting someone they have to greet.


We have to stop this now. Please, for the sake of our open and friendly society, don’t ask anyone how they are unless you actually care about the answer.

Trip to Israel in Summary

Excerpt from Conversation 1:

Mr. Shidduchim: Good bye! Have fun! Love you! Send my best to the relatives! And if you come back engaged I won’t be too upset.

Bad4 Shidduchim: Don’t hold your breath, please. I love you too.


My Luggage Contents:

“When you pack for England, you pack things for yourself for when you’re in England. When you pack for Israel, you pack stuff for everyone in the entire country of Israel.”


Contents of Large Suitcase #1 ( 100%)

  • For kinfauna (entertainment – 35%)
  • For kinfauna (clothes – 60.5%)
  • For me (3.5 oz deodorant – 0.5%)
  • For Also4 (electronics – 4%)

Contents of Large Suitcase #2 (100%)

  • For kinfauna (30%)
  • For Best4 (10%)
  • For assorted relatives, friends, neighbors, and random strangers who heard I was going to Israel (60%)
  • For me (0.0%)

Contents of Carry-on Suitcase (100%)

  • For me (95%)
  • For kinfauna (5%)

Personal Item (Knapsack – 100%)

  • For me (100%)

Excerpt from Conversation 2:

Passport Control Guy: Why are you coming to Israel?

Me: To visit my kinfauna. And friends. And brother and sister-in-law.

PCG: They live here?

Me: Yep.

PCG: They made aliya?

Me: Yep.

PCG: Why haven’t you made aliya yet?


Excerpts from Many Conversations:

Friend 1: You can wear a tichel to work in Israel.

Friend 2: If you make aliyah, they pay for your education.

Friend 3: You don’t have to waste your vacation days on chagim over here.

Relative 1: Why would you want to live anywhere else?

Relative 2: I bet we could find you a job if you came here.


Excerpt from Conversation 3:

Truck Driver: Why are you here?

Me: Visiting my brother.

Truck Driver: He moved here?

Me: Yup.

Truck Driver: He moved from the United States to Israel? Why?

Me: Um…

Thursday Links

Frumanista meets a wannabe Woman in Black. Or shall we say a Woman in Gray? The basic assumption of this woman was that a Single woman in possession of a wedding place card must be in want of a seat next to a shachan. I think the most appropriate response would have been to sit down, lean over, and whisper, “I don’t know anything about diets myself, but my friend over there is a nutritionist and personal trainer.”

Someone here would like you to support professional standards in Jewish publications. Notably, that of giving credit where it is due, even when the credit goes to someone non-Jewish on the shminternet.  Go there, send an email, bake the cookies, and mail me samples.