Shaindle’s Shpiel: Rabbi, Pope and Me

Shaindle’s Shpiel: Rabbi, Pope and Me

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

When I was a young girl, I believed my dad (z”l) when he told me our rabbi, who I thought was ancient, wore the same clothes — suit, tallit, kippah and those ugly black shoes — because he was so poor and could afford only one outfit.

I also believed my dad when he told me the rabbi lived in the basement of the shul because he could not afford an apartment.

Oh, yes, I believed in Santa and the tooth mouse too. We even had a tooth mouse prayer: “Little mouse, little mouse, here is my baby tooth, send me a different one.” It’s not so easy to translate Yiddish into English. We sang this song/prayer in Yiddish to the mouse, whose home seemed to be down the bathroom radiator.

I wasn’t called gullible, naive or a Pollyanna without reason.

My first airplane ride was flying to Bermuda for my honeymoon. I was farputzed (decked out) in a fashionable ensemble — shoes and bag, coordinated with my little suit and gloves. Gosh, remember the good old days when we dressed to the nines to take a flight somewhere?

We were seated in an open-air bus with eight to 10 other tourists when I noticed all the Bermuda license plates. With great delig

Shaindle Schmuckler
Shaindle Schmuckler

ht at what I’d discovered, certain that I was the only person on the bus with a keen eye, I blurted out to my hubby: “Gene, look at all the foreign license plates.”

Our fellow tourists, along with my new husband, thought I was kidding. Nope. That’s just me, living in my own little gullible, naive, Pollyanna world.

When they realized I was dead serious, everyone began to laugh. Just as I was about to jump off the bus and bury myself in the sand from embarrassment, I heard someone say, “Is she always this funny?”

Let’s get back to the rabbi and the pope.

The pope must be poor. Check out his outfits. Black ugly shoes, a shawl and a kippah — always the same clothes. Like my old rabbi, Pope Francis doesn’t speak English very well.

This brings me to today. My current rabbi is much younger, totally hip and 100 percent engaged with his flock. Remind you of anyone?

Both Pope Francis and my rabbi were called to lead. They are both deeply spiritual men. They both pray for peace, mercy and mitzvot. I feel I am in the presence of greatness when I hear them address their flocks.

Let’s spend a moment of spirituality.

I am in awe of folks I perceive to be spiritually connected to something other than themselves. My rabbi receives winks from his higher power, reminding him he is not alone. Since becoming one of his flock — OK, let’s name it what it really is, one of his groupies — I’ve begun to recognize a wink when I receive one.

So is being a person who is open to either being or working on becoming deeply spiritual one who recognizes a wink? I don’t know; I only see what I see.

Or is it always about those ugly black shoes?

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