The egg creams were good, the corned beef was tasty and Peter Miller had a smile plastered on his face the entire time he was on stage with the Meshugga Klezmer band at Sunday’s Jewish Food Festival. A teen-ager recognized Miller by that toothy smile, made famous by local billboards, and had a hard time putting lawyer and musician together. We assured her it could be done, and done well, and began to sing “Sunrise, Sunset” in her ear. Swiftly go the days, kid.
The Jewish Federation fund-raiser was a huge hit, packing the River Market with, we heard, more than 40,000 people on a brisk, beautiful Sunday. It was Palm Sunday, as it happened, and the same person who gave us communion bread at 11:30 a.m. was playing the drums with the band by 12:45 p.m. Inept but fearless goyim and some chosen people danced arm in arm (if not foot with foot) to a rousing “Hava Nagila” and a couple waltzed at 75 rpm to other Meshugga strains while the audience noshed on knishes.
We missed the latkes but made do with macaroons, and bought apple cake to take home. Cultural artifacts — like the groovy 21st-century ceramic menorah that looked like it was made for a teen-ager’s room — were sold along with fine jewelry, paintings, children’s toys. Among the latter, our favorites were the Soft Seder Set and the plague masks. The mask visible in the package was decorated with bugs and the word “Lice” was printed on it. Yes, we wanted it, but what, we should pay $9 for that?
The success of the festival made certain things abundantly clear. We here in Little Rock love to immerse ourselves in other cultures, we like dancing at the River Market on a beautiful day, and oy, those pavilions need to be bigger. We’re festival folk, especially when we can get lox and bagels, y’all.
People who want to know more about the Jewish Federation can sign up for “Jews in Canoes,” a float trip on the Buffalo River April 22 and 23.
It’s “Episcopalians in ECCO sandals” you’ll come across at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church on Hwy. 10. St. Michael’s has a casual, nature-oriented feel; the sanctuary faces a large window that offers a view of the woods behind the church. (In this, it is a lot like Temple B’nai Israel.) When you’re at St. Michael’s communion rail you can see a lake behind the trees, the playground behind the church and Wriggley (or is it Wrigley?).
Wriggley, the youth minister’s big black and brown hairy dog (and the priest’s granddog), likes to get on the picnic table and watch the action inside from there. What better thing to see from the rail than Man’s Best Friend?
He goes, as The Observer’s old friend used to do, to the Church of My Backyard.
The Observer recently spent some time in the hospital — better now, thank you — where we relearned that hospital stays have their moments of interest, if not pleasure, among the boredom and discomfort. There’s always something going on.
Not every daily drama is of the life-and-death variety. In The Observer’s case, there was an elderly woman on our floor who was obviously suffering from confusion as well as whatever else may have been ailing her. We never actually saw her — our bed didn’t offer a view of the door and the hallway outside — but we came to know her, in a way. Several times she came to the door, evidently wanting to enter, and several times she was restrained by a nurse or aide accompanying her. “Don’t go in there!” the hospital employee would say with some urgency. “That’s somebody’s room!” She usually had to say this several times. The Observer figured she was clutching the patient’s arm simultaneously.
The last time they stopped by, the lady was more insistent than ever. Strong wills clashed at the doorway to The Observer’s hospital room. “Come away from there!” the hospital employee commanded repeatedly. “Get her away from me!” the patient cried out to the unseen Observer and anyone else in earshot. The last thing we heard before they grappled their way down the hall was the employee’s irate demand: “Stop hitting me with that catheter bag!”
The Observer checked out the next day. We hope the conflicting pair eventually resolved their differences, that the catheter bag was restored to its proper, peaceful function. We are not entirely optimistic.