For some reason, Son #1 is a follower of Rav Avigdor Miller.
Please don’t ask me anything specific because I have no information for you. I don’t know where he was born, or how he came to be the legend that he is. I don’t know how or why my son became his follower, but this is his guru. Of course he is no longer alive, so all that is left of him are his writings, but what he says goes. For the most part. Any questions Son #1 has now that are relevant to what the world has become are asked to a living rabbi — one has to keep up with the times, after all. Though aren’t any of you curious as to what the great rabbis of the past would have to say about our current present? I am sure they would all agree that no children should be allowed smart phones until they are parents themselves and want to know where their children are. Every time I see an article about how smart phones are the downfall of civilization, how children no longer know how to socialize because they are always on their phones, how families no longer speak to each other, they just talk on WhatsApp, I am always like, “Really? Ya didn’t see this happening?” In any event, that isn’t what this column is supposed to be about. We are going back to Rav Avigdor Miller.
Someone posted on Facebook (which is my source for current events) something that Rav Miller wrote. Without quoting it word for word, it basically says that going to a hotel for Passover is wrong. Wrong, wrong, bad, bad, bordering on evil. Please, rabbi, tell me how you really feel. He writes that this holiday is one where families should stay home and be together. Where fathers pass down lessons to their sons. where tunes are passed down from generations long done, and where everyone knows that the food is kosher (presumably). Interesting. Very interesting indeed.
It made me think back to Passover programs of years gone by. Yes, I will be speaking about the Concord Hotel. Ahh, the Concord Hotel. Delicious food for days. And yes, Rav Miller, I will have to agree with you on this point — there is no way that that food was 100 percent strictly kosher for Passover. Not a chance. It was too good. Now I am not trying to cast doubt on the caterer who was in charge. I am sure his intentions were good, but that was some pretty amazing food. Too good. So let’s put the Concord aside for now.
There were a few programs that I was fortunate enough to go to with my in-laws. At one in particular, and I honestly cannot remember which one it was, after every meat meal, the waiter was kind enough to bring my father-in- law a bowl of pareve ice cream. And after every meat meal, he would eat this bowl of not really ice cream and say, “There is no way that that ice cream isn’t dairy.” Yes, Rav Miller, you might have been correct then too.
But the Granit. Ah yes, the Granit Hotel located in the scenic Lake Kerhonkson neighborhood of Yenemsvelt, New York. One of Husband #1’s favorite stories about his father takes him back to the Granit when he and his siblings were all young enough that they were going there together. His father thought it would be funny if he drove through the welcome sign, because it looked like one of those banners from a college football game. One cracked windshield later, the story wasn’t funny. It only became funny much, much, much after the fact.
But let’s get back to the food. The food at the Granit was kosher and kosher for Passover. Many well-known rabbis would come to the hotel to speak to its guests and to partake in the famous, heimish cuisine. Not to mention the lace cookies. I still have dreams about the lace cookies. They were that good. Sigh. Sorry, I got distracted by the memory.
This hotel was probably on the up and up in terms of its religious observance and I wonder if Rav Miller was ever invited to speak there, because I think this hotel might have changed his mind about the whole not-going-to-a-hotel-for-Passover thing. And it might have made his wife a lot happier. We will never know. And there is no more Concord, there is no more Granit and there is no more hotel with the nondairy ice cream — or maybe there is, I still can’t remember the name. So I hope you aren’t going there! (Ha ha! I am so funny!)
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is so looking forward to spending the holiday with her monkeys. She is sure that Son #3 will do a great job singing the Ma Nishtana. And she knows that Husband #1 will hear his father’s voice leading him through the seder…