Rosh Hashanah may have come to a close, but Rabbi Joseph Weiner of Congregation Beth Messiah in Butte, MT will likely be dealing with the aftermath of the holiday well into the new year. Following the newly founded Messianic synagogue’s very first High Holy Day service, Rabbi Weiner’s office voicemail has been flooded with messages, all bearing a similar, and rather fruity, complaint.
“I thought our first High Holy Days would bring us closer together as a congregation,” says Rabbi Weiner. “Instead I’ve got dozens of complaints on my machine, and more coming in every hour. All I did was pick my favorite type of apple to dip in honey at the service. I’ve always loved Granny Smith apples, and I appreciate the way the tartness of the apple mixes with the sweetness of the honey. I never would have thought something like that could offend so many people.”
Listening to the voicemails, it’s hard not to be caught off guard by the vehemence of some of the complaints. “How dare you use Granny Smiths on Rosh Hashanah!” shouts one particularly upset woman, who sounds as if she was close to tears while leaving the message. “Dipping an apple with a gentile name like that is a slap in the face to our heritage. Unless you issue an apology and swear to use proper, Jewish apples like the Jonathan from now on, I don’t know that I can bring myself to come out again.”
According to the Rabbi, the suggestions of what apples to use in the future are the worst part. “Most of the calls include ideas for more ‘appropriate’ apples, and about half of the people seem to believe that their favorite varietal is the only ‘proper’ one to use. But there are dozens of types mentioned, and some of the opinions are directly contradictory. One person called the Red Delicious ‘God’s chosen apple,’ while another ruled out any red cultivars because ‘the apple Adam and Eve ate was red.’ Obviously that’s wrong on a whole host of levels, but is it really that much more wrong than any of these other ridiculous stances? And that’s not even factoring in the rare types [of apples]. One gentleman insisted that we should only use Northern Spy apples. I had to look that one up, and it turns out they grow mainly in upstate New York. How am I supposed to get those in Montana?”
Nevertheless, the Rabbi has hopes that the rest of the High Holy Days will be a success. “I’m telling you one thing, though,” he adds. “I’m placing a ban on all mentions of food during Yom Kippur prayers. We need a time of somber repentance and reflection, not a bunch of prayers for me to be forgiven for my ‘sinful’ choice of apples. And I’ve learned from my mistake; next year, our Rosh Hashanah service will be strictly B.Y.O.A.”
At press time, the Rabbi had just received a call also complaining about the type of honey used.
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