The Diaspora in Big Sky Country
December 7, 2009 3:51 PM   Subscribe

In Montana, a rabbi is an unusual sight. So when a Hasidic one walked into the State Capitol last December, with his long beard, black hat and long black coat, a police officer grabbed his bomb-sniffing German shepherd and went to ask the exotic visitor a few questions.

Interview from The Jewish Press with Rabbi Bruk: A Kosher Cowboy in Montana. More.

A bissel more information about Montana's Jews from the Forward.
posted by zarq (45 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
OK, that was actually a really sweet story.
posted by GuyZero at 3:54 PM on December 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

I hear he picks up a lot of blond Chinese nymphomaniacs buses though.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:56 PM on December 7, 2009 [5 favorites]

I was expecting OutrageFilter and got SchmoopyFilter instead. Good show, zarq.
posted by chiababe at 3:56 PM on December 7, 2009 [15 favorites]

on buses. Meh, my delivery was never going to be as good Wright's anyway.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:56 PM on December 7, 2009

Even I know that one needs a good rabbi to get ahead in a police department. Just ask Cedric Daniels.
posted by ooga_booga at 4:01 PM on December 7, 2009

Thanks for posting this, zarq. I have to admit that I had no idea there was any sort of Jewish history in this state.
posted by Donnie VandenBos at 4:08 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

chiababe, Thanks! I had the same initial reaction when I read the story.
posted by zarq at 4:10 PM on December 7, 2009

Smedleyman, it says something about the sticking power of that joke that the first words that came to my mind after reading "Chinese nymphomaniacs buses" were "Nice to meet you. I'm Bucky Goldstein."

Either that or it says something about my warped sense of humor... take your pick
posted by zarq at 4:12 PM on December 7, 2009

That was a much nicer story than I was expecting, thanks.
posted by pinky at 4:32 PM on December 7, 2009

Great story, thanks.
posted by amyms at 4:34 PM on December 7, 2009

Yep. That and the Frisco Kid.
(And maybe the joke about Moses having a speech impediment and it not being Caanan but Canada being the promised land).

This just seems like a cop being a cop, seeing something new to him and checking it out. There is (as one article notes) antisemitism out there, but this?
I did like the "Hey are you the new rabbi in town?" thing from Kosher cowboy.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:35 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

This was not at all what I had in mind when I read the story... In fact I want my wasted initial outrage refunded.

I mean good post zarq.
posted by selton at 4:38 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cool stuff about Jewish people in Montana. I really liked the bit about the other Christians putting menorahs in their window to stop vandalism of the few houses that were already displaying them. People from different religions treating each other with respect makes me feel all warm glowy.
posted by scrutiny at 4:39 PM on December 7, 2009 [9 favorites]

Yes, we'll all catch this as a movie staring Jim Belushi next year "Schotts and Shots" the cop and the Hebrew Alsatian. "Don't call him a German Sheppard"

Cute story, I was expecting something more sinister, so bravo.
posted by NiteMayr at 4:46 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

The story in the first link reminds me of a very, very long outdoor dinner I attended with a French boyfriend at his uncle's place in Normandy, many years ago. My French was rudimentary and isn't a lot better even now. My boyfriend was great for awhile about explaining what people were talking about, but there were at least 20 smart, sophisticated French people at the table, and they got into an apparently wonderful conversation full of jokes, puns and stories, and my boyfriend joined in. It happens that his uncle had just acquired a beautiful yellow Labrador Retriever, shipped in from the UK. He had been trying to communicate unsuccessfully all week with his new dog. So I called to it in English, it came and sat by me, and I spent the dinner talking to the dog, which apparently had no trouble with my Yank accent. I don't know who felt happier about hearing our native language, me or the dog.

Anyway, this is a lovely post and the story took me back . . .
posted by bearwife at 5:03 PM on December 7, 2009 [17 favorites]

Arrrrg! The sweet, sweet holiday spirit, it burns us!
posted by lekvar at 5:05 PM on December 7, 2009 [11 favorites]

Would somebody please post an abusive cop link so all this pent up outrage I'm sensing here can be released before metafilter frigging blows up?????

:) great story.... well done!
posted by HuronBob at 5:14 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

...a Hasidic [rabbi] walked into the State Capitol...

Wait, wait - I've heard this one.
posted by logicpunk at 5:25 PM on December 7, 2009 [6 favorites]

My old dog was an un-wed and un-documented immigrant mother from Spain we got from a bizarre neighbor who smuggled her in. I could never tell if she understood Spanish better than English, she seemed to only speak food and attention.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:29 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I wasn't going to read this at first, but boy I'm glad I did. What a neat little story.
posted by meinvt at 5:43 PM on December 7, 2009

posted by caddis at 6:17 PM on December 7, 2009

A lovely story. Thanks so much.

We lived in a small English town when I was a baby, about 50 years ago. My mum, who grew up in Israel, became the subject of neighbourhood gossip when a young Catholic priest would visit for an hour or so once a week, often when my submariner father was at sea. Unfortunately for the gossips, Mum was only teaching the young man Hebrew, as she was the only source for such instruction in our vicinity.
posted by angiep at 6:21 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Jack Shafer has a rather snarky article in Slate today about how this is just one in a long series of New York Times human-interest evergreens about small populations of Jews in unlikely-seeming places.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:50 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oy vey. What a nice story.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:07 PM on December 7, 2009

That Jack Shafer article is weird. As far as I can tell, his whole complaint is that the NYT articles aren't "acknowledging the whole range of demographic reasons" why you wind up with these tiny regional Jewish populations. And then you turn the page and those "demographic reasons" he wants explained boil down to "More people live in cities now," "Judaism doesn't proselytize," "Jews sometimes move to Israel" and "People like to live near other like-minded people."

I mean, sure, and the NYT weather page doesn't explain what rain is every week. Can't we give the readers credit for a little commonsense knowledge here?
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:32 PM on December 7, 2009

I have rarely been so happy as to have totally missed my guess at what a FPP was going to be about. Nice one, zarq!

Incidentally, a few years ago I was in Paris and saw a Parisian woman calling to her dog in a park. As her raced up and she told him that he was a bon chien, I thought, "Well, that is stupid; dogs don't speak French."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:22 PM on December 7, 2009 [6 favorites]

Oh, well done, well done. Some gold coins for you.
posted by cavalier at 8:22 PM on December 7, 2009

What a lovely story, and kudos for the nice turnaround from what I expected!
posted by gemmy at 8:38 PM on December 7, 2009

...I thought, "Well, that is stupid; dogs don't speak French."

When I was little, my (French) grandmother told me all dogs understood French, and that they had to be taught to understand other languages. I believed it for years.
posted by padraigin at 9:31 PM on December 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

Nice story. Good thing the cop never accidentally hit on the Hebrew command for "bite my nuts off." Whoa. eh..yo..I'm here all week...try the matzo ball soup, don't eat it, just try and figure out what part of the old testament it came from....whoa...don't forget to tip your bomb sniffing dog on the way out....


Also, angiep, this sounds like a good opening for a novel:

Often when my submariner father was at sea...
posted by Skygazer at 9:33 PM on December 7, 2009

It's apparently not unusual for police dogs to be imported. My local Wisconsin police department has one from Czechoslovakia.
posted by dhartung at 9:54 PM on December 7, 2009

Two bomb sniffing dogs walk into a bar...
posted by Chuffy at 10:00 PM on December 7, 2009

"This just seems like a cop being a cop, seeing something new to him and checking it out"

Did you even read the thing? He started a conversation with the rabbi so he could learn how to correctly pronounce the Hebrew commands for his bomb-sniffing dog trained in Israel.
posted by autoclavicle at 10:28 PM on December 7, 2009

My good friend Scott was, I think, the first person buried in Helena's Jewish cemetery in almost twenty years. Not because he was Jewish, but because the cemetery is two blocks from his house and his family wanted him nearby. The Jewish community welcomed them with open arms.
posted by faceonmars at 11:02 PM on December 7, 2009

The Slate article is valid, but somewhat overwrought. The NYT like many other print publications depends on evergreens for filler. In the past we didn't have all prior instances at our fingertips. The harm of running one of these every year or few years seems pretty minor, even if it is revealing of certain attitudes.
posted by dhartung at 11:22 PM on December 7, 2009

Yeah, I read this and I'm not sure why. I guess I was expecting it to be a story about an ignorant cop harassing someone who didn't look like everyone else. Of course, it was a delightful, well written surprise. Until I got to the last paragraph (emphasis mine.)

But the big winner is the rabbi, a recent arrival from Brooklyn who is working hard (against tough odds) to bring his Lubavitch movement to Montana.

The Lubavitch are an interesting sect of Orthodox Jews. The Lubavicher Messianics are even more interesting, if not a little frightening. Still less frightening to me than Messianic Jews, but I had a traumatic childhood filled with "Jews for Jesus" dental hygenists in tight white pants rubbing against me while my mouth was filled with X-Ray film.

Wait a minute, why was that traumatic? Anyway ...

Having been brought up as a reform Jew it's hard to wrap my head around some of the Orthodox teachings. Some of them seem a little unusual, such as the tradition of having separate wedding parties for the men and women. Although this one video I found does make it seem fun, it really does appear that the men are too drunk to say their prayers right and the women are just tired and waiting for it to be over.
posted by chemoboy at 12:05 AM on December 8, 2009

Well phrased FPP! That's the first time I've been surprised by a post here. Makes me wonder if my poorly trained and practiced gutterals would pass muster with a dog.
posted by a_green_man at 12:32 AM on December 8, 2009

That is a really sweet story.

Thanks for posting, zarq.

And yes, I went in expecting to be completely outraged and was oh so pleasantly surprised.
posted by zizzle at 6:49 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

First thing I read this morning, and like everyone else here, I was prepared to get my outrage on. Lovely quirky ending. Nice find.
posted by Zinger at 8:59 AM on December 8, 2009

The Lubavitch are an interesting sect of Orthodox Jews. The Lubavicher Messianics are even more interesting, if not a little frightening.

Yes. I agree. I've had consistently negative experiences with Lubavitchers here in New York. But friends who have gone to Chabad in other cities have said that their experiences were rewarding. It helped that they weren't being proselytized to overtly -- a behavior the New York Hasidic community has inexplicably (uniquely?) embraced.

There are many small cities around the US without options for Jews who are observant. A city or town may have a reform temple or a conservative shul, but only rarely will there be a large enough Orthodox community to support an Orthodox synagogue. In those communities, Chabad often becomes a bridge for Jews who are looking to take classes, go to additional services and learn more about their religion -- a task that perhaps their own temple isn't quite equipped to handle, or even interested in pursuing. For example: my wife grew up in El Paso, which has a reform temple, a conservative shul and a chabad. The chabad offered classes her synagogue did not.

Still less frightening to me than Messianic Jews...

Yeah. I have nothing nice to say about the J4J.
posted by zarq at 10:08 AM on December 8, 2009

Thanks, everyone. Glad y'all liked the post. :)
posted by zarq at 10:09 AM on December 8, 2009

I also enjoy that the last three posters name start with 'z'.

zizzle Zinger zarq!
posted by scrutiny at 10:50 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

There has to be a joke in here somewhere about a German Shepherd that only speaks Hebrew, but I can't quite pin it down.
posted by rusty at 11:05 AM on December 8, 2009

Alright, we can sorta, hi-jack a joke that might work here.

A rabbi walks into a bar, with a Hebrew speaking German Shepard and the bartender says. Nice, Where'd you him?

And the German Shepard says (in Hebrew of course): Brooklyn! they're all over the place!!


Anyhow, true fact, Brooklyn has it's own Shepard breed called a Brooklyn Shepard. Basicially a lot of German Shepard escaped from their owners and did the no-no with other runaway dogs or mutts, so erego...there are now Brooklyn Shepards.
posted by Skygazer at 11:21 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

I saw a sort of classroom film about assistance dogs in Japan, involving a partially paralyzed man who had a dog trained to bring him things. He had a similar problem: the dog only spoke English. Fortunately - as the film demonstrated several times - "beer" in Japanese is just "beeru."

I'm unsure whether "get the beer!" is standard vocab for assistance dogs, but it clearly should be.
posted by Sarah Pin at 5:54 PM on December 8, 2009

« Older The Constitutional Right to Discriminate   |   Ashtray floors, dirty clothes and filthy jokes... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments