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Rear Pew Mirror

Rear Pew Mirror

By Doug Brook
A comedic reflection on all things Jewish, from the back row of the sanctuary. Doug Brook brings wit and wisdom from his longtime humor column in Southern Jewish Life magazine.
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19. Torah Tells: Biblical Dating
How did the biblical icons we learned about in religious school first hook up? Couldn't religious school have taught us that instead? And what can we learn from them about dating today. In honor of Tu B'Av (sometimes known for its secular variant on February 14th), we answer these questions and less. Yes, it's just in time for Yom Kippur, but Tu B'Av and Yom Kippur are uniquely related. How is that possible? Listen and find out...
October 04, 2022
18. Biblical Scandals
Sandals have a long, fascinating history dating back to biblical times. However, due to a typo in some paperwork, this episode instead delves into biblical scandals. If you want a normal exploration, listen to the Torah. We look at the notorious and lesser-knowntorious scandals as they'd be portrayed in modern times – a gateway drug to exploring them in more depth. If you're going to listen to anything about scandals today – and it's hard to avoid – this is the alternative you'll actually enjoy!
August 14, 2022
17. The World-to-Come Games
The World Games arrive in July (2022). 3,600 athletes. 100 countries. Over 30 of "the fastest growing sports in the world." A few sports are different for every World Games. Some are considered and don’t make it. This episode is about a variety of Jewish sports that didn't make it, partly because they were never considered.  They might not be right for the World Games, the Olympics, or even the Maccabiah. Yet. But if they're good enough for ESPN18 – "The Chai" then they're good enough for your listening enjoyment for the next nine minutes.  You might even go gaga over some of them.
June 14, 2022
16. Ban Roll On
Banning books has gotten trendy. Again. To remove literature that's considered ocularly odoriferous, the bans roll on.  Fortunately, this episode not only reviews many subjects that some deem offensive, it provides a time-saving way to ban all these subjects quickly and with little effort – since time is sacred to folks sparing themselves from the hours that reading can take, even when they don't have to sound out all the words.
May 30, 2022
15. Mixed Multitude
For the second time, we've got an episode based not on my Rear Pew Mirror humor column, but on my actual yes-they-let-me sermon from the first day of Passover (April 16, 2022). It's a special one, as it was my first sermon in my hometown since my bar mitzvah. They let me back in, and didn't kick me right back out. Also, instead of being about any of the many Passover-related things in the Passover Torah reading, it's about another subject entirely. In fact, it's entirely about "the other" – the Eirev Rav, the mixed multitude, making their only named appearance in the entire Bible. And about football. And Star Trek. Hear how close I teetered to causing a lightning strike on a sunny spring day. And how any image you conjure of "sermon" ain't what people get from me.  Confused? You won't be after this episode of the Rear Pew Mirror podcast.
April 28, 2022
14. The Art of Sacrifice
In late March and early April, Jews everywhere brace themselves for a major religious occurrence that happens around this time every year: The start of baseball season. It's also when the weekly Torah readings reach the book of Leviticus, which has as much story as a one-sentence novel. What do baseball and Leviticus have in common? Sacrifices. And almost nothing to do with Passover.
April 13, 2022
13. St. Purim's Day
What's better than one holiday where it's traditional to drink and drink, until we drink some more? Two of them at once! In 2022, St. Patrick's Day falls on Purim. They have more in common than meets the eye, especially if the eye is glazed over from two holidays' worth of drinking. For the first time anywhere, unless it's somewhere else, listen here for some of the special rules, traditions, and baked goods associated with the convergence of these two celebrations that see millions of people drink til they're baked.
March 15, 2022
12. March Menschness
Why is this basketball season different from all other seasons? Look no further than the men's team at Yeshiva University, where those mighty Maccabees spent over a month ranked number one in the country. (Yes, this country.) Listen here for all the details, except for the many we left out. How many ways is the number fifty significant to this Maccabean feat? How many variations can we come up with for the team's name? And just what are the rules if a kippah falls off a player's head during game action? Press Play to find out if you'll find the real answers here, or just funnier ones.
March 14, 2022
11. An Exodus, With Exodus
For our minyan (or baker's minyan) episode, we're providing a different kind of service. Based on my actual yes-they-let-me Rosh Hashanah sermon (January 1, 2022), this episode wades through Rodney Dangerfield, Crimson Tide football, Buck Rogers, the first seven plagues in Egypt (it's parshat Va'eira, early in Exodus), and more... see how the Torah is far more relevant today, and every year we reread it, than we might realize.  ...and how everyone today engages in Talmudic discourse – if they realize it or not – whether about Star Wars, Shakespeare, Harry Potter, or the infield fly rule.
January 20, 2022
10. A Tree By Any Other Name
Betty White, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Tu B'Shevat. What do they all have in common? In 2022, they all share January 17th.  Listen here to how Betty White z''l actually reached her hundredth birthday after all, the real reason why a people with so much history in the desert put their Arbor Day in the middle of winter, and much more (more or less).
January 11, 2022
9. The Talmud of Ugiyat Mazel (Fortune Cookie)
December 24th dinner is Chinese food. Is this really a modern concept, or does it come from the Torah? Mainly, though, this exciting episode samples the long-lost Talmudic laws of the fortune cookie that help ensure your fortune comes true.  Do I read the fortune and then eat the cookie, or eat then read? What if the cookie's empty? Or broken? What if the fortune's torn? Listen here and you'll be better prepared to make your fortune cookie fortunes come true. More or less.
December 23, 2021
8. Happy Thanksnukah
How can Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Fiddler on the Roof, WKRP, Queen, and Star Trek have anything in common? These and several other odds and ends converge when Thanksgiving and Chanukah are brought into proximity with each other – in ways one could never expect. Unless you're listening to this for the second time. By the way, there are also Maccabees, elephants, doughnuts, and Ringo.
November 26, 2021
7. Tomorrow's Leaders
The Talmud says, "find yourself a teacher." But, for this group of religious school students, is that (to quote the Torah) "a blessing and a curse?" Decide for yourself as you listen here to real, actual interactions between various 5th - 7th graders and the teacher they found. These are the leaders of tomorrow. Should we weep for the future? Should we let them rule the world right now? Or should we just call an emergency meeting of the synagogue's Board of Directors?  (No students were harmed in the making of this podcast.)
November 16, 2021
6. When Holidays Collide
What do you get when you combine Jewish holidays from opposite ends of the year? Find out about Rosh HaPesach, Yom KipPurim, Shemini Ha'Atzma'ut, and several other recently discovered Talmudic holidays you'll never hear about anywhere else – for good reason.
November 08, 2021
5. I'm Gonna Git You Sukkah
What do the Wayans Brothers, The Rolling Stones, Air Supply, The Blues Brothers, KC and the Sunshine Band, and The Beatles all have in common? The holiday of Sukkot. Hold onto your lulav while we shake you out of your preconceived notions, with the heretofore untold true origin of the Jewish holiday of booths.
September 27, 2021
4. The Confession Profession
On Yom Kippur, Jews confess their sins communally in a Hebrew alphabetical acrostic – with a catchy tune and chest-thumping percussion line – that's never before been translated accurately. Until now.
September 13, 2021
3. May You Wish
With the High Holy Days approaching, 'tis the season of good wishes for the new year. So, here are timely wishes for you that you won't hear in synagogue, which are good for Rosh Hashanah or anytime!
September 03, 2021
2. The Horn Section
Rosh Hashanah approaches, as do the sounds of the season, including the shofar as you've never heard it before.
September 01, 2021
1. Introduction
A quick hello to let you know what to expect here... At least, what we intended going in.
August 27, 2021