Wednesday, February 22, 2006

on brona

Somehow I can't quite believe that we received this in the mail yesterday.


I think my favourite thing about it is the image of the fork and knife delicately nestled in a napkin. Don't worry, the image says. They'll use cutlery.

I couldn't wait to tear it open. Awesome, I thought. I bet I can adopt an elderly Jew. They'll send me photos, letters filled with gratitude, the works. Dearest Palinode, my name is Lydia Edelstein and I'm downright peckish.

But the laughter dried (not died) in my throat when I opened the letter and met Brona.


Brona is holding a photo of what is presumably herself from bygone days. Why she's doing that, we don't know. Is she wanting to show that she was young once, and therefore deserves food now? Does she think that this will provide legitimacy to her twin claims of being Jewish and starving? I could hold up a photo of myself from 1975 but it would not make me any hungrier or more Jewish. It would only make me weirder.

Brona appended a brief note to the top of the letter.


So now we know a few things about Brona: 1) She gets off on spying on the elderly; 2) she imagines a benevolent force of "overseas strangers" helping her out in some way, perhaps by forcing the grandmas and grandpas to eat from garbage bins; 3) Despite living in Achinsk, Russia, where (according to the letter) she watches TV and sings the Yiddish songs of her childhood to pass the time, she is fluent in a particular idiom of English that talks about garbage bins and grandmas; and 4) her penmanship is inhumanly precise and regular.

So: starving Russian Jewish woman? Or paranoid gerontophilic photo-holding graphomaniacal polyglot? I leave it for you to decide.

37 comments:

ozma said...

Aw, is there anything cuter than an elderly Jew? She makes me want to say "Bubbe, here's 57 cents, go buy yourself somethin' pretty." I just want to hug her. And feed her! And only 57 cents a day. How much does it cost to feed the elderly orthodox, I wonder? No matter, I'll bet they aren't nearly as cute!

mathew said...

those handwritten fonts they use in those letters are really creepy - it's like staring into eyes that have glaucoma.

and how does she know they are grandmas and grandpas? that suggests a familiarity which leads me to wonder why she isn't selling her tv to buy meals for them, let alone performing in a yiddish folk song concert to raise cash for such. if anything, that 57¢ is going towards enabling her sense of wellbeing - she's clearly not a mensch.

Anonymous Midwest Girl said...

That is AWESOME. Is there a way I can get on that mailing list? I always get the ones to feed an infant Catholic, but I would much rather give my money to elderly Jews.

palinode said...

Schmutzie's grandmother bought us a subscription to some ultra-Christian rag called Guideposts. It's full of articles on renewing your faith in life through Christ spliced in between advertisements for pharmaceuticals. The latest issue features the satyr-like head of Joel Osteen grinning vacantly at the camera.

Where was I? Right. I believe that's how we ended on a Feed The Jews mailing list.

My feeling is, if the eldery Jews want food aid, they should receive it the way everyone else: via proceeds from a charity single. "Do They Know It's Hannukah?" "It's Gonna Take a Mitzvah" etc.

blackbird said...

for 57 cents, can it be kosher?

abigailroad said...

Well, it's cheaper than feeding those starving African children for a whole dollar a day.

Lin said...

I don't know...she looks pretty jolly, apple-cheeked and well-fed. Couldn't they get a better poster girl or at least have her shivering in front of a dead fire with those fingerless gloves or something. I'm writing to Spielburg today. Not five miles from my house is the Motion Picture Retirement Home and the main street is...yep...Steven Spielburg Drive. He's all about helping old Jews.

Wayne said...

Paranoid gerontophilic photo-holding graphomaniacal polyglot. Definitely paranoid gerontophilic photo-holding graphomaniacal polyglot?

JustLinda said...

Well, as long as she doesn't take a tissue from her sleeve, spit on it, and clean that-little-bit-of-mess-by-my-mouth-from-dinner like my own grandmother did, I suppose I could get with this program.

Dooce quoted and linked you. Man, you are IN FOR IT now. LOL

Hipster Pit said...

What is that pile of photos next to Brona on a chair? Does she hold a different photo for each letter? What kind of operation is this?

palinode said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
palinode said...

I think Brona's running a scam. She has a portfolio of identikits. "Dear Palinode, I am a Peruvian refugee fleeing from Sendero Luminoso guerillas. I now live in Russia, where I sing the Yiddish songs of my childhood". "Dear Palinode, as a young Sudanese girl I was kidnapped and drafted into the Lord's Resistance Army". Stuff like that.

Beth said...

ha ha ha ha ha! This is the funniest ever!

Gretchen said...

I need someone to tell me how they feed Bubbe on $0.57/day. We have a family of five; I just spent $6.09 at Subway. According this math, I could have fed my family for two days with that 6 bucks. I mean, like, my grocery bill would be, maybe, $24 a week! We're such fat, lazy Americans, ha ha ha. I'll go throw my left over filet mignon to the dog now, ha ha ha!

Velvet Sacks said...

I'm not Jewish. In fact I'm not very religious at all, but I am getting old really fast. Do you think if I converted I could get a charity, too? If somebody would pay to feed me, I could retire much sooner, and I have lots of old pictures I could hold up. Would Jewish be the way to go, do you think, or are there better charities out there? Hmmmmm. I may be onto something here.

palinode said...

Maybe if you changed your name to Velvet Sachs.

grrrbear said...

One wonders whether elderly gentiles are cheaper to feed because they don't have to keep kosher. You could probably get that figure down to less than $0.40 by buying twinkies and bologna at Costco.

Peter said...

Wow, you wrapped that up wit quite a flurry.

Amblus said...

Well, elderly Jews are certainly more cuddly than an African children, but I still think Brona needs to stop bitching and get her a job.

palinode said...

Amblus - you so right. She should hire legions of grandmas and grandpas to find junk in garbage bins and then sell it on ebay.

Anonymous said...

What a savvy, sharp bunch you are.

So the direct mail strategy and execution could have been tighter.

Maybe there is no Brona after all. Big deal. There are hungry people who would benefit from the money raised here.

As for the charity being very targeted (Jewish elderly in Russia) - is that the problem? Why is that wrong? Or funny?

margalit said...

You all think this is FUNNY? You actually believe that all Jews are wealthy and don't have to beg for food? You think that laughing about a poor Russian bubbe rooting in garbage cans is something to LAUGH AT? You anti-semetic assholes. I'm sorry, I think this is the most disgusting display of ugliness I've seen in a long time, and I don't care if Dooce thinks it's funny. It is NOT.

As a POOR disabled Jewish mother of two that feeds her children from a Jewish charitable organization, I think you should all think hard about what your lives would be like if you were suddenly penniless and unable to feed yourselves. You laugh at CHARITY? You think it's FUNNY? You are all sick fucks. Heather, that includes you too, for pointing people here.

untitled said...

Rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard, margalit. This is still fucking funny. And now that you've tried to make me feel guilty for laughing, it's even funnier.

Anonymous said...

I think that the direct mail choices are funny, sure. Lots of your comments are general and funny. And smart.

But read through your comments, and I have to say, they make me sad.

To Velvet Sacks: You want to know if you need to convert to benefit from a Jewish Charity? The answer is no. Call the UJA to start, they donate to many causes and all people - as do many other "Jewish" organizations.

And to Ozma: I guess making fun of Jews is only funny if they are Orthodox.

The saddest thing to me isnt about the stereotypes though. Its just so clear how jaded we are - its all about the laugh sometimes.

Give to the organization - or a different one if you prefer - and then laugh. They'll still take your money and you may feel a little better.

Anonymous said...

What's scary is how many hungry kids there are in the U.S., a "wealthy" nation.

I have students come in every Monday excited about a school breakfast because they haven't eaten since the school lunch on Friday. And they aren't lying. I've done the home visits.

The School Feeding Program - one of the few programs our tax dollars fund that I wholeheartedly endorse!

Maya said...

Haaa. That's kinda cool. Of course, I'm biased, since that could be, like, my grandma. I like your comments. XD

jill said...

I am choking on some chicken soup laughing so hard!

Please, I am waiting for an elderly Jew - or anyone to adopt me.

Any takers?

Velvet Sacks said...

You know, Anonymous, some of us may have been too flippant, but is that so much worse than being overly sensitive? The "Jewish" part of this whole thing wasn't at all what I responded to. It's just that I open five "hungry children" solicitations every single day, some legit and some probably not, and it struck me funny to see a generation closer to my own being used to solicit funds. That was a new idea to me, and since I've watched this president try everything he can to screw with the Social Security I'm gonna really need in a few years, it made my imagination run wild for a couple of minutes. I'm don't happen Jewish, but I am a grandma, so should that aspect of this whole thing make me angry? I don't think so. And I'd bet my aluminum walker that nobody who commented meant to offend anyone.

Megan said...

Anon, Margalit, you are all missing the point. The charity is not funny, starving people are not funny, this mail piece is funny.

Honestly, you need to lighten up a bit. If you cannot find humor in almost anything, you will dry up and blow away long before anyone sends out a mailer to help you.

Velvet Sacks said...

Ooops! To quote my own comment above, "I'm don't happen Jewish."
Whaaaat? I'm happen hurry watch American Idol and I'm happen old, so I'm happen not edit properly. And if someone happen tell me if there's a way to edit comments you make on somebody else's blog, please happen tell me.

palinode said...

Just thought I'd drop in a brief note to say that criticism and buzzkilling is fine, but I can't stand comments without a name attached. Throw in a name. Even if it's 'palinodesucks' or 'kidrox0rs'. Wow, kidrox0rs. What an awesome name. Sorry, nobody can have that name, it's mine.

becky said...

i think the gentiles would be cheaper: only one set of dishes.

(i say a pox on people that can't take sarcasm. a pox!!)

kitsunekaze said...

Wow.

The Church Lady commented on your blog... and she brought her mousy friend, anon.

I have never received a solicitation to adopt a granny. I'm so not worthy. If I were to adopt a granny, I'd want to adopt an Appalachian one. All you need to buy them is some buckshot.

(decended from an Appalachian granny.)

eiluj said...

Hey, Palinode! Aren't you glad Dooce sent us all over here?

Well, I'M glad, because I just laughed out loud during a very, very unfunny day after reading this post.

I'm squeamish about laughing at the piece of mail itself, because the underlying situation is pretty horrifying, and is by no means limited to Russian bubbes...as so many folks have already pointed out.

But the line "I could hold up a photo of myself from 1975 but it would not make me any hungrier or more Jewish" made my coworkers think I had just choked on my coffee.

Awesome. I'm off to the archives. With a big cup of coffee.

cha said...

Awesome. I'm off to the archives. With a big cup of coffee.

Me three!

Thanks Heather!!!

Anonymous said...

So, the International Fellowship for Christians and Jewa is pretty tight with Christian Zionism. Basically, a lot of their friends try to encourage every Jewish person to return to the holy land because it's a sign of the approaching apocalypse. One of the fundraising strategies that they have is to market personal hygiene products with a tie in to Israel, including annointing oils and bath salts from the Dead Sea. I can just imagine their direct marketing, "If speeding the apocalypse has you all stressed out, why not take a relaxing bath with dead sea bath salts."

abigailroad said...

Holy guacamole, I can't believe how many people have no freaking sense of humour.
I wonder if any of these caring people would adopt a sarcastic 20-something Ukrainian girl,to support her coffee, alcohol and cigarette habits, it would only take about 20 bucks a day.
If you're interested, give me a call, and we'll work out the details.