Saturday, December 17, 2016

On Pope Francis' Birthday Cake and the German "Rent A Jew" Program

Pope Francis is 80 years old today,  December 17th.  When I read that I began to wonder, "What kind of cake does a Pope get to celebrate his birthday?"  Is it as ornate as the inside of most Catholic churches or a  simple plate of communion wafers with butter and strawberry jam added to celebrate?

Google was helpful with a picture of a round ball (!) in cream-colored icing with the various continents illumed in gold.  The papal colors are cream and gold and I wondered, "Like football team colors?"  Seems a bit .. louche somehow.  The iced ball of cake (about the size of a basketball) had graceful tosses of small olive branches around it on the cake plate.

In fact, the Pope started the day with something sweet on two levels - he breakfasted with eight selected homeless persons and gave them all slices of Argentinian (Christmas?)  cake.  Then it was back to work; he has meetings in the Vatican as Saturday is a normal working day for him.

There are seven different e-mail addresses in eight languages that the Vatican set up for those who wish to send him greetings.  This is in English:  The Vatican also issued new stamps in his image. 

At the party, he said, "Old age is quiet and religious, but also fruitful. Pray that mine will be that way and also joyous."  He did dodge the "Curse of 80" at the Vatican by being the Pope.  When Cardinals turn 80, they lose the right to vote in the new pope election as well as being removed from their various parishes, committees, etc.  It is good to be the Pope.
Countering religion with (horrors!) pagan superstition, here is the Pope's projected 2017 astrological future.
Daily Breeze:  "This year you open up to new perspectives. The more diverse your experiences, the happier you will be."
Los Angeles times:  "Weddings happen in July and October.  Family expansion is an exciting boon of March."


When I read that the innovative new program "Rent A Jew" is in Germany, I admit to a certain suspicious alarm and quite possibly you were a tad shaken as well.  I was instantly reminded of an old airline joke.  Planes are stacked up at La Guardia, waiting for take-off clearance, but Lufthansa can't get the passenger numbers sorted.  They are missing two and re-counting and doing it again and again and finally an exasperated United pilot keyed open his mic and said, "Lufthansa - check your ovens!"  I didn't say it was a good joke, I said I was reminded of it.  I will add that the French may have forgiven, but I never will.  Ever. I'm stubborn that way.

Anyhow, back to our moutons.  Rent A Jew is a service to non-Jewish Germans who, in fact, may never have met one (incredible, no?) due to the fact that there are 81 million people in Germany and only 200,000 of them are Jewish.  A group of youngish (20 to 40 average age) volunteers with different backgrounds, in an attempt to show non-believers what daily life as a Jew is like, go to schools or universities and lead seminars which have invited them.  This is free (other than any travel costs incurred by the Jew) despite the" Rent A" phrase. 

It is said to be working very well as a program and the hope of the organizers is that not only will the volunteers' numbers increase, but also the number of Germans with curiosity. 

It reinforces my own view that if you can make gentle fun of something you're pushing, the better you will succeed. 


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