Volume 79, Number 29 | December 23 - 29, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Talking point

Musical Mezuzah Gate, or The Orrin Hatchberg Story

By Daniel Meltzer

So listen. Have you heard? Orrin Hatch wears a mezuzah. Emmis.* Around his neck on a chain under his shirt. It’s in the paper. Did you ever?

Hatch is a Mormon, nu? He is (you should pardon the expression) the conservative (Feh!) senator from Utah. He’s anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-this, anti-that, but pro-war, and he supported those horrible Bushies, you remember? Right down the line. And our former attorney general also, that serial amnesiac, Alberto Gonzales. And (so, who could forget?) Hatch was an attacker (verbally, of course,) of the lovely Stanford law professor Anita Hill in 1991 when she testified that the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had offered to show her his pornography collection (Feh, pooey) when she worked for him in the ’80s. And now he’s a justice already. No, not Hatch, Thomas.

These revelations, you should know, are not from the “Book of Revelation,” but from the Paper of Revelations, The New York Times. It’s in black and white, I’m telling you. Don’t take my word for it. Go Google.

A mezuzah like Hatch wears, for those who don’t know it, is that little thing you see nailed to front-door frames of Jewish homes. Could be a split-level on the Island, or a fancy-schmancy Delancey condo. Inside is a tiny piece of paper with a passage from the Old Testament. Religious Jews kiss their fingertips and touch the mezuzah when arriving or leaving home, to honor God and for good luck. It couldn’t hurt, right? Some Jews (and the odd Mormon, obviously,) wear them on their necks. Like a Star of David. You know.

Hatch the goy says he also keeps a Torah — a scroll containing the entire Old Testament, the Jewish Bible, in Hebrew — in his Capitol Hill office. He didn’t say if he reads it. Actually, it’s a copy, he admits. Not a real one. A phony, in other words. I’m not commenting.

So this mezuzah business and the Torah came out recently in an interview with New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich, who should know from such things, wouldn’t you say?

“I feel sorry I’m not Jewish sometimes,” Hatch is quoted saying in the Dec. article. Leibovich said the famously buttoned-up Hatch actually bared his breast to him to expose the mezuzah. It hangs on a chain from his neck beneath his very starched shirt that he wears all the time. (Don’t Mormons wear some kind of funny undershirt?)

The Jewish faith, last I heard, still accepts converts. So, what is he waiting for? He could join Elizabeth Taylor and Sammy Davis, Jr., he should rest in peace. Perhaps he is considering such a move.

He loves in particular, he says, Hanukkah, which celebrates the miracle witnessed more than 2,300 years ago (give or take) by a band of Jewish warriors (voo den?**) who got a fantastic bargain when a one-day candle they had picked up lasted eight days.

Now get this: In addition to being a conservative Republican Mormon with Judaic leanings and an eye for a bargain, Hatch is (are you ready?) a songwriter, and with many compositions already in his songbook, just like Irving Berlin, Sammy Cahn, John Ashcroft, and the Gershwin brothers. Not in the same league necessarily, but in the same business, so to speak.

He says he has now composed a Hanukkah song, his first foray into the Jewish holiday repertoire. At last report, it had not hit the charts or the Muzak play list in Bloomingdale’s. And now, what is his dream of dreams? To have Barbra Streisand, his favorite singer in the world, he says, record his Hanukkah song. Streisand! I wouldn’t hold my breath, if you know what I mean.

So what do you think? Is this good for the Jews? Things were bad enough for us with that nudnik Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Yankel, in the Senate, saying “yes” for the war and “no” for universal healthcare. And he takes money from the insurance companies on top of it. Shame on him.

If you ask me, Lieberman and Hatch and the rest of them don’t know the difference between being ON the right and being IN the right.

With friends like Hatch and Lieberman, as we say, so who needs enemies? As if plenty of them we didn’t have already?

Don’t forget to kiss the mezuzah on the way out. It couldn’t hurt.


* “Emmis” means “truth” in Yiddish. The equivalent in contemporary street lingo would be “word.”

** “Voo den” in Yiddish means “So, what else?” or “So, what would you expect?”

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