Midwest Meets Middle East: A Tale of Barter and Harsh Realities

Earlier today, I had a major errand in Alon Shvut, followed by some minor ones in Efrat. I hadn’t eaten and it was approaching noon, so I decided to pick up a couple slices at Pizzeria Efrat. By the way, if I ever open an eatery in Efrat (which I won’t), I’ll call it ‘Uchlah D’Efrat’. Daf Yomi learners will get that joke in another few weeks, after they start Beitzah.

Anyhow, I happened to be wearing a burnt-orange Texas Hillel T-shirt which said ‘Hook ‘em Horns’ in Hebrew characters on the reverse. I picked it up 3.5 years ago when the Rebbetzin and I did a Shabbaton down at UT-Austin.

It also just so happens that the proprieter of Pizzeria Efrat, the legendary Mordechai Goodman, is a Houstonian and a UT alum. He’s also, as is very well known, a football fanatic and founder of the American Touch Football League in Israel, and the UT Longhorns are reigning college football champs. If you’ve ever been to that part of the world, college football is an actual religion there. Just ask Austinian blogger Mirty.

Anyhow, so Mordechai sees my shirt and immediately says, I’ll give you the 2 slices, just give me the shirt. I agreed. He then upped the price – 4 slices and a drink – even though my shirt was already halfway off. At this, I asked for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and 2 slices – forget the other 2 and the drink. Deal. We swapped T-shirts and I took my slices and ice cream. Then we schmoozed about college football for a bit, I told him about my unique tailgate party from last year (which I’ll blog about next week), and we parted company, both very, very happy.

Great story, no?

I called the wife to tell her because she likes hearing these things from me before she reads them on my blog. She mentions that she thinks he’s the same guy who lost a son earlier in the year; an Israeli soldier lost in a parachuting accident.

Goddammit! Why does this ice cream taste so bitter?

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