Oy to the World

 . . . is the name of a song played by KlezMore, the BYU klezmer band.  Klezmer is a kind of Jewish folk music, the oompah-oompah kind that one usually associates with Fiddler on the Roof.  Yes, it’s kind of weird to hear a klezmer version of a Christmas carol, but that’s the kind of thing that BYU does best.

Brian’s brother, Peter, plays the clarinet for KlezMore, and once a year they hold a barn dance down south of Provo to celebrate Hanukkah.  Or, well . . . to celebrate it as much as a bunch of Mormons possibly can.

This was the second year that Brian and I have managed to meander down for the event, and it took quite the bundle of preparations.  We were going to spend the night with Brian’s parents, so I packed up everyone’s clothes.  The dance also had a potluck snack table, and so I had to make something to bring.  Reading up a little bit on Jewish cooking, I decided to make a noodle kugel.

What?  Oh, yes — a noodle kugel, otherwise known as “the dish whose name Brian can never pronounce correctly.”  During the course of the evening, he referred to it as “noodle kiggel,” “noodle kugilia,” and “noodaFRUINLEVEN, LADY!”

Here’s what a noodle kugel actually is:

Cooked egg noodles, with butter, cottage cheese, and raisins, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and baked for about half an hour.

It smelled SO GOOD while it was baking; I was very proud.  When it came out of the oven, I popped it, the kids, the luggage, and various whatnots into the car, and we went to get Brian from work. . .

 . . . but he was running late . . .

. . . and we had to get dinner at the drive through . . .

. . . then drive in rush-hour traffic . . .

. . . and then we had to settle the kids in at Grandma’s . . .

. . . Brian then announced that he had to finish up a 15-minute report for work on the computer . . .

. . . the program he needed wouldn’t work . . .

. . . and it took us a long time to get to the barn . . .

SO, by the time we actually reached the dance, the noodle kugel looked less lucious and more like the Casserole That Time Forgot.  And then it was discovered the there were no eating utensils at the potluck table.  Ah, well.  I squeezed the pan o’ kugel between a couple of cheese balls, and went off to dance.

Here’s the most important aspect of Jewish folk dancing: standing in a circle.  It seems simple, and YET it is an incredibly difficult task for a group of adults of various ages to accomplish, especially when a large percentage of these adults are BYU students on first dates, who do not wish to be separated, and yet do not quite feel comfortable holding hands for extended amounts of time. 

However, stand in a circle we eventually did, and then came the shuffling, the hopping, the twirling and whirling.  The first dance was fast and made me dizzy.  The second dance was slow and gave me many opportunities to observe the room while doing my schmaltzy steps.

There were many girls who felt insecure about shuffle-stepping.

There were many boys doing big thundering steps, to show off their manliness.

There was a man in his 50s standing at the food table, picking up my casserole dish and sniffing it suspiciously.

“IT’S A NOODLE KUGEL!” I shouted across the room.

“MAZEL TOV!” someone shouted in response.

Then came the somewhat faster third dance, in which the men and women took turns dancing in the middle of the room.  Nobody quite knew how to do Jewish folk dancing solo.  Both genders chose a dance style that used a lot of arm-waving.  Then we all held hands in a circle again — we were finally getting used to the concept — and snaked about the room once more. 

After much foot-stomping, arm-waving, and shouts of “HEY!” the dance came to an end.  A bit winded, I meanered over to the water cooler for a drink, and Lo!  I found that somebody had ACTUALLY EATEN A SERVING OF THE KUGEL!

Not only was I amazed, I was curious.  How did they consume it without a fork or spoon?  Did they use a cracker?  Or just nibble via the fingers?

2 thoughts on “Oy to the World

  1. I don’t think so. One member of KlezMore is a former Jew — she’s a convert to the Church — and everyone seemed to think that was really cool.

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