Sunday, 29 May 2011

Reviews Of Books I Have Read

The Shabbas Goy Conspiracy by Lenny Goldfarb
The author, Lenny Goldfarb, posing with an early prototype of the Shabbas Goy, built in a secret, underground laboratory somewhere in the Nevada desert.
Picture this. You're walking home late one night, maybe whistling a tune to bide the time and keep yourself company, a tune like Sweet Marie or Only The Vanquished Wear Cement Boots, one of those jaunty songs of yesteryear, when suddenly, out of the blue, a man comes running towards you, his arms waving frantically. His eyes are wide, a sense of urgency twisting his features, a palpable feeling of desperation wafting through the night-scented air as if his limbs all akimbo are fanning the fear into your very nasal cavities. You stop, unsure. He runs up to you and wasting no words, blurts, "Are you Jewish?" Yes, you reply and then he sadly hangs his head, all the nervous energy suddenly drained from his body and says, face sagging, "Then, you can't help me." What is it all about you ask yourself? What could drive a seemingly normal human being out into the night to corner a stranger and ask such a question? Putting himself in jeopardy, in harm's way, because after all, you could be a mugger or an air conditioning and refrigeration repairman coming home from a night of drinking with a chip on your shoulder because of a leaky valve in one of the units you were fixing earlier and you had to order the part from Taiwan and it's going to take two weeks and you're looking to take your frustration out on somebody, anybody.
And then you realize, of course, it's shabbas. No self-respecting Jew would dare to open a fridge or flick on a light switch on this holy night, and this poor man must need someone to open his refrigerator for him so he can maybe have a nice piece of roast beef or a glass of orange juice or maybe he needs the light switch flicked on in the bathroom so he doesn't pee all over the toilet seat, but, unfortunately, you're a fellow Jew and he's looking for a shabbas goy or, in other words, someone who isn't Jewish to do his bidding so he doesn't break any of the laws on the Sabbath. Because the list of things forbidden on the Sabbath is quite lengthy and I know, besides using electricity, you can't operate venetian blinds, there's no sending semaphore signals to passing ships, no alligator wrestling, no telling traveling salesmen's jokes and no washing socks in the sink, especially if they're argyle or of a polyester cotton  blend.
It's an eye-opening experience, especially when you're sleeping and your eyes open suddenly and there's a man standing over you in bed, cradling a boiled chicken, tears streaming down his face, then dripping off his chin and salting your bedspread with his pain. Oh, wait, that was my neighbour, Voltar, the other evening. I must get my lock changed. Anyway, it is not often that I find a nonfiction book as riveting as this one, or as startling in its revelations about secret events happening in our own backyards with repercussions that could be devastating. Lenny Goldfarb really hits it out of the park with this one, and then he races out of the ballpark, catches his own ball, brings it back into the park and hits it out again. That's how good this book is. It all begins with Mr. Goldfarb stumbling across some letters in the lost and found box of his father, Moishe's, dry cleaning shop. "What're these, Dad?" Lenny asks his father and Moishe replies, "How should I know? You think I don't have better things to do than look around in that cardboard box, you putz?" The letter is from Yossi Mendelbaum to a shadowy figure known as Rabbi Gelflunkenbrot and refers to a missing blueprint for a Shabbas Goy prototype being worked on collaboratively by the Las Vegas Yeshiva and the U.S. government. So begins Lenny Goldfarb's long, strange journey into a shocking piece of investigative journalism, from a lowly nut and bolt factory through some of the highest corridors of power and even insinuates that the Kosher Council of Rabbis of North America worked hand in hand with scientists who thought nothing of mixing meat and dairy and even lubricated some of their robots with pork grease.
Hot on the trail, Mr. Goldfarb tracks down some of these retired scientists, but hits a dead end with the few still-living rabbis who won't talk, even when he tries to ply them with all the gefilte fish they can eat. Nevertheless, Goldfarb gets to the bottom of the secret Shabbas Goy plan, first begun in 1959, and the brainchild of Rabbi Gelflunkenbrot, and discovers the first prototype was finished at the end of that year and put to work in the Rabbi's house. Although the robot was quite successful at doing the Rabbi's shabbas bidding, its menacing physique and stature unfortunately scared the Rabbi's wife and children and a second prototype was begun in the winter of 1961. This one, Goldfarb reveals, was codenamed 'The Shabbas Goy Stepford Wife.' In fact, this is where Ira Levin got the name and idea for his popular 1972 novel, as Mr. Levin's father, Itzchak, was the owner of Itzie's Deli, where the Kosher Council of Rabbis liked to grab a bite to eat and where they drew up the plans for the first Shabbas Goy Stepford Wife on a napkin stained with pastrami grease, which they then mistakenly left behind. Young Ira was busing tables for his father when he came upon the napkin with the plans and codename and it stuck with him until his novelist days.
The Making Of An Early Shabbas Goy Stepford Wife
In fact, young Ira was almost assassinated because of his knowledge of the Shabbas Goy Conspiracy, but luckily the Kosher Council Of Rabbis intervened before the CIA could eliminate him, promising the Pentagon free corned beef for two years in exchange for Ira's life and the promise that the boy wouldn't talk. The pastrami grease on the blueprints though, smeared some of the finer wiring details, and the Shabbas Goy Stepford Wife suffered some terrible short circuiting problems along with a penchant for lobster thermidor and shrimp cocktails, which could turn any house unkosher from one hundred feet, even with ground fog and low visibility. A third prototype, the Shabbas Goy X-1-Z-2000, was the next step in the technology, and although it proved a bust in the shabbas chores department, it excelled at tailoring and fitting shoes.
What has become of the Shabbas Goy experiment and research since those fateful, somewhat innocent beginnings, now that technology has finally caught up with the original concept? And where is the conspiracy that Lenny Goldfarb mentions, not just in the introduction, but in the title itself? Well, I'm not telling, not because I'm trying to hide anything or steer the reader into buying this book (which you should), but because I fell asleep in the bathtub while reading this wonderful work, the book dropped into the water and now all the pages are stuck together. Just when I was getting to the conspiracy part, I think. Anyway, if anyone has read this fine book and knows how it all turned out, let me know or send me your copy (I promise not to read it in the bathtub or while having a bowl of soup), because this not knowing is killing me and frankly, my life feels incomplete, much like a Shabbas Goy robot without a master to serve. All I know is that another superpower was involved, the Russians most probably, as evidenced by the picture below. In fact, the rivalry to produce the best automated Shabbas Goy was bigger than the space race itself.
There is also a rumour, although Mr. Goldfarb does not mention it in his book (or at least the sections I read before the bathtub mishap), that his own wife ran off with a Shabbas Goy robot (model X-9-Z-8000) and that they currently live somewhere near Thunderbay, Ontario, where they run a bed and breakfast. Can this be true? Here's a photo, sent to me by one of my top secret contacts in the Thunderbay B&B's Resident's Association. I'll let you be the judge, but if you ask me, it looks like Esther Goldfarb and the X-9-Z-8000 are a little more than just friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment