I have known my friend Cow Patty for several years now. Of course that is just her nickname that she acquired after owning her bakery with the same name back in Caldwell, Kansas. However, if I ever had to introduce her to someone I would have to hesitate for a moment so I could recall her real name! So she will always be Cow Patty to me.
There was always something a little different about her that I could never quite put my finger on in comparison to my other female friends. What was it? Her mannerisms as she spoke were always very animated with a slight in-your-face-watcha-going-to-do-about-it-attitude. She always spoke her mind, no matter whom or how many she was addressing at the time. Nor was there was any doubt how she felt about any certain subject. As I became closer to her over time, she would slowly open up to me about her childhood and her beliefs. Finally the day came when she told me that she was of course a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ but she was raised Jewish in New York City! Manhattan to be exact and in the summers, she spent her time with her grandparents in Ithaca, New York. So now Cow Patty is a Messianic Jew. Aha! There it was! That is why she didn’t quite fit the mold of a small town soft-spoken Midwestern Bible-belt woman. Now it made sense to me why my special and beloved friend has a hard outer crust of big city toughness surrounding her large heart of pure gold and kindness! I absolutely cherish her friendship. I know that in a moment’s notice she would drop whatever she was doing and rush to my side if I asked her to. And not only that, she loves to bless me with a generous sack full of bite-sized donut holes every time I visit her! She knows they are my favorite!
Anyway, I was thrilled when Cow Patty invited Barry and I to join her and her husband Ken for a Shabbot (a Kosher meal served during Passover before sundown). We have never had that experience before and it sounded very interesting! On the prescribed day, we arrived at their home in the mid-afternoon and were welcomed into the dining area to sit at the table in the center of the room. It was beautifully decorated with a white tablecloth; ornate delicate plates and saucers; folded cloth napkins; gleaming silverware; wine glasses filled with dark wine; and a soft glowing menorah as the center piece casting low flickering shadows in the afternoon shadows. It was breathtakingly peaceful.
I stood on the west side of the table with our hostess directly across from me. My husband and Ken stood side-by-side on the north end of the table.
“Now”, says Cow Patty to Bear, “You are going to take the place of my father as you offer a Jewish blessing over this Shabbot.”
“Say what?!” Bear says with obvious panic in his eyes and his voice. I know what he is thinking. He of course doesn’t know any Jewish prayers! We are Christians.
“No, it will be okay dummy!” The love of many years of friendship between the two is evident with their causal banter of playful name calling. She reaches for a long cream colored oblong piece of fabric with a blue stripes on the end and decorative tassels. Years have faded the once white material to off-white now.
“This was my father’s prayer shawl.” She remarks as she gently lifts it over Bear’s head to rest on his shoulders.
“And this was his Yamika (head covering)”, as she reaches up and places a black skull cap on the back of his head.
“What did you call this?” Bear asks as he readjusts it slightly to fit better.
“A Yamika! What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever heard of a Yamika before?” Her New York accent is becoming more prominent with each pronunciation of the word.
Barry intentionally ignores her question as he reverently runs his hand down the length of the shawl straightening out any wrinkles. I could tell he was much honored to be asked to assume her father’s role for this special occasion.
“And now, I have marked a page in his prayer book for you to read out loud. If you notice the pages, one side is in Hebrew and the opposite page is in English. You read this page stupid, I mean Barry. .” she smiles an ornery mischievous smile at him and lightly taps the page with her finger on the English words.
“Whew! I’m glad you made that clear! My Hebrew has really gotten rusty lately!” Bear counters back at her.
“Moron! Read!” She smacks him on the shoulder as a kid sister does her older brother and sits down at the side of the table closest to the kitchen. I sit down also while Bear and Ken remain standing at the ends of the table. Barry obediently picks up the prayer book and recites the words of praise that were written so long ago. Everyone sits quietly sincerely listening in worship as he finishes the text. Ken then gives a blessing from his heart thanking the LORD for all of His many blessings in our lives. When he finishes, both men look at Cow Patty for their next instructions in Shabbot 101. She nods in approval and then exclaims –
“Okay, now we toast and drink the wine”, she says as she lifts her glass to the center of the table as a lead for us to follow her example.
Bear and I immediately shoot a concerned look at each other. We are devote teetotalers and do not touch alcohol. Never. For any reason. We determined a long time ago that it would not be in our lives anymore.
“Cow Patty, Vic and I will join you and Ken in the toast but we will not drink the wine, ok?” He replies for the both of us.
“But you have to drink the wine! It is part of the tradition!”
“No, we don’t”
“YES, you do!”
“NO, we don’t!”
“Just a sip?!”
“NO! Now just do the stupid toast already so we can eat!”
Cow Patty shrugs her shoulders and mutters something under her breath about Jesus drinking wine as we clink our glasses together in conclusion of the prayer time . . . before there is any friendly blood shed between the two.
“Now, we eat!” She excitedly exclaims as she pops out of her chair and rushes into the kitchen to display the food buffet style so we can fill our plates and then return to the table. Bear removes the prayer cap, prayer shawl and prayer book from his place and lays them carefully on a small piece of furniture behind him.
With each dish that we take a serving from, Cow Patty explains to us what the food is –
“This is baked salmon with Dijon mustard and honey glaze. These are carrot coins cooked in honey also. And these are “latkies” or potato cakes fried in olive oil. Here is your “challa” or unleavened bread. This platter of goodies is what I call “The Fruits of Israel” (small portions of pink grapefruit, green grapes, dates, figs, apple slices with honey, and crushed pistachios were attractively arranged in an appetizing pattern on the large serving plate). And then for dessert, we will have some poppy seed cookies!”
And my, a feast it was! Cow Patty is a tremendous cook! Everything was simply delicious. After the meal we retreat to the living room to relax and visit for spell before Bear and I had to head home for the evening.
As we were at the door saying our goodbyes with hugs and I love you, Cow Patty stopped and said –
“Oh, just a minute! I almost forgot! I have something for you both.”
She runs out of the room into the kitchen and returns with a small bag full of homemade donut holes and a beautiful golden menorah and candles for us to always remember that Jesus was a Jew as well as the only one true Son of God.
“Shalom y’all!” she says with a huge Cow Patty smile.