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How The (Siyum &) Sausages are made

by David Goldberg

My good friend Rabbi Dan Rosen has been making a Nine Days siyum for as long as I can remember. It’s had different locations; sometimes it’s been held at one of Teaneck’s finer dining establishments, sometimes it’s been at a mutual friend’s house. Last year, it ended up in my backyard, and, after the siyum was over, I thought, “Wouldn’t this be awesome on a grander scale?”

Cut to: The Men’s Club Kiddush Crew has its share of foodies. We talk restaurants, food, and drink (I know, shocking!) all the time. When Jack’s brand sausages came onto the market a few years back, those were a frequent topic of conversation. They’re really good, and we all spoke of them quite highly. Recently, other brands of sausage have come to the market, alongside Jack’s. They, too, sparked conversation: “Have you tried them? Which ones? Are they any good?” And then, as conversations turn – as they do, from theoretical to practical – someone said, “We should really have a sausage tasting.”

The rest, to garble a phrase, will soon be history.

Now, ideas are cheap; execution is another matter entirely. For me, the first step in transforming any idea into reality is running it by others. So I talk to people: “Will this work?” “Is this a good idea?” “Would you attend such an event?” Once I feel confident enough, I approach the Men’s Club leadership and get their backing.  It’s important to have an organization like the Men’s Club support the event, as they can provide the assistance and resources that help get things done. I also reached out to Larry Kahn, who was supportive of the idea from the very beginning, and he agreed to assist in running the event.

Next, I approached Rabbi Rosen and pitched the idea to him. He was all for it. (This was fait accompli… sausages are staples at his Shabbat table.) With all the approvals I needed, it was time to pick a time. Rabbi Rosen was the star of the show; he said Wednesday was good. As I was planning for this to be held in my backyard (hey, it worked well last year, and the shul has no grill), I had to be mindful of daylight: 7:00 p.m. sounded reasonable.

 

Budget was the next step.  I set a reasonable but solid menu and went to Costco and Shop-Rite, noting prices down in a Google Sheets spreadsheet I created. That will tell me how much stuff costs – sausages, sides, paper goods, drinks. From there, I could figure out cost per person and tack on a few dollars so the shul raises some funds, and we’re good to go. I ran that by Mo-b Singer and Larry, too. I do nothing in a vacuum.

I also decided to make the event men-only, modelled after the Sisterhood’s Potluck Seudah Shlishit Series. When was the last time the shul had a men-only event? I couldn’t recall.

Next was publicity.  I needed a name for the event, something easy and catchy. I bounced around a few ideas and settled on “Siyum & Sausage”: straight and to the alliterative point. I also wanted to generate some buzz for this event, so I thought a movie-style “teaser” poster would get people talking. A quick Google image search for “Sausage” brought me a grilled sausage on a fork. And while a similar search for “siyum” brought me nothing I liked, I hit on “Gemara” quite easily. I like working with graphics in PowerPoint, as it’s a strong balance between easy-to-use and powerful. I played around with the images until I found something I liked. I sent it off to Mo-b and Larry for thoughts and comments. And, as with everything I do, my wife Marianne is my best sounding board. All good on that front, I sent it off to Costco for printing on poster board and picked it up the next day. I also sent a digital copy to Judi in the office, so she could get the teaser out by email to the entire Beth Aaron membership. Similar teaser text went out to include in the weekly announcements.

I took a break from planning the event for a week, to clear my head. I had received feedback on the teaser poster and started thinking about ways to cut the budget if I needed to. Spending more is easy. Spending less is a personal challenge: Can I get a better deal at Restaurant Depot vs. Costco? Can I pay less for food in Rockland County vs. Bergen County? After the break, I designed the full flyer for the event, based on the original teaser. I also reached out to Mo-b and asked him to set up the website for registration. I dropped the poster off in shul and sent digital copies to

Judi in the office for email distribution. Isaac also asked me to write this article promoting the event for the KBA.

There’s plenty more left to do.  I need to shop for the event and find volunteers to assist with the event, from setup to cleanup. Mostly, I need people sign up to attend. I’m grateful that Beth Aaronites already have approached me, excited about the event, and I do hope they all sign up soon (and not at the last minute, y’all.  I got to shop).

I think it’s going to be a great event. We’ll have some Torah, we’ll have some food, but most importantly we’ll get together as a community to do both these things together.  And coming together the way we do at this event will help us make up for a past that brought the destructions of our Batei Mikdash.

I do hope you’ll be able to join us.  Look for the flyer in this issue of the KBA, and sign up today at www.bethaaron.org/event/siyumsausage

Sat, August 13 2022 16 Av 5782