Pitch Like You Mean It (PresenTense Crosspost)

This post was originally written as part of my PresenTense NYC Fellowship. It also appears here.
I’m glad Purim happened during this year’s Fellowship. This year, I realized Megillat Esther contains the blueprint for the perfect pitch.

The stage for Esther’s pitch is set in Chapter 4 of the Megilla named for her. That’s when she learns, through Mordechai, of Haman’s plan of genocide for all the Jews in Achasuerus’ (or Xerxes’, if you’re nasty) domain. She’d like to petition the king to change his mind but, as she tells Mordechai, “any man or woman who goes to the king’s inner court without permission–there’s just one rule–they die.” It’s pretty clear her pitch is a risky one.

Esther goes anyway. After 3 days of fasting and market research (we can only assume), she enters the king’s inner court. Without permission. Achasuerus points his golden scepter at Esther, signifying he won’t kill her. Esther invites her husband and Haman to a string of parties, the second of which is her pitch meeting. When she finally pitches, in chapter 7, Esther demonstrates an intimate knowledge of her audience and the market context.

Zach Braff Plugs YU For Some Reason

Have you seen this? It is a video of Zach Braff doing an ad for YU. It is very odd. How did this happen? Why is this here? Is there a God or the universe as random and capricious as we thought it was?

Not satisfied with “because Internet,” Tablet did some digging:

Yeshiva University hasn’t taken credit for it, but it looks like they or one of their supporters contributed $500 to the Kickstarter campaign for Braff’s upcoming movie. The prize offered by the actor for such a generous donation? “I’ll say or do pretty much whatever you want for twenty seconds. I will send you the mpeg file so you can upload to YouTube, play at parties, or send to friends. I will be your dancing monkey.” Or in this case, mascot.

Breaking: Jews Like Booze

Did you know that Jews like whiskey? It is true! Jews like whiskey! A lot of my early Jewish memories are closely tied to whiskey. Every holiday and wedding and Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah featured whiskey. And not just any whiskey, but good whiskey. Single-malt Scotch Whiskey.

And Purim? Forget about it.

Anyway, I guess this was a secret? Something people didn’t know? Well, New York Times found out and wrote an article about the decades-old trend, covering a new WhiskyFest-related event called “Whisky Jewbilee:”

The bond with whiskey goes way back. Mr. Blashka said early Jewish immigrants to America, unable to trust the provenance of local wines, turned to certain distilled liquors, including whiskey. “Because the wine was an issue, typically spirits was their avenue for drinking,” he said.

It’s a good thing whiskey wasn’t mentioned in the Torah!

As recent decades have ushered in a revival in Scotch, bourbon and other whiskeys, Jews, like many other groups, have moved beyond the usual blends and have developed more sophisticated tastes. “Now we have many whiskeys that we know are kosher,” said Rabbi Aaron Raskin of Congregation B’nai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights, whose preferred whiskey is the smoky Laphroaig, a single malt from Islay. “It is used to add to our joy.”

But really, Rabbi Raskin, what’s the real reason you’re so excited about all this whiskey?

“And it helps attendance at synagogues,” he added.

I can only imagine that this news will only increase the mourning on Tisha B’av.

<h/t: Heeb>