Categorized | Lighter Side, USA

‘Just Kidding’: Mt. Rushmore for shul presidents

By Joel H. Cohen

Joel H. Cohen

NEW YORK — In a recent speech, President Trump raised the possibility of his likeness being added to those of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt at Mount Rushmore.

He may well have been joking about the prospect, as he suggested. But, in any case, mention of Mount Rushmore inspired a Jewish multi-millionaire, who had made his fortune in kishka futures, to offer to fund a park of sculptures honoring presidents of synagogues and other Jewish organizations.

The final name of the park was left to a blue-ribbon committee, according to the wealthy benefactor (known as the Kishka King, but who asked to remain anonymous). He said he was inclined to call it Great Presidents Sculptures – GPS —  “like a GPS, these wonderful people have led us to our spiritual destinations.”

The 465-ft.-tall Mount Rushmore, project took 14 years to complete  – from October 1927 to October 1941. Although the master sculptor was  assisted by than 400 blasters, carvers and other workers, that project came in for under a million dollars. But, of course, costs have risen tremendously in the more than 75 years since the project was completed. But the Kishka King was prepared to underwrite the cost of the contemplated Great Jewish Presidents park, whatever the amount.

”Kishka, faith  and this great country have given me a great life, and I want to give back,” he commented.

That blue-ribbon committee (whose members’ names are also not being revealed) was charged with establishing criteria for selection of honorees, choosing a location for the park, hiring a master sculptor and evaluating suggestions and comments.

Among issues being discussed: Whether the sculptures should be in bronze or granite; in what part of the country the park should be located; how many individuals would be honored; whether candidates had to be living or dead to be considered; whether presidents had attracted more members than they’d turned away, and whether a minimum number of years of service is required..

Also: whether candidates may nominate themselves; whether paid employees — rabbis, cantors, executive directors – might qualify for the honor; whether a person’s political leanings will affect selection, and how large the statues should be.(The Rushmore presidents’ eyes are 11 feet wide; their noses about 20 feet high and mouths about 18 feet wide).

Questions and suggestions had been sought from focus groups. But many communications received have been more like complaints, the chairman reported.

For instance, some observant Jews questioned whether the contemplated park violated the prohibition agains graven images, and one letter-writer insisted there should be a sculptured mechitzah between statues of men and women.

Meanwhile, other Orthodox Jews wondered whether Orthodox presidents would be adequately represented. Some Conservative Jews had similar concerns about representation of conservatives, and Reform Jews about reform. A few atheists expressed the same thoughts about atheists; women/s groups about women,  and gays about gays.

Some of the communications were nasty. While not asked to comment on potential  nominees, some respondents did.

“If you’re thinking of (name deleted), he’s got a big head already.”

Another: “I’m not accepting the honor if there’s a statue to that blowhard “(name of  president withheld).

“He’s  a no-goodnik, do-nothing,” one woman wrote about a potential honoree.

She’s the biggest yenta in captivity,” another man emailed about her.

Responses such as these have given the Kishka King pause. “I wanted to celebrate accomplishments of the great presidents, not create a forum for animosity.”

So the wealthy benefactor might be changing his mind about the value of the sculpture park.  “Maybe more useful could be Jewish anger management courses in various locations.”

JAM sessions?

San Diego Jewish World assures readers who are new to freelance writer Joel Cohen’s “Just Kidding” columns that they are satirical and should not be taken seriously.

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