The Alcohol Libel: an Intercepted Letter to Kiddush Clubs
O would some Power the giftie gie us
to see ourselves as others see us.
— Robert Burns, Scotland (1759-1796)
News item: Certain Scotch distilleries have initiated divestment boycotts of Israel. In reaction to this, many Jewish groups worldwide have protested vigorously. The angriest protests came from Kiddush Clubs across North America.
The following letter from the Scotch distilleries, in response to the Kiddush Clubs, was intercepted by MI6.2, the Elders of Zion branch of England’s MI6 intelligence agency.
TO: Kiddush Clubs of America
FROM: Scotch whiskey distilleries
We have your letter protesting our contemplated boycott of Israel. You write that synagogue Kiddush Clubs across America purchase thousands of bottles of Scotch during the course of a year, but that henceforth these Clubs will boycott our products.
We are respectfully considering your letter, but being unfamiliar with Kiddush Clubs, we are curious about their role in Jewish worship.
We have discovered that the word kiddush in Hebrew is connected with “sacred.” We have also discovered cognate words like kaddish, kadosh, and kedusha, which have some connection with sanctity. However, the term “Kiddush Club” does not appear in our Biblical lexicons. Even the theologians we consulted are stymied about the connection between these Clubs and synagogue prayers.
We therefore tentatively assume that Kiddush Clubs are involved in some esoteric religious rites which are deliberately concealed. We are particularly intrigued about the role of alcohol – particularly Scotch liquors – in these Clubs. Is this symbolic of the fact that during medieval persecutions, some Jews took refuge in the Scottish highlands? Or perhaps the liquor is a kind of alcohol libation on the synagogue altar, a vestige of wine libations in the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Without revealing anything of a secret nature, could you shed some light on this?
Because of our curiosity about this issue , we dispatched a special agent to the USA for further research. He has submitted his report, based on extensive visits to American synagogues, but we find his report puzzling. We recognize that , as strangers to Jewish practice, we might not be processing his information correctly , so we send it along to you herewith, hoping that you will inform us of any inaccuracies:
Kiddush Clubs are a sub-group of many synagogues. Its members pay annual dues, beyond their dues to the synagogue itself. This income purchases the liquor that is apparently an essential component of their program.
Club members are entitled to several glassfuls of Scotch, bourbon and other liquors on Sabbath. What was not clear was how, and precisely when in the prayer service, these liquors are utilized?
For answers, I visited several Kiddush Clubs and found that their connections with holiness and sanctity are very successfully camouflaged. At a certain pre-established point in the Sabbath service, members of Kiddush Clubs arise from their pews and slip out of the main sanctuary. They then enter a smaller room. I expected the room to contain tables of votive candles, open Bibles and ancient books of cabbalistic lore – but I was wrong. Behind the doors of this smaller room are tables containing various bottles of Scotch, bourbon, Canadian whiskey, and assorted liquors from around the world, plus an assortment of wines and cakes. A brief food blessing is recited. I anticipated a mysterious prayer rite, but instead everyone spent the next twenty minutes drinking the alcohol – Scotch is preferred – and munching on the cakes. No prayers were recited. I awaited an arcane Biblical discussion, but what I heard was chit-chat about sports, business, and politics.
During all this time, those remaining in the synagogue — evidently not Club members in good standing — were listening to what they call a “Half-Torah” ( please forgive any misspelling ) which is a reading from one of the Biblical prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. Kiddush Club members, for some unknown reason, deliberately boycott these prophetic readings, for they return to the main services only after these readings are completed, and only after they have imbibed their obligatory drinks.
This is evidently a widespread practice in American Orthodox synagogues. My subsequent attempts to uncover the hidden connections behind the alcohol and the apparent boycott of the Hebrew prophets were met with blank stares.
Thus ends the report of our agent. We find the report very questionable on its face, because It is absurd to claim that synagogue Jews would knowingly walk out on prophetic readings in favor of a drink – even if that drink is Scotch.
Furthermore, if Kiddush Clubs were actually boycotting the Hebrew prophets, you would obviously not be protesting the Scotch boycott of Israel. After all, why would our boycott be more reprehensible than a Jewish boycott of G dly figures like Isaiah and Jeremiah? It would be incongruous for those who are in effect boycotting the prophets of Israel , to protest our boycott of the Land of Israel.
It is obvious, therefore, that this report is untrustworthy, but we share it with you so that you become aware of what is being bruited about. You might want to contact your Anti-Defamation League about this.
As an act of good faith towards our Jewish clients — and unless we hear some different interpretation from you — we are ordering that all copies of this report be destroyed. If it were ever to be leaked, it could create a modern alcohol libel against Jews, almost as scurrilous as the medieval blood libels.
Although we are not privy to the secret esoterica of the Jewish faith, we remain proud that Scotch has for so many years been the preferred beverage for the mysterious Kiddush Club rites during Half-Torah readings.
— Associated Scotch Distillers, Invertipesh-on-the-Lochsechel