Gene Wilder

It’s time, unfortunately, for another blog posting in memory of a well known individual. This time, Gene Wilder.

So many roles in so many very, very funny movies: Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein just to name two. But, my favorite role of his was as Avram, the inept young rabbi from Poland sent to San Francisco (as far away as they could send him) in The Frisco Kid.

I haven’t seen the movie in a while and I’m not sure that as a whole it has stood the test of time but the first time I saw it (in Israel, by the way), I thought it was one of the funniest movies I had ever seen. His interactions with Harrison Ford, waiting for the sun to set so Shabbat could be over and they could continue their journey, calling the Amish farmer: “lantsman” and the whole (admittedly non PC) scene with the Native Americans were priceless.

But my favorite scene comes towards the end when Avram feels he isn’t qualified to be a rabbi any more because of some of the things he has done on his way out west. So, carefully carrying the Torah scroll he has brought all the way from Poland, the one which he has saved and has saved him, he approaches the house of the leader of the Jewish community in San Francisco and pretends to be someone else.

He tells the man’s daughter that he met the rabbi who couldn’t come but gave it to him to give to her father.

She asks what it is and in a great accent, Avram says: “I don’t know, I think it’s some kind of Torah”.

There are funnier moments in that movie and in his other roles but that line absolutely cracked me up and every time I think of it, I smile.

There is a mystery to that line, a significance that I can’t put my finger on but I just love it and all it can possibly mean.

And, I have to confess.

Sometimes, when we take the Torah from the ark to carry it around the congregation and to read the weekly portion, I catch myself looking and saying: “I don’t know, it’s some kind of Torah”.

It sums up how I feel about our most sacred possession which is so hard to describe.

Thank you Avram.

Rest in peace, Gene Wilder.





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