Today, I had an appointment in Beverly Hills and on my way home I thought it would be a good time to stop at Kosher Club on Pico and LaBrea to pick up some goodies for Jewish New Year, which will begin on Friday night. I anticipated that, two days before the holiday, it would be crowded. The aisles at Kosher Club aren't wide enough to get two carts by one another, so there is a fair amount of jostling.
Everyone was very nice to me. As I headed down one aisle, a woman with a cart was about to start on her way up the aisle, and she backed up and let me pass, with a pleasant smile. I was also getting a few sidelong stares. I was dressed in a t-shirt and jeans but that is nothing unusual for Kosher Club, where women's garb runs the gamut from my outfit to long skirts and hair coverings worn by Orthodox women.
When I looked in the mirror over the restroom sink, I realized the reason for all the glances. My t-shirt was imprinted with the words, "Presbyterian Disaster Assistance", a souvenir from my week working in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. The word "Presbyterian" has probably never popped up at Kosher Club before. Everyone was polite because they thought I was an outsider.
As I was checking out, one of the managers came out of the office, and looked at me. I recognized him from my days as a Hillel director, when we spent a fair amount of money on Kosher Club's food. As I saw he was about to recognize me and call out, "Hi, Rabbi, how are you?", I took my cart and left the store. A Presbyterian rabbi might just be too much for the folks at Kosher Club to take.