A recent stir was created when Orthodox synagogue, Young Israel of Culver City, also known as YICC banned all throwing of candy at celebrations held at its synagogue. Common at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs as well as Sabbaths preceding weddings, congregants often throw candy at family members participating in the service. The reason for the banning was that certain congregants took great pleasure in throwing candy so hard, it often injured those participating. While on the surface, the banning seems to make sense, most congregants voiced strong opposition.
David Wexner, a nine-year member had this to say: “Look, a lot of the guys in this synagogue winged Jolly Ranchers at me when I got married and I had a welt the size of a stinking golf ball on my neck the next day. To suddenly take that away from me is just not fair. Jeff Rosenblatt finally gets married and I can’t take revenge on that guy? Do you know Jeff? I mean, if anybody deserves a jawbreaker to the head it’s that bastard.”
Adding to the controversy are other synagogues who have publicly called out YICC as a bunch of pansies. Sha’arei Emunah in Northridge stated in their newsletter: “For those interested, we heard YICC is starting a softball team and the balls used will be filled with candy so they can finally throw some! #sissies!!!” Shaarei Emunah President Morty Feldenbaum defended his synagogue’s attack. “Years of tradition and these guys wanna ban candy throwing? What a bunch of wimps! I saw a guy in 1977 take a shot right off his head. Thought he had a mild concussion, but did he miss the wedding the next day? No! Why, because he’s a man! I guess they wouldn’t know anything about that at YICC since there apparently is no men’s section. Boom!! You can tell them I said that.”
While Bar Mitzvahs offer more protection since children are often allowed to bring football helmets up to the stage or “Bima”, and most thirteen year olds doing the throwing do not have very good arms to begin with, it is the pre-wedding service, known as an “Aufruf” where the major damage takes place. Other synagogues have tried to come to some sort of compromise. Etz Moshe in Beverly Hills has a system where only women throw candy, since lets face it, they throw like girls, but that has also proven to be a problem as many have figured out a way to beat that system as well.
Long time member Max Weinblatt explains. “My neighbor’s kid is in college and she’s the quarterback on her co-rec football team. She has a canon for an arm, and when I heard that Jeremy Cohen was getting married, I recruited her immediately. She’s not even Jewish. Her name is Christine or something, but I didn’t care. I can’t stand that kid and this was my chance. He brought up the helmet, held up the tallis, the whole nine yards, but when he let his guard down, she nailed him! Right in the square of the back. It was beautiful!“
Harry Milner, President of Etz Moshe, tried to put things in perspective. “Look, it’s not like we’re chucking jagged edged rock candy at the thirteen year olds. They get the Sunkist soft stuff usually, maybe a butterscotch or two thrown in if the kid is a real pain, but other than that, it’s pretty harmless. “
Many have pointed out that most of the problems happen when the kids try grabbing it all off the floor. Older children shove the smaller ones aside and parents have been seen coaching children to hip check, which YICC also points to as a problem.
Whether or not candy throwing will stop completely remains to be seen, but as of now it does not look like it is going anywhere any time soon. Asked whether he ever thinks candy throwing will disappear completely, President Milner simply pointed to a date on his calendar. Written in red ink were four words: “Gluck Wedding. Scum Bag.” He then smiled and said, “I don’t think so.”