Friday, September 30th 2022   |

Ted Roberts – The Scribbler on the Roof (In Memoriam)

THEODORE “TED” ROBERTS was a humorist and writer, who lived in the Deep South of Huntsville, Alabama and wove stories based on his lifelong love of Judaism. Roberts’ collection of columns that ran in the CCJN with his sobriquet “The Scribbler on the Roof,” are archived here in the hopes that reading his homespun brand of Talmud will bring you continued joy and love of Jewish learning and culture. Roberts, 89,  died on March 2, 2020 and was buried in his hometown of Memphis.

Eating out in Memphis

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

I often tell my close friends that I spend more money going to Memphis than my friends who go to glamorous locations like Costa de Sol,Paris, Aegean cruises. It begins this way: We just completed the 200-mile trip from home, Huntsville, AL. (Gas bill – $50, two burgers and a side of fries – $9.50) No great expenditure.

Now we’re sitting around...

A couple of professors of comparative religion

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

What a great childhood I had. Me and my good friend, Herbie, had an inflexible Saturday routine. First, Saturday morning services, then lunch at his grandfather’s kosher restaurant (closed to the public) where we were served by the Shabbos goy. This was already a treat. Little boys – we were twelve – were rarely freed from mama’s kitchen. And then the cherry...

Different Jews

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

I don’t think it’s really necessary to inform my nationwide reading audience of a dozen or so – including my two cousins in Jersey – of the formalized clans of Judaism. But I will anyhow. Roughly we have Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionists.

But there are other deceptive and slippery categories that further define our brethren much more precisely. An example may...

Rabbis for sale

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

There’s good news if you’re looking for a rabbi for your shul – or even for your family. You never heard of a family rabbi? I’m told rich people indulge in this luxury. It’s a smart economic move if your family‘s big enough. It beats shul membership dues and he’ll never attack you – his employer – from the bimah for a Saturday golf game. Not...

The Pew Report – A half-filled glass

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

Thoughtful Jews are still trembling at the Pew Report. Many are calling it an obituary on Judaism. As we all guessed, intermarriage is up about 10% (as well as we can measure it). Conservative Judaism is losing strength. All the barometers are signaling stormy weather.

But it’s like that cup that’s either half full or half empty. It all depends on your...

The happy bell-shaped curve of life

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

The “normal curve” or normal distribution that has ruled Nature ever since G-d molded mud into the shape of planets has somehow deserted us.  Oh, it still accurately reflects everything from the size of oak trees to the weight of chipmunks.  You know the curve – a few extremists on each tail – the major bulge in the middle.  It reflects everything...

Chicken Feet

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

Well, what goes around comes around, they say; and Ecclesiastes, one of the less humorous books in our bible, puts it more sedately, “there’s nothing new under the sun”. And as usual, the Book of Books – the Grandfather of all Books – is correct. I’m sure the Ecclesiastical comment is referring to barbecued chicken feet, which I encountered last week in a...

A bridge between two worlds

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

When the Creator designed the Universe, He was careful to erect impassible barriers between the land of the living and the ex-living.  He who carved the mountains and filled the basins of the sea and wired maternity into every species of female mammal, saw in a flash the chaos, the lack of harmony that would result between life and death if they...

A Southern simcha

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

The invitation in all respects was normal; event, location, time. True, this simcha was a hundred miles away, in Birmingham, and even worse, the Mapquest directions would have instilled fear in the heart of Christopher Columbus, Magellan, and Vasco De Gama.

Turn left at the large tree with the purple leaves, follow the right split at the convenience store, go left at...

Succot explains a cutural mystery

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

Succot, like perfect sweet and sour cabbage soup, has two flavors. A single holiday with two themes. We celebrate the bounty of the grape and olive harvest in the Promised Land; also we commemorate 40 hungry years of wanderings in that huge sand pile – the Sinai Peninsula – a garden that can only grow rocks.

The Chumash commands us to relive...