Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Once a month, our synagogue Men’s Club hosts a breakfast meeting at which various personages are invited to speak. Past speakers have included politicians (e.g., Newt Gingrich), sports figures (e.g., baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro), and other assorted people of (mostly) local interest.

This past Sunday, our featured speaker was Judge Debra Bernes, recently elected to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Judge Bernes won office in a statewide election that was of special interest because it involved no less than four separate days of voting, thanks to a crowded field and one runoff that was invalidated because of a technical error. At the end of the day, however, the results were decisive.

Judge Bernes is a member of our congregation and is noteworthy for being the first Jew to be elected to statewide office in Georgia (others who have held such offices did so by appointment). And as it turns out, she was a good speaker, although her discussion centered around the mechanics of the campaign and the unusually drawn-out election process, rather than on her opinions on the “hot topics” of the day. And this was deliberate. She made a point of stating that she was circumspect with her opinions because in the event a matter came before her in court, any previously expressed opinions could conceivably indicate prejudice. A good reason for avoiding the stupid questionnaires that certain right-wing groups such as the Christian Coalition send out to judicial candidates, by the way.

But the Featured Speaker is not what inspired this blogpost. It’s the sculpture.

Our Men’s Club breakfast (the “Best Breakfast in Town™”) is a pleasant enough affair with respect to the food. The menu is more-or-less standard: assorted bagels, smoked salmon, tuna salad, whitefish salad, sliced tomatoes and onions, pickled herring, Danish, coffee, juice. And then there’s the cream cheese.

Ahh, the cream cheese.

Think of Michelangelo. Think of Phidias, of Auguste Rodin. Great sculptors all, but they created their masterworks in simple media such as marble, clay, and metal. Never did they tackle the most challenging sculpture medium of all: Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

That’s where our man Steve - “The Gameboy” - comes in. He is a past master at fashioning elaborate Cream Cheese Sculptures, generally taking as inspiration a theme related to the Speaker of the Day.

And this time, the Gameboy did not disappoint. He was at the top of his Cream Cheese Sculpting Game. To honor the visit of Judge Bernes, he created a Cream Cheese Electric Chair, a Cream Cheese Scaffold (with Noose), and a Cream Cheese Headsman’s Axe, complete with Chopping Block. I would have gone for a boring-ass Cream Cheese Scales o’ Justice, but that’s the difference between mere talent and True Genius.

The Gameboy is a True Genius.

And when the Judge went to get her breakfast and saw that Cream Cheese Electric Chair, she exclaimed, “Oh, what a nice Judge’s Bench!”

Of course, nobody bothered to correct her...

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