Larry David’s TV show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO is known for forging into new territory for television shows. This most recent episode certainly marked a few TV firsts. To begin with, I don’t believe the following statement had ever been uttered on TV before: “I don’t wanna’ be in your stupid minyan anyway.”
I also believe this was the first time that the Jewish concept of a minyan was ever defined on a TV comedy. In one of the most creative episodes in the show’s history, Larry David attempted to revive the career of disgraced Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner. Just about 25 years ago in the 6th game of the World Series, Buckner botched a slow rolling hit off the bat of the NY Mets’ Mookie Wilson to allow the winning run to score. The Red Sox eventually lost the World Series in the 7th and deciding game.
Larry David brought in Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner as guest stars in this episode which gave Buckner the opportunity to poke fun at his fielding error from a quarter century ago. But the highlight of the episode was the minyan scene.
As Larry is walking on the street with Bill Buckner, they are approached by a Jewish man (played by Jerry Adler who was Hesh on the Sopranos) who asks if they are Jewish. Buckner says he’s not and Larry is reluctant to answer affirmatively. The man explains that it’s an emergency and they need one more to make a minyan to say Kaddish before going to the cemetery. Larry explains to the confused Buckner that a minyan is “when a Jewish person dies you need to have ten men in a room to say a prayer.”
Before heading up to the apartment Larry asks Buckner if he’s ever had Jewish food before to which he responds, “Koufax gave me some kishka one time.” Once they actually make it to the shiva* one of the men refuses to allow Buckner in the room since, as a devout Red Sox fan, he can never forgive Buckner for his error in the 1986 World Series. I guess it wasn’t the best pre-Rosh Hashanah message about forgiving others for their mistakes.
*As Ami Eden of JTA correctly noted, there’s no shiva minyan before a funeral (only after). Apparently no one on the show consulted with a rabbi on that one. Oh well, it was still a hilarious episode in my opinion. Here’s the clip: