Frankly speaking, rabbi’s departure, ‘Gloria’ and more

Rabbi Jonah Zinn. PHOTO: Joel Marion Photography


Dogged pursuit

Here’s a unique Mother’s Day gift sure to make a Jewish mother proud: Winning the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, and bringing home $10,000 in prize money — for mom, of course.

Those interested in entering need to get their cleats a clickin’ to Ford Plaza at Busch Stadium, 700 Clark Ave., at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, June 1 when Nathan’s Famous hosts the Missouri qualifier for its July 4th contest. The top male and female finishers in the event will qualify for a seat at the Fourth of July hot dog eating contest in Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y., where they will face reigning champions Joey “Jaws” Chestnut and Miki Sudo.

“The launch of the Nathan’s Famous hot dog-eating contest circuit means that we are on our way toward the most exciting day of the year — July 4th,” said Phil McCann, senior director of marketing of Nathan’s Famous. “We are seeking new talent in St. Louis to represent our nation on the most patriotic day of the year.” 

The Nathan’s hot dog-eating contest is a holiday celebration recognized across the globe and televised internationally. According to Major League Eating Chair (who knew there was such a thing?) George Shea, “There is no greater honor on July 4th than competing against the greatest eaters in the world on the big stage in Coney Island.”

Chestnut, of San Jose, Calif., currently holds the title of hot dog-eating world champion after defeating rising star Carmen Cincotti and setting a new world record of 74 hot dogs and buns in 2018. Sudo of Las Vegas will defend her title as female champion, having consumed 37 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes in 2018. Sudo’s all-time best is 41 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Winners receive bragging rights and the famed “Mustard Belt,” along with a monetary prize: first place male and female each get $10,000, second place gets $5,000, and so on.

According to a USA Today article in 2017, Chestnut prepares by not eating anything for two days before the contest. “I slowly eat less and less and make sure I’m empty the day of. Today (Friday) I’ll have a pretty big salad and tomorrow will be less. And Sunday and Monday, nothing,” he said. 

Chestnut told the MLB Network he trains for two months with simulated hot dog eating contests. He says while he certainly isn’t hungry after the Nathan’s contest is over, he does crave a lot of water, due to the high sodium content in the dogs.


‘When Harry Met Sally,’ STL style

The New Jewish Theatre plans to promote its upcoming play, “I Now Pronounce,” about a wedding gone awry, with a series of short videos highlighting members of the St. Louis Jewish community talking about how they met, their engagement and their wedding day. The videos will be shown on social media such as Facebook and Instagram, so stay tuned.


Headed south

Rabbi Jonah Zinn, associate rabbi at Congregation Shaare Emeth, is leaving to take a job as executive director of the University Of Florida Hillel in Gainsville, Fla. 

“I am thrilled to join the University of Florida’s dynamic Jewish community,” said Zinn, who joined Shaare Emeth following his ordination from Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 2014. 

“I look forward to partnering with students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni and community members to nurture Jewish engagement, build community, and further Jewish life, learning and connections to Israel.”

At Shaare Emeth, Zinn has spearheaded programs designed to connect young couples and interfaith families to the synagogue and Judaism. He also has implemented several initiatives to engage teens and young adults and developed opportunities to support and nurture young community leaders. He had previously served as assistant director at the University of Virginia Hillel in Charlottesville.

Zinn will start his new position on July 1.


Riding chai

From May 16-19, St. Louis will welcome more than 150 bikers at the 15th annual Ride 2 Remember (R2R), hosted by the Jewish Motorcycle Alliance, an umbrella organization for the dozens of Jewish motorcycle clubs worldwide.

“We expect bikers from Israel and Australia as well as Canada and across the United States,” said Steve Aroesty, one of the local organizers. “We have all streams of Judaism represented, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform as well as Harley-Davidson folks, BMW folks and much more.”

The four-day event features several long motorcycle rides, a kosher barbecue, Shabbat services and a trip to where else — the Moto Museum in midtown, for cocktails, dinner and a look around.

The actual 50-mile Ride 2 Remember, which takes place Friday morning, May 17, “will end up at the Federation building after winding through several suburban Jewish communities so people will definitely see us and know we are in town,”said Aroesty.

He noted that this is the first time St. Louis has hosted the event, the proceeds of which will benefit the St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center. Biker participants will have a chance to tour the museum, talk with Holocaust survivors and have lunch there. 

For more information, go to


Rick Recht’s got the Blues

St. Louisan Rick Recht, known for his Jewish music and annual Songleader Boot Camp convention at the Jewish Community Center, recently recorded a parody of the song “Gloria” that the Blues have been playing after hockey victories. And the video of Recht and his family playing Laura Branigan’s song has gone viral, with more than 261,000 views on Facebook. 

Explains Recht: “I was playing a concert at a temple in Evansville, Ind. and the rabbi’s wife’s first name is Gloria. I was telling her how her namesake has become this winning anthem when the St. Louis Blues win.

“On the drive home, I thought it would be cool if the song ‘Gloria’ actually had lyrics about the Blues. So the next day I started working at the computer, humming little ideas and ended up writing this parody.”

That night, Recht, who is an enormous Blues hockey fan, rummaged through his attic for his hockey gear and sticks. His family put the gear on and started singing the parody, which they recorded.

Soon after he posted the video on social media, local radio and TV stations started calling to talk about the parody. “One of the coolest things was that Branigan’s management company (she died in 2004) tweeted to me, and actually told me good, job, this is great,” said Recht.

We think so, too. Go Blues. Go Rick.