October 26, 2002

When I was six or seven, I joined the Cub Scout den run by the Jewish Community Center. I remember very little about my tenure as a Cub Scout—which, as I recall, lasted about two weeks—except that at one point we put on a play about the plight of Soviet Jewry. The play consisted of three pairs of vignettes: an American praying in synagogue, and a Russian praying in synagogue and getting carted off by the secret police; an American printing a Jewish newspaper, and a Russian printing a Jewish newspaper and getting carted off by the secret police; and an American teaching Hebrew, and a Russian teaching Hebrew and getting carted off by the secret police.

In every pair of vignettes, I played the Russian who got carted off by the secret police.

My college friend N.K. told me that he was a member of a progressive Boy Scout troop that performed a musical written by the Scouts’ parents. N.K. played the part of a Capitalist and sang a song called “When I Need a Friend, I Buy One.”

When N.K. first told me this I was wildly jealous, but then I realized that I had clearly gotten the better deal, since I was the one who was manhandled—not once but three times—by men in uniform.

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