A mezuzah case made from a PEZ dispenser is a hoot. And unique, apparently — or so said Google at the moment of my epiphany, despite how inevitable it felt. I loved the idea and the look of repurposing an iconic, candy-enabling toy, and could not wait to share my mezuzah mashup with the world.
But the world–or the tiny corner where some of my
Jewish friends hang–was not nearly as pleased as I had hoped. A PEZ-uzah, apparently, might not be the thing. I concede it is a bit ironic to post a Piglet PEZ dispenser on the doorframe of my kosher kitchen, but damn, it’s funny. Perhaps a Hello Kitty PEZ-uzah would pose fewer layers of problematic meaning? No, it still creeped my buddies that I’d be touching a shaped, plastic image with reverence, and raising my fingers to my lips. I’d be kissing Hello Kitty like she was the Shema herself. (Which might be true if I actually remembered to touch any of the mezuzot in my house.)
My PEZ problem–for now, my thrilling invention had become a problem–made me ponder mezuzah rules anew. I’ve been obsessed with mezuzot since Kveller.com ran my article on making a mezuzah with kids. I saw potential mezuzah cases everywhere: empty lip balm, the cardboard tube on a dry-cleaner hanger, a toothpaste box, the fat straw in my bubble tea, a HotWheels van and so on. It felt Freudian: anything longer than it was wide could be a mezuzah. But sometimes, a cigar case is just a cigar case.
The PEZ dispenser was a revelation. It co-opted a toy for ritual use, was kid-friendly, cheap, readily available and it assumed the role with minimum modification. It’s an icon of American pop culture and, not coincidentally, irresistible to operate: pull up the head, insert the candy and dispense each piece with a backwards nod. Already similar in size and shape to a standard mezuzah case, a PEZ dispenser even has a built-in cavity for stashing a scroll. Slap some foam tape on the back and bingo: a PEZ-uzah!
But my frum friends made me wonder, is a PEZ-uzah kosher? That’s when I put down my shin stickers and candy and got busy.