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Is HarperCollins’ Mezuza-Gate Story Even Plausible?

When the rumors accusing Judith Regan‘s filling mezuzot with torn dollar bills first made the rounds in late December, the media reaction largely focused on the HarperCollins said/Bert Fields said aspects of the case. In one notable analysis, for example, Eat the Press said the story worked in Regan’s favor, because if it was true that she bragged about the alleged incident at the office and all that happened was a slap on the wrist from HR, it could undermine Harper’s argument that she’d been fired for cause after the phone call in which they claim she referred to a “Jewish cabal” within the company and the industry.

But my wife’s reaction to the story was total disbelief. “They’re saying she went through an entire apartment building, took the mezuzah off every door frame that had one, put money in them, put them back on the frames, and nobody noticed her doing it?” she asked me rhetorically at the time. And that’s pretty much the reaction freelance writer and book marketing specialist Bella Stander had this afternoon on her blog. “Even if the mezuzah isn’t mummified under a gazillion layers of paint, it is attached with sturdy nails or screws,” Stander explains for the benefit of Gentiles:

“It’s a bit noisy to install one, especially if you bang your fingers with the hammer and/or drop the nails… I defy anyone to remove the scroll from its little slot at the back of a mezuzah and quickly and NEATLY replace it with torn-up dollar bills; or torn-up anything, for that matter.”

Of course, talking about doing something is a lot easier than doing something, so it’s entirely possible those unnamed sources at HarperCollins are telling the truth about a story having been passed around the office, and maybe it started with Regan and maybe it didn’t. On the other hand, I imagine there’s a pretty good reason we never heard anything more about this past the initial coverage, and I’m not just talking about how we were all out of the office for the holidays…

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