Ever the shrewd businessman, Andy employed his relatives in Boston, our hometown and the place where the Matzoball originated.
He says this was because he trusted his family not to steal from him (growing up, there was always a Rudnick—usually my grandmother—manning the cash till), but I’m sure the real reason was that he wasn’t expected to compensate us.
“The Heeb Hop” and “Tribe Trot” were early contenders, but my grandmother found both of them mildly offensive (“I basically ran everything through my mother,” Andy told me).
The Lyonses, who are Italian, thought that some Jews might find it offensive, “like calling a party for Italians ‘The Meatball.’ ” Yet Andy assured them the party would be a success, and the Matzoball was born.
(My suggestion that he branch out into the gay community, with a party called “Matzoballs,” went nowhere.
Fortunately, another enterprising young Jew, Jayson Littman, has cornered that market.) Andy’s success inevitably bred imitators who saw that there was a good deal of money to be made from Jews on Christmas Eve.
Fresh out of college, while trying to hack it as a nightlife promoter, Andy worked a day job at a real-estate company run by an Irish Catholic family.
“I used to get razzed by this old Irish guy who made fun of Jews for eating matzo balls, the schmuck brother-in-law of the owner,” he said. Behind his back, we used to call him, ‘dem dere matzo ball.’ ” One of Andy’s friends suggested this would make a fitting moniker, and so he ran it by his mother.