Thursday, April 27, 2006

A-Z Meme

(tagged by Shifra, who grabbed it out of the æther)

N'Yawk, particularly strong when using words like Brooklyn or anything with an "aw" [ʷɔ̹ːə̯] ([_wO_O:@_^]) sound, such as cʷawffee, tʷawk, or dʷawg. I am also a proud user of the sound [eǝ] (that's as in Mary, not merry or marry) in words like air, ale, grass, half, and ran. However, I do use y'all instead of the more proper non-'redneck'-sounding you-all or you-guys. But I pronounce it like a proud N'yawka — yʷawll.
I also have some idiolectal features not typical of all New Yorkers, such as not devoicing Ls after voiceless consonants. You may not know what I'm talking about, but, like my friends in middle school, you can probably tell that there's something wrong with how I say close the door. I also heavily swallow many other Ls, such as the L between vowels in the name Alan.
My Hebrew accents would take a whole post of their own.

Almost all alcohol tastes like burning to me.
The ones I can stand the most are very sweet stereotypical Jewish wines like Kedem's Málaga, and 'dessert wines' like Moscato [D'Asti?]. The closest I get to liking beer is hard cider.

Anything involving heavy scrubbing.

Not allergic to them like I am to cats, but they make me uncomfortable. Way too nosy around certain 'private' regions of the human body.

Cell phone (before I got one, though, I thought they were decadent playthings of the rich and wanted nothing to do with them)
Internet access

I like walking through the perfume section of department stores, but can't stand most scents at close quarters or high intensity. I prefer unscented deoderant, and use baby powder instead of bathroom air fresheners.

I wear my keys around my neck on a vaguely silver-colored dogtag-like chain made for lamp pull-cords.

Spring Valley (NOT MONSEY!). Long Island. Borough Park. Upstate New York. Valley of the Aboriginal Ghosts. Upper Manhattan.

I find it impossible to sleep when there's too much artificial light or noise going on. Neighbors who play musical instruments drive me particularly batty.

High School Jewish Studies Teacher (looking for a new job for next year)

Not yet, but if one day in the future you encounter a beautiful Jewish girl named תְּנוּבִיאֵל, it's all my fault.

Apartment with apartmentmates [who show no interest in blogs].

That I Admire: Quick "on your feet" Thinking
That Others Admire About Me: Easygoingness


None so far

Claustro-. I'm not actually scared of small spaces, but if I'm confined in a position in which I can't move for a long time (stuck in the back of a car, for instance) my limbs start to rebel and spasm of their own accord.

"Can't we all just get along?"

Jewish. Orthodox. Center-Left-Leaning MO. Dati ‘Olami. Generally Rationalistic, with "Indigenous" trends. God is a Trickster Deity. Barukh... shekakha lo be‘olamo.

One older twin brother
(i'm the good twin)

5:00am, if I can help it

Whistling that sounds like "scary alien bees" (to quote a friend)

Tomato. Cucumber. Eggplant.
(they loved me in Israel)


The new dentist I've been going to does digital ones.

Eggs with cheese and tomato sauce. Tofu vegetable stir-fry (ah those hippy days in Israel). 101 variations on the college kosher dining hall sugar cookie recipe.

Taurus (Year of the Rooster)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Darfur: "Never Again" Again

Rabbi Mayer Schiller
And They Shall Judge the People with True Judgement
(f.y.i. i disagree with his critiques of l.w.m.o. in the article)
[The humanistic, universalistic] outlook is one of the greatest losses that the eclipse of Torah im Derekh Eretz has brought about. We have come to limit our chesed, our empathy, our social concern (be it physical, moral or spiritual) to Jews only. This limitation of kindness seems impossible to achieve. Can we turn on and off kindness? And, if it can be achieved, at what cost to our hearts and souls?

We are called upon to emulate the Creator who made the world as an act of
chesed and "whose mercies are upon all His creatures."

The current posture of insular
chesed limited to Jewry ruins our souls, destroys our credibility as a people and ends any hope that our exile will favorably influence mankind.

דן פגיס (Dan Pagis)
כתוב בעפרון בקרון החתום — Written in Pencil in the Sealed Boxcar

 כאן במשלוח הזה Here in this transport 
 אני חוה I am Eve 
 עם הבל בני with Abel my son 
 אם תראו את בני הגדול If you see my older son 
 קין בן אדם Cain son of Adam 
 תגידו לו שאני Tell him that I 

יום השואה והגבורה
six million jews
eleven million human beings

How many more numbers will be added to the totals of the Devouring Calamity? How many more Genocides will stain humanity's history books? It's up to us to stop it from happening again.

שופך דם האדם, באדם דמו יישפך — כי בצלם אלהים עשה את האדם

Monday, April 17, 2006

Please Tell Me This Is Not Us

Is there actually any Jewish source for the demon/Saytan imagery used in this flash video? Please say no. And if you say yes, where the heck did they get this from? Sources, my friends, I need sources! Mmm... seitan...

hattip: PMYF/Ághám

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Better Than Sparring With Celery

בבא — האיש וההגדה
הגדה של פסח, מאוייר ומקומקס* ע"י שי צ'רקה

ר' עקיבא: אתה יודע מה הטעם לאכילת כרפס?
בבא: ממ... טעם טעים מאד!

זוטא: לא!... מה הסיבה לאכילת כרפס?

בבא: זכר לפרעה!

בבא: זכר לפרעה שהיה ראש-בטטה וטבע במי-מלח!


Baba — Ha’ish Vehahagada
Passover Haggada, illustrated and comicsafied* by Shai Cherka
(that's Tsherka not Kherka)

R' ‘Aqiva: Do you know what the ta‘am (=reason/taste) for eating karpas is?
Baba: Mm... a very good taste!

Zuta: No!... what's the reason for eating karpas?

(Baba thinks)

Baba: In memory of Pharoah!

Baba: In memory of Pharoah who was a potato-head and drowned in salt water!

(everyone else looks around confused)

Baba: What...?!

(*i made up that word, as far as i know)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

You Heard It Here First

Egalitarian Evangelistnoun, a Jew who dedicates their life to spreading the 'good news' of non-gender-specific roles in Jewish ritual activities.
"No, Mordy, I will not go with you to Hadar this week. Stop being such an Egalitarian Evangelist!"
"Excuse me, ma'am/sir, we are Egalitarian Evangelists; would you like to read our literature on why women can have alíyas?"
"Hey, it's not like I'm some kind of Egalitarian Evangelist or something — I just think you should know that there's nothing wrong with having women rabbis."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bread of Affliction (someone else's dvar haggada)

A dvar haggada by a friend of mine from my Israel days, Luke (Lev) Hawley. He presented this last year, when each participant had to bring a speech, thought or activity about a certain part of the seder. My part was the midrashim in Magid. Luke talked about matza...

(minor editing)
"This is the bread of our affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt; let all those who are hungry enter and eat thereof, and all who are in distress, come..."

Many teachers relate the rising that the yeast produces in bread to ego-inflation in the individual. The Talmud compares se'or (leaven, yeast) to the yetzer hara (evil inclination), refering to succumbing to one's base desires as "leavening of the heart". This idea might be fortified by what the Torah has to say regarding the meal offering (Mincha). Leviticus states: "The mincha offering may not be baked into leavened bread (chametz)" (Leviticus 6:10). Furthermore, any burnt offerings are to be free of se’or "because all se'or (leaven) may not be burned as a fire offering to Hashem" (Leviticus 2:11). Based on the Talmud’s analogy, one may conclude that we must be careful not to include the very thing which caused us to sin in the medium which provides forgiveness — therefore no se'or, a representation of the yetzer hara, could be included in an offering to Hashem.

Well, we’ve all heard this one before, and I’ve never been able to understand why a merciful God would want us to celebrate a holiday like Pessach by utilizing the Matzah as a warning against the dangers of sin and ego. It’s not that we shouldn’t guard against the dangers of sin, etc., its just that it seems a little out of character considering the joyful and revelatory nature of the holiday. There are other holidays for sin. This one seems to be about freedom and nationhood. I don’t believe that the prevalence of matzah in the seder correlates to the prevelance in our thoughts of the evils of sin.

With regard to nationhood, the elimination of leaven is a way to express separation from Egypt. Leaven provides ‘life’ to bread in that it makes it grow and rise. When I was having problems learning how to make bread, it was pointed out to me by a baker that (unlike other forms of cooking) when one made bread one was dealing with a living thing. The sponge of leavened rising dough was sensitive to all kinds of external factors — temperature, humidity, even the way it was handled. Too much pounding or tearing would knock the life out of it and it wouldn’t rise well. Separating all the leaven, the ‘life-force’ from their bread, and only re-commencing their bread baking with leaven acquired outside of the ‘narrow land’ /מצרים=מיצרים/ might stand for a complete break with Egypt, and the inadequacies of how one was nurtured there. The leavend bread we now eat is free of the leaven — the ‘life force’ — of Egypt. But in order to accomplish this separation all leaven had to be eliminated for a while. Indeed, it ultimately became necessary for a separation to be made between those who would enter the land, and the generation that had been raised in slavery. No one who had even eaten of the Egyptian leaven (except Joshua and Caleb) were allowed to enter the land.

Another idea occurred to me a few days ago when strolling through the halls of the Cairo Museum. The statues of the Egyptian gods and kings seem to go on forever. Thousands of statues of gods and kings carved out of every conceivable material — gold, alabaster, stone — in an effort to render variety to a series of static unchanging figures and expressions. And the glory of the pyramids that we saw were rendered by the work of generations of slaves burdened with a single task. Even their gods are slaves, each afflicted with a single task and a single attribute. The goddess of the sky, with stars painted on her narrow body, straddles the earth on all fours for eternity. The kings and queens all wear the same clothing and display the same passive archaic smile for centuries. Their names are bound in cartouches. Only Akhnaten, the monotheistic reformer, changes his god into the solar disk — something remotely life-giving — and himself into a multifaceted human being — an escetic religious contemplator who nonetheless possesses thighs capable of bearing children.

We find this sameness in the matzah we have before us. Can any of us tell one from the other? Don’t they all have the same taste? They’re indistinguishable from each other. Without personality. This is the affliction the Israelites escaped; the affliction shared by slaves, and any so-called ‘free people’ ruled by gods of a singular nature who lack depth and creative vigor. Rather than look at the se’or simply as the yetzer hara, I would prefer to look at it as the spark of something that allows us to become un-afflicted, to grow as individuals, with varying capacities and talents. Just as leavened bread shows variety and can be distinguished, so we, on leaving Egypt are given the freedom to become ourselves. The eating of the matzah — the ‘bread of affliction’ — is a reminder of the state from which God brought us, and by the absence of leaven we are reminded of the great freedoms of which we are now allowed to partake.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Visual Aids

גוט וואָך / שבוע טוב

On Friday Afternoon I finally got my pictures from my Presidents "Week" trip to Israel developed. I had a lot of space left on the last roll, so it also includes Purim and other things.

So feel free to check out these new and improved posts:

Heidi! Grandfather! Heidi! Grandfather!
(swiss chocolate)

One Hundred And One
(street sign)

העם עם תל אביב \ העם עם גוש עציון
(efrafa efrata)

...and the pictures you all've been waiting for...
From Russia With Hamantashen
(my purim costume)


By the way, when I was having my layover in France on the way back to the USA, I saw the following advertisement in the airport:
Now, je parle pas Français (I don't speak French), but is it just me or does it actually look like they're advertising 1 croak-monster or 1 part of pizza + 1 bison, all for 7.10 euro?

Friday, April 07, 2006

עידן חדש

הפרויקט של עידן רייכל (the Idan Raichel Project) is performing Saturday Night and Sunday at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Upper Manhattan (but not as upper as me!).

Idan Raichel and his Project make music that is an beautiful confluence of Middle-Eastern, European, and Ethiopian traditions, heavily laced with Biblical and other traditional Jewish imagery. It's like Qibutz Galuyot (the Ingathering of the Exiles) for your eardrums!

Here's an example of his Tanakh-laden lyrics: Hineikh Yafa

על מטתי כבר שבועות ביקשתי את שאהבה נפשי ולא מצאתיו
חיפשתי בין כל רחובות העיר העמוסת שקרים הזאת ולא מצאתיו
מצאוני השומרים הסובבים בעיר אך אהובי כמעט ולא מצאתי אותו
אך לא ארפה ממנו עד שאביאו אל תוך עירי אל בית אמי ואל חדרי אל מטתי

הנך יפה רעיתי ושפתותיך חוט שני
שיניך לבנות כמו אור הלבנה
מי זאת עולה מן המדבר מארץ רחוקה
נשאת על כנף ציפור גדולה הגיעה לביתי


הנך יפה רעיתי אני נגנב משתי עיניך
ששורפות אותי כאש הלהבה
מי זאת עולה מן המדבר מארץ רחוקה
נשאת על כנף ציפור גדולה הגיעה לביתי

You can also see a video of the song Mima‘amaqim at Life of Rubin.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I Thought *I* Was The BoroParkPyro!

From New York 1:
An angry mob of Hasidic Jews confronted police outside a Brooklyn station house Tuesday night after officers arrested an elderly Hasidic man.

Hundreds of Borough Park residents rushed the 66th precinct station house chanting "No justice, no peace" to protest what witnesses say was the rough treatment of an elderly Hasidic man by police.

Two garbage fires were set during the melee, but police were able to contain the crowd by 9:30 p.m. No injuries were reported.

Police say the protest was sparked after police arrested a 75-year-old Hasidic man who had been talking on his cellphone while operating his car at around 7:30 p.m. When police attempted to handcuff the man, two other Hasidic men tried to step in.

A crowd then formed, and the scene quickly grew unruly. Protesters threw garbage and hundreds of residents blocked the streets.

Community witnesses say the melee started because police dragged the man on the cellphone from his car, roughly put him into a police van, and twice slammed the door on his leg.

Witness say the man may not have immediately complied with police because he was hard of hearing.

The heavily-Hasidic neighborhood has been the scene of tension between residents and authorities in the past.

"No Justice No Peace"? What is this, an anti-War demonstration?

From the New York Daily News:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Hundreds of residents took to the streets and set garbage can fires Tuesday night to protest the treatment of a 75-year-old caterer they say was beaten by police officers during a traffic stop.

Police denied mistreating the man, identified by residents as Arthur Schick, and officers in riot gear fanned out to clear the crowd, which lingered for hours.

Sariel Widawsky, co-owner of the Schick's Bakery, said he saw the traffic stop through the front window of his store, which once was owned by Schick's mother. He said he saw police push Schick, whom he described as a friend he's known since 1960.

"They pushed Arthur against the car and physically manhandled him in a way unbefitting such a well-respected and liked member of the community," Widawsky said. "He shouldn't be treated like that."

He said police "acted as if they were going to a riot, pulling out batons and spaying Mace and abusing their power."

The man was pulled over in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn for talking on his cell phone while driving, police said. He resisted the officers during the stop at 47th Street and 16th Avenue and was arrested with two other people who meddled in the incident, police said.

Protesters set small fires and blocked streets while Schick's car sat parked in front of the bakery bearing his name.

The incident happened in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood on one of the busiest shopping days before Passover, the weeklong commemoration of the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.

You can check out the New York Times's take on it too, if you're subscribed.

Tip of the off-white straw tropical touristy hat: Life of Rubin

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Orthodoxy Questions


Why was I so idealistic when I moved to Washington Heights?
Why did I think that KAJ would actually express some form of the Neo-Orthodox ideology that their ancestral founder, R' Sh. R. Hirsch, promoted?
What went wrong in "Frankfurt-on-Hudson"?

(the unbearable liteness of being)

Why are there so many "MO-Lite" people in the world?
Are they too lazy to develop a personal philosophy of Judaism and/or life?
Are they just not interested?
What happens to Hhareidim who lack a meaningful weltanschauung?
Or is the esteemed rav who defined 'MO-Lite' as Orthodox affiliation without a weltanschauung simply mistaken?

(there and everywhere)

How come no one ever told me that to some people "Modern Orthodoxy" is not a subset of "Orthodoxy" but a separate Heterodox category?
Why is being misrepresented the thing I hate most when it comes to personal interactions?
WTF fills people with so much HATE that they would slander me and thousands of other fellow Jewish Human Beings?
Is the identification by people in Monsey of Spring Valley as a 'bad area' simply racist slander against the dark-skinned people who live there, or are there crime statistics to back that up?
How would Yeshivish people feel if I said that being Dati ‘Olami is the only Torah-True form of Judaism, and that all those uniformity-stressing isolationist monochromatic self-sublimating ideals they stress are a load of BS?
What kind of an idiot seriously thinks that "if someone wears jeans they're making a statement that they admire Britney Spears, while if they wear a black suit and hat they admire R' Elyashiv"?
Why in all the worlds would I even want to admire R' Elyashiv (or any other 'gadol' who considers me and my people heretics)?
Should we give up on the label 'Modern Orthodoxy' due to the negative associations it has in the minds of self-righteous a––holes, and use less ambiguous terms like Torah uMada‘, Torah ‘im Derekh Eretz, and Torah va‘Avoda instead?

Who can tell my Shabbos in a town near Spring Valley was not completely positive?

  1. Shabbos was not completely bad, either. There were many positive things about it, too; after all, I was staying by a good friend who's always fun to hang out with.
  2. I highly respect the people we ate lunch by. They are definitely non-evil.