Sunday, April 30, 2006

Swastikas In My Hallway

After a beautiful and wonderful Shabbos, about which I hope to write more later, we were dismayed to discover scribbles all over the wall when you first walk into our building. Most of the scribbles were poorly drawn swastikas, and as our apartment is the very first one when you come into the building, the first thing we see when we open our door is a wall full of them. Along with the swastikas, someone poured oil all over the floor, which means most of it is right outside my door; already, one friend didn't notice it, slipped, and while - thank God - she didn't fall, she did get oil on her comfy new shoe leaving a large black mark. The superintendent came a few minutes ago to clean it up, after I called him about an hour earlier; he's an Armenian, and was quite disgusted.

Our building has 12 units and you have to either have a key or be let into the building; 6 of the units are Orthodox Jews, one a nice lady in her 80's, one a nice Latino family, and one a mean-seeming black lady with her cute 3-year old granddaughter. There's also a strange couple upstairs who prefer collecting garbage over anything else, one unit I don't know who lives in, and one Arab family with kids that are often completely crazy - including once leaving papers with nasty drawings and the words KILL KILL all over them, and another time banging on my door with my (then-pregnant) wife home alone and threatening to stab her.

The scribbles look like they were done by kids, meaning the most obvious culprits are our Arab neighbors - kids who the super can't stand both because he's Armenian and because of the damage they do. Whether it was them or someone else, though, it's beyond sickening.

What a bunch of sick bastards.

EDIT: I should have noticed this earlier. All the scribbles and swastikas were at heights between my thighs and my chest, which means: Kids. Pretty little kids, too...

I took a picture of the wall, and another of the oil. I'm still debating what to do about this; my brother suggested I ask a certain person tomorrow, which makes sense to me. Thank you all for your suggestions and support. Meanwhile, I left a message for our landlord about it, and I'm sure the super will inform him tomorrow as well.

Friday, April 28, 2006

$150 Sheva Brachos

Well, that's about what a Sheva Brachos should cost... in total, maybe. But definitely not as a price that should be charged to come as a guest! Read Sephardi Lady's excellent post. Inspired, I wrote this comment:
Wow, disgusting. I thought it was bad enough when people would have outrageous Sheva Brachos; now they're charging the guests?!

FWIW, I'm about to have a kiddush. We're not only not using a hall or anywhere else, but having it in our apartment, but I went shopping last night for most of the stuff I need for Shabbos. This includes meals for 12, 16, and 12 adults and 5 kids each meal. The kiddush we expect anywhere from 60-75 people on top of the family members (which sounds outrageous, but I live across from Chof Chaim, and went to a Chof Chaim HS, so a lot of friends are there; and I live a block away from Lander College, where I currently am). Including everything I spent money on yesterday, last night, and this morning, though I still haven't gotten the meat for chulent, I think I'm at just over $300. In NYC. And we're having a ton of food. [Granted, other people are making a lot of stuff for the kiddush.]

If I included the costs of everything people are bringing and everything we're still getting, the total costs run to about $500-600 for all the meals and the kiddush, including food, utensils, tablecloths, and the like.

$150/person for Sheva Brachos? That's simply trying to cash in.
Back to cooking!

Apology

Still not sure why the "continue" link shows up [or not!] randomly... click on the permalinks to read full posts for now. Sorry!

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 4/28: Great Day for Reading

Wow. There are an incredible amount of great posts out there today, and I only read from A through E on my blogroll. It has been and will be quite busy here, as my parents flew in today to see their newest granddaughter for the first time and we started making stuff for the kiddush. I spent a couple of hours shopping and bringing the boxes of stuff in from the car - do you have any idea how hard it is to carry about 15 bottles of soda and assorted other groceries in a flimsy cardboard box for a few hundred feet? And then carry a few more boxes about that are just as heavy if not worse? Hard enough that I needed to sit down and take a blogging break, that's how hard.

Hey, after walking to a friend to borrow his car, driving to Wasserman's, spending over an hour there - on the phone almost the entire time; spending a few minutes checking out and getting the stuff into the car [which ironically used to be my in-laws - my friend bought it off them]; driving to another friend to get a crockpot, then another to get a couple chairs, and walking to 7/11 to buy a few more things; going back to Wasserman's to get something I forgot; driving around to a few different places trying to find shredded coconut and failing; then finally coming home, having to park half a block away, and shlepping everything in - and putting the perishables away - I deserve a break!

Anyways, the posts today are really top-notch. People were sharp today...

*Post of the Day*
Michael Totten's "You Just Can't Believe Anyone Can Hate You That Much". I first saw this on Instapundit, then again on Daled Amos. It's engrossing. And if you're able to, support Totten in his project.
What Are You?
Gavriel points to one of the most entertaining posts I've read... and I only read about 20% of it. He also has some other great links in there.
Feuds
DovBear has a sharp post that discusses Satmar's inner turmoil. Lunacy.
Osama bin Laden
Basil has the exclusive "interview" between Osama and both Instapundit and the InstaWife. Hilarious.
Human Psyche
ADDeRabbi has an excellent post on why people will follow some less important halachos while completely ignoring serious ones.
Fun
Cruisin' Mom recalls how she met her husband - who knew mucous could be so entertaining?! Heh. :)
Wonderous
Elie finds his son Aaron's wallet, missing since he passed away... at an opportune time. Spooky.
Quizzes
Ayelet has one that asks some basic questions... which you won't know the answers to most of. Ouch.
Enjoy!!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Death Penalty Unconstitutional?

(Hat tip: CWY)

That's what the NYTimes thinks. CWY has already established why that's so obviously wrong, so I see no need to do so myself.

What's troubling is that the Times even entertained the thought. It seems as if the Times decided that because they are anti-death penalty, therefore it's unconstitutional. Not that I'm particularly surprised.

UPDATE: Nephtuli breaks down the (likely) reasoning of the Times... and shows why it's wrong anyway.

Not Good...

JERUSALEM — Iran has received a first batch of BM-25 surface-to-surface missiles that put European countries within firing range, Israel's military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, was quoted as saying in the Haaretz daily on Thursday.

The missiles, purchased from North Korea, have a range of 1,550 miles and are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, Haaretz reported.

Yadlin has warned of the new Iranian missiles in several recent interviews to the media. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching Israel, but the BM-25 missiles are a significant upgrade over its existing top of the line missiles — the Shihab-4 and Shihab-3.
And, in case for some reason you forget why this is a big deal...
Israeli concerns have been heightened in recent months by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls to wipe Israel "off the map."
What's sad about this is that Israel has to resort to saying, "These missiles could hit Europe!" Nobody cares that the missiles could hit Israel - but Europe...?! Now the question is only if the Europeans care enough. Do they really think they're at risk also? If yes, they might actually do something. If not...

Well, Israel better be ready to take matters into its own hands.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 4/27

A little different today - just links of a bunch of bloggers who are not on the blogroll [well, yet, anyway].
R' Chaim HaQoton has an excellent post breaking down Reactions to Zionism.

Rebecca links to an impressively troubling video from a college far, far away...

YMedad points out just how off the wall some people are.

BEAJ has a great letter that the left in Michigan is up in arms about. I first saw this via Best of the Web, but this is too good.

Amishav knows what a turb is, though his quest still remains.

And from a few days back... JustPassingThrough notes an interesting line, and Neil Harris points out a story in which people acted properly.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The National Gazette

I've been wanting to post about this for a while, and plan on writing more about it later, but a wonderful idea which I hope people will check out and be a part of: Coming soon...This [I'm looking for a word that is escaping me] is the brainchild of many people led by Dan Croak of the InterGalacticJester. More to come later - meanwhile, check out the layout (really nice).

The Chafetz Chaim Dance

(Hat tip: Rafi G)

I was reading an article Rafi G pointed to which is very interesting, and then saw this tidbit. Considering I'm about to go to a good friend's wedding, and this dance is certain to be done...
Dancing Hafetz Haim disco

In traditional Haredi society, sports and physical exercise are considered Hellenistic and are treated very suspiciously. One of the reasons why going to weddings is so popular in the Haredi society, Hakak says, is the opportunity to dance and release energy.

One of the most fascinating stories in Hakak's studies is about the "Hafetz Haim dance," which began to be seen at Haredi weddings about 10 years ago. The Hafetz Haim was one of the most important Haredi rabbis of the 20th century. According to Hakak, the dance originated in the Hafetz Haim Yeshiva in the United States. What characterized it was that the participants moved about separately in a more personal style that included many body movements. In other words, under the name of the Hafetz Haim, they danced disco (without mixing the sexes, of course).

Hakak: "The significant thing is the dissolution of the circle of dancers. The circle symbolized the community. Here you have a form of dancing in which everyone has his own movements. That's amazing." Hakak relates that the rabbis objected strenuously to the revolutionary and dangerous new dance style, but despite their efforts the girls and women, at least, continue to dance in Hafetz Haim style.
Heh. It would be a lot of fun to bring this piece to the wedding... :)

Da Kirsch's Mock Draft

Longtime readers of this blog and any friend of mine know that I am a huge sports fan - and the NFL is the greatest sports league on this planet. This weekend is the NFL Draft, and I know of no better draft expert than my good friend, Yehuda "Da" Kirschenbaum. He has spent the last few months obsessing over the draft, reading every tidbit, finding every mock draft out there, and breaking down the players to figure it all out - and when I was curious who he thought my Cleveland Browns were drafting, he started rattling off all the picks until theirs. I asked him to write a mock draft of the first round, and here it is...

1) Texans - Reggie Bush, RB, USC*:
The most gifted player in the draft since Mike Vick will go #1. [The Texans would be wise to trade him - look how the Chargers did...]
2) Saints - Mario Williams, DE, North Carolina State*:
Would be the first pick if not for Reggie.
3) Titans - Matt Leinart, QB, USC:
Reunites with his old offensive coordinater in Norm Chow (71tds-15ints under Chow).
4) Jets - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia:
The Premier OL in the draft. The Jets need a lot of help and should start on the line.
5) Packers - A.J. Hawk, OLB, Ohio State:
With Mario off the board they take the next best defender - not too shabby.
6) 49ers - Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland*:
They need to get OL help but with Ferguson gone they get the second best athelete in the draft.
7) Raiders - Vince Young, QB, Texas*:
Al Davis must have done something for Young to have fallen to him. The steal of the draft.
8) Bills - Broderick Bunkley, DT, Florida State:
They need interior help badly and Bunkley gives them the better pass-rush option then Ngata.
9) Lions - Michael Huff, DB, Texas:
After drafting on offense the last 3 years they take one of the most versitle players in the draft.
10) Cardinals - Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt:
His stock has risen immensely. A little risky here, but they need a QB of the future.
11) Rams - Jimmy Williams, DB, Virginia Tech:
A physical DB who can play corner or saftey, a hard hitter and great tackler.
12) Browns - Manny Lawson, DE/LB, North Carolina State:
This year's Demarcus Ware will fit in great in Romeo Crennel's defense.
13) Ravens - Winston Justice, OT, USC*:
They draft Ogden's successor while shoring up their line problems.
14) Eagles - Chad Jackson, WR, Florida*:
Had great workout numbers and shot up draft boards. With the departure of Owens, they go for a reciever.
15) Broncos - Deangelo Williams, RB, Memphis:
They need to fill the void at running back and the combo of Bell and Dayne isn't the answer.
16) Dolphins - Tye Hill, CB, Clemson:
A cover corner who makes up for his size (5'9") with great skills and a 40-inch vertical.
17) Vikings - Ernie Sims, OLB, Florida State*:
They would love to trade down to get a QB, but they get Sims who has great athleticism to solidify their defense.
18) Cowboys - Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon*:
A massive player who is a force in the run defense and a great fit for Parcell's 3-4 scheme.
19) Chargers - Chad Greenway, OLB, Iowa:
With the rumors about Donnie Edwards they go for Greeenway and form one the best and youngest LB corps.
20) Chiefs - Jonathan Joseph, CB, USC*:
Plays the run well for a corner and is great in man to man, a good place to start for Herman Edwards.
21) Patriots - Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota*:
They have needs elsewhere and Belichick always pulls a rabbit out of a hat, so can go many ways here.
22) 49ers - Eric Winston, OT, UM:
They focus on offense in the first round again and get Alex Smith's new best friend.
23) Buccaneers - Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State*:
They get a receiver who can stretch the field and take some pressure off of Simms.
24) Bengals - Mercedes Lewis, TE, UCLA:
A big target with good hands gives them another red-zone option and elevates the passing game to the next level.
25) Giants - Sinorice Moss, WR, Miami (FL):
The type of reciever they lacked all year is also an excellent return man. Might look to add on defensive line but would be a reach.
26) Bears - Jason Allen, DB, Tennessee:
They fill their need in the secondary with a physical back that eventually become a safety.
27) Panthers - Lendale White, RB, USC*:
They need a back that can carry the load were 7-1 when rushing over 100 yards last year.
28) Jaguars - Ashton Youboty, CB, Ohio State*:
Can develop into a great corner and will help solidify one of the league's top defenses.
29) Jets - Kamerion Wimbley, DE, Florida State:
They use the pick they got from Abraham to get his replacement. I think they should draft Nick Mangold and solidify their line.
30) Colts - Joseph Addai, RB, LSU:
With the departure of James their biggest need is at RB and Addai is a fast and powerful back.
31) Seahawks - Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Boston College:
With the addition of Julian Peterson they add depth to their DL and KIWI can develop into a star in the future.
32) Steelers - Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State:
They need to focus on getting replacements for Bettis and Randle El but they would be reaching at those positions so they grab one of the safest picks here in Mangold.

Sorry

For reasons unknown to me, the posts that should have a continue link don't, while others do. Just click on the timestamp after "by Ezzie" to continue any post.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 4/26

I'm leaving all the Yom HaShoah posts out of this roundup, sorry...

Daled Amos has a number of good links as usual in his weekly roundup. Many of you have thanked me for doing these roundups - thanks for that. I'm glad so many people are enjoying them and getting something out of them - that was [and is] the point, really. A couple people told me they feel that it really boosted the readership of some blogs by a ton - I think that's reflective more of the blog itself than the roundups. If people consistently like what you write, they'll keep coming back.

Two cases in point that were mentioned to me: Chana & Irina. Firstly, Irina had a nice readership before I ever went there; second, her reformatting helped a lot of people who simply had trouble reading it before though they wanted to. But most importantly, her posts are extremely thoughtful. People enjoy that, and they keep going back. Chana, on the other hand, likely had few readers when I first read her. But I wasn't the only one who linked to her, and there's good reason for that. Her posts are not only extremely well-written, they are also incredibly passionate - and then you realize she's 17 on top of that. Irina, Chana, and the others are the ones bringing their readers in because of what they write - not me. And if I did help a bit, wonderful - I'm happy to have done so.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm always looking for more good blogs to read, and I'm slowly realizing that some of my readers have blogs and aren't already among the ones I already read, so please - let me know in the comments about your blog so I can check it out!

Okay, and now, on to the roundup:

Quote of the Day:
Dave found one.
Joke of the Day:
Jack has an oldie but goodie. Always applicable.
Poem of the Day:
Shira's, to her son and many of us.
Responding to morons:
SoccerDad gets a few, ElderofZiyon a few more, and JoeSettler slaps a big one. Ze'ev is back and his last 3 posts are all top-notch, including this sharp one. Jameel is ticked and wants some space, too.
Some great writing:
Nephtuli breaks down some conventional wisdom on Roe, and S. questions it in the first place regarding Judaism.
Good, solid ranting:
Robbie on math, EK on Cleveland sports, and RenReb answering the questions she gets.
Beautiful thank-yous:
Treppenwitz to his company and Israel, and a guest at BeyondBT about her now religious children.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Counting

Today is the 12th day in the counting of the Omer.

As I write this, my blog is recording hit number 40,000. Thanks to all of you, this blog is a decently well-trafficked blog. When I was writing consistently before Pesach and before Elianna was born, I was averaging about 350 hits a day - about 700 page views. So, after nearly 11 months, some slower than others, this blog has finally reached 40,ooo.

Putting this into proper perspective... that is just 2/3 of 1% of the number of people who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Here's a thought: If a blogger were to average about 3,300 hits a day - meaning a reader every 25 seconds or so - it would take five years to reach 6,000,000 hits. The Nazis managed to murder that same amount of people in about five years.

Think about that.

Remembering... Who?

There are a number of beautiful, heart-rending posts in the blogosphere regarding Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Rememberance Day - which is today. Irina has a roundup of a number of excellent ones within her own post. Jewlicious has an excellent post as well, which is where this picture is taken from.
For me, however, there is little to write. I have always had some trouble relating to the Holocaust, at least to the extent I see others doing so. A family friend helps run Yad Vashem, and though we spent hours there when I was young - and I remember clearly that visit - I still don't have that *connection*. I remember spending time at the Holocaust Museum on a school trip and being thoroughly disappointed - we only had about an hour to be there, and I was barely out of the first room when we had to leave. When I went to Yad Vashem again as a post-high school student, we had a little time, but again - not enough.

But the primary reason I think I am so distant from the Holocaust is simply this: My family wasn't there. All of my grandparents were born in the United States. I think I may have had great-grandparents born in America. We are - thankfully - a family without tragic stories from the past, without lost parents and siblings, without recollections of atrocities. The closest anyone in my family got to the Holocaust was my grandfather, who served in the Air Force Army in World War II. Without that personal connection, it just seems more difficult to relate to that which happened.

But I think that this is the point. As the last survivors fade away from this world, it will become harder and harder for all of us to relate to that which happened. The Holocaust deniers aren't waiting - they have been pushing their lies for decades already. We must - absolutely must - make sure that the atrocities which happened are never forgotten. Those memories, those images, those tragic stories must always remain an integral lesson to the world, to the Jewish nation, to each of us individually.

Never again? Never forget.

Kosher Cooking Carnival #5

The 5th edition of the KCC is up at Me-Ander - go check it out! She's also looking for hosts for #6, and from experience, I can assure you it's easy, so please volunteer.

Past editions, for those in search of more recipes: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 4/25

I'm a bit too lazy, and it's a bit too late, to do a regular roundup here, but I'm in the process of looking to add more blogs to my reading list. There are a few blogs I'm reading that aren't on the 'roll yet - partly because I keep forgetting, partly because I wait until I'm reading something consistently before adding it.

Please, everyone, suggest good blogs for me to check out more often - especially your own, if you don't see yourself on my blogroll (yet)!!

Meanwhile, a few quick hits from some of the blogs that I've read the longest...
I knew I loved reading Shoshana's blogs, and I knew why BeyondBT is such a great blog, especially for BT's and the issues they face. Put them together, and... well, read it yourself.

When Jack gets serious, listen up. It's always deep and poignant. Yom HaShoah.

David and his wife celebrate 16 years. I should have Elianna learn from his daughter. :)

Stacey goes back to Cleveland... just minutes away from where I grew up. Nice.

Classic RenReb. Lots of good points within the rant, as always.

DovBear breaks down the problem with Jewish education in succint fashion.

Jameel on Yom HaShoah and names.
Enjoy!!

Logistics, Logistics

Warning: This post is basically me sounding out some plans for myself. You might find it interesting, you might find it exceedingly boring; you might find it mouth-watering, you might want to get repaid for the 10 minutes you just wasted. I take no responsibility for any issues you have if you somehow finish this post. For those in the neighborhood, don't be shy - you can come say hi! ;) [AHEM]

Okay, so here's the truth. It's doable. And I'm not even all that worried. The only problem that I can forsee is setting it up in time, but if we do most of it at night, we should be okay...

See, here's the issue. After a nice 3-1/2 weeks at my in-laws in Monsey, we returned early Friday morning to our apartment. We're not quite done, but we've organized where to put baby Elianna's clothes and stuff, and have cleaned up some of the mess, and I can now start working on this week's task: Turning a one-bedroom apartment into a nice place to host a kiddush, because that's what we're doing this week. Not only are we having a kiddush, we're also having meals at our apartment for our family members who will be coming in, including 2 sets of parents and 2 siblings with their spouses and 5 kids. In other words...
Friday night: Meal for 10 adults, while trying to keep 6 kids under the age of 5 calm. Set up for kiddush.

Shabbos day: Kiddush for up to about 80 people, followed by another meal for the people from Friday night.
Good thing we're not real NYers trying to impress everyone, because it allows us to keep everything simple. My parents are coming in Thursday afternoon, so I've already asked my mom to make a couple potato kugels for the meals and her famous chocolate custard cake for a dessert. If we're lucky, she'll bring her famous - and secret recipe, even from us - Mounds for the kiddush. My mother-in-law already has gefilte fish for both meals, and said she'll be making a dessert, too. My sister-in-law who won't be coming is still baking a number of things for the kiddush; hopefully Serach will bake a few challos tomorrow for the meals. The day meal will be after the kiddush, so it will be lighter and easier - probably a chicken/salami salad (chunks of grilled chicken, salami, bag of lettuce, a cut-up tomato, a cut-up cucumber, and a small can of mandarin oranges - stolen from OD) after the fish along with potato kugel and cold cuts and leftover chulent from the kiddush. The total prep time for that meal is about 5 minutes, assuming you chop veggies really slowly.

Friday night will be a bit trickier, but still not too bad. After the fish, we'll probably go with "SIL's salad", which is basically lettuce, scallions, onion-garlic croutons, and craisins with a really good sweet dressing. [We also use the same dressing for the chicken salad.] Not sure what the other items would be. Probably spicy potatoes (recipe from Verv), maybe pasta and onions (Serach), lemon-curry cutlets (Imma), and the potato kugel (Mom).

The kiddush is the biggest part. For now, it looks like we'll be making a bunch of fruit platters, have a little candy, a number of cakes, and a few crockpots of cholent. One friend already offered her crockpot, and I'm assuming I can get one from SIL/OD (right?! :) ), and we have one, so I just need one or two more (ours is small and the cover doesn't fit right). Fruit platters are a cinch to my brother and myself, as is making chulent for a huge amount of people; the tricky part is the cakes... and space.

Originally, I was worried about refrigerator space - with as many as 40-50 people in the apartment at a time (thank God for small favors - Chofetz Chaim finishes davening about 35 minutes before Lander), the drinks must be cold. But my mother had a brilliant idea - take our washer, fill it with bags of ice, and put all the sodas in there. After Shabbos, we hook it up, turn it on, and spin out the water. As it is, we're moving the washer out of the main room into the kitchen to use as a counter and moving the small table in the kitchen out to use as a ...well, table.

Hmmm. Looks like this really could work. Now where will we get cakes from?!

Monday, April 24, 2006

KCC #5 Reminder

Batya says that the 5th Kosher Cooking Carnival is simmering on the stove, so send in your recipes [or better yet, post them and send the links] to shilohmuse at yahoo dot com as soon as possible!

The Missing Hero

The Lander Chronicle's chief editor asked me to write something up for this edition of the Chronicle, even though I am taking a grand total of 0 courses on campus [heh]. I agreed to, if I had the time, about 3 months ago. And 2 months ago. And a few weeks ago. And last week. And Saturday night. So, here goes...

Some of this may be familiar. I have borrowed much from past posts I've written on the subject.

It never ceases to fascinate me the way in which history is written. History is written by people far off into the future, writing about events happening in the present; events which were shaped by the actions of people in the past. Often, true genius, bravery, or heroism is not recognized until long after the actions have taken place - and more often, those brave heroes or visionaries will tell you there was really no choice in the matter. Many of the greatest decisions and actions in history were given scarcely a thought, with the circumstances forcing the hands of those who were to become heroes.

I think that it is for this reason that true visionaries are rarely recognized as heroes. Visionaries often shape the way in which history will unfold, thinking a number of levels and steps ahead of everyone around them. Their actions are seen as reactions to the events which surround them, when in fact the events which surround them are reactions to them. In some instances, a visionary will make a seemingly rash or misguided decision - and yet, after some short-term grumbling, this decision will be viewed in retrospect as a wise, even brilliant, tactical maneuver.

Ariel Sharon was such a visionary. Victor Davis Hanson put it well before the disengagement from Gaza:
"Brilliant tactician, lousy strategist." So goes the conventional wisdom about the old bulldozer Ariel Sharon.

But that assessment is exactly backward.

Sharon's strategic insight has always proved more impressive than his messy tactical operations. For now, keep that in mind — even as we seem to watch divided Israelis yell at each other while united Palestinians gloat about expelling the Zionists.

Gen. Sharon's counterattack across the Suez Canal in October 1973 during the Yom Kippur war was also seen as reckless, in its disregard for logistics and lines of communication. His 1982 army that invaded Lebanon proved tactically lax in allowing allied Christian militias to commit atrocities.

But Sharon's long-term thinking? That's another story altogether. Trapping the Egyptian 3rd Army in the Sinai, and then showing the world that Cairo itself was defenseless in the path of an Israeli armored division, was a strategic masterpiece aimed at ending the 1973 war outright to Israel's advantage.

The march into Lebanon forced Yasser Arafat out of the Middle East for a decade — and he might have been discredited for good as a defeated terrorist had third parties not escorted him to Tunis or brought him back under the Oslo accords.
In case you are still not convinced, think about it this way. Ariel Sharon, right-wing hawk, runs for election on a platform of providing security. In the past, he was a huge supporter of building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. During the campaign, he continually mocks Labor candidate Amram Mitzna's plans to disengage from parts of Gaza, and promises to do no such thing. After winning handily, he then proceeds to strengthen the walls on and near the "Green Line", against the wishes of settlers who feel they are being cut off and out of the future borders of the State of Israel. He promotes disengagement, against his own Likud party platform. He goes along with the Roadmap, strengthening Mahmoud Abbas - but keeping him weak enough that he's essentially worthless. He removes, to the sorrow of millions of Jews worldwide - whether they agreed or disagreed with the planned disengagement - all of the Jewish communities in Gaza. He is thrown out of the Likud, and immediately establishes a new party, Kadima, which would draw from the center and center-left of the political spectrum. The party is popular, and threatens to grab well over 30 seats in the upcoming elections - polling as high as 45 out of a possible 120. In Palestinian elections, Hamas handily beats Fatah, grabbing well over 50% of the seats on the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Was anything in the above paragraph a surprise? Not if you are Ariel Sharon. This was all perfectly in line with Ariel Sharon's own prophetic dream...

At the height of this intifada, amidst daily suicide bombings and shootings, Sharon promised an embattled country not peace - but security. He appoints Bibi Netanyahu, his only possible threat from the right - and a weak one at that - to the Finance Minister position, and allows him to revamp the Israeli economy, with much success. He builds a coalition, not of the right, his obvious allies - but of the center-left, establishing that he is not the hawk he once was. He builds up the security wall, knowing that it will reduce terror attacks, further reducing the country's wish for a right-wing leader: With less terror attacks, there is less need for a hawk.

Sharon then continues his shift to the center: Not conceding on security, he continues targeting those terrorist masterminds he can - but accepting Abbas as a peace partner, establishing the Palestinian leadership as an entity that even the former hawk recognizes. He carries out the disengagement, further entrenching himself in the center, becoming the "hero" of the left. At the same time, the Palestinians rush into Gaza and destroy what is left, tainting their victim image in the eyes of the world. Labor, sick of being a weak partner, chucks out perennial loser Shimon Peres and inserts socialist Amir Peretz in his place. The Likud throws Sharon out, and he quickly creates a strong Kadima, including Peres; so strong, in fact, that the Israeli Knesset is expected to have less than 40 seats that are to the left. Fatah is completely unable to reign in Hamas nor control Hamas-run Gaza, and corruption accusations run amok as the Israelis focus on new elections, ignoring the Palestinians completely.

Now, imagine what happens next: Hamas establishes power, and promises not to negotiate with Israel. They promise to build an army, and possibly even close off borders with Israel. They build up a strong - but not overwhelming - force, with support from Iran and Syria, including numerous rockets. Israel watches what is happening, and react accordingly: The right-wing feels it absolutely prudent that the right be part of any coalition. Knowing Sharon will win the election handily, they vote for Likud and other right-wing parties in strong numbers, hoping to force Sharon to choose them as coalition partners. The center-left, meanwhile, reacts to this in obvious fashion: Backing Sharon and Kadima, to make it as little reliant on the right as possible.

Israeli elections are held, with Sharon's Kadima grabbing a huge amount of seats, perhaps 42. The Likud grabs around 16, with the right-wing and religious parties picking up another 30. The left and Arab parties have less than 40 seats, possibly as low as 30.* Sharon has cemented the strongest center-right Knesset in decades, with almost 3/4 of its members either in Kadima or to its right. Sharon warns that any and all attacks will be viewed as a declaration of war by an elected government of the Palestinian people. The moral argument of the Palestinians has been removed: They are no longer under "occupation."

* To put this into perspective... In actuality, the Arab parties grabbed 9 seats, Meretz took 5, and Labor holds 20 - for a grand total of 34 seats, despite a much weaker Ehud Olmert as Kadima's leader. With Ariel Sharon at the head, it is logical to assume that a few of those Labor seats would have gone to Sharon, as would have some from the right.

Hamas threatens to carry out attacks if their demands are not meant; Sharon vows to respond with the full force of the Israeli Army in the event of an attack. The ante keeps being upped, with threats and vows of retaliation on both sides... and then all hell breaks loose. A terror attack is carried out somewhere in Israel - and Sharon keeps his promise. With over 2/3 of the Israeli government voting "Yes", he responds with full military power: Not the door-to-door combat of Operation Defensive Shield, but rather the full force of the Israel Defense Forces - planes, helicopters, and tank battalions. A government of terrorists can no longer say that the terrorists are not under their control. Rather, the attacks perpetrated on the citizens of Israel are by representatives of the Palestinian government - and cannot be accepted.

The terrorist infrastructure is completely destroyed, as are Palestinian hopes for further Israeli concessions. A new Palestinian government, devoid of terrorists, elected by a shattered people, agrees to final status talks, discarding the "right of return" and the hopes of a capital in East Jerusalem, accepting instead Gaza and substantial portions of the West Bank as their new country's borders. Ariel Sharon is hailed Israel's greatest leader since the times of the Bais Hamikdash (Temple), and Israel is finally able to live in peace.

All this, Ariel Sharon saw in his dreams. If only he had been a true prophet, he would have foreshadowed the one, fatal flaw in his plans: It requires an Ariel Sharon to carry it out. No other Israeli leader could possibly continue that which Sharon began - certainly not Ehud Olmert. Had Ariel Sharon forseen his own demise, and somehow been able to counteract it, we could have had a truly secure Israel, with a true peace, and with true borders. Instead, we now have a country with a dying leader, a broken "peace process," and a ruined Palestinian government that has nobody with which to deal. All we have now are shattered dreams.

Even a visionary can't always see the future.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Home Sweet Home

We are home, after spending the last 3-1/2 weeks at my in-laws, which means we just finished our first Shabbos at home with Elianna! [But of course, no pics, because we don't have a camera... :( ]

We're in the process of reorganizing quite a bit, but sometime soon (tomorrow?) I should finally be able to get back to blogging - something that I was unable to do much at my in-laws with their Internet connection a bit haywire.

Meanwhile, Lebron James started his playoff career with a triple-double - the only person other than Magic Johnson to do so. But yeah, I'm sure he's overwhelmed. :) Go Cavs!!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Sad Story

I didn't want to post anything negative (or much of anything) over Pesach, but this story simply cannot be ignored. Jewschool first brought it to the attention of the J-blogosphere* and I read it by AbbaGav and IsraellyCool.
Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem residents demonstrated in the capital Friday, for the second day in a row, to protest the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox man suspected of killing his baby son, Israel Radio reported.

Protesters on Friday set trash cans ablaze on Thursday and Friday, blocking roads in the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Meah Shearim neighborhood. They also threw garbage and rocks at passing cars and screamed "Nazis" at police officers.
Lest you think they are protesting the arrest of an innocent man...
Yisrael Vales, 19, has admitted to slamming his 3-month-old son Rephael against a wall and attacking him numerous times, saying the baby wouldn't let him sleep. Rephael died Monday.
Disgusting, plain and simple. Dave and Gavriel put it more eloquently than I could, so check them out.

* Mobius spent much of the post bashing the Orthodox J-bloggers for not writing about this and condemning it. As the others noted, and as S. (On the Main Line) and Chaim (Life-of-Rubin) noted in the comments, many blogs simply don't discuss everything - and most simply didn't see the story. I didn't hear about it until last night, primarily because I haven't read much of anything since Monday - and that would likely be the case for most Orthodox bloggers.

That's Not Matzah!

The latest Ben-ism, special for Passover.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Important Message For My Readers

I sent this via e-mail to many of you, but I know I don't have most of the people I read or who read me in my contacts on Outlook, so...

I just wanted to take a moment and wish a chag kasher v’sameach (a joyful and kosher holiday) to the J-blogging world. Make sure to spend this Pesach enjoying yourselves – not by being too neurotic about planning something fun, but by just having fun. Don’t spend the chag thinking, “Oh, this would be an awesome story to blog” – enjoy the moments.

[Now, when you get back to blogging, if you happen to remember them… :) ]

Chag Sameach, and L’Shana Haba B’Yerushalayim!
Serach, Ezzie, & Elianna Goldish
SerandEz (andEl?!) :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Another Blogger Mazel Tov!

Rafi G of Life in Israel and his wife have a new baby boy! He's also looking for ideas for a Pesach (Passover)-themed name, but already has a son named Moshe. Go over and give your suggestions and Mazel Tov!

A-Z Meme

I've been tagged by Chana for this one, and it's pretty interesting, so...

Accent:
To my ears, none. Most people can't guess where I'm from just by talking to me, though they assume either the Midwest or South, so I guess it's something along those lines. To some extent I'm an accent copier - I adopt the accent of whomever I'm speaking to just a bit. I'm not sure if it's because it makes them more comfortable or just that I'm affected by what I hear, but I've always found it interesting when I notice myself doing it.
Booze:
Not a big drinker - I would need to drink way too much to get drunk, so it's not too fun or economical for me. But I have a few bottles of Canadian Club and a bottle of 15-year Balvenie Doublewood on the shelf, along with a few other bottles (some empty). We have a lot of guests, so if there's a reason to have a l'chaim, a lot gets drunk at once. Beers I like in general are Corona, Heineken, and a few others.
Chore I Hate:
Anything that needs to be done "right now".
Dogs/Cats:
Never had, never wanted. Never understood why people do, unless they're lonely.
Essential Electronics:
Laptop with a DVD player. Normal household electronics. Toaster oven. Digital camera (sob). Everything else is pretty much a bonus...
Favorite Perfume/Cologne:
Whatever Serach wears, I guess. I don't wear cologne - never liked the concept, or the smell.
Gold & Silver:
What's my last name again? Oh right, duh. I don't really wear anything made of either, though Serach has a few things that are white-gold which I like. I'm a diamond/crystal guy, myself, I think. Or white-gold and diamonds. Or something. Not really sure - depends on what it is, I guess...
Hometown:
Do I have to answer this? Ugh. Okay... temporarily Queens, N** Y***. But we're leaving over the summer, God willing. Originally from Cleveland, final destination Israel, with stops so far in Milwaukee, Israel, and Queens.
Insomnia:
Well, I can't really ever sleep. Unless I'm completely exhausted, falling asleep is a near impossibility (hence my post times). But I'm not generally tired, and function better than most people by averaging about 4-5 hours a night. I've gone 69 hours without sleep once, and pull 2-days straight all the time. I'm not sure if that makes me an insomniac, though...
Job Title:
Father, Blogger. Student, when I feel like it.
Kids:
Elianna! :)
Living Arrangements:
1-bedroom apartment, nice size. Eat-in kitchen, long and decently wide living room/dining room area, full bathroom, lots of closets. That's pretty much it. Enough room that we've had 3 (4?) sleeping guests with no problem at all, and 30 or so people for a birthday party.
Most Admired Trait
I don't like this one, can I skip it? My mother recently told me that it's my ability to get along with everybody. Other traits people have said to me... honesty; calm; ability to keep a secret; math/logic; brains in general; listening to people's issues, discussing/helping to solve them. I've always felt that a lot of those go hand in hand with one another, and I don't think most of them are all that impressive - is honesty "impressive"? It shouldn't be. Note: Some of the above are talents, not traits (same issue Chana had).
Number of Sexual Partners:
One.
Overnight Hospital Stays:
First night of Elianna's life... but I was in the lobby, so I'm not sure that counts. Perhaps another times when I was born.
Phobia:
Not sure... used to be heights, but now that's only true if I lean out over an unguarded cliff. If there's a good railing, or I'm climbing a mountain path, I love it.
Quote:
So many to choose from, but I have three favorites.
  1. "Be yourself, because the people who care don't matter, and the people who matter don't care." - Serach, on the phone, when we'd started dating.
  2. "Honesty is a hard attribute to find/when we all want to seem like/we've got it all figured out. Well let me be the first to say/that I don't have a clue/I don't have all the answers.../Ain't gonna pretend that I do/Just trying.../to find my way/the best that I know how." - Lifehouse, Sick Cycle Carousel [forgot the song name]
  3. "I wanted to change the world, but I realized it was too large of a task for one person, so I tried to change my community. That was also too hard, so I tried to change my family. That was also too hard, so I decided to try and change myself. And though it was very hard, I finally changed myself. And once I changed myself, I discovered my family changed, the community changed, and the entire world changed."
Religion:
Judaism. Not whatever GH is peddling these days. ;)
Siblings:
OD Brother, 31, married to SIL with 2 kids. Sister V(ervel) Y(eya), married to S(ecret) A(gent) M(an) with 3 kids.
Time I Usually Wake Up:
Varies too much - there is no 'usually'. Does it count if I never went to sleep?
Unusual Talent:
Ability to learn mounds of new material or do vast amount of work at high level under extreme time constraints and high pressure - and succeed. It's unusual in that I do it so often, and while I honestly think most people can do it, my friends think I'm... a) nuts b) talented and c) they don't think anyone else could do it - which makes it 'unusual'.
Vegetable I Refuse To Eat:
Most of them. :)
Worst Habit:
The aforementioned pushing things to the last second. Procrastination, some people call it. Laziness, from others.
X-Rays:
Never had. Always liked Cyclops of the X-Men... (from the arcade game. Never read comics.)
Yummy Foods I Make:
Hard to gauge, because I worked as a cook. I guess the favorites are the basics and a few others - chocolate chip cookies, pizza, macaroni & sauce, tuna burgers, pineapple chicken, breaded cutlets, lemon curry cutlets, sweet potato soup, chulent, and a bunch of other chicken recipes (honey apricot, "layah's", Coca-Cola, random concoctions...).
Zodiac Sign:
Leo the Lion.
Who to tag, with Pesach in less than 72 hours...? How about CharlieHall, Jameel, Cruisin' Mom, Yitzchak, and... AbbaGav!

Monday, April 10, 2006

"I Shall Call Him Moses"

No, no, I'm not talking about Gwyneth Paltrow's new baby. Serach is currently watching the new version of the "Ten Commandments" which is on ABC. I saw about 90 seconds of it, and it made me wonder: Couldn't they have gotten better special effects for the burning bush than the ones they had 40 years ago?! Geez, that bush was less lit up than a Christmas tree.

But the movie also brought a tinge of sadness to me. For years, growing up, my family used to love watching the Ten Commandments. It was an annual comedy show, with classics such as Moses wearing a watch and the like. Who knew they had watches?! How does that affect history, O Wise Men? Who didn't enjoy watching the green smoke cause people to grab their own necks and choke themselves? And you had to love that "hail" - that was just incredible special effects.

Best of all was the favorite line of our family, particularly my brother OD. Bathya, upon finding Moses in the river, proclaims:
I shall call him Moses, for I drew him from the water!
Um, no offense and all, but... why not just call him "Drew"?

I'm going to miss the old version.

French Surrender

In a completely unsuprising development, the French gave in again today:

PARIS — President Jacques Chirac on Monday threw out part of a youth labor law that triggered massive protests and strikes, bowing to intense pressure from students and unions and dealing a blow to his loyal premier in a bid to end the crisis.

Unions celebrated what they called "a great victory," and also were deciding whether to keep up the protests. The top two student union UNEF and FIDL said they would press on with demonstrations Tuesday across France.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who devised the law, had faced down protesters for weeks, insisting that its most divisive provision — a so-called "first job contract" — was necessary to reduce high unemployment rates among French youths by making it easier for companies to hire and fire young workers.

It's quite a shame, and sure to keep France on the path to economic disaster. Furthermore, the main reason Chirac gave in was to stop the riots and protests - and yet, this is not going to happen, as it said above:
Unions celebrated what they called "a great victory," and also were deciding whether to keep up the protests. The top two student union UNEF and FIDL said they would press on with demonstrations Tuesday across France.
All the French government has accomplished is reinforcing the same lesson they always seem to do - surrender only begets further demands.
UNEF leader Bruno Julliard told AP Television News that the students "want to see how we can take advantage of this power struggle that is now in our favor to garner new victories."
This is simply a pathetic decision and yet another example of the French being unable to make the proper choices in difficult situations. Clearly, the French not only need to learn economics, but history as well.

Two Sides Of A Coin

Check out this post by Ben Avuyah. (Hat tip: Chana) I think it's a brilliant, and fascinating, piece of writing.

Scared Silent

*I started to write this post, and it got erased. Rather than rewrite the whole thing, I'm going to write it short and to the point.

I didn't want to write about the BoroPark riots any more than I already have, but Orthonomics and Romach, among others, brought up a troubling point: We have not heard much from the Rabbinic authorities in Brooklyn regarding what happened, in particular condemning the outrageous actions of those involved.

Sephardi Lady:
I am so disturbed by the silence and even more concerned by those who justify the riots, thereby excusing the property damage (one police cruiser was severely damaged, one was completely destroyed) and uncivilized, animalistic behavior. So far we have seen one public letter from Rabbi Yacov Horowitz, a menahel from Monsey and I have heard that HaModia published a repudiation of the riots. Considering that these riots were seen the world over on national television, it should go without saying that this repudiation lacks a punch. I am sure there is a great amount of condemnation taking place in Boro Park, but the rest of the world needs to know that the parents and leaders of that community are upset too.
Or, as Romach put it:
But here's the important question: Where are the Rabbonim of Boro Park? Where are the letters? Or are they speaking up within the community? Why do we have to hear publicly only from a menahel in Monsey?!
Many are quick to assume that their silence is a tacit approval of what happened, or at least a lack of outrage over the terrible actions that were committed in BoroPark last week. This is a legitimate outlook on the situation which raises serious questions - but perhaps it's something completely different.

What if the Rabbonim of BoroPark are simply scared? Could it be that with all that has happened over the past number of years in the Jewish community, Rabbonim are afraid to speak up? Whether it's fear for their own well-being, their family, their shul, or simply their position, perhaps they're deciding that speaking up is not worth the risks involved.

While this is pure speculation, I think it has a lot of merit. The other logical option is that which was stated above: Perhaps they condone the rioting or don't truly condemn that which happened. But I find this difficult to believe - could it be that they truly believe that such a spectacle was somehow a positive occurence? I think not. Instead, I wonder if they're running scared....

Which may be even scarier for the rest of us.

Click Here...

...to continue. For a while now, I've had the "click here to continue" link to break up longer posts, particularly roundups. Well, thanks to Daled Amos, I no longer will have to have that link even on posts that do not continue beyond what's on the front page. Here's the link he sent me - you may want to try it yourself! Hopefullly, this will make it less confusing for some, and less annoying for all, while making the blog look just a bit better. Thanks, DA!

A slight kink that I can't avoid: For some reason, some old posts that do not continue have the link, while others that do continue do not. For the former, ignore it; for the latter, just click on the permalink underneath to continue the post.

Wonderful Neighbors in the Blogosphere

This post is only part of what I want to do, but it's the easier part, so I'm doing it first.

Serach and I were flattered and amazed at all the wonderful wishes we received upon the birth of Elianna, and wanted to thank everyone. Some people wrote comments, some e-mailed, some called, and a number of bloggers spread the word in typical blog fashion: Via posts of their own. One friend called and said, "I opened up Hirhurim today, and there was a post wishing you a Mazel Tov, so... Mazel Tov!! That's pretty impressive, ya know?"

Yes, I know, and am flattered. And Gil wasn't the only one: From bloggers I've met [SoccerDad and BeyondBT] to one I almost met [PsychoToddler], from music lovers [Chaim] to sweet poets [Shira]. There were at least two rebbetzins [RenReb & Ezer K'Negdo], a couple students [Irina & I'm Haaretz, PhD], a pair of Haveil Havalims [Irina & R' Chaim HaQoton], and a cooking carnival [Sarah]. And who could forget the pundit [Yitzchak], the mothers of children [Cruisin' Mom & Pearl], the "crazy settler" [Jameel ;) ], and of course, the pundit settler mother [WestBankMama] ?!

Not us. So, from Serach, myself, and of course, Elianna...

Thank you all so very much. We truly appreciate your kind words, blessings, and heartfelt good wishes. We're incredibly flattered that so many people came by to wish mazel tov and congratulations once SIL posted it, from the first commenter (the mighty DovBear!) to some delurking readers, from old friends to first-time visitors. We wish there were a way to repay all your kindness and friendship, but for now we will just continue to try and be good friends and blog-neighbors.

Y'all have an open invitation to SerandEz [andElianna!] - and I don't just mean the blog. Just drop us an e-mail or call so there's food ready when you walk in, okay?

PS If I left anybody out, I'm deeply sorry! Please let me know!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Haveil Havalim #65 is up!! (Woah!)

Haveil Havalim #65 is up at the IgNoble Experiment. Irina did a brilliant job - wow. As there will be no HH next week, and Pesach is coming up this week, she made sure to put in a lot more than normal - and managed to find dozens of blogs that most people have rarely if ever come across. Incredible.

A quick definition of HH:
Haveil Havalim is the carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Soccer Dad. The term “Haveil Havalim”, which means "Vanity of Vanities", is from Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon. Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other “excesses” and realized that it was nothing but “hevel”, or in English, “vanities.”
Check it out!

Last week: I'm Haaretz, PhD hosted #64.

Next week: There will be no HH next week - it's Pesach!! Chag Sameach!!

Technorati tags: , , , , .

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 4/9: Crammin' Time (Again)

Here we go again... I have a midterm this evening. Due to issues mentioned previously (which have NOT been taken care of), and a wonderfully cute new baby, I have only attended this class two times this semester. I bought the book with a friend, but only was able to get said book tonight. I have not slept yet - nor studied yet. I have no clue what I'm supposed to even be studying. Which means I'm going to take a short nap, call a friend after I think he'd be back from davening, find out all the work I owe for this class, learn how to do and do said work, and that will be my "studying".

The only thing saving me is that this course is somewhat of a review course. It's a course that only Touro gives, in an attempt to keep themselves in the Top 5 nationally in CPA passing rates, and is essentially a CPA Review course for parts of two sections of the CPA Exam. Therefore, I've learned most if not all of the material at some point in my college career - it's just a matter of remembering it, which is the tricky part. It also assumes that I learned it well enough the first time. Furthermore, since I missed the previous test, this grade averaged with my next grade will be the grade I receive for the first test; if I bomb this, it hurts me 1.5 times. Of course, if I do well, then I'm in great shape.

Of course, there's also the baby factor, the Pesach factor, the other classes I haven't even started after 2 months factor, the paper I owe from last semester factor, the Touro screwed up more paperwork factor, the senioritis factor, and the "I'm really sick of school and don't ever want to be in a classroom again" factor. [Thank God my other classes consist of 3 directed study courses, an online course, and an internship, when I find one.] Ugh. But, just because... I've got to get to sleep. So here's the roundup!

*Post of the Day*:
Chana's. Talk about powerful... and she was worried about this?!
Just a few others tonight, because of the post above this one:
JoeSettler has a brilliant, and surprising, analysis of the new Defense Minister: Amir Peretz.

Pearl wants to make a seder for bloggers - Heh!

Speaking of... Yitzchak's last line is awesome. :)

Gavriel's got 10 reasons his blogging is gonna slow down.

Sarah hits 3,000 - maybe it's the beautiful pictures? :)
Enjoy!

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