Friday, December 31, 2010

Ponderous Parsha Point...

...okay so - when we last left our heroes The Almighty had instructed Moshe to present himself to the King of Egypt as His messenger and request a three day escape into the wilderness for Bnei Yisroel to pray/sacrifice to G-D. This week the request is denied in triplicate and all manner of makkos ensues.

The thing is...Three Days? Really? Is that what the plan was? As best I recall when the nation ends up leaving they don't plan on coming back. So what's the deal? Is there a grand lie/subterfuge going on here? And if so why? (Also, why at some point does the request change to the more common "let my people go", as in forever?)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Talmud as Business Model?

Today's Freakonomics linked to a really interesting article in Newsweek about how Chinese discuss Jewish business acumen:
Jewish visitors to China often receive a snap greeting when they reveal their religion: “Very smart, very clever, and very good at business,” the Chinese person says. Last year’s Google Zeitgeist China rankings listed “why are Jews excellent?” in fourth place in the “why” questions category, just behind “why should I enter the party” and above “why should I get married?” (Google didn’t publish a "why" category in Mandarin this year.)
Ironically, also today, a friend told me how another friend commented to him that now four guys in the same group of friends have all worked for people who ran various (some still alleged) illegal financial schemes - also, all Jewish. Not sure if those are related, but certainly interesting, and makes you think how there are two ways to go about life.

Do yourself - and more importantly, anyone who will be impacted by you - a favor, and pick the right one.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The IFL on NYT

This is in honor of Da Kirsch, who plays for the Pioneers in the Israel Football League. My mom sent me this video from the New York Times about the league's growing popularity. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ponderous Parsha Point...

...וַיִּפֶן כֹּה וָכֹה, וַיַּרְא כִּי אֵין אִישׁ; וַיַּךְ, אֶת-הַמִּצְרִי, וַיִּטְמְנֵהוּ, בַּחוֹל. -- And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he smote the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand

Rashi -וירא כי אין איש: עתיד לצאת ממנו שיתגייר -- In the future there would not be anybody from this person who would convert

Question - Of course when he looked into the future he didn't see any converts from this person...he was dead, how could he have produced any converts?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ken Robinson on Education (Again)

If you've been reading this blog for a few years, you may recall my favorite video. Here's another, slightly different approach to a related topic - kids' education.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

RIP, Rapid Robert

I think my Dad will appreciate this one. The best piece I've seen on Bob Feller is Joe Posnanski's on SI.
Bob Feller died Thursday in Cleveland of acute leukemia. He was 92 years old. He grew up on a farm in Iowa. He played catch with his Dad. He played baseball for the Cleveland Indians when he was young. And when he was no longer young, he traveled the country promoting baseball and himself and America and all the things he believed in deeply. He signed more autographs, probably, than any man in baseball history — so many that an autograph dealer once joked that a baseball without Feller’s autograph was rarer and more valuable than one with. Bob Feller leaves behind family, friends, a detailed baseball record, countless stories and little confusion about how he felt about things. And he threw a baseball harder than any man who ever lived. At least that’s what my father told me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In My Hat...



...Everybody's looking for G-d. Oh. Oh.
Aint that the reason you came to this KluB. Oh. Oh.
You aint gonna have a chance with Him. No. Oh.
Got a better solution for you now. Oh. Oh.

Just stay with me now. Say the word and you'll grow.
I'll be your teacher. I'll show you the ropes.
You'll see a side of life you've never known.
I can see you growin' now, growin' now.

In a hat, I see you lookin' to me.
In a hat, you fulfill my fantasy.
In a hat.
You'll be screaming no.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat. Yeah. In a hat. Oh yeah.

Some dudes know all the right things to say.
When it comes down to it, they show the way.
Instead of talking let me demonstrate. Yeah.
Get down to business lets learn all day.

Just learn with me now. Say the word and you'll grow.
I'll be your teacher. I'll show you the ropes.
You'll see a side of life you've never known.
I can see you growin' now, growin' now.

In a hat, I see you lookin' to me.
In a hat, you fulfill my fantasy.
In a hat.
You'll be screaming no.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat, you're growin now.
In a hat.

Borsalino. Ay-oh. Come on. Ay-oh. Ay-oh.
Yeah put it on your head, on your head right now. Ay-oh. Ay-oh. Come on.
You'll be looking all right when you turn that brim down.

Just learn with me now. Say the word and you'll grow.
I'll be your teacher. I'll show you the ropes.
You'll see a side of life you've never known.
I can see you growin' now, growin' now.

In a hat, you see how you want to be.
In a hat, you fulfill your fantasy.
In a hat.
You'll be screaming more.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat, you're growin' now.

In a hat, you see how you want to be.
In a hat, you fulfill your fantasy.
In a hat.
You'll be screaming more.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat, you're growin' now.
In a hat.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ponderous Parsha Point...

...so the Prince of Egypt tells our ten intrepid travelers that they dare not return to the land of the River g-d without their youngest brother firmly in tow. Okay, that's a problem because Father does not let said brother out of his sight. Great tension ensues.

The question is...why? Why such worry? Why all the grand statements by everyone involved? What's the big deal - simply grab some kid, throw a pair of tzitzis and a yarmulka on him and pass him off as the younger brother. How hard could it have been to pull off such a ruse? They don't know that it's Yosef back in Mitzrayim. As far as they know it's a crazy ruler who for some reason is picking on them.

So why not pass off another as Binyomin, it would seem to be a no brainer way to solve all the problems at hand.

---Yes, there is a clear answer---

Thursday, December 09, 2010

PSA: Mesila Course in Baltimore (Sunday)

I saw this post at Orthonomics; if you're near Baltimore, check this out. Mesila is a very good organization and I'm willing to wager you'll gain something tangible from going.

PSA: Seminary, The Jewish Family's Approach to Money

This is a Public Service Annoucement (that I did not put up in a timely manner). One of my readers alerted me to a course being given by a Rabbi Fishel Mael, Phd through Mesila in Baltimore. The course is advertised as "a practical course for couples under 30."

The course will be given Sunday evening, December 12, 2010 at 7:30PM. It is slated to run 2.5 hours and RSVP should be given to mesilabaltimoreoffice@gmail.com. The location of the course is at Bais Haknesses Ohr HaChaim on Clarks Lane.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The War on Chanukah

Absolutely brilliant: The Colbert Report.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily/Colbert - War on Hanukkah
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorThe Daily Show on Facebook

Sportsman of the Year- Giving Publicly and Privately



I especially liked the part how he not only gave publicly with his name on stadiums and projects he helped support, but also had time to pump up a small group of middle-school kids.
Read the article here

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Solid Woot Gelt

Hat tip: Jughead

This item on Woot is okay, but the description is priceless:
We were recently reading in Alfred Kolatch’s JEWISH BOOK OF WHY about the Hanukkah custom, reportedly dating to medieval times, of playing card games late into the night. Now, we like a hand of Texas hold ‘em as much as the next person, but we’d never heard of this tradition. Obviously, we’ve been hanging at all the wrong JCCs.
Plenty of rabbis have frowned on these games, Kolatch claims, but no less a big-shot than Rabbi Levi Yitzhak the Berdichever spoke up in favor of them, arguing—get this—that marathon gambling sessions would help condition yeshiva students to stay up late, a skill they could then use during long nights studying the Torah.
OK, far be it from us to second-guess Big Berdi. But honestly, that sounds like some serious rationalization to us. Look, it’s cool with us if you want to play Canasta ‘til dawn. It’s better than cool. It’s great. Call us up, deal us in, we’ll bring the soft drinks. But don’t give us this Torah-study training cover story. Because you know what would train you even better to stay up late studying Torah? Staying up late studying Torah.
This shirt is for anyone who’s celebrating straight through the holiday like a sufganiyot-fueled party machine, and doesn’t need a pious excuse. Come on, turn up the music! Fry up the potato pancakes! Wiggle like a glow worm, dance like a spinning dreidel! Light this year’s Hanukkah candles at both ends, kids—because we’re halfway through the awesomest eight-night-all-night party ever.
Besides, there’ll be plenty of time to catch up on sleep in a few days when everything closes for Christmas.
Wear this shirt: to protect your torso from spattering latke grease.
Don’t wear this shirt: with latke-grease spatters all over it, though.
This shirt tells the world: “Salsa, swing, disco, horah, whatever, I feel like DANCING.”
We call this color: IsRoyali Blue

Believeland

A surprisingly good piece on ESPN by Wright Thompson on Cleveland (and Lebron James' impact on the city psyche). Excerpts that I really appreciated:
We've heard a lot about Cleveland's reaction to "The Decision," seen video of burning jerseys, read Dan Gilbert's nutty letter, but the reaction I heard again and again, all over Cleveland, almost without exception, white and black, rich and poor, is the reaction of the steel mill workers hanging at this bar in Garfield Heights. People were mad at the theatrics. The Decision. Toying with the emotions of a city that's known nothing in the past four decades but sporting heartbreak.
I ask a dozen or more people what they think, and all of them say: It's not that he left for greener pastures; it was how they thought he showed them up. They think he rubbed their noses in it. "I was all right with him leaving," Crowder says. "I didn't like the way he did it."
Everybody says that. I've heard it from the owner of a steakhouse, The Lancer, that's a gathering place for the African-American community. I've heard it from a homeless guy who cleans the Cavs' arena. I've heard it from a right wing radio host and hipster liberals and architects and ex-cops and a James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef. If you talk to regular people who pulled for LeBron, you'll hear a nuanced opinion that doesn't jibe with the hysteria we saw from afar. To a man, that's what these guys at the Venture Inn say.
These dudes work hard for a living and don't ever begrudge someone doing what's best for himself. Life ain't easy in the world. It's hell near the furnaces. They wear long johns in the heat -- a few minutes inside, they soak with sweat, which cools them off. At closing time, guys head to the bar for a beer. "You order two," a steelworker cracks, "and you pour the first one on your head."
They feel lucky to have work. The jobs that still exist might not for much longer.
"This town is dying," a customer says. "If I could leave, too, I think I'd be out."
"Why?" the bar owner asks.
"The future's not bright in Cleveland," he says.
That's why they understand. Many of their sons are the first generation to not find work in the mines or the mills. Their own children, when faced with LeBron's decision, made the same one. So the men at the Venture Inn aren't angry. They get it.
"I'm proud of my son," he says.
So, they don't mind the leaving. Their fathers and grandfathers moved to find the best jobs. They provide for their families despite the odds and surveys and television documentaries that tell them their way of life is dead. They are proud people, which is why they did not like being the foil in The Decision.
"The way he did it was f---ed up," says Lenny Sofranko, a steelworker for three decades.
These guys have a code.
They think LeBron broke it.
Best:
Take Eric Barr. He's a Browns fan. He grew up in Connecticut, but his dad worked in a factory and loved the Browns, which made his son love them, too. The things the team represented meant more than geography. So Barr bought season tickets, and he drove 500 miles to every game until, a few months ago, he quit his job, left behind a steady check and benefits, and moved to Cleveland. He still hasn't found work. He lives out of a suitcase. He is lonely except for the few hours he communes with other fans on game day. He plays solitaire. He spends his days at a library looking for jobs. The money's gonna run out. Things seem bad. He wonders why he did this. He's 33, alone, with no furniture, no job, no future. But a few days ago, a glimmer of hope arrived. He got a call from a fellow Browns fan. Guy lived in Tennessee and read about Barr in the paper and wanted to do something. The Samaritan gathered oak and cut it into boards, smoothing each one, carefully putting them together, using his own hands to build someone he'd never met a bed. Then he delivered it to Barr. A man ought to have a bed. The Browns fan refused to take any money. All he wanted was a promise from Barr: When you're on your feet, do something kind for a stranger. That's what loving sports really means: giving part of yourself to someone you'll never know because the giving makes you feel good. At their worst, sports fans in a place like this can be crazier than the craziest ex-girlfriend. But at their best, they create a community.

They are willing to do something kind for a stranger.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Erachet & Jughead's Hat

Erachet Hat? I guess that'll be a slightly strange name.

Anyway, now that Jughead wrote about it, MAZEL TOV! to our really good friends Erachet and Jughead on their engagement! To give credit where it's due, Special Ed - you're the man, even if you had to dress like me to pull it off.

Meanwhile, the best reactions besides the consistent "it's about time!!"s* from pretty much everyone:
Serach (to Elianna): Are you so excited that Erachet and Jughead are getting married?!
Elianna (4-1/2): Yesss!!
Kayla (2-1/2): Me too!
Elianna: ...But I thought Erachet was going to marry someone else because Jughead is her friend.
* Interestingly, this is remarkably similar to the reaction of anyone who knew both when they started dating in the first place.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kollel Guy Says Over a Vort...

...made you look - catchy title, no?

So once upon a time, a long time ago, on a blog not so far far away a certain blog "administrator" commented to certain blog "contributor" words to the following effect: Wouldn't it be great if one of us was actually learned enough to be able to throw around sources to back stuff up and/or to prove other stuff as being wrong?

Well hold on to your keyboards but after a career change into the wide wonderful world of Kollel about a year and a half ago I am here to tell you that (now brace yourselves)...that day has still not arrived.

HOWEVAH(!), due to a couple of recent posts below I thought that maybe it would be beneficial to post translations of a few sources that deal with the topic of Torah and Science/Nature. I figure at least that much I can confidently contribute.

This is in no way meant to be offensive or defensive in nature - simply something I thought might be of value to the overall topic.

Stay tuned...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Google as the Apocalypse

From Matzav.com, the best comment ever is comment 39

Being that the internet problem is so huge, perhaps it has been foretold by one of the prophets? And if so, could we glean any advice? Perhaps we can say that Gog, prince of Magog (Ezekiel 38&39), is none other than Google (stock symbol GOOG), prince of internet search?! ‘MaGog’ can translate to ‘WHAT are the results, GOOG?’ (‘ma’ meaning ‘what’ in English). Gog’s land is Magog, which means it thrives in googled cyberspace. As is known, this war of Gog is already well in progress and with tremendous casualties, may G-d save us.

Now, Google of course is not the only search engine, so ‘Gog’ is a general term (as in the term ‘googling’), but Google is (currently) the premier search engine, and is itself no angel, doing nothing really to prevent the problem, and in fact makes billions of dollars from ads on the dark side.
Gog is told: “Thus said the Lord Hashem/Elokim: It shall be on that day that ideas will arise in your heart, and you will conceive a wicked design. You will say, ‘I will advance against a land of open towns, I will come up against the tranquil people who dwell securely, all of them living without a [protective] wall; they have neither bars nor doors – to seize booty and take spoils…’” (Ezekiel 38:10-12, Stone edition). The ‘wicked design’ is the search engine. The ‘tranquil people’ are those without proper internet protection, and those that think they have it — but actually don’t. So the advice of the prophet is to get proper protection, not turn a blind eye.

As an aside, what about the destruction of Gog? When Mashiach comes, there will be lots of empty disk space and servers — apparently enough supply to satisfy demand for seven years: “Then the inhabitants of the cities of Israel will go out and kindle fires and fuel them with their weaponry… for seven years.” (ibid 39:9).
Hat tip to BD

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Yeshiva Guy Says Over A Vort

I was not planning on posting this brilliant video by Krum as a Bagel, only because I hate putting up so many in a row, but I think just about everyone is linking to it on Facebook, so here it is in case you haven't seen it yet:



You know it's great when friends ask you on Shabbos if you've seen it yet and repeating all the lines from it.

Best lines:

(Friend's vote) "Did the Avos wear Crocs on Tisha B'Av?" "No - R' Elyashiv says Crocs are too comfortable. He wore Con-verse."

(My vote) "Did Yaakov [write a sefer Torah]?" "Of course." "So why didn't he just take his Sefer Torah and read it to find out that his son Yosef was alive and avoid all that heartache?"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quantitative Easing Explained (Hilarious)

Hat tip: Dad

This is great, and right on the money (no pun intended). Once you get through 20 seconds you'll love it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Porcelain Unicorn



Hat tip: Aunt Anne/Serach.
Ridley Scott announced Porcelain Unicorn from American director Keegan Wilcox as the winning short film in Philips’ Tell It Your Way film-making contest.

The contest, which received over 600 entries from around the world, invited aspiring filmmakers to create an original short film using the same six-line dialogue as the Cannes Lions award-winning Parallel Lines short films directed by RSA talents Carl Erik Rinsch, Greg Fay, Johnny Hardstaff, Jake Scott and Hi-Sim.

Commenting on his choice of winner, Sir Ridley Scott said: “I chose Porcelain Unicorn to be the winning film as it had a very strong narrative; a very complete story that was well told and executed.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Atomic Tom Live on NYC Subway

This is pretty cool (despite my overall meh attitude toward Apple).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wavin' Flag

This was a great editorial by Estie Neff from the YU Observer which I felt like sharing.

Lipa sang a number of popular songs and reached "Abi Meleibt" (It will be okay), one of his signature tunes. He sang the chorus, and the yeshiva boys simultaneously added their own noise as expected, breaking out in Camp Simcha's "Wavin' Flag." Some people in the audience chuckled, some people groaned, but Lipa - surrounded by loud instruments and intense percussion - did not hear them.

As Lipa neared the chorus of "Abi Meleibt" the second time, he turned the microphone to the crowd. The band quieted down in anticipation of our cooperation. Instead, a resounding recital of "Wavin' Flag" filled the cavernous room from the yeshiva boys in the back, who overpowered us.
Lipa did not miss a beat. "Oh! That's nice! Sing it again!" he said, encouraging the yeshiva boys. They sang again, exuberantly, and this time Lipa sang with them. Next, the band chimed in with their thunderous instruments. Finally, the entire audience was singing the chorus of "Wavin' Flag" together with the yeshiva boys, the band and Lipa.

Sitting in the concert hall, it struck me that two concepts were harmonizing together, in the form of music, at this spontaneous moment. Camp Simcha's song about the lives and struggles of youth with cancer, and Lipa's song about relinquishing control to life's twists and turns, became one.

The haphazard melding of these musical messages was surprisingly appropriate. As mere human beings, we cannot control many things in life, like a person's health - or a person's livelihood, or when a person finds their bashert. But given a situation, we can react in the proper way by realizing that "it will be okay" - everything is God's will and what He decrees is ultimately for the best.

[..]

Like a "wavin' flag," whose every move is determined by the one who brandishes it, the minutia of daily life is determined by the will of our Creator; therefore, we can say "abi meleibt!"

And here's the video

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fresh

Starting over is often taking one step back to take two forward.

Or, perhaps more accurately, it's pulling off to the side of the road to get your bearings, and even though you might discover just how far off the path you've ended up thanks to some roadblocks that were placed in your way, at least you can figure out how to get where you want to go.

Either way, it's a great feeling.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gentiles & Mezuzahs

Interesting piece in the New York Times about mezuzos and the Gentiles who keep them up.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Echoes of a Shofar

Update: R' Gil already posted about this with a nice Palestine Post (JPost's predecessor) from way back when...

(Hat tip: Mom) Via Cleveland Local Jewish News:
Under a British law in Palestine passed in 1930, Jews were forbidden to blow the shofar at the Kotel, pray loudly there, or bring Torah scrolls, so as not to offend the Arab population. Despite this restriction, for the next seventeen years, the shofar was sounded at the Kotel every Yom Kippur. Shofars were smuggled in to the Kotel where brave teenagers defiantly blew them at the conclusion of the fast. Some managed to get away – others were captured and sent to jail for up to six months.
Two weeks ago, these six men returned to the scene of their “crime”. Armed with shofars, they recounted their individual stories and blew shofar again at the Kotel. This is their powerful and inspiring story.


Giants Stadium Transformed

Kinda cool...

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/09/13/sports/football/1248069023670/home-field-advantage-overnight.html

Passwords

This xkcd comic is so true, except I'm sure that Google does have a plan. (Not that I mind, of course, O Google Masters...)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

8.4 Million New Yorkers Suddenly Realize New York City A Horrible Place To Live

Hat tip: A lot of people who e-mailed with various versions of "this made me think of you" and "I thought you'd appreciate this". Thanks, everyone - I'm flattered that people understand me so well!

What's awesome about this Onion piece on the entire NYC deserting it for greener pastures is how true everything in it really is:  (warning: really bad language; after all, it does quote lots of New Yorkers)
NEW YORK—At 4:32 p.m. Tuesday, every single resident of New York City decided to evacuate the famed metropolis, having realized it was nothing more than a massive, trash-ridden hellhole that slowly sucks the life out of every one of its inhabitants.

With audible murmurs of "This is no way to live," "What the hell am I doing here—I hate it here," and "F*** this place. F*** this horrible place," all 8.4 million citizens in each of the five boroughs packed up their belongings and told reporters they would rather blow their brains out with a shotgun than spend another waking moment in this festering cesspool of filth and scum and sadness.

According to residents, the mass exodus was triggered by a number of normal, everyday New York City events. For Erin Caldwell of Manhattan, an endlessly honking car horn sent her over the edge, causing her to go into a blind rage and scream "shut up!" at the vehicle as loud as she could until her voice went hoarse; for Danny Tremba of Queens it was being cursed at for walking too slow; and for Paul Ogden, also of Queens, it was his overreaction to somebody walking too slow.

Other incidents that prompted citizens to pick up and leave included the sight of garbage bags stacked 5 feet high on the sidewalk; the realization that being alone among millions of anonymous people is actually quite horrifying; a blaring siren that droned on and f***ing on; muddy, refuse-filled puddles that have inexplicably not dried in three years; the thought of growing into a person whose meanness and cynicism is cloaked in a kind of holier-than-thou brand of sarcasm that the rest of the world finds nauseating; and all the goddamn people.
Read the whole thing, it's brilliant. What scared me is that I agree with every single logical reasoning in the piece, and yet... I'm still stuck here. {shudder} It's a bit unbelievable... so much so, that this is a great way to announce the following: Moshe, you won.

For those unaware, about five years ago Moshe and I made a bet; the loser of the bet would take the winner to the restaurant of his choice in New York City for a nice, expensive dinner out (with Mike's Bistro being the likely choice). The bet: Would I still be in New York City in September 2010? I was *sure* there was no chance we would still be living here; Moshe was convinced that I was "just talk". This is the saddest bet I've ever lost in my life, but also possibly the funniest (and certainly the longest).

Moshe, congratulations! We'll go out when things are a bit better, be'H soon! :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Honesty & Common Sense

This Sunday was my grandmother Hilda Goldish's a'h stone setting in Cleveland. I wasn't able to attend, but I did enjoy the two brief speeches from R' Naphtali Burnstein (YI of Greater Cleveland) and my father, particularly when my father discussed what my grandmother was all about - and when listening to it, it's striking how it's so simple in so many ways. 'If only!' people would just use (/would have just used) their common sense, then most everything would work out - remembering, of course, that "timing is everything".

Most of all, it's hard not to notice that so much in life comes down to what each of them stood for and what is said so beautifully on each of their headstones: Honesty and Common Sense.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dad Life (Father's Day Opening 2010)

Absurd Tweet

Take a look at this tweet, and, for a second, marvel at the absurdity of it.

To all my christian brothers and sisters, especially catholics - before u condemn muslims for violence, remember the crusades....study them

This is on par with the stupid comment Tavis Smiley made regarding the Columbine Murderers being Christians. Doesn't this just typify the left? Is it something reflexive to the left to defend Islam or is it more to condemn those that dare to condemn Islam?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yellow Card for Yarmulke

Interesting story via Deadspin:



During a game against Austrian club FC Red Bull Salzburg, Hapoel Tel Aviv's Itay Shechter scored after a very nice run, proceeded to pull a yarmulke out of his sock, (apparently) said a prayer—and was immediately given a yellow card.
Update: Per commenter OutKukoced:
According to this article in the Israeli newspaper Maariv (in Hebrew), people were chanting "Go to the gas chambers" in the first half (as heard by one of the team owners). [www.nrg.co.il]
According to this interview (sorry, it's in Hebrew) with Schechter [www.haaretz.co.il] the celebration was, however, not a reaction to anti-Semitic chants, as he did not hear any by that point in the game. He says, however, that afterward (unclear if he means after the game or celebration), he was made aware of the anti-Semitic insults from the stands. According to him, he was given the kipa by a fan for good luck at the airport, and decided right before the game started to keep it in his sock and take it out if he scored.
So, yes, there were anti-Semitic chants going on (par for the course at European soccer games), but no, the celebration was not a reaction to the fans.
And thus ends Kipa-gate.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Emerging Adulthood

The NY Times Magazine last week had a very interesting article about 20-somethings and why they take so long to grow up. The basis is that there is a newly recognized stage in life called 'emerging adults', where they make some of their own decisions but defer others to parents or society. It is long but worth the 30 minutes it may take you to read it (that's how long it took me).
Here are some points I liked:
If society decides to protect these young people or treat them differently from fully grown adults, how can we do this without becoming all the things that grown children resist — controlling, moralizing, paternalistic? Young people spend their lives lumped into age-related clusters — that’s the basis of K-12 schooling — but as they move through their 20s, they diverge. Some 25-year-olds are married homeowners with good jobs and a couple of kids; others are still living with their parents and working at transient jobs, or not working at all. Does that mean we extend some of the protections and special status of adolescence to all people in their 20s? To some of them? Which ones? Decisions like this matter, because failing to protect and support vulnerable young people can lead them down the wrong path at a critical moment, the one that can determine all subsequent paths. But overprotecting and oversupporting them can sometimes make matters worse, turning the “changing timetable of adulthood” into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
 [A 25 year old commenting] “to think about all the things I’m supposed to be doing in order to ‘get somewhere’ successful: ‘Follow your passions, live your dreams, take risks, network with the right people, find mentors, be financially responsible, volunteer, work, think about or go to grad school, fall in love and maintain personal well-being, mental health and nutrition.’ When is there time to just be and enjoy?” 
And in case you thought Kollel support only exists by frum Jews:
[..] asked parents of grown children whether they provided significant assistance to their sons or daughters. Assistance included giving their children money or help with everyday tasks (practical assistance) as well as advice, companionship and an attentive ear. Eighty-six percent said they had provided advice in the previous month; less than half had done so in 1988. Two out of three parents had given a son or daughter practical assistance in the previous month; in 1988, only one in three had. 
For a comforting conclusion:
Arnett would like to see us choose a middle course. “To be a young American today is to experience both excitement and uncertainty, wide-open possibility and confusion, new freedoms and new fears,” he writes in “Emerging Adulthood.” During the timeout they are granted from nonstop, often tedious and dispiriting responsibilities, “emerging adults develop skills for daily living, gain a better understanding of who they are and what they want from life and begin to build a foundation for their adult lives.” If it really works that way, if this longer road to adulthood really leads to more insight and better choices, then Arnett’s vision of an insightful, sensitive, thoughtful, content, well-honed, self-actualizing crop of grown-ups would indeed be something worth waiting for.
I could only theorize about this impact on our community, but you are free to make your own conclusions; recognizing that singles may actually want to be that way a little longer, that they want to develop themselves and careers before a family. Of course that we as a community would have to recognize a developmental stage between adolescence and ready to get married, would really wreak havoc with our  understanding of Jewish life as it is. It would mean accepting a single and not treating them as second class citizens, something that people like Bad4 only theorize about.
 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

L'Shana HaBa (1992 HAC Version)

Hat tip: Buda. There are a few videos from this performance - this one is apropos, after seeing my sister, brother-in-law, three nieces and a nephew off to make aliyah today. This is from the 1992 Hebrew Academy of Cleveland boys choir (I don't see myself, and I can't remember if I was in it or not, but a large number of my classmates and people from the grades just above mine are). I believe Yudi S. is the videographer and the one who posted them to YouTube - thanks!

For everyone else - enjoy, and admit it - those glasses were Awesome.

So, My Sister is Making Aliyah Today...

...that's pretty crazy. Vervel and BIL and their four kids are on today's Nefesh B'Nefesh flight as they make their way to their new home in Rechovot from Baltimore (they took a bus with 4 other families this morning from Baltimore to JFK. My parents are in from Cleveland, and we're all headed to the airport now to see them off.

They'll be reading this later, so feel free to send your good wishes/advice/welcome them to Israel in the comments!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How Language Affects Thought

(Hat tip: Mom and the "most e-mailed" feature on the WSJ.com site)

There is an absolutely fantastic article in the Wall Street Journal about how language affects our lives - from cultures to how we act to how we think about things. Some choice excerpts that were really cool:
So if Pormpuraawans think differently about space, do they also think differently about other things, like time?

To find out, my colleague Alice Gaby and I traveled to Australia and gave Pormpuraawans sets of pictures that showed temporal progressions (for example, pictures of a man at different ages, or a crocodile growing, or a banana being eaten). Their job was to arrange the shuffled photos on the ground to show the correct temporal order. We tested each person in two separate sittings, each time facing in a different cardinal direction. When asked to do this, English speakers arrange time from left to right. Hebrew speakers do it from right to left (because Hebrew is written from right to left).

Pormpuraawans, we found, arranged time from east to west. That is, seated facing south, time went left to right. When facing north, right to left. When facing east, toward the body, and so on. Of course, we never told any of our participants which direction they faced. The Pormpuraawans not only knew that already, but they also spontaneously used this spatial orientation to construct their representations of time.
Meanwhile, the way events are re-told in various cultures affects how people remember them:
In studies conducted by Caitlin Fausey at Stanford, speakers of English, Spanish and Japanese watched videos of two people popping balloons, breaking eggs and spilling drinks either intentionally or accidentally. Later everyone got a surprise memory test: For each event, can you remember who did it? She discovered a striking cross-linguistic difference in eyewitness memory. Spanish and Japanese speakers did not remember the agents of accidental events as well as did English speakers. Mind you, they remembered the agents of intentional events (for which their language would mention the agent) just fine. But for accidental events, when one wouldn't normally mention the agent in Spanish or Japanese, they didn't encode or remember the agent as well. 
 Meanwhile, I couldn't help but somewhat cringe at a note that I've often discussed with friends, co-workers, and the like about how the way they put things affects the way people think about those things/people. I recall one co-worker consistently making jokes about others - completely joking, but I noted to him that by doing so, he is slowly creating perceptions about people, much as media does when and how they discuss various subjects or people as well. People shrug off media bias by suggesting the word differences are innocuous, but what and how we say things does matter:
In another study, English speakers watched the video of Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" (a wonderful nonagentive coinage introduced into the English language by Justin Timberlake), accompanied by one of two written reports. The reports were identical except in the last sentence where one used the agentive phrase "ripped the costume" while the other said "the costume ripped." Even though everyone watched the same video and witnessed the ripping with their own eyes, language mattered. Not only did people who read "ripped the costume" blame Justin Timberlake more, they also levied a whopping 53% more in fines.
Read the whole piece, it's really just fascinating.

Side note: In Judaism, a basic concept is that what sets us apart from animals is language; in addition, particular note and honor is given to the use of lashon HaKodesh, which is Biblical Hebrew, over other languages, establishing that there is something special about language and that language in particular.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Triatholon Conspiracy

A great post by Lulei Demistafina on crying antisemitism
Tisha B'av next year is on a Tuesday. The NYC Tri is the Sunday prior. Again.

I checked the dates for previous triathlons, and to my surprise and dismay, in four of the past five years, the NYC Tri always fell out the Sunday before Tisha B'av. The English dates were in a broad range; but on the Hebrew Calendar the dates were eerily consistent. What could account for that? Even I, a red-white-and-blue blooded American Jew, was beginning to wonder: Was it actually possible that the organizers of this event were discouraging Orthodox Jews from participating? What else could it possibly be?

So I emailed one of the organizers of the event. Why were the dates of the Tri so varied?, I asked. Her answer surprised me. The currents, she wrote back, have to be favorable between 6 and 9 in the morning. And you know this so far in advance? I asked. Years in advance, she responded.

It turns out that calculating the currents has a lot to do with the lunar cycle, the same lunar cycle that sets the Jewish calendar. So the organizers can not create the event around a certain date on the Gregorian calendar—as they do for the New York City Marathon and the U.S. Open tennis tournament; they have to take into account the moon’s position. Nothing to do with Jews.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

There is a tendency among some Jews to suspect anti-Semitism at the first whiff of anything that remotely interferes with, or even inconveniences, the Jewish community, a feeling that anything that can be chalked up to anti-Semitism should be chalked up to anti-Semitism. This mistrust is misguided—and potentially dangerous.
Read the full article here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nasty Knuckler... 13-Year Old Girl

This is a cool story (and really great video work).s
PLANT CITY, Fla. -- She registered another perfect pitching record this year, 12-0, for her Little League team.
She threw her second perfect game -- and predicted this one just hours before she did it.
Her fastball hits the mid-60s, and she can send opponents to the bench in tears, embarrassing them with a knuckleball she learned from former major league knuckleball legend Joe Niekro.
Meet Chelsea Baker, a girl pitcher in a boys' league.

The best player on the Plant City Little League Team, is a 13- year-old girl named Chelsea Baker. Taught the knuckleball by Joe Niekro, Chelsea has not lost a sanctioned game in four years.
And of course, who does she face in the city championship, but Niekro's grandson and her friend, JJ Niekro.

Anyway - well worth the watch and read. It would be cool to see how far she can progress in professional baseball.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Let Us Pray...

...for an especially horrible hurricane season this coming year.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mom, Dad

Board up your doors and windows. I think Cleveland just broke.

Let Us Pray...

A psalm of James

1. LeBron is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2. He makes to throw down in crowded lanes
He leads the break with the ease of still waters
3. He restores my franchise;
He leads me in the paths of playoff wins
For his game's sake.
4. Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of Jordan,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your size and Your quickness,
they comfort me.
5. You prepare a winner before me in the
presence of my enemies;
You anoint your head with headbands;
Our attendance runeth over
6. Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow you
All the days of your life;
If you will dwell in the house
of The Q
FOREVER.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

**SCHEDULE CHANGE**SCHEDULE CHANGE**SCHEDULE CHANGE**

Please be aware that the reading of Megillas Eicha has been moved up to tomorrow evening, Thursday, at 9 PM...in addition please pay attention for notices of a possible krias Hallel at 10 PM.

Thank you, that is all.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

1948 Israel - in Color

(Hat tip: Corner Point)

This is absolutely amazing. A wealthy American businessman in the 40s and 50s filmed everything that was happening in Israel - in color. The footage was just found in his attic.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Storm Before The Calm

"Keep calm and carry on" - from a friend's g-chat status.
The past few months have been tumultuous, to say the least. While I was feeling a bit stressed out after coming home from work for this extended weekend, it was a perfect reminder at the perfect time to log onto my e-mail and see that line sitting there.

A year ago yesterday, I started what was to be a dream job, of sorts - a start-up company, with a successful CEO who had already built a company from nothing into a nationally recognized success, the ability to raise capital easily, and an expansive, exciting idea. The difficult piece would be creating a strong business or finding a successful product that we could market, but with the cushion of capital and the experience available to us, we would be able to pull it off.

Or so it seemed. As the months went by, projects would be started - but not fully funded. Money wasn't available when it needed to be. Employees became cynical as rumors started to circulate, and slowly, things seemed to head downhill, though we would seem to get "saved" just as we were on the brink of complete frustration each time.

And then, we stopped getting saved. Shortly thereafter, we discovered that the prior "success" of our CEO was questionable at best, at worst, criminal. (He immediately became our ex-CEO.) Money we had raised was gone, likely never to be recovered. Suddenly, we were all living on a prayer.

After a couple of days of feeling bad for ourselves, we had to refocus and move forward - or shut down. And the decision was extremely difficult: Our money was gone, and the constant promises to pay us back the money we were owed were completely empty. On the other hand, while originally we had looked to find a product to sell, now we had created a product (actually a service) that was not just successful - but replicable, and viable for sale. We had lost our cushion, but we had something real.

We decided to move forward anyway. We had to make the extremely difficult decision to cut all non-essential personnel - resulting in the layoffs of about twenty-five people, including some very close friends (one sang me down at my wedding, another was in my class in high school and was my roommate at one point in Israel) and all of them good people. We were able to raise just enough money and work hard enough to get out our corporate filing just in time, put together a fantastic business plan, and have recently started presenting it to potential investors, with even more positive feedback than we'd hoped. (In a funny twist, one commented almost angrily that our projections were "too conservative" and that we should "up them". On a similar parenthetical note, every single one of the vendors whom we work with on our branding, technology, software integration - and so on - have expressed their belief that not only will we raise the money, but that we have a "tremendous business model" and will be "a great success". Their patience and support has been incredibly encouraging and nothing short of astounding.)

Raising capital is possibly one of the most stressful activities a person can do. Even when you know (as well as anyone can "know" anything) that what you have will be successful, getting others to believe the same is difficult in a world where people are raised to be rightfully skeptical. Thankfully, our model is clear and straightforward, and we were in a way surprised at just how many people who are investors, even those not in our field, who came over to us at a conference to congratulate us on what they believed to be a strong model and wishing us luck moving forward. We are now in the midst of discussing potential deals with investors of all different backgrounds, each bringing different structures and different potential assets, whether franchising experience (we're developing a franchise), chemical background (tying into a proprietary product of ours), financial experience (for advisory purposes), or other skills to the table which can work strongly to our advantage, and hopefully we'll either combine pick the ones that work the best for us both in the long-term and for now.

Until it happens, though, it's quite stressful - as one of our partnering vendors said, "I've had to raise capital before - it always takes just a little bit longer than you want it to." Amen.

Keep calm and carry on - or as my sister-in-law likes to say, "Let go and let God." Good advice.

Time to have a relaxing Shabbos.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Goldish Touch in Brooklyn (Headbands, Tichels)

Serach will be selling her tichels (Serach's Scarves) and headbands (A Goldish Touch) at the Kings Bay Y Israel celebration on Sunday, June 13 from 11-3. There will be rides (for the kids), face painting, a petting zoo and food. The address is 3495 Nostrand Avenue (between Avenue U and V). We went last year, too, and had a lot of fun - bring your kids and have a blast!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

EZ Reads 6/10/10

Happy 37th Anniversary to Mom & Dad!!

In their honor, here's some great pieces my Mom forwarded to me the last couple of days:

This video may be the best 10 minutes you spend today (via Freakonomics):



It's psychologist Philip Zimbardo lecturing on the six different ways people perceive time, takes about 10 minutes to watch. Depending on your time orientation, it might seem to take far longer, or seem to rush by. Understanding which “time zone” we inhabit, Zimbardo says, has profound effects on every aspect of life.

If you haven't yet read this fantastic Wired piece by Nicholas Carr on "Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains", you must. It will profoundly change the way you think, even if you already knew much of what it says. A number of friends - all of whom are bright, technology-focused people, were nodding all the way through the piece.

The NYTimes has a related piece on being hooked to technology, plus another one on how it affects parenting. What's especially interesting about the parenting piece is that the examples are not typically "extreme", which are easy to dismiss, and that children are perfectly aware of the issue:
Laura Scott Wade, the director of ethics for a national medical organization in Chicago, said that six months ago her son, Lincoln, then 3 1/2, got so tired of her promises to get off the computer in “just one more minute” that he resorted to the kind of tactic parents typically use.
“He makes me set the timer on the microwave,” Ms. Wade said. “And when it dings he’ll say, ‘Come on,’ and he’ll say, ‘Don’t bring your phone.’ ”
(What's scary is that even as I wrote this section, I had to force myself to stop to play catch with Kayla and avoid being hypocritical. Oy. She has a great arm, though!) All in all, this is obviously the Times' new obsessive topic, as they've followed up with Technology's Toll: Impatience & Forgetfulness and an interesting study where the younger generation actually views technology as a larger problem than the older generation in terms of how it affects people. [I assume this is because the younger generation is caught up deeply in technology, while the older generation is only knowledgeable to a smaller extent and use it in more limited fashions.]

A really interesting pair of tests is up on the NYTimes' website, here. The timing on the second one is very interesting. (For what it's worth, Mom, I placed better than even low multi-taskers, so :-P to you!)

Elsewhere:
  • NYTimes: Studies show Jews' genetic similarities (Ashkenaz and Sephardim). 

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Orthodox Childhood Study

A good friend and former roommate of mine is conducting an interesting research study for his Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program. If you have a few minutes please take the time to participate here: http://tinyurl.com/ODQStudy

About the study:
You are being asked to participate in a research study conducted by Sruly Bomzer, M.S., doctoral candidate, C.W. Post Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, under the supervision of Jill Rathus, Ph.D. The purpose of this study is to examine common childhood experiences of Jews raised in the Orthodox tradition. If you were raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, regardless of your current affiliation, you are eligible and encouraged to participate in this study.

Please note that for the purposes of this study, "childhood" is defined as any time prior to the completion of high school (around age 17).

If you have any questions about the research, you may contact the investigator, Sruly Bomzer, at SrulyStudy@gmail.com, or the faculty supervisor, Dr. Jill Rathus, at Jill.Rathus@liu.edu. If you have questions concerning your rights as a subject, you may contact the Executive Secretary of the Institutional Review Board, Ms. Kathryn Rockett at (516) 299-2523.

Monday, June 07, 2010

JES makes BusinessWeek!

In a Business Week article that discussed a number of online financial websites, one of the sites discussed is my personal favorite, Mint.com. I was called up a few weeks ago by David Bogoslaw, who wrote the Business Week piece, and we spoke for about 10 minutes about Mint and what's great about it (and what its drawbacks can be). I think he took the most important point well, in addition to a small shout-out for the Jewish Economics Survey!: 
Ezzie Goldish, a young New York accountant, began using Mint just before the birth of his first child in June 2008. A month later, he lost his job while his wife was still working part-time so she could care for their baby. With Mint's help over the next year, the couple organized their finances and managed to pay off 40 percent of credit-card debt despite a 40 percent cut in income.
"As much as we thought we knew what we were doing, until you see [how you're spending] in front of you, it's a lot harder," he says. Goldish, who had already been getting calls for financial advice because of his profession, posted an economics survey on his blog for people in his Orthodox Jewish community. He has received hundreds of comments expressing interest in Mint from around the world.
 Awareness is absolutely the key to managing finances, and this is possibly more true for those who think they have a good handle on their finances. There's simply a huge difference between keeping track normally and actually seeing it all in front of you in a big chart that shows where all your money has been going.

What's great about Mint is how it just shows it all in front of you so clearly. A few friends have said since starting on Mint that it just makes tracking everything so much easier (and as someone noted, it also stops fights over spending like "you spend $XX on A" vs. "no I don't, it's not even close!", for those interested in the shalom bayis aspect - hard to argue with the numbers right in front of you), and that makes it a lot easier to cut back.

I commented to him that the biggest 'drawback' was that Mint only helped you for the past and present, but wasn't great for the future - though to be fair, neither were most any other sites. It's hard to adjust your spending to save for the future well. What was especially cool at the Intuit meeting I went to was that they're actually unveiling a tool to do exactly this soon: It will not only let you set goals and suggest goals, but will factor in as many details as it can to help you save, including acknowledging that you will need to save different amounts at different times to meet your goals, and that helps make goals feel reachable. Saying "you need to put away $85,000" is a lot harder to do than "put away $40 this month toward your son's college fund". It will even factor in things like presumed inflation and various changes in your spending habits, including changes that happen over time. It's a brilliant tool that will really round it out well.

Now, if only they had a Blackberry app...! :)

Mazel Tovs!

SerandEz would like to wish huge mazel tovs to our good friends (and SerandEz contributors) Moshe & his wife on the birth of a baby girl, and Eliezer StrongBad and his fiancee (iPay's cousin and roommate) on their engagement!

The best part may be that as loathe as ESB may be to admit it, my way > his [former] way. :) v'hamaven yavin

More Idiotic Rules in the Name of "Fairness"

From here


In yet another nod to the protection of fledgling self-esteem, an Ottawa children’s soccer league has introduced a rule that says any team that wins a game by more than five points will lose by default.

The Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league’s newly implemented edict is intended to dissuade a runaway game in favour of sportsmanship. The rule replaces its five-point mercy regulation, whereby any points scored beyond a five-point differential would not be registered.

Kevin Cappon said he first heard about the rule on May 20 — right after he had scored his team’s last allowable goal. His team then tossed the ball around for fear of losing the game.

He said if anything, the league’s new rule will coddle sore losers.

“They should be saying anything is possible. If we can get five goals really fast, well, so can the other team,” said Kevin, 17, who has played in the league for five years. “People grow in adversity, they don’t really get worse…. I think you’ll see more leadership skills being used if a losing team tries to recuperate than if they never got into that situation at all.”

Kevin’s father, Bruce Cappon, called the rule ludicrous.

“I couldn’t find anywhere in the world, even in a communist country, where that rule is enforced,” he said.

Mr. Cappon said the organization is trying to “reinvent the wheel” by fostering a non-competitive environment. The league has 3,000 children enrolled ranging in age from four to 18 years old.

“Everybody wants a close game, nobody wants blowouts, but we don’t want to go by those farcical rules that they come up with,” he said. “Heaven forbid when these kids get into the real world. They won’t be prepared to deal with the competition out there.”

Paul Cholmsky, whose four- and six-year-old boys play in the league, said the intended goal of a default-lose rule might backfire in teaching life skills.

“If there’s one team that’s consistenly dominant and one team that’s not, well, that’s life,” he said.

Mr. Cholmsky said he would be in favour of temporarily handicapping a team, for example reducing the number of players on the field, over ensuring a team loss for a high score differential.

According to the league’s new rules, coaches of stronger teams are encouraged to deter runaway games by rotating players out of their usual positions, ensuring players pass the ball around, asking players to kick with the weaker foot, taking players off the field and encouraging players to score from farther away.

Club director Sean Cale said he is disappointed a few parents are making the new soccer rule overshadow the community involvement and organizing the Gloucester club does.

“The registration fee, rergardless of the sport, does not give a parent the right to insult or belittle the organization,” he said. “It gives you a uniform, it gives you a team.”

Mr. Cale said the league’s 12-person board of directors is not trying to take the fun out of the game, they are simply trying to make it fair. The new rule, suggested by “involved parents,” is a temporary measure that will be replaced by a pre-season skill assessment to make fair teams.

“The board is completely volunteer-run and we do the best that we can to provide a good, clean, fun soccer experience for everyone,” he said.

Although parents are fuming, he said the commotion is coming from “about 1% of the parents.”

Friday, June 04, 2010

Four! (minus two)

An early happy birthday to Kayla, aka "Kay-Kay" as she calls herself, on her second birthday! Ask her how old she is, and she says "Four!" - just like her sister.

Enjoy

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Learn Alone...

...anyone who has ever spent any length of time in a yeshiva knows or has seen someone like this.

A tribute - to the guy in the corner of the Beis Medrish:

I learn alone, yeah
With nobody else
I learn alone, yeah
With nobody else
You know when I learn alone
I prefer to be by myself

Every morning just before shacharis
I don't want no coffee or tea
Just me and good Mishna B’rurah
That's all I ever need
'Cause I learn alone, yeah
With nobody else
Yeah, you know when I learn alone
I prefer to be by myself

The other night I laid sleeping
And I woke from a terrible dream
So I caught up my pal Talmud Bavli
And his partner Yerushalmi
And we learned alone, yeah
With nobody else
Yeah, you know when I learn alone
I prefer to be by myself

The other day I got invited to a shiur
But I stayed home instead
Just me and my pal Shulchan Aruch
And his brothers Shach and Taz
And we learned alone, yeah
With nobody else
Yeah, you know when I learn alone
I prefer to be by myself

My whole yeshiva done give up on me
And it makes me feel oh so bad
The only one who will hang out with me
Is my dear old Rambam
And we learn alone, yeah
With nobody else
Yeah, you know when I learn alone
I prefer to be by myself

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Who You Gonna Call?



(Read more and see pictures and commentary here!)

Thanks, Improv Everywhere and the New York Public Library!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Israel Trip Highlight Pictures

What a crazy, crazy trip, but definitely worth it. Here are the pictures I can put up on the blog...

From top left, L-R:

Row 1: Ezzie at kotel; some palm trees in Lod; the view from Nof Ayalon; Ezzie & Kayla all ready for Shragi's wedding; Kayla walking around Nof Ayalon; Kayla in town enjoying her Coke in her new shirt.
Row 2: Kayla enjoying Groovin's fish tank in Kochav Yaakov; the wedding reception at the Binyanei HaUma; Kayla checking out the plane home at Ben-Gurion; trash cans burning in a charedi neighborhood of Yerushalayim; guns ready for a salute at the kotel for an inauguration for hundreds of IDF soldiers; encased menorah on the steps down toward the kotel.
Row 3: Inauguration setup; lunch with Jameel; Kayla walking around the streets of Israel; Ezzie & Kayla near the kotel 
Row 4: chupah for Shragi's wedding; tana'im at the wedding (signed by Ezzie); setup for inauguration at kotel; tzeischem l'shalom sign on way out of Yerushalayim.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Last Night...

... To the Congress of the United Cavalier Fans

Yesterday, May 13, 2010 - a date which will live in infamy - the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association was suddenly and deliberately attacked by forces of the Empire of LeBron.

The Cavs organization was at peace with that person and, at the solicitation of Cavs Fans, was still in conversation with the Horesemen and their emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace, and a max deal contract, in the off-season.

Indeed, one hour after LeBron jumpers had commenced bricking in Boston, the League Commissioner delivered to the Cavalier front office a formal reply to a recent message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing contract negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Boston from New York makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Global Icon has deliberately sought to deceive the Cavaliers by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace and playoff victories.
---------

Yes, I'm bitter
Yes, I'm angry
Yes, I know that this is being ungrateful
No, right now I do not care

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

For LOST fans

El Al 815?

By JTA Staff

NEW YORK (JTA) -- In the final season of "Lost," the show has explored an
alternative reality, defined to some degree by what would have happened to
the main characters had Oceanic 815 from Sydney to Los Angeles not crashed
on the island.

In that spirit, what if the plane had gone down but it had been an El Al
flight?

Well, the plane never would have crashed because the El Al pilots would have
been able to perform evasive maneuvers. But if it had .

* Jack would not have been the only doctor.

* John Locke would have been named Yeshayahu Leibowitz.

* Sayid would have never made it on to the plane.

* Instead of Sayid's makeshift radio, some of the Israeli passengers would
have set up a high-speed Internet link.

* Some Lubavitcher would have shown up before long to open up a Chabad
house.

* There would be more than just one recklessly driven German-made vehicle on
the road.

* The existence of a nuclear weapon on the island never would have been
acknowledged.

* Gratuitous shots of Kate in her underwear would be replaced by quick peeks
of haredi women sans sheitels.

* The island suddenly would have attracted the attention of the entire
world, with the United Nations accusing the passengers of illegally
occupying territory and using disproportionate force to fend off attacks by
the Others.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Ani Yehudi

Hat tip: RafiM

I enjoyed this video by a number of Israeli musicians entitled Ani Yehudi:





Monday, May 03, 2010

Whirlwind Month (,Trip,) & Who Wants Lunch!?

It's been a bit of a crazy month, and it's about to get a lot crazier. Life has included rushing to get out my company's annual financial statements* - for not just one but two years, one and a half of which I wasn't there for; the Intuit Town Hall meeting on personal finance where I was asked to join as a panelist (full replay here); Chana and her chassid got engaged, DGEsq's wife had twin girls, FrumDoc & FFW had a baby boy; GS got engaged; Moshe helped our Lander Alumni pull off an amazing dinner, and as of last Thursday, we decided that I will in fact head to Israel for my best friend Shragi's wedding, scrambled to get tickets and passports that day... and I'm leaving tomorrow... and I'm bringing 23-month old Kayla with me for the week-long trip. Oh - and I have to put out the next quarter's financial statements by May 17th.

Anyway, who wants to meet up in Israel (Jerusalem area, most probably) for lunch or dinner this week? {Bonus! It might be with Jameel, too!} :) While I still don't know my full itinerary, I'll have a bit of flexibility in between visiting all my cousins and aunt and family friends and of course, the aufruf and wedding of my dear friend Shragi [the author of the "Well Waddaya Know..." trivia series on SerandEz based primarily on his forensic psychology studies].

So - who's in? E-mail me at serandez at gmail.com!

* - more on that later.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

JES: Panelist at Intuit's Town Hall Meeting

Tomorrow, April 28th, I have been invited to be a panelist at the Mint.com/Intuit Town Hall meeting at the NASDAQ Marketplace in Times Square. As some of you may recall, I originally wrote a letter to Mint.com regarding the Jewish Economics Survey, asking for their assistance in taking it to a new level in order to help the greater community. I was thrilled when someone representing Mint.com contacted me in response shortly thereafter, expressing some interest in the concept. We're still in contact as we try and determine if there is a way for them to easily help me with the project in some way, even as their primary focus is on their recent acquisition by Intuit (which owns Quicken, Quickbooks, TurboTax, etc.).

Meanwhile, the representative contacted me recently and asked,
We are going to be hosting a Town Hall event on April 28th in Manhattan. The topic is Personal Finance, and it will be hosted by Aaron Patzer [Ez: the founder of Mint.com] and Beth Kobliner (www.bethkobliner.com). We’re hoping to gather a group of 15-18 participants together to talk about the current concerns  in the Recession. Given your details on the specific budget/finance issues of the Orthodox Jewish community, I’d love to invite you to participate.
I happily agreed to take part, and am really looking forward to both contributing to and learning from the panel. As it says above, I'm going to be a part of the Personal Finance panel, which is from 3:45-5:00pm, and moderated by Beth Kobliner. There is a streaming link that you can sign up for in advance here; in Aaron Patzer's post about the panel he notes you can ask questions via Twitter or straight to Intuit.

The panel is being billed as "Personal Finance: A discussion with NY folks on how they’ve changed their financial habits, what they’ve learned, and how they’re coping with the changes in the economy. Personal finance expert Beth Kobliner will moderate." I'm certain that the panel will be really interesting and perhaps a bit eye-opening for many, and that there will be much to learn from it. Please take part online and feel free to post your questions! In addition, there are two other sessions earlier in the day which are probably very interesting to many SerandEz readers: 9:30-10:45am on Small Business, and from 12:45-2:00pm on Kids & Money: A Discussion on Financial Literacy.

Enjoy, and thanks so much to Mint.com and Intuit for this opportunity.

RSA Shopping Links

Guest post by Josh Lintz
Ezzie's note: My brother learns at (and has for over 20 years learned at a branch of) Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, also known as the Rabbinical Seminary of America (RSA). Josh Lintz, a tzaddik of a guy who also learns at RSA and works tirelessly to help the yeshiva in numerous innovative ways, asked me to post this up on SerandEz, and I readily agreed to it. For those who shop on these sites anyway, why not help give some tzedaka along the way?
Do you shop on websites such as Amazon.com, Diapers.com or Artscroll.com? Instead of going straight to your website destination, click on www.joshlintz.com/rsa and use the links provided for these and many other popular websites. With every purchase that you make through these links, Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim of Queens (Rabbinical Seminary of America) gets a percentage back. If you are going to be making these purchases anyways, why not help the Yeshiva at the same time?! Just click here and see for yourself how easy it can be to help the Yeshiva.

While the Yeshiva tries to maintain a limited-to-no Internet policy, the realities of modern life has dawned upon them.  The daily parade of huge packages delivered to the Yeshiva by UPS and Fedex are a clear indication as to how much money is spent on Internet purchasing.  As a result, an alumnus, Josh Lintz, has arranged a portal where alumni and supporters can go and click through to make their purchases, and a percentage of those purchases will be given back to the Yeshiva. 

Amazon.com has so far been the most popular; remember, Amazon is more than just books, many people have been using it to buy diapers and other items as well. They have setup Amazon Canada as well for our friends up North.

Jot this down and share it with your friends, family and co-workers as well – www.joshlintz.com/rsa.  Bookmark the page or set it as your home page. And thank you.  Just remember – the Yeshiva does not endorse the use of, or the bringing of the Internet into your home.

Remember: "If you're gonna spend the money anyway, at least help the Yeshiva along the way !!"

How YOU can participate in this easy way to give tzedaka while
doing your online shopping:

1) Shop!
b. Click on the link to the site you were planning on shopping at
c. Buy the products for the same price
d. The yeshiva gets a percentage of the sale

2) Make www.joshlintz.com/rsa page your homepage so that you always remember to shop through these links. Note: There is a Google search box on the page for your convenience so that you can use it as a home page and have easy access to Google search.

3) Send this sample letter to your friends and email lists:
Dear Friend,

I wanted to let you know about a great way for you to give tzedaka
while doing your online shopping. A alumnus of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim of Queens set up a portal where alumni and supporters can go and click through to make their purchases, and a percentage of those purchases will be given back to the Yeshiva. At www.joshlintz.com/rsa, there are many popular websites
such as Amazon, Diapers.com, Artscroll and many other popular
stores. It's so simple. If you are making purchases on these sites
anyways, why not help the Yeshiva at the same time?! So before doing your online shopping, remember to first stop at www.joshlintz.com/rsa !

This is truly an opportunity that you can't pass up! Just as I have
sent this email to you, take a minute and forward this email to as
many friends, family, co-workers, and email lists as you can.
For more information, you can read this blog post where I first heard about this amazing program HERE.

Tizku L'Mitzvos and Thank You,
Your Name Here

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