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

Monday, April 26, 2010

Masterful Ceremonies

There is a famous (if overused) saying that goes, "If you need to get something done, find someone who's busy." This post is dedicated in honor of a couple of friends who turned this into an art form.
(For a quick bit of background... After my two years in Israel, I came back to the US and attended the Lander College for Men in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, NY, as a "Lander Scholar" (full academic scholarship). Lander was in its infancy at the time; it was billed as the Honors Division of Touro College, and thank God, it turned out to be rather decent and an overall great experience. Since finishing at Lander, I was asked to join the Lander Alumni Board and was then elected by the other members of the Board to be a Vice Chair. My good friend [and SerandEz contributor] Moshe was appropriately and easily elected to be the Chairman.)

Last night at the White Shul in Far Rockaway was the first-ever Lander Alumni Dinner. Lander has been around for 10 years, and as it's the first dinner, the logistics that went into making it work while bringing back alumni from the beginning was an impossible trick. Our original projections and hopes were to bring in 250 people to the dinner, with an outside shot at breaking 300 - and this despite about 50 people from over the years being honored for having received smicha (rabbinic ordination) over the decade Lander has been in existence.

As a Board member, I was supposed to be doing major work to help out with the dinner. Unfortunately, however, it coincided with the exact weeks I needed to use for preparing my company's financial statements, and I ended up doing just about nothing. Meanwhile, the rest of the Board (except the accountants finishing up busy season) and particularly the tireless Alumni Director of Lander and our Board Chairman Moshe had to work their little tushies off: Despite holding other jobs, despite having wives/families/dating/etc. to deal with, despite all the other headaches that come up in life, or (in Moshe's case) despite being a third-year medical student working on hospital rotations.

And yet... they did it. The AD would work all day, all evening, all night... and Moshe would come back from a rotation and get straight to work. Moshe told me that when he'd leave at 2am to get some rest before the morning, the AD was still working like crazy. They somehow tracked down just about every person who stepped foot in Lander over its ten-year history, and then got a rather large chunk of them to commit to coming. The final total of confirmed reservations was ridiculous in comparison to what we shot for: 507. Including walk-ins who came to wish mazel tov, the total was close to 600 people, despite many alumni who sadly couldn't make it for various reasons. Perhaps even more impressive was the quality of it all: Our innovative approach to the program kept it light and enjoyable, and Moshe kept it moving at a good clip as the MoC. All in all, it gave truth to the (rather impressively done) video tribute to Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander, a'h, whose vision is what created the school and who passed away this year.

I'm trying to get a copy of the video, but what was especially fascinating about it was seeing him give a fiery speech about Jewish education when he was a bit younger. While his insane work ethic and vision were still evident while we were in Lander and he was about 90, he simply wasn't the same anymore. To see him with all of his energy and watch him be a dynamo like that was really something. His approach to everything was that anything is possible - and in fact, it's going to happen, because we're going to make it happen.

For me, watching this video along with listening to the various honorees was a bit of a coming together of a lot of different pieces. My own boss was actually a student at Touro College in its very first year of existence, and had R' Dr. Lander not just as a Chancellor, but as a teacher. In the 10 months I've been working with him, I only recall him showing that he was impressed with a person twice; both times were in reference to R' Dr. Lander and his amazing accomplishments. Interestingly, my boss has a very similar attitude, perhaps taken from "Bernie" - ideas that seem to be far beyond what one could reasonably expect, then going after it full-bore... and realizing that it's actually far more reachable than you originally imagined. One-in-a-million is suddenly more like one-in-three.

Lander itself was built the same way: A nice concept, but come on - could it really be pulled off? And yet... it was. When I went, there were a nice amount of good guys like myself who were given some type of scholarship as a means of drawing us to a school we might have liked conceptually, but been afraid to take a chance on. Just a couple of years later, people were being placed in a neighboring apartment complex because the dorms had already exceeded their capacity. The same occurred with this dinner: What seemed like a pipe dream suddenly turned into not just a success, but a resounding one that exceeded all expectations... and the credit goes to the people who put everything they had into making it happen: Specifically, our Alumni Director and our Chairman, Moshe.

Both of the major honorees touched on it in their speeches, but it's still worth noting about these great young men, good friends whom I will always hold in high regard (even as I nitpick them to death in all our meetings): Bernie Lander would have been proud. And, now that we know what we know, may next year be even better.


(Also, great job on the food. Yum.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Proud to be Socialist




I really, REALLY want to know, how the Tea Party is going to dwarf Jim Crow, segregation and everything she mentions. But again, I am slowly realizing that I should not be at all surprised by this stuff. It's leftists BS. No different than any other emotion baiting rhetoric you hear all the time. No need to deal with the actual issues (chaz veshalom). Its all about playing with language and using emotion to further the rhetoric. And thats why they are able to win. Cause really, who WANTS there to be an era worse the jim crow era and segregation and interment???? Once you are able to convince people of that by playing with their fears....you snagged them.

Death and Taxes 2011

Take a look at this great chart detailing the 2011 Federal Budget. It's an easy way to see where your taxes are actually going.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Da Kirsch's NFL Mock Draft 2010

Ezzie: It's been a couple of years, but our good friend Da Kirsch is back with his mock of the 2010 NFL Draft. He's had pretty good success in past years (better than most "experts", but he spends waaay more time on it than they do ;) ), and he's back for another go-round as our local SerandEz draft expert. 

I'mmmmm back!!!! It's my favorite time of the year and it has been a while since my last mock. This year's draft has some strong positions (OT, S, DT), some weak positions (QB, TE), and some deep positions (WR, RB, LB).  There are sure to be some surprises and this year's new schedule means I don't have to leave the TV on over Shabbat (the first round is being broadcast in prime time Thursday night), so that's a plus right there [Ez: Especially since you've made aliyah!]. Odds are 70% percent of theses picks are wrong so I provided some analysis and alternate picks as well.
Round 1

1. St Louis QB Sam Bradford Oklahoma- When I first was putting my mock together months ago i thought there was no way anyone was gonna pass on Suh, but as draft day got closer more and more reports came out on Bradford's health.  In  a weak QB i still disagree with taking Bradford but they need a QB more than a DT so they go with Bradford.

2. Detroit DT Ndamukong Suh Nebraska - The obvious pick here the easiest pick the Lions have ever made.

3. Tampa Bay DT Gerald McCoy Oklahoma - The Bucs would be happy with either McCoy or Suh and some people say they prefer McCoy over Suh even if he was available.

4. Washington OT Russell Okung Oklahoma State - Earlier on this was Jimmy Clausen, but now that they have McNabb they need to find a way to protect him. They can draft a QB in a later round to develop behind McNabb( a'la Kevin Kolb).
 
5. Kansas City OT Bryan Bulaga Iowa - What made KC an offensive force during the mid-2000s? A dominating offensive line that paved the way for Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson have career years and protected Trent Green.

6. Seattle OT Trent Williams Oklahoma - They have a lot of needs on offense OL,RB,WR and even QB so they can go many ways here. I think the WR issue will be fixed with more consistency at the QB position and one way to do that is by protecting Matt Hasselbeck from injury. C.J. Spiller wowed at the combine and in his workouts, but it might be too early to take him here. Clausen is also a possibility, but more of a long shot( it would be a perfect fit for him but they still have a few years on Hasselbeck and can focus in later rounds or next years draft.)

7. Cleveland [Ez: Here we go Brownies, here we go! WOOF WOOF!!] S Eric Berry Tennessee - The Browns have a good secondary and can instantly make it a great one with this pick.  Berry is the top athlete on most teams boards and is an Ed Reed type of game changer.

8. Oakland
DE Jason Pierre-Paul South Florida- No body knows where the Raiders are gonna go with this pick or any pick for that matter, what we do know is that Al Davis like freakish athletes. They have taken offensive players the last few years and really need to get value from this pick, i think they might be scared to take a chance on an offensive player.  They have needs all over the field and the smart pick would be OL and everyone says Bruce Campbell, but that would be stupid he is raw and unpolished they need someone who can start right away.
 
9. Buffalo QB Jimmy Clausen Notre Dame- Buffalo hasn't had stability at the QB position since Jim Kelly if they don't throw Clausen to the wolves he should develop in to a top line starter. Can also go for OL Anthony Davis.

10. Jacksonville DE Derrick Morgan Georgia Tech- They need help on defense and could also select hybrid S/CB Earl Thomas should also look to trade down and get some more draft picks.

11. Denver ILB Rolando McClain Alabama - Josh McDaniels clearly doesn't focus much on his offense (trading QB Jay Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall) so he will look to improve his defense with the top linebacker in the draft and a top 5 talent with McClain. They might also take WR Dez Bryant but with his past discipline issues I don't see that happening they just got rid of a receiver who had off-field issues do you think they will add another?

12. Miami CB Joe Haden Florida- The top CB in the draft is a need due to circumstances and high level of receivers in the AFC East (Randy Moss, Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Etc.), could also go with DT Dan Williams.
.
13. San Francisco OL Anthony Davis Rutgers- They are very close to turning the page and become a winning team. Head coach Mike Singletary is determined to give Alex Smith every chance to prove he can keep the QB job, so he helps him by stabilizing the O-line with this pick.

14. Seattle RB CJ Spiller Clemson- Like I said earlier it was too early for Seattle to take Spiller with the 6th pick, not with the 14th though. It will be exciting to see how new Head Coach Pete Carrol uses a Reggie Bush type player after seeing how well he did with Reggie back at USC.

15. NY Giants LB Sean Weatherspoon Mizzou- Giants GM Jerry Reese is like a smarter Al Davis, but with all the obvious picks already off the board I really don't know what he is gonna do. This pick fits a need but Reese doesn't draft for need and is not afraid to take the best player available regardless of position.  They need help in the middle( DT & ILB) and could use added depth on an aging OL. If they don't take a LB here i would love to see them get LB Sean Lee in the second round who is someone I have fallen in love with this draft season.

16. Tennessee OLB/DE Sergio Kindle Texas- The Titans need defense, defense, defense! Kindle will improve an AFC worst passing defense with his pass rushing ability.  They might also address the secondary taking DBs Kyle Wilson, Devin McCourty, or S Nate Allen.

17. San Francisco WR Dez Bryant Ok State- They get a #1 receiver here that they haven't had since TO left. I can actually see the 49ers trading this pick but if they don't they can improve on the DL with a DT or a pass rushing OLB/DE.

18. Pittsburgh OG Mike Iupati Idaho- We all know the type of football that Pittsburgh plays and it starts in the trenches ever since they lost Alan Faneca to the Jets the O-line hasn't been the same. With the recent departure of Santonio Holmes, WR Dez Bryant might be too good to pass up with this pick.

19. Atlanta DE Everson Griffen USC - They were hit with the injury bug last year and could look to add depth at several positions. They could also look to find a complement to workhorse Michael Turner and go for a RB like Ryan Matthews or Jahvid Best.

20. Houston CB Kyle Wilson Boise State - They need to fill the void that Dunta Robinson made when he left to Atlanta can also add a Punishing RB to pair with Steve Slaton  like Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer.

21. Cincinnati TE Jermaine Gresham - They look to improve on the offense by adding an athletic pass catching TE here. The Bengals really like defensive players from USC and might be tempted to take super freak S Taylor Mays.

22. New England DT Jared Odrick Penn State- The Patriots are know for getting great value from there first round picks and sometimes make suprise picks.  More often then not the take a player on one side of the line and this year is no difference they need help in the pass rush and DL. They can also draft a RB and take some pressure off of Tom Brady's arm and turn a weakness into a strength.
 
23. Green Bay CB Devin McCourty Rutgers- They can add depth to an aging unit and make the lives of Charles Woodson and Al Harris a lot easier.  If OG Mike Iupati is available look for them to shore up an OL that gave up league worst  51 sacks.

24. Philadelphia S Taylor Mays USC - The Eagles need to add some swagger back to that defense and in todays NFL safety is becoming more and more of a premier position.  He isn't the best in coverage and has room to improve but his rare athletic ability will make up for a lot.
25. Baltimore DT Brian Price UCLA- Baltimore focuses on what it does best, defense. They add a top level talent that might be the steal of the draft.

26. Arizona LB Brandon Graham Michigan - They need to find a replacement for Karlos Dansby, but won't reach for a LB they could be possibly be a team to trade up if they need to go get one . If not they add to a young OL and add protection for Matt Leinart or Derek Anderson.

27. Dallas OL Bruce Campbell Maryland- The OL is getting old and can bring Campbell along slowly and in a limited use properly developing him in to a fixture for years to come.

28. San Diego RB Ryan Mathews Fresno State- Darren Sproles isn't a feature back so they attend to their biggest need with this pick.  Also need help in the secondary and if some of the top players are still available they probably go there first.

29. NY Jets S Nate Allen South Florida- They can turn Revis Island into a continent after picking up Cromartie and if they add S Nate Allen. They also need help in the pass rush department and if they don't get Jason Taylor they might add a DE  like Carlos Dunlap or Jerry Hughes.

30. Minnesota CB Patrick Robinson Florida State - Probably go secondary with this pick and take the best player left at that position, can also go with DL.
31. Indianapolis OL Charles Brown USC - Really need to add some pieces to the OL and could also take C/OG Maurkice Pouncey who's versatility will be valuable.
 
32. New Orleans DE/LB Jerry Hughes TCU - Could also take Hughes' TCU teammate LB Daryl Washington to replace
the loss of LB Scott Fujita, but Hughes is more versatile and could also be a situational pass rusher DE. 

This year the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears don't have first round draft picks so i will give you a little insight in to what each team needs.

Carolina Panthers: First pick is #48- they need help at WR and DE and might be able to find some value at those positions in the middle of the 2nd round. Guys like  WRs Branden Lafell and (sleeper)Demaryius Thomas can be available as well as DEs Ricky Sapp or Alex Carrington.

Chicago Bears: First Pick #75 not a very good chance to get a star with this pick but can still get a good player need help at WR, OL, and DB.  Should address the WR need first and try to get Jay Cutler someone to throw to a receiver like Jordan Shipley or Dez Briscoe could still be available.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Human Right - Vacationing

The European Union has declared travelling a human right, and is launching a scheme to subsidize vacations with taxpayers' dollars for those too poor to afford their own trips.

Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, proposed a strategy that could cost European taxpayers hundreds of millions of euros a year, The Times of London reports.

"Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life," Mr. Tajani told a group of ministers at The European Tourism Stakeholders Conference in Madrid on April 15. Mr. Tajani was appointed to his post by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The plan -- just who gets to enjoy the travel package has yet to be determined -- would see taxpayers footing some of the vacation bill for seniors, youths between the ages of 18 and 25, disabled people, and families facing "difficult social, financial or personal" circumstances. The disabled and elderly can also be accompanied by one other person. The EU and its taxpayers are slated to fund 30% of the cost of these tours, which could range from youth exploring abandoned factories and power plants in Manchester to retirees taking discount trips to Madrid, all in the name of cultural appreciation.

"The commission is literally considering paying people to go on holiday," Mats Persson, of pro-reform think-tank Open Europe, told Britain's News of the World. "In this economic climate, it's astonishing that the EU wants to bribe people with cheap holidays."

Mr. Tajani said the program will be piloted until 2013, and then fully launched.

Intended to instill a sense of cultural pride in Europeans, Mr. Tajani's human-rights travel will also help bridge the continent's north-south divide and pad resorts' business in their off-season, the Times reports.

Northern Europeans will be encouraged to visit southern Europe, and vice versa. Mr. Tajani wants to ensure people's "right to be tourists" remains intact.

All hail progressiveness

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Community of Hope

When Ezzie asked me to join this blog, I felt privileged to be a part of his group of friends. Friends who live amongst us, who feel the drive, and possess to the urge to impact the community. Of all of my fellow contributors I have met, the feeling of making a difference in the lives of our fellow Jews was there, each in their individual way. Which is why this article in Cross-Currents resonated so strongly with me. I hope it does for you as well.
Here are the parts which struck me:
I think that Rabbi Landesman’s point, however, deals not with antipathy, but deep-seated malaise in other circles, completely within the Torah camp. His essay resonated not only with the usual haredi-haters, but with many card-carrying haredim, who are disappointed, deflated or worse over problems that don’t go away. It would be a major mistake to write off the cynical critics as haters of authentic Torah. To the contrary, I continuously meet up with people living haredi lives (American style), sending their kids to haredi institutions, and having benefited from the best haredi chinuch themselves, who nonetheless are bitter and crushed. Their love for Torah continues unabated. They are disappointed because of that love, not despite it. Knowing what Torah is supposed to do for people and communities, having spent time in the presence of gadlus when they were younger, they resent more than anything else the blemishes and stains on the reputation of HKBH and His Torah. Every chilul Hashem is a blemish; recurring ones are larger blemishes. The largest are the ones that are not accidental, but foreseeable and institutionalized in The System. If anyone will deny such institutionalized failures, including here and there the cover-up of abuse and a tolerance for some kinds of enonomic crimes, I will declare myself on Rabbi Landesman’s side.
 As well as
There is often what to complain about, if not to the point of antipathy. I am tired of listening to the despair of people hurt by entrenched problems in the way we treat parnassah, shidduchim, chinuch. I am tired of listening to the pain of parents whose kids went off because the life style was unnecessarily restrictive or narrow. I am tired of hearing from ba’alei teshuvah who feel betrayed, and in some cases have walked out. They were “sold” on Yiddishkeit with descriptions of a community of personal happiness, marital bliss, and intellectual openness – only to discover that some exaggeration had been involved. I am tired of hearing from young marrieds at the end of their kollel careers who now realize that they have no skills and no reasonable chance bederech hateva to support their families.
If we discuss these things, we will be working b’ezras Hashem, to secure Torah for the future, not to dismantle it. And despite the edge in some of the voices on this blog in the past week, I am proud to be part of a forum that does allow for the airing of divergent views, within a Torah framework, and even criticism from the outside.
I believe the same holds true of our contributors. We are tired of the problems that pervade our community but not to the point of throwing in the towel. There is hope. An overall good structure can always survive necessary maintenance and get rid of its aberrant parts. The Torah doesn't tell us that "Lo Nitnah Torah Le'Malachei HaShareis- The Torah wasn't given to angels" for no reason. It was given to humans to improve our lives and the lives that we touch.

When I was a child I broke my arm, and while waiting in the waiting room for a doctor to see me I noticed a quote which has been stuck in my mind for almost 15 years "With every child's birth, it is proof that G-d hasn't given up on humanity." I do not recall who said it, but I think that everyone can understand the sentiment. We haven't given up even though we may be tired and weary after the centuries in exile. Nor has G-d given up on us.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Checkpoints

A good friend had the following great analogy regarding dating et al that I think is true for most people as they weather the ups and downs of building a relationship:
I feel like there are checkpoints, like in those racing games and it's really comfortable in between the checkpoints. you're just kinda in the zone. but the checkpoints are really hard to pass.
Friends of mine know I like to say "when you're sure, give it some more time. When you're sure again, give it some more time. And when you're sure again, give it a little more. When you're finally really sure again... then you should probably go for it."

The best and surprisingly common description of dating seriously I've heard recently: You consistently swing from pure happiness to feeling like you need to throw up, and often both at the same time. (And the common response from those close to the person: "Great!!")

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hurray!

Congratulations to my dear sister Verv, brother-in-law BIL, and their four amazing kids on their forthcoming aliyah this summer!

So - who's got tips and advice (and money!) for them? :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shaimos Dump

LAKEWOOD, N.J. — Environmental regulators in New Jersey are trying to decide what to do about an unlicensed religious artifact burial site.A rabbi coordinated the dumping of 2,000 trash bags full of Jewish text and clothing on private land in Lakewood during Passover. Orthodox Jews are not permitted to discard the items, called shaimos, by normal means.
Some neighbors complained, calling it an illegal dump. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a warning last week and ordered that the site be cleaned up.
The agency, however, says it is sensitive to the religion's requirements. For now, it is allowing the bags to stay until it decides how to relocate them.
The rabbi is expected to discuss options with DEP officials next week. 
Read the full article here

Friday, April 09, 2010

Whoops

Government-controlled health care, coming soon to the whole country! Hope it works better than in one of the smallest states:
This week it became impossible in Massachusetts for small businesses and individuals to buy health-care coverage after Governor Deval Patrick imposed price controls on premiums. Read on, because under ObamaCare this kind of political showdown will soon be coming to an insurance market near you.
The Massachusetts small-group market that serves about 800,000 residents shut down after Mr. Patrick kicked off his re-election campaign by presumptively rejecting about 90% of the premium increases the state's insurers had asked regulators to approve. Health costs have run off the rails since former GOP Governor Mitt Romney and Beacon Hill passed universal coverage in 2006, and Mr. Patrick now claims price controls are the sensible response to this ostensibly industry greed.
Yet all of the major Massachusetts insurers are nonprofits. Three of largest four—Blue Cross Blue Shield, Tufts Health Plan and Fallon Community Health—posted operating losses in 2009. In an emergency suit heard in Boston superior court yesterday, they argued that the arbitrary rate cap will result in another $100 million in collective losses this year and make it impossible to pay the anticipated cost of claims. It may even threaten the near-term solvency of some companies. So until the matter is resolved, the insurers have simply stopped selling new policies.
A court decision is expected by Monday, but state officials have demanded that the insurers—under the threat of fines and other regulatory punishments—resume offering quotes by today and to revert to year-old base premiums. Let that one sink in: Mr. Patrick has made the health insurance business so painful the government actually has to order private companies to sell their products (albeit at sub-market costs).

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