Saturday, June 30, 2007

Three Years & Counting...

#1 (and #1). #2. And now, three. :)

Happy Anniversary to us!!!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Are All Kollel People Nice?

So asks Alan after a recent incident. Personally, I think the funnier point is what G [hattip] and SaraK noted:
Wait, wait, wait...the MOTHER of someone who is thinking about moving in called to look into their child's prospective building.

That's priceless!

It Is Obvious

I received an e-mail from my cousin, forwarding me a letter she received that was originally written by a woman who currently lives in Israel. I thought it was incredible, and received permission from the original author to post it in its entirety here. Feel free to express your thoughts on the letter in the comments.

I heard a BBC interview yesterday in which a member of Hamas, a PhD, was comparing what is going on in Gaza to having two children locked in a room with nothing but a small piece of bread - what else could they do but begin to fight over the bread? This is obvious. Eventually they will figure out that they can share. Like the two children in the story, we must give residents of Gaza time to sort things out.

My parents, both Holocaust survivors, were locked in bunkers with five people per sleeping board and not even a crust to share among them. They never did what those two fictional children locked in a room see as the only thing to do. Throughout the millennia, Jews have been locked in ghettos and oppressed with hardly a slice of bread between them, and they too used sticks and stones. They used them to scratch letters on the floor to teach their children to read. They took that crust and found a seed on top that they could plant to grow more wheat. Did you ever hear the old Jewish tale, "Something From Nothing"?

To the Hamas PhD it is obvious that when two children with nothing but a small piece of bread are locked in a room, they will fight. And so the population in Hamastan fights. And when they run out of enemies to fight, they fight each other.

To Jews it is obvious that when two children with nothing but a piece of bread are locked in a room, they will ration the bread until they figure out how to get more bread or get out of the locked room.

To the members of Hamastan, it is obvious that when you are left with the hothouses abandoned by your enemies, you break it apart and loot and destroy it to show your frustration with your situation and erase anything that reminds you of your enemies.

To the Jews it is obvious that when you find parts and broken pieces, you try to fix them or use them to build something useful.

To the members of Hamastan, it is obvious that when you have a small, crowded, barren piece of land with nothing to recommend it, you fight until the world recognizes your plight. You bravely sacrifice lives to destroy the neighboring enemies to make room to expand into their land and their homes.

To Jews it is obvious that if all you have is a small, crowded, barren piece of land, you drain the swamps and make the desert bloom, sometimes sacrificing lives to help build a future.

To the members of Hamstan it is obvious that if you manage to get hold of resources or money, you use them to bolster your leaders and buy weapons to fight your enemies.

To Jews, it is obvious that if you manage to get hold of resources or money, you feed your children, build hospitals and schools, then businesses that can generate more resources and money.

One of us ended up with a country that in 60 years' time rivals countries many-fold its size and many times its age.

One of us ended up with nothing but fear and destruction, and blaming everyone else but themselves for their situation.

Which type of people would you rather have as a neighbor and a partner in this world?

~ Tzirel Shaffren

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Behind the Scenes

Today is a little light here, as I was asked to write today over at the Muqata. I wrote a nice little 'behind the scenes' look at Jameel - please go take a look.

Living in a Bubble

BrightLightSearch wrote an incredible piece today, using the New York Times' Style section as her muse. It brought to mind a bunch of thoughts that had been running through my head this week, and so I will republish my comment [slightly edited] (and which may not make much sense without reading her post, so read it!). Let me know what you think.
I was just thinking yet again today how people - particularly in areas such as NYC - live in such a one-dimensional world. I watched a short and cute video on YouTube by the New York Times' David Pogue (on the iPhone), and couldn't help but note that every single person they grabbed from the liberal and open-minded Times newsroom were similar in one way: They were all white, mostly in their 30's.

I couldn't help but notice a couple of days ago that the people who generally get up in arms about Walmart are people who live in such places as New York City... where there are no Walmarts... and yet they decry the negative impact on "subsets" who seem perfectly happy to have the jobs and savings Walmarts bring.

I couldn't help but note that the class of teens waiting for a train this morning from Midtown Manhattan [in the "most diverse city in the world"] was made up of almost all white kids, save one tall, lighter-skinned black kid, and I recalled that NYC is made up of neighborhoods of ethnicities - not what one would call a true melting pot. I wondered to myself if the average classroom in places such as Kansas, Kentucky, Texas, and Alabama have a higher percentage of minorities than the average classroom in an upscale NYC neighborhood.

And then I was reminded that the only places I seem to see a true mix of diverse backgrounds are places like the company I work in - a Midwest-owned large corporation, the kind that is constantly whined about by liberal "elites".

And I was yet again reminded why hypocrisy is one of the worst qualities of all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Few Good Links

Some interesting and amusing reads out there...
  • (Hat tip: Mara S) The Shin-Bet allows a person they believe to be connected to Hamas into Gaza. The twist: He's a reporter for the BBC. But the BBC takes no sides, right?
  • Fudge relates that the search is on for Mr. Twiddles. To all my Toledo readers, please keep your eyes out. He's... umm... reddish.
  • Meryl Yourish does a quick comparison. I'm sick of hearing people say "No, that's how they always say it." No, they really don't. Kudos to Meryl.
  • Talk about chumros. Chaim found a new one: It's not enough to be a man to be heard on the Israeli radio, you can't even sound similar to women now.
  • DAG notes a sad mistake in the Yated... and they even have a drasha to explain it.
Crazy stuff.

Inquiring Photographer

I made the Jewish Press!

'Twas fun. We were asked a few months ago to give our impressions of Guiliani and Obama in short, and I guess that was put into the form of a question. My answer now would be similar but slightly more detailed, having heard Guiliani speak and reading more of what Obama has to say.

For The Old People

A great point at Cross-Currents:

Youth, it must be granted, has its particular charm: the sense of boundless potential. “The charm and insolence of youth is that it is everything in potentiality and nothing in actuality,” wrote the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset. It is characteristic of young people to hesitate in the face of the seemingly infinite possibilities before them; they know that walking through any door will foreclose others and signal the end of their infinite potential.

Far more satisfying than preserving that sense of infinite possibility, however, is having made some choices and walked through one of those beckoning doors. Having actually done something, built a home with a life partner, and raised children is ultimately a lot more satisfying than fantasizing about whom one will marry or what one will do when he grows up.

This post has been dedicated to all of the old SerandEz brothers- and sisters-in-law who, by next fall, will have all crossed that grand threshold of 30. You are now officially old, but it's okay: In our eyes, you've always been old. A special mazel tov to SIL, who says she is no longer counting after tomorrow, and Verv & DefenseMan, who are now over 60 together. As a note to the latter, you will be older combined than Dad by sometime next year. SIL & OD - you already are. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Now THAT'S old.

Elianna Enjoys A Shtickle Cowbell

Elianna was a bit cranky this morning while we waited for the babysitter to come, but she loves music. I was by the computer, so I turned on the first video that came to mind, which I linked to last night... and she stopped crying and started dancing. (Of course, that's when I realized the camera is close by...) What was really funny was that she'd dance a little when there was music, stop when there wasn't, and dance a LOT when the cowbell came in. Hehe.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 6/26: A Shtickle Cowbell

I normally put the best post last, but this band practice video from PsychoToddler is just too funny. Elsewhere:

I'm A Dash

...or ellipses. If you're wondering what that means... see Shoshana's post.

Consumerism vs. Religion & The Death of Palestine

(Hat tip: Mommy x2)

The New York Times has an interesting article on Monsey and Walmart. Apparently, people in Monsey are upset about Walmart's plan to build a store on Route 59, right in the heart of Monsey. Walmart is doing everything it can to make the people in Monsey happy, including planning on covering magazine covers (much like Pathmark does on Route 59) and other things. I see that Orthomom already discusses the issues in a little more detail, but I simply don't understand the complaint here.

There is already a Walmart just further down Route 59 in Airmont, about 2 miles away from the proposed site. There are plenty of Jews shopping there anytime we've gone. I don't believe that having another one is suddenly making the community feel over-exposed to the outside world. More importantly, the economic boost from having a Walmart to consumers is incredible, particularly for families with many children who can now buy things at much lower prices in greater quantities. If the real problem is the feared negative effect on the "mom-'n-pop" stores, they should say so... that's a legitimate concern for those people (though the net effect on the local economy is still strongly positive). I simply don't understand the big deal.

Finally, there's a wonderful piece in today's Wall Street Journal called Who Killed Palestine? It's really well written and makes some excellent points.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Grandma Lu Lu

HH- this post was not written to mitigate your pain or your loss, and I hope you and your family find comfort amidst your sorrow. However your post did inspire me, for it was bittersweet, yet sentimental. I cried and was elated simultaneously. I was elated, that your sister got her big day, but was reminded of my grandmother, whom, Ezzie never got to meet. I don’t think I have ever shared my feelings about my grandmother, or her death, with an audience. Heck, I don’t think I have ever written a post on this blog, and it’s even half mine.

My grandmother Edith (Yehudis Eeta) Luchins (ZL), lived her life to the fullest. When she died, however, at the age of 80-81, no-one expected it; everyone thought she would for sure outlive my grandfather, her husband, who was 8 years her senior. People say, "Oh, 81, that's old, she lived till a ripe old age", but for my grandma, that was young. At 75, she "retired", as a math professor at RPI in Troy, NY. Retired for her meant she was no longer on payroll, but no one could stop her from still working. She still went into RPI after she retired, until, all her children and their spouses decided they just couldn't make the 2 hour plus trip to Albany every time my grandmother or grandfather slipped or fell in their house (that they had lived in for the past 40 years).

So, in 2002, my mother and father, along with my fathers siblings and their spouses, moved my grandparents to a beautiful; facility (not a nursing home, but an independent living facility), that was 15 minutes from my house and in close proximity for the other siblings. That’s when my grandmother’s life changed.

Although she lived her life for her family, she couldn't stand the change. My grandmother was a social butterfly had a sense of humor and a sense of style that was so youthful (she was a size 8, her entire adult life, until she got osteoporosis in her late 60's). If you looked past the osteoporosis and the (beautiful and sentimental) wrinkles, you would think you were speaking to someone your own age. And that's how grandma made everyone feel. She was well beyond her years in wisdom ,earning a PHD in math at the age of 30, and co-writing many books and papers, with her husband (Dr. Abraham Luchins, PhD in clinical psychology). She was also extremely growth oriented, in fact, she started covering her hair only several years before the wedding of her oldest son. Grandma never made anyone feel intimidated or dumb. I was and still am horrible at math, so Grandma focused on other things when she conversed with me.

Well for grandma, the move was just too much of an adjustment. It's pretty ironic that when my grandparents moved to the facility they "switched roles". My grandfather, who was the resident grump, preferred a book and a quiet room ( he was also deaf in one ear due to a bomb that went off in his line of hearing, when he was a WWII solder). My grandmother preferred people, chatting, and chairing organizations and relief funds.. She was the first woman on the board of the OU (orthodox union), helped found the mikvah (ritual bathing house), in Albany, and was the first female full- professor at RPI ( Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ), where she taught for over about 35 years and was honored to have a portrait of her hung in their halls. So when they moved, my grandfather became "buddie-buds", with the other residents there, had heated debates, conversations and actually enjoyed going to lunch and dinner so he could converse with the other people there. My Grandmother became less socially-inclined. She was depressed and unhappy. A woman who was independent and unrelenting for over 70 years of her life, and here, her children made her uproot and move, away from everything familiar and ritualistic in her life. We tried to cheer her up with our visits, but she still wasn't the same bubbly, humorous, best- advice giver, Grandma, that she used to be.

So, about a year after the move, maybe it was less than that, My parents and aunts and uncles, decide to make my grandparents a 60th wedding anniversary. Everyone thought that would cheer my grandmother up. The big day came, and for the first time, in a long timed, we saw my grandmother (or as I liked to refer to her, my grandma LuLu), revert back to her old self. She laughed, made jokes and even made a toast, to her 5 children, their spouses, her 22 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren. My aunt even had a great idea and hired a professional photographer, for the big day, so that my grandmother, the matriarch of over 40 people, could delight in the joy of seeing that family photo, for years to come.

That was the last (full) family photo. Two day later she was rushed to the hospital with pneumonia and a month later she passed away. A day or two before she died I went to visit my Grandma in the hospital. I had never seen her like that. I cried because I knew my future husband and children would never get to meet this amazing woman. I held my grandmother, and tried to keep a positive and happy demeanor, but instinct took over and the tears flowed. My grandmother could hardly talk, and I'm sure she was in a lot of pain. as lying in a hospital bed was not the most comfortable position for anyone with osteoporosis. I turned to her amidst the tears and said "Grandma I love you, you have to get better, for you're a matriarch of over 40 people and you're going to be a matriarch of so many more". All my grandmother did was something she did her whole life; she smiled at me. In that moment I truly felt my grandmother saying to me, everything she had ever wanted to convey to me since I was a little girl, - be happy in life! A few days later my grandmother died. I think it was during the Shiva (week of intense mourning following burial) when I realized just how many people my grandmother had impacted during her lifetime. If I recall correctly between the various children sitting shiva there were over a thousand people who came to pay their respects.

At five, I knew about the comic strip the “Lockhorns”, because everyone compared my grandparent’s relationship to it. My wise grandmother convinced my grandfather she couldn’t cook, so he did the cooking (I think the same held true for cleaning too). And although he wouldn’t openly admit it, my grandfather loved my grandmother tremendously. Heck, they were together for 60 years. My grandfather had been in and out if the hospital, since before they made the transition to the facility, and moved to the dependent living, with an aide, after my grandmother passed. Three years after my grandmother died, to the day, he was brought back to the hospital. I visited him, reminded him that he had something to look forward to, if he lived till his birthday, for I was pregnant with his 22 great- grandchild. The same smile that I got from my grandmother 2 years before had appeared on off my grandfathers lips. It was déjà vu. That it was , a few days later when I got a call from my father, that my grandfather would no longer be calling out in his sleep, for his wife, for now, he would be sleeping along side her. His passing, was sad, but unlike my grandmothers was not tragic, for he truly had lived a full life; passing at 92, as a patriarch of 22 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren (almost).

I am left with no biological grandparents (though Ezzie grandparents do a great job, as surrogates, And I refer to them as grandma and grandpa and I consider myself and Elianna lucky to have them, and have them reside nearby).

There is so much more to write about my grandmother. There are pages and pages dedicated to her on Google, in the RPI library, and amongst the memories and very thoughts of so many people. What I am left with is memories, some, which I have shared with you, others that I will try to share and dictate to my children. One thing I am left with is the smile, and the message it has conveyed since the day I saw my grandparents lay frail and immobile in their hospital beds- live every day with a smile, live happily- we did!

(On a side note- People ask me, if I was so close with my grandmother why I didn’t name Elianna after her. I never told this to anyone, but I feel like, no-one can replace my grandma Lulu, no one can live up to her potential, or live life to the extent she did. However, Elianna - in literal terms, G-d Answered, is in fact after my grandmother, For G-d answered me in many ways, one significant one, was by giving me a girl, who had that same smile as my grandma Lu- Lu, and I can look at her, nostalgically and always remember my grandma, not through her name, but through her – live every day, happily, -smile)!

This post is dedicated to two very special people who impacted my life greatly, and helped me realize that although I couldn’t be a math genius, like them, my husband could be! Thank you Yehudis Eeeta bat Devorah Leah and Avraham Shmuel ben Chana Risa.

My Grandma

I don't know why I am posting this. Maybe it's cause I am at work, and I have no energy for anything else, so I might as well write. It has been a hard couple of weeks. My grandmother in Israel has been very ill with a high fever. In February, she had surgery to remove cancer from her liver. They removed most of it, but there were some specs of it still on the liver that they could not remove. At her age, any more surgery would make matters worse. So, as I was saying these last couples of weeks have been hard because the fever and sickness caused her to slip into unconsciousness She has been on morphin and an IV was the only way she was able to give her body any nutrients.

So last night was my sister’s bat mitzvah party. It was beautiful. Everyone was happy, dancing and eating. My parents had a slide show made, and one of the pictures was that of my sister at about age 10 meeting my grandparents in Israel for the first time. I couldn’t help but shed some tears thinking how sick my grandmother is. A picture like that is worth so much. Looking at ones grandparents, you are at awe at the connection with the past. That you are here due to them. I was glad to see my father dance and smile. My parents didn’t know what to do. Should they cancel the bat mitzvah or go ahead with it. My dad decided that we should go along with it, and to be hopeful that everthing would be fine, even though we all knew it was only a matter of time. I guess you have to continue with your life right? She was not dead and canceling it was probably the wrong thing to do. My dad really wanted my sister to have her day. What would have happened if my grandmother passed away that very day? I don’t know. We thought about it, but we just had to continue.

My dad is flying today. He wanted to fly right after the bat mitvah, but noon today was the earliest ticket my mom could find him. It’s 11:30AM and I get a call on my cell phone from Israel. Its my cousin. She died.

My cousin asked me whether my dad took off already and I said that he is probably still at the gate. He wanted us to decide whether or not to tell him. I get a call from my mom. She is downstairs in front of my work. We cry, and hug. We both decide it is better that we not tell him. What good would it do? He has a very long, lonely flight till he gets to Israel. Its noon and he calls my mom to tell him he has not boarded yet. She tries to sound normal for the duration of the call.

I remember telling my dad before he left, to tell my grandmother that my four-year old wears the necklace she bought her, every Shabbat. It’s not going to happen now. But one thing is certain; as a final gift to all of us, she gave my sister her day to celebrate.

Ushpizin at the Muqata

It's that time again... when Jameel leaves the Muqata scarily unattended and allows numerous J-bloggers from all over take it over. As happened last year, the guest posts are spectacular, as everyone seems to write even better than normal while writing for other people's blogs... and Jameel picked some good ones to begin with. My favorites so far: Scraps' Where do you call "home"? and Akiva's Intimidation. Read those, but take time and enjoy the Muqata while Jameel's gone all this week and part of next week as well. Excerpts:

So imagine my surprise and consternation when I was on the bus with a friend at the end of the summer and overheard her conversation on the phone with someone else. "I had a great time here," she said, "but now I'm ready to go home." What?! I thought. What do you mean, "you're ready to go home"?! This IS home! Of course, thank G-d I had the tact to keep my mouth shut, but it got me thinking. Why was it that I knew that Israel was home, but she just thought of it as a nice place to visit? What differences were there between us that would lead to our disparate lines of thought?

And then it occurred to me.
The 'policeman' is beginning to lose control of his grip, screams at him "you're not going anywhere!" and reaches over with his other hand to pull his steel billy club.

My friend calmly, with his other hand, pulls back his long black coat. You'll remember I mentioned he lived not to far from Jameel, there's a large firearm on his side (perfectly legal and licensed). He looks at the 'policeman' and says, "achi (my brother), are you ready to meet at the beis din lamala (the heavenly court), are you clean?"
Enjoy the guests... Jameel, Mazel Tov!

JRants Returns

I'm with Chaim on this one:
It seems that JRants is now working again. I'm very happy to see that. While I use my RSS feed manager to see when my favorite blogs have been updated. I find that without Jrants I don't see anything else. It's good to see it back and I look forward to seeing new blogs which arent in my RSS feed reader.

Guardians of our Children

Sephardi Lady has a fascinating post titled Guardianship Dilemma, which discusses a somewhat uncomfortable topic: Whom would you want to take care of your children in case of death (c'v)? She focuses on a different question - would you ask the permission of the person you've chosen to put their name on the will or would you not ask and assume they will step up should the need arise. I really don't know what to think, and there is much to be said for both sides. There are a lot of good points in the comments of SL's post - feel free to add your own.

I'm curious how people choose who they would want to take their child; I'm assuming that people generally pick a sibling [or parents if young enough], which makes great sense, obviously, but I wonder how many seriously consider a friend instead? Often, a large part of that decision is hashkafa (essentially ideals), and I feel that a couple is often closer in hashkafa* to their close friends than to their siblings, in addition to the friends being a closer age match/having kids of their own of similar age [which may or may not make things easier].

Other factors I can think of:
  • Finances
  • Age
  • Number of other children
  • Personalities
  • Location
  • Education
* Feel free to disagree. I just notice that this seems to be the case not only in my family, but with each of my parents, with Serach's family, and with each of her parents... in addition to many other people we know.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Boychiks of Summer - Israel Baseball Tees Off


YARKON FIELD, PETACH TIKVA - Like many baseball fans in the Jewish community I was excited to hear that Israel was getting its own professional baseball league. When fortune had it that I would be in Israel this summer I excitedly contacted my brother, who resides in Israel, and made plans to attend. Well, the day finally came and I had many questions about this league. What would the quality of gameplay be? Would the playing fields measure up to pro standards? Israel Baseball games are only 7 innings, so when do they stretch? (FYI - Middle of the Fifth). Well, I had a front row seat, literally, to the evening’s proceedings and I can lay it out for you, but you’ll have to excuse any stream-of-consciousness writing, as it is close to 3AM while I type this.

The game itself was OK; I was entertained, but I reserve judgment. The game was played on a Sunday when most of the league’s players did not arrive until the Friday immediately preceding. This led to some less-than-crisp play, especially by the Petach Tikva Pioneers, who were routed 9-1 by the Modi’in Miracle (the team I had chosen as my rooting interest because of their strong Met-ties with orange and blue as team colors and former Miracle Met, Art Shamsky, as manager). The 2B and SS had miscommunications about who would be covering the bag and dove into each other at one point going for a groundball; also, there was an embarrassing moment for the catcher, Michael Olsen (heretofore Two-Out Olsen), who after a strikeout in the 4th tossed the ball to the infield grass, as catchers customarily do, however this was only the 2nd out and allowed the runner to advance while he was making his way to the dugout, thus giving a unique twist to Catcher's Indifference. An acquaintance of mine who is playing on the Pioneers informed me before the game that the team had only met once before the game that Friday and had only had a single half-hour session serve as their “practice”.

Because of the one-sided nature of the game, it being the inaugural game, and its being televised on PBS this coming Sunday the managers attempted to get everyone into the game, especially the few players from Israel, who were well-received by the fans. For you highlight-junkies and trivia buffs, Ryan Crotin, 3B for Petach Tikva, hit the league’s first, and thus far only, homer-a shot down the LF line. [FYI #2- The OF dimensions were respectable; 320 in the corners and 385 to center]

Former US Ambassador to Israel and now Israel Baseball Commissioner Dan Kurtzer threw out the league’s ceremonial first pitch, although the pitch was a weak one and sailed about 10-15 ft to the 3B side of home plate. This was symbolic of the day in general, a little off the mark, but could be good with a little improvement. The league was faced with unexpected interest for the game, it had anticipated a crowd of 1,000 and the day of the game announced expansion for an additional 1,000 (the attendance turned out to be in excess of 3,000). On the way to the game I joked with my brother that since this is Israel, the “expansion” would be accomplished by the use of Keter brand plastic chairs (those of you who have spent any amount of time in Israel know what I am talking about), as fate would have it I was exactly right, although they did use the nicer green ones instead of the cheap white ones; I was lucky enough to be there early to secure seating in one of the bleacher areas behind the backstop. Overall the field itself was very nice and the accommodations are comparable to a high school field, but nice.

Another setback was the sound system/ PA announcer which was fully functioning for 2 minutes and for the rest of the game was barely audible in my section, which was, as I mentioned earlier, not far away-being right by home plate. This made it hard to identify players, since their names are not on their jerseys, their numbers are not listed in the program, and I couldn’t hear the announcements.

Additionally, I have sat through many games in the summer sun at Shea Stadium, but the Middle-Eastern sun is a whole different ball game and I couldn’t help, but feel that some sort of shading over the spectator area would have been warranted and not unreasonable. Also, the league had hyped itself as being very fun-oriented in the style of many minor leagues. This was hardly the case; music was only infrequently played and the few between-inning promotions attempted came off as a little lame and disorganized, although the crowd seemed amused by the cliché’ dizzy-bat races. On the plus side, the environment was very family-friendly and tickets and concessions were affordable (50 shek for premium seating and concessions provided by Burgers Bar at their normal prices).

As the saying goes, Kol Hatchalot Kashot [all beginnings are difficult] and there is much to be positive about in this new league with what seems to be competitive talent, ranging from age 17 to 51 (yikes!) [League officials have compared themselves favorably with the level of A-Ball; I’m no scout, so all I can say is Major-Leaguers, they ain’t], and problems that are easily fixable. There was nothing uniquely “Jewish” or “Israeli” about the experience except for the singing of Hatikva, but as a baseball-lover, I, along with many other Americans-in-Israel will continue to follow and support this new league, but it remains to be seen how Israelis will take to it. I saw very few, aside from the media, and have no real basis to speculate whether they will warm up to this pastime of ours. But if need be I will keep you posted as the official SerandEz Israel Baseball Correspondent.

{Additional Notes: I caught the rebroadcast of the game later that night on Israeli TV and was moderately impressed with the coverage. The announcers were knowledgeable about baseball and did a decent job explaining the rules. Thankfully they did not attempt to apply new hebrew terminology, but rather transliterated the traditional english terms in their hebrew commentary. Also, managers were miked allowing viewers to hear their discussion in the dugout, to umpires, and, what I found most interesting, to the pitcher during a mound conference. Schmaltzy Line of the Day was awarded to the JNF rep. who waxed, between innings, about the Jewish-Israel connection to baseball since it is all about coming "home".}


Oh, this is a great way to convince terrorists to stop carrying out attacks. What a moron. I challenge anyone to explain how this can possibly be interpreted as smart and somehow not insulting to victims of terrorism.


See one of our niece's latest comments at Our Kids Speak.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Actual Personal Ads

Someone gave me these from some Israeli paper. Enjoy

1. Attractive Jewish woman, 35. College graduate seeks successful Jewish Prince Charming to get me out of my parents house.

2. Shul Gabbai, 36. I take out the Torah Saturday morning. Would like to take you out Saturday night. Please write.

3. Couch potato latke, in search of the right applesauce. Let's try it for eight days. Who knows?

4. Divorced Jewish man, seeks partner to attend shul with, light candles, celebrate holidays, build Succah together, attend brisses, bar mitzvahs. Religion not important.

Stuck on 5 Songs

I'm too lazy to do a roundup, even though there are a few good posts out there, so I'll just do this meme from Chaim - the 5 songs stuck in my head at the moment:
  • Carrie Underwood's Before He Cheats
  • Rascal Flatts' Skin
  • Nickelback's If Everyone Cared
  • Rihanna's Umbrella
  • Um, those are the only ones stuck at the moment. So I turned on my Yahoo! channel and took one that was stuck a while ago: Daniel Powter's Bad Day
As it's a Friday, if you feel like doing this one, consider yourself tagged. :)

Click! (Elianna)

For all those who have been to SerandEz, you know what this is. For all those who haven't... suffice it to say that she can do this much louder than she does here. It's amazingly hilarious. :) (Oh, and you gotta love the shimmying...!)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ezzie Runs 3.5 Miles+

I'm already running late, which basically means I have to run there, but I'm about to race in the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge at Central Park. Should be fun! It's a 3.5 mile race, and I still have to get there, which is a couple miles. Ugh.

Maybe I'll be skinny afterwards! (Haha.)

Micro-Terrorism & The Supporting World

The exact details do not matter for the point I'd like to make, but there is an interesting story currently unfolding in tiny Plainfield, N.H. A quick summary:

Ed Brown and his wife, Elaine, have locked themselves off from the world on their own terms.

From behind the 8-inch concrete walls of their 110-acre hilltop compound, the couple taunt police and SWAT teams and play to reporters and government-haters with references to past standoffs that turned deadly. Residents want the Browns' circus to end before their small Connecticut River town becomes the next Ruby Ridge or Waco. ...

Ed Brown warned authorities they wouldn't take him alive: "We either walk out of here free or we die."

The Browns were sentenced in abstentia to 63-month prison sentences in April, after being convicted of conspiring to evade taxes on nearly $1.9 million in Elaine Brown's income and of plotting to disguise large financial transactions.

Meanwhile, the government is doing very little. The basic problems: People have free reign to the Brown home, and are therefore able to continue to supply them with whatever they need. They have access to the media. They have access to food and drink.
We've never really seen convicted felons just be able to hold press conferences," Halleran said. "There has to be a restriction of access to and from their property. If people can continue to visit them, to bring them supplies, with diesel fuel and food, they can stay there for a long time."
Also important is that the US Marshal made the following statement:

Though they have refused to leave the compound, U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier insists he has no plans to raid it to make them serve their time and will instead seek a peaceful surrender.

That's nice. So how's that working, eh?

This post is not about Ed & Elaine Brown. It's about terrorism, and what the ability of those who are willing to use force to achieve their goals have over those who are not willing. This compound is a perfect micro example of what terrorists do all over the world... and how the rest of the world allows them to get away with it.

The Browns are not cut off from food and water supplies - because nobody wants to cut them off. The Browns are not cut off from saying what they want to the media - because nobody wants to block the press. The Browns have numerous anti-government/anti-establishment people running to 'support them', making any government action that much more difficult... and nobody is stopping them. Their funds are not cut off, and the raid on Elaine Brown's dentistry office likely didn't do much to them. Meanwhile, they are essentially holding their town hostage, and wasting vast amounts of government (taxpayer) money, as there are plenty of agents wasting their time watching them, trying to figure out what to do.

And yet, nothing is happening. As it stands now, they're having a good old time, with no worries about the federal government actually raiding them, because nobody can stomach the fight - particularly when the media is around. If anything makes this more amazing, they're doing all this without any real demands - just that they be left alone. They're not asking for land, they're not asking for money... heck, they're not even calling on the destruction of Israel and the death of all Jews!

Does all of this sound familiar, until the end? That's because it is exactly what Hamas, Fatah, and the rest do to Israel - and how the world actually helps them get away with it, by not cutting off their food, their money, their weapons, or their access. By actually giving them all of those, and telling Israel to actually give in to most of the demands they make. By allowing them constant [and favorable] media access and voice, despite all that they are doing.

This was just a little example of why terrorism works... and will continue to work, until the world starts to play a little rougher with those who try to hold themselves above the rules of the world. A little lesson in terrorism from Plainview, New Hampshire - who'd have guessed?

Why I'm Slow... and Proud

Those who know me well know that I am not exactly Mr. Jump the Gun. Most people assume that it's laziness... and that's partially true. But more importantly, I don't see a need to rush things all the time. I find that if I were to do the same thing as someone else, there would be a marked difference in how it gets done: While the other person might start off much faster, doing the job as it normally is done, I generally spend my time slowly tinkering with ideas and how best to do the job at hand in the least amount of time and with minimal effort (again, partly because I'm lazy). I find it to be much more efficient, relaxing, and in the end, far more successful. I think that most people intuitively understand this concept and many do the same themselves.

But yet, we see everyone constantly rushing around... and this is particularly true in big cities, particularly true in Jewish communities, and especially true of Jews in New York City. I've written about this rushed feeling in New York before [I'll try to link it later], and lately I've spent more time trying to move slowly, be more relaxed. It's actually entertaining to walk at an "out-of-towner" pace in Midtown Manhattan, as people rush and bustle all around you, and realize 'I don't need to live like this'. While obviously there is a time and place for doing things quickly, most of the time, we all could use a little bit of a slow-down.

And now, enjoy this video. Yes, you do have the time for it. Just slow down a bit. :)

: Many SerandEz readers may want to skip from about 8:20 to 9:40 or so.

The Out-of-Towner's Guide to Jewish Chicago

Have you ever wondered about Jewish Chicago?

Have your friends talked about places while you stood by uncomfortably, wishing you understood the conversation?

Are you moving there? Are your friends moving there? Are you coming for a visit?

Do you need to know about the communities, malls, shuls and more? And would you like more than a mere address listing?

Well....fear no longer!

I present (and the post will stay up this time) The Out-of-Towner's Guide to Jewish Chicago.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

hits the spot

Seems that the busier i am, the more things i have to post.

This video is a satirical reminder to be same'ach b'chelkeinu (happy with what we have).

What Every Jewish Home Needs

Wolf wrote up a list. It's a good one, and he asks that you feel free to point out anything he's missed.

Empathy & Intuition

Do you think that the ability to pick up on and understand people's feelings - even when they are hiding them - is a skill one is born with, or are people more empathetic at first*, and then learn to pick up on people's thoughts and feelings as they mature?

* I'm assuming that empathy is more natural; feel free to dispute this as well.

Isaac Newton: Frumie

I was enjoying James Taranto's Best of the Web as always, yesterday, when he mentioned this really interesting link.
Three-century-old manuscripts by Isaac Newton calculating the exact date of the apocalypse, detailing the precise dimensions of the ancient temple in Jerusalem and interpreting passages of the Bible--exhibited this week for the first time--lay bare the little-known religious intensity of a man many consider history's greatest scientist.

Newton, who died 280 years ago, is known for laying much of the groundwork for modern physics, astronomy, math and optics. But in a new Jerusalem exhibit, he appears as a scholar of deep faith who also found time to write on Jewish law--even penning a few phrases in careful Hebrew letters--and combing the Old Testament's Book of Daniel for clues about the world's end. . . .

In one manuscript from the early 1700s, Newton used the cryptic Book of Daniel to calculate the date for the Apocalypse, reaching the conclusion that the world would end no earlier than 2060. "It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner," Newton wrote. However, he added, "This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail."
The article is really interesting, and the website - from the Jewish National & University Library in Israel - is fascinating. It has the actual manuscripts from Newton, and while he was [I believe] a devout Christian, he spends quite a bit of time on the Old Testament, particularly the Beis Hamikdash (Temple). It's really interesting stuff.

just a quickie...

I work as an assistant in a 2nd grade girls classroom. Sometimes the kids say or do things that are just so funny or incredible. I really should post them on OurKidsSpeak.

During recess today, a Hatzalah ambulance sped past the playground with its sirens on. We were in the middle of an action packed game of Elimination, but the girl holding the ball stopped for a second. It was only after a few seconds that i realized what she was doing. Little Miriam had paused to say a Perek of Tehillim (chapter of Psalms) for whomever was in the ambulance, just as she probably sees her mother do in similar situations.
Mee Ki'amcha Yisrael? Who is like the Jewish nation?

Another cute anecdote:
Recently, I asked a group of girls to come sit on the floor so we could play a Hebrew grammar game. As Tamar sat down, she sniffed the air and said, "Mmmm, it smells so good. Morah, did you take a shower?"

I'm gonna miss these kids so much when they're big 3rd graders!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I found this picture and I knew I had to share it with Ezzies readers. This picture was taken at my wife's highschool graduation (back when she was just my GF). I sat in the front row bleachers while the graduating class was in the middle of the field. I thought it would be nice to make a poster for her and hang it up on the railling, wishing her her a great big congratulations, where ofcourse everyone can see. That was nice of me huh? Well... you decide. Lets take a look at a closeup poster

Yup. Suprise, suprise. I actually managed to misspell "Congratulations." I'm pretty sure everyone saw it, and everyone understand that I, the college boyfriend, at a highschool graduation ceremony, misspelled "Congratulations. My GF was mortified and she still happily remembers that till this day.

Hello World!

Count this as my official step through the door into the blogging world! I have been toying with the idea of posting for a looong time and therefore have come up with numerous topics in which I can discuss. Not that I find my own thoughts so intriguing, but hey, maybe someone else in the world will.

Perhaps first I should tell the world (or rather ezzie's collection of blog friends which has been amassed over time) a little bit about myself (aka my display name).

I have a few major theories/motto's for my life. One of things I always say about myself is that I do not beat around the bush. That being said, ipaytoomuchformyhair states many things about me. I am not afraid to tell people that I am, without a doubt, someone who can fall into the category of being a JAP (Jewish American Princess). But if you ask any person who knows me if I act like one - I would bet a nice chunk of change that 99.9% of those people would tell you no.

Does that mean that if I am JAP that people automatically assume things about me? Why can't that just mean that I enjoy material things but also have an opinion to voice about things that really matter?

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 6/19: Top Ten

A lot of great posts in the J-blogosphere, with a lot of good messages...
  • 10) Aidel is having a rough go of things.
  • 9) DAG on the strawberry "crisis". Heh.
  • 8) Jewish Blogmeister interviews DafNotes. Very interesting.
  • 7) Sarah with more beautiful pictures as always...
  • 6) Treppenwitz questions what's wrong with collective punishment, particularly as we have collective reward. I've often wondered the same, particularly in certain situations.
  • 5) Yet another reminder why we love Our Kids Speak, courtesy of the PT.
  • 4) Chaim looks at the Lubavitcher Rebbe's yahrtzeit as a day of personal thanks.
  • 3) Chana asks people to help put together a guide to NY/NJ. So far, it's interesting to see how people view their own communities and the ones they see.
  • 2) Scraps thinks about some rough memories.
  • 1) BeyondBT's R' Goldson follows up on the 'middle' posts. Excellent post. Excerpt:

    With his characteristic eloquence, Rav Feldman laments a state of affairs wherein many Chareidim look down on Modern Orthodoxy as essentially irreligious while many Modern Orthodox prefer the company of irreligious Jews to that of Chareidim. Instead of looking toward the vast ocean of halacha and hashkofoh we have in common, we pick on the few differences, magnify them beyond proportion, declare they are symptomatic of some profound spiritual contagion, and keep our distance lest we or our children become infected by the ideological illness of the other side.

    Frum Jews to the right or the left of us are not our enemies.


I mentioned last week that at my friend's wedding, 13 of the 22 guys in our graduating class were able to make it, while a few had other weddings to attend. Last night, at another wedding, 16 of 22 were able to make it. That's pretty amazing.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Man Hug

Hilarious. (Hat tip: Mom, I think.)

Public Schools Get Shomer

From SaraK, this is interesting...

Fairfax County middle school student Hal Beaulieu hopped up from his lunch table one day a few months ago, sat next to his girlfriend and slipped his arm around her shoulder. That landed him a trip to the school office.

Among his crimes: hugging.

All touching -- not only fighting or inappropriate touching -- is against the rules at Kilmer Middle School in Vienna. Hand-holding, handshakes and high-fives? Banned. The rule has been conveyed to students this way: "NO PHYSICAL CONTACT!!!!!"

Israeli Real Estate Meeting - NY/NJ


Some of you may have noticed the ads that appear above this space. One of those ads includes one that I think is very important, and actually sent to someone last week, but I was asked to and agreed to write a little more about it for those who may be interested.

For those who are contemplating or seriously considering making aliyah, there will be a real estate fair next Sunday thru Tuesday (June 17th - 19th) in the New York-New Jersey area. For details including times and places, click here.

According to Jameel, who even has a friend who found his house through this fair, the fair generally has booths from contractors, builders, agents, mortgage bankers, and other “interested parties”, and that the representatives aren't just from Jerusalem, but from all over: Modi'in, Beit Shemesh, Ma'ale Adumim, etc. Moreover, there's usually even a bank that will not only guide you on how to go about getting a mortgage in Israel, but can even help you start the process.

If you're interested or even barely interested in making aliyah - whether in the near future or years off - check it out here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Love from Elianna

Dear Daddy,



(Click to see the full-size picture.)

Happy Father's Day!

Haveil Havalim #121 is up over at Jack's, with a lot about fathers...

As a note, my dad is neither like Chana's nor Fudge's. But my Dad used to take us to Browns-Steelers games, which are soooo much cooler. :)

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

(Yes, Elianna 'made me a card'. And said Dada a bunch of times. And Hi well over a hundred so far today.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 6/15: Payday

Some pre-Shabbos reads...
  • 4) OC has an interesting article detailing some of what's going on in Gaza... and why the people there suddenly want Israel back.
  • 3) NoyG sums up his feelings on Gaza very well. His last line - about being thankful that there are no Jews still there - is an important lost point in this. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out, but surely it is a plus from the Israeli side in the present that there are no Israelis there.
  • 2) Kefirot on depression.
  • 1) Daled Amos (over at SoccerDad) has a very good post with a great line by James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal that I somehow missed:
    According to the Globe, Israel is to blame both for its "occupation" and for having ended it--the latter of which "allowed Hamas to bid for power." But "the people of Gaza" are innocent victims. It somehow escapes the Globe's notice that Hamas came to power because Palestinians voted for it. The Globe denies that Palestinians are responsible for their own actions, and thereby dehumanizes them under a pretense of compassion.
It's a packed Shabbos at SerandEz, even though Shoshana skimped out. An unsurprising 6 or more guests tonight, 9 or more tomorrow... and almost all female between the ages of 19 and 25. Anyone have ear plugs? Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Ridiculous Apology by the BBC

(Hat tip: Michael) Yet another reason nobody should support the BBC:

The BBC apologized this week for referring to Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and promised not to repeat "the mistake," following a complaint by four British organizations.

Arab Media Watch, Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Al-Aksa and the Institute of Islamic Political Thought sent a joint complaint to the BBC after a presenter on its Football Focus program on March 24 mentioned that Jerusalem was Israel's capital and "historic soul."

In a letter to the complaining NGOs, Fraser Steel, head of editorial complaints at the BBC, said: "We of course accept that the international community does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and that the BBC should not describe it as such. I was therefore pleased to see that Katherine Tsang [BBC Information adviser], when she wrote to you in April, acknowledged the error and apologized for it. [Presenter] Steve Boulton and other senior managers in BBC Sport told us they very much regret the mistake and apologize for it."

"Senior managers will try to ensure, as you suggest, that the mistake is not repeated. Because it appears on the Web site, there will be a public acknowledgement of the error, and the action taken in consequence."

Steel added: "I'd like to add my apologies for this most regrettable, but I'm sure accidental, factual mistake. I appreciate that the status of Jerusalem is of particular concern to Palestinians, and it is important that it is not misrepresented. I am confident that lessons have already been learned, and they will be emphasized as a result of my decision."

Sick. It is mind-boggling how slanted the BBC is. A good, simple response by Israel:
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said in response: "Jerusalem is Israel's capital. It is the right of every sovereign state to determine which city will be its capital."

My Old Job Returns!

via Mom:
Kosher Hot Dogs are available once again at Jacob's Field.

Starting Sunday, June 17th (Father's Day) kosher hot dogs will be available at the new Nak-Nik hot dog stand at Jacob's Field. The stand will feature the Abeles & Heymann (OU-Glatt) hot dogs, which are considered the premium kosher hot dogs in NYC.

The stand is under the kosher supervision of Rabbi Granatstein of Green Road Synagogue, and the hot dog equipment will be locked up when not under supervision.
The stand will be ran by Gazi Fedur, the Lebanese Christian man who owns the Subway at the JCC, and will feature special toppings including Tibor's beef-fry. Tibor's Italian Sausage will also be available. The stand is located on the first base side near the subway, and there will be on-site Hashgacha at all times.

Special thanks for Earl Lefkowitz and Tom Sudow who created the original concept, and brought kosher hot dogs back to Jacob's Field. Earl currently markets kosher bison meat across the US and Tom is the Executive Director of the Beachwood Chamber of Commerce.
I loved working at the old kosher stand when I was 17, 18 years old, along with Pobody's Nerfect & Groovin'. Either Earl or Tom (whichever could come) would man the beer, while Groovin' took care of the sodas and chips and getting us supplies; Pobody would do the grilling after I'd come early and grilled the first 150 or so, and I would switch over to cashier and management, basically. We'd pull in about $2,500-$4,000 a night (of which we would get about $75-85/game - I made $1,800 on 22 games the last summer) which would go to the Jewish Federation [EDIT: My mother reminds me that while the Federation may have run the stand, the money may have actually gone to some charities. I *do* know that they didn't pay us, but rather gave the money to our schools, and our parents would pay us based on what they no longer had to get the school for 'give or get' or some such thing.], we'd get free hot dogs and unlimited fountain soda (Dr. Pepper is the best fountain soda), and we'd get to see the games sporadically when there was no line and from after we closed down in the 7th inning. The stand we manned was in the upper deck right behind the plate, which obviously is a great spot; they had a lot of come-from-behind wins back then, so that was a nice bonus.

I remember that despite our having 3-4 people manning the stand, we would still outsell the 8-person stand which sold everything that was right across from us; that's probably because everyone would rave about "those Kosher dogs!" which were the same price as the regular ones. I'll admit it, they were really good hot dogs. Then there was the older floor manager who would tell us that we can't have the tip cup out, but had to keep it under the counter... even as he stuck a couple dollars of his own in (we'd pull in about $50-100 a night in tips which we'd split); and we had the area boss who looked 30, was absolutely brilliant, and we only discovered a month in was actually just 19 years old. Finally, there were the constant requests and comments we'd get from customers asking about Pobody's Nerfect, to which we kindly explained that trying to hit on 14/15-year olds is really, really strange when you're 20-40 years old. (Of course they wouldn't believe us, insisting that she had to be 18, 19 years old. Whatever.)

Anyway, it's great to see that the kosher stand is back, and all of us here at SerandEz wish our old job the best of luck!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

You Rule!

I've been tagged by Krum to write a mock YouRule! ad (see his post for why and the details) for Virgin Mobile, and his was pretty funny, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Of course, I'm not anonymous, so I can't be as mean as I'd like to be, but I'll try anyway. If you're offended, well... that's the point. Laugh it off!

Hmm... it was hard to pick a community, so I'm cheating a bit. [Hey, I'm not anonymous, give me a break.]

Here we go...
You Rule, O Wise Bloggers of the J-Blogosphere! You are truly the paragons of insight, pointing out flaws that nobody has ever noticed before. Without you sitting there at your computer, furiously typing away, how would we know what we're doing wrong and what's wrong with our communities? How else would we know what causes the shidduch crisis, why charedim are so messed up, or that yeshiva tuition needs to dropped for anyone to afford it? Who else would tell us that Arabs are evil lying terrorists or that the right is a bunch of brainless Bush backers? Thank you for your clear, level-headed discussion that never resorts to empty rhetoric, O Pundits of the People of the Book. We are jealous of your ability to project perfection from your anonymous soapbox - while putting down everyone else with your admonishments - and are awed by the mockery you compose of everything which Judaism holds dear. As thanks, we are providing you with a present: A phone line with no annual contract, which is just like having no personal responsibility or consistency. You know, kinda like the comments and opinions you express while blogging: All of which you take no responsibility for and which are constantly changing according to your whims - or whatever might get you a few more hits. You Rule, O J-blogger.
I tag Chana, OurBSeh, Moshe, TheApple, Sephardi Lady, and Erachet. And if anyone else wants to, they can do it, too.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 6/14: Roundtable

While all our managers and seniors spend the day in a closed room, discussing us, criticizing us, praising us, and the like, y'all can read this stuff that's out there. My fellow pod-mate calls it the Yom HaDin, but nobody's really worried. (Cynically, that makes it even more like Yom Kippur, right?) Eight is great today:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

MIT: Israel Can Take Out Iran's Nuclear Program

Very interesting post at Jameel, linking to an MIT study on Israel's ability to take out Iran's nuclear capabilities if they so desired. To sum it up: Yes, easily.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 6/13: Oooh, 6/13!!

Worthwhile reading/viewing:


Shehecheyanu is the name used to refer to a blessing generally made on something new, or new for that year.

(Hat tip: FrumDoc) Well, well, well. Human Rights Watch finally does something right:
The Human Rights Watch organization Wednesday condemned Hamas and Fatah for committing "serious violations of international humanitarian law, in some cases amounting to war crimes" in violence in Gaza in recent days.

It also took the Islamic Jihad and the Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades to task for a June 9 incident in which gunmen used a jeep bearing "TV" insignias to allow them to approach and attack an IDF post in southern Israel, calling it a "serious violation of the laws of war."
Of course, the main impetus for this was the deaths of Palestinians, not Jews, but hey - it's something, right?


(Hat tip: Shtender) The Spurs may be better than the Cavs, but this is really cool!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

6 Years Later...

On Sunday, my high school - the Wisconsin Institute for Torah Study (WITS) - celebrated its annual dinner, which always honors the graduating class and whoever they are honoring that year. This is the sixth such dinner since the one celebrating the graduation of my own class of 22 in 2001.

Last night, another member of that class got married, and in a series of odd twists, this is the same classmate whose house I would stay at often; whose sister I work with; and his wife just so happens to be my sister-in-law's sister. (Yeah, exactly.)

I was able to get a ride with a fellow former classmate whose own wedding is next week, and we were with two more classmates. At the wedding, I did a quick count: Of the 22 guys who graduated, 13 of them were able to come this wedding six years later - and surely even more (if not all) would have done so if they lived closer (6) or didn't have another wedding that night (3). At one point, we were all surrounding him in one circle, along with the principal and Rebbe we all had (some in 11th, some in 12th).

Six years later. That's pretty darn impressive, I think.

Tuition & Congress

A couple of very interesting posts out there:
  • Sephardi Lady discusses the Jewish Observer's articles on tuition, including R' Y. Kaminetsky's responses from long ago;
  • The Apple writes about her first week working as a Congressional intern - the work and the life.
  • R' Ally on asking a Rabbi your questions personally.
  • Jameel has election predictions for Israel's Labor Party and President.

My Israel

From here. Hat tip: My sister, Vervel, who about 12 years ago cried and cried, not wanting to go through with her long-planned summer trip to Israel that she'd saved up for forever, even convincing my grandparents to take her back from the airport before a miraculous drive back to JFK to send her off in time... then cried and cried not wanting to leave a month or so later. And I can relate quite a bit, so... enjoy this amazing short video. (Heh - and then you can always take a look at the post a bit below this one again and look into going home... :) )

Monday, June 11, 2007

Honesty & ArtScroll

I noted a couple of days ago Chana's post on honesty and the past. Directly related are the following set of posts:
I've got plenty to say on the subject, but most of it has already been said. I believe that it is much wiser in the long-term to divulge both the positives and negatives of a person in a biography of them unless you're noting specifically that you're focusing on certain aspects of a person. Not only does their overcoming obstacles inspire others, but glossing over these negatives has a profound impact on how people view history and how people are supposed to and expected to act.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 6/11: My Tattoo

I know, I put up way too many posts over the weekend. Ah well. Y'all are going to skip the Cavs one anyway. Here's what I enjoyed today:
  • Jack has a picture of my tattoo. Heh.
  • Shoshana's brother goes on Birthright... and is only marrying Jewish. Awesome.
  • Daled Amos with a couple of excellent posts. The first links to an excellent, mind-boggling article in the New York Times Week in Review about jihad called "The Guidebook for Taking a Life". It's probably a lot of fun to be interviewing people about jihad and then have them debate whether to kidnap and kill you.
  • The second is a video that's so good I'm reposting it below.
  • I also posted Childhood of Potential II, which is a continuation from last week's post.

Studies: Death Penalty IS Effective

Sorry, Charlie. (And others.) It seems that every recent comprehensive study has shown that the death penalty does in fact have a strong effect on cutting down on homicides, with the only question being how many lives it saves:
They count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer. ...

"Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it," said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. "The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect."

A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. "The results are robust, they don't really go away," he said. "I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?

Personally, I think I'd be in favor of the death penalty even if it were only a question of one life being saved by it; I see no reason to spare convicted murderers' lives and have absolutely no sympathy for them. That DNA and other evidence is overturning convictions is wonderful, but I think that because we now have that technology we'll have fewer and fewer mistakes in the first place, so this will no longer be an issue. I may be biased in that I don't see how it's possible that it wouldn't deter crime; not only is it less likely to have idiotic releases of criminals (the infamous Illinois release is estimated to have cost 150 lives in the just six years since it happened), but [for example] criminals who already would be getting 25 to life if caught would have no disincentive to stop them from killing a person if they felt that person was a threat.

Regardless of my personal beliefs, though, it seems that there is a clear benefit to having the death penalty. People seem to forget that this does not mean it is required to be meted out; but I think that particularly for the obvious and more gruesome cases, the option must always be available. More importantly, this is a policy that will only negatively impact a tiny population - convicted murderers who have lost all their appeals - while saving the lives of innocent people. I don't understand how people aren't jumping at such an opportunity.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Game 2


WHY IS LARRY HUGHES STILL IN THE GAME!? Stupid foul this time. What a moron. My brother noted that on the Cavs' second possession, he took that terrible shot with :18 left on the clock. Why!?

I told my brother at halftime that I can see them slowly eating at the lead until it's down to (say) 13 near the end of the quarter, and suddenly the announcers will realize "Hey, this isn't over yet." In a way, they're doing that, but the Spurs are still picking up balls the Cavs knock away and hitting the shots, so it doesn't feel like it. But it is down to 21, so we'll see.

Wow. 58-33. This is... embarrassing. I think it's going to have to be Lebron time in the 3rd quarter, with him continuing the drives he's finally started making at the end of the half. If he can keep attacking and drawing fouls (especially on Horry, Duncan, and Oberto) they can start eating away at this lead.

45-26. The last couple shots by Parker were ridiculous. The biggest question I have now: Where are the rebounds?! The Cavs were the 2nd best team in the league at rebounding during the season - what happened?

28-17 after one. That was atrocious. Every time the Cavs let up or space out for even a second, the Spurs just attack. Where's the focus? Outside of Gibson, Z, and Snow, everyone looks dazed. No wonder they're so much better with the Varajeo/Lebron/Gibson/Pavlovic foursome together, it's the only time they play with any focus.

Finally, they take out Larry Hughes. I've been saying for over a year that they're simply better when he's not on the court.

Lebron sits with 2 quick fouls. I think that's smart. The last thing you need is the feeling that Lebron has 3 fouls a few minutes into the game.

Keys to the game, in my opinion:
  • Lebron has to go sharper off the picks toward the basket.
  • Gooden has to pay better attention on D.
  • Gibson needs to play a lot more, Hughes a lot less, Snow when they need things to be more organized.
  • Pavlovic and Gibson should attack a lot more, opening things up.
  • Lebron should work away from the ball a bit more.
  • Their D needs to keep Parker from those easy drives.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 6/10: 34 Years & Counting

On this day in 1973, a very sunny day from the pictures I've seen, my parents - much, much skinnier and with way longer hair - got married! Happy 34th Anniversary, Mom & Dad!

Something very cool: My father got 4 tickets to tonight's first ever HD-3D showing of a major sporting event. The Cavs gave away 14,000 free tickets to people to come see tonight's game - which is in San Antonio - at the "Q" in Cleveland, with an added twist: They are placing four large screens on the court which will project the game in a high-definition 3D view (everyone will get not-as-dorky-but-still-dorky glasses to be able to see it) on the court - to the fans in the stands, it will look like the game is being played right there in front of them. It's a really cool concept and will surely be interesting to see if it's good enough to sell tickets to in the future... while obviously the technology itself is amazing and will have an interesting impact in lots of fields.

A Childhood of Potential II

Part I
Note the footnotes at the bottom. They're tangents that still play a nice role in the story.

Around December of 8th grade, most of us were busy figuring out where we wanted to go for high school. I already knew that I wanted to go to WITS, ever since a wonderful weekend of fun when my brother graduated in 1992, four and a half years earlier. [Ez: Woah. Scary that this is all so long ago. I feel old.] Somehow, despite my lack of stature in the class, six others were to join me on this shabbaton in Milwaukee - one of whom had a brother graduating there but was doubtful about going himself, and five others who were simply very interested. By the end of the weekend, all but that one were reasonably sure they wanted to spend their next four years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 1

Near the end of that weekend, we were given a series of tests - Math, English, and Gemara. The first two I had no trouble with; the latter was given my a Rebbe who had a reputation of being particularly tough for these bechinos, including some kids who had come out crying. I do recall one of the guys I was with doing so, which was surprising as he was one of the smartest kids in our class; but I didn't think much of it. What I remember from that bechina was being surprised that he was in fact asking tougher questions on material we hadn't really learned, but still came out thinking that I'd done pretty well, particularly by quickly figuring the material out on the spot.

By the end of February, we'd all received our acceptances and everyone knew where they'd be going next year, which naturally led to senioritis. I recall our 8th grade Rebbe noting that his career in the HAC had come full circle - from a class of great kids nine year earlier [ironically, including my brother] who had spent half a year testing him before finally calming down and giving him one of his best semesters as a teacher, to our class, which he felt might be the greatest set of kids with potential he'd seen, have a great first semester before coasting once we'd gotten accepted to high schools. One particular incident sticks out in my mind, though, that has to do with me personally.

In addition to all the math achievements and overall achievement I'd had in the secular studies, I was doing very well in his classes as well. Despite sitting in the back corner, drawing, staring out the window, snacking on Groovin's food in front of me, going to the nurse's office for an hour a day due to headaches, 2 and otherwise doing nothing, I still had only once scored under a 90 on a test - an 89.5 when I missed a few days because I was sick. My Rebbe asked to speak to me near the end of the year - as he did with everybody - and, as was common, he invited me to come to his house on a Shabbos [he lived on the next street] and we'd take a walk and talk.

By now you can imagine my shock and surprise when within a couple of minutes he states,
"You know, I had to convince WITS to accept you. They weren't sure they wanted to."
I was flabbergasted. I didn't know what to think: Huh?! WITS? How was that possible? I was... I was the best kid in the class! I was smart! I was a good kid, never did anything wrong, never really got in trouble... My brother had not only gone to WITS, but he'd just spent most of the next five years in their Beis Medrash, had been the dorm counselor, had won the award they gave out for to people who exemplified middos (and I was nicer than him, ha!), and everyone knew that WITS liked taking brothers, barring trouble with the older one(s). How could this be?!

But I waited for him to explain.
"They know you're smart and a really nice guy, but they think you're lazy. You don't put any effort into anything you're doing. They were going to reject you based on that. But I told them that that was their job - they need to teach you not to be lazy. They need to challenge you - I can't do it here in this class, but that's their job, their responsibility for the next four years. I kept pushing for you, and they finally agreed to take you and try. But you need to do it - you can't be lazy there, you can't do what you've been doing here. You have the greatest potential, but you need to learn to try."
Welcome to the most hated and repetitive word of my life. Potential. 3 [spit]

To be continued...

1 Interestingly, four of us went, while one was rejected. The five of us are all very close, and that one did extremely well in the yeshiva he ended up attending, though he encouraged his younger brother to go to WITS when he got in a few years later. Now he's a reader of - and rare contributor to - this blog. The sixth one did very well where he had wanted to attend. The seventh was given an interesting choice by his parents, who struggled with the idea of him going away for high school; he was told to choose what he preferred, WITS or a local more left-wing Modern Orthodox high school that was not producing as well as many of its constituents had hoped. He debated for a while, then chose the latter - and proceeded to quickly change his style of dress, his actions, and just about everything about him. A few years later, he was out of high school but still got his GED, went to Israel and wasn't particularly successful (v'hamyvin yavin), and I believe he is no longer religious. It's particularly sad because I felt he was one of the nicest and sharpest people I have known, and I thought we were similar in a lot of ways back then. If there's anyone who had potential, it's him. Interestingly, I have no clue what he's up to now, but I still would not be shocked to one day see his name in headlines somewhere for founding some brilliant start-up company or the like. He's that type.

2 I had bad headaches starting in 4th grade and lasting pretty much until Israel, with a few here and there since then. I realized later on that they were likely migraines, and there's a nice possibility that I got them because I really didn't want to be wherever I was.

3 Since I've had some comments both online and off jumping to conclusions, I'll just note that the above reaction was my reaction in the past, not as of now, though I still can't stand hearing it. Thankfully I've matured beyond that point, and obviously, any point in this series.