Tuesday, July 31, 2007

If You Were A Simpsons Character

After years of imagining what I would look like as a Simpsons character, somone else did the job for me. Here I am:

Check it out. It's really fun.

You can play around with all the features till you get as close as possible.

Blogging PSA

Courtesy of PsychoToddler:
If you noticed that you have to use word verification when writing a post (or editing) and that it screws up your saving and autosaving, it means Blogger thinks your blog is SPAM. Click on the question mark near the letters and it will prompt you to request a review.

Serach's Scarves

Many of y'all have known this for a while, but (my lovely wife) Serach sells scarves/tichels* of all types - silver striped, thick colored striped, solid, stripes with patterns, tye dye, and now she's even getting "pre-tied" - and in a large number of colors. More importantly, a good friend of ours - "Stoner" - has set up a great, functional website for her business at

Serach's Scarves is based out of our home in Kew Gardens Hills (or Flushing), NY, and you can order online and either have it shipped or pick it up yourself. We're pretty easy to get to, whether you live in Queens, Hillcrest, the Five Towns, Far Rockaway, or even a bit further.

There are pictures** of many of the tichels up on the site, and you can feel free to ask questions via email (also on the site) to Serach about them. The prices are very reasonable and cheaper than you'll find them just about anywhere else; if you see something you'd like that's not there, feel free to ask Serach and she'll see what she can do about it. The same applies to any tichel she runs out of stock of - she can generally get it rather quickly.

Anyway, that's my little pitch; check out the site at!

* Head scarves many Orthodox Jewish women use to cover their hair.
** The images were taken with permission from one of Serach's suppliers.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Hot House

I was sent this a while ago, but forgot to put it up at the time; it's still just as important, however, so please take a moment to read it.
Dear friends,

Today's New York Times carries a review of a film called "Hot House" that goes inside Israeli prisons and examines the lives of Palestinian prisoners. We're not recommending the film or the review. But we do want to share our feelings with you about the beaming female face that adorns the article. You can see it here. The film is produced by HBO. So it's presumably HBO's publicity department that was responsible for creating and distributing a glamor-style photograph of a smiling, contented-looking young woman in her twenties to promote the movie. That female is our child's murderer. She was sentenced to sixteen life sentences or 320 years which she is serving in an Israeli jail. Fifteen people were killed and more than a hundred maimed and injured by the actions of this attractive person and her associates. The background is here.

Neither the New York Times nor HBO are likely to give even a moment's attention to the victims of the barbarians who destroyed the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem and the lives of so many victims. So we would be grateful if you would pass along this link to some pictures of our daughter whose name was Malki. She was unable to reach her twenties - Hamas saw to that. Though she was only fifteen years old when her life was stolen from her and from us, we think Malki was a beautiful young woman, living a beautiful life. We ask your help so that other people - far fewer than the number who will see the New York Times, of course - can know about her. Please ask your friends to look at the pictures - some of the very few we have - of our murdered daughter.

They are at:

And remind them of what the woman in the Israeli prison - the woman smiling so happily in the New York Times - said last year. "I'm not sorry for what I did. We'll become free from the occupation and then I will be free from prison."

With so many voices demanding that Israel release its terrorist prisoners, small wonder she's smiling.

With greetings from Jerusalem ,
Frimet and Arnold Roth
On behalf of Keren Malki

Missing the Point II

I really don't understand this article by Shmuly Boteach in the Jerusalem Post, which is a follow-up to last week's brouhaha.
My critics fail to distinguish between an immoral sin and an irreligious act. To steal, to lie, to murder is deeply immoral. But would we say the same of someone who desecrates the Sabbath? Does driving on Shabbat make you a bad person, or a nonobservant one? Does failure to attend synagogue make you into an irreligious Jew or a flawed human being? To be sure, if you practice no religious ritual you could hardly call yourself religious. But are you wicked?
I don't understand this whatsoever. The nutjobs Boteach claims commented notwithstanding, one can read through any reasoned criticism of Feldman's piece and I don't think you'll find people calling Feldman "immoral", and certainly not "wicked". They all merely noted the same basic points: Feldman is being disingenuous in expressing surprise and dismay at being cut out of the community to a small extent when he grew up religious and yet married a woman whom is not Jewish, therefore cutting off future generations from Judaism. Boteach goes on to ask a number of surprisingly stupid questions:
They were simply irreligious people. And they had to be shown love and respect. Not just in order to bring them back to the fold, but because it was righteous and Jewish to do so. Why should those who marry out be treated any differently?
There's a marked difference between sinning in general and cutting off your family from Judaism. Complain what you will that Jewish law only recognizes someone as Jewish if their mother is, that still is the rule. Judaism doesn't set out to attract converts.
But which orthodox Rabbi would have the nerve to ever tell a gay man or an intermarried man that he should not come to synagogue, that he should no longer keep kosher, that he should stop putting on tefillin, and that he should take the mezuza off his door?
How does this have anything to do with Feldman? Feldman not only maintains a close relationship with his Orthodox friends, he seemed to have had a good time at the very gathering which he complains about being cut out of a picture from. The problem Feldman had was not that he's treated like a pariah, but that he's not treated the same as everyone else - that they won't leave his picture in their alumni newsletter. Those are two drastically different levels.
It is disgraceful that they are treated as if they consciously rebelled against the Jewish tradition when, in their minds, they simply followed the dictates of the heart.
That's nice. Since when do we allow people to do and not do at their heart's whim? Did they not have control over their decisions? Feldman is allowed to follow his heart as much as he'd like, and hopefully he is (and he seems to be) happy. That's great. But don't pretend that he didn't make that choice.
The Jewish community's policy should be precisely the opposite. We should tell all Jews, in no uncertain terms, that the Jewish community is always their home. That just because they make choices that are profoundly injurious to Jewish continuity does not mean we do not love and cherish them. We are not only a religion, but a people. Not only a faith, but a family. And a family's members are forever.
Does Feldman sound like all ties were cut? His best friends are Orthodox. He seems to be well-received. But from an educational standpoint, from the standpoint of the community? He did make a choice that is profoundly injurious to Jewish continuity. That's not something to just shrug off.
How many who have written to me critical of Feldman are themselves guilty of lapses in Jewish observance? I know scores of Orthodox Jewish businessmen who take their yarmulkes off at their Wall Street and legal offices, even though they are stalwartly Orthodox in all other practices.
Is he seriously comparing taking off one's yarmulke to marrying a non-Jew from a Jewish observance standpoint?!
We can employ the iron rod and show that Judaism is a religious of fear and intimidation. Or we can employ the outstretched hand of love and demonstrate that Judaism is a religion of understanding and inspiration.
Boteach's kumbaya sentiment is perhaps noble in thought, but allowing anyone to do as they wish even outside the lines of what constitutes the religion makes no sense whatsoever. Much like Feldman, Boteach completely misses the point.


Ezzie's been stealing the cookies.

Everyone knows.

No silly excuses will save you now.

Stam a Loser

I lost a bet with Ezzie, and the consequence was that i had to post something... This is all i've got for now...
Here ye, here ye, let it be known that July 29th, the eve of Tu B'av shall hereby be known as "Stam Runs into Ex-Dates Day". Oreos, Shtreimels, and cookies with sprinkles, all are welcome to attend! Feel free to surprise Stam in the most random locations - repeat performances encouraged! Forget dancing in the vineyards, why not rendezvous locally? Leave Stam cowering in the art supplies aisle, watch her change direction and dash up a staircase.... No appointments necessary!

Seriously, did someone publicize a list of locations that i was planning to visit today? Is my car bugged? Even i had no idea what to do all day, and I ended up in random places....
Off to find my white dress....

Friday, July 27, 2007


From Serach:
Funny Elianna story: She came into the kitchen, and usually, when she opens cabinets, I tell her no. But the Tupperware cabinet we designated for her. She walked over to it, started taking things out, then looked up at me and shook her finger back and forth as if to say no - that she knew she shouldn't open it. I said "Lo Elianna, zeh bishvilech" [No Elianna, that one's for you], and she smiled and happilly started pulling out the remnants from the cabinent!
On another note, Elianna is WALKING! :)


This post is not about me, nor about you. It's something that someone said to me recently that rang very true, and the truthfulness of it has been reinforced to me by many people recently.

A friend wrote to me recently, saying that they've realized two very important things from their recent experiences:
"Now I know how absolutely important it is for someone to feel a) not lonely; b) like they are being respected by people around them."
I think that the key to both comes from understanding. Unless you understand someone, it's hard to respect them; and more seriously, one of the biggest drives people have in life is to not be lonely - and people feel lonely when they are misunderstood, but not at all when they are understood.

I don't know how to weigh being understood against all the other factors that matter, but I think that's it's one of the biggest keys - in life, in marriage, in respect. Find someone who understands you - really understands you. If they do, a lot of the rest becomes doable.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Actions vs. Thoughts

I left a comment yesterday on Jewish Atheist that I probably should have thought through better, but regardless:
I care FAR more about how people practice than what their motives are, so long as those motives will not be affecting me at any point.
I'm wondering how true it is, but Cara (thanks Shoshana, SaraK) has a wonderful post that really asks the question a lot better as she does a little self-introspection. Excerpt:
Why do I bring this up? Because, for the past month or so, I've found myself really questioning why I do what I do. Why I live my life this way. Don't worry, I'm not falling off the derech. Just taking a close look at who I am right now. For example, do I only wear skirts because I truly believe that wearing pants is beged ish, and not tznius? Or do I only wear skirts because I'm used to it and would feel awkward going outside in pants? Or do I only wear skirts because it's what people expect of me? The act remains consistent- I only wear skirts. But the motivation is so very different. I'm trying to figure out what motivates me right now, in this current phase of my life. If I'm doing what, according to some, is the right act but for the wrong reasons, is that enough?

Jewish Rock

I enjoyed these videos from Summerfest by PsychoToddler and his band...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quote of the Week

I meant to post this yesterday, but... well, here it is, by RaggedyMom:
Conversations that involve a combination of medical and halachic issues usually sound like some version of this:
Doctor: "Look, RaggedyMom, I'm not your posek, but..."

Rabbi: "Listen, RaggedyMom, I'm not a doctor, but..."
I'd say that the two of you kind (other) men in my life need to just get together and talk it all out!

Imagined conference call (sounds a lot like planning a date):
Doctor: Hey Rabbi, what do YOU want to do?

Rabbi: Dunno, Doc. What do YOU want to do?
Okay, guys. Give me a call when you're done.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 7/25: Bye-bye, 23

No, Lebron's not leaving. Another 23 is. More on that later.

Meanwhile, here's some good stuff out there in the J-blogosphere in an otherwise slow post-Tisha B'Av day...
  • 5) Musings discusses the biggest problem with the investigation of Michael Vick's troubles - people care more when people hurt animals than people. Sad.
  • 4) Shoshana needs a place to live, preferably Passaic. Anybody know of anything?
  • 3) DAG notes a very good response by Rebbetzin Jungreis to the person questioning whether to disclose their son's being bipolar to a potential spouse.
  • 2) Pearl wants to stop making excuses.
  • 1) BeyondBT has a great post by Eliahu Levenson on Adventures in Hachnosos Orchim. While our own challenges with our (thank God) many guests are very different, I can relate to a lot of what he writes about. A great post, and kudos to BeyondBT for printing it.
Enjoy your music, meat, and haircuts!


I liked this post by Neil.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Things are getting a bit cluttered, so I'll just list the posts I've found interesting (whether I agree or not) on Noah Feldman's Orthodox Paradox, which was an article in the New York Times Magazine discussing his own experiences and thoughts on Modern Orthodoxy:
  • My own take
  • R' Glicksman from YU:
    I am certain that someone characterized as brilliant understands how inappropriate it is to bring a non-Jewish fiancee to an official
    celebration of a yeshiva. The entire raison d'etre of such a school is to produce another generation of Jewish children.
  • R' Gil Student at Hirhurim:
    After thirteen years in yeshiva, you knew very well that by marrying outside of the Jewish faith that you were committing the ultimate slap-in-the-faith to the community in which you were raised. The community in general does not want to completely cut off ties with you. But certainly a smart man like you knows that it can no longer hold you high as an example of one of theirs who succeeded. You didn't.
  • Chana at CuriousJew:
    When you look back on this piece, you will note that it is only a collection of unsupported personal experiences at a particular high school which the author has taken to be universal and characteristic of an entire affiliation, Modern Orthodoxy. He subsequently engages in grand posturing and oscillates between trying to "defend" the poor, uneducated but well-meaning followers of this sect and trying to condemn them.
  • Sarah of Chayyei Sarah:
    As I just said to a fellow alumna who also read the article, "Noah is right. He's right, and he's an a**hole." I say this not because he has "aired dirty laundry" to the non-Jewish world -- he has, but often that has a place -- but because he's a hypocrite in his application of liberalism.
  • R' Shmuly Boteach:
    Worse, the practice is a lie insofar as it propagates the false notion that our Jewishness is measured only in terms of our being a link in a higher chain of existence, and that our Jewish identities have meaning only through our children. This absurd notion would deny they idea of Jewish individualism and how we are Jews in our own right.
  • Jewish Atheist:
    Deciding not to publish the photograph, adding a disclaimer, or even attaching a letter from a Rabbi addressing why intermarriage is unacceptable would have been one thing, but falsifying a photo to pretend that a person doesn't even exist is dishonest and shameful.
  • Jewbiquitous' Annie & Harley (discussion form):
    Annie: You don't send your kids to Jewish day school to make them marry Jews, you send them to day school to teach them Jewish content. By any metric, Noah is a success: he is a well-respected academic, clearly not lost to the Jewish community and knowledgeable about Jewish texts.
    Harley: Does Jewish education begin and end with Jewish texts? Wouldn't many argue that it's also as much about what happens between classes?
  • Harry Maryles at Emes V'Emunah:
    Engaging with modernity does not mean that one must worship at the alter modernity.
  • A comment (#3) posted on Orthomom of a letter by an associate professor at Emory:
    Mr Feldman has made choices that openly repudiate his Orthodox upbringing and the values of the Maimonides School which he attended. The laws of this country grant him the freedom to do so. The Maimonides School has the right to repudiate individuals that repudiate their values. Mr Feldman has no right to compel a school to accept his values.
  • Tzvee:
    Did you call the chairman of the board of the school and talk to him? No mention of that in the article.

    So you don't complain to the leadership of your school. You go to the NY Times Magazine. How nice of you.

    The only paradox here is your behavior.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Missing the Point

From Noah Feldman's Orthodox Paradox, which appeared this weekend in the New York Times Magazine:
It is more than a little strange, feeling fully engaged with a way of seeing the world but also, at the same time, feeling so far from it. I was discussing it just the other day with my best friend — who, naturally, went to Maimonides, too. The topic was whether we would be the same people, in essence, had we remained completely within the bosom of modern Orthodoxy. He didn’t think so. Our life choices are constitutive of who we are, and so different life choices would have made us into different people — not unrecognizably different, but palpably, measurably so.

I accepted his point as true — but for some reason I resisted the conclusion. Couldn’t the contradictory world from which we sprang be just as rich and productive as the contradictory life we actually live? Would it really, truly, have made all that much difference? Isn’t everyone’s life a mass of contradictions? My best friend just laughed.
There are a number of ways to approach his fascinating, detailed piece, but I think that these last two paragraphs show best how he missed the point. Feldman is primarily upset that his alma mater, the Maimonodies school in Brookline, MA, cut himself and his - non-Jewish - wife (then girlfriend) out of a picture from their 10th high school reunion. He then proceeds to analyze through his own worldview that which he finds to be the "Orthodox paradox" of Modern Orthodoxy, toeing that line between secularism and religion very precariously.

The problem with his piece is that he just doesn't get it. To some extent, Gil summed this up best: (emphasis mine)
After thirteen years in yeshiva, you knew very well that by marrying outside of the Jewish faith that you were committing the ultimate slap-in-the-faith to the community in which you were raised. It was and remains your choice. This is a free country and it's your life to live. ...

The community in general does not want to completely cut off ties with you. But certainly a smart man like you knows that it can no longer hold you high as an example of one of theirs who succeeded. You didn't.
Gil is focusing on the communal aspect, but I think it's even stronger than that - it's the educational aspect. It's not just that Feldman is complaining that he has been cut out; his example is possibly from the place where it makes the most sense to be cut out: His school. From his school's standpoint, he is quite possibly one of the worst examples of a graduate in terms of the education they are giving to their students: A brilliant mind, a Rhodes Scholar, a valedictorian at Harvard, a Truman Scholar... and yet, married to a woman who is not Jewish - a man whose children will not be Jewish either. To a religious school that strives to show how one can balance a religious lifestyle with the secular world, this demonstrates the complete reverse.

And yet, despite all of this, his school seems to be happy to have him at their events. They have not truly cut him out as implied; he admits and is proud of his close ties with many of his old friends. Clearly, they, too, have not cut him off. They are happy to see him, have no problem talking to him, consider him their friend - but at the same time, they aren't going to praise the choices of his with which they do not agree. His friend is absolutely correct, and the irony is that while Feldman sees it, he doesn't understand it:
Our life choices are constitutive of who we are, and so different life choices would have made us into different people — not unrecognizably different, but palpably, measurably so.
Feldman's mistake is that he gets caught up in that dream of youth, one that often finds itself in liberal and academic ideology - a noble one to be sure, but unrealistic. I saw this quote recently and think it is perfect in this case:
“The charm and insolence of youth is that it is everything in potentiality and nothing in actuality,” wrote the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset.
Jonathan Rosenblum summed it up well over there:
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.
Feldman (and all of us, really) don't like this idea. We love the idea of infinite potential; we can't stand when that is taken away from us. People hesitate to marry because they constantly wonder if there is 'something even better' out there; they don't take a job offer in case an even better one gets brought to their attention. But while this can sometimes pay off in the short-term (albeit rarely), one cannot do this forever or they will never have either. It is for this reason (among others) that a person cannot afford to out-think their biggest decisions in life, or they will never be able to accomplish much; there is no such thing as the 'perfect' woman, and the 'perfect' job doesn't just land in your inbox all that often. You marry the girl whom you can love, grow with, and be happy with despite all their flaws and who accepts you despite all of yours; you take the job that offers the best balance of income, security, and contentment.

Feldman, however, questions why this must be so - why can't we choose both paths? Why does choosing one automatically exclude the other?
Couldn’t the contradictory world from which we sprang be just as rich and productive as the contradictory life we actually live?
No! We make choices in life, and those choices do make us measurably different. This is why the article ends with his friend's laughing at him. Once he has admitted that he is unwilling or unable to accept that clear and obvious point, there simply is nothing left to say.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 7/23: Noah Feldman

MordyS brought this article to my attention here on Saturday night; Chana, Gil, Sarah, and surely countless others have or are going to weigh in. Elsewhere, LOR has a good post about Matisyahu's leaving Lubavitch and the example he is setting in general.

I'm actually going to write my own thoughts in a separate post, I just decided. Meanwhile, feel free to take the poll on the left, and if you've got 10 minutes to kill, fill out that blogger reader survey. It's actually quite interesting to see the answers so far, but they're from a small sample.

Finally, can everyone please stop writing about Harry Potter?! Some of us didn't order it for the first day, let alone finish reading it already!! Geez! ~ Thanks, Ezzie (Though thanks to most of y'all for warning people at the beginning of the post.)

UPDATED: Jewish Atheist, Shmuly Boteach.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Haveil Havalim #126 up at R' Chaim HaQoton.

Slug Help Needed

UPDATE: A friend came and flushed the slug. Mission accomplished.

A helpless young maiden in the town of Baltimore with an intense fear of slugs needs immediate assistance in removing the one that is currently sliming its way across her room. If you're nearby and can help, please contact me immediately at gmail.

Excerpts: (with 'translations')
(Oh my god, there's a huge slug on my carpet.)

I can deal with other bugs (uh huh)
but not slugs (eeeew [runs!])

i cant
i mamsihc ant move (mamish can't - it means more if you say mamish)

me: shall i call 911 in balto for you?
they might get really annoyed
her: chaverim maybe

its moving (shocker)
shreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkk (no translation needed)

i cant
i can go near it (can't)
or sal (salt)
but i cant
im gonna throw a bown over it (bowl)
a big bowl so i dont miss

new status message - a husband or a big bro would be nice right about now!!!!!!!!!! ahhhhhh help 1:08 AM (ooo, shuddich opportunity! spoken like a true young jewish girl)

okay i got a huge bowl adn threw it over it and then stacked textbooks on top, do u think that will hold it under, even if its on carpet?
me: lol no
it's a slug
her: SO??
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN??? (i didn't learn science, i went to Bais Yaakov!)
me: no bones
her: ogm (oh my god, for the 1000th time - about now, she completely flipped out)

CALL ANY MALE (woohoo, shidduch!)
THAT MIGHT BE AWAKE (woohoo, shidduch!)
ILL LEAVE MY APT SO THERES NO YICHUD (wooh - wait a second, that's not right...)
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE (i could use a guy...!)

no (to pouring salt)
i cant do that (don't hurt the poor slug...!)
i cant

ezzie seriously
im freaking out (shocker)
i cant explain they r worse than bugs

right now its udner the bowl i think and i wont move the bowl
and i dont want a dead slug (just a flushed one, because that way I don't know it's dead.)
im literally freaking out

me: well, what do you want exactly!?
her: someone else to get rid of it (preferably a guy, 20's, funny, good personality, good-looking, who can always get rid of bugs...)

im calling friends to see if anyone is ok with slugs (or knows a guy who is!)
or awake
me: well, unless you call someone, you're stuck
it's 1:15!

i CANT handle the slug
give me anything else
me: how come?
her: but im literally petrified
i dont know cant u udnerstand phobias!??!

u dont understand, im hyperventilating, crying
Hey, at least she has a sense of humor while she's freaking out... I think she needs someone to get rid of that slug.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Elianna is too Smart

Yes, yes, every parent says this, then cites examples. Well, my blog, my kid. :)

Elianna is about to turn 16 months, and seems to understand everything. She loves playing with hats, and knows to say Yabeh! if something is pretty. (Yafeh = beautiful.) Today, she was playing with some hats on the floor near some furniture, and wanted to try them on as she often does. She pointed to Serach, but Serach was worried she'd bang her head behind her, so she said "Bo'i l'ima b'vakasha" (come to Mommy please). Elianna scooted over just enough so she wasn't too close, then motioned for the hat again. Serach handed it to her, she took it, put it on her head, and then pointed up. At the mirror. Serach picked her up, showed her herself in the mirror, and Elianna took a good hard look.
:) I wonder where she gets that from...

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 7/20

A few good reads and views out there...
  • Balaboosteh hosts JPix12;
  • Treppenwitz with a funny riff on Facebook - I can't say I'm a big fan myself;
  • Support BritishYosef (formerly IfYouWillIt) on his Wheels of Love ride, raising money for sick children.
  • Ariella questions how people can break an engagement, yet not bother to inform invited guests.
  • Orthonomics has a guest post with some interesting suggestions about virtual schooling for religious kids.
  • I'm sure lots of people are jealous of David. I'd have finished it by now.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Not a Big Story

Of course this isn't. After all, it's not the facts that matter, just the thrust that certain people want.

For a similar theme, read the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web. Yesterday's was excellent, regarding a couple of other stories.

An Exercise in Self

I mentioned a few days ago that I thought this exercise was interesting, so here we go...
Scraps' intro: I just read a great post by Princess of JustAnotherSternGirl. In it, she tells of an episode of one of her favorite TV shows in which a teacher has her class do the following exercise:
...After this short exercise, the class is divided into pairs, and each group is given a digital camera and a set of instructions to follow. At the end of the class period, each student is supposed to take a picture that shows how they see their partner.
This is obviously going to be done a bit differently; me sharing with the readers my own thoughts.
  • 1. Share something personal with your partner.
    I feel emotion about things that have nothing to do with me better than emotions that have everything to do with me.
  • 2. Lighten up. Do an impression of a celebrity or famous character.
    As everyone else who has done this said, that's tough to do on a computer.
  • 3. Admit something that worries you or something you're afraid of.
    That I can never live up to the expectations that have always surrounded me. That in my quest to lower those expectations, I've ensured that I won't.
  • 4. What do you want to be in ten years?
    Happy. Successful in all the things I'd like to do, without having sacrificed too much, including: Changing the Jewish community culture through education so that people really understand economics, and through that, changing [and making transparent] the Jewish educational system so it is fiscally sound. Helping Jewish homes become fiscally sound, which will help in so many other ways. Helping young couples get off on the right foot, so that they don't blow their own chances at truly accomplishing and contributing, while simultaneously helping themselves. And all of this while being successful in my own rite, taking good care of my family, moving out of New York, and eventually to Israel - all within that span.
  • 5. Tell your partner a secret.
    Almost everything I say and do - including, if not especially, that which seems impulsive or contradictory - is intensely calculated in my mind. And I often let people know this in advance. V'hamyvin yavin. Interestingly, I can't do this to my mother; and rarely to my sister, Serach, and sometimes SIL. There are also a handful of people I know who can sometimes realize it as well - Shragi, Bones, Groovin', Moshe, Toast, Doc... maybe others.
  • Take a picture of yourself.
    This one's easy. There would be other people in the middle of the photo, clearly happy and content; excited about the present and future. I'd be off on the side in the background, looking at them, with a smile on my face, barely noticeable even to them, that says: "My work here is done."

Two Sides of the Coin

I was going to write about each of these, but for now just read the original posts...
Yes, a lot of it is what you've read before; but I think there's a bit of extra insight in these pieces. And clearly, some lessons aren't being learned.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Leaving Out The Rest

On perhaps a somewhat related note to Stam's post below, SJ has a good post today about learning only one facet of what's out there. Excerpts:
Many will then continue, “And the answer is…” Whenever I hear this, it jars me. So I began to think: what about this simple phrase bothers me so much?

On the most basic level, the phrase implies that the answer given is the only answer to the question ... Saying “the answer” is a sort of conceit—and also, to me, comes off as uneducated.

When teaching a child Torah, it is common (and understandable) to pose a simple question, and then to give one answer as the answer. ... Children see things only in black and white—they cannot grasp the idea that there could be more than one correct answer.

Adults, however, understand the existence of multiple answers to Torah questions. The concept of shivim panim l’Torah is a fundamental component of our system. It is only those with some degree of intellectual sophistication who can understand that life is comprised mainly of shades of gray—and that Torah reflects this in the multiplicity of its perspectives. This idea is manifested throughout the entire system of Orthodoxy. It allows one to understand that there are many different valid derachim within halachic Judaism, and prevents belief in one’s own way to the exclusion of every other.

Religious fanaticism is the easy way out. It’s much easier to believe that there is only one right way, and that everyone else is wrong. It makes life simpler. It is also a childish and dangerous way of seeing the world.
While a couple of people have noted that this is a bit nitpicky, I think that was understood in the post itself, and that the point still stands. When people are only giving one answer but it is clear that other answers are possible, then it is perfectly fine to present the answer that way. But when the implication is that this is the only answer, we run into problems. I think that many of the problems we run into - particularly between the different segments of Orthodoxy - come from this very lack of understanding. We think that our way is the only way, or at best give the other views a secondary placement. How often have we heard lines like: "Well, it's allowed, but it's not the best way" or "Sure, that works, but you don't need to be like that."

Yes, there are times where one way is better or best. But most of the time, each way has its implied advantages and disadvantages. The question becomes how to weigh those against one another. In Stam's post, the question really comes down to whether most people would be best served by a series of classes earlier on in religious thought and history - and the answer, certainly for anyone who will be going into a liberal arts field, is yes. Yes, there are certainly objections to teaching these subjects, but realistically, there are a large number of people who will be studying these subjects at some point - and better that they have some clue what they're talking about than not.

SJ's post is focusing on the presentation of information. I've always felt this is very important, and never liked the line "the answer is" either in the context she's referring to. I always preferred (and from what I can recall, usually heard) lines like "a possible approach is..." or "I feel that we can understand it this way...". However, I will admit that while I didn't like the line "the answer is", I was never really bothered by it, knowing that there was more than one approach; on the other hand, the older I get, the more I've realized that most people really take those answers as the approach - again, not that it's the 'only' one, but that it's somehow 'better' than any other.

To some extent, it is a bit nitpicky - but maybe that's the point. It's those little differences early on that make the big differences later, much like when two lines head out from a single point. The larger the angle at the start, the difference as time passes increases exponentially. We need to see - at an early age - that a lot of our "differences" are not really different at all. That they're slight angles from slightly different - legitimate - approaches which just seem larger the further down the path we go.

Naivety Seen

Attending a frum school from nursery through college has its benefits. Frum colleges are known to be easier and more of a joke, and you don't have to worry about taking off for yom tovim. Your classmates are all frum girls (or guys), and you don't have to worry about the environment being unsuitable for a bas yisroel (or ben torah) or getting yourself into a compromising situation. Sure, in high school you only get half a day of general studies, but I haven't found my general studies education to be lacking in most areas, and compared to most "in town" high schools I think I've actually received a better general studies education.

This summer, after 3 day schools, 1 frum high school, 1 seminary, 2 frum colleges and 117 credits I found myself in a secular school for the first time. The subjects? Art History I and Art History II, two courses required for my degree through a frum college, but not offered there for obvious reasons.

One of the main subjects of art, especially during the Renaissance is religion. The religion of choice being Christianity.

Of course, growing up in the frum school system we are not taught about dinosaurs or theories of evolution. Certain chapters in Psychology and Biology are skipped, and we don't learn about the "other religions". I do remember learning about Isalm, but not much about Christianity. You can imagine how confused I was sitting in class listening to the teacher's explanations about "Yushka", Mary, another Mary (?!), Madonna, and John the Baptist in about 100 different paintings. The Last Supper had something to do with.... Easter was it? Wasn't it before the crucification?? Why are there two babies and who is John? I had no clue what was flying, a basic background in Christianity is pretty much a necessity for most of the course. And oh yes, of course blaming Eve for eating the apple is sexist - that must be what the "author of the Bible" intended. (Don't get me started on the apple.)

While most yeshivos and seminaries probably don't approve of college, the reality is that most students looking for pursue a professional career will attend secular colleges. We don't believe that we came from Monkeys and we don't learn about Christianity in school, but maybe a brief "for Dummies" course should be given by a trusted Rav in a torahdik manner to prepare us before entering such an environment.

What about when we are approached by classmates, teachers, or even missionaries? We should have enough knowledge to be able to discuss Judaism vs. Christianity and disprove them with confidence.

My first course this summer was taught by a German Anti-Semite who gave me trouble the minute she figured out I was a Jew. She'd get into religious discussions during class, and ask provocative questions such as "When was the Bible put together?" (What do you mean put together? G-d wrote the bible....), or she would put down the "Hebrews" and occasionally mumble about "some custom or another of the Hebrews". In her class I actually felt like "the Jew" and not just another student.

Antisemitism is not something that I've been confronted with often, especially in a school setting. It's hard to sit and take the abuse quietly and not mouth off.

You can dis frum schools and their "fake degrees" all you want, but sometimes it's nice to fit in and not worry about controversial topics.

And hey, where else can you earn 60 credits in one semester?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The BY Swim Cheer

This is the cheer my 7-year old niece, who is attending Bais Yaakov camp this summer, gleefully sang to me on Friday:
I was down by the river - Yeah, Yeah!
And I started to drown - Chas V'Shalom!
When I saw bunk X - Oh, Gevaldik!
I just couldn't go down - Baruch Hashem!
I think it's an instant classic. Who comes up with this stuff?!

The New Generation

(via Mommy)

The Wall Street Journal has a good piece about the difficulty people have in explaining what it is they actually do:

Jamie Kelly's job title is national marketing programs manager. That really means "employee marketing training manager," she explains, as if that clarifies her role to adults, much less kids.

The way Ms. Kelly's 6-year-old daughter sees it, her mother travels to a big building, sits in her office and fools around at a computer. Is that inaccurate? "No, not really," says Ms. Kelly. On the other hand, it makes her ponder, "What do I do all day?"

Personally, I have a mixed reaction. To some extent, obviously these people who sit on the phone all day are doing tremendous work. But the more you work, the more you realize just how little some of them do; how easy the jobs are of others; how little so many of them know in terms of computers and the like, and how inefficient they are because of it; and more. Could I be a partner in a large accounting firm? Obviously not - I don't have a good enough handle on too many accounting rules, I don't have the knowledge base, etc. But can I do certain things much faster and even better than many partners in these accounting firms? Certainly. Almost any person 18-25 with a decent knowledge of accounting could.

Elsewhere... Mom pointed out this interesting article on Cleveland businesses trying to draw Israeli technology companies' business. Seems like a nice partnership. I think my mother should have a blog, seeing as how about 1/3 of the good links I get are from her anyway.

And Shoshana has a very introspective piece on how real people act - or are we all hiding our true selves a nice chunk of the time.

Touro Busted for Fake Diplomas

(Hat tip: FrumDoc)

UPDATED: Also via FrumDoc, here's the news release from the DA's office. Pretty interesting.
UPDATE 2: Touro's statement is now at the bottom.

Oh, isn't this wonderful!? Bastards. The Times:

Touro College’s former admissions director and former computer center director and three New York City public school teachers have been indicted on charges that they took part in a scheme involving fraudulent transcripts, the Manhattan district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, said yesterday.

He said those defendants were among 10 people indicted in a “cash for grades scheme” in which students’ transcripts were altered and transcripts and degrees were created for people who had never attended the institution, including the three city teachers. The teachers were said to have bought falsified master’s degrees from Touro that helped in their promotion and their certification.
Wonderful. Reading through the numerous articles online, it appears that a number of the fake degrees were in special education - the same special education degree that Serach has (and FFW, and others...). The one she worked incredibly hard for, finishing with a 3.98 (?) GPA in. The one that she's using as she sees what options are available for her for next year. The one that may now be worth a whole lot less because people won't be trusting Touro, particularly that graduate school.

I HATE dishonesty. HATE it. And now, someone else's dishonesty is going to help make who knows how many people's degrees worth that much less. Idiots!

7.16.07 Statement from Touro College Regarding Manhattan District
Attorney's announcement today:
"We have not had an opportunity to review the indictment, but Touro
College has been aware of the ongoing investigation and in fact
immediately brought to the attention of the District Attorney for New
York County and all relevant government agencies the alleged
wrongdoing on the part of the Touro College employees named in the

Touro College has cooperated fully in this investigation and provided
access to law enforcement authorities regarding this matter.

This conduct was confined to what appears to have been a betrayal of
trust by persons with responsibility for the integrity of the
record-keeping and only because we had certain controls in place were
we able to identify the wrongdoing and bring it to the attention of
law enforcement.

We continue to take all steps necessary to further ensure the
integrity of our student records."
Good for Touro for bringing it to the attention of the authorities.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 7/17

My brain is too mixed up to think today... here are some good posts I enjoyed this morning:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Nice vs. Stupid

Random, unorganized thoughts from this weekend. I started writing this post on Motzei Shabbos, then stopped, then just edited out a bunch of stuff from Shabbos. Shabbos was actually awesome; these are just some side thoughts from issues discussed.

Thank God, our friends are with rare exception exceptionally nice people, who do incredibly kind things, and who are just... good people. But the stories that happen to them are mind-boggling. It amazes us to hear the stupid, rude, insensitive, and obnoxious things that people have said - and not even necessarily because they're bad people, but because they just don't think.

On an unrelated note, while we often hear that there is so much corruption in the frum community, it is usually ignored, non-specific, etc. People really don't understand what levels of corruption there are - particularly in certain communities* - and just how much money plays a role in so many of these situations. More importantly, it has become so easy to smear people and ruin reputations if someone has a grudge; to make up a story, to slant one's own story, and the like - that the corruption is so incredibly hard to break.

The batei dinin of old were required to be made up of people who were wealthy in their own right - not only so they couldn't be bribed, but that they could not even be influenced by monetary interests. That's somewhat difficult to have nowadays, perhaps, but it is devastating to the individuals whom the batei dinin are judging. But perhaps worse is the aspect of external appearance, and how this factors in: From a public standpoint, which party winning - or more importantly, losing - would negatively impact how people view other people, institutions, etc. And this is sad, because that should not be playing a role whatsoever... and of course, means that many people get the very short end of the stick for the simple reason that they aren't perceived to be as valuable to [whomever].


Shabbos was actually amazing, though it might not seem like it from the above. There are still more good people than bad, and more honest people than not. I know the above is vague, but that's often necessary as well. It's great that most people are willing to go that extra length to do what's right and more.

* As a note, Queens has a very positive reputation for having an extremely honest, non-corrupt beis din.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Backbone of Everything

Those who know me know that I feel strongly that economics is the backbone to everything. Without a proper understanding of economics, you really can't make proper choices, proper decisions in life, and you really hurt yourself for... well, for life. But it applies to everything, from how to structure an educational system to making political decisions to gaging what must be sacrificed for the better good. This video, by one of the world's foremost economists, is amazing - and just 15 minutes long, and it's Sunday. Enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2007

I Hate Friday Afternoons

Being in the west coast, there is nothing worse than fridays after 2:00pm. I mean, I'm so bored. There is not that much work to do, and the work there is, I try to push it off for mondays. All the bloggers have left work for home and are getting ready for shabbat. This is hell. It really is. I'm staring at the monitor hoping somone will come on wanting to talk to me....but they never come. Damn I'm bored. Bored, bored, bored. Maybe I need an imaginary friend or something. So quiet here, so very quiet.

"Isn't anyone tryin to find me?
Won't somebody come take me home
It's a damn cold night
Trying to figure out this life
Wont you take me by the hand
take me somewhere new
I dont know who you are
but I... I'm with you"

-Avril Lavigne

Bored, bored, bored

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 7/13: Thinking

In a way, I think most of the posts following can easily be interconnected:
Read them all, I think you'll see what I mean.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ode to a Princess & Cookies

We owe a HUGE thank you to our friend, and this week's birthday girl, Princess D'Tiara. She was eating here last Shabbos when Serach mentioned that she had to take Elianna to a pediatric specialist in the city today. She offers to drive Serach to the city early for this 11:00 appointment, which is not only a huge hassle, but obviously going to hit a ton of traffic.

Today, she drove them to the specialist, picking her up early at 9:45, then offered to stay until the appointment was finished to drive them back - even though it wasn't going to be a short appointment. And then things got very, very annoying. Serach and Elianna were waiting in the doctor's office for over an hour and a half, despite being there fifteen minutes early. Finally, they get let into the doctor's office at about 12:30, where she waits a while. Elianna has already fallen asleep at this point, she's so tired. The doctor finally walks in for a minute... then walks out, saying he'll be right back. He doesn't return for over 30 minutes (Serach was none too pleased), then they had to take and wait for X-rays... and then finally, were ready to go at 2:45 - and, despite constant suggestions by Serach that she should go home, Princess D was still waiting outside.

She'd moved her car three times. She'd gotten bagels, gone shopping, gotten a milkshake, and then finally sat in the car. She spent almost 6 hours of her day, just doing us a (huge) favor. So thank you very much, and have a wonderfully happy birthday, Princess D!!

On a completely separate note, what kind of cookie are you? G gave his answer in the comments to this post, which has led to a hilarious series of exchanges. They're all about cookies, of course. I've decided after little deliberation and without much knowledge of cookies that I'm a big colored sprinkle cookie.

Another Reason to Hate NYC

Shoshana has one. I like the first two lines from the Times:
In Houston, $225,000 will buy a three-bedroom house with a game room, den, in-ground pool and hot tub.

In Manhattan, it will buy a parking space. No windows, no view. No walls.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Quotes of the Day II

Gotta love iPayTooMuchForMyHair, this time from a conversation about stereotyped shady Jewish guys in the finance industry [slick hair, monogrammed shirts, skinny...]:
iPay: ...different is cool!!

Ez: Different is NOT always cool.

iPay: Different in cool ways is cool!

[pause while I just stare, she laughs]

iPay: I really need to stop talking, I just keep giving you things to put up on the blog.
And of course, good old FFW, upon seeing my status message saying I'm actually doing work today:
FFW: You and work don't belong in the same sentence!

(Quickly followed by, after slow responses to her IMs:) Uch, you're not talking to me. You're boring. I'm calling your wife.
Just another day at the office...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fantasy Baseball

Now, for all those still reading... here's the situation. I play in a 12-team, rotisserie-style 5x5 [R/HR/RBI/SB/Avg; W/S/K/ERA/WHIP] standard league with daily moves, one player at every position, 2 Util spots, 7 P spots which can be used for anyone, and 5 bench spots (also 2 DL spots). The one [smart] rule that's added in is a 1,250 innings pitched maximum, and a 162-game maximum for each position. That's the background.

My team, after a couple of recent trades (Germano for Thome; Harang & Johjima for Victor Martinez), now has the following makeup:
  • Hitters:
  • C MartinezV (1B), 1B Garko, 2B JohnsonK (OF), SS Peralta, 3B Teahen (OF)
  • OF Holliday, Beltran, Byrnes
  • Util OF Pence, Util Thome
  • Bench - C Ross, 1B Loney, 2B Barfield, 1B-3B-OF Blake
  • Pitchers:
  • CL - Nathan, Papelbon, Putz; RP - BellH
  • SP - Santana, Sabathia, Carmona, MillerA
  • DL - JohnsonJ
I've already used 825 of the 1,250 innings. My ERA is average, my WHIP just behind the pack. Obviously, I'm leading in Wins [55 - me, 51 - 2nd, 47 - 3rd, 45 -4th], Saves [84-68-67-60], and am second in Ks [703-702-601-596]; on a per IP basis, my Wins are second, my Saves are second and should win out, and my K's are fourth. It's why the trades of both Germano and Harang didn't require a second thought: With a 1250ip maximum, 3 closers, a middle reliever, and CC and Santana alone should get me about 350. Spot starts of Carmona and perhaps Miller will easily hit the max.

My weak positions are at 2B and 1B, where Garko has been sitting randomly and been really hurt by Hafner's struggles; I got a bit messed over at 2B, though Barfield is playing much better now and I was able to pick up a dropped Kelly Johnson last weekend. My team is up there in average, I don't really care about SBs much, and in the pack in RBIs; I'm last in runs though catching up, and down in HRs but passing the second pack finally.

The question is if I should stay with the team I have now, or try and trade for even more hitting. Victor and Thome are new additions, Beltran and others [Thome, Barfield, Teahen, Garko] should be much better this half, I don't see anyone who should be dropping this half... and unless I can trade Miller and Johnson for a better 2B, I don't see any moves I can make without losing CC or Johan. I think I should stand put, for sure until Aug 5 (Aug15 trade deadline), probably until the end. I've gotta run, but let me know if you think I'm wrong (and if you need more information)!

Now this is FUN

I have recently succumbed to my parent's constant badgering and decided to speak to shadchanim*. There will, after all, be no knight in shining armor on a white horse. (But there's still room for hoping!) I recently received an email from the seminary I attended in Israel saying that they would like to "help alleviate some of the shidduch* crisis" so they have hired a woman full time to make shidduchim* and have married almunus in America be her little elves in helping her execute the job. I got to the question in their little questionnaire asking me to decribe my hashkafa*. I thought to myself, what in the world can I say that won't make them cry for me and begin tehillim* sessions right away. I am not saying I am "off the derech*" (G-d forbid), but in the eyes of my seminary I am certainly not looking for the "right" kind of guy. Is it so bad to want someone to make their own money and not learn full time and drain our parents of whatever padding they have in their bank accounts? Why can't I want my husband to have color in his wardrobe and not look like a oreo cookie? Perhaps the springtime oreos or the halloween oreos, but for sure not the classic cookie!

But like I have said before, I do not beat around the bush. I will write it like it is and not be ashamed that I didn't become a cookie cutter product of my
Bais Yaakov schooling. Things like this questionnaire will always be necessary in this ridiculous world of shidduchim we single gals suffer through. But in my eyes, it is just another item to scratch off my list of hishtadlus* in my search for Mr. Right.

* Definitions:
Shadchanim/Shidduchim - Matchmakers/Matchmaking
Hashkafa - Religious outlooks and beliefs
Tehillim - Psalms
Derech - the so-called "straight and narrow" path
Hishtadlus - necessary effort

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 7/11: 7/11!!

A collection of away messages on Gmail on Free Slurpee Day:
  • National Cheap Jew Day: Free slurpees instead of paying $1.08
  • I don't even like Slurpees all that much, but hey: It's hot outside, and they're free! (Yes, I'm Jewish.)
  • This just in from [...] reporting live from the Bush of Flat: "I just saw a guy getting into his lexus with a free slurpee. Go figure!" .... free slurpees at 'slevin today!
  • Morange rhymes with Quadraflange [Ez: Yeah, I didn't get it either. It's Jameel, though, so I don't ask.]
And some good posts:

Ecosystem thoughts

Since I'm listed with the cast of characters I figure that I ought to take up the invitation and guest post.

Have you paid attention to the TTLB Ecosystem community of the JBlogosphere lately? Oh, blast it's not working right now.

But it was yesterday. I guess what surprises me most is that the rankings go strictly by the number of incoming links. Traffic plays no role in the TTLB rankings. (Technorati uses some combination of the two.) But because incoming links are the sole metric, Soccer Dad comes in higher than a number of high profile J-blogs that get several multiples of traffic that I get.

The downside of this metric, though, is that incoming links don't change. So a popular blog that's currently hibernating will keep it's same ranking as if it the blogger were posting regularly. An active blog still has to garner those incoming links it wants to pass the one on hiatus.

The disparity between visits and Ecosystem ranking though, also shows that these popular J-Blogs have a higher percentage of non-blogging (and thus non-linking) readers and/or less prominence in the blogosphere generally. (This isn't meant as an insult, there is probably a tradeoff between general popularity and traffic if you're not one of the uber-blogs.)

The question is how to build a site that generates both traffic and incoming links. It's something that still eludes me, four years since I've started blogging. (That's what you meant when you wrote that I'm "older," doesn't it?)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 7/10: Carbon Monoxide

On Shabbos, a guy I know walked up to a friend of mine who lives upstairs from him and asked if he'd heard anything early in the morning. Apparently, he'd had to call the fire department to check out his apartment because his carbon monoxide detector went off. Thankfully, it was only a dead battery.

Steg's story is a little more perilous, and a perfect reminder of why every single home must have at least one carbon monoxide detector!
When the fire department arrived with their portable detector tools, they said that the level of CO (which cannot be seen or smelled) in the apartment had already reached such a level that we would have been dead in 8 hours or less. We would have just gone to sleep and never woken up for shul in the morning.
This is not a risk anyone should ever take. Buy a CO detector TODAY. (They're about $20.) We bought one on Sunday.


Guest Bios II

Since a few of the guests complained - and you know who you are! - here are the new, updated Guest Bios for all of the wonderful guest contributors we have here at SerandEz. The first edition is here.
You can click on any name to skip down to their bio. Click on any bio's title name to come back to the top:

Family: Serach, SIL, & iPayTooMuchForMyHair.
Long-time friends: DGEsq, Pobody's Nerfect, MordyS, & the holy Reb Abe.
Post-Israel, pre-blog: DaKirsch, FFD, Eliezer StrongBad, & the balding Prof. Justice.
And from around the J-Blogosphere: SoccerDad, ~ Sarah ~, crazy Jameel, Stam, glittery Shoshana, Chana, and of course, the Holy Hyrax.
We've got to start it off with the family, so...

  • Serach - SerandEz, a small welcoming independent republic that is not part of New York, though it is surrounded on all four sides by Kew Gardens Hills, NY (via Monsey, NY)
    Serach is my wife, and hence the first half of the name, SerandEz. [Woah!] She blogs and comments under my name, which is of course incredibly confusing, even though I did once make her her own login. Ah well. After two years, she finally broke down and posted - inspired, of course, not by me, but by Holy Hyrax. Hmph. But hey, I can't complain too much, or I'll get in big trouble. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in receiving her Master's in Education & Special Education, and works one-on-one with high-functioning children in their schools.
  • SIL - Kew Gardens, NY via Small Town, OOT
    SIL is (of course) my sister-in-law. She still loves chocolate, is a working mother of three of the cutest kids alive [the -ens], and she somehow supports my Older Dumber brother while he continues on his grueling journey toward smicha. Or something like that. Perhaps someday, she'll write that long-awaited post about men, women, and sports. In the meantime, enjoy her old inspiring, thoughtful, and happy posts.
  • iPayTooMuchForMyHair - Kew Gardens Hills, NY via Chicago, IL
    iPayTooMuchForMyHair isn't really related, but we now share some relatives, and she has the distinct misfortune of being an auditor - with me! - as well. She is an avid spender, and dreams one day of being a makeup artist. She takes pride in being a JAP with a brain, and her profile says it well: "I'm not as shallow as my interests make me seem!" Though you wouldn't know it when you see her reactions to commercial advertising and shiny objects, this is actually true. She is a successful, smart, funny, and thinking girl with personality who wonders why a lot of that often doesn't seem too matter much.
The next set are the ones who've known me far longer than Serach has other than the people above...

  • DGEsq - Kew Gardens Hills, NY via Cleveland, OH
    DGEsq. Oh, where to begin... DGEsq is an ultra-confident law student who will be successful at whatever he does, and he's now working full-time in the field he likes at the same time as he's in school, along with taking care of his wife and really cute baby. He can - and often does - talk anybody into doing anything, and his pet peeves are generally related to (Jewish) economics and how they should be fixed. "No" is not an answer he likes to accept, which is part of what helps him succeed... along with the guts to say what he thinks and sticking things out. Hopefully we'll get some more straight-up posts from him in the future.
  • Pobody's Nerfect - Flatbush, NY via Cleveland, OH
    Pobody's Nerfect is probably still the guest poster whose posts I look forward to reading the most. She's the epitome of clawing one's way to success, fighting through and against everything that life has thrown at her. She's an inspiration and demonstration of strength of will to anyone who knows her, though she'll never realize it or admit it. Everything I wrote the last time is just as true as ever: She [still] has the distinction of having been of the few people to truly inspire me, when I was otherwise turned off by a lot of things I was around at one point in my life. This, despite being a few years my junior, at a time when I felt that most people my age or many years my senior I was surrounded by were complete morons, and at a time when she was probably troubled by more issues than I was. She is one of the too-rare truly thinking frum young women out there, and possibly the only thing holding her back from greatness is her shyness. And oh yeah, she's hilarious when she wants to be, too. To top it off, Serach plots with her [hmph], and Elianna loves her. :)
  • MordyS - Monsey, NY
    MordyS is that guy that everyone loves to love. He makes everyone laugh, he's personable, and he has no qualms about speaking his mind. He's honest, self-aware, and a master ranter. He's sickened by hypocrisy, loves people who are honest with themselves, and is constantly trying to work his way up the rock-face on the way to becoming a better person.
  • Reb Abe - Passaic, NJ via Monsey, NY
    Reb Abe is our resident tzaddik and patriot. He's the one who will go through the cash lanes of tolls to wish the operator a good evening even though he has an EZ-pass, or spend over 2 hours driving back and forth just to save you a little time and money (and at his own expense, too). And nobody knows how to show respect like Reb Abe. One day, maybe he'll come off that marriage high and actually post something new for us to work our brains around. In the meantime, we'll let him stew over his inability to fly his flag on the Fourth due to the constraints of his living space.
Next up we have the group who I met while in Lander and had to put up with me in different ways...

  • DaKirsch - Manhattan, NY
    DaKirsch is... well, DaKirsch. He's a video-game playing, sports-obsessed, music and movie aficionado who will spend hours tracking down cartoons from fifteen years ago. He's the best snapping center you could ask for despite his height (or lack thereof), and you can count on him whenever you want an expert opinion on what games to buy or where to find a song online. He's also picked two drafts exceedingly well for SerandEz, and perhaps we'll convince him to write some more technology or sports posts in the future... just not about his fantasy baseball skills, seeing as how he's in 9th place.
  • FFD - Hillcrest, NY but soon to be The Bronx, NY
    FFD, or FrumDoc, has never yet written here on SerandEz, being too busy with his new wife, his job, and getting ready to move and start medical school. He used to post over at FrumDoc, and we miss him over there, but we'll miss him and FFW more when they move to Einstein. Not that they ever come to visit now either... but I digress. FFD is our perfectionist and worry-body, but that usually works out okay, and he's sensible about when to worry and when not to. For instance, he's also a wonderful procrastinator and can be extremely lazy, in addition to spending excessive amounts of time on the computer. As FFW said, "He's acting just like you!" ...and as I responded, "Great!"
  • Eliezer StrongBad - Secret Location, Israel via Smelly Dump, NJ
    Eliezer StrongBad is currently in Israel, checking out lots of Israel Baseball League games while he does yet another internship with a top international firm. He always has an interesting perspective on things, noticing the details that a lot of others might miss... and he's consistently a great source of information. He's starting as the SerandEz IBL correspondent, but perhaps he'll parlay that into something a little larger. And boy, he sure does know how to count. Meanwhile, we hope he'll continue to update us on the new league and other Israel happenings until his return to NY this fall.
  • Prof. Justice - Undisclosed, NY
    Professor Justice has been AWOL for a while, ever since he switched positions from practicing criminal law in some very sticky situations and stings which I can't write about to a job he loves much more, which allows him to utilize his brain - and writing skills - a whole lot more. He's doing all this while still teaching a few courses at different universities in the area. Hopefully he'll come back soon with his (toned down :) ) caustic wit, sharp insights, and of course the sarcasm, discussing politics, terrorism, law, and of course, liberalism.
Finally, there are the other J-bloggers out there, a few of which have stopped by SerandEz to visit - whether for a couple hours on a Motzei Shabbos, a couple meals, or even for a couple Shabbosos.

  • SoccerDad - Baltimore, MD
    SoccerDad, who blogs at the aptly named SoccerDad, is the first J-blog I ever read... and also, the first J-blogger I ever met as such in real life. He's the creator of the blog carnival Haveil Havalim, which has had one of the biggest positive impacts on the J-blogosphere as a whole, exposing Jewish bloggers to other voices that are out there. And while I know he hates that I focus on this as opposed to all the rest of his writing, I love his fake editorials on behalf of large national papers which he then uses to shred their actual editorials with - gotta love it. He's one of the best pro-Israel bloggers out there, and we hope to get more of his aged (for a blogger!) wisdom here at SerandEz in the future, even if he is a part of more blogs than anyone else.
  • ~ Sarah ~ - Melbourne, Australia
    ~ Sarah ~, who blogs at Sarah's View, is the official photoblogger of SerandEz, even if she doesn't know it. She's the always funky one with the ever-changing header (really - go check it out, hit refresh), the profile photo that actually changes outfits (and fast, too!), and always has something to make you smile - even when you (or she) are down. We haven't had a chance to meet her - yet - but she's also got the coolest accent on this side of the hemi- err... equat- err... J-blogosphere. She's the one to show you something that will brighten your day when you need a life, and hopefully she'll shine her light, photo, and graphic skills this way again!
  • Jameel - The Muqata, Israel
    Ahh... Jameel of the Muqata... where to begin?! Should we start with the random phone calls while on counter-terrorist runs? The crazy ideas that actually pan out? The absurd visit at 1am when we lose an hour and Jameel needs to drive to and from Baltimore the next day? Jameel is our Aliyah correspondent, our Holy Hyrax or Ezzie rumor-mongerer, and our riot inciter here at SerandEz. He's always got something entertaining to say, and definitely knows how to get everyone going. We'll surely see more on Israel and Holy Hyrax's proclivities in the future.
  • Stam - Baltimore, MD via Hicksville, OOT
    Stam is new here, and constantly restarting at JustStam, but I'm confident that she will quickly become the official SerandEz hocker. She's got a car, a Treo, an apartment, and a constantly changing status on GMail, all while hosting her neighbor's guests whose fathers bang on the door when she's trying to sleep in just a bit because she's sick [and was on her computer until 5am]. Nebach, poor thing. But through it all, she keeps everybody happy and entertained, and perhaps she'll even make it up here to SerandEz in the near future. She claims she's "shy". Ha! I'm sure she will be entertaining us all on the blog sometime soon...
  • Shoshana - Passaic, NJ via Birmingham, AL (and Texas, and Oklahoma, and Canada, and...)
    Shoshana's name is summed up by her blog's name: SweetRose. Her blog is the third blog I read, and the first that really talked about life and life's experiences in a deep, thoughtful way. And that's what Shoshana herself is like - deep and thoughtful, with a healthy dose of fun, purple, and of course, glitter thrown on top. A truly sweet rose in a world full of thorns. She has wisdom well beyond her years, even if she looks 16, and we'll surely see her again at SerandEz sometime soon... or she's in big trouble. She's one of the J-bloggers who is most loved and whose words people actually listen to, possibly because they're so well-measured in a medium that often lacks that, and we always look forward to her insights.
  • Chana - Stern College, Manhattan, NY via Chicago, IL
    Chana is a very, very Curious Jew. She's a mold-breaking, brilliant young lady who left a terrible experience in a Bais Yaakov-style HS to attend a non-sectarian prep school; a breathtaking storyteller who inspires adults twice, even triple her age; and yet still manages to be a fun-loving, rain-dancing, super-sweet college student who is just high on life. She's not shy about anything, yet had to be dragged here by a wonderful mutual friend the first time, and her funky clothes and bursting personality made her a quick favorite of Serach and Elianna. Now she's becoming a frequent guest and we're sure to see more of her when she returns next semester. If only we could get her to write [with brevity?] over here a little more, too...
That's all, folk --- oh, I forgot someone? He's threatening to blow up the blog? AGAIN? Sigh... okay, okay. Acharon acharon chaviv...
  • Holy Hyrax - Los Angeles, CA
    Holy Hyrax. Woo. He told me that he "trusts me" and I should "write from the heart". He also threatened to call me up and cry over the phone if I'm not nice to him. Gimme a second... Okay. I got it. Holy Hyrax is living proof that one does not need to be a great speller to accomplish in life. Heck, you can be an atrocious speller, like he is. He is easily the funniest poster on this blog [sorry G], utilizing his natural humor and his incredible skills at graphic manipulation to create hilarious posters, pictures, and storylines for everyone to enjoy. He also will occasionally let out that heart-pulling post that surprises and inspires all who read it, before returning to his normal safe, super-skeptic, joking manner. When I finally had a chance to shmooze with him over Coffee Bean in LA, I recall noting to Jameel afterward that I couldn't help but laugh at every other thing he said. He adds a levity to this blog that not many can, and we all enjoy having him around.
We hope you've enjoyed the guest bios; this blog is really not SerandEz, even if that's what the title says: It's SerandEz & Friends. It's a blog meant to be a fun place to see what's out there, read, discuss, and smile - to make connections, make friends, and have a good time. It's also a pretty open blog, so if you want to post something, feel free to ask me and I'll certainly give it a long look. We've had a number of guest posts in the past by people other than the contributors listed above. We hope you enjoy the blog, and thanks from ALL of us here at SerandEz for coming!