Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends

Hi everyone,
I'm looking for a room in a kosher/shomer Shabbat female apartment on the Upper West Side for September 1st.
If you have any leads please leave them in the comments.
I really appreciate your help!
(I have been checking several times a day.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nice Guys... Nearing First?

While the adage goes "nice guys finish last", the Cleveland Indians are nearing first place in the AL Central. But a nice bonus as an Indians fan is that they are truly nice guys. In a really incredible story, utility infielder Jack Hannahan found out that his wife was going into a very premature labor - beginning of the third trimester. The Indians were playing in Boston at the time, and there were no night flights out of Logan Airport in Boston to Cleveland. The best the Indians' traveling secretary could find was a 6am flight which would definitely be too late, but at least he would be there soon after the birth. They looked into charter jets, but a charter jet would run $35,000 - no small sum even for a major league baseball player, especially a journeyman free agent to be who is 31 years old as Hannahan is.

That's where the rest of the Indians, led by stud Justin Masterson, stepped in:

But then Masterson came over and asked what was happening. He had a thought, and wasn't taking no for an answer.
Walters recounted the conversation:
"Book it," Masterson told Hannahan.
"I can't. It costs too much," Hannahan replied.
"Book it!" Masterson said.
Then Masterson passed a hat around the clubhouse. Teammates immediately contributed $35,000.
Hannahan took the private plane, arrived in Cleveland about 3 a.m. and reconnected with his wife just 15 minutes before John Joseph Hannahan V was born. Though he weighed just 2 pounds, 11 ounces at birth and hasn't come home from the NICU yet, baby reportedly is doing fine. As are mom and dad.
Read the whole story on Yahoo (via WFNY), and read and watch Hannahan talk about it on MLB (and see the other video on the page where the Tribe announcers tell over some more information as well). Such a classy story and team.

Go Tribe!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reshaping By Ones

Lifehacker recently linked to an interesting piece in Psychology Today which essentially discusses how people are wired to care more about individuals than groups, or as they put it, "Why Millions Can Die and We Won't Care." It's all rather interesting if somewhat unsurprising, but the examples they gave made me wonder why more charities (particularly tzedakos and/or schools) don't utilize this information to their advantage:

In [a] study people were paid to participate in an unrelated psychological quiz, and on the way out they were given the opportunity to donate up to $5.00 of their earnings to Save The Children. They were given three options:
  • They could donate to help Rokia, a 7 year-old Malian girl. The subjects were shown a picture of Rokia. They were willing to give $2.25.
  • They could donate to help the hundreds of thousands of children in eastern Africa who were starving. They were willing to give only $1.15.
  • The third option was to help Rokia specifically, but along with this request subjects were also given the statistics about the other starving east African kids. The same people who were willing to give $2.25 when it was just for Rokia, were only willing to give $1.40 when the request to help Rokia included information about the larger statistics!

Fascinating, right? Moreover:
Other studies showed similar results. For example, people would donate $11 to save one child but only $5 to save eight. The same goes for single events—like a tsunami—versus an ongoing event—like starving children.
One of the first thoughts that came to mind was the approach some schools have, where they basically require parents to either give or fundraise on behalf of the school ("give or get"). This is (perhaps accidentally) rather smart and effective: Firstly, it splits the burden up among hundreds of people, with a much greater net reach. But more specifically, the givers will identify their charity with the child of those parents who are asking for the funds, and this may make them more willing to give more money.

But more importantly, individual stories are always stronger. When schools focus on one individual story and why they need support to help that child's dream, it has a stronger impact on donors. Recently I found that even bringing the numbers down from an overall support to a specific support was incredibly effective. I am on the Alumni Board at Lander College, and we did a scholarship drive during the summer to help financially strapped students for this coming school year. Just upon hearing the individualized impact the prior year's small donations had been able to have made encouraged everyone on the Board to donate more themselves, and it was a really strong pitch to other alumni. As soon as I (and others) would mention how a dozen or so students had been able to more easily afford their tuition, people would suddenly be far more interested in offering their support. It seems clear that being able to directly associate giving with a recipient, and therefore feeling that one has made a (more) significant impact, helps encourage greater levels of charity.

It would seem a reasonable idea for Jewish schools (and charities) to attempt such pitches, whether focusing on individual children who need financial assistance, or by idealizing the education of a class through the persona of a single student, and how giving support will help that child succeed. It will not solve the current crisis, but perhaps it can lessen its impact just a bit.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Netanyahu's Speech - Translated by sub-par Ulpan Student

You have to know some basic Hebrew for this. It is utterly brilliant.

The byline on the video says: For more info about Hahafuch group: And remember, if you don't think Israel is funny then you haven't seen our show.

Written by Aaron Friedman

Google Celebrates Tu B'Av

Hat tip: Binny

Very cool.

Monday, August 08, 2011


Obama: "And the markets agree with me."
Markets: Dow Below 11,000; Nasdaq, S&P Lose 5% After Obama Addresses Downgrade (Yahoo)


Hasn't the time come for President Obama to stop thinking that people will believe something just because he says it on camera? That worked as a candidate - not as President. It is doubtful that even most Republicans and conservatives expected him to end up Jimmy Carter-esque in quality, but right now it's looking that that will be the company he keeps as far as Presidents go. That's rather sad for someone who - regardless of one's feelings about him - came in as someone with incredible oratory skills, polish, and who showed quickly that his views on defense could shift as his understanding of it grew with the office. Liberals certainly expected better of him (in different ways), but nobody of any stripe expected a Presidency this poor.

(It is perhaps just as sad that there is no current Republican candidate that one can point to and say "That would be a huge upgrade!")

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Hush Author Unveils

In a rather brave and well-written piece on the Huffington Post, Hush author "Eishes Chayil" has revealed her identity as Judy Brown. (Interestingly, someone outed her on Frum Satire months back though it seems to have been the only prior mention.)

In her piece:
I accidentally learned what the words molestation and rape meant at age 23, after telling a therapist I met about something I had witnessed happening to a friend when we were children. Suddenly I realized I had been talking to strangers all my life. After I started meeting with victims and speaking with therapists, I began to encounter the community's wall of denial. These are things Jews don't do, I was told. It was easy to say it was all a lie or just faulty memories of childhood.

When I first tried to write about abuse in our community, to use the words needed to describe what was happening to so many children, I was firmly told not to.

Some subjects are better left in silence, the rabbis said. Orthodox Jews did not need such words. Those were words for gentiles. We had built walls and had built them high; the outside world could never enter. But as the walls grew higher and wider, we forgot look inside, to see that the most dangerous enemy always grows from within.

The abusers, trusted men wearing traditional garb, had not killed their victims, after all. But they did not need to. Some victims, driven to despair by years of enforced silence and secret shame, killed themselves.

"What will it take for them to listen?" one young man, a victim of horrific abuse, once asked me. "What will it take for them to finally realize what they're doing to their own children?"

It took something unspeakable, something none of us even knew could happen: a murder so brutal, so uncomprehending, we still wake up each morning wondering that life dares go on. What do we teach our children now? How had our walls failed to protect us?

But things haven't come to this. They have always been like this because of that misplaced blind trust. Perhaps now it is time to see it, to crack wide open the secret box of words and give them to our children as weapons, as a promise that they will always know what is happening to them, and be able to describe it so they can ask for help. A world without words is not a safe and warm place; it is a dangerous one, where children become mute victims of torture.

Six months after my book, "Hush," came out, my publisher and I began receiving threats in the mail intended to intimidate us for daring to expose these unspeakable truths about my beloved community. The message was clear: I had violated the rule that said victims must protect the community from their own crimes. Now, I would pay.

For too long we have tiptoed around our flaws with fear and caution, pushing them into the shadows in hopes they will disappear. For too long, victims have been made to be the villains, and abuse was called loshon harah, evil talk. For too long, we have refused to honestly discuss the horrific possibilities, and in doing so allowed our children to fall victim to them. And for too long, I have allowed my own fear to make me part of a wall of silence -- guilty for what I had seen, guilty for what I had written.

I refuse to continue to allow that fear to force me into hiding over a book that should have been written long ago. I no longer want to be known only as Eishes Chayil when my name is Judy Brown. I must find the courage to stand with the victims who carry the burden of our silence for the rest of their lives.

I originally wrote my book under a pseudonym to protect my family and friends from community retribution, but so far we have only hurt ourselves. Maybe now, because of Leiby's tragedy, things will change. Maybe now, we will finally teach our children what we should have taught them years ago: morality has no garb.

Children have always gotten hurt in our world -- sometimes quickly, walking home from school, sometimes slowly, piece by piece, over years of abuse and terror. Perhaps we live in a world that is black and white, perhaps we want to keep it that way, but we must at least know that there is still a whole lot of gray in it, strangers live among friends and that such words, after all, are very complicated to define.