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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Change’

7-Eleven on Grand Street

Friday, August 9th, 2013

To most of our readers around the globe, this might not mean much. But the idea of having a 7-Eleven outlet on Grand Street, on the very hallowed ground where Jewish immigrants—workers and scholars, poor and relatively less poor—have set foot for the first time in America… Well, frankly, I’m not sure what it means, but it certainly signals change. The Lower East Side is Moishe’s Bakery, not Denny’s. It’s small, individualized, personal—not a chain of identical stores selling identical products to millions.

20130731-115350Speaking of change, according to my friends at The Lo-Down, the website serving the old neighborhood with hyper-local news and tidbits, the first customer to purchase anything at all at the new 7-Eleven was my good friend and former client, Jacob Goldman, of Loho Realty, a man who’s been embracing change on the Lower East Side since change became in again.

My daughter was absolutely overjoyed with the news—she’s been a documented Slurpee addict since Slurpee was recognized as an addiction by the APA. My daughter declared she was starting to save for a ticket back, to have her frozen flavored drink.

And so the battle is being waged – Zionism and national renewal versus Slurpee. And I’m not betting on that one.

Overspending

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Often one spouse accuses the other of being an over-spender. But what exactly is “overspending”? This definition changes from family to family; for one, going out to eat on a weekly basis may be within their means, while even a periodic coffee may be stretching the resources of another couple. So how does a family determine whether they can afford to eat out?

One cannot “overspend” if there isn’t a budget that defines spending limits. A budget can help reduce friction between spouses who have different spending patterns. If both partners agree to create and abide by a budget, then the one spouse is no longer the “bad cop” that regulates his or her partner’s spending habits.

Spending as an emotional issue

People spend money for a variety of reasons. Some expenses, like groceries and utilities, are a necessity, while others are discretionary. However, even within fixed expenses there is usually room to cut back. Does Shabbat dinner need to be an expensive cut of meat accompanied by costly wine, or will chicken and grape juice suffice?

Examine your fiscal habits. Do you have an idea of how much your monthly expenses are? Where do you spend money? Do you charge or pay in cash? Do you have financial goals that are important to you, and if so, are you actively working to achieve them? How would you feel if your spending habits changed? How would that change affect your spouse/family?

Consider the doctor who tells an overweight patient that unless he lost a considerable amount of weight, he would face serious illness. Chances are, the patient would diet and exercise. So why is there a discrepancy when a financial adviser recommends a fiscal diet and an exercise program of spending within a budget?

Very often, financial issues mask other problems within a relationship. Therefore, creating a budget is not only a good tool to monitor spending, but it can also help improve family harmony.

Iran: Can Rouhani Deliver?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

By Nir Boms and Shayan Arya

Last week, more than 250 Iranian steel workers gathered in front of the Supreme Leader’s residence in protest against unjustified layoffs and unpaid salaries. They were not the only ones. Reports from the past week revealed a dozen other such protests and strikes that range from a tire company, cable workers, the cinema association and even employees of Iran’s Ministry of Youth Affairs.

Protests and demonstrations are not that common in Iran; their last wave was met with harsh repression and violence. Now they have spread again and become more brazen. Signs again read “Down with the dictator,” while police used tear gas in an attempt to scare protesters away.

A combination of international sanctions and domestic mismanagement has resulted in rapidly rising unemployment and restive unemployed youth. The worsening economic conditions were also a key driver for the vote for change which took place in Tehran during the last Presidential election. But change is still a long way off.

Rouhani’s victory by such a wide margin was not just a testament to his politics, but seemingly a total rejection of the more conservative candidates more closely aligned with the widely despised supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Rouhani’s campaign symbol was a giant golden key, which he waved at rallies to symbolize his ability to open locked doors. To an Iranian electorate all too familiar with locked doors in every aspect of their lives — both domestic and international — even the remote possibility of things getting better was irresistible. But now that Rouhani has been elected, he may find it difficult to deliver on his promise.

Rouhani, to be sure, will face a mountain of problems, even compared to those of his predecessors. Iran’s international isolation has never been so severe. There is virtually no segment of Iran’s economy, or for that matter of Iranian society, that has been immune to the ill effects of the economic sanctions. In less than a year, Iran’s currency has lost two-thirds of its value against the dollar; and even by the most optimistic estimates, inflation is above 30%, with unemployment reaching similar proportions among urban youth.

Iran’s economy is under attack from two major fronts: international sanctions and domestic mismanagement inherent in the Islamic system.

Sanctions are not a new phenomenon there. Previous sanctions were imposed in response to the Islamic regime’s international support for terrorism and Iran’s dismal human rights record. But the more stringent sanctions now afflicting Iran were levied in response to the country’s nuclear program — and these are the crippling sanctions Rouhani needs to undo. To accomplish such a change, a change of policy is required. In addition to the nuclear issue, any negotiations for lifting sanctions obviously need to include Iran’s abandoning support for Hezbollah, its involvement in Syria, its continued support of other terrorist groups, as well as the Assad regime that continues to slaughter its people.

Rouhani’s first challenge is that he does not hold the keys to most of these issues. Iran’s policies on the nuclear issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, international terrorism and supporting the Assad regime are the sole purview of Iran’s supreme leader. No president has ever been able to enter these domains in any meaningful way, let alone alter them substantially; these issues have, in fact, always been sources of tension and discreet friction between presidents and the supreme leader.

Another challenge lies in the United States Congress. As many of the sanctions against Iran have been embedded in laws, it would take a Herculean effort on the part of President Obama to convince the legislative branch to change them. Even if the president were to decide to “trust” Rohani, he would still need to convince Congress. Given the political atmosphere in Washington, it is unlikely the president would even consider risking his remaining political capital on lifting sanctions without being able to demonstrate substantial progress in changing Iran’s course.

A third challenge lies on the domestic front. Here Rouhani must face an endemic system of corruption, in addition to gangs of Revolutionary Guards [IRGC], who have extended their control over almost every aspect of Iran’s economy, government, military and security apparatus. To change that, Rouhani would have to tackle the IRGC and their powerful ally, the Supreme Leader Khamenei, who sees them as his extended arm for controlling Iran and key to the Islamic regime’s survival.

Next Year in Jerusalem: Obama Wins Second Term

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

It’s been said that if Obama wins, that would be a big push for Aliyah.

I’m not sure how that works out considering the fact that 70% of Jews who voted, voted for Obama. I guess it’s that 30% that might be considering their options.

And how timely is that!

Nefesh B’Nefesh is going to be working overtime this winter.

If you were thinking about Aliyah, and now considering it more seriously, talk to NBN now to ensure you can get a seat on that plane.

So, if “Change” has morphed into “Forward,” let “Forward” morph into “Eastbound.” It’s time to come home.

Tell them Jameel sent you.

 

 

[Editor's Note: 60%-40% was updated to 70%-30% based on the latest exit polls of Jewish voters.]

Barring a Miracle, No Need to Change the White House Curtains

Friday, September 28th, 2012

A good Israeli friend of mine, like most non-Americans, is mystified by the plethora of poll numbers emanating from the presidential campaign and seem to mean very different things to very different people.

In this column I’ve been trying to stress the huge difference between the national polls, which do nothing more than reflect the mood of a representative sample of Americans on a given day, and the state-by-state polls, which are also snapshots by nature, but with more meaningful information regarding the actual results of the coming vote.

On Sunday, my friend complained that I’m the only one who says Obama will, basically, wipe the floor with his Republican opponent. Everyone else has been telling him the race is neck and neck.

Indeed, last Sunday, you could still find national polls that, while favoring Obama, did so with a gap between him and Romney that fell within the 3 point margin of error.

Every educated American has had to explain to a foreigner, at one point or another, our election system, or, more specifically, the Electoral College.

The Electoral College, comprised of 538 delegates from the different states, will meet after the November election and will vote on who should be our next president. It didn’t used to be a foregone conclusion, but in our time it is: the candidate to receive 270 delegates or more will be our next president.

The president is not picked by the popular vote, even though it often seems that way. He or she are picked by the 270+ delegates they collected.

This is why the national polls, which last Sunday showed the candidates running neck and neck, essentially, didn’t present a viable prediction of the election results.

I’ll give you an example:

Take the two neighboring states of North and South Dakota. They’re very similar in many ways, including the fact that the size of their citizenry entitles them to three delegates each to the Electoral College.

Let’s say that it takes roughly half a million citizens to qualify for one delegate. ND and SD then should have 1.5 million voters each.

Let’s say that Mitt Romney is extremely popular in ND, where he is loved by everyone, 100% of the voters.

In SD, however, he is only liked by 49% of the voters, while Barack Obama enjoys the support of 51% of the voters.

If we ran a poll about the popularity of the two candidates in the Dakotas, Romney would be the runaway leader by a whopping 3 to 1 ratio. A clear winner.

But, come election day, to his chagrin, Romney would only receive 3 delegates, as will Obama. Because our system is winner-take-all, and having everybody vote for you, or merely a slim majority of the voters, comes down to exactly the same result.

Our country is divided into five kinds of states: Red—proud, dedicated Republicans; Pink—leaning Republicans; Blue—proud, dedicated Democrats; Baby Blue—leaning Democrat, and Gray – the tossup states.

Let’s assume that Romney gets both shades of red and Obama both shades of blue. This will net Romney 193 delegates, while Obama will have 252 delegates.

There are 93 votes remaining in the tossup states, which, were Romney to win the majority there, he could find his way to the yearned for 270.

The problem is that he is behind in most of them, and in all the larger states in that bunch.

Take North Carolina, where Romney was the clear leader throughout the summer – but not any more. An NBC/WSJ/Marist poll covering the period from 9/23 – 9/25, sampling 1,035 Likely Voters – folks who are registered to vote and planning to do so, with a 3.1 margin of error, show Obama with a 48-46 lead over Romney. That’s a Southern state, with mostly red state-wide elected officials, which should have gone to Romney and is slipping away from his grasp.

A Republican poll in the same state gave Obama a 4 point lead for the period of 9/18-9/19.

In Florida, the biggest tossup state (29 delegates), Obama is leading by 3 and 4 points (CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac last week gave him 9 points).

And in Ohio, with its 18 delegates, Obama has been doing so well, that the site Real Clear Politics, the Mecca for political junkies during these trying times, has moved Ohio from gray to baby blue. It’s no longer a tossup state.

Kosher Hot Dogs and the Dichotomy of Tisha B’Av

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Wailing, fasting and the wearing of ashes, alongside socializing, communing and catching up with old friends in a fun outdoor atmosphere. That is the dichotomy of the 9th of Av in modern day Jerusalem. On the one hand a somber mood, but on the other hand, a paradoxical sense of joviality fills the warm summer night.

It makes sense that some level of happiness is in the air, because after all, we are bewailing the destruction of Jerusalem in a big, beautiful and built Jerusalem. This contrast is highlighted in the Jewish liturgy on the 9th of Av when we say the “Nachem” prayer referring to mournful, destroyed and desolate Jerusalem. However, we say that prayer in one of the hundreds of beautiful Synagogues in the city, or at the courtyard of Jerusalem’s city hall, or at the Western Wall with thousands of our fellow Jewish Israeli citizens who have travelled from other thriving Israeli cities on the paved roads of the Jewish state to pray for the future of Jerusalem.

Indeed, a major change has taken place in Jewish life, and while we keep the same rites as we have kept for 2000 years, our reality is vastly different. To understand the change, here is a parable: Two women are in a room and both are single. One’s husband has just died, while the other is engaged to be married – both are indeed single, but they are in totally different states of mind.

So, too, is the Jewish nation: We have mourned for the last two millennia because we were forcibly dispossessed of our land, our capital was sacked, our Temple destroyed and it was as though our husband was murdered. But now with half the Jewish people in the land of Israel and Jerusalem standing in earthly beauty, we are engaged to be married and await the next stage of fulfillment. Our mourning now is the yearning for a final redemption – like a bride waiting for the wedding canopy, we impatiently await the completion of this great process.

Yet, so many Jews deny the obvious reality. Almost like a mantra, they tell you that nothing has changed, that we are still in exile, that there is no difference between living in Israel and living in the Diaspora. Our own people somehow don’t see the transformation that has opened the doors for our nation to return to lost tradition, speak our national language, fight in a Jewish army, and create a culturally Jewish state on our ancestral land. One gets the impression that some prefer not to see it, lest it break their romance with other dreams, namely, the American Dream.

Recently, I caught an article in the Jewish Journal and it was titled: “They just want kosher Dodger Dogs”. The article went on to say that a consortium of six “accomplished professionals” who are also “season ticket holders” are working to remedy the lack of kosher hot dogs at Dodger Stadium in LA. “We are really just a group of people who feel very strongly that the second-largest Jewish community in the country should have the ability to eat a Jewish hot dog at a ballgame…” said a member of the committee, an attorney.

Seriously? Is this what grown men spend their time on? The Jewish people are engaged in the most exciting project in two thousand years – building a Jewish State. We face enormous challenges to build up, educate, and protect our people, and all this is happening while wealthy season-ticket Kosher-eating Jews are fighting for Kosher hot dogs in Dodger stadium? Are we so comfortable with the status quo that Jewish leaders can spend their time on nonsense?

Even closer to their home, in the great state of California there are serious problems with antisemitism at many colleges, high intermarriage rates, and scores of Jews who are losing all connection with Judaism. Some young Jews don’t stand a chance of getting Jewish schooling, while others are afraid to show their Kippah on campus. Yet a group of wealthy Kosher-eating Jews is not ashamed to go public with their efforts to bring fresh Kosher dogs to their box seats?

Excerpt of Letter From Prime Minister Netanyahu to Shaul Mofaz

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Following is an excerpt from the letter that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent to Shaul Mofaz on Tuesday:

“I regret your decision to give up on an opportunity to make an historic change. After 64 years, we were very close to a substantial change in the division of the burden. I gave you a proposal that would have led to the conscription of ultra-orthodox and Arabs from the age of 18. I explained to you that the only way to implement this on the ground is gradually and without tearing Israeli society apart, especially at a time when the State of Israel is facing many significant challenges. I will continue to work toward the responsible solution that Israeli society expects.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/excerpt-of-letter-from-prime-minister-netanyahu-to-shaul-mofaz/2012/07/17/

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