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Posts Tagged ‘kind’

Gulliver’s Sukkah

Friday, September 28th, 2012

A Toldos Aharon child is playing with the frum equivalent of a doll house in Jerusalem. And, as you can see from the dangling power cord, his little marvel of a sukkah even has light in it at night. Perfection.

Nancy and I received delivery on our first “eternal sukkah” yesterday, and since it was too much of a schlep to take it upstairs, we decided to start building it right there and then, in the parking lot behind our building.

Following the instructions on a crumbled piece of paper, we put the thing together the wrong way so many times, until a kind neighbor—who also attends my shul—and his son, a crafty boy—couldn’t stand seeing our suffering and offered a helping hand.

It was a little like the Amish barn raising, I suppose, where all the neighbors get together and help a newlywed couple build their first barn.

We continued to do everything twice and three times – tied down the wooden slats for the roof schach, then took them down to wrap the frame first with the tarp that came with the sukkah. Then, seeing as we connected the door upside-down, we had to make adjustments there.

The sun was beating on me, I drank one of those useful little supermarket water bottles in a single gulp and move on to the next one, my entire body ached, I stood tall on a ladder where I had no business doing a balancing act – but in the end we did it, with the door right side up and the window finally not facing the wall, and the schach nicely spread on top.

For 30 years we’ve been celebrating Sukkot in the communal sukkah at 577 Grand Street, where you share the sukkah meal experience with a hundred neighbors. And while we have are some lovely memories from those meals, it will be a thrill to have our sukkot in Netanya, in our own sukkah.

The neighborhood cats have been showing a keen interest in the new structure and are trying to figure out a way to get in. We hope the tarp zippers will hold… Also, there’s a guy parked right next to our sukkah. He has the whole, near-empty parking lot, but, no – he has to park next to our little candy box picture of a sukkah.

Friday I’m going to park our own Chevy there, to block him. All I need is for some semi-conscious driver to back into my precious… No…

A gut yontif!

Shhhh…

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Rest period in the pre-kindergarten class at the Jewish Educational Center, the precursor to the current St. Paul Jewish Community Center, circa 1939.

It was built in 1930 at the corner of Holly and Grotto Streets. Programming combined recreation and education, and by the time this picture was taken, over 100 community groups used the building.

I was looking for something sweet to prepare us for the Holy Day of Yom Kippur. I was born on Yom Kippur, and so I always find it difficult to feel fear when it comes to what is, after all, my birthday.

I can understand intellectually why people are so afraid – judgment, sealed fates, it’s supposed to be scary. But I don’t feel those things. Instead, I fell the beauty of the tunes, the fragrance of the citrus fruit poked with cloves which I smell every half hour or so, the amazing stories of the Mussaf service.

Who else gets this kind of goodies on their birthday?

I didn’t find any image that would express my Yom Kippur joy. So I picked these toddlers, who are in their 70s and 80s today.

But if you look closely, you’ll see that the child up front is squeezing his face and fist – faking a peaceful nap for the benefit of the camera. No innocence there…

Ah, well, the search for spontaneous expressions of authentic joy continues…

The Atrocity of Ignorance and Fanaticism

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

First let me state the obvious. I am not a Christian. I do not believe in Christian theology. I am a Torah-observant Jew with a Torah-observant theology. So the idea of a Trinity is anathema to me and I certainly do not believe in the divinity of Jesus.

That said, I am absolutely appalled at what has happened to a church in Israel recently. The expression of hatred towards Christian beliefs and institutions rivals that of pre-Holocuast Germany of the mid 30s. Anti-Christian graffiti on the walls of a church and the recent public tearing up of the Christian bible by a Knesset member [MK Michal Ben-Ari -Ed.] are acts reminiscent of the anti-Semitic graffiti seen on the walls synagogues and Jewish owned businesses in Germany.

Unfortunately, I can all too well understand why this is happening. It is a culture of hatred of the goy (non-Jew) that permeates certain circles. And a history of anti-Semitism perpetrated against our parents, grandparents and great grandparents going back for centuries in Europe – pre-dating the Reformation.

The Church had always had it in for the Jews back then. Persecutions were often sourced in what the Church saw as heresy on our part for denying the divinity of Jesus. They either wanted to convert us or destroy us. That finally came to a head during the Holocaust where Christian Germany with centuries of hatred imbedded in their souls – ingrained in them by previous generations underpinned the Nazi determination to annihilate us. Even though the expressed hatred was entirely racial, not religious.

So it is not a surprise that certain Jews react reflexively to non-Jews by hating them. Nor is it surprising why that hatred produced this kind of activity. When hatred is ingrained in this historical way we cannot expect tolerance. I am reminded of a tape I once heard by a Chasidic Rav saying that even though we must have good relations with gentiles, we must hate them!

That is incorrect. There is no mitzvah to hate non-Jews. There is a mitzvah to treat all of humankind with the dignity they deserve as God’s creations, created in His image! There is instead a mitzvah to enlighten the nations with the morality, values, and ethics of the Torah. In fact according to one source I saw, the reason for our lengthy exile is precisely for that purpose – to get the rest of the world to believe in God and to appreciate the truth of the Torah.

Why doesn’t the segment that fosters the kind of hatred displayed in the above mentioned acts abide by any of this? In certain cases historical experiences combined with an insular lifestyle and lack of education prevents them from seeing reality.

In other cases, it is simple fanaticism as seems to be the case here. Some of the graffiti indicates that this was done by fanatic settlers of Ramat Migron and Maoz Esther as a ‘price tag’ operation for the police closing down two structures in Migron.

This is an outrage! No matter how justified these illegal settlers feel they are in building illegal settlements, and no matter how angry they are at the Israeli government for doing it, they have no right to retaliate. Certainly not against innocent Christians!

They probably think this is a Mitzvah. But they are wrong. This is a completely immoral act that is inexcusable!

The Christian world of today does not hate us. Many of them, such as the Evangelical community embrace us. And since Vatican Two, Catholics no longer believe in the doctrine that blames us for the crucifixion. We are now considered their ‘older brother’ religion. These new attitudes are clearly and constantly expressed in tangible ways. Relations have never been better. While there still may be pockets of Christian anti Semitism – they are relatively few in number and in any case non violent. (With the obvious exceptions of fringe groups like the neo-Nazis and the KKK.)

But the people who do this kind of thing either don’t know any of that, or don’t care. They will say that all this ‘love’ is false. Or that is it just a ruse to convert us. Most of them will not however be stupid enough to act on it – especially as an act of revenge against the government! But you only need a few who do. And that is what seems to have happened here.

State Dept. Official Killed in Libya Consulate Attack

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

A U.S. official was killed and at least one other American wounded as armed Libyan militiamen stormed the US consulate in Benghazi in eastern Libya.

“One American official was killed and another injured in the hand. The other staff members were evacuated and are safe and sound,” Libya’s deputy interior minister Wanis al-Sharif told AFP.

The identity of the consular worker who was shot is not known yet.

According to reports, the attack was over a You Tube video that insulted the Prophet Muhammad.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”

Armed men stormed the consulate compound, shooting at buildings and throwing handmade bombs, later setting a building on fire. Security forces returned fire but were overwhelmed.

Protests were held in front of the U.S. in Cairo, but no damage was caused there.

How to Avoid Being the Next Ponzi Scheme Victim

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

One of the main headlines in world financial news this August has been the fate of ZeekRewards.com, an online company that offered investors the chance to get rich quick. Interestingly enough, I heard about ZeekRewards before this company hit the headlines, when one of its salespeople contacted me and asked me to represent them. The very pushy salesman nagged me to set up a meeting, but the more he pushed me, the more uneasy I felt. So I decided to follow my mother’s adage of, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” and I didn’t meet him.

Reading the headlines, I’m very relieved with my decision. ZeekRewards offered promises of returns such as 1.5% of the investment at the end of each day and shares of 50% of the daily profits. Wouldn’t everyone want that kind of deal? However, this August, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an emergency action in a North Carolina federal court because this investment project was yet another Ponzi scheme.

The owners of ZeekRewards must have realized that many of these potential investors were going to ask questions. So, in a bid to protect themselves they added a clause for new users stating that they were not purchasing stock or any kind of “investment or equity,” and they even labeled the whole thing as an “e-commerce subscription.” The SEC saw through their ruse and said that this was not the case and in fact the company was offering its subscribers false securities. However, the average investor did not have the knowledge to understand what they were getting into, and the abovementioned clause probably sounded fair enough.

As people kept subscribing and playing the company’s game, investing and reinvesting, the company’s cash outflows began to exceed its total revenue, leading to a collapse and many unhappy subscribers who were left with nothing.

This time, there are more than 1 million victims of the scheme, making this the largest such bankruptcy case, with around $600 million at stake.

Interestingly, many observant Jews, both in Israel and America, have fallen prey to this scheme. It’s not the first time that Jews have been hit hard by Ponzi schemes (think Madoff).

This raises the question of why Ponzi schemes such as ZeekRewards are tempting to the religious Jewish community. One possible answer is that many religious Jews have large families and in this economic climate finances may be tight. Offer a person who is trying to find legitimate ways to support his family a way to make some extra money, and it’s tempting to find out more.

Sadly, as stated above, ZeekRewards is not a one-off story. Apart from desperation to make more money, another possible reason people fall for these schemes is that the scammers may have gotten smarter.

However, there are three basic measures that you could follow to protect yourself from falling victim in a financial scheme:

1. Remember my mother’s rule: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” ZeekRewards offered high gains for pressing a few buttons and looking at some ads. This is the first sign of something suspicious. When something sounds too good to be true, ask yourself, “What’s the catch?”

2. Do your research. One potential investor who decided against investing with ZeekRewards said that when he heard about it, he did his homework. He discovered that the company’s securities offerings were not registered with the SEC as required by U.S. federal law. Recognized authorities monitor investments for a reason; their absence speaks volumes.

3. Don’t feel pressured. If the company/salesman/friend keeps nagging you, saying that the investment opportunity will be gone if you don’t “buy now,” it may be wise to let the opportunity pass.

While there are no guarantees in the world of finance, taking these three steps will provide a basic level of protection against becoming a victim of the next Ponzi scheme that rears its ugly head.

If you are interested in hearing more about the biggest investment fraud in history, watch this TV interview that I did on the subject of Bernie Madoff. Although this was four years ago, the points remain the same. If anything, there are more frauds out there and we need to be more careful than ever. So be wary and tread with caution.

Crossword Puzzle – K2

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Across

1. Yearn

5. Number cruncher, for short

8. Tiny creature (var.)

13. Little buffalo

14. Get an F

15. Kind of position

16. Perfume brand by Dana

17. Coffee dispensers

18. Kind of line

19. Doeg’s horrible sin

22. Poet’s palindromic preposition

23. Sense of self

24. Richard ___

25. Yummy pastries with very few stores in the northeastern United States.

31. Camp or kibbutz

34. Stan who created Spider-Man

35. Apiece, in scores

36. Actress Moran from “Happy Days”

37. Injury

39. Sage

40. Sensitive subject, to some

41. Meal source

42. All over again

43. (Obvious) name for a Jewish eatery found at an angle

49. C.I.A.’s forerunner

50. Aquarium denizen

51. Have a run

54. Famous Jewish entertainer who is yellow

59. Indian coin

60. Dumbfounded

61. Earthen pot

62. Part of a tennis court

63. “Buenos ___”

64. Pizzeria output

65. English university city

66. Queen, maybe

67. Genesis son

Down

1. Jewish seasonal treat

2. Kind of personality

3. Majestic

4. Frenchman, once

5. Some shorts (pl.)

6. Girlie color

7. “Not to mention …”

8. Important occasion

9. Hardly Mr. Nice Guy

10. Small case

11. It’s soothing

12. Cockpit reading: Abbr.

14. Mushrooms, e.g.

20. Occupational suffix

21. Did Half Dome

25. Folks, e.g.

26. Cartoon canine

27. Hankering

28. Primary

29. “… or ___!”

30. Knocked off, biblically

31. Tap trouble

32. Jason’s ship

33. Struggles

37. Least good

38. Furniture wood

39. Yom Kippur, e.g.

44. Did hachnasat orchim

45. College application parts

46. Fix, as leftovers

47. Exigencies

48. Caribou kin

51. Often photographed actress

52. Young night flyer

53. Grind

54. Cabbage like vegetable

55. Agitate

56. “Etc…etc…,” when tripled

57. Kind of bed

58. Cuts off

59. Amigo

The Crossword puzzle appears on this page the first week of every month.

(Answers, next week)

Yoni can be reached at yoniglatt@gmail.com.

Changing Our Image for the Better

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Note from Harry Maryles: I occasionally talk about Jewish heroes on this blog. I am proud to offer this guest post by one of the more quiet ones.

NCSY alumnus Allison Josephs (seen here with her “Partner in Torah” actress Mayim Bialik) is a unique individual. She is not a talker. She is a doer. Allison noticed a gaping hole in our image as Orthodox Jews. One created by – among other things – one Chilul HaShem after another that I often read about in the national and world media and report on here. We have been damaged by so many negative stories and bad apples that it has hurt our mission as “a light unto the nations”.

Some people have complained that I am one of the guilty parties on this front… that my blog carries more than its share of negativity. I must admit that a very large portion of my posts are negative. But that isn’t because I seek to throw mud on my own people. It is because I am trying to make us a better people.

Ignoring the bad just keeps the bad coming. Sweeping it under the carpet and not protesting it is almost tantamount to endorsing it. Shtika K’Hoda’ah. I would like nothing better than to post one positive story after another. Stories that inspire rather than demoralize. Believe it or not I look for such stories and when I find them I report on them.

Unfortunately there are more of the other kind of stories. But there are some very good people out there that seek to change how the world sees us and at least one person who seems to be doing a good job of it – Allison Josephs. She is doing something very unique that counters all the negativity in our world. But instead of my going on about it – I will let her do the talking. Her words follow.

Hello Emes Ve-Emunah readers! My name is Allison Josephs and five years ago I did something kind of crazy – I quit my jobs (I had two at that time and was the sole bread winner for our family and a mother of two while my husband was in law school) in order to attempt to start an online revolution. The problem: the perception of Orthodox Jews in the non-Orthodox and non-Jewish circles. The solution: a world wide Orthodox image makeover campaign, of course!

The truth, though, is that my degree was in Philosophy, not public relations, and my work experience was in Jewish outreach, not public relations! Fortunately, I’ve always had a flair for the dramatics, and right around this time, YouTube was getting popular. I noticed that the mainstream media basically only reported negative stories about religious Jews and that popular books, movies, and TV shows always depicted Orthodox Jews as over the top and extreme.

But with YouTube, *I* could tell the story myself. I’m a ba’alas teshuva and although the religious Jewish world is far from perfect, living a life imbued with Torah wisdom and observance gives my existence purpose. I was a child who despite having a very happy secular upbringing, spent years searching for the meaning of life and I was delighted to find such gems within my own heritage.

As soon as I discovered the beauty and depth of Torah living and learning, I wanted to share the information with every other Jew on the planet. (I started with my own family, who are all observant today.) Rejecting something with knowledge is one thing, but most Jews in the world today have essentially rejected a life of Jewish observance with very little book or experiential knowledge.

I had seen a YouTube show called “lonelygirl15″ about a teenage girl who brought the viewers into her life through the medium of online videos. Being on YouTube, I saw, essentially gives the viewer a sense of “meeting” the person who’s on the screen. I noticed how when people meet nice, normal Orthodox Jews, the stereotypes just naturally get broken down. Having every person in the world personally meet an Orthodox Jew would of course be impossible. There aren’t very many of us and we tend to live in only certain cities.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/changing-our-image-for-the-better/2012/09/08/

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