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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Sandy Eller’

Staying Warm, On the Cheap

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Ah, fall.

The magnificent display of changing colors as the trees stage their annual pageant, the indescribable pleasure of leaves crunching beneath your feet, the delightful crispness in the air after endless weeks of heat and humidity; it is hard not to enjoy the magic of autumn.

Bummer that fall has to turns into winter.

Not that the winter doesn’t have many redeeming qualities, but with the advent of winter comes (at least in my little corner of the world) snow, ice, bone chilling cold and by extension, high heating bills.

I can’t halt the precipitation and I have no way of keeping the temperature above freezing, but if there is one thing I can do, it is help you put your heating bills on a diet.

Let me begin by saying that while I am all for saving money, I am not advocating that you keep your thermostat at sixty degrees, nor am I suggesting that you dress your family in hats and gloves inside the house in order to save money. And while there is no doubt that new windows or a new heating system will pay for themselves over time, they are both major expenditures that many of us are just not prepared to make at this point in time. But there are definitely inexpensive ways to trim heating bills as the thermostat starts to dip lower and lower.

Start with your windows. It goes without saying that you should keep them closed. If you have storm windows, keep them shut as well. Check for drafts and use caulking and/or weather stripping or even old towels or t-shirts as needed to keep cold air at bay. Consider hanging heavier weight curtains during the winter, leaving them open during the day to allow the sun to heat your home for free, and closing them at night to provide an extra layer of insulation against the frigid air. For the seriously frugal, consider spending a few dollars on an inexpensive sealing kit that, with the help of plastic film, double sided tape and a blow dryer, virtually shrink wraps your windows and creates an extra layer of insulation.

The same advice goes for doors. Install a door sweep at the bottom to block any cold air that might be seeping in through the cracks and install weather stripping as needed. Contemplate getting (or even making) one of those long fabric snakes to block any drafts that may be coming in at the bottom of your door. Don’t have one? Take a towel, roll it up and place it right in front of the door. It will work just as well.

Invest in a programmable thermostat. Yes, you do have to buy one and if you aren’t handy you will have to pay someone to install it, but it is one of those gadgets that pays for itself. Keep your house running several degrees colder during the day when no one is home and at night when everyone is tucked into bed, while ensuring that it is toasty warm when you wake up and when everyone comes home at the end of the day.

Remember your good friend from the summer, Mr. Ceiling Fan? While running in normal mode (counter-clockwise), it moves air around the room, providing a cooling effect. Switch it to reverse and it will take all the warm air that is gathering at the top of your room (remember eighth grade science class when you learned that heat rises?) and push the delightfully warm air back down to the lower part of the room, where the humans are.

Do yourself a favor and invest in down blankets for every member of the family. A natural insulator, they are comfortable in the summer, yet seriously warm in the winter. If you have never tried flannel sheets, the added delicious warmth they provide makes them worth considering. Cover bare floors with rugs and your toes will thank you when you hop out of bed in the morning as well. And once we are talking insulation, check with a contractor and see how much it costs to insulate your attic, which will also be money well spent.

While this might seem obvious, move furniture away from your heating sources, be they vents, registers or radiators. Do you want the back of the couch to be warm and toasty or your kids? For those of you with forced hot air heating, change the furnace filter on a monthly basis, which will both save on energy costs as well as minimize dust in your home. Decide if you want to go with replacement filters, which are extremely inexpensive, or washable filters which, while more costly, can last for several years with proper care. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when the fireplace isn’t in use to prevent heat loss through the chimney.

Pink Eye Essentials

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Approximately fifteen to twenty million Americans are afflicted annually with the epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, an infection or irritation of the thin, clear membrane, known as the conjunctiva, that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. More commonly known as conjunctivitis or pink eye, because of the uncharacteristic red and possibly swollen appearance the eye takes on during this condition, it is most commonly caused by either or a viral or bacterial infection. It can also be the result of an allergic reaction or other irritants. In newborns it may be due to a blocked tear duct. Both bacterial and viral pink eye can be highly contagious and can easily be spread for as long as two weeks after signs or symptoms first appear.

The most common symptoms of pink eye include redness, itchiness, tearing, discharge that forms a crust at night and a gritty feeling in the eye. Symptoms can appear in one or both eyes. It is important to see a doctor in order to get a proper diagnosis as well as determining a proper course of treatment, if applicable. Doctors recommend that those with contagious conjunctivitis remain at home from work or school until they are no longer contagious. While conjunctivitis can occur in both children and adults, it is found more frequently in children, as it can spread rapidly in communal settings such as classrooms, day care centers and summer camps.

The American Academy of Ophthamology estimates that more than three million school days are missed annually because of pink eye. Outbreaks of conjunctivitis are more prevalent in densely populated countries such as Japan, which has over a million cases annually. Approximately two percent of all primary care visits and one percent of emergency room visits are related to conjunctivitis.

According to the National Institutes for Health, most cases of conjunctivitis are viral in origin and are generally accompanied by other bodily infections including measles, the flu or the common cold. Viral conjunctivitis, which often begins in one eye and can spread to the other eye in just a few days, is generally accompanied by a watery discharge and can spread to others through the air by coughing or sneezing. In most cases, there is no treatment for viral conjunctivitis. The condition will resolve itself after the virus has run its course, which can take as long as fourteen to twenty one days.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is often accompanied by a slightly thicker yellow or green discharge that can form a crust on the eye when sleeping. It is generally treated with antibiotic ointments or eye drops which kill the bacteria responsible for pink eye. Patients with the bacterial form can generally return to school or work after twenty four hours, when they are no longer contagious, and symptoms should subside within a few days.

Conjunctivitis caused by either allergies or an irritant can be improved by eliminating exposure to the allergen or any potential triggers. In the case of allergic conjunctivitis, which is characterized by itchiness, tearing and puffy eyelids, both antihistamines and avoidance of the allergen should provide relief. Wearing eye protection when working in the wind, heat, cold or with chemicals, as well as avoiding excessive smoke and perfume, should prevent instances of pink eye caused by irritants.

Good hygiene is the key to limiting the spread of contagious forms of pink eye. The bacteria or virus can survive on items or hard surfaces touched by an infected person and spread it to others for as long as seven weeks. For those with infectious conjunctivitis, the Mayo Clinic recommends frequent hand washing, changing towels, washcloths and pillow cases daily, discarding all eye makeup as well as not sharing towels, linens, eye makeup or any personal eye care items. Avoid touching your eyes and if you do, wash your hands immediately.

Contact lens wearers should not wear their lenses until the infection has cleared. While regular contact lenses can be disinfected before wearing, disposable lenses should be thrown out, as should all accessories that could carry the infection, including contact lens solution and cases.

Home treatment for conjunctivitis includes frequent hand washing and using compresses (cool for allergies, warm in all other occurrences) to provide relief. Wipe eyes from the inside corner outward, using a different compress for each eye in order to avoid spreading the infection. Non-prescription artificial tears may also relieve itching and burning, although the same bottle of drops should never be used for both an infected eye and an uninfected eye. Folk remedies to alleviate pink eye symptoms include placing cooled chamomile tea bags on the eyes or using an eye wash made of either eyebright, an anti-inflammatory wild herb found in Europe, or boric acid.

Celebrating Two Decades Of Special Education At YESS!

Friday, August 17th, 2012

What began twenty years ago as a support group for parents of six learning disabled children in Queens who could not find a yeshiva capable of accommodating their educational needs, has evolved into a full scale institution that not only works with its students to master academic challenges, but provides them with a Torah education as well.

The Yeshiva Education for Special Students (YESS!) is a full-scale program for children diagnosed with language processing disorders, attention difficulties and learning disabilities, including auditory or visual processing issues. Currently located in space rented from Yeshiva of Central Queens (YCQ) in the Kew Gardens Hills section of Queens, YESS! has an enrollment of thirty children ranging from kindergarten through eighth grade. Annual tuition is $24,000, with considerable fundraising done by the school’s board of trustees in order to subsidize tuition costs for all students.

“Until YESS! was started twenty years ago, there were no Jewish programs for kids with disabilities,” explained YESS! director for the last eleven years, Rabbi Yaakov Lustig, M.S. “These kids had no choice but to attend public schools, because there were no yeshivas that could provide appropriately for them. While maybe the kids could learn some skills in the public schools they attended, they were lacking normal healthy social interaction with other Jewish children.”

Neva Goldstein, one of the founding parents at YESS!, and current school president, recalls the difficulties she faced when her son Avishai was just five and relegated to public school because there was no yeshiva program that could accommodate his developmental language based disabilities.

“The only yeshiva program at the time was in New Jersey and because they had to accommodate the local parent body first we couldn’t get a placement there,” recalled Mrs. Goldstein. “The public school program tried to be accommodating of my son’s religious needs but there were still mishaps. Even though I made sure to keep him out of school on days like Halloween, they still took the kids to see Santa Claus at Kings Plaza. One day they called me, telling me they were going to McDonalds and they wanted to know what my son could eat. I was there in just five minutes to pick him up and bring him home. Just imagine. My son, in his blue velvet yarmulke with little ducks on it and his tzitzis, was going to go to McDonalds.”

Mrs. Goldstein still gets emotional when she recalls a heartbreaking conversation that took place with her son the night before he was scheduled to start kindergarten in a public school.

“Avishai was crying and I asked him what was wrong. He said to me, ‘There is no Shabbat in my school. I want to go to yeshiva.’ I promised him that if I had to turn the world upside down, he was going to a yeshiva. It is the pain in his eyes that has driven me all these years.”

The original YESS! program was housed for ten years in the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, located just across the street from the yeshiva’s current location. Today YESS!’ self-contained program offers a full range of services, with therapists providing speech, occupational and physical therapy on site, in addition to providing a complete Limudei Kodesh and General Studies curriculum. YESS! is endorsed by the Vaad Harabonim of Queens and has a permanent charter from the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, thereby incorporating it under New York State Education Law.

“We spend two to three weeks at the beginning of the school year tailoring an individual program for each student,” said Rabbi Lustig. “We use that as our bible, with individualized programs for each of our students so that we can help them develop the skills they need in order to foster independence and help them become independent learners.”

Each class at YESS! encompasses a three year age range and has anywhere from four to eight students, with a teacher to student ratio that is no greater than four to one. Students, who are high functioning, both socially and emotionally, come from all five boroughs of New York City as well as nearby Westchester, Nassau and Rockland counties. The school’s faculty includes New York State certified special educators with master’s degrees in special education and assistant teachers who are currently working on master’s degrees in special education or other related fields.

A Celebration Seven And A Half Years In The Making

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

With the countdown to the twelfth Siyum HaShas of Daf Yomi now down to the single digits, organizers of the event are working furiously to ensure that the massive event, for which all 93,000 available tickets have been sold, goes off without a hitch.

Logistical preparations for an event of this magnitude might seem daunting to some, but for Rabbi Yosef C. Golding, executive director of Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society (RCCS) and director of logistics for the Siyum HaShas, it is all in a day’s work.

“Because we started working on this event so long ago, it was all pretty easy,” said Rabbi Golding, a veteran coordinator for the Siyum HaShas, taking place on Wednesday, August 1. “I have been working on this siyum for two years. The past week or two has been a little intense, but we do the best we can.”

MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010, is not only the most expensive NFL stadium ever built, it also has the largest number of permanent seats in the league with a capacity of 82,566. Transforming MetLife Stadium from a football arena into a venue for a massive Torah gathering is no small undertaking. In addition to bringing in approximately 10,000 folding chairs for the event and removing the goalposts, hard plastic flooring will be brought in, completely covering the stadium’s turf with its distinctive markings. While the stadium boasts the highest quality sound system, a separate sound company has been brought in for the event, one that, according to Rabbi Golding, has been used at some of the largest rock concerts throughout the country.

Much discussion has been made about the $250,000 mechitzah being installed. Previous plans to place all the women at one of the narrower ends of the oval stadium, with supports drilled into the stadium to hold up the gargantuan mechitzah, have been scrapped. Instead, women who do not have tickets for one of the over two hundred luxury suites, will be seated in the upper deck of the stadium, with a four tier dark colored curtain, ranging in length from eight to twelve feet, moving into place only during davening. It will take a crew of 60 people, working from Tisha B’av through the actual day of the siyum, to erect the two and a half mile long mechitzah.

“This mechitzah was designed by a crew of engineers and will be held in place by massive weights,” explained Rabbi Golding. “There will be no need to drill any supports into any part of the stadium at all. This is a very strong pipe and drape system, with a lightweight curtain that allows the wind to pass through and the mechitzah has been approved by the fire department.”

The decision to move the women to the upper level was made for logistical reasons, according to Rabbi Golding, who was quick to assure female attendees that being placed in the upper echelons of the stadium would not in any way detract from their enjoyment of the milestone event, noting that viewers in the top tier of the stadium would have the best view of the four 116-foot-wide high definition video screens that hang in each corner of the upper deck.

“You have to understand that there is not a bad seat in the house here, although we are working hard to place the women who ordered more costly seats in the first four rows of the upper level,” noted Rabbi Golding. “They spent $1.7 billion to build this stadium and whoever built this facility really built it right.”

In fact, the stadium itself is home to a command center, featuring hundreds of security cameras, a mini emergency room and has 40 medics and nurses on call, which will be supplemented for the Siyum HaShas by 150 Hatzalah members, as well as a minimum of 20 ambulances. Two-thousand plasma screens located throughout the interior portions of the stadium will give those who leave their seats the ability to follow the program from locations within the venue.

Stadium concessionaires will be selling snacks whose kashrus has been approved by the Agudah, including cakes, ices, soda and water. While food can be brought into the stadium in bags no larger than 12 by 12 by 12 inches, siyum attendees will only be permitted to bring one plastic, 20-ounce, sealed beverage into the stadium with them. Laptops and iPads will not be permitted into MetLife stadium, and given the extremely tight security that is expected for the Siyum HaShas, every person entering the stadium will be searched.

Buy It Now: School Supplies!

Monday, July 9th, 2012

School supplies?

I know what you’re thinking.

She is, without a doubt, totally and completely insane.

We just finished putting away the knapsacks, the school uniforms, the crayon stubs, errant markers and half finished bottles of Elmer’s glue that mysteriously defied the odds and survived the school year and she is thinking about school supplies??

Yup. You got that right. Because while most people associate hot dogs, pool parties and fireworks with the Fourth of July, for me Independence Day signifies the start of the school supply shopping season. I know, the summer has just started, the kids have barely gotten off to camp, but as soon as the last explosion of color has faded from the nighttime sky, it is time to start checking your Sunday paper for the sales, some of which are so good you should definitely stock up now for the entire year.

Hear me out before you dial the local insane asylum and give them my address.

Picture this: you are sitting at your desk or in your kitchen and you want to jot down a quick shopping list or a note to a family member. You grab a piece of copier paper that you keep on hand for your printer. Stop for one second and do the math. How much does that piece of paper actually cost you? If you bought that package of five hundred sheets of copier paper on sale for three dollars, you are paying six tenths of a penny per page. Now contemplate this. Instead of grabbing copier paper, you grab an eighty-page spiral notebook that you bought on sale during the summer for fifteen cents and rip out a single page. That paper costs you approximately two tenths of a cent per page, which means it is three times cheaper than copier paper and since many spiral notebooks come with perforated pages, you don’t have those annoying ragged pieces on the side when you rip the page out. While it may be true that we aren’t talking about significant sums of money here, those little chunks of change add up and, if you think about how many times during the week each family member needs a piece of paper, you may realize that in an average year you go through a lot of scrap paper. Of course, the truly thrifty among us will save every half used notebook that their kids bring home from school and use that for scrap paper, but I can’t really ask you to do that, can I?

What you need to remember as the days grow long and hot is that this is the time of year when assorted school supplies, including pens, pencils, glue, folders, paper, crayons, markers and more can be had at a fraction of their normal price and these sales are not repeated during the year. Take advantage now or be prepared to pay double or triple the price when your kids come home from school in the middle of the year and tell you they need yet another marble notebook.

Office supply stores such as Office Depot and Staples, mass merchandisers such as Walmart and Target, drugstores such as CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid and even major supermarket chains all offer amazing deals. Make some room and clean out a closet shelf or two. It’s time to hit the stores.

The best items to stock up on?

Looseleaf paper. While the days of finding filler paper on sale for ten cents a package are likely behind us, Staples will generally have one week during the summer when it is on sale for somewhere between twenty five and thirty three cents. Their during the year price for the same package of paper? $1.99. Now you tell me. Doesn’t it pay to stock up now? Teachers in the younger grades will generally prefer wide ruled paper, while teachers in older grades may prefer college rule and shockingly enough, your children may have a preference as well, so check with them because there is nothing more annoying than having ten packages of paper in your inventory and having your children say “but I don’t like that paper!”

Marble notebooks are another great buy this time of year and have evolved over the years into all sorts of colorful patterns that your kids will love. At approximately fifty cents apiece, on sale, they are another great buy as during the year they can run between two and three dollars each.

School glue. Yes, it is worth buying Elmer’s and you will likely find it on sale for somewhere around a quarter a bottle. It keeps forever so don’t worry about buying extra. Someone, somewhere, possibly even you, is likely to need it. Pens and pencils are another great buy and you will hopefully find ten or twelve packs of each on sale at two for a dollar. If your kids are little, buy a package or two of Crayola crayons. (Yes, it is well worth paying more for Crayola.) If your kids don’t need them this year, they will need them next year and you never know when they might come in handy on a road trip or some other occasion. At well under a dollar for a box of twenty-four you can afford to keep an extra package or two in the house.

Of course, there are items that have a shorter lifespan and need to be used within the year before they lose their effectiveness. Glue sticks for one. As they age, glue sticks tend to dry out, so while you should buy a bunch to have on hand (and for some reason kids tend to go through these at an alarming rate), don’t overbuy because they really don’t last. Markers are another item that have a limited shelf life. Always buy washable markers and splurge on Crayola – they last longer and the colors are more vivid. Should you have markers that have dried out, take off the cap and sprinkle a few drops of water on the colored portion of the marker. Put the cap back on, wait an hour or two and you may just find that your marker has been magically resurrected.

If you have older kids, this is the time of year to find the one item that will (hopefully) keep them organized and on schedule for the entire year – a planner. Teach them to write down their assignments and tests on a daily basis so they can see at a glance what is looming in their future and prepare accordingly. Both Target and Walmart get these school planners in just once, at the beginning of August. Buy them as soon as they come in because once they are gone, they are gone. Yes, you can probably find them in an office supply store. But at double the price.

So hang in there, take it slow, sip some iced tea and enjoy your summer. But hit the stores and take advantage of those sales. I promise you, come the first day of school you will be thrilled that you did.

Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various websites, newspapers, magazines and private clients in addition to having written song lyrics and scripts for several full scale productions. She can be contacted at sandyeller1@gmail.com.

Summer Safety

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

While for many of us summer is synonymous with vacation, relaxation and a time for a well deserved break from the rigors of the daily grind, the dog days of summer bring with them the need for an extra dose of vigilance as we head for the pool, fire up the barbeque or just spend our days enjoying the great outdoors.

If you are lucky enough to have your own pool, make sure to take proper precautions as, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, drowning is the number one cause of injury and death among children ages one to four. Children under age five represent nearly seventy five percent of child drowning fatalities, with eighty five percent of those fatalities taking place in residential pools – so while there is no question that pools equal fun, never forget that especially for small children, pools can be deadly. Be sure to install a fence at least four feet high with self-opening and closing latches as well as a lockable safety cover on the pool. Supervise kids very closely around water and be prepared for emergencies: know CPR, basic lifesaving skills and always take a phone to the pool area in case of an emergency. Be sure to keep children away from pool drains and check with your pool service provider to make sure that drains are compliant with all regulations. Finally, if you notice that you can’t find one of your kids, be sure to check the pool first, because once a child is in the water, a delay of even a few seconds can literally mean the difference between life and death.

If it is the smell of a freshly grilled steak that really screams summer to you, then by all means, enjoy the protein-fest, but do it safely. Never grill indoors, which can create carbon monoxide, and before barbequing, check air-tubes and hoses for holes or blockages. Situate your grill on a level surface, away from buildings, dry leaves and other combustibles. Use long handed utensils to avoid burns and splatters and skip the loose fitting clothes when you are manning the grill. Keep a fire extinguisher, water or a bucket of sand nearby for emergencies and use baking soda if needed to control a grease fire. With recent news stories of several cases of metal bristles breaking off grill brushes and becoming embedded in food creating major health hazards to those who unwittingly ingested them, toss your metal grill brush and clean your grill either with a grill stone or even a piece of crumpled up aluminum foil.

Keep germs at bay by marinating food in the refrigerator and then discarding the marinades once they have been used for raw meat, fish or poultry. Cook food thoroughly and never use the same utensils or platters for raw and cooked foods. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold: consider keeping cold food chilled by serving on platters placed on a bed of ice and keep hot food at or above 140 degrees. Discard food that has been kept outside for more than two hours and if the temperature is over ninety degrees, toss any food that has been out longer than one hour.

Thinking about a road trip? Be sure to tune up your car, get an oil change and check your wipers, headlights, turn signal, fluid levels as well as tire pressure. (Don’t forget to check the pressure on your spare tire as well!) Make sure your car is stocked with a first aid kit, vehicle owner’s manual, flashlight, tire pressure gauge, an extra set of keys, water and emergency tire inflator and sealant. Plan your route in advance and don’t even consider leaving your house without maps or a GPS. If you don’t have a GPS, try borrowing one from a friend or check your local newspaper to find out if there is a GPS gamach in your area. Especially during peak weekends, try to travel late at night or in the early morning and no matter when you travel, check the traffic websites, such as trafficland.com, to see road conditions. If you have a smartphone, there are great apps that will give you both a GPS and traffic conditions, so do your homework and find one that works for you.

Fan-tastic!

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Ah, the lazy, hazy days of summer. Long afternoons sitting in a lounge chair, sipping a tall glass of iced lemonade as you enjoy the latest novel, a gentle breeze caressing your face…is there anything like it?

No, there most certainly is not.

Because while you may be fantasizing about the perfect summer day, it’s time for a reality check. More often than not, summer temperatures tend towards sweltering and unless we are of the blessed few who has a pool (or better yet, has a close friend or family member with a pool), we generally spend a significant portion of our summer holed up inside enjoying the air conditioning because it is so beastly hot outside. And while running the air conditioning may be a great way to beat the heat, one fine day the mailman is going to bring that dreaded electric bill, and you may find yourself totally losing your cool when you discover how much it costs to keep your home at a pleasant temperature.

Fear not. I am not going to suggest you set your thermostat at a balmy 80 degrees, avoid turning on your oven and keep a fan blowing on a bowl of ice cubes to save money and stay cool. But I am going to clue you in to possibly the best home improvement we have ever made in our humble abode: installing a whole house fan.

Not to be confused with an attic fan, which does nothing, more than pull hot air out of your attic, a whole house fan can be a gift from heaven if you know how to use it and when. Generally installed in the attic, a whole house fan is an exhaust system that pulls the hot air out of the house, drawing it into the attic and completely out of your house by way of an attic vent, while at the same time bringing the outside air into the house through open windows. It is the perfect solution for beating the heat when the days are hot but the mornings and nights are cool and pleasant. It will cool off an entire house quickly, and considerably more economically than an air conditioner by replacing the air in your house with the cooler outsider air. If your house is well insulated, keep your windows closed during the heat of the day and run your whole house fan in the cooler hours of morning, late evening and nighttime, giving you the ability to beat the heat for just a fraction of the price of running your air conditioner.

There are a few things to remember about a whole house fan. For starters, if it is humid out, running your whole house fan is a very bad idea. After all, do you really want to fill your house with uncomfortably moist, humid air? Also, make sure you have screens on any windows that are open while the fan is running or every bug in a two block radius is likely to get sucked into your house by the fan’s powerful motor. Closing windows in unused rooms will give you even better airflow in rooms that you really want to cool, but most importantly, make sure that you never, ever, turn on a whole house fan with all of your windows closed or the backdraft created by the fan can blow out any pilot lights you might have in your house (think gas hot water heater, dryer or oven), creating potentially dangerous carbon monoxide situations.

The most common place to mount a whole house fan is in a hallway ceiling. Ceiling mounted whole house fans fall into two different categories: those with direct drive motors, where the fan blades are attached directly to the shaft of the fan motor, and those with belt driven motors which are larger diameter fans with four or more blades. Because direct drive motors operate at higher speeds than their belt driven counterparts, they tend to be noisier and while the noise level is one of the negatives associated with whole house fans, in recent years, and with proper installation, fans have become considerably quieter and, thankfully, no longer sound like a jetliner taking off in the middle of your hallway. Ducted whole house fans, which are mounted in the attic, away from the actual living space of the house, are the new kids on the block and operate at much lower noise levels that ceiling mounted fans. With flexible ductwork running from the attic to individual rooms, ducted whole house fans vent the air directly out of the house instead of through attic vents and tend to be more expensive than ceiling mounted units.

Haredi Event On Internet Dangers Draws Thousands Of Participants

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

The sellout crowd that filled Citi Field on Sunday night wore black and white, not the New York Mets’ blue and orange.

And instead of jeering the Philadelphia Phillies or Atlanta Braves, they faced a foe that was, in their view, far more formidable: the World Wide Web.

“The Internet even with a filter is a minefield of immorality,” said Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, a haredi Orthodox lecturer. “This issue is the test of the generation. Your strength at this gathering will determine what Judaism will look like a few years from now.”

The rally, or asifa, to caution haredi Orthodox Jews about the dangers of the Internet, drew a crowd of more than 40,000 men to the stadium and an overflow of 20,000 more to nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium, most of them wearing black hats. In addition, there were more than two-dozen live hookups worldwide.

While news reports and social media had been buzzing with asifa-related topics, there was little mention of what the itinerary would be, and only in the days leading up to the event did spokesperson Eytan Kobre announce that the asifa was intended not to ban the Internet but to learn responsible use of technology.

An article in The New York Times noted that the group behind the event, Ichud HaKehillos LeTohar HaMachane, is affiliated with a firm that sells filtering software.

In Yiddish and English speeches, rabbis from haredi communities in the United States, Canada and Israel decried the access that the Internet gives haredim to the world outside their community. Speakers called the Internet “impure,” a threat to modesty and compared it to chametz, or leavened bread, on Passover.

Several speakers also lamented the Internet’s potential to distract men from learning Torah.

To a man, each of the rabbis who spoke said that Jewish law forbids Jews from browsing the Internet without a filter that blocks inappropriate sites. The speeches in Yiddish were broadcast with English subtitles on the stadium’s JumboTron.

Rabbi Yechiel Meir Katz, the Dzibo Rav, compared the threat of the Internet to the dangers that Zionism and the European Enlightenment posed in the past to traditional Jewish life.

“A terrible test has been sent to us that has inflicted so much terrible damage” on haredim, Katz said. The Internet poses a greater threat to haredim than secularism did, he said, because “in previous challenges we knew who the enemy was. Today, however, the challenge is disguised and not discernible to the naked eye.”

A long and impressive list of rabbis attended, with featured speakers including Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, the Skulener Rebbe, Rabbi Don Segal, Rabbi Yechiel Meir Katz and Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman. Several speakers spoke emphatically about banning the Internet completely and in a video address from Israel Rabbi Shmuel Wosner ruled that the only acceptable use of the Internet was a filtered Internet in one’s place of business, and that schools should not accept children from homes with unfiltered Internet.

Rabbi Wachsman declared that anyone with unfiltered Internet forfeits his share in the world to come and in a message echoed by other speakers urged each person to take even a single step forward in his Internet vigilance.

Jewish Press columnist Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, one of the signers on the original asifa announcement, acknowledged that few concrete solutions were offered, but he called the three-hour event a resounding success.

“The asifa was a reaffirmation, saying that we need to deal responsibly with the Internet and everyone appreciated that,” he said. “Rosh yeshivas left their yeshivas. Major rebbes came from everywhere. Thousands devoted their time to make a public statement that the Internet must be handled with extreme caution.”

Others agreed that the asifa was a source of inspiration.

“The speakers emphasized that people weren’t going to learn anything new,” said Shaya Winiarz, a 21-year-old yeshiva student from Staten Island. “This was about chizuk and letting people know that this is an issue that we all face.”

Many, however, were disappointed by what they felt was a lack of clear guidance.

“The asifa was a tragically lost opportunity to deal with the growing challenges in a rapidly changing culture,” said Rabbi Gil Student, who runs the Torah Musings blog.

“We needed to hear from forward-looking thinkers who recognize that today’s challenges are only a hint of what lies ahead. Instead we heard yesterday’s solutions for last year’s problems. Our leaders failed to chart a course for the future and have abandoned each family to figure it out on their own.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/haredi-event-on-internet-dangers-draws-thousands-of-participants/2012/05/23/

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