Posts Tagged ‘Teaneck’
Events In The West: On September 12 Rabbi Bernie Fox, principal of Northwest High School, will speak at Congregation Shevat Achim in Mercer Island, Washington. His topic: “Why can’t we all be friends? Repentance and healing relationships”… Bnei Akiva’s western regional leadership Shabbaton takes place on the weekend of September 21 in L.A.
Kashrus Update: Costco at the Hickey Blvd. store in San Francisco is now selling Meal Mart Barbecue Beef Ribs (in addition to other Meal Mart products), some chalav Yisrael cheeses, and Golden refrigerated products.
I wish the readers of The Jewish Press a healthy and happy New Year!
AGOURA HILLS, CALIFORNIA
Mazel Tov – Engagements: Jonathan Schrage, son of Alvin and Beverly Schrage and Mara Schrage, to Rachel Udkoff, daughter of Drs. Ranon and Rivka Udkoff of Westlake, Village, CA.
LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA
Mazel Tov – Engagement: Megan Marcus, daughter of Brian and Suzanne Marcus, to Jacob Kamaras of Brooklyn, NY.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Mazel Tov – Births: Daniel and Rivka Schimel of Clifton, NJ, a daughter (Grandparents Dr. Harold and Magda Katz)… Tzalo and Rebecca Naor, a son (Grandparents Motti and Ayala Naor and Baruch and Bracha Crayk of San Diego; Great-grandmother Fani Teichman)… Natan and Sarah Leah Fried of Kiryat Sefer, a son (Grandparents Dovid and Tikvah Menter)… Jeff and Ashley Woodall, a son (Grandparents Mark and Rachelle Berger)… Jason and Dena Mason, a son (Grandparents Roger and Shelly Parrell… Dr. Avery and Ellen Schwartz, a daughter (Grandparents Dr. Joseph and Brenda Schwartz)… Yoni and Laura Battat, a daughter… Isaac and Leora Orenbuch, a daughter (Grandparents Walter and Esthie Feinblum)… Fivey and Devorah Helfgott, a daughter (Grandparents Elimelech and Bracha Farber)… Jeremy and Aviva Stern, a daughter (Grandparents Larry and Meryl Stern)… Jonny and Rachie Teller, a son (Grandparents Alan and Lisa Stern)… Moshe and Leora Abady, a daughter.
Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Moshe Nissanoff, son of Dr. Jonathan and Raizie Nissanoff.
Mazel Tov – Engagements: Adam Gleicher, son of Gary and Carol Gleicher, to Torie Kravis… Alex Schiro to Joell Czech… Naftali Fishman, son of Martin and Miriam Fishman, to Tania Rapp of Melbourne, Australia… Lisa Kurtz, daughter of Ira and Debbie Kurtz, to Seth Timen, son of Dr. Sanford and Beth Timen… Evan Cohen, son of Dr. Hart and Debbie Cohen, to Melissa Factor of Toronto, Canada… Avi Zuman, son of Dr. Betzalel and Devorah Zuman, to Rivka Feder of Lakewood, NJ… Chaya Steinberg, daughter of Rachmiel and Tziporah Steinberg, to Joel Mehrel of Boro Park, NY… Shira Lavian, daughter of Yaakov and Sharona Lavian, to Shlomo Khalili of San Fernando Valley, CA… Chaya Sara Klein, daughter of Rabbi Usher and Rochel Klein, to Eli Morgenstern of Cleveland, OH… Michael Dear, son of Rabbi Moshe and Sara Lea Dear, to Rivka Levy of Philadelphia, PA.
Mazel Tov – Weddings: Yitzi Greenbaum, son of Aryeh and Felice Greenbaum, to Aliza Vishniavsky of Boston, MA… Rachel Schultz, daughter of David and Debbie Schultz, to Daniel Small of Teaneck, NJ… Chaim Katz, son of Dr. Harold and Magda Katz, to Dena Shandalov of Chicago… Miriam Hier, daughter of Rabbi Ari and Sandee Hier, to Yehuda Dubin of Teaneck, NJ… Lawrence Dardick to Juliet Schmidt… Tova Klavan, daughter of Rabbi Yehoshua and Rochel Klavan, to Pinchas Shulman of Baltimore, MD… Tamar Rohatiner, daughter of Marc and Lynn Rohatiner, to Chezki Bendheim of Jerusalem… Uri Okrent, son of Dr. Derek and Batsheva Okrent, to Atara Jacobs of Englewood, NJ… Hillary Barak, daughter of Dr. Mark and Michelle Barak, to Aaron Khodorkovsky.
Congratulations: Barry Simon, IBM Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Caltech, upon receiving a 2012 Henri Poincare Prize from the International Association of Mathematical Physics. The prize was awarded at the International Congress of Mathematical Physics in Aalborg, Denmark.
Welcome: Rabbi Avrohom Morgenstern, new rosh chabura of the Link Kollel.
Mazel Tov – Wedding: Yael Friedkin, daughter of Jerry and Miriam Friedkin, to Matt Kovner.
Mazel Tov – Weddings: Sivan Shachar to Shoshi Weiss… Meira Rubin, daughter of Andrew and Morissa Rubin, to Ezra Wolkenfeld of Los Angeles.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Mazel Tov – Birth: Sam and Meryn Ellis, a daughter (Grandparents Joel and Faye Snyder).
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Mazel Tov – Weddings: Avigail Goldgraber to Aaron J. Keyak… Joey Eckstein to Michal Cohen… Rabbi Mattaniah Ahron Breezy to Rebecca Katz… Adam Saitowitz to Menucha Howell.
Most couples establish their own routines. They have their own rhythms that may include where they eat, when they vacation, and what they read. My husband Lou and I are no different. We like to eat Israeli food on Tuesday nights and we usually order the same—shwarma for him, grilled chicken for me. Our regular waitress knows us so well that she brings us hummus and babaganoush as soon as we sit down. We love to see romantic comedies—but only at the discount theatre on Cedar Lane in Teaneck. In the winter, we vacation someplace warm—typically in the Caribbean. For every seven days we’re away, Lou plays golf three times. And, each Monday, in the summer, on our way home from the Catskills, we like to stop at the Velaro gas station in Monroe to eat eggs and drink coffee.
The Velaro tradition began in an unexpected way. My husband and I bought a new Volvo SUV that contains every safety feature known to mankind. As we were driving from Loch Sheldrake to Teaneck, the car apparently did not like the way Lou was driving. I was in heaven. I was thrilled that I had the good sense to buy a car that has a built-in high tech “wife” to nag him—taking the pressure off of me. In any case, the car suggested that he stop for a coffee break.
We pulled over at exit 130 on Rt. 17 and headed to Monroe for caffeine. I waited in the car for Lou to return with our drinks. But, about two minutes later Lou came out to the parking lot to get me. “You have to see this,” he said, and thus our Valero relationship was born. Inside, Lou directed me to the back right corner where there was a counter and we could purchase all manner of freshly made kosher food. The front of the building housed a convenient store with various packaged and frozen foods all sporting an OU. Gathered around were a handful of Satmar Chassidim eating soup and hot cereal. Not one to ever imagine myself actually eating in gas station, I decided that it looked clean and fresh and that I would give it a try. The other patrons were happy to recommend their Valero favorites to us.
Now every week I make the same joke about Lou only “taking me to the finest places.” But, when he suggests we go straight home or that we go out to eat when we return to Teaneck, I always tell him that I prefer eating at the gas station. I spoke to the owner of Valero, who while preferring that I not use his name, did say “we have had kosher food at Valero for about six years. People come from far away for our vegetable soup with knaidlach.” When I asked him for the recipe, he coyly answered, “I can’t tell everyone everything…otherwise, why would they come? I can tell you this,” he confides, “we sell more sandwiches than we do beer.” And they are open six days a week – closed on Shabbosim and Yomim Tovim.
Why has this ritual become so important to Lou and me? Well, the food is fantastic and Ari, the guy behind the counter, is the consummate Jewish mother type. He greets us with a smile, asks us about our week and then usually offers us a taste of something new he has concocted. This week, he wanted us to taste his Farina—too sweet for me. But, then he suggested preparing an omelet containing his freshly made potatoes and sautéed onions. I was in “eggcstasy.” They were hot, tasty and fresh. The potatoes were cooked perfectly and the onions were sweet and delicious. Sometimes we opt for an egg sandwich on a challah roll and other times we break into the lunch mode. We have tried salmon teriyaki, fresh tuna cakes, mashed potatoes, and veggie chulent (available beginning Wednesday afternoons) all with great success.
The Midrash (Shemot Rabbah 18:12) describes “leil shimurim,” the “night of watching,” the night before the redemption, as one of the glorious nights in Jewish history.
Not only did we eat the Korban Pesach, have the first Seder and prepare to depart the land of Egypt, but also it later became the night that Chizkiyahu, Chanania, Mishael, Azaria, Daniel and others were saved – and the night on which “Mashiach and Eliyahu mitgadlin” – on which they are elevated, become great – or, according to another text, the night they are mitgalim – revealed.
But what does it mean that on these days they are magnified or revealed?
It is not as if they actually appear. The Gemara says in Eruvin 43a that if a person vows to become a nazir on whatever day Mashiach comes, then he is allowed to drink wine on every Shabbat and Yom Tov because Mashiach obviously does not come on those days. Furthermore, “we have been promised that Mashiach will not come on the eve of Shabbat or Yom Tov either, because of the inconvenience” – people are busy preparing for those holy days! So how then are Mashiach and Eliyahu exalted or revealed at the Seder if they cannot come?
The Jewish people left Egypt at high noon on 15 Nissan 3,334 years ago, but Egypt did not leave us for a much longer period of time. At the Red Sea, we reacted like a nation of slaves, and throughout our sojourn in the wilderness we exhibited a slave mentality – bemoaning our fate, and glamorizing and/or understating the travails of Egypt.
We were told four days before the Exodus to take the deities of Egypt and to slaughter them on the 14th, in full sight of the Egyptians – to show our inner strength and our relief from Egyptian domination, to show we had broken away from the psychological stranglehold they had on us. It did not completely succeed.
We were ill equipped for freedom, and understandably so. Slavery, persecution, dehumanization, and extermination take their toll on the psyche. Victims do not recover instantly or easily. It takes time to wean out of our system the lingering effects of maltreatment, and until then victimization is comfortable. It becomes an excuse for every failure, every inaction, and sometimes for every misdeed.
We all marvel at Holocaust survivors who were left with nothing material and were able to rebuild, and prosper, and overcome the torments they endured. But a steep price is still paid – sometimes for individuals, and even greater as a nation. Too many people who are beaten down become comfortable as victims and uncomfortable with power.
For too long we have competed in the arena of victimhood, and love even more the sympathy that is engendered by our suffering.
There are plenty of Jews who are more comfortable with grief and mourning than with strength and the projection of power. Many proclaim at the Seder “in every generation they come upon us to destroy us” as a badge of victimhood, and not, as intended, in gratitude to God who has preserved us throughout history.
We have built dozens of Holocaust memorials across the world – which certainly serve a purpose for us but do not keep one Jew Jewish and certainly have done little to diminish the level of Jew-hatred in the world. We may think our victimhood is unique – and it is – but tell that to the Kurds or Armenians or Cambodians or Sudanese or Russians. These days, even Germans and Austrians claim to be victims of the Nazis. In this macabre competition, there are no winners.
The State of Israel was supposed to put an end to the glories of victimization – but it hasn’t entirely. The fact that the only innocent civilians in the world that are routinely targeted by random rockets are the Jews in Israel’s south – with little inclination to put a final end to it – only shows that victims talk it into themselves that victimhood is everlasting and unchangeable.
The Iron Dome system, while a technological marvel, is the ultimate defensive system. Rather than disarm and permanently disable the shooter, it attempts to shoot a bullet out of the air with another bullet. Even if it succeeds most of the time – remarkable in itself – it fails as a stable strategy because the incoming rockets still force ordinary citizen to cower in bomb shelters, lest a missile manage to sneak through. Thus, lives are still disrupted, children are still traumatized, and society is still terrorized. It is like a physician who treats the symptoms but not the disease.
It is hard to imagine another country putting up with similar attacks for as long as Israel has because it is inconceivable. Ultimately, the hand of the shooter must be stayed, or the enemy will devise ways to defeat even the Iron Dome. And that will only energize the cult of victimization.
The family: My name is Gershon Chongloi. I live in Nitzan (I was evacuated from Neve Dekalim, may it be rebuilt soon in our days). I am 27 years old, married with two children. I made aliya in 1995 from northeastern India. I came with my family: my parents and my two younger sisters. The older of the two, Chagit is married, has two sons and is living in Ofra. My younger sister, Michal, is single, living with our parents and studying at Emuna College in Jerusalem.
Background: We are members of the tribe of Menashe. We came on aliya through the assistance of the Amishav Organization headed by Rabbi Eliyahu Avichayil. The organization brought us directly from the airport to Gush Katif, to the community of Neve Dekalim. There I attended the Na’ot Katif school and very successfully finished my studies. After completing elementary school I continued on to yeshiva high school in Dimona. During 11th and 12th grade I was a counselor for the Ariel youth movement in Neve Dekalim. After high school, approximately one year before the expulsion, I started the hesder program at Yeshivat HaKotel in the Old City of Jerusalem.
After the expulsion the state housed us in the Sha’arei Yerushalayim Hotel in Jerusalem. We stayed in the hotel for approximately half a year, at which time we moved with the entire community of Neve Dekalim to Nitzan, which is between Ashkelon (to the south) and Ashdod (to the north). After a year and a half of studying at the hesder yeshiva I enlisted in the IDF combat engineering unit – serving for two years as a soldier and a commander. After completing my army service I married and began learning at Yeshivat Neve Dekalim in Ashdod. Upon finishing the hesder track I started to work at the Assis Nurseries as head of the irrigation system and quality control of crops and spraying. I am still employed there.
Our house – then: The house that we had in Neve Dekalim was small (90 sq. meters) but fun to live in.
Our house – now: We began building our new house in Nitzan only five years after the expulsion, but, thank G-d, the house is bigger (approximately 120 sq. meters) and there’s more room for everyone.
What we left behind in Neve Dekalim: The house, of course, and the beautiful, carefully tended garden that we had. It wasn’t possible to take the trees we had planted in the garden, because we didn’t know how long it would be until we reached a permanent house.
Feelings toward the State:Before I tell you how I feel about the State, I must preface them with this: The main reason why we came to Eretz Yisrael was because we are Jews, and as such have no place to live in the world other than Eretz Yisrael. Concerning the question, my response is thus: My family knew that living in Israel would not be easy and of course our lives would change in every way from the moment we arrived. Therefore, when we were expelled from Gush Katif we knew that everything comes from G-d, and that there is no reason to be angry at the State or at the soldiers that came to expel us from our house. One must always know, that even with all the problems that our State has, in the end it’s the only State in the entire world that belongs to us, to Am Yisrael. We must always stand by the State, in times of happiness and in times of sadness. Of course all of what I said does not contradict the issue of attempting to improve and to influence the State so that it will get onto the right path.
The biggest difficulty: The biggest difficulty that I experienced in the expulsion was looking at our soldiers who came to expel us from our home. I always thought that our soldiers fought only our enemies and not, G-d forbid, us.
Have you built a house? Thank G-d, approximately one and a half years ago (2010) we finished building our new house and we are already living in it.
What happened to your community? One of the reasons why we decided to move to the community of Nitzan was because most of the B’nei Menashe community that was in Neve Dekalim, moved there. Among the Bnei Menashe who live here approximately 90% of the families (about 40 families) have not yet begun to build their houses. However, thank G-d, in terms of work and livelihood, everyone has work and is supporting themselves.
Consider the absurdity of the following statement: “I know an Orthodox Jew who works on Shabbat, eats pork regularly, never wears tefillin or prays or learns Torah, is unfaithful to his spouse, walks bare-headed in public, and eats on Yom Kippur.”
One would rightfully ask, what is it that makes that person an Orthodox Jew?
Yet we occasionally read these days of “Orthodox” Jews who molest, steal, rob, murder, assault, spit and curse at women and little children, set fire to businesses they disfavor for one reason or another, eschew self-support, brawl, intimidate and terrorize other Jews, or are otherwise genuinely disagreeable people. So what is it that makes those people “Orthodox,” or, even holier in the public mind, “ultra-Orthodox”?
The costume they wear.
It is a mistake that is made not only by a hostile media but also by the Jewish public, including the religious Jewish public. To our detriment, we define people by their costumes – e.g., long black coats, white shirts, beards and sometimes peyot – and we ourselves create expectations of conduct based on the costume that is being worn, as if the costume necessarily penetrates to the core of the individual and can somehow mold his character and classify his spiritual state – as if the costume really means anything at all.
If the events in Beit Shemesh or elsewhere in Israel rectify that mistake once and for all, some unanticipated good would have emerged from the contentiousness.
This is more than simply stating that any “Orthodox” Jew who sins is by definition not an Orthodox Jew. In truth, that statement is flawed and illogical, because all people sin; the truly “Orthodox” Jew might be one of the few who still actually believe in sin – stumbling before the divine mandate – and still seek to eradicate it by perfecting himself and struggling with his nature.
But the Torah Jew is defined by a core set of beliefs, principles and religious practices. One who subscribes to that core set is Orthodox, notwithstanding any personal failings he has — failings which according to the Torah he must strive to reduce and diminish.
No Jew – rabbi or layman – is allowed to carve for himself exemptions from any mitzvah. That is why deviations like the female rabbi, the dilution of the bans on homosexuality, the relentless search for obscure leniencies in order to rationalize improper conduct, and other such anomalies draw such swift and heated reactions from the mainstream Orthodox world.
The violent and criminal excesses in Israel have drawn similar rebukes but the thought still lingers: why do we even expect decorous and appropriate conduct from people who are perceived as thugs even within their own community, and who have threatened with violence some who would criticize them publicly?
Because of the costume they wear.
Memo to real world: there is no such concept as authentic Jewish dress. The Gemara (Shabbat 113a) states that Rav Yochanan would call his clothing “the things that honor me” (mechabduti) – but the Gemara does not see fit to even describe his clothing in the slightest fashion. Jewish dress is dignified and distinguished, clean and neat. We are especially obligated to wear special and beautiful clothing throughout Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 262:2-3).
But beyond the tzitzit and the kippa for men, and modesty for all, there is no such thing as Jewish dress, the prevalence of contrary popular opinion notwithstanding. We are never told what Moshe, Ezra, Rabbi Akiva or the Rambam wore. We are informed that one reason the Jews merited redemption from Egyptian because “they did not change their garb” (i.e., they did not adopt Egyptian styles) – but we are never informed what kind of clothing they did wear. Why? Because it doesn’t matter one whit.
Gauging people’s spiritual potential – or even spiritual level – based on the coat, hat, yarmulke, shoes, socks, shirt, pants or belt they wear not only sounds insane, it is insane, and it should be stopped. No one is more religious because he wears black or less religious because he wears blue or brown.
Would we make great progress in the maturation of the Jewish world if a blue suit occasionally appeared in the haredi or yeshivish wardrobe? Perhaps. But we would certainly undo the inferences that attach to certain types of dress that leave many Orthodox Jews wrongly embarrassed and ashamed of the behavior of “people like us.” They are not like us. We must love them as we would any wayward Jew, and rebuke them as we would any wayward Jew. Even wayward Jews wear costumes.
Then we can promulgate the new fashion styles, the new uniform, of the Torah Jew, where beauty, righteousness and piety are determined by what is inside, not what is on the outside – by deeds and Torah commitment rather than appearances.
NEW YORK (JTA) — As Jews in some northern New Jersey communities made their way to synagogue last Shabbat, the scene was slightly different from the typical day of rest.
Extra police cars were on patrol near synagogues. At Bnei Yeshurun in Teaneck, a new buzzer system had been installed. And at Ahavath Torah in Englewood, a phalanx of security guards stood sentry.
The heightened caution comes after a month of increasingly worrisome attacks against synagogues in Bergen County, an affluent part of New York City’s suburbs with a sizable Jewish population.
“There was a profound sense of unease this past Shabbat in Bergen County,” Etzion Neuer, the acting regional director of the New Jersey branch of the Anti-Defamation League, said this week. “It’s largely anecdotal, but in conversations I’ve had with individuals and community leaders, there is a strong sense of unease and real anxiety over what’s happened lately.”
What’s happened is a string of attacks against Jewish institutions. The attacks began on Dec. 10, when the exterior of Temple Beth Israel in Maywood was spray-painted with swastikas and the phrase “Jews did 9/11.” Eleven days later, Temple Beth El in neighboring Hackensack was similarly defaced with graffiti.
On Jan. 3, an arsonist targeted Congregation K’Hal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus, which borders Hackensack and Maywood. And on Jan. 11, five Molotov cocktails were thrown through the window of a synagogue and rabbi’s residence in Rutherford, burning the rabbi’s hands and forcing his family to flee from the building.
“As I was trying to smother the flames on the windowsill with my blanket, I looked out and saw another incendiary on the roof,” Rabbi Nosson Schuman told JTA. “That’s when I realized it was a hate crime.”
The attacks come as another New York area neighborhood, the heavily Jewish Midwood section of Brooklyn, saw a spate of incidents in recent months, including the torching of parked vehicles, threatening phone calls and swastikas. On Monday, police arrested a New York City Jewish man suspected in those attacks, raising the specter that anti-Semitism was not the motive.
In New Jersey, no arrests have been made in the attacks, which have undermined the sense of security of one of the country’s largest and most established Jewish communities. ADL tripled its original offer for information leading to the arrest of the Rutherford perpetrator, to $7,500, after community members chipped in their own money.
“You may get leaders who are publicly putting on a bright face but are privately concerned about their communities,” Neuer said. “Anxiety is not inherently healthy, but in this particular case it is natural, and what we would like is for leaders to channel that anxiety into better security policies.”
In an effort to do that, law enforcement officials met last week with representatives of more than 80 Jewish institutions to discuss security measures for synagogues and schools. The meeting, held at the Paramus headquarters of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, reviewed current procedures and introduced new measures for tightened security around Jewish communities.
“This is a new type of training for us,” said Ruth Gafni, principal of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County. “We have lived in such a peaceful way so far and we’ve been so blessed to feel so safe and secure. This attack has changed the playing field.”
Also over the past week, more than a dozen Jewish institutions have reached out for help to the Community Security Service, a nonprofit organization that provides training and services that aim to help tighten security at Jewish facilities.
Joshua Glice, the director of synagogue and school operations for the service, told JTA that he had conducted risk assessment studies this week for rabbis at their homes.
The attack that raised special concern in New Jersey was the Rutherford incident, which was the first anti-Jewish attack to result in injury.
At 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 11, Schuman was awakened by the sound of the Molotov cocktails entering his home, which is attached to the synagogue he leads. Schuman’s wife, children and parents escaped from the fire without injury, but the rabbi endured the burns to his hands. Bergen County’s prosecutor, John Molinelli, said he will charge the perpetrator with attempted murder, according to The Record newspaper.
“Someone was clearly trying to kill me and my family,” Schuman said, “not just damage the synagogue.”
According to the ADL, New Jersey typically reports one of the higher totals for anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, owing largely to its sizable and visible Jewish population.
The ADL’s 2010 national audit of anti-Semitic incidents reported 130 incidents statewide, placing New Jersey third in the nation after California and New York. The figure was 132 the previous year. Most of the incidents in the ADL survey are acts of harassment or vandalism; only a tiny minority are acts of physical violence.
Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” – the column that answers all kinds of questions, depending on how loosely you define the word “answer.” Whereas other so-called advice columns are interested in providing you with well-researched advice, my concern is more to get you to stop asking me questions, by whatever means necessary.
This week, we’re going to start with a parenting question, which we advice columns tend to get a lot of, because it’s not like kids are born with little instruction manuals. Sure, there are manuals you can BUY (sold separately), such as Your Baby’s First Year and Your Baby’s Second Year, but then the manuals just sort of stop. There’s no book called Your Baby’s Ninth Year, even though I definitely need one of those at this point. Aren’t they just supposed to have moved out of the house by now?
But this column isn’t really about my important parenting questions. It’s about your important parenting questions, such as this first one from E.G., who has a question about Parent-Teacher Conferences:
I recently attended parent-teacher conferences for my son, who’s in high school, and the good news is that there was cake. So my question is this: Why is the cake at these things always stale?
The simple answer, no offense, is that “otherwise you’ll eat it all.”
No one’s really coming for the cake. It’s not like parents are rushing out of the house, going, “We have to get there on time or they’ll be out of cake!” No, you’re there to talk about your son, who keeps telling you how boring school is, and how it’s all basically speeches, all day, every day, on topics he knows nothing about. And technically he’s right, but this is a problem.
1. Decoration. The tables themselves are not much to look at, and often contain not-so-cheerful words carefully carved into them. So the school tries to cover them with tablecloths, and once there’s a tablecloth, there might as well be food.
2. Because the parents have driven in from who-knows-where during suppertime, and the faculty doesn’t want them to say, “This is why we came in? There wasn’t even cake!”
So there’s cake. But the last thing they want is to run out of cake. So they don’t put out good cake or else people wouldn’t stop eating it. Parents would be coming up to teachers, their mouths full, bits of cake crumbling out: “What do you mean, ‘I’m not your son’s teacher’?” So they want each person to have maybe one piece, and that’s it.
I think this is also why the soda is always warm. Even if it’s freezing outside.
But the magical thing about stale cake is that even if everyone around you tastes the cake and says, “Whoa! That’s stale!” you’re still going to, for some reason, feel the need to taste it yourself. No one knows why. It’s like wet paint.
And no, I don’t know why the cake itself sometimes tastes like wet paint.
My child refuses to take any medication orally. We’ve even offered rewards and she’s turned them down. Any suggestions?
L.E.R., Facebook Dear L.,
I have the same problem with my kids. Kids are predispositioned not to like anything that their parents say is good for them. And what do you say when you give them medicine?
So why on earth would they want to take it?
Sure, the manufacturers try coming up with flavors they think kids will actually try, but the truth is they really have no idea what kids do and don’t like. These are the same people who put cartoon characters on band-aids, like the kids wouldn’t wear them otherwise. Yeah, band-aids are where the problem is. How about inventing a medicine that tastes good? “Sure, we’ve got a really bad artificial cherry, and popsicle sticks with no popsicles on them, and a bubble gum that you drink!”
But it turns out they do this on purpose. They’re faced with a dilemma: Do we make the medicine good enough that the kids will take it without a fight? But then the kids will sneak into the medicine cabinets when their parents aren’t looking. So we have to make it bad enough that they won’t do that.
So, using the stale-cake logic, they hit upon a flavor balance that’s neither good nor bad, where you’ll sometimes buy store-brand soda and throw it out because it tastes like medicine.
I’ve been called upon to speak in public, but I’m very nervous about it. Can you give me some tips?