Thursday, March 29, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - March 30, 2007

As Passover approaches and I take some time off for Spring here are my Shabbat thoughts.

Top Fifty Rabbis in Newsweek in the Forward
Cause I was a punk to Esther on Jewlicious
Cause I am flying cross country today

So this week was no different than any other week in the Jew-blogs. But it hit me after reading the interchange between Mobius and CK. While these two guys are big time, the rest of us are not important. So why do we keep talking and writing?

Jewbiq’s Annie wrote this week about the justice having to do with delivery workers. That was quite possibly the most important post in the J-blogging world or at least in New York. The idea of having a blog is to supplement the mainstream media, not to be the mainstream media. If the media is failing to let people know about stuff, then it is our job to talk about it.

DovBear is writing all about good post on small blogs (I got a post from him too). Thank you very much. The idea would be that we have stuff to say that is as insignificant as the big guys (and gals). Jewschool, Jewlicious and others should NOT be the news, we should talk about the news. I am a nobody and so are you.

As we all pause to celebrate our freedom from Egypt I hope that I will not be a slave to my hit rate. And on that note I have made it to 2000 hits. Like I said, I am a nobody and I am fine with that.

Shabbat Shalom

Deliver Some Justice (with a side fried rice)

(Sent earlier today, please feel free to rip it off)

To the Management of Saigon Grill,

Please consider paying your delivery employees a fair wage. I for one will not buy food from your establishment until you come to an agreement with your employees. I was once a very active customer of your restaurant on the Upper East Side. Along with my girlfriend, sister and many of my friends will not order from you until you end this lock out.

Please pay your workers.

Thank you,

POLJ
NYC

Happy Passover from Japan!



I wonder if the chocolate is Kosher for Passover?

Takin' out the Trash

It is about time!

Mayor Bloomberg has instituted a three month trial run of a city wide recycling program. It was reported that about 50% of the trash thrown out in the city's more than 25,000 trash cans could be recycled. Now it can be and hopefully will be.

Well done Mr. Bloomberg, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, and Department of Parks. Send em' an email and let em' know you care!

In the News: Pitchin' in.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Nippin' The Tip Again

So it seems like more evidence out that says that nippin’ the tip is good for the folks and the fight against AIDS. I wrote about this a few months back. DK seems to be anti-bris but I can’t be sure (thanks for the link all the same). It is worth learning more about this situation and what is driving the call to nip. I personally would be fine with being less sexually satisfied to save the lives of millions.


But that is just me and I am member of the "brit" between God and Jewish people.

In the News: Taking a Cut out of HIV.

Article on Foreclosures

Read the other side of the dream of home ownership. Sub-prime and predatory loans are hurting Americans left and right.

In the News: It is hard to be poor and own a house.

Grilled By Employer

Annie from Jewbiq writes:
I keep talking about the importance of a living wage, and it's time to put my money where my mouth is. Or where my email is.

Saigon Grill has been mistreating their delivery employees in a variety of ways, including but not limited to: denial of proper wages and time off, disregard for worker safety, and now locking them out for their attempt to organize. For the full story check here. (Although, for the record, I really dislike the flippant last sentence) Please support these workers in one of the following ways:

1) Don't patronize Saigon Grill until they meet the workers' demands (harder for those of us who keep kosher)
2) Send an email to the owners at info@saigongrill.com or call the following numbers (212 875-9072, 212 982-3691) to protest the treatment of their workers
3) Spread the word to friends/family
4) Make donations to support the delivery workers who are locked out (Make checks payable to Chinese Staff & Workers' Association, Attn: JWBS! Campaign, send to JWBS! Campaign, c/o CSWA P.O. Box 13041, New York, NY 10013-0995)

Please help to protest this injustice, it is especially important around Passover time to make sure that wage slavery and unfair employment practices are brought to an end.

While it is a bummer and I love the Saigon Grill's Summer Rolls, I will no long patronize said institution (either on the West Side, Downtown or if they ever re-open the one on the UES). It is a shame that workers have to slave to make a living in the best country in the world.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mirco-Financing, So Hot Right Now

So Nick Kristof proves once again that he is a true advocate for the people of the world. He writes about Kiva, micro-financing organization, that allows folks like you and me to help people build their business. Now I have on occasion mentioned the fact that I studied International Relations. I fancy my-self a post-Marxist leftwing international determinist with a touch of Nye. (If you get it, you get it)

Yunus is clearly the man. I for one will be making a few investments tomorrow. By using my funds to create power on the lower levels, (read the leftist interpretation of Nye) from a multi-national NGO (read international determination) I will be helping to create sustainability and stronger localized economy. Oh it is beautiful!

I suggest you take a look at Kiva and the Kristof piece if you have the select.

Iran, England, The New York Times, and You

Being a Jblogger and not knowing that Iran is next on the list for the Neo-Cons, you would have to be brain-dead. Regardless of your stance on the issue, it is clear that we are moving into a “different phases” to borrow from our friend and ally Tony Blair.

About a week ago, 15 British military personnel were taking into Iranian custody. Iran says these folks were floating around in their waters, British authorities’ say they were in Iraqi waters; any way you slice it, the personnel are now in Iran. Yael complained last week that the New York Times, bastion of liberal thought and all things evil has not been paying attention to the situation. They are and here is the link.

But this brings me to the point of the post. Why don’t we care in this country about Brits being taken by Iranians? We really don’t. It is the Stephen Colbert syndrome; not America first, but America only.

The thing that really gets me pissed is that we would NEVER hear about Congolese solders being taken by Rwandan troops. That wouldn’t get our Neo-Cons all upset that we aren’t paying attention to world affairs. But then again Africa isn’t part of the Neo-Con’s world unless Iraq is buying Yellow Cake from one of its countries they couldn’t point out on a map.

Whatever…I am in a bad mood now.

JTA Makes a Joke - And it is Funny

JTA Reports today in it's Daily Briefing:
Bitter herb
Bad news for Ashkenazi stoners: An Israeli pro-marijuana party has announced that pot should be considered "kitniot" and avoided on Passover. There was no word on whether sinsemilla, a seedless variety, is kosher. (WTOP)


Too funny.

Lies, Damn Lies and Stats

So the Zionist Organization of America, known for its even handed treatement of everything, commissioned a study that found that more than 60% of likely voters feel that a Palestinian state would be a terrorist state. I am sure they are bummed that their numbers weren't better.

But here is the kicker, this was the intro to the question about terrorism in Israel:
"As part of an attempt to bring peace to the region, Israel has given the Palestinian Arabs all of the disputed land in Gaza and almost half of the disputed land in the West Bank; however, the Palestinian Arab government has not made serious efforts to stop hatred and terrorism against Israel. In your opinion, should Israel give up more land to the Palestinian Arabs?"

In the News: ZOA Polls Show What They Want.

Would Be Funnier If It Wasn't True



From The Fish via News from Babylon.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

How the Rightwing Thing Started

Last week this cultural exchange with Yael started because of a post that I read on jspot about a Mobius post about a BTB post. Got to love jblogging calling Yael a bigot.

So after all these posts and respect and such I still have not addressed the original issue.

Barak Obama is a member of a church that was called racist by Sean Hanity. He and others call attention to the point that a black church is for supporting blacks. Yael in turn republished some pretty insensitive ideas about Mr. Obama and his church.

Mobius says this wouldn't be an issue if instead of saying 'black' work ethic it said Jewish or Irish etc. He said and I agree that using the word “white” in front of things like “community” and “nation” have a very different connotation then using “black.” While that may be true, we ignore the major issue here.

We are ignoring the underlying racism that assumes black people are lazy and selfish. If you read Mr. Obama’s autobiography and focus on his time in Chicago, you will see that this church is a force for helping black folks in the community break a cycle of nothingness. That is why it is such a problem when we see white (and non-white) folks coming out to say that Mr. Obama’s church is racist.

If I was Barak's speech writer I would tell him to say this to put this to bed: I am a black man, and yes I have faced adversity for it. I am white man and I am proud of my midwestern heritage. I am a Hawaiian and I learned a lot from its unique environment. I am from Chicago and I love it all no matter what. I have lived in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington. I have seen much of this country and I have loved it all. But most of all I am an American, like you. I have fought and won, but also lost. This great country is more than bickering over distinctions: of cities we live in, of parties we vote for, of house of God we pray in, of the color of our skin. I am an American and that is what matters. Thank you all very much and God Bless America, home of us all.

But that is just me.

Rightwing School Drop-out

I hear that Yael has dropped out of our agreement. That is pretty lame and I really expected no less. Anyone who really believes the New York Times is a biased news source in favor of Fox News doesn’t need to prove to me that she also believes in the Bush model of promises. So I guess we are all back to our own blogs and news papers and we can get back to what we are good at, making fun of each-other. T’was fun while it lasted Yael. I do intend to keep looking at your site. I hope you have learned a few things this week, I know I have.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Shabbat Ideas – March 23, 2007

Well a week of fighting the Conservative Machine is done, Elizabeth Edwards has the cancer again and it is finally warming up in the New York, here are my Shabbat Thoughts.

Jewschool looks new.
Seems like the Reform and Recons are the only people repin’ for nearly 77% of the American Jews
Here is a back handed comment from Rabbi Yisrael Rozen. Reform Jews are Jew. Putz
See my East Village Mamele agrees, that if you can’t say something well (or say sorry in particular) then shut up.
Will Israel, who tends to really play up the genocide card and takes everyone to Yad Vashem, allow Sudanese refuges a place to stay?

According to Dictionary.com “liberal” is an adjective that describes a person who is “favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.” So why are those who are destructionists considered liberal?

Anarchists are not liberal by definition. Neither are Radicals. But on a very regular basis idiots dressed in black rampage through a city and destroy something in the name of progress. I for one do not understand how throwing chair through a window of a Starbucks is a way to achieve goals of making the lives of poor people better. Don’t these morons know that “destroying the capitalist system that keeps poor people poor,” just give the low wage workers they are “fighting for” more work to do cleaning up the mess?


As part of the week with Yael, I have read–I am so sorry to say–Michelle Milkin and even a little bit of Little Green Footballs. There were stories on these sites about how “liberals” are marching in the street and destroying homes and calling for the death of amerikah and the evil Zioni$t$ caused 9/11 and other such non-sense. These folks are not liberal. They are radical and for the most part stupid. They are as steadfast in their belief system as the Rightwing folks.

I am not saying that I am not a strong believe in my positions, I am simply saying I do believe in a nuanced belief system. If the Democratic part did not represent my views I would not vote for them. But in the reality in which I live, there are only two parties with power. Therefore I need to choose between the tents that covers most of my important issues. The Dems do that for me now. I would be shocked to learn that any of the rampaging radicals voted for the Dems or for anyone at all.

The number one thing I am learning in this cultural exchange with Yael of Boker Tov, Bolder is that most people, right or left, do not want anything to do with the other side of political discourse. While I do not like what Yael has to say politically, socially or economically, I do respect her as a person and a pundit. I for one have enjoyed our conversations, both public and private.

Yet it remains pretty clear to me that regardless of my respect I give to any side very few folks are willing to take on the responsibility of taking an informed position. I most likely will not continue to read much of the Rightwing platitudes I was asked to choke down this week after next Thursday (the end of our exchange). I will continue to read the news sources though, so I can try to understand why people believe differently than I believe.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Misheberach for a Progressive Woman

Elizabeth Edwards has said she has Cancer again. It is a shame. Edwards is a good man with wonderful ideas. I do hope that he and his family do get through this again. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

In the News: A Deadly Distraction

McWorld vs Needs

Ben Barber, of Jhiad vs the McWorld was on the Colbert Report last night talking about consumer culture vs. true Capitalism. I knew there was a reason I liked that guy. He brilliantly outlined the issue of have needs and wants creating the desire for products as apposed to have products create needs and wants.

Enjoy

If Only the New Yorker was Based in Reality!

In honor of my week as a conservative, some humor from the New Yorker.
How College Kids Imagine the United States Government

—Did you hear the news, Mr. President? The students at the University of Pittsfield are walking out of their classes, in protest over the war.

—(spits out coffee) Wha— What did you say?

—Apparently, students are standing up in the middle of lectures and walking right out of the building.

—But students love lectures. If they’re willing to give those up, they must really be serious about this peace thing! How did you hear about this protest?

—The White House hears about every protest, no matter how small.

—Oh, right, I remember.

—You haven’t heard the half of it, Mr. President. The leader of the group says that if you don’t stop the war today they’re going to . . . to . . . I’m sorry, I can’t say it out loud. It’s just too terrifying.

—Say it, damn it! I’m the President!

—All right! If you don’t stop the war . . . they’re going to stop going to school for the remainder of the week.

—Send the troops home.

—But, Mr. President! Shouldn’t we talk about this?

Send the troops home.

Tap Water is Good


Today is World Water Day. Millions of people around the world are without potable drinking water. As we sit here in the United States (or where ever you happen to live), there is a way to celebrate your WWD. Take a minute to thank your lucky stars, God, or whatever it is that you thank that you are able to sit at a commuter and read my ridiculously unimportant posts. The fact that you have the luxury to love/hate my opinions is something for which to be thankful.

Also consider investing in AJWS. The American Jewish World Service sends people all over the world to help with wonderful projects to create self-sufficiency. Your donation could go a long way.

But what can you do today? There are restaurants that will be helping "tap" into clean water for people around the world. So if you are going out to dinner tonight you may want to consider going to any of the restaurants on this list. For all you non-New Yorkers out there check out this page of the site for what to do.

For more information outside of World Water Day on ways to stop bad things check out UNIFEC's Web site. Regardless of your feelings on the UN, UNICEF is working to make the lives of children better. You can't argue with that at all.

With that I wish you all a very happy World Water Day.

UpdateIn the News: Water is More Than Just A Liquid (Asset)

Al Gore and Moral Issues–Why I am still Liberal and Pissed off


So if an Al Gore falls in the woods does the climate change battle continue?

Clearly it will go on. But as part of this series with Yael of Boker Tov, Bolder, I feel I must come clean. This picture seems to defeat the purpose of circus that was Mr. Gore Going to Washington.

Look Al, if you want to talk the talk, than walk the walk. Your house, regardless of how much you reinvest into renewable energy, is a wasteful use of electricity. The more than 500,000 signatures you brought to congress ON PAPER–and I would only assume that you have more than one copy–is a waste.

So not everything is a loss with this re-reading of our news sources, Yael. But with all honesty, what Al Gore is doing is getting the attention of the American people in a way he never could before. This campaign for climate awareness is working. However we do need to work harder to make the campaign, like our lives, more efficient. I believe if Mr. Gore brought in a CDROM of the names or in some other non-paper manner, there would have been at least two more stories from this event. Al Gore: Saves Environment One Memo at a Time.

If I am picking it apart what do those rejectionists think? “See Global Warming is a Hollywood invention to make our kids hate God while burning the flag and having gay sex.” (A bit extreme but a possible post one could see on the Internet)

More later on this wonderful exchange program.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Taking on World Net Daily - Part Two of Why I am Liberal and Pissed

So as I continue down the road of fun Rightwing folk I come to World Net Daily. This wonderful publication has advertisements for “Zion Oil and Gas, inc” a company searching for oil in Israel. Smart. Wonder what DK has to say about that. Another good one is titled “Shooting Back: Should Christians be Armed?” I will leave that alone. But they do have a Chuck Norris joke for an ad for the World Net Daily, so I will give them that. (Q: Where does Chuck Norris write? A: Where He Wants! Check him out blah blah blah…)

Outside of calling former VP Al Gore a person “full of hot air”(get it) and accusing Oprah of “leading people into a spiritual darkness” this seems like a great place for opinion and not news. I thought maybe for a second the section entitled “REBUILDING IN THE GULF”** was about fixing the Gulf Coast of the US. Nope, rebuilding is only for the Middle East where we actually created the mess as apposed to just ignoring it.

I really don’t feel any more conservative, just kind of abused.

** It was on yesterday’s page, so I don’t have a link.

Beer Down the Drain...

As Passover draws near...we must pour our beer down the drain...or just put it in the back of the fridge.

Taking on the Jpost – Part One of why I am Pissed Off and Liberal

As part of my deal with Yael of Boker Tov, Bolder, I said I would read Rightwing publications and blogs. It kinda sucks, but I said I would do it, and as a blogger of my word, I am.

So last night as I sat in my liberal leftwing apartment with my girlfriend who lives with me outside the bonds of marriage and I watched the Daily Show (I have to keep my guard up here) I read a piece by Isi Leibler in JPost. It was a diatribe.

Throughout the Diaspora there are alienated Jews on the fringe whose primary involvement in Jewish life is centered on undermining the Jewish state.

Well I better watch out! Isi you got me pined! My Shabbat celebration and Yom Kippur fasting is all for the destruction of Israel. My dedication to ending genocide and helping the environment is all so Zion may fall. My Torah study is actually hell bent on raising Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Oh yeah and so are my Israel bonds and my more than five trips to Israel in the last five years. But I guess I am not the people he is talking about. Sorry about that…I even knew that.

But what got me so upset was his defense of my favorite tool de jure of the right, Alan H. Rosenfeld. Here is what I am talking about:

When American academic Alvin Rosenfeld wrote an essay for the American Jewish Committee exposing the double standards and deviousness of Jews challenging Israel's right of existence, he unleashed a storm and was accused of playing foul for supposedly branding all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. That he deliberately avoided using expressions like anti-Semitism and self-hatred was ignored.

What double standard? I mean really? I don’t see one. We have people on the left and right who are calling the folks who are named in this piece out as radicals and fringe elements. How is that a double standard? Also Rosenfeld does call anti-Zionism anti-Semitism a bunch of times.

For example on page 13 we find “Rose’s unease is mild, though, compared to the pathological fury one finds among some other anti-Zionist Jews. As a telling example, let us review the reflections on Israel and present-day anti-Semitism of Michael Neumann, a professor of philosophy at Trent University in Canada and author of What’s Left: Radical Politics and the Radical Psyche.”

Yet once so-called liberals misrepresented his views, even mainstream New York Jewish trendies began to join the pack attacking Rosenfeld.

That sounds like “New York Money People” to me…what about you?

Stay tuned for more as the week goes on!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Oil, Sudan and Divestment

Oil is a HUGE issue when it comes to international relations. Most of commerce today is based on the sale or price of the stuff. DK brings this up in his post about Darfur and Oil. His argument is that Darfur activists are not talking about the Oil issues. I would argue that they are.

JCPA, AJWS, URJ, STAND, Many of the Ivy Leagues, the University of California and many other major orgs are divesting from companies that benefit from business in Sudan. Most of these companies are Chinese energy companies getting oil from Sudan.

So DK, while I 100% agree with you that oil is a major issue in Sudan and addressing these issues will help end the genocide in Darfur, I don't believe it is being ignored. Divestment is a wonderful way to bring the issue of the oil to the forefront. And if you bring up the idea that Divestment from Sudan is a clear and simple way to make an argument for Divestment from Israel I might flip a lid. Genocide is different from Occupation. We are people of nuance and should use our tactics accordingly. Sudan is nothing like Israel and Israel is nothing like Sudan.

What else can we do but use the power of the purse? The governments won't act after years of protest and advocacy. The time is now to divest from companies that benefit from the murder, rape and destruction of the people of Darfur.

Boker Tov, Right Wing

Believe it or not defending Mobius has turned into quite a little fire storm. Over on Boker Tov, Bolder it seems that my views have been countered by a born-again conservative who feels I need to read some conservative books and blogs to feel like a real Jewish man again.

While I can’t comment just yet on my “rebirth” as a conservative (extremely unlikely but willing to give it a shot) I have been asked by my new friend Yael to give her a list of must reads for the week.

So here we go: DovBear, Jewschool, Jewlicious, Blogs of Zion, JVoices, Mideast Youth, The Head Heeb, Muzzle Watch (extra important), Jspot, This blog (you did it so can I) and Brooklyn Jews. And now for the political ones: Talking Points Memo, DailyKos, TPM CafĂ© and that should do it. I won’t really go on. You the Forward, and the New York Times. I won't ask you to read any of the "Indi Media" sites...not worth your time.


Let me know what you think. I will not try to break down rightwing nuts right now...save it for later, after I read all the her wonderful blogs.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Because I had NO sleep this weekend

Hello five people reading this blog!

I had very little sleep this weekend due to working on Saturday night and waiting up for POLJM (POLJ's Mom) last night. She flew in from Chicago, I will tell her you say hello.

Anyway while waiting for her I read this very interesting piece in the Times about Orthodox Jews who rebel by dancing and singing and eat Chulent. While I can't speak to the truth behind the stories in the story, the story is interesting. I need coffee.

In the News: A City of Refuge

Friday, March 16, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - March 16, 2007

As it SNOWS in New York, the Reform Movement stands against the war and I really hope someone comes up to run for President, here are my Shabbat Thoughts for March 16.

GODnline: www.worshipatcost.com
AIPAC as Evil Sea Monster
Cheney’s problem is that American Jews remain, at heart, liberals and Democrats. If that was the worst of it
More Jews on Genocide

Darfur was on CNN this morning as I went to get my coffee from the guys downstairs at the office. The coverage was basic and simplistic. I said to myself “huh…well at least it is on CNN.” The war and genocide Darfur is an awful situation, yet it is nothing close to the worst international disaster taking place in Africa.

As a college student I studied international relations and focused on the Middle East and Africa. I chose to focus on this area not because I wanted a great breath of information but because of the Israeli Palestinian conflict and I started school in 2001. But as I began to study Africa and its literature, cultural and custom, I started getting extremely interested in what was happening there. It is interesting because as they say, if it bleeds it leads.

But wars in Africa get no press. King Leopold’s hold on the Belgian Congo was one of the most horrific experiences in modern times. Millions upon millions of Congolese were murdered and disfigured because of the Belgian rule in central Africa. And then Mobutu took over aiding in the assignation of the popular leader Patrice Lumumba. Uganda had similar issues with Idi Amin. The civil wars in the central African countries continue to conscript hundreds of thousands of boys to fight. Somalia is still a complete mess. More than 24.5 million sub-Saharan African Adults are infected with HIV.

And yet we are happy to see that Darfur is making the news. It is great that the West has chosen to take up an African cause. AIDS is also on most of the general public’s radar.

But as Stephen Colbert asked Nick Kristoff of the New York Times, why would Americans’ care about issues taking place in the rest of the world.



It is clear why we should care, but how do we get Americans to care about anything besides our immediate interests?

Even in the self-righteous world of Jewish blogs, we don’t take the time all that often to take the morally superior and indignant position that “we know what we are talking about when it comes to Africa.” There is one blogger I know of who spends lots of time working these issues. And his stuff is so heavy that I usually don’t read all of what is going on according to his news reports. The Head Heeb writes extensively on international affairs with such expertise that is rarely found on the major Jblogs. If it doesn’t have to do with Israel or anti-Semitism, it isn’t found in our circles.

So as we finish the book of Exodus this week and we chant Chazak Chazk Be Strong Be Strong, let us remember to be strong enough to look past our self-interest and work harder for other issues. The American Jewish World Service cannot feed all of the world’s problems to us like they did for Darfur. Just as we move from parasha to parasha and book to book, we need to have the strength to move forward to address these issues.

Shabbat Shalom

Monday, March 12, 2007

dung dung! Law & Order: I Hate Jew

Hi my name is POLJ and I am a Law & Order addict.

Hi POLJ.

I know this is old news but I was reading Muzzle Watch only to learn that my addiction was anti-Semitic. So it is bad for me and my people. This is so stupid it hurts my soul. The people at CAMERA are losing their minds. What the hell? It is a fictional description of an event. The situation is supposed to be complicated and related to real life. And last I checked Israel does bulldoze homes of Palestinians.

I saw this show and I thought it was very interesting. It was well thought out and confusing as any Law & Order. It was Criminal Intent at its best. I say to CAMERA it is time to pay attention to the real issues in the media, not a fictional drama.

In the News: Law & Order: I Hate Jew

Friday, March 9, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - March 9, 2007

With a Rudy Giuliani leading Republicans, the URJ about to vote on Iraq and the weather still REALLY cold here are my Shabbat Ideas for March 9, 2007.

"The one good thing in all this," Markowitz says, "is that the relatives coming in from all over, from New York, from Philly, New Jersey, Florida, Chicago, California, now they don't have to rush their kishkes that much" to get to the simcha on time.
Today’s Brian Lehrer Show on Homelessness and Immigration
Gap among Jews widens on question of Zionism
On Iraq

What is Shabbat to you? For me it is a day – a full day – of relaxation. For me it is a day to read the Times, drink good coffee, be with my partner, celebrate life and eat good foods. I am having a real problem with religion as of right now. I know we are all supposed to struggle with our Judaism, that Israel mean to wrestle with our faith.

But I mean let’s be real here. What is the difference if I believe in God and take part in good works or if I don’t believe and take part in good works?

There was a very widely emailed and blogged New York Times Magazine article about the raise of religious people. Why have we all become religious? Is the question why people are religious or why are people still religious? I actually don’t think it matters at all.

I teach kids religious school and we have been focusing on Torah for the last few weeks. We have taught them that the stories of the Torah could be false. I know that most of them are false. I highly doubt that the seas parted for the Israelites or that the earth sucked down an enemy army. So can I be a religious person who finds comfort in celebration of religious holidays?

Being a liberal and a religious person is difficult. I am torn between being progressive with my own ideals of utopia and my conservative theology that can change but at a glacial pace. Can we really reject what we want to make our religion work with our liberalism? Can Reform Jews take what we want and leave what we don’t and still have a basis of religion? Clearly I feel the answer is yes, but it isn’t clear cut.

There are those who feel there should be some sort of Reform Halachah and there are those who think they know what we all need to do and there are those who just make us think. I think this is just confusing and why it is harder to be an engaged liberal (lower case “l”) Jew that it is to be a conservative (low case “c”) Jew.

So where do I see my Shabbat? I see it as a celebration of the week that was created in our joint efforts within our partnership for creation.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

On International Women's Day - Act and Look Girly to Get By

A friend of mine who works for an organization with in the JewCom was instructed to be at an event dressed “girly” so to make sure she looked “professional.” The group of people representing this organization was given T-shirts – for women – and baseball shirts – for the men – and was told to dress in business attire and wear the shirt over their button downs.

No problem right? But wait there is more.

The letter instructed women to wear a skirt or slacks and heals, to an all night event where they were not to sit down. Not so cool. But still there is more.

My friend wrote back to the letters’ author to tell her she had received the baseball shirt because that is what she wanted more. The response was why and to make sure you look “girly.”

Yesterday there was no mention of vagina and today you have to look “girly” to be professional. Today is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate feminism and equality of women world wide. When we work in orgs, that for the most part of pretty open to women and dominated by them, you would think that being “girly” isn’t necessarily a requisite of professional business attire.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Supporting My Supporters

While I have been in this blog game now for a few months, it seems that I have a few supporters out there. Not only did CK say the POLJ is the “best unread blog in heebophere” but there are people who are reading this thing regularly and even have it on their RSS feeds and homepages. To those folks I say thank you.

I received an email request today from a person working with Bet Tzedek – The House of Justice (even though it then should be “h’Bet Tzedek but whatever) asking if I could help her out by promoting a contest sponsored by Kevin Bacon entitled – wait for it – Six Degrees. Sometimes things don’t even need to be a joke!

Anyway Bet Tzedek offers “essential human services – free of cost – that ensure fundamental fairness as well as access t our judicial system for those who risk being left behind,” says my emailer. She said that this org is working to make lives better for folks who don’t have much. I am down with that. So this charity drive is to get the most people connected to the charity by donating a few bucks. The group with the most people you can connect to Kevin Bacon, wins.

So let’s review: POLJ who got an email from Bet Tzedek fundraiser is in the running for the Six Degrees $10,000 grant from Kevin Bacon! I win!


Click here to give these folks some money.

Best Headline EVER!

Reconstructionists tap lesbian rabbi

The Reconstructionist movement tapped a lesbian rabbi to head its Rabbinical Association. Rabbi Toba Spitzer of West Newton, Mass., is to be formally elected at the movement's March 11-14 convention.

In a press release Tuesday, the movement highlighted Spitzer's sexuality in addition to her qualifications for the post.

Spitzer is a 1997 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and has been serving Congregation Dorshei Tzedek, a Reconstructionist congregation in West Newton, for the past 10 years, the movement said.

Spitzer's election continues the Reconstructionist movement's trailblazing tradition on gay and lesbian issues. In 1984, Reconstructionism became the first American Jewish movement to ordain gay rabbis, a move since followed by the Reform movement in 1990 and possibly by the Conservative movement in the coming months.


I mean it is good news but you can't beat that headline!

Cutting Back on Words

Freedom of Expression is an important aspect of the First Amendment of the Constitution. It kinda is the whole point of the thing. So I find it funny that a group of honors students were suspended after using the correct term for a part of their anatomy. Vagina, not va jay jay or cunt or pussy, but vagina has landed these girls, 16 year-olds Megan Reback, Elan Stahl and Hannah Levinson at home for a few days.

“The suspension has prompted allegations of censorship. But Principal Richard Leprine said Tuesday that the girls were punished not because of what they said but because they disobeyed orders not to say it.”

So how is that not exactly the same thing? When in high school I disobey orders not to say a particular word in a school play. It was met by laughter and by disappointment by my teachers. They got over it. Additionally what about the dress code of the folks at this school? I am willing to bet that they are wearing clothing that is less than PC but they can't say Vagina in a play?

We are supposed to be free to express ourselves in this country. Men and women of all ages colors and creed and religions, should be able to say and do what they want as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else. Schools are not a place to be shut down by authority; they are a place of learning. Principal Richard Leprine should be ashamed of himself.

In the News: Vagina Need Not Apply

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Purim in Yemin is So Nice this Time of Year

No kidding! This is a wonderful story. It is almost as if it is a modern day Purim story. It is worth the read. Good things can happen in far off places that have a history of doing bad things to the Jews.

Hat Tip (Failed Messiah)


From Yemen Observer Newspaper (yobserver.com)

Front Page News
Al-Salem Jews celebrate Purim in Sana’a
By Mohammed al-Kibsi
Mar 6, 2007, 12:22

The al-Salem Jews gather outside in Sana’a’s Tourist City, to commemorate their historic escape from the wicked Hamam.
The Yemeni Jews of al-Salem celebrated Purim far from their homes last Sunday, in Sana’a’s Tourist City. The group of 45 Jews was forced to flee their homes in the northern province of Sada’a in January, after they received a letter threatening their lives.

Purim is Jewish festival celebrating the survival of the Jews marked for death in Persia in the 5th century BC. According to the Book of Esther, Haman, chief minister of King Ahasuerus, planned a general massacre of the Jews and set the date by casting lots. Ahasuerus’ wife Esther interceded for the Jews, and they were allowed to attack their enemies. The ritual observance begins with a day of fasting on the 13th of Adar (in February or March), the day before the actual holiday.

The Book of Esther is read in the synagogue, and Jews are enjoined to exchange gifts and make donations to the poor. Purim is a day of merrymaking and feasting. Purim is often celebrated by reading or acting out the story of Esther, and by making disparaging noises at every mention of Haman’s name. During Purim, it is a tradition to masquerade around in costumes and to give Mishloakh Manot (care packages, i.e. gifts of food and drink) to the poor and the needy.

Yahya Mosa, the son of the al-Salem’s rabbi, said that this feast is called alfor in the Hebrew language, and that it is called al-Fisal, which means “the separation,” in the Arabic language. He said that at this time they celebrate also the end of winter and the start of summer. “On this occasion Jews have to give charity, read Torah, and entertain their kids,” said Yahya. (More...)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Getting Stuck in Traffic

About a year ago I hear Rabbi David Saperstein give a speech about Sexual Trafficking and a few months ago I heard about the Justice Department’s new department committed to fighting human and sexual trafficking across the globe. I found this blog today as I was looking at Middle East Youth, another great blog. It is well put together and interesting.



I have always been interested in Trafficking of Humans. It just seems like something that just is so clearly wrong. Rabbi Saperstein really hit it home when he said something to the fact that there are as many slaves (yes salves) around the world today as there were about 100 years ago. We have not moved forward. Shame.

It is interesting that this blog will be focusing on the Middle East and Northern Africa. MENA is a mecca of trafficking. Israel, Jordan, SA and the Gulf States are some of the world’s worst traffickers. Israel is working on it with people in the government with no other job but stopping this, but they aren’t making huge strides. Their trafficking number from the State Department is up but not great.

Take a read. Make a bookmark. Keep up on the problem.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Ann Coulter is a Democratic Fund Raiser



For those of you who don't want to hear Coulter suck up air, she passively called Edwards a fagot. Below is the message I got from the Edwards people. At least it is reactionary as apposed to Hillary’s Million Dollar (baby) Week. I for one will give some money to a candidate (perhaps Edwards or Obama or that one we have not seen yet that I am still hoping will come out of the woodwork) but I am getting SO sick of getting letters about money and not substance. Feingold is talking about substance but dropped out of the presidential race. He asks for money for his Progressive Patriots Fund but that is for other people. It is a shame he isn’t running.

Dear Friend,

Did you hear about Anne Coulter's speech this afternoon attacking John? A friend just forwarded me the video and it's one of the worst moments in American politics I've seen.

I can't bring myself to even repeat her comments. Her shameless display of bigotry is so outrageous you actually have to see for yourself to believe it.

This is just a taste of the filth that the right-wing machine is gearing up to throw at us. And now that it's begun, we have a choice: Do we sit back, or do we fight back?

I say we fight. Help us raise $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" this week to show every would-be Republican mouthpiece that their bigoted attacks will not intimidate this campaign. I just threw in 100 bucks. Will you join me? Just click here.

Coulter's attack was no accident. It happened on national television at one of the year's biggest conservative conferences. Dick Cheney and most of the Republican candidates were in the audience. She was even introduced by Mitt Romney.

John was singled out for a personal attack because the Republican establishment knows he poses the greatest threat to their power. Since they have nothing real to use against him, Coulter's resorting to the classic right-wing strategy of riling up hate to smear a progressive champion. And the Republican attack dogs will keep playing this despicable trick as long as they think it works.

But this time, you and I can change the game.

If we can raise $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" this week, we can show that bigotry will only backfire on those who use it. John is not the first progressive leader to face this kind of slime, but together, we can make sure he is one of the last.

Tonight, I've put in 100 bucks of "Coulter Cash" to get us started. Can you match me, or chip in whatever you can afford? Just click here:

http://johnedwards.com/r/6665/786858


Thanks,

David Bonior
Campaign Manager
John Edwards for President

Friday, March 2, 2007

Shabbat Thoughts - Purim Edtion

Shabbat Thoughts for Purim can’t be too heavy; they can’t be too light they have to be just right, so here they are:

REALLY Bad Jewish Jokes. More Grown, Less Laugh
Alan H Rosenfeld and Mobius are having coffee to talk about a “third way”
Israelis and Palestinians work together
Reform Jews are accepted in Israel as Jews
Buy Land Now! Save Millions! Hot Hot Hot! Selling so Fast We Can’t Give away!
Purim Styles in Effect!

Purim is about silliness and remembering how, in this particular manifestation of the story, we didn’t die and now we should eat. JSpot had to make it all serious and Failed Messiah went all “Buzz Kill”.

But this is funny and he is a Real Contender for Republican Part Nod in 2008: Michel Charles Smith Hillel went political with this REALLY fun and powerful “Team Grogger Force” thing. Why can’t they just say they are against the First Amendment and move on? Cause without support of Israel as a rightwing state, Hillel would lose funding faster than Brandeis. I kid! I kid! (Well not really but it is funny and true)

I hope you liked my funny stories above!

YEAH PURIM! (It was a long week.)

And now for simple silliness that is this really cool video of a neo-Klezmer band. (Hat tip to a friend who doesn’t want a hat tip)


These are the good old days!

Happy Purim go get fashnikid and have fun with your family!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Impoverished Judaism – Poverty in NYC

And no I don’t mean non-orthodoxy. (zing!)

There are many poor Jewish families and individuals in NYC. There is not much more I can say that isn’t already on the Met Council on Jewish Poverty website. Take a look.

The one thing that seems to hit me though and DK brought it up in a comment this week and on his blog, that Jews are assumed to be wealthy. Yes we clearly control the banks and the movies and make decisions for the government so how could we have poor folks in our ranks?

Well we can and we do. Nearly 275, 000 New York Jews are classified as “near-poverty” or that their household income is dangerously close to the poverty line. 145,000 Jews live in what is defined as poverty conditions.

There are many reasons. These folks may be new to the United States, they could have huge families with no real way to support them (read the ultra-orthodox) or they could have any number of issues that effect everyone negatively that lead to troubled times.

Jews, just like other New Yorkers, need to make a ton of money to live here and I would be remiss to simply say that huge families and new refugee status are the only reasons Jews fall into poverty.

No one chooses it, Jews or otherwise.

This week was about poverty in this city. Thank you for reading. Please do something to help those around you.