Monday, April 30, 2007

Yippy! Now On the the Next Round

At the end of voting I am tied for second place! Thanks all!

Now if you would like please vote for my best in a series nomination. I would be very happy if you did. It is all about poverty in NYC. This is possibly the best set of post I wrote and it defiantly was something I put a lot of work into...so help a brother out! These post have been featured on DovBear and also on Jspot. You can vote HERE for "Best (Post) Series" Group C. Then login so they know you are a human, and then vote for I am a Liberal Jew and I am Pissed - Poverty in NYC (I can be pissed in this round).

So please vote for me and support the idea that we all have to fight to end poverty; by blogging and acting in the real world.

So here are some ways you can take action today both globally and locally:
www.one.org
www.ajws.org
www.nationalhomeless.org
www.secondharvest.org

Sunday, April 29, 2007

It Seems I Spoke too Soon

Last night I said it was in the bag...I was wrong.

I am only about five to ten votes out of the finals for the Jewish and Israel Blog awards. Because of my grouping I have been placed in with the powerhouse MuzzleWatch from the Jewish Voice for Peace. They are an interesting blog and I hope you all check'em out if you haven't already. They really shouldn't be in the "new blogs group" because they have a mailing list of over 23,000 folks who went and messed up the entire voting system...but what can you do?

So it has turned into a race for second place with my new friend from Daf Notes. This d'var Torah blog is very interesting but I still want to win. So please if you have not voted already please take a few minutes today (before 10 pm EST) to vote HERE and go to "BEST NEW BLOG NOMINATIONS" and then go to GROUP A and Vote for I am a Liberal Jew and I am *&^%^%. (they don't let me say pissed.)

Thanks for your help!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Students of War

I have a wonderful poster in my apartment that celebrates the Freedom of Speech. I was taught to believe in this as my civic responsibility growing up in this country. It is built into our educational system that when we grow up and if we must we will defend and fight for this right and ideal.


In many places around the world children have been taught similar ideals. But they are not waiting to grow up to fight. We have seen this in Kosovo and Palestine. Children fighting for the cause of religion or “freedom” and the like. But in Africa it seems that the children are fighting because they are being tricked into it for greed and power. But I suppose the question would be what is the difference?

Is there ever a time when children should be fighting for anything? If the leaders of these movements, from Congo to Washington, want to fight they should be willing to die. Idealistic yes, realistic no.

I am currently reading, “What is the What” the brilliant novel by David Eggers. The main charter’s identity is created by war and loss. He has many names because he has been named so many times. It is clear that he never had a childhood. While he was able to make it out of Southern Sudan, many of his friends died or became solders. The hero worship of the rebels and hatred of the enemy is built into the childhood of these kids. Even as the children have no idea what side to be on, they glorify war of the rebels.

So in this world where we celebrate our progress and hope and democracy, there are children shooting each other in the name of money and greed. They are teaching the children of the world war in its purest form. For no ideals, no nation, no freedom; just money and power.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

In the News: Child Soldiers of Fortune

Mike Gavel vs Mike Gravel

Well because I had never heard of the former Senator former Alaska and his bombastic insulting style before last week’s debate prep could be the resason why I spelled his name wrong and became Google’s number one hit for searches for Mike Gavel.

My apologies to the shot in the dark candidate Sen Mike Gravel and the four people on his staff.

JIB, JIB, JIB, JIB Vibrations

So now after a week of heightened excitement, it seems like this Pissed Off Liberal Jew is going to make the finals. It was tough. I was in second place for a long time and Daf Notes was looking good. But then out of NO WHERE MuzzleWatch came out with a HUGE 100 vote lead. Now I am sure (really like no foul play sure) that they just sent out an email to their list, which numbers above 300. So, like I though from the get go, I was going to get spanked in this event. But then some friends and family came through. So thanks to those folks who voted from me!

But Daf Notes is a beautiful site that I would never have read so carefully if I was not in the same group. So I would suggest that anyone who is here to take a look at their site. While I don’t agree with all of the d’var torah found there, they are interesting. What War Zone is pretty sophomoric and I must say I have no problem beating them out. Oy Bay is a great local blog and if you are in SF Bay Area you should bookmark them. Jacob da Jew is a good guy and came on to POLJ and left a comment so I thank him for that.

So Rock the Vote and thanks for the support!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - April 27, 2007

As it is raining and MuzzleWatch finally got their vote out and kicked me out of second place, here are my Shabbat Thoughts for April 27, 2007.

Jew (Artists) for Jesus
Goyim Nachis b’yidin

I gave blood yesterday. It took about 30 minutes and then I had some apple juice; a real treat for post hemoglobin donation. I like apple juice better than the orange juice in such situations. I believe it has to do with the way it slides so nicely into your tummy.

While my arm was being drained of a pint of my red goodness, I was thinking how easy it is for me to just go and do this every few months. I have brand of blood that is generally needed for transfusions. So I feel pretty good when I give my red goodness. (And speaking of red goodness, the Red Sox are in first place and the Yankees are where?)

Donation of blood is vital to the survival of a modern society. Hundreds of people daily need blood when they are hurt or in surgery. There is still a very serious shortage of blood in New York City and— from what I gather— the rest of the country. Now I understand that a needle may be scary for some, but it only hurts for a minute and then you have a chance to really save someone’s life.

There has been such death and destruction in the past few weeks, from Blacksburg to Bagdad that has been splashed across the news papers. But every day in your city, there is someone who is cut, gets shot, is hit by a car, or falls down stairs and is in need of your help. You never need to see that person, but you will become part of that individual’s life; saving this person from death. All you need to do is give some blood. It is just that easy.

To Save a Life is as if You Have Saved an Entire Universe. GIVE BLOOD TODAY (or after Shabbas)

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, April 26, 2007

President De-boring


"So are we going to play nice?" "Oh you bet your ass." "hahahahaah"

This was SO boring. My GOD people! Say something please! You clearly all hate the Bush administration but you could say a few things!

The one thing that was stated that would be of direct interest to Jewish readers - cause clearly all Jews are in favor of Israel - Obama did say "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people," but he did clarify that he did have more to that quote...that the Palestinian leadership is to blame. He also said Israel is best ally for the US in the Middle East. Hillary said some nice things, health care and the like but nothing of substance.

Bill Richardson was the best, but a little full of himself. He liked to count off the things that he was going to do while making sure that everyone knew he was a governer. When asked what his biggest mistake was he said he is too driven and he pushes too hard. That is like saying you are too committed during a job interview and that sometimes you work so hard and focus on the goal you might miss the big picture. ach.

Dodd was from Connecticut and Biden was Biden.

Edwards actually said something and that was nice to hear. But I think he is too folksy to get much support from the “liberal elites.”

Gravel and Kucinich were both bat-shit crazy, pushing Dodd to say those to guys “live in the world of makebelieve.”

But really, this was really not worth the space it took up on the DVR. I think that there was NO ONE in America who doesn't have a blog or a job who watched this thing. Next week Republicans, and I for one can't wait!

What Do We Want? Justice!

When do we want it? In no more than 30 minutes or the delivery is free!

So more news from the delivery-men-standing-up-for-themselves front. I have been meaning to write this post all day, but it has been busy and believe it or not, I actually have to do work from time to time. But anyway while reading the Metro on the way to work this morning, I read about another group who is starting a Federal Wage law suits against a popular noodle restaurant, this time it is Republic in Union Square.

Good for them! This is a fight worth fighting for! You know a living wage and the like! I even support the guys (white or not) who show up to picket even if they are just looking for a date. I have never been to Republic but I suppose that isn't a big deal, there are lots of noodle places in the city.

The thing that really cooks my noodles is that this stuff is so easy. It cost a fortune to live in this city and the people who are making a fortune running these really expensive restaurants should help the people out. It is just the right thing to do.

Anyway back to the chant: TWO FOUR SIX EIGHT - I WON'T EAT AT YOUR STINKIN' PLACE!

More Support of the Homosexual Agenda

It would seem that our support of the homosexuals has worked...the AFA has taken down the petition! Well done everyone, gay or straight!

(I also am on the AFA listserv now... updates to follow)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Support the Homosexual Agenda Today!

Voting is now underway! And not only for the JIB (where you should vote for POLJ in the Best New Blog Noms Group A) but for the Homosexual Agenda!

The American Family Association is polling it own people to say that they won't support GLBT business practice. (Like you didn't know)

But vote here and often to support the homosexual agenda!

(Hat Tip - JSpot via MyJewishLearning)

Dogs + NYTimes = Goodness


I love dogs. They just make me happy. Big ones are funny to watch, little ones are really cute. Bull Dogs smile all sloppy and Cocker Spaniels shake when you come home to them. Dogs are just good things.

I also really like (like more than a friend like) the New York Times. It is interesting and also shakes when you come to it. So when these two things came together today - dogs and the New York Times - I was just happy. No need to be really pissed off about anything. (I am sure there will be something later.)

In the News: GOOD DOG!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More Fun with the Economy

A report came out today saying the existing-home sales is down this month to the lowest point since 1989. Before I go into blaming anyone for this, the main issue that is raised is the unbelievable problem of sub-prime (read: predatory) mortgage industry.

Over the past few years we have seen an unreal increase in the number of foreclosure in low and moderate income neighborhoods. The predatory lending is an awful practice that hurts the economy more than it helps the loan sharks who deal in them. This could not be more out of whack with Jewish business practices and it is a shame that more Jewish groups aren't working to stop this practice. There is very limited support from Jewish groups for measures in congress and local laws to stop such lending. But what can you do?

The blame should fall squarely into President Bush's lap, but that won't happen. I believe, like many liberals, that the economy responds to immediate issues. It is hard to use the "trickle down" argument when you look at the response the economy had to 9/11 or Katrina or Bush's second election. But here we can even use the over time argument to see that Bush's agenda has really hurt the US economy. But that is just me, a no-nothing who studied a lot of econ in college. What do I know?

Not Good, But Nothing New


Yeah...I wonder what this press conference is about...

Hamas is (shockingly) blaming Israel for the end of the cease fire. For the first time in five months the Hamas is taking credit for the shelling of Israel.

What I don't understand is why is Hamas fighting Israel when they could govern Gaza. I suppose it falls under the idea that if one can divert attention from domestic social ills with an external conflict, the people will forget what is going on at home. Sound familiar?

In the News: Not Fire Works for Independence Day

Monday, April 23, 2007

Taxing the Poor to Save the Environment

So here is the dilemma. Bloomberg, Mayor of NYC, has proposed a tax on drivers who come into Manhattan and drive below 86th Street. The green folks are pumped up about not going to the pump. Some folks on the working-poor side say this is a regressive tax. Congressman Anthony Weiner and State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky are against this tax.

So this is a huge problem and why the right wing will always point at the “progressive” community to say we are a bunch of morons running around fighting for the cause du jour. But when will we, liberals and the like, be able to learn that we can’t have it all?

Now the question is what do we want more?

In the News: Passing Taxes Not Gas

Little Help Here

Alrighty Folks!

It is time to vote.

Please vote for me over at www.jibawards.com . (Direct link below)

Since I started this thing last November I have wanted to have one of those nifty winners (or finalist) badges to wear proudly on my side wall. I mean all the best bloggers have them...so I want one. Additionally go out and support your other friends and Jewish bloggers today by voting for them as well. You can only vote once, so vote early and from as many IP address you can! (Kidding...well just a little)

Thanks again: VOTE for I am a Liberal Jew and I am #($*@) (or whatever it says) in GROUP A of "BEST NEW BLOGS" here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More “Rabbi” Issues

Rabbi Michael Boyden, who made aliya and who’s son died protecting Israel, was prevented from saying a prayer at a memorial service if he was to be introduced as “rabbi.”

What gives people? Rabbi Boyden’s son sacrifice is what keeps your sons in Yeshiva and safe from those who want to kill them. Show so respect to the people who actually make Israeli society possible.

Rabbi Boyden is a rabbi just as much as Rabbi Eliahu is a rabbi. Boyden’s only offence is that he isn’t the same kind of closed-minded reactionary stuck in the 17th century “leader” who blames fellow Jews for the ills of the world.

Here is the money quote:
Asked if a grieving father who was not a Reform rabbi would be treated in the same manner, Hiller [the event orginizer] said he would not. "If he wasn't a Reform rabbi, we'd let him do it," he said, "but with Reform rabbis, their belief in God is questionable. I've had long conversations with my cousin, a Reform rabbi in the US, and it's a very far thing from what Judaism always was. So the Reform can't represent the entire audience as a prayer leader. They should find someone who is in the consensus" to chant the prayer.

Stop judging others and start contributing something besides non-questionable belief in God.

In the News: Rabbis in "Quotes"

Congressmommy

So the Times ran a piece today by AP about women giving birth while in Congress. According to the history there have only been five women to become mothers while voting members of the House.

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Democrat of California, is believed to be the first; she gave birth to a daughter in 1973. Others are Enid Greene Waldholtz, Republican of Utah, who had a daughter in 1995; Susan Molinari, Republican of New York, who had a daughter in May 1996; and Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, whose twin sons were born in June 1996.

Now I will never give birth and will never know the pain and never understand, but what the hell is this piece doing in the New York Times? Women throughout the world hold positions of power as mothers, wives, and partners. Why is the fact that they have two ovaries and a uterus news worthy?

I for one will not stop reading the Times over this, but come on! This isn’t the Washington Times or some other local storybook newspaper. This is the paper of record and should act accordingly. Women should be treated as equals in the eyes of the American people. These stories make powerful and smart women out to be less than. I am sure most Congresswoman would love to make the Sunday Times, but for the leg they introduce not for the fact that they can have children.

Why should I care if my Rep is going to give birth or not? We have maternity leave in the country, we respect women’s rights (well at least 4 out of 5 Justices do), and I am just lost at how a woman who works being pregnant is news.

My mom worked through two full term pregnancies and my dad was featured in a LOCAL paper about being Mr. Mom. But that was in 1987. We haven’t moved forward in 20 years? Sad.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - April 20, 2007

With the worst shooting in US history behind us, here are my Shabbat thoughts.

Guess what the NRA is a bunch of gun-toten anti-Semites
Berlin Once Again Hot Spot for Jewish Thought
I don’t recall being so pissed off about politics because I don’t recall if I could hate a president this much

Shabbat is about peace and wholeness. A time to slow down and think about life, family, and the other important things. Yet I can’t get away from the fact that as my nation mourns the loss of 32 bright people that my life goes on. I suppose we all want to be connected to this tragedy. And I also suppose it is only natural to vilify the shooter in anyway we can.

I was in an elevator on Monday afternoon with people bragging about how they “knew” what was going on and how people were feeling at VaTech. They said “oh we know how it feels, we are from Colorado.” Then after some oh-ing and ah-ing one said, “Yes but we don’t know anyone who died at Columbine.” They know because they watched a lot of TV and knew parents of children who attended Columbine, but thank God now attend college.

I also wanted to find a connection. But I don’t have one. None. My closest connection was my co-worker’s brother’s friend who was in the building when the shooting started. I don’t know my co-worker’s brother. But I know my co-worker and that is my closest connection. Others are touched deeply by this unbelievably shocking event but we all want to explain it.

It seems as if I have started what could be another tiff with my friend Yael at BtB. She did assume —even with asking a question— that the shooter was a Muslim. Who cares if he was a Muslim or a Christian or Jew or for that matter what it turns out he was, anti-religious? This clearly was an act of a mad man. Like all acts of terrorism, this act was done with a clear purpose according the terrorist, thinking he (or she) was doing what needed to be done. He painted himself the victim placing the blame on those he killed and maimed. There is nothing rational about this action; it is simply crazy and detached from reality.

I am offended by these acts of violence and I can’t explain it. No one can, it is unexplainable and inexcusable. And the worst part is that nothing will be taken away from this tragedy, for they continue to take the lives of innocent people. From Columbine to VaTech, nothing good will come of this. And that is what is so unbelievably sad on this Erev Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I have nothing to say about this

What happened this week at Virgina Tech was awful. There really isn't anything I can say.

But I found this post and it is well done. This isn't a time for politics or statistics but realizing that "What is remarkable is when anyone decides that they won't act in anger, won't slap, won't punch, won't stab, won't shoot, won't murder one or 32 other people." I suggest you read it. It is published by Jaye Ramsey Sutter.

David Kuo also has something to say about it. He says turn it off and take a minute to mourn. Thank you Mr. Kuo. You are right.

Back Off Rabbi Eliyahu

Perhaps you may have seen that a former Chief Rabbi of Israel said Reform Jews caused the Holocaust. Now I am not one for starting a fight for no good reason, but Rabbi you have given me a good reason. So here comes the fight I am starting.

You teach your men to study all day and make lots of babies but don’t have them work to provide for their huge families. Then you expect the government of Israel to provide them with food, water, shelter, and security all while they don’t pay taxes or serve in the military.

You repress women. I am fine with the idea that there are commandments for men and commandments for women. But degrading and belittling and subjugation are not alright with me. Not permitting a Get (divorce) for women who need them, also not cool. Having a group of men decide what modesty is for women, I am not down with that. Not letting women persue higher education to provide for the family is just dumb.

Ultra-Orthodoxy is backwards and wrong. Rabbi Eliyahu you can take this up with whom ever you like, but calling me and my observance the reason why a bunch of crazy men took over Germany and killed a majority of my family is also crazy. It is time for you and yours to figure out we do not live in the 1600s and that silly hats are for dress up.

In the News: Reform Movement tries to Smack Rabbi Eliyahu in Court

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yiddishe Country

Martina McBride, while on my guilty pleasure of TV show, said she was "farklempt." I am looking for YouTube coverage but odds are it isn't up yet. I will up date it.

Yiddish is a wonderful language and I love it when we can see Yiddish culture in mainstream culture. It is something that our grandparents would have never expected the fact that a country music star would be dropping the Yid-bomb on national television.

God Bless America!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Jews are Good At Stuff and Other Stuff

Dude Come On!

Republican presidential hopeful Thompson: Making money part of Jewish tradition

By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent

WASHINGTON - Former Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential hopeful Tommy Thompson told Jewish activists Monday that making money is "part of the Jewish tradition," and something that he applauded.

Speaking to an audience at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington D.C., Thompson said that, "I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money. You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that."

Thompson later apologized for the comments that had caused a stir in the audience, saying that he had meant it as a compliment, and had only wanted to highlight the "accomplishments" of the Jewish religion.

"I just want to clarify something because I didn't [by] any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things," he said.

"What I was referring to, ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that."

Thompson left public office in 2005, having served four terms as Wisconsin governor and later as President George W. Bush's Health and Human Services Secretary. He announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination at the start of April.

"We are pleased that Governor Thompson made time in his schedule- like many other policy makers- to address the 2007 Consultation of Conscience," said Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

The Consultation of Conscience is a three day conference bringing together the Reform Jewish Movement's top social justice advocates for meetings and briefings with top policy makers in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

JIB Awards and Bad Words

So I applied to be in JIB awards. And they said my title was offensive. I for one have never used “bad” or uncouth language on this blog and have deleted comments with such language.

Pissed is not “Adult Oriented Title” and if talking about circumcision and AIDS is “Some Mature Content” then I suppose I shouldn’t take the cake of the JIB Awards.

Come on people!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - April 13, 2007

As the Spring still seems far away and I am going on vacation anyway here are my Shabbat Ideas for April 13, 2007.

Bible Class in Texas
Working to Make AIPAC look worse
Righteous Arabs
Genocide Olympics

My grandfather on my mother’s side lived through the Holocaust and came to the US to make a life for himself. This Yom Hashoah I want to dedicate this post to him, his family, and his legacy.

Opa was a small man; standing no taller than 5’4”. His energy and ingenuity however was limitless. He was a business owner, father, husband, and contraption-maker. He also had stories; ones he told and ones about him.

The One He Told
After the Nazis burned his synagogue to the ground and forced him to clean up the mess (and after he saved the breast plate of the Torah to take to America that now adorns the Torah of my parent’s congregation) he was sent to a small work camp with his brother. He left behind his family to run the only dry goods store in the small town of Meppen.

Time passed and the Nazis came to take this store. They couldn’t ransack and leave, but needed to run the store and insure that the people of Meppen would continue to get great prices and high quality goods; just without the Jews. When the SS came to speak with my great grandfather, he told them he was no use to the store. He said “you took my sons and they run the business, one in the supplies and the other runs the books. Get them out of the camp and they can show you how to run the store.”

So with in a few days, my grandfather and his brother were on a bus back to Meppen. They handed over the store to the Nazis and were give a few dollar and few days to get out of Germany forever.

When my grandfather and his brother were driven back from the camp, the driver of the bus did not say anything for a few miles. After the camp was out of site, he then told to of them to look under their chairs where they found two sandwiches and a thermos of water. I believe he told this story to the Shoa Project.

The One About Him
In his later years, my grandfather lived in an assisted living facility and then in a nursing home. His first apartment in this facility had a beautiful screened in patio overlooking a beautiful wooded area and the parking lot. When he was expecting our family to visit, he would wait on this patio.

To his eternal shame (but really his pride) we would beep our horn over and over again when we entered the parking lot. He would shush us, but we would continue to wail on the horn.

One day we visited him and as tradition mandates we blasted the horn and he was “embarrassed.” We yelled up to him “we are going to the room.” We would often rent a guest room in this facility when we came to visit. He returned with “WHAT?” Clearly he had no problem being loud for the neighbors.

We replied “WE. ARE. GOING. TO. THE. ROOM.”

“What?”

“We are going to the R O O M.”

“WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH THE BROOM?”

Needless to say there was much laughing that followed. We enjoyed the visit and this story has become part of the lore of the POLJ family.

Stories about people are the most important way to remember those who did not make it. On this Yom Hashoa please tell a story about someone you know who has survived. Make this Remembrance Day one that you can smile about and remember the positive out comes of this horrible event in history.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus in the Media

Don Imus has been taken off the air by CBS Radio. This business move was precipitated by strong pressure from groups like RainbowPUSH and people like Rev Al Sharpton.

Many folks have been talking about Don Imus’ duche-baggery over the past few days and I think that it is long over due that he is off the air. As a society we no long accept such speech as the kind that was common place on his show.

That being said, what was said should not have been such news. Should Don Imus loss his show over such a comment? Yes. Should he lose his show for calling the execs at CBS “money grubbin’ Jews?” Yes. Should he lose his show for his constant sexism and clear intolerance? Yes. Should all of this be on the front page of the New York Times and lead the nightly news? Absolutely not.

Now that he is totally off the public airwaves, as was requested by Rev Sharpton today at a rally (read: press conference), hopefully we will be able to move past this ridiculous story to the real news of the day.

As of April 11th 414 Iraqi Security Forces and Civilians and 47 US troops died in Iraq in the month of April. Real Wages continue to fall making it harder for Americans to buy things like milk and bread. There are still three Israeli Solders in captivity.

So when we sit around and wonder why we can’t figure out how to feed the hungry on our streets or why 8.3 million children in the richest country in the world don’t have healthcare coverage we only need to flip on the news to see why. We are talking about Don Imus, Anna Nichole’s baby-daddy and the non-story of the Duke Lacrosse acquittal.

A few weeks back I spoke about the relative meaninglessness of blogging. I mentioned that if media doesn’t cover a story, then bloggers should cover the story. We are supposed to be rag-tag and mean. We don’t need to check our sources as vigorously as the Times or the Post or the Journal. But as we all feed into this frenzy —take Imus for example— we only are dissecting the weak news coverage as apposed to forcing the media to cover the more important stories.

The responsibility of the people is to question authority. It has become common place for the RainbowPUSH to jump when someone says something about black people and for the ADL to overreact when someone says something that could be anti-Semitic.

But where are the responsible people to question the authority of the questioners? And why can’t the media take some sort of responsibility and bring our heads out of the gutter? From New York Post to the New York Times, Imus, Babby-Daddy, and Duke made headlines.

These headlines make us stupid. These headlines degrade the democratic ideals of free press. These headlines are lishon hara.

Jews Supporting Jews

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Imus in the Off TV

So shockingly MSNBC has taken Imus off the air.

This is smart business on MSNBC's part. Imus is an tool and a relic of old times. ABC News reported on this topic tonight and some "expert" on media relations said that his connections to politicians (like Barak Obama who pitched his book on Imus in the Morning) have given him a shield against his stupid words.

Speaking of smart business, this is a shameless tag for hits in light of my horrifically low numbers for today. But it also says how pathetic we all are if we all care about what this nut case has to say and what the other nut cases are saying about it. The real story should be about the women of Rutgers. Or possibly how the Daily Show or Steven Colbert are lampooning all of us (read the “media”).

See what I did just then, I said I was part of the media…man it has been a slow day.

I Got the Gas

A report came out today that notes that NYC emits 1% of the United States Greenhouse Gas. Most of it comes from the sky scrapers.

Now I work in a high rise building and I know that whenever I come into the lobby I will either be nice and warm in the winter or cool right down in the summer. The lights are blazing and all the elevators work very well (three different bays with eight elevators each). There is also no access to stairs for personal use. The building also refuses to recycle(I carry paper home once a week to recycle). I would guess my building is not the only one.

Now while it is quite snazzy that Mayor Bloomburg is calling for a recycling program in the city, how about a cap on what our buildings emit?

We are putting out more CO2 than many small countries with much larger populations.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Post-Passover Kosher For Passover Fun

I kid you not:

Matzoh Crusted Pork Cutlets and Mock Corn Risotto
Recipe courtesy Cheryl Smith
Show: Gordon Elliott's Door Knock Dinners
Episode: Windsor Terrace--Brooklyn
2 matzoh crackers
2 eggs beaten
1 cup flour
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Oregano
8 pork cutlets
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for sauteing
2 cups water
2 cups minute rice
1/2 onion diced
1 can creamy corn
1 cup white wine
3 packets duck sauce

In a food processor crumble matzoh crackers until course. Put in a dish and set aside. Crack eggs and beat in a bowl. In another dish season the flour with salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Dredge pork cutlets in flour mixture, then egg wash and then matzoh crumble. Heat the oil in a skillet and pan fry.

In a saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add the rice and turn off the flame. Put the oil in a skillet and saute the onion until it appears to be translucent. Add the cream of corn, bring to a simmer and the rice. Season with salt and pepper.

After the removing the pork cutlets from the skillet, deglaze with white wine. Reduce by half. Add the 3 packets of duck sauce and season with salt and pepper. Use this mixture as a sauce for the risotto.


Hat Tip: POLJ's sister. Well done.

Playing the Room

From an email from my mother, a proud life-time member of Hadassah:
Hillary at a Hadassah meeting:

"Ladies of Hadassah,

Let me start by saying how nice it is to be among mishpoche. I'm reminded of a Sunday morning a few weeks back when I was sitting with my husband, the former President, and our beautiful and talented daughter, Chelsea. (An investment banker now, by the way, with a very good company. I know I don't have to tell you what a mechiah it is, having a child like this.)

Any way, I was sitting having my usual bagel with some good novy and a schmear, and I said to my husband, "Bill-eleh. How fortunate we all are to be living in this great country of ours. I mean, sure, we've still got that momzer in the White House. Not to mention Cheney, that chazzer. Or that farshimulte meeskite running the State Department. And don't even get me started on Gonzales, that little toochis lecker! A cholyera on all of them, I say!

"But this is my point. Where but in this beautiful country of ours would you find a boy named Grossman playing quarterback in the Super Bowl? (Okay, he lost the game, but gay g'zind.)

And where but in America would I be sitting down with Mrs. Feinstein and Mrs. Boxer not to drink a glassella tea and play mah jongg, but to decide the important domestic and foreign issues of the day?

And so, ladies, today as I reach out the hand of friendship to you, my shvesters, my landsmen, I come to ask that you join me in my quest. And to assure you that behind this goyishe punim is a yiddisher kop.

I hope to meet each of you personally at the lovely dairy brunch following this event. And I hope you'll forgive me if I pass on the whitefish; it's a little salty and I'm retaining.

God bless America! We should all live and be well."

Unions: Lets Just Be Friends


This will not be something my friends want to hear and most likely be something my opponents will look at to prove their points, but it needs to be said. Are Unions a universal good?

I believe the answer is not any more. For more than 100 years, labor advocates have been fighting for the rights of workers. This week the Forward published its 110th Anniversary edition with a wonderful editorial about the connections between the Jewish left and the American laborer. Articles and editorials memorialize and celebrate the paper as a bastion of liberal, progressive, and socialist thinking.

Yet times have changed just a bit. As progressives we should be able to look upon the work of our forefathers and mothers and be proud that we all have a weekend, access (not enough but some) to health care, medical leave, maternity (and paternity) leave, worker’s comp, and many other advantages that were absent 100 years ago. While all working conditions are not where they should be, many people —even corporate big-wigs— believe in these progressive values as their own.

The labor unions have a place in hotels, garment factories, administration, and service positions. This is the perfect example of the use of Unions today. The idea of a Union fits wherever the cooperation is taking advantage of its power over its employees. But do Unions always make it better for their members?

So when marginally progressive companies, such as Starbucks, come under attack for not giving their workers enough hours, payment, or something else, the Unionization process is tainted.

Starbucks gives their fulltime employees health care. They use high percentage post-consumer products. They say the work with local growers to insure sustainable coffee growing practices. They offer profit sharing in the form of stock options to baristas. They sell even more expensive bottled water and donate some of its profit to provide drinking water to those with out it. They are on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For (2007) and publish an annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

So why does a fight to Unionize make sense? What can a Union get the workers in this case? Why don’t the Unions fight for people who need the help? We see people cleaning hotel rooms for very little money and UNITE HERE seems to be the only Union fighting for this one. http://unitehere.org/ What about food service workers at Sodexho? What about people working in underground slave labor in our cities? Nope, the Unions can make much more money and score bigger headlines when they fight Starbucks than actually standing up for the little guy.

It seems that the Unions (not all but some) are turning into what they were fighting against 100 years ago. Power to the people, not the Union.

In the News: I will take a Lite Latte san-Organizing

Monday, April 9, 2007

Imus in the Crazy



And Now this:



Who thinks he hasn't lost his mind? Oh the rightwing wackos who still listen to him.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Good News from Israel


ALRIGHT! Finally some good news about Gilad Shalit! Israel is talking with HAMAS about a prisoner swap for the peaceful end of this horrible situation. I wonder what the right-wingers will think about talking to HAMAS...

In the News: I will give you my Babe Ruth Card for a Ted Williams Card

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Progressive Idealism for Sale

I was at a mall today and saw these shirts.





They were being sold for $10 on sale at American Eagle Outfitters. The shirts are made in Turkey. There really isn’t much more to say. Mass production of progressive causes anyone? This is the same thing as Keffiyeh at Urban Outfitters, but no one cares ‘cause it isn’t about Israel or Palestine.

Most Days

If you haven’t seen this in a while you should. It could help you smile during the day.



So I was watching this video while working out on Friday. This is just a nice sentiment. We don’t have enough of this type of love in our world. Yah yah, I know, but it still makes me smile.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - April 6, 2007

As we afflict ourselves, it snows again in New York, and I am totally Jet Lagged, here are my Shabbat Thoughts for April 6, 2007.

Passover and welcoming the stranger

Take me out to the Ball Game, you Heeb Jew boy!
Best Passover Post Yet
All I can say is wow!
RANDOM Story found by Daily Alert

Before I started the sixth grade I went to Germany on a trip sponsored by the local government where my grandfather was born. This was a defining moment in my Jewish life. I was more than a little confused about what was going on while we visited Meppen, what could literally be called a cow town in northeastern Germany.

My family spent time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in France and then Germany. Kol Nidre was a beautiful service lead in German, Russian and Hebrew by a paraplegic polyglot rabbi. (More on this event in two weeks for Yom Hashoha.) The service, like the rest of my trip was hard to follow for a 12-year-old.

But this trip made me appreciate America in a way I never thought I could. I didn’t really understand that at the time but looking back it is clear that being a Jew and living in the United States was a thing I couldn’t take for granted. My family lived in Germany since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the 15th century. They took for granted that they would be there for generations to come.

Now I am not one of those keep-a-bag-packed-cause-the-SS-are-coming types that will say we need to be afraid in our own homes. I just say we need to appreciate what we have and be wary of faint praise.

My mother went on this trip with a chip on her shoulder and let everyone know. And rightly so; her family used to run the town’s dry-goods store and then the same people who would smile and wave let the Nazis destroy generations of her history. I think it is fine that she told the Meppen town's folk there was little trust for those who were saying they were sorry for the mistakes of their family’s past.

More than a generation after my family was deported from the city, a group of very kind people are putting a few bricks down Meppen. They are placing commemorative bricks with the names of my great-grandparents in front of where the dry-goods store once stood. Nice but still, where is my family? They are dead. Because of their destruction I live, but that still doesn’t make me any more forgiving of the deeds of the past.


The Pax group who laid these bricks did so with the purest of intention and I am sure some of them know their grandparents and great grandparents donned SS uniforms to round up my grandparents and great grandparents. I have a chip on my shoulder as well but I do not hold this generation accountable for the sins of their ancestors.


Yet every day I hold them responsible for remembering the sins of their ancestors. If these bricks help them remember and force them to treat others in this town square with respect, then these bricks –as a symbol of what was destroyed rebuilt– will have been placed both with pure intention and fulfilled purpose.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Not Doing When Justified – So Prove It

Best-est Friend-

For generations Reform Judaism has asked its adherents to be active and social people of character. It has called upon its followers to do good and act justly. But it hasn't asked them to perform meaningless acts of ritual that have lost meaning over time. Because of this Reform Judaism has grown and been able to expand to fit the needs of modernity.

I disagree with your statement “the idea that sacrifice having nothing to do with the elevation of our spirit is a misunderstanding of the nature of sacrifice." That is why sacrifice isn't done now and we shouldn't be working for the coming of the next Temple. The idea of the "Temple," where all people will work together and live in peace, is wonderful.

But a return to a hierarchical structure where folks with the correct linage will lead the Jewish people would make a majority of the men in your Yeshiva pretty upset. For when Steven Cohen of Fairlawn, NJ (a non-kosher non-shomer-shabbos type) comes to the Temple, he will have more access than rosh yeshiva thus destroying all of his holier than thou platform.

The act of taking on responsibility from within creates a much more personal and mature connection with tradition. By simply praying for something you want, use for example the Temple or the Messiah, and not actively pursuing it in a way that is based in the reality in which we live, is as if you are acting as a child.

So to borrow from your parent example, say you want something that your parents don't want to give you, so you sit and hope that it comes your way. You could however do something that would be pleasing to your parents to gain favor. You clean your room. You wash the dishes. You do your homework. (All of these things are logical and necessary obligations given to you by your parents.)

This will bring about two things, your work will be done and you have a better chance to get what you want. But if you don't do the actual work to fulfill some of your responsibility, then you are stuck without anything at all. Same goes with religion.

I would love to see a time when the Messiah comes and we all live in peace and such. Odds are slim. So I will work hard, by taking responsibility to make the world better. Is this selfish as you say? Sure and I don't care if it is. I want to live in a better world and I want my children to live in a better world. Period.

Will the world be a better place if I welcome the stranger and visit the sick? Yes. Will the world be better if I keep the lights off on Saturday or not use a razor during the Omer? No, I will be in the dark and hairy.

You say "God, being infinite, doesn't gain from you sacrificing anything. But in the act of sacrificing an animal the intended pyschological [sic] implication is that you are a human and are falable [sic]. You've made a mistake, a sin of some sort, and want to repent in hopes of bettering yourself." This idea is inconsistent with most accounts of reasons for sacrifices and commandments. Why are we doing anything according to rules if God is infinite and un-needing? And why are we selfishly killing an animal for our own good if not for the benefit of God?

We pray for ourselves, for our people, for the world, and for God. Prayer took the place the sacrifice and the idea of scapegoating in favor of creating a version of self-reflection and acceptance of responsibility. This was both because the Temple was destroyed and that it was a logical next step in the evolution (or reform) of Judaism. There is evidence that prayer was taking place in synagogues even before the destruction of the Second Temple.

I say we need to make educated choices of how we engage in our comandedness and how we work towards creating a better world. The idea that placing the onus of our responsibility into the blood of an animal to wash away your sins is barbaric and juvenile. Moving on and growing up past our younger states is what the Judaism I know is all about. This is why on Yom Kippor we may pray for forgiveness but only are forgiven for the sins when we apologize to those whom we have sinned against.


Now if you argue that this isn't really Judaism, then I say you are only looking at what you were told at Yeshiva and not thinking about it.

Underground Palestinian Free Speech

Cross-Posted at MidEast Youth

Alright so there has been this big brew-ha-ha about this advertisement for the Washington Metro System by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. The ACLU got involved calling this a freedom of speech issue and CBS Outdoor (who runs ads in the metro) gave into the demand.

Now I for one don't care for such inflammatory or one-sided advertisements from any side; it only pisses people of as apposed to sending a message. But that is besides the point. This isn't a free speech issue.

According to CBS Outdoor, this ad (seen here) is both inflammatory and depicts a child close in danger. (DUH it is an ad about children in danger) And CBS Outdoor doesn't use ads that are deemed inflammatory. Clearly that is subjective but that is how advertisement works. TV Stations, Radio Stations and Web sites all select ads for issues which they are willing to provide a platform.

While I don't believe this ad violates CBS Outdoor regulations, I find this "freedom of speech" argument to be miss placed. It would be one thing if the DC Police said US Campaign couldn't rally or if they were arrested for producing the ad, but they were not.

They were shut out of an ad agency. They won because they threatened to sue and CBS didn't have the guts to stand up with their regulations. I for one am pissed as hell as an American with his Civil Liberties in jeopardy and I am always willing to fight for my right to say so in anyway shape or form. Let it be in the form of Bong hits 4 Jesus or something like the civil rights movement. But this case of "freedom of speech" is nothing of the sort.

Call it what it is, a fight against cooperate America, not a violation of the constitution.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Taking on Obligation Rationally – So Prove It

Like I said I was going to prove a few things to my best-est friend (and myself) this week about being a practicing and rational Jew. After his three weeks at Yeshiva, he had a few pointed questions for me and I didn't feel my answers were complete enough. So I set out to explain myself but it seems that Rabbi Bachman, as always, beat me to the punch.

But I am going further into a more theoretical question of my reasons for sticking to the bread that sticks to my insides for seven days.

Rabbi Richard Levy asks in A Vision of Holiness “Are [Mitzvot] commandments (given from without) or obligations (accepted from within)” (50)? He answers his question by utilizing another omnipotent relationship in his life, his marriage.

His wife told him that the idea of a commandment from God is like saying from one partner to another “This is something very important to me that you do.” He continue by implying that the free will to do otherwise makes the act of doing such a thing proof to the strength of the relationship. So regardless of the desire to do that act, doing so brings joy and pleasure to your partner.

Clearly Rabbi Levy doesn’t equate the relationship between partners to that of the relationship between God and the Jewish people. However this kind of language helps to explain the idea of partnership in creation between God and the Jews. Clearly creation continues as we continue to discover new things in the world, scientifically and otherwise, but we are able to see the benefits of remaining committed to doing something that is very important to someone or something we love and care about; so we do mitzvot – or at least the ones that we can do for that sake.

Reform Judaism, back in the day, called upon Jews to get rid of the mitzvot that were only connected to sacrifice and had nothing to do with the elevation of our spirit. Examples such as mixing fabrics or keeping kosher are often used to make this point. What does not having a cheese burger have to do with the coming of a messianic era? Welcoming the strange appears 36 times in the Torah while nixing two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun is in there about twice.

In favor of Moral Obligations, these ritual or ceremonial laws were placed aside in the Pittsburgh Platform of 1885. The idea isn’t that Reform Judaism gets rid of obligation or even commandments, but takes an active role in defining said commandments in a modern light.

Many Reform Jews may disagree with me on this point, but keeping kosher to me is simply to slow down and think about the fact that we are lucky/blessed to have something to eat when others do not. Keeping kosher has nothing to do with the idea that particular cuts of an animal are unclean because a biblical character (who may or may not have even existed) busted his hip while wresting an angle in a dreamy slumber.

So why do I keep the Seder? Why do I afflict myself with flat dry nasty excuses for bread? Why do I remember to count the Omer? And why do I continue to try to learn the story of the Orange on the Seder plate? I do this because being pleasing to the idea of my heritage is pleasing to me. It is said that it is pleasing to God. I don’t care nor do I need to know – for fact – that God exists for this to work for me; I think it is more than simple faith.

The ideals and principles of Judaism have been around for a while now and have helped many a person deal with these issues. And modern rational thinking has been around now for a while, also helping people deal with such commitment issues. My God demands certain things from me. If it is not to wear linen with cotton and wool and not to turn on a light on Shabbat, then I am not doing what is pleasing to God, but there are many things that I do that I think God would like very much. So like in any real adult and rational relationship, God and I are working through our differences and meeting on common ground.

That is why I continue to eat Matzah and read the same-old first-half of the Hagadah. There are lessons to be learned in all of this, the rituals and the morals of the stories every day. And that I what I believe and that is what I will teach my children. I will also teach my children they must learn to then make the choice; not simply learn and then accept.

Now Posting Elsewhere

I was invited to become a member of the Mideast Youth - Thinking Ahead blogging community. I thank the folks over there for the invitation and look forward to mixing the pot of e-ideas about the Middle East. I am posting under the name Peter O.L. Jacob...get it?


Anyway take a look: Mideast Youth - Thinking Ahead

(Today is the first day of the Omer. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who sanctifies us with mitzvot, and commands us concerning the counting of the Omer.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

So Prove It

I called my best-est friend from my schoolboy days to let him know I was coming home for Passover. I received a message telling me he was out of the country for a few weeks. I think “Cool he is out of the country. Good for him.”

Fast forward to Sunday of this week. I get a call saying he was at a Yeshiva in Israel. Now that is great except for the fact that my friend could possibly be the most militantly secular Israeli type of guy of all time. And the other issue is that it was the Aish ha’Torah Yeshiva.

So he came back being all “how is your Judaism valid” and such and I wanted to smack him upside the head. But I had to be honest with my best-est friend and he has some good points.

It is really easy to be absolutist and very difficult to be a liberal with ideals. But that didn't do it for him. So this week I will work on figuring out my response to my best-est friend and then I will smack him upside the head.

Monday, April 2, 2007

I Love Passover!

POLJ Family Seder Table!

I am one of the 77% of American Jews who love Passover and feel it is the best Jewish holiday. We always have to rent tables and chairs and remove furniture from some room to fit the nearly two-dozen people who grace our Seder table each year. For the most part we have a reliable cast of characters and hence we get to reuse our place cards for a majority of the folks, complete with tzimis and flanken stains.
Our Seder Table Set in the Living Room

And of course we use the old Hagadot that are filled with POLJF’s (POLJ’s Father’s) notes from Sunday school throughout. It makes it fun to wonder who will get the Hagadah that his sister wrote, “POLJF is an Idiot” across the ten plagues. It makes it Passover.

Each year POLJM has to say “I don’t think we have enough to eat.” Mind you if we have 25 people coming we will have food for about 75. And POLJF has to scream a bit before the cooking begins. Something to the effect of “it is Passover now! The soup is cookin! AH now that is some meat!” And EVERY year no matter how many people we have coming to our festive meal, he will say “I don’t think I have ever made as much as this year.” (Usually he is right)

Tzimis in the oven.

But this year for the first time in her life, POLJS (POLJ’s Sister) will not be coming home. This is a shunda. Needless to say she is an extremely busy and important person. She has her own reasons to be a pissed-off liberal Jew and she does it well. I, for one, will miss her around the table with her interpretive reading and de-genderfication of the old Hagadot. I also know she is not happy about this situation either.

So for her I dedicate this post, all of these pictures, and our maggid to her, my sister, the POLJS.