Thursday, May 31, 2007

Good (and Just) Eats

For sometime I have been a foodie and honestly a food snob. I love to eat and eat well. I am ready and willing to spend good money on a meal but have a really hard time buying new clothing. (The jeans I have been wearing since the seventh grade only needed a little strategic mending and now they are fine...even my lovely partner says I can wear them again.)But when it comes to food, I like the best.

I am an avid viewer of the Food Network and find the shows to be very fun and interesting. Not only are they covering a topic of interest, but the colors are pretty. There are studies that state that this kind of TV is actually good for kids. But all the same something kind of bugs me a bit about these shows.

While I don't know where all the food that is used in explaining everything ends up, my fear is that hundreds of pounds of half prepared gourmet meals hit the trash cans outside the Chelsea studios. Chelsea, while a posh and lovely hood in NYC is close to some not so posh and lower socio-economic neighborhoods in the city. My thought would be to have this food cooked (by the interns of course) and then served to those who needed a meal.

Taste food and great PR. I will write a letter to the Food Network and when I get the answer I will let my loyal readers --ok the six of you-- know what is really happening.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why One Of Our Rabbis Lack Empathy For Others

I have been pretty miffed about this article since I read it last week on the subway. (I read the Jewish Week on the subway...what of it?)

Rabbi David Schuck pontificates about the shallow efforts of the next generation of social activists. He leads this group of latte laden sophomoric seekers of justice on a trip to DC, a trip that is the basis of his article. His thesis is that kids -- and adults for that matter-- who take part in social action events don't care about the people they are serving because they have no connection to the suffering of those in poverty or the mentally ill. They can't possibly understand what it feels like to be poor or unstable so they clearly have no connection.

While there is some merit to the argument that many upper middle class children (of which many young Jewish people could be considered) have no idea what it is like to live in poverty or be homeless. However, the argument that there is no sincerity in their actions is rude and pompous. In his piece this last week, he wrote:
When we debriefed the kids on this program after their encounter with the homeless in McPherson Square, the tenor of their experience reflected a Hollywood movie script. "The man we spoke with used to play professional football in the NFL," proclaimed one boy. He was one-upped by a girl who declared: "We spoke with a man who had a degree in applied mathematics and then got addicted to crack cocaine." Sigh. How cool: they went to D.C. and met a football star and a crack addict. The narrative that was conspicuously missing was one of shame and embarrassment. At dinner after the debriefing, one of the kids on the trip sweetly approached me and said, "Rabbi, is everything OK? You look so sad." The irony was staggering.
What is the problem here Rabbi?

Now I don't know who's at fault for the short falls of a program you were running, but I do know that the children you are dealing with took the time to speak with homeless people as people and not as statistics. They took the time to listen to the life stories of people they didn't know; they cast aside stereotypes and expectations to listen to another human being. What was to be ashamed of or embarrassed about?

Ben Zoma teaches Who is wise? One who learns from every man, as is written: 'From all my teachers I have grown wise, for Your testimonials are my meditation.' (Psalms 119:99)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Other 90%

There is a new project called Design for the Other 90%. Like the 90% of the world who lives on less than $2 per day. This project was featured in the New York Times today and it is really interesting. The idea behind design is to make life pretty and easier. If we can do those things for people making $2 a day, why not? Making their lives easier could bring the end to poverty.

In the News: Project Runway: Poverty Ending Edition

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Open Letter to Bill Richardson

Governor Bill Richardson,

Sir you need to talk about the future and not your great past. No question about it, you have done some great stuff, for working in Darfur and North Korea and your labor policies in your homestate. But this week on Meet the Press, Tim Russert kicked you to the curb on almost everything you have ever said. I personally was very excited about your campaign but now I feel like you may have a very similar case of Tommy Thompson disease; it is time to remove your foot from your mouth.

You did have a few brilliant moments, yet they were few and very far between. You did say “something that isn’t very popular, I am going to ask people to sacrifice,” when discussing the need for new ways to fight climate change. But sir it was mired platitudes and banalities that I almost missed this declaration of energy independence (that would have been a better line by the way).

Stop talking in paragraphs.

Gun control issues need to be black and white Bill. You support gun rights but also want people to be careful and lawful. Your party doesn’t like guns, but the electorate does. Anyone watching the Sunday morning shows understands that. Just answer the question governor.

But worst of all you said you were always a Red Sox fan but in your book you said you are a Yankee fan! Tim Russert said it, you may be able to bring people together but never will you be able to get Red Sox fans and Yankee fans together. You my friend just lost my support!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - May 25, 2007

I had a wonderful few days away from the office and I am in a pretty good mood, so here are my Shabbat Thoughts for May 25, 2007.

More “proof” the Jewish community fails my needs
Leonard Fein telling the truth about Jerusalem
Scary Hummus at UCLA (Very Funny and a Good Read)

This week a 17 year-old kid won a signing competition with more people voting for her than elected President Bush. And I have no problem with that at all.

This season American Idol told people to care about Africa and poverty. While this multi-billion dollar enterprise raised only $70 million for their causes, it still raised $70 million dollars. That is a lot of money. It is a testament to the power of the market. Millions upon millions of people watch this show to then rush to their phones to text or wait on a busy signal to cheer on their favorite star.

This got me thinking about what I would do if I was on TV for two hours a week with a microphone in my hand…

Clearly I would rock the stage with my stellar vocals, but I would also infuse my “post-song” talk time with something important. Something more than the banal sycophantically diatribe to the jack-ass judges, I would say something substantive each time. Clearly I would have 12 weeks of messages because I would no doubt make it to the finals. Ok so an activist can dream right?

I understand that most people who watch mindless TV want to escape the horrors of the world; poverty, environmental deprivation and AIDS don’t make very good wholesome family TV.

I am a huge fan of Angelina Jolie(all kinds of good things, UN etc), Brad Pit (more good stuff),George Cloney(Darfur), Leonardo DiCaprio (Enviromental Issues before it was hot) and even Madonna (she does it for the children) for their work to garner attention to the worthy causes. I don’t see a problem with stars making their evil little camera people follow them to the ends of the earth.

More people read People and US Weekly than the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, so more people will read about Darfur if Clooney goes there than if Kristoff writes about it everyday.

The power of pop should not be ignored or scoffed. It is just a shame that it takes movie stars to tell the world they should care more about the issues these stars care about than who they are sleeping with.

Shabbat Shalom

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Torah Day

I snagged this icon from JTA's home page...not sure if it was a mistake but it leads to a story about Darfur Refuges in Israel... an interesting message if it was intentional.

Happy eating dairy to those who can and those who can't please do us all a favor and have some Lactaid.

Shavuot Semacha!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Boring Bloggers

What is so different about left and right wing Jewish bloggers? Domestic policy verse international security with each side talking about one, but not the other.

Why can only the left talk about the need to help the poor in the United States? Why can the only the right talk about international security? It must have something to do with expected norms or something…

But when you look at a blog like Jspot you see that it is an organizational blog dedicated to domestic poverty/labor/environmental issues only. When you look at Little Green Footballs you see it is a group blog that uses the extremist mentality of Islamic terrorists to characterize all Muslims (sorry had to take a swing). But what you don’t see much is Lefty Jews condemning (unequivocally) the radical Islamic groups on campuses in the US. You also don’t see Rightwingers talking about the crushing poverty found in our urban and rural communities.

I don’t understand that…Norms are a weak explanation to why we do what we do. I am a know-nothing blogger with low to no traffic. So if I talk about the war policy and public poverty policy, it makes no splash. Jewschool has just turned into a post for the Omer…I wonder what happens tomorrow. Jewlicious has become a place to bash anyone who doesn’t love Israel the right way…it just seems that the major Jblogs have become single issue rags.

The norms are clear. Rightwinger: strong on evil and willing to fight. Lefty: willing to help those less fortunate in the face of some financial determent. But these norms are stereotypes. Rightwingers have their ways they think they should help the poor and Lefties have their ways of blowing the snot out of the bad guys. I believe these norms are easier to play by than actually thinking outside of the box.

I am bored by the lame exchange of ideas. Give me something to write about.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

On the Mindless Menace of Violence

I heard this today when watching "Bobby." If only we can find a man (or woman) with such power of words and clearity of character.
City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
April 5, 1968

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - May 18, 2007

With Friday upon us and the JIB Awards finally over (I came in fifth so thanks!) here are my Shabbat Thoughts for May 18, 2007.

Skinny Genes
A Dead Bigot is Dead and a Bigot all the same
More fun with ignoring the Constitution

B'midbar starts this week. Into the desert wilderness we go! And how fitting that we venture off into the unknown this week?

With the continued scandals surrounding Attn.Gen. Alberto Gonzales, the resignation of Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank and no new minimum wage bill from congress we really don't know where our country is going. Additionally it seems that we have all lost a bit of direction on other issues that matter a lot for the world as well.

I have not heard so much about Darfur in recent weeks. Iran and Iraq (and rightly so) dominate much of the news. Inflation in the US could destroy any hope of a strengthening economy in the next few cycles at the Fed and last I checked the weather is all kinds of messed up.

We enter a wilderness everyday it seems. I don't know what will happen when I get on the subway. You don't know what will happen when you get on the cross town bus. We don't know when someone will die or a giant will take the international stage and leads us out of this unknown.

All we do know for sure is that we continue to learn from our traditions. We can use a map and learn from our history; our wilderness isn't so bad if you think about. There are a lot of terrible things going on in this wilderness, but hopefully we can make it work.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Most Important Issue

Hat Tip: Am Echad and a bunch of others.

Me First Judaism

What I still can't really grasp is why so many of these "indi" Jewish groups --minyan, "non-religious groups," etc-- are so selfish? I am sure that this will draw the ire of some folks, but really what is the driving force behind this kind of self-centered community? I personally don't want to be surrounded by people who are all my age. I need a community that is diverse and dynamic.

In my personal experience I have had a wonderful time at most of the synagogues I have visited here in NYC and elsewhere. However, I had to go in with a positive attitude. You can't go in expecting to be disappointed. I am sure if I went to a minyan, talked to the one or two people who said hello, I also would have said that that place was unwelcoming.

Once again we see a group of op-eds about how the Jewish establishment is finally "getting it" about these independent groups and why 20 somethings are still not interested in the traditional Jewish community structure. The established Jewish community is run by some professionals but a majority of volunteers.

If young Jews want these organizations to survive long enough for them to have their children get an education, go to summer camp, etc they will have to work to change them and not just go off and make new organizations that fit their intimidate need. It doesn't make much sense to reinvent the wheel; if the wheel is broken, fix it don't say it is a bad invention.

Judaism is a community, not just a religion. This community is lacking a particular aspect and it is the young people. This "problem" is as much the 20 somethings' fault as the traditional Jewish Structure's.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lumps of Clay

Lumpy right wing college students...

If you don't want to play nice, don't play at all

Christopher Hitchens is kind of crazy. He is very mad for no real reason. He seems to hate everyone who is at all religious. Now as a progressive, I must listen to him. As a religious person, I want to intellectually smack him upside his super sized ego.

But it seems that Leora Tanenbaum at Huffington Post beat me to the head-slap. This is a must must read. Read it here.

Visiting the Sick - With Paper Work

I am pretty sure the sages had a different idea when they wrote about the commandment to visit the sick. In this Slate article we learn that Alberto Gonzales and friends tried to force (then critically ill) Attn. Gen. Ashcroft to sign papers to re-authorize the terrorist surveillance program or paper trail free wire taps. Whatever you want to call it...

This is AWFUL! I mean I feel bad for Ashcroft, which is crazy. This is power hungry evil behavior here. This is in direct violation of Federal law. This is in direct violation of Jewish laws (Though I pretty sure no one involved really cares). Anyone who defends this conduct as a way to protect our nation from terrorism must have their head examined.

By circumventing the law, Gonzalas discredited an already shady enterprise. Can we fire this sycophantic amnesia-ridden lackey already?

Mixed Message

Now I am not one to get into the fun of the Israeli Palestinian blah blah protesters, but this is just too funny.

Doesn't this guy know that an Orange Hat is pro-Settler? And really who dressed this guy? He has that grungy cool thing with the long hair and very expensive designer glasses but a red Kaffiah on with the Orange Hat? Not only politically opposite but a huge fashion no-no.

Hat Tip: Israellycool via BTB (See I still read the righwingers)

Abort the War

Hat Tip: The Toad Report

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Progressive Religion

Yesterday DovBear had a guest blogger pontificate on the need for Orthodox religious observance. The thesis was simple; to be religious one must observe the exact same principles as those who have come before.

While I clearly do not believe such a thesis to hold any merit, I believe that such a mentality is pervasive in much of the secular and progressive communities. For example, my best-est friend from back home --with whom I have had a few back and forth arguments-- was not observant (at all) prior to taking a trip to an Aish Ha'Torah Yeshiva in Jerusalem. While we could easily go back and forth about our beliefs for hours, (and I do owe him a return email about the last conversation) the main point is that his perspective is you are either "True Torah Observant" or you aren't practicing Judaism.

While I can respect the logic in Ami Isseroff post and my best-est friend's argument, it is flawed and simplistic. All religions --by their very nature-- are conservative. The aim of religion is to create societies based on rules and values. Regardless of what these rules and values are, they strive to create boundaries that in turn create good societies.

Liberal Religions, such as Reform Judaism, does not differ in its approach to the creation of society. Reform Jews have long stressed the ethical commandments over the cult of sacrifice. It is hard to imagine a time when a majority of modern era Jews who would be excited to give up life in the real world, pick up move to Zion, start herding sheep, and then make a trip to Jerusalem four times a year for a blood sacrifice. Yet the treatment of people, the creation of fair courts, the establishment of educational services, welcoming the stranger, and other commandments of this vein makes sense.

The ideal society according to my Jewish values is where people are free and comfortable to achieve a secure life for their children. It clearly would include work and prayer and ritual; as Reform Jews in a perfect society our work, prayer, and ritual would all have deep and transformative meaning.

Progressive Religion scares people on all sides of the spectrum because it is difficult to think about. It is illogical. It seems to pit spirituality and politics head to head. This is wrong and a sophomoric analysis.

People who strive to engage in a truly Liberal Religion are constantly working on their religion. It is more difficult to be an observant Liberal than it is to take on the word of the rabbis of a particular school, yeshiva, or synagouge. Making educated choices about ritual is the basis of the Talmud. I do not --for a second-- think that I am as smart as the rabbis found in the Talmud. But I do know what is important me...

Liberal Religions do not get rid of boundaries and rules. They change them. If the orthodoxy that is reported to be the "True Torah Judaism" is so true why do so many of those who follow these traditions wear such non-Torah outfits? If Torah Judaism is about creating a tradition straight from the text, then why do so many "Torah True Jews" live outside of the biblically prescribed holy land? The truth is that no one person's observance of any one religion will or could be "True."

Progressive Religion embraces the fact that I sitting at a computer to respond to my friend, in similar ways that the scholars of old sat down to work on the religious questions of their day. Progressive Religions is religion with defined regulations and requierments, just different ones than orthodoxy. The logic of all or nothing is regressive and only leads to division and sinat chinam.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tommy Being Tommy

Tommy Thompson isn't known for being an eloquent speaker. He isn't known for his understanding of the political arena. He really isn't known for his grasp of the power of his words. His presidential run clearly is the first time he has had a microphone in front of his face. With his slip up in front of the Religious Action Center's Consultation on Conscience (Jewish tradition = being good with money) and now calling for gays to get canned at the digression on his or her employer, it seems that Tommy will be on the sidelines for the big game.

However, Tommy has an excuse for everything. He said he was fatigued and sick when he told a group of 400 Liberal Jewish activists the he had meetings with Bibi and spent time with the JDL. And he REALLY had to pee during the debate and his run in with Homophobia.

So before we see Tommy off the stage a friend and I thought up a few quotes that we could have seen on the front page of the Washington Post if Tommy Thompson was president.
"I need to apologize to all the gay Jews out there because if they get fired for being gay then they will not be able to practice their tradition of being good business people, and that isn't what America is all about."

"I am very proud of the traditions of gay Jews in America, not only are they fine business people but they can dance as well. Not that I am being stereotypical or anything...I respect the wealthy flamboyant gay Jews of America"

“With due respect to the Queen, her perfume made me ill. In retrospect, I should have maintained diplomatic relations with England but fired all their gays from the embassy.”

“I didn’t mean to launch a nuclear attack, I just really needed to go to the bathroom and it was the quickest way to end the meeting”

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The New New Jew Review

Hot from my yiddishe Deep Throat, Heeb Magazine’s website is back up and running. It also seems to have more fun things like the full articles. Heeb, the first really big alternative-counter-culture-hipster-rag – founded by the very not counter culture generous donations of a Joshua Venture Grant – is now back online as a blog.

It is new and thanks to Scooter to my Robert Novak I know it is up and I am writing about the new site in all its glory. There doesn’t seem to be too much that is different from its print additions and in reality, I don’t know what a blog format will do for Heeb. There are tons of counter culture Jewish blogs out there and they really have a good feel for the market.

It is also interesting to note that Heeb, while it tries to be a profitable enterprise it still can’t swing it with out their fake ads that were covered in the Times a few months back. (Sorry you got to pay for it at the Times….which leads me to my point.)

How is Heeb going to sustain itself online? It needed grants to get going, spoof ads to keep itself going, and now is running a money drainer of a blog…If the New York Times can’t give it to you for free online, how in the world will a group of Heebs be able to make it happen?

But in better news, Heeb is online and it is cool. Josh Neuman is a nice guy (EIC) and you should buy his rag.

Hat Tip: Valerie Plame

Friday, May 11, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - May 11, 2007

With Jspot with a cool campaign underway and hopefully restful weekend, here are my Shabbat Thoughts for May 11, 2007

Five Second Rule – Science vs The (Lunch Room) Bible
JFSJ in the Jewish Week with a wonderful picture of Mik Moore Tiffany Shlain, director of The Tribe
30 Years of Coming Home for Queer Jews

As a good Jewish boy I have to think long and hard about everything I do, for there is a deep sense of guilt that comes with every action. It is kind of like Newton’s law, for every action there is a direct and opposite wave of guilt.

Now many Jewish-boy-ologist like to offer the cause of this ebbing feeling of fault is the Jewish Mother…now that is just silly.

This weekend is Mother’s day and so in honor of this, many Jewish papers have run pieces about the “new Jewish mother” and how they are just now figuring out how to deal with work and responsibilities to their Jewish families. Pish Posh.

My mother, who is in her (very, very, very early) 50s (but looks like she is in her early 40s) has been working since before I was born. For more than two decades this woman has had major responsibilities at work and fulfilled all her motherly and Jewish motherly obligations as well. Now I am sure she has instilled a good amount of Jewish guilt into my life over the years, but come on, she is doing her job!

Every week we see tons column inches and hundreds blog posts dedicated to explain what Jewish identity is all about; we say it is Israel or the Holocaust or, to go all Sartre, anti-Semitism. These things inform our Jewish identity. This mysterious entity is created by Jewish parents and Jewish families, not experiences or countries. Jewish mothers create Jewish identity.

So blame your mother for your Jewish guilt, but also thank her for making you love Passover and helping you pack for camp and driving you home if you had too much fun at a Purim party (no matter what time in the morning) and for supporting you always (no matter how stupid you are and how ridiculous you look in the school play). It is mother’s day, so feel guilty, call your mother, and thank her for making you into a good Jewish boy and/or girl.

Happy Mothers Day Mom!

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Crazy Candidates

A few weeks back I wrote about Mike (Gavel) Gravel because I had not heard about him until the days leading up to the debate. I for one was not very impressed with his showing and felt a majority of his ideas were fluffy. Yet his place on the stage is not questioned by this Jewish wannabe pundit.

I received a comment on that post saying that I wouldn't engage Gravel's ideas on the topics, because I just wanted to dismiss him as crazy. I respect Gravel and his positions on most things, but he is crazy to think he has shot at anything more than a few interviews and a couple more major debate events. He hasn't raised any money and he isn't even polling in the single digits.

But that gets me to the real second tier candidates. I came across this article from FAIR that was posted on a friend's blog. It discusses the fact that even though most pundits feel Gravel is "crazy" many Americans are inline with his way of thinking about war and peace. Not too out of the ordinary to think that most American's don't want to Nuke Iran.

But it is also not out of the realm of possibilities that the Democrats (and Republicans) don't want a Hillary - Rudy campaign. They might want to see Richardson or (God forbid) Thompson or anyone else run and win the major party nominations. I suppose it is the idealist in me that says it is important for Dennis to run every four years on a platform of dismantling the Pentagon, but in reality I know he is not what the United States needs.

But that isn't to say that Bill Richardson or Chris Dodd are impossible to see as President...It really isn't that crazy to think about.

The Finals!

This Pissed Off Liberal Jew made it to the finals of the JIB Awards. I would love to place in the Best Post Series awards so consider voting for me in this contest. I was nominated for the Poverty in NYC series I wrote a few months ago. I consider it really some of my best work for this blog. This series was important to me as a New Yorker, as a progressive, and as a religious person.

It is really easy to vote by following the below instructions:
Log on this website.
Then Click on "Vote:Best Series of Jewish Posts"
Then prove you are human with a painless test
Then scroll down until you see a place to vote for "I am a Liberal Jew and I am Pissed"

ROCK THE VOTE and such

Labour Dispute

Tonny Blair is done. After 10 years of leading what he called "the greatest nation on earth" he is steping down on June 27th. The question is what will happen to the historic Labour Party after years of Blair moving to right and more what will happen. Does this have anything to do with the Prince going to Iraq?

In the News: Cheery-o All!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

We No Longer Run the Banks

Cross Post:

The World Bank has told Israel their work on Palestinians’ right to work and move in the Territories is bad for the Palestinian Economy. Really? No kidding? Huh… So making it really hard for people to get from home to work, stores and medical supplies will hurt an econonmy. You don't say! No wonder the World Bank is in such trouble.

So the World Bank, clearly run by Jews cause it is a bank, is criticizing Israel. So when will we hear that the World Bank is anti-Semitic? But wait, are the Palestinians not at all to blame for these economic failures?

Groups like Hamas, both their political and terrorist wings, are not helping the situation at all. We see people being taught by a Mickey Mouse likeness to kill the Jews and destroy Israel. The PA has not stopped using terror as a tactic to beat a much stronger and clearly superior military force. This lack of mobility, and requisite economic depression, is a two way street.

Israel is a much to blame as the leadership of the Palestinian people.

In the News: Israel Causes Palestinian Economy To Fail

Told You Yiddish Wasn't Dead!

The Forward...I mean NBC News is talking about Yiddish on the Sopranos?

Just check out this week's The Shmooze at the Forward. Here it talks about Brian Williams, of NBC Nightly News and large head behind John Stewart on the Daily Show, and his run in with Yiddish on blog interview that was published at Slate.

See, Yiddish is alive a well.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I got Issues

Jspot has started a campaign that I believe was born out of a post a few weeks ago where bloggers were to ask what they would want to say to a presidential candidate. This is wonderful! I hope it garners the attention it deserves. But the most important thing I think that can come of third party (not the political kind) interest group type campaigns like this is pushing attention to all the issues.

I for one check off: Katrina/Rita, Education, Wages, Environment, and one can all guess.

In encourage you all to head over to and vote so we can see what the Domestic Agenda should look like.

I for one am proud to have that neat-o Java Script thing on my can get it too. Just follow the links.

Hungry for Security

After the horrors that took place in Blacksburg - in what was supposed to be a safe and secure environment - campus security has become a hot topic.

I read my college's newspaper that the College Publisher Network created an update page about campus security and my former universities' students walked right up to the chancellor and asked for more and better security on campus.

This is happening all over the country. However nowhere that I have heard of is having as big of a problem addressing this need for security than Harvard.

The Progressive Jewish Alliance has joined the strike against the school in order to help the security workers get a fair and comperable wage to protect the students. In a press release PJA noted:
Security officers, newly unionized with the Service Employees International Union Local 615, are currently negotiating their first contract with AlliedBarton. Security officers at Harvard presently make a starting wage of $12.63 an hour. Union demands would raise this wage to at least $15 an hour, on real parity with other Harvard workers. Comparable universities in the Boston area such as MIT pay security officers on average $18 to $20 an hour, despite a significantly smaller endowment.

This is what Unions are for; to help people who are working in dangerous positions gain the compensation they deserve. These security guards are protecting the students who clearly will be running the world in a few years, you would think that Harvard and the other involved in this negotiation would see that the increase in wages - in a city that isn't so cheap - is the right thing to do.

There is also a hunger strike going on for the workers. I think that is silly. Starving yourself doesn't do anything. I am glad to hear however, that the PJA this past Shabbat took part in singing and dancing for an Oneg Shabbat near the hunger strikers - to lift them into the Shabbat spirit. (This was after they had a wonderful Shabbat dinner.)

You can read more about this effort here: Stand For Security

Monday, May 7, 2007

Don't Buy Gas

I have now received about 10 invitations “Not to pump gas on May 15th” on the facebook. The event creator reports:
Dont pump gas on may 15!!
April 1997, there was a "gas out" conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.

On May 15th 2007, all facebook members are to not go to a gas station in protest of high gas prices. Gas is now over $3.00 a gallon in most places.

The average car takes about 20 to 30 dollars to fill up.

If all facebook members did not go to the pump on the 15th, it would possibly take $2,200,000,000.00 (that's BILLION) out of the oil companys pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on May 15th and lets try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for at least one day.

All of this is true. There are more than 64,000 people already signed up for this event, which is a significant number of folks. Yet who does this really hurt?

The oil companies will continue to ship their oil. The gas manufacturers will continue to create more gas for the cars that most of the 64,000 facebookers will drive on the 15th. The people that will be stuck with the preverbal bill are local gas station owners.

That said we should have the week of May 15th be a no gas holiday. If we could get 64,000 to stop driving for a week, stop using their SUV to sit in traffic, stop buying petroleum products for seven whole days, that would make a statement. But starting somewhere is a good idea and I for one will not pump any gas on May 15.

Though I don’t ever buy gas. Baruch ata adoni, elohanu melach ha’olam creator of public transportation.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - May 4, 2007

It is really nice outside and I am very much looking forward to a lovely Shabbat dinner with friends and family, here are my Shabbat Thoughts for May 4, 2007.

"We wanted a synagogue, and we wanted a Reform one," said the 82-year-old. "There were no other Jewish organizations in the area at that time."
Lefty Jews?!?! NO WAY
I like yoga at the gym not at the synagogue

Is Yiddish is cold, but not dead.

Michael Chabon, author of many books having to do with Jewish themes and what is now being called anti-Semitism – because of his new book The Yiddish Policemen’s Union - spoke this week at the 92 Street Y on the Upper East Side. He discussed at great length the process that brought him to write this book. It had a lot to do with the cultural need for Yiddish to survive. I have ordered the book and am looking forward to reading it.

He spoke about what Yiddish cultural is today. He said the spoken word of Yiddish is not heard as much any more. I argue that the spoken word of Yiddish culture is having a re-birth. Now this might be because I am living in the middle of the most Jewish non-Jewish city in the world, but I believe with everything I am that we are seen the re-construction of a Yiddish culture.

We may not speak Yiddish anymore, but we live Yiddishe lives, debate Yiddishe topics, politic in Yiddishe ways. Just this week Chabon and his wife, Israeli born American author Ayelet Waldman, called upon friends and family to donate money to Barak Obaman’s presidential run. In this letter they ask for money by writing a paragraph of questions that you can just hear an old country yenta saying:
“Have you ever voted for a candidate you really believed in? We haven’t. Don’t you want to? Once in your life? Can you even imagine the joy of being able to do that?”

Read that quote out loud and as quickly as you can. Tell me you don’t hear a voice from the past in your own mouth? You see what I did just then? I made you do it Yiddish. But why is this happening?

I believe that many American Jews, all of these disaffected anti-establishment types, want to move away from what their parents wanted, which was to move away from what their parents had. While this is a very simplistic argument, it has some merit.

But I also think this has to do with people be sick of the macho better than you Zionism or anti-Semitism attitude of many Jewish organizations. Yeah yeah, there is no one way to be a Zionist blah blah, but really we all know that the major orgs has just a few ways they let into the “no one way” model.

Anyway…Yiddish culture is and has always been an alternative and intellectual culture of resistance. Chabon told his group of Jews this week that every good Jewish boy feels a little guilt when he does something bad, but also a little devil inside of him drives him to do this more and push the envelop of acceptable culture. How would such a thing come about? In a culture that promotes ideas and debate…like Yiddish.

Yiddish is coming back because there is too much in Jewish culture to be bound up in the trifurcation of perceived Jewish identity: Israel, the Holocaust, and anti-Semitism. Yiddish is filling in a gap where people are asking for more. Is the language going to die within a generation or two? It is most likely, but the culture will live on.

Shabbos Sholom

Thursday, May 3, 2007

I Hope These Polls are Lies

From JTA Homepage…bad news from unscientific results.

Poll: If the U.S. presidential elections were held today, who would you vote for?




50.0%Republican candidate

9.1%Other Democrat

That isn't good...lets hope that changes after tonight's debate.

Final Plug

So that last round of pre-lim voting will be done on Sunday at the JIB Awards. Please consider supporting me in the Best Series Post contest. There is no Muzzle Watch this time so I feel I might make it to the finals without a major push. Thanks again.

You can vote HERE for my series on poverty in nyc. Load the link then choose"Best (Post) Series" Group C make sure you are human and vote for me, the Pissed Off Liberal Jew.

The Evil and Good Tongue

Midrash, Vayikra Rabbah 33:1

A rabbi sent his servant to the market with the general instruction, “Buy the best thing there that one can eat.” The servant returned with a tongue. Later, the rabbi asked him to go back to the market to buy the worst thing that one could eat. The servant again came back with a tongue.

“What is with you?” asked the rabbi. “Here I’ve asked you to buy both the best and the worst, and you come back with a couple of tongues.”

“That’s true,” responded the servant. “After all, cannot a tongue be one of the best things in the world and an evil tongue be one of the worst?”

The power of words is the entire point of journalism or blogging. Information is the most powerful tool we have to create or destroy almost anything. We must first be convinced by information to go to war or to create peace. We spend hours tweaking and organizing our ideas and forming the perfect sentence to convey our passion, dismay, or infuriation. But this power is not without a price.

Throughout history the student has brought the teacher both pieces of the tongue. We have seen what the ideas of Locke can produce but also the works of Machiavelli. Today we do not have such thinkers. However millions of people around the world pretend to have opinions as poignant and important as the great thinkers of old.

There is a man, like many, who has been incarcerated for his words. "Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, better known by his Internet pseudonym Kareem Amer, is a 22-year-old native of Alexandria, Egypt. He grew up in a very religious family and attended the Al-Azhar religious school system his entire life. He began to rebel against the religious extremism he perceived in his school and began to express his opinions on a blog. When the Al-Azhar administration discovered his blog in late 2005, he was expelled from the school and his case was referred to state prosecutors. On February 22, 2007, Kareem was sentenced to four years in prison: three years for ‘contempt of religion’, and one year for ‘defaming the President of Egypt’." (source)

Now the people responsible for this outrage against simple human rights, such as life, liberty, and property, have resorted to absolute power and control – even in a corrupted state.

Speaking up for such people has never been easy and the ideas that are put forward by those who fight can be interpreted as either a good tongue or the evil. However when the intentions are pure the tongue is good, but the accusations of evil hurt even more.

As of late there has been some negativity towards the Free Kareem campaign in the blogging world. I am not privy to it, but I take my friend’s word for it. The Mid East Youth blog, of which I am a member, has worked hard to bring awareness to the incarceration of Kareem. I had actually heard about it through the main stream media a while back. Yet the fact that this purely good campaign is being defamed is the perfect example of the power we have with words.

Kareem expressed an opinion. Now thousands have come together to support his right to do just that. However, those who want to simply forward themselves are choosing the path of least resistance towards power and hence the evil tongue.

Keep in mind the power we have as doctors of words. We are only as credible as our connections to the world. We are only fighting with words here so once more people learn of this campaign – regardless of their connections to the West or the East –those who are in the camp of rights will be seen as the victors of those hungry for power.

"After all, cannot a tongue be one of the best things in the world and an evil tongue be one of the worst?"

Free Kareem

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Governing Food Prices

Hunger is a major issue in the world's richest and most powerful country. It is actually shameful. But one Governor, Theodore R. Kulongoski of Oregon, has taken this issue on to raise awareness about the issues of hunger; and he isn't even running for re-election.

I suggest you just read this article and see what one person in power can do to help out people without any at all. I don't care how he did it or for what reason, simply because now millions of people are reading about hunger in the New York Times and other media outlets around the world.

A Governor Truly Tightens His Belt

SALEM, Ore., April 27 — He swore off beer, had to put the pricey organic bananas back on the supermarket shelf and squeezed four meals out of a single chicken, all in the name of reducing hunger. And this is not even an election year.

Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski’s decision to live on $3 a day in grocery money for a week, as he had been urged to do in an Oregon “food stamp challenge,” could confound the surest cynic. At 66, he was just elected to his second term, with a budget surplus surpassing $1 billion and a legislature controlled by his fellow Democrats. So just what was there to gain politically? Continue Reading

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Cool Web Event

I suppose everything the AJC does isn't that bad. This seems pretty interesting.

Tuesday, May 1 at 6:30 PM
Preparing for a New World
Klaus Schwab, Chair, World Economic Forum
Ana Palacio, Counsel and Senior Vice President, The World Bank; Foreign Minister of Spain, 2002-2004
Obiageli Ezekwesili, Vice President for Africa, The World Bank, Education Minister of Nigeria, 2005-2007

I hope to have a report after the presentation.