Friday, September 28, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - September 28, 2007

It is Sukkot and here are my shakkin’ Shabbat Thoughts for September 28, 2007:
High Holidays in Baghdad
Where are the atheist leaders who are taking vows of poverty and giving themselves in sacrificial service to others?

As I was riding to the office today I read an interesting piece in the Metro. It was on the Bloomberg News sexism case. It raises the age old question of why shouldn’t companies be able to promote and support people who put the company first and personal life second? They should be able to do that and in most cases they do without breaking the law. Yet in this case I believe a much more interesting question would be asked, why aren’t men doing more work at home?

I grew up in a family where my mom brought home the brisket. My dad stayed at home and "worked" in the same way women "work" from home; he ran the house, cooked the meals, did the laundry and came on field trips with school. He also owned his own business, but his role for the most part was the same as the "unpaid domestic labor" or whatever the term is now. The concept that women should be permitted in the work place is undisputed. The fact that men should be equally responsible for family life is not as clear. In a New York Times article today, we see that men and women have switched places on the “happy scale.” This has a lot to do with the fact that women are working more than men.

Now that it costs so much to live that it requires two fulltime jobs, the traditional heterosexual couple/family will have both partners working outside of the house. In 1989, Arlie Hochschild wrote a book that coined the term "the second shift," where the first is in the office, and the second is at home.

But where are the men? We still get paid more, even in what could be considered a female dominated industry. JTA reports that male day school principles are making more money than female principles, but both are pretty happy with the work.

The happy scale that is described in the Times piece makes a few astounding statements. Men like spending time with parents more than women. They say this is the case because it is more work for women. Here is a passage that I had to re-read to believe it was in the New York Times:
Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist working with four psychologists on the time-use research team, figures that there is a simple explanation for the difference. For a woman, time with her parents often resembles work, whether it’s helping them pay bills or plan a family gathering. "For men, it tends to be sitting on the sofa and watching football with their dad," said Mr. Krueger, who, when not crunching data, enjoys watching the New York Giants with his father.

As big football fan, I love watching the game with my dad. No question. But I am pretty sure that when it gets down to it, I will do just as much to help my family as my sister. We will both pick up the slack if need be down the road. It is what we are supposed to do! It isn’t like football is all I do with my dad and my sister is slaving over family reunion plans and making sure the phone bill is up to date.

Now I know that I can’t use my personal understanding to excuse a Princeton Economist’s findings, even though his augments use his personal understanding to further his point, but what are we talking about here? Is the world essentially stuck in the 1950s once we are behind closed doors?

Men and women should be protected by the law when it comes to advancement in the work place because they are capable of doing the same kinds of work in office environments. Because this is a fact, men should also be expected to bear the weight of equal responsibilities at home.

As we pause to rest this Shabbat, consider what the value of this rest is for you, how it makes you happy, and remind yourself that work is how we give our families a good life. This good life has many equally important components. Once the third star comes out tomorrow night, get back to work. And dads that means you.

Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

JTA Enters the Fashion World

Hot of presses at JTA
Crocs rule as Yom Kippur shoe
Reports from several synagogues across America suggest that Crocs -- the bulbous-toed, open-back, rubber summer shoe -- were the hot footwear on Yom Kippur.

Now I don't know much in the way of fashion, but I am pretty sure that the JTA should stick to hard news and leave the trend reporting to Vogue and the Style Section.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It Isn’t Just a Jewish Issue

The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York and will be speaking tonight at Columbia University. While there are many here in the City who believe (and have a good point) this is tantamount to condoning his actions and speech, I must agree with Columbia University President, Lee Bollinger.

PrezBo (as my Columbia student sister calls him) said this today on Good Morning America:
"It's extremely important to know who the leaders are of countries who are your adversaries, to watch them, to see how they think, to see how they reason or don't reason. To see whether they're fanatical or whether they are sly. These are issues that are right at the core of the world today."

And I agree with him. I agree but we must not simply say it is good to listen to this man speak. Yes there are many things we can learn from this event but what we really get is a platform for a very bad man to speak. The Columbia Coalition, which I suppose is made up of a broad coalition of student groups, put up a flier with a list of groups including, Jews, Women, Gay, Minorities, Zoroastrians, and a few others stating it is not just a fill-in-one-of-these-groups Issue. This was the most powerful poster I saw. As a Jew it spoke to me.

Ahmadinejad should speak and he should be heard, but he also should be kicked out of the UN. He should be held accountable for what he does and says; if he breaks the rules kick him to the curb (preferably behind the UN, First Ave is already big mess). Giving him a platform is only one aspect of free speech. I would argue that giving him a platform without the repercussions only furthers his cause of fascism. The United States is a place of free speech, but to borrow from the right wing bumper sticker slogan, “Freedom is not free.”

If his statements call for the destruction of Israel, as a leader of an enemy state, he should expect to have fight on his hands. If his statements deny the Holocaust he better expect Jews to call him Hitler 2.0. If he calls gays, lesbians and women inferior to heterosexual men, he better expect GLBT and Women’s rights groups to be all over him. His speech is not under the scrutiny of his secret policy in the country, but he better believe that his actions and words will be heard and there will be a forceful reply.

Ahmadinejad is not the only one who will be heard this day; students, teachers, religious leaders, liberals and conservatives will speak against this man. Freedom of speech goes both ways. I welcome his speech but I really hope he gets stuck in the traffic his motorcade is creating!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - September 21, 2007

It is Kol Nidre and here are my Shabbat Thoughts for the Shabbat of Shabbats.
The Upper West Side is Pricing Out its Jewish Flair…better move to Brooklyn FAST!
Blind Leading the Rest of Us (if you read one read this one)
Columbia is letting a bad guy speak…I don’t get the big deal, we all know he is bad.
Jena 6 - Injustice in the South? Never!

Over the past ten days I have been thinking. I have been trying to figure out who I needed to speak with to apologize for my actions and hurt feelings I caused this year. I have a list and I will take care of it before tonight, so if you are expecting one let me know.

We have been given these ten days to step back in order to reflect on the year that was and what we need to do better next time around. I realized that I really didn’t do anything for other people this year in ways that I have in the past. I am not on any community boards, I didn’t volunteer for very much in the Jewish world, and I only made a few small donations to worthy organizations.

I was reminded of this when at my Rosh Hashana services, our rabbi invited up for an Alyiah all people who volunteered this year. I really didn’t feel like I deserved this honor. Sure I worked for good causes and taught religious school for part of the year, but I got paid to do it. (You got to supplement you income in this City.) But this isn’t volunteerism.

I am young professional who is dedicated to the ideals of prophetic Judaism. As a committed Reform Jew I know that it is my duty to make the world better. If that is through donations or volunteer work or even professional pursuits then that is my obligation according to my traditions. But I can’t give away 10% of my income, not even close. But I can give more time.

In order for me to improve in this coming year, there needs to be more action and less talking. The clip in the previous post from the Colbert Report speaks to me in a way that I was unable to understand until this week.

Our generation has become a group of typing activists. Yes it is important to send emails to Congress and to join the “Don’t Tase Me, Bro!” Facebook group. But it doesn’t do anything; it doesn’t show solidarity. This week thousands rallied in Jena, LA and thousands will rally in NYC next week against Iran. But my guess is a much larger group believed that by joining the virtual protest and blogging about it they have been part of the solution.

The Internet is a place for learning not action. We need to stand up and walk. Abraham Joshua Heschel said that social action is a religious cause and that we can pray with our feet by marching against injustice. The Internet is a great tool for connecting to information and entertainment but it isn’t an answer and shouldn’t be treated as such.

As the gates of heaven begin to close during this Yamim Noraim we must remember we are judged by our actions not our intentions. Words are powerful, but only our actions can change the world.

G’mar Chatima Tovah and Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Solitarity 2.0

This is so perfect. I mean this kid, whose first cousin I worked with because clearly I need to feel connected, asked to become the source of contention. The tasser was wrong. If I was there I don't know what I would do, but I for one didn't join the "Facebook" protest but if I was there I would have blogged about it...Power to the People (with an Internet connection).

Jews who Hate Reform Jews

Bradley Burston, author of "A Special Place in Hell" published by Ha'aretz has a very interesting piece about the hatred of Reform Jews in Israel. I suggest reading it. Here are some of my favorite parts:
The Scene: A spinning class at a smartly appointed gym at a kibbutz in the Judean Hills, a few days before Yom Kippur. The instructor has yet to arrive. "We have a minyan, we can begin anyway," says one member of the class.

"Wait," says another, astride his exercise bike. "Women aren't counted in a minyan."

"Reform Jews do count women in the minyan," says a woman in the class.

The man on the bike is unmoved. His answer is matter of fact: "The Reformim aren't Jews."
They are taking a spinning class...they aren't even doing something Jewish and this comes up.

Fundamentally, the ridicule of Reform ignores the fact that all over Israel, Jews raised in Orthodox homes have become active members of Reform and Conservative congregations because they believe both in religious Judaism and in equality for women within Jewish observance.

I suspect that much of the scorn directed toward Reform Judaism reflects a certain frustration over the inability of many Israelis to feel a part of any congregation, Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform.

It is Yom Kippur. It is time to lay anger aside. It is time, as the prayers of both Orthodoxy and Reform specify, to shelve slander, scorn, ridicule, and baseless hatred.

It is Yom Kippur. It is time to let Jews be Jews. It is time to recognize that Judaism itself is changing - even Orthodox Judaism. It is time to let individuals be alone with their God, and, at least this one day of the year, to accord that relationship the respect it deserves.
And let it be God's will.

I wish you all an easy and meaningful fast. G'mar Hatimah Tovah.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Only in a Texas Synagogue

3 hurt in accidental shooting at Temple Emanu-El

By HOLLY YAN / The Dallas Morning News - Thursday, September 13, 2007

Three people were injured when a gun accidentally discharged during Rosh Hashanah services at Temple Emanu-El on Wednesday evening.

When Marvin Marks, 81, stood up at the synagogue, a gun that he was carrying dropped and fired, police said. The bullet struck his 42-year-old daughter in the foot; she was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Two others suffered minor scrapes from the bullet. Police said Mr. Marks was licensed to carry the gun, and the shooting is listed as accidental.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

L'shana Tovah!

To a happy and healthy New Year to you and your family. (It looks like me, but isn't. However I will be blowing tonight.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rehabilitation of Religion

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (an agency of the Justice Department) is limiting the number of and what books in US Prisons. The New York Times Reports that "chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries."

Why you ask? It is because the BOP doesn't want American prisons to become breading grounds for radical religious extremists (read Muslims). Now I am not an expert but I can safely say that prisons are violent places and most religious texts (at some point) advocate for peace and learning. To pose a question to the BOP, if you take out the actual books and replace them with very upset violent criminals who will continue to seek religion and preach it to others, won't you just get radical religious extremists with nothing read?

But outside of this particular question, we must ask ourselves what is the point of prison? I feel and have since I got involved in the political world, that jail should be used for three things: rehabilitation, punishment and isolation. This is a very difficult triangle of issues but without the rehabilitation, prisons become a revolving door. Religion is a powerful tool to change a life. President Bush is a prime example of this and says so all the time. So why take out the learning?

Judaism teaches us that we are never done learning. I can only assume that other religions have similar kinds of teachings about Bible study etc. Why would society take away books from people who want to learn about ways to change their life if society has deemed their lives unacceptable? There shouldn't be violent teachings in these books, but over all religious books should be made available to people in jail.

Religion isn't something to be feared. It should be embraced and understood in the appropriate location; a prison chapel library is a prime example of an appropriate place to learn about faith. Just like any other ideology, making it illegal only makes it more radical. As people of faith we must do our work to insure that those seeking out holiness in the darkest places in society can find the light they need.

Call your member of congress to let them know that people of faith come in all different shapes, sizes and ideologies. Some are wealthy, some poor. Some in power and some in prison. We all are Americans and we all are responsible for the maintenance of the Constitution. We are strong for our liberties, especially those liberties in a places without freedom.

Please call the Bureau of Prisons at (202) 307-3198 or e-mail Or send an old fashion note, feel free to quote your favorite book of faith: Federal Bureau of Prisons, 320 First St., NW, Washington, DC 20534

Friday, September 7, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - September 7, 2007

It is Friday and the end of a long week even though it was short so here my Shabbat Thoughts for September 7, 2007:

Isn’t it nice when you can wrap everything up at once?

God’s Jewish Warriors Attack Show Bio-Pic (Kidding it was a crappy show, see I wrote about even)

For the same reason why there are still millions of weekend projects unfinished is why Jew’it Yourself projects will fail. People especially upper middle class folks are lazy. As soon as something isn't fun or becomes a lot of work, they stop doing it.

I have lost a lot energy in the past few weeks in the passion department. I really believed the Jblogophere was going to answer the problems in our community. But I think it has failed. Over the few years I have been following the 'bigs' and before I jumped in it to the fray, seemed the bloggers were talking about big issues. Now I feel like I am reading, in many cases, personal attacks against people the writers don't like or feel have wronged them.

It isn't interesting and it is lazy. I was invested in all this talk about the next generation of Jews taking on the issues with excitement and innovation. If there was something to this belief, it would be working. It isn't working.

Thank you Jewbiq for becoming the new best group blog. DovBear is still good... but no long just DovBear. Jspot will do what it does but where are the rest of you? I am a little no-body who fights with DK from time to time. So I am not trying to incite a virtual riot, just wondering what happened to the fun and interesting community of online Jews.

Countless studies say young Jews have gone online to find their community. Fine, that may be the case. However—just like in some of the larger Jewish communities in the world, and specifically in the United States—there are very few completely engaged folks in this virtual Jewish world. It isn’t surprising that blogs like Jewschool, Jew and the Carrot and even my friend DK’s Kvetcher take on personal issues and make them sound supper important. It just isn’t ground breaking.

KesherTalk is good for the right and where is the left? There is no place for liberal lefty Jews to congregate and that isn’t surprising either. We can’t figure out what to do in the real world so we will not figure out what to do online.

Finally here is my over all Shabbat Idea: Web2.0 is a technology set that is only as good as the product produced by the folks who use it. Web2.0 and all that comes with that is not a virtual Mochach. (or the real one for that matter.)

As we come to the end of the year, and we begin our apologies I say this: Sorry for trying to make something more out of the J-blogs. I am sorry for being pretentious and pretending people want to hear what I have to say about issues. That said, I am not stopping this madness because something in side still believe a little.

Shabbat Shalom

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Say WHAT? Headline

The JTA takes the cake. This is the most ridiculous headline that I have seen so far:
As Craig stood up for Jews,
Jews must stand up for Craig

Mind you on the homepage it reads "Jews Must Stand Up for Craig."

This argument is just silly. Focusing on the fact that most of the fight from the Republicans has been centered around homophobia and other such nastiness, we must support Craig. Bull.

This, like every other political fight, is political. The Dems want to keep this in the news because it is good to expose the other side as bigoted homophobes. This piece pretty much dresses up Craig's support of Israel as a way to support him now. Please! This like every liberal defense of the disgraced Senator from Idaho is to keep the scandal in the news for as long as possible.

I am happy to expose Republicans as hypocritical animals but this is just silly. The defense of Israel then means you need to support someone even as they break the law? Come on now!

Headline Updates from Craig and Co

Craig's bathroom scandal may flush Republicans

That isn't even funny. BOOOOOOO! Dr. Politics, when life gives you UNREAL material you don't need to make lemonade. It is already very good. This headline STINKS (like a bathroom).

Sunday, September 2, 2007

McLaughlin Group on Bloggers


Oh that is funny!