Friday, April 25, 2008

Shabbat Idea - April 25, 2008

The Shabbat Idea is back with a new and less frequent form:

Earth shattering news hit the stands this morning in the award-winning free daily; the Metro reports: “Home foreclosures’ subprime race rise.” New York City, bastion of free thought and rock solid/sky high real estate value is effected by the subprime mortgage crisis.

Stop.The.Presses.

But possibly more shocking than any of the news that the Big Apple is also part of the United States economy, this New York City problem is hitting minority communities harder:
And subprime mortgages in our area are disproportionately a problem for African-American and Hispanic communities, the report states…Foreclosure filings went from 10,000 in 2006 to nearly 15,000 in 2007, the report said. Seven of the 10 neighborhoods with the most foreclosures have high rates of subprime loans; all are at least 88 percent nonwhite.
The numbers are truly staggering. In the first pages of the Executive Summary readers are introduced to the fact that since the mortgage systems became open to financing and trading, the subprime and predatory loans have become more prevalent. Piggyback loans when from 9% to 28% and increased in values more than 31% in two years. The problem here is that people are borrowing against value that is no longer in their homes…sounds surprisingly similar a few days in 1929.

It seems to this financial neophyte that we have journeyed back to another time when we forgot that money and the economy effect people. So as Bears Sterns and Co choose to make money on nothing and value suddenly disappeared. Shockingly when those paying attention found this to be a bad idea, they sold their holdings causing a massive collapse. While we haven’t quite hit the Great Depression, the system that took us here is the same that took us there. Speculation is based on nothing more than a hunch.

But hey, at least the Ortiz jersey went for $175,000. Some things in this world hold their value.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Torching Tibet

I have not posted on the issue of Tibet. It isn't that I don't care, it is that everything has been said. I know that it may be shocking to hear that a blogger doesn't want to add anything to a political debate, but I really don't. I found this really beautiful piece of protest art on a Street Art blog. Thought I would share:



And another:

The Fire of the Building Project

Aish Ha'Torah is re-building the Temple.
A grandiose museum featuring an elaborated massive replica of the Temple is currently being erected opposite the Western Wall.

The three-storey museum, whose construction is valued at nearly $20 million will be erected in the Aish Ha'Torah ("Fire of the Torah") Yeshiva complex. The museum will feature a journey through Jewish history, from the days of Abraham to the present, emphasizing the message and significance of the Jewish people’s presence in the Land of Israel and their degree of accomplishment in world improvement. (Ynet)

While I hear this will soon be on the Koshosh Edition of Flip this House the Aish folks forgot the first rule of Real Estate: Location, Location, Location. It isn't going to be where Temple belongs, it is Temple adjacent. Come on Aish, we all know that Beverly Glen isn't Beverly Hills and that Brooklyn really isn't New York City.

But seriously now, $20 million dollars is going to build this thing and it won't even be usable. It will be a museum for people to walk through. Last time I was in Israel I walked through a Temple museum complete with a weird video featuring a guy who looks strangely like the Geico Cavemen. This is just another tool that will be used to scoop up excited, un-observant Jewish youth during his first trip to Israel.

So Aish if you want to demonstrate the "degree of accomplishment in world improvement" thanks to the Jewish people, perhaps use that $20 million to help feed the people you "save" from the secular world, put diapers on the kids you help birth and perhaps (just maybe) provide some job training.

(Update: DK had it before me and he got it from FailedMessiah, but still this story is really crazy so it needs all the air time it can get.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What should we do with all this Creative Jewish Energy Matzah?

Thanks be to the all mighty eternal for people like Michelle Citron and her crazy Jewish music videos:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ice Cream of Affliction

And no this has nothing to do with Jews having problems with dairy. JTA reports:
Ice cream with Passover-themed flavors are on sale in Israel.

Matzah may be the bread of affliction, but it is making a welcome appearance in a Ben and Jerry's ice cream available only in Israel. The confection, "Matzah Crunch," is traditional vanilla mixed with bits of chocolate-coated matzah. It comes in milk or dark chocolate.

Yediot Achronot reported Wednesday that charoset has joined the flavors offered at Tel Aviv's Dulce Melody ice cream parlor. Much like the Passover seder dip that is meant to recall the mortar used by Jewish slaves in ancient Egypt, the ice cream contains apples, kiddush wine, raisins and nuts.

Dulce Melody also has vanilla ice cream with crushed and sweetened matzah. Kosher-for-Passover cones are available.

Each year I am pleasantly surprised at the ingenuity of Kosher establishment!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Values Voting

"Faith is about unity, not division," the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, told the 1,000 guests in the Brubaker Auditorium [attending the Faith Forum at Messiah College]. "At the end of the day, let us not forget that the kingdom of God is not red state or blue state." (source)

Thank you Rev. Rodriguez.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

NPR on JTA's 'Exclusive'

Yesterday I posted a podcast that was well done, informative and even a bit funny done by JTA's Ron Kampeas of Sen Barack Obama. They claim it as an "exclusive" interview. Granted no one else was on the call and the Senator most likely didn't give more than one interview to Jewish news services yesterday, but he probably did give a few other interviews during the day.

NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr rants just a bit in the podcast below about the jargon of the current news media. Exclusive, he bitterly explains, used to mean you were the only one with the interview. JTA did well and scored big, but Schorr may argue it wasn't an exclusive and it sure wasn't live.
'Live', 'Exclusive' and Other Media Jargon

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

JTA: Obama Loves Passover

Another reason to vote for him!


(Hat Tip JTA's Telegraph You should also listen the whole interview...it is pretty good.)

The Vatican West Texas is not

I have been to West. Rather I have driven through it and stopped to buy purogies. West Texas is not the Vatican. It is dusty, Central Texas farm town. However Gary Goldstein, a lawyer for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is fighting the recent raid of the church's compound saying just that, reports the AP in the Houston Chronicle.
Their pioneer-style dress, multiple marriages and cloistered ways may be unusual, but church lawyers argued in court Wednesday that the polygamist sect has a right to its faith and privacy.

Gary Goldstein, a San Antonio lawyer representing the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, told a judge that the search of the temple in the sect's West Texas compound is analagous to a law enforcement search of the Vatican or other holy places.

He urged authorities to handle any documents seized with respect.

Ok...now, I am fine with Religious Liberty; it is supported by the first amendment to the constitution. However, forcible marriage of minors is really not in anyone's interest except for the pedophiles who are getting lucky with 14 year olds.

However, this story is also hits on my point that I wrote about in the post on pride of Jewish people. Gary Goldstein, Jewish or not, has a Jewish name. Regardless of what happens people will read this and say, "Of course a Jew Lawyer would argue that." This is one of those things that will make us cringe a little when we read that Gary Goldstein is the defense council. When I read the first paragraph, I was hoping the lawyers last name was Smith.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Action on Hill for Houses, just in time for re-election

"Casting aside partisan differences, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders said on Tuesday that they would work urgently on a package of legislation to help millions of homeowners at risk of foreclosure, with the hope of bringing a bill to the floor as early as Wednesday afternoon [so to make sure the legislators can tell their constituents all about it within early campaign literature]," reports the New York Times.


ACH! It is about time. I suppose the elections are good for something besides pretending we will get a new direction for our country. Ach, I say.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Jewish Pride

Why do we take pride in people of Jewish heritage who do nothing within the Jewish community? I too am guilty of this, but I just started to think, why do we care if someone has a Jewish parent (mother in most cases) and does something great or is powerful if that person doesn't participate in any way within the Jewish community?

The Forward has a piece on Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's involvement in the Clinton campaign. He has raised un-Godly amounts of cash in PA, has taken his personal defense of Sen Clinton to a new and unscripted level and has a Jewish mother.

However the story goes on to mention that Rendell isn't involved in the community. He is a power broker, works on both sides of the aisle, helps do some fund raising (and perhaps helps get shady building deals) for his Hassidic rabbi friend and is a governor. He is married to a Catholic and sent his children to a Quaker day school. This is not to say that there aren't many interfaith couples who chose to engage in the Jewish community, but the Rendells are not such a family.

Why do we kvell over this guy as one of us? There is no question that he is powerful, smart, funny and resourceful. There is not question that he may be on Sen Clinton's short list for Veep. But he isn't a mench. He isn't the model good Jewish boy.

I suppose it has a lot to do with the fact that if he was a huge smuck, others would say "he is a Jew, told you he would do X,Y and Z." This is what happened when Spitzer had a bit of zipper control problem - even the Jewish media jumped on it.

When will our community take that step back and take pride in Jews who work hard, do well and fulfill their communal responsibility? There are lots of us who do just that and are in interesting positions of power. I just don't understand why we care that Rendell has MOT blood.