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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Day Thoughts

This post from DovBear got me thinking. Memorial Day means different things to different people. Some people treat Memorial Day as a huge shopping extravaganza. (I mean, who doesn't love a blowout sale?) For others, Memorial Day is the day that marks the beginning of summer. Barbeques and swimming, beach openings, you know just what I'm talking about. For some, it's a quiet day off from work or school to relax and enjoy.

The question is, do we, as Americans, have an obligation to reflect on and remember those in our armed forces who served and gave their lives for our country? I believe the answer to be yes.

To all those who say that these soldiers gave their lives so that we could enjoy the freedom of deciding NOT to memorialize them, you are correct. But you're wrong. We, as Americans, always have the freedom of choice to do the right thing. But why NOT do the right thing? Do we need to be told to be grateful to those who fight for our freedom? I hope not.

So enjoy your barbeques.
Enjoy your swimming and sunbathing.
Enjoy your baseball games.
Enjoy your shopping sprees.

But please, everyone, the least you can do is give a few moments of your day to those who gave up so much more.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Sticker Shock

We got our tuition bill this week from our kids' Yeshivas. There are no words.
Anyone else out there paying upwards of 20% of their income on tuition? I'd love to hear from you so I know we're not alone...

Friday, May 27, 2005

Help Wanted

If there are any publicists out there, apparently a position has suddenly opened up over at Newsweek Magazine. The ad copy reads:

Newsweek Magazine seeks a PUBLICIST. You will be responsible for pitching stories to TV and radio producers, securing TV and radio appearances for reporters...You will also interact with top editors and counsel reporters for interviews, [and] promote breaking news on the internet.

Applicants must also have extensive experience with anonymous sources.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Cheeseburger Bill

Anyone else think the litigiousness of this great nation has finally hit critical mass when Texas has to pass a law preventing citizens from suing fast food companies for causing their obesity? What's next? A law preventing citizens from suing because watching stunts on the television show "Fear Factor" caused them to vomit? Don't forget about the woman who sued McDonalds because the coffee they served her was too hot.
Read this list of the top ten most frivolous lawsuits in history. And weep.

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

I'm sorry, but if it's true, this is too, too funny. Maybe I wouldn't think so if I were a teenaged girl (or guy) living in Chasidish Williamsburg. But from my vantage point, funny.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Unfair Comparison

Amnesty International declared the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay "the gulag of our time" for the alleged mistreatment of prisoners and aggressive interrogation techniques that have come under fire in recent weeks. I mean, it's EXACTLY the same, isn't it? Oh, except for the thousands upon thousands of prisoners that died in the Gulag.

Newsweek Sources: Fake but Accurate

So apparently the reports of mistreatment of the Koran by Gitmo Guards are more widespread than just a blind item in Newsweek. Big shocker there. I could have told you last week that blaming Newsweek would get us nowhere. Oh right, I did.

Not Reassuring

Since everyone enjoyed the Google Maps sattelite feature so much...

The Federation of American Scientists has created a tool that allows you to gauge the effect the detonation of a terrorist bomb would have on different major U.S. cities. It's really cute. You get to choose the location where you would like to simulate a detonation (one of 25 major U.S. cities), the size of the bomb (anywhere from a relatively wimpy 1 kiloton to an armageddon-like 4-megatons), and the delivery method (plane or automobile).

Just don't try to simulate the 4-megaton one on your home city before you go to sleep for the night. It's scary.

Bad Taste

Okay, I can't really go into details here, because they would be too identifying. But let's say you were invited to a tzedakah function that was raising money for... say, people who didn't have enough money to put food on the table. Do you think it would be in bad taste to throw a lavish party with fabulous food served by well-dressed waiters? How about a carving station? Huge floral centerpieces? Designer martinis and a full open bar?

I do too.

More Carpool Woes

It's Wednesday. Which means it's my carpool day.

Wanna know how much it sucks to get five bratty 5-year olds in and out of a car in the pouring rain? When the temperature reads an unseasonable 48 degrees?

A lot.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Irony Lost?

Apparently, researchers in Israel have pinpointed the part of the brain that detects sarcasm. During the study, scientists:
...tested each person by exposing them to several "neutral" and sarcastic comments recorded by actors as part of a story. This "sarcasm meter" was designed to gauge how well the subjects could comprehend the unique kind of irony that is sarcasm.
Would I love to market that "sarcasm meter" to some people I have encountered in the blogosphere...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Spoiled Lawmakers

It's interesting. If we had to decide what the most important issue facing American voters today was, based on which topic is most discussed on the Sunday morning news shows or all the political blogs, we would have to assume that issue to be the judicial filibustering that is wracking the Hill.

We would be wrong.

According to this poll, only 14% of Americans are following the filibuster closely. That is probably a function of the fact that the filibuster has everything to do with partisan politics and nothing to do with the issues most Americans really follow closely, like the price of gasoline (58%), or the war in Iraq (42%). Now if only our elected officials would wake up. But they are too busy bickering. As a matter of fact, according to the same poll, 58% of Americans feel that congressional leaders of both parties have been acting like "spoiled children".

Sounds about right.

Update: Last-minute truce between party members averts showdown.

Poor Coverage

I find it hard to believe how miserable the coverage has been of Ariel Sharon's speech at Baruch College yesterday. The hecklers who infiltrated the auditorium, and the smallish (at least as compared to predictions of 20,000) group of protesters outside became the whole story, at least according to most major publications.
Michael over at the Slippery Slope attended the speech, and has a lot to say about the hecklers from the ZOA, and the gloating letter they subsequently sent around.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

More Neighborhood Politics

I'm sure you've all heard enough of the politics in my neighborhood. But I saw something this weekend that I just couldn't ignore.

The Village I live near has a local Country Club. All residents of the Village are entitled to become members of the club, and use the facilities. However, the growing Orthodox segment of the community was unable to use the catering hall for events because the exclusive caterer was not kosher. In order to use a kosher caterer, one had to first pay the exclusive caterer their fee, and then pay the kosher caterer for the event, in essence paying double. The Orthodox began a campaign to change that. They met upon a lot of resistance from the older, largely non-Jewish or non-Orthodox members of the Club. It took a very acrimonious, contested Village Trustee election to finally open the Country Club up to allowing a kosher caterer. This, in turn, opened up the Country Club to all sorts of events, such as Kiddushes, Bar Mitzvahs and the like.

Fast forward a few years. Today, we attended a Kiddush at the Club that some friends made in honor of their new baby girl. The scene was not to be believed. Thank God, the Orthodox community has been blessed with a tremendous amount of children. Now if only we could only get their parents to supervise them.

There were kids trampling the flower beds. There were kids throwing food into the pond. There were kids climbing onto the rocks in the rock garden. There were even kids running around on the green of the eighteenth hole. There were kids smearing chulent into the carpet of the main hall.

This begs the question, in my mind at least, was the "old guard" of the Club so wrong? At the time, of course, their resistance was chalked up to anti-Orthodox sentiment, and I think that was a large part of it. But have we brought that mindset upon ourselves? When we allow our children to run amok with no parental supervision and treat the facilities like a playground, can you blame the members of the club for ruing the day they allowed a kosher caterer?

In some ways this attitude makes me feel self-hating. But am I really so wrong? If we would like to be treated like "bessere mentschen"* as my grandfather would have put it, then let's act like "bessere mentschen".

*Better People (literally), higher class people.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Double Standard

May 19, 2005
Senator Rick Santorum's comment on the Senate floor:

It's the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 "I'm in Paris. how dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city? It's mine." This is no more the rule of the Senate than it was the rule of the Senate before not to filibuster.

Okay, so Santorum made a mistake. At least he isn't a hypocrite, right?

March 3, 2005
Senator Rick Santorum's statement to the press regarding a comment on the Senate floor by fellow Senator Robert Byrd:

"Senator Byrd's inappropriate remarks comparing his Republican colleagues with Nazis are inexcusable," Santorum said in a statement yesterday. "These comments lessen the credibility of the senator and the decorum of the Senate. He should retract his statement and ask for pardon."


Well, looks like Tom Friedman agrees with this. From today's Times:

The fact that the White House spokesman Scott McClellan spent part of his briefing on Tuesday excoriating Newsweek - and telling its editors that they had a responsibility to "help repair the damage" to America's standing in the Arab-Muslim world - while not offering a single word of condemnation for those who went out and killed 16 people in Afghanistan in riots linked to a Newsweek report, pretty much explains why we're struggling to win the war of ideas in the Muslim world today. We are spending way too much time debating with ourselves, or playing defense, and way too little time actually looking Arab Muslims in the eye and telling them the truth as we see it.

...The greatest respect we can show to Arabs and Muslims - and the best way to help Muslim progressives win the war of ideas - is to take them seriously and stop gazing at our own navels. That means demanding that they answer for their lies, hypocrisy and profane behavior, just as much as we must answer for ours.

He's not always right, but he is this time. Read the whole piece.

Next Up

The NY Times article today about the torture deaths of Afghan prisoners in U.S. custody makes it hard to keep pointing the finger at Newsweek. But if you'd really like to...
From Fafblog:

Newsweek must be destroyed - for the sake of national security! Oh, dear readers, you may have believed it to be just an innocent newsweekly with an unnatural preoccupation for health features ("Your Liver: The New Urban Nightmare?"), but through such reliable sources such as the White House and some schmuck with a keyboard you will know the truth: that Newsweek has killed over a dozen Afghans with a toilet and will do it again unless it is stopped. But that's not all. The Great Toilet Stab-in-the-Back of '05 was merely the tip of the iceberg of Newsweek's many crimes against America.

... while it was spreading lies about Korans at Guantanamo Bay, Newsweek managed to torture hundreds of prisoners at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Afghanistan, killing dozens of them in the process. And apparently Newsweek has not been content to torture prisoners on its own. It has also kidnapped citizens of other countries and flown them to dictatorships to be tortured!

If this were not enough, it has just come to my attention that Newsweek spread discredited rumors and outright lies to goad the United States into invading another country, with no justification and no plan for the occupation, costing tens of thousands of innocent lives. And not only has the lumbering dinosaur of legacy media turned to the callow slaughtering of innocents, but it hasn't even come up with an exit strategy!...

Newsweek - and the entire liberal media! - is responsible for smearing America's good name with the blood of innocents. This is a violation which must be answered for, and there is no answer for it but the replacement of the free press with the only entity pure enough and untainted enough to restore the image of America's government: America's government.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Election Recap

This is what I hope will be my final posting on the Lawrence School Board election, unless there are any exciting new developments. Steven I. Weiss wrote an excellent article about the saga for the Forward, nicely summing up the events of the past few weeks.

Petra Conference

Nobel Laureates and other world leaders meet in Petra for a two-day conference to discuss "pressing global problems".
Some of the 25 Nobel Prize winners attending include:
Elie Weisel (peace, 1986)
Dalai Lama (peace, 1989)
Shimon Peres (peace, 1994)
Betty Williams (peace, 1976)

Some of the world leaders participating:
Former President Bill Clinton (U.S.)
Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammed (Jordan)
Prime Minister Adnan Badran ( Jordan)
Miguel Angel Estrella, UNESCO (Argentina)
Goh Chok Tong, former prime minister (Singapore)
King Abdullah II ( Jordan)

and... the one Golden Globe Laureate taking part:
Richard Gere (Chicago, 2002)

Suing over Shabbat?

A group of South African students is threatening to sue El Al airlines over their flight from Israel that arrived in South Africa too close to Shabbat. The group, returning from a March of the Living trip, had originally planned to arrive two hours before Shabbat, but the flight was delayed due to a plumbing problem.

So run that by me again. The group is considering legal action because the flight that they booked that they knew was arriving with an almost razor-thin margin of time until Shabbat, instead was unavoidably delayed for 40 minutes, and left them with an even more razor-thin margin.

Zev Krengel, chairman of the Jewish Board of Deputies in Johannesburg said about the airline: "They've got no respect for Shabbat." Talk about a pot and a kettle.

Hindi Hair Redux

Remember wig-gate? Well, apparently, that's not the only thing we had to worry about Hindi Hair getting into. Are you sitting down? Evidently, the same hair collected from Hindu ceremonies in India that rendered wigs made from it forbidden, is now being checked into by Rabbis as a possible ingredient in...our food. Seriously. The additive is sometimes included in soups, doughs and medicines and might render them unkosher.
Get those bonfires burning, we're gonna have a barbecue...

Props: Miriam

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

School Board Election Results

Results for the Nassau County District 15 School Board Elections:

For Trustee

Seat 1 - Murray Forman vs. Rose Harris (incumbent)
Harris 3,900
Forman 3,970

Seat 2 - Stanley Kopilow (a.k.a. Mr. Shotgun) vs. Shlomo Huttler
Kopilow 4,047
Huttler 3,840

Budget vote:

PASS 3,429
FAIL 3,826

I would note that although the defeat of the Lawrence budget is being portrayed as a Jew vs. Jew battle both on Canonist and here in the district, the fact that a record 45 other Long Island school budgets were voted down tonight does suggest a trend of voters revolting against (or being revolted by) consistent double-digit property tax increases.

Stanley Kopilow must be loading his shotgun.

Noise Complaint

Someone is doing construction on my block. This morning, I was woken by the the sound of hammering and sawing before 7:00 AM. Anyone know what the Nassau County noise law is? If this is going to go on for a while, it is really going to affect my quality of life. Especially because the noise woke up my baby as well. So I'm taking a poll. What time does everyone here think is an acceptable time for your neighbors to start up the jackhammer in the morning?


This piece by Aaron Klein really sums up the problem with the rioting in Afghanistan I posted about yesterday. The Muslim double standard when it comes to desecration of religious and holy objects makes it hard to take their fervor seriously. As Rabbi Zevulun Leiberman, whose son Hillel was killed on Erev Yom Kippur during the destruction of Joseph's Tomb by Muslim rioters states, he is "sickened by this Muslim outcry when Muslims have shown the world they don't have any respect for religion whatsoever."

From the article:

Nathan Katz, professor of religion at Florida International University, told WorldNetDaily: "Joseph's tomb is one of many, many examples of a lack of Muslim respect for religious sites and objects, and the silence of Islamic leaders following such desecrations."

He cited the desecration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem by Palestinian gunmen in April 2002, and the dynamiting of 2,000-year old giant Buddhist statues at Bamian, Afghanistan, by the Taliban regime in March 2001.

"In fact, those statues, destroyed by the Taliban, were first defaced when the Arabs came to Afghanistan in the late seventh and early eighth century. They cut the faces off the statues then. Later, the Taliban completely wrecked them. Like Joseph's Tomb, the Muslims were largely silent."

Hat tip: Town Crier

More Apologies

While we're on the subject of apologies, Wal-mart issued an apology yesterday for what it called a "terrible mistake" in putting out an ad equating Nazi book-burning with local zoning ordinances in Arizona. The ad was part of a campaign to stop a ballot proposal in Flagstaff, AZ, which would prevent Wal-Mart from expanding a local store to include a grocery department. The photograph in the ad was a well-known Nazi-era image, showing scenes from Berlin in 1933 of Nazis throwing books into a large pyre. The text of the ad read: "Should we let government tell us what we can read? Of course not....So why should we allow local government to limit where we shop?"

After Wal-Mart came under fire from the ADL, members of Congress and others, they apologized for their "use of imagery". They also said, however, that they will "not back away from the substance in the ads".

Yeah, I'm sure most people here equate government censorship with a ballot proposal that citizens can vote on.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek: Weak News

So rioting and bloodshed continue in Afghanistan due to the irresponsible "reporting" on the part of Newsweek Magazine. As they stated in their article, which is relying on unnamed sources: "Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash." So Newsweek decided to print an uncorroborated item, which the Pentagon is denying, and the result was widespread rioting and the deaths of at least 17 people. Here is Newsweek's overdue, inadequate, but very necessary apology.

I know that there are many out there saying that Newsweek has blood on it hands. And I'm inclined to agree. But I am also bothered by any culture that allows for a murderous rampage beacause of a blind item in magazine about a desecration of a holy object. Did Christians across America go on bloody riots due to the artist Cris Ofili's desecration of the Virgin Mary? Do we expect Jewish Groups to go on killing sprees any time there is anti-semitic vandalism of our synagogues? Do American citizens run wild in violent revolt every time some anti-American protester burns a flag?

Instead of accusing Newsweek magazine of "causing" this unrest, maybe we should all stop being apologists for this out-of-proportion response in Afghanistan to the alleged offense.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Drive-By Jewish Mothering

I was the victim today of a drive-by mothering. I was at a community fair with my kids, minding my own business, when a complete stranger tapped me on the shoulder to tell me that I really "shouldn't be letting my baby eat raisins, as where she comes from, raisins are a choking hazard." I stifled my urge to choke her with some raisins, instead choosing the moral high ground by thanking her politely for her advice.
And then I remembered where I picked up the term "drive-by mothering" from. Getupgrrl, over at Chez Miscarriage, put up a terrific series of posts on what she termed "Mothering Drive-Bys". In her own words:

...I began to notice a pattern. A theme, if you will. A leitmotif, which was this: apparently, other mothers frequently say crappy things to you about your mothering.

So here’s what I want to know from you folks: have you ever been the victim of a mother drive-by? And if so, what happened?

Please, no psychological theories, sociological analyses, or political opinions. I want personal anecdotes and factual stories only, the weirder the better.

Unfortunately, GetupGrrl has taken her archives off-line for now, but the comment thread, at last count, was at 354 comments. Some of the Drive-By stories left by commenters were truly infuriatingly hilarious. For example: “I don’t know how you can put that baby in day care. Why did you even have a child if you weren’t going to raise her yourself?”.

In that vein, I'd like to open a thread up to examples of "Jewish Mothering Drive-Bys". If a complete stranger tells you that you are holding, feeding or disciplining you child wrong, tell us about it here. Any bits of stupid advice volunteered unsolicited by family, friend or stranger qualify. Good examples from my own experience are:

A) That time at a family get-together when mother-in-law, my husband's grandmother, and every one of my husband's aunts (really, every one!) asked me how I could let my son use that "stupid pacifier".
B) The time my neighbor told me that I was "spoiling" my colicky, 4-week-old baby by holding him all the time, at the very moment that he was in my arms screaming his brains out.

And so on.
So comment away! And by the way, extra points for any snappy comebacks you may have thought up on the spot!

Captive Audience

We ate at Shabbos lunch at some friends yesterday. While the company was great and the food delicious and plentiful, there was one problem. The meal never ended. We arrived at their house, and waited for our host to seat us and another couple. We sat, and we waited for our host to make kiddush. We made kiddush, and we waited for our host to wash. We washed, and we waited for our host to make motzi. We then waited for the host to sloooowly cut the challah and pass it around. We then waited while our hostess went into the kitchen to BEGIN to prepare the appetizer. (Yeah, I offered to help in the kitchen many times but was unequivocally turned down.) After the appetizer, we waited while our hostess BEGAN to put the main course out on platters. We then ate for about an hour. Then we waited for dessert, then ate dessert. That was the quick part of the meal. We then sat around talking. Don't get me wrong, they are wonderful people and very enjoyable to spend time with. However, if I can't fit in a nap on a Shabbos that is one of the longest of the year, we've been sitting for TOO LONG. By the time my husband started dropping (in my opinion) EXTREMELY obvious hints, our baby was screaming in exhaustion.

Obviously, as all those who are Orthodox out there know, we had to wait to leave until our host began to bentch. Never did the opening strains of "Shir Hamaalot" sound so good.

We returned home FIVE AND A HALF hours after we left.

Anyone else out there ever been at one of these?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Good Timing

I've been posting on the upcoming local school board elections and the divisiveness it is causing in my community. With the election coming up on May 17th, an article in the Long Island section of the NY Times is being viewed by some in my district as a gift from God, or at least a gift from the Times' editorial staff. According to the article, teachers on Long Island are among the highest paid in the nation. Apparently, 1 in 12 teachers on Long Island make over $100,000 a year, as compared to, for example, 0 teachers making over $100,000 in the State of California. The school district in which I live comes in second on the list for highest paid teachers. An editorial in Newsday really sums the problem up as well.

Now, I'm not sure how I really feel about this. On the one hand, I am a big believer of paying those who educate our children well. On the other hand, there is a good case being made here that these teachers' salaries are becoming exorbitant, and are increasing at a rate that cannot be sustainable for the taxpayers.

What is certain is that this item will be made into political hay for those opposing the budget in the May 17th election.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Not Funny

My five-year old took my car keys to school today. I had turned the house upside down looking for them by the time I got the call from the teacher telling me that my child had brought something unusual in for show-and-tell. Now isn't that special.

My readers probably think this is a funny story.

I do not.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Update on School Board Election

In an update to this post:

The Rabbi of Temple Israel, Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, really crossed the line this week. He sent out a letter, on Temple stationery, endorsing the candidacy of Stanley Kopilow, who is of course the Vice President of Rabbi Rosenbaum's Congregation. Obviously, the legality of this is certainly in dispute, as Rabbi Rosenbaum would be subject to federal restrictions on political campaign activity of organizations with a tax-exempt status, and their employees. According to the U.S. tax code, to qualify as a charitable entity, an organization must “not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office”). In addition, here is a link to a statement the IRS put out in the months before the 2004 Presidential Elections that clarifies what falls under the category of campaigning for a candidate. I think this letter clearly falls under that rubric.

The legality of the letter notwithstanding, I remember the outrage from Kerry supporters when many Orthodox Rabbis were campaigning for Bush in 2004, even though most were careful to do it far from their pulpits. Should we not hold Rosenbaum to the same standard?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

On Intolerance

Marvin Schick actually wrote something this week over on Cross-Currents that I agree with. Apparently, there was a letter in this week's Yated in which a man extolled the virtues of the trips that were arranged for Chol Hamoed this Pesach. He was evidently very pleased that these trips were of an exclusive nature, with many of the sites closed to anyone who was not of a certain persuasion. In the man's own words: “It comforted me that we were surrounded by Yidden only, and were not exposed to the hashpa’ah of some of the parks and sites that were not open exclusive to Yidden on Chol Hamoed."

Mr. Schick takes this man to task, saying that "We have been on these shores for approximately two generations. We have benefited from the blessings of liberty, from the ideal of tolerance. Do we expect that others will respect us if we can’t show a modicum of respect toward them?"

Unfortunately, the attitude expressed by this letter-writer is all too common in the Orthodox world. In large part, this is a function of the mindset of many of our educators. As a commentor on Mr. Schick's post said: "I’m afraid one would have to be an ostrich to suggest that our boys and girls are not being taught in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways not to fully respect the humanity of non-Jews." But the problem is just as prevalent in our homes. How many times have I sat as a guest at a shabbos table, only to hear the host or another guest make a derogatory joke or remark about a member of another ethnic group. On those occasions, as I sat cringing, I was never sure what was worse, the fact that there were children sitting at the table and overhearing the comment, or the fact that there was non-Jewish household help in the kitchen overhearing the comment. Neither makes us look very good.

Bottom line is, it is absolutely imperative that we cut this mentality off at the pass. We need to show our children by example how important it is to have respect for those around us, Jewish or not.


I'm having a really hard time keeping up with counting the Omer. At least I made it this far, I guess. Last year I don't think I made it much further than the first week. Even that poor performance was nowhere near as bad as a few years ago. That year, counting the Omer was literally a non-starter for me. I didn't even get the first night down. I guess it's just easier for men who are davening maariv with a minyan (or not) to remember, because my husband doesn't seem to be having any trouble at all.
Well, here's hoping I make it to 49!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day Misgivings

I love how every year, my sons come home from their Yeshiva the Friday before Mother's Day, telling me that "every day is Mother's Day". I know that their teachers and rebbes are teaching them that because Mother's Day is not a Jewish holiday in origin. And I'm okay with that concept, because at least it's consistent with the school policy of giving classes on Thanksgiving, New Years, Christmas, etc. The only thing that really gets my goat is, why do they only tell my kids that every day is Mother's Day once a year?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Open Season on Orthodox

I was shocked to return from vacation to read that a candidate running for the local school board had suggested hunting down members of my community who did not vote his way. To give a little background, the past few years, my neighborhood has seen an increased involvement by the ever-growing Orthodox community in local government. The local school district has seen school taxes increase while the enrollment in the Public Schools has been going in the opposite direction. This has led many members of the community to question the expectation that the voters will automatically vote to approve the ever-increasing budget. The "establishment" has been outraged at the Orthodox community's temerity in opposing higher taxes, and have therefore portrayed the Orthodox as the enemies of Public Education.

Apparently, the bitterness has evolved to the extent that when a candidate in this year's school board election, Stanley Kopilow, was asked what his plans were if the budget were to get voted down again in the upcoming election, he answered: "Aside from taking a shotgun to a certain group?" Apparently, the Orthodox hunting season has begun. What is truly amazing to me is that there was a reporter from the local paper present when the comment was made in a public forum and he declined to publish the comments. Had this comment been made about any other minority group, such as blacks or latinos, the outrage would have reached far and wide. Instead, this man, who is Vice-President of the local Reform Temple Israel, can make an inflammatory comment such as this about Orthodox Jews at a candidate's night at the local public school, and the only reaction from those present was, from all accounts, laughter.

Sick stuff.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Scary Thought

So an African (not African-American) man sitting behind me on my plane back from Florida gets so sick the pilot asks for a doctor and the man is taken off the plane by paramedics.

What's the first thing that comes to mind?

Ebola, right? Maybe Marburg.

Sleep well, OrthoMom.

Not Fun

Okay. So OrthoDad had to get back to NY for a big meeting. Flying back Monday cost significantly more per ticket than flying back Tuesday. Solution: OrthoDad flies Monday, OrthoMom and OrthoKids fly Tuesday.
OrthoDad helped out, of course, by taking the two biggest, baddest, heaviest body-bag type soft trunks allowed on an airplane. OrthoDad had an uneventful flight, except for the airline's loss of the aforementioned OrthoLuggage.
The rest of the OrthoFamily flew today. The flight was relatively okay. There was only one request for a doctor on board to tend to a sick patient.
Except that at the baggage claim, the 5 pieces of moderately heavy luggage we checked became 7 as my husband's lost OrthoBodybags came sailing by, apparently flown in on my flight. You can't make this stuff up. These bags must have weighed 70 pounds each. I'm pushing 95. Needless to say, wrestling them onto smart carts was no picnic for myself and OrthoSon. Neither was getting them into the OrthoHouse.

Next time I'll spring for the more expensive tickets to fly with OrthoDad.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Great Crime?

There seems to be a flurry of blogging trashing those of us who went away for Pesach. Most significantly the very recently retired MOChassid, with some weighing in by Marvin Schick and an article by Batsheva Marcus here.
My take is this:
I can understand how the thought of spending an obscene amount of money for one of the luxury programs where you get five-star acommodations and service can irritate those who spend weeks cleaning for Pesach.
I can grasp that the thought of kosher l'Pesach pina coladas poolside in between the four gourmet meals a day can seem like it's a bit much to those who spend much of Pesach chained to their ovens.
I can see why having the kids in a full day camp can seem like overkill to those who may feel like the walls of their house are closing in on them after eight days with their own kids and probably quite a few neices and nephews.

What I cannot for the life of me understand is how going away for Pesach became the great sin of Passover 5765.

People go away for Pesach. Most programs are not super-luxurious, some go to apartments and cook themselves anyway(that's us), and yes, there are even those who DO spring for the aforementioned five-star treatment. Some go away because they work full-time all year, take a week off for Pesach anyway, and make a family vacation out of it. Some go away because they come from very large families that have no other way to spend yom tov all together. Some go away because their parents ask them to and that is reason enough. And yes, there ARE some who go away simply for conspicuous consumption.


Get over it. Is it jealousy? Is it fear for the souls of those who go away? Have we worked on every other one of our middos that this is all that is left? Spending Pesach away from home?

Deal, people.