Powered by WebAds

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Frist's Flip-Flop?

I, for one, was extremely heartened by Bill Frist's change of heart regarding the stem cell debate.
WASHINGTON — Breaking with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Friday threw his support behind legislation to expand federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research so long as it stays "within ethical bounds."

"It's not just a matter of faith, it's a matter of science," Frist, R-Tenn., said on the floor of the Senate.
Those on the extreme left are accusing him of being the very type of flip-flopper that his ilk accused John Kerry of being in the lead-up to the 2004 election. They are also questioning his motives:
Was Frist worried that his alignment with the Circus Clowns has hurt his chances at a run for the White House? The Schiavo matter didn't help him and the gang of fourteen made him look even weaker. Was this a calculated move? Probably.
Those on the extreme right are livid, accusing Frist of betrayal of their values, and are also - what else? - questioning his motives:
There is simply no justifiable reason for Dr. Frist to have changed his position on such an important matter, except in some crass attempt to appeal to a biased media. After years of claiming to be a pro-lifer – after accepting money, support, and applause from the pro-life community – Dr. Frist throws them overboard for the sake of The New York Times...
Of course, he could just have come to his senses on this. As my brother-in-law said yesterday at the Shabbos table:
"Bill Frist is a surgeon, he can't just pretend to be an idiot like the rest of his party!"
Well, whatever his motivation, I am thrilled by this development. Though my political views on some issues tend to be more liberal than those of the Orthodox party line, using already created embryos for stem cell research, as opposed to the issues of euthanasia and abortion, is an issue where Jewish Law is at odds with the views held by those on the right.
Let's all hope that this research actually gets somewhere, and brings refuah (cure) to any and all who need it.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Procrastination Pageant

You know how they have pageants, where people compete for awards like, Prom Queen, Corn Queen, Rodeo Queen, and so on? Well, today I win the pageant for Procrastination Queen. No, not at work, though I haven't been as productive as I would like. I'm talking about my preparations for Shabbos. I, OrthoMom, (some Mom I am!) at 10:30 AM, on Friday, July 29th, have not even gone shopping for Shabbos yet.
I haven't ordered.
I haven't even made my shopping list.
I don't seem to be the only one , either. But at least RenReb has a migraine. (I'm sorry for her, but hey, it's an excuse!) And Shifra has a broken oven. I, on the other hand, have no chicken, no meat, no potatoes, no challahs, and no good excuse. I also have a problem. I have never taken food out for Shabbos. I mean, I have taken out things here or there, like deli meats, cole slaw, etc. But I have never bought an entire Shabbos worth of food from the deli counter of my kosher supermarket in ten years of marriage. No small feat for a working mother, I guess. But this balmy Friday morning, my laziness is making me wish I had acclimated my family a bit more to the taste of take-out food. Instead, I'm a victim of my own overachieving nature. The funny thing is, I am so spoiled here in the Five Towns of Long Island. I live in a neighborhood where the options for kosher takeout abound. I could walk in to any of 10 different places today, wait on line, and with one order, be competely done with my preparations for Shabbos. If OrthoDad were reading this, he'd be saying, "So, why don't you???". But he knows me too well. So I'm off to the supermarket, to shop for my ingredients, so I can then spend hours in the kitchen preparing for my family. Call me crazy. Or call it a labor of love.

Discovery Update

NASA has just announced that contrary to their original assumptions, some of the insulating foam that fell off the shuttle upon launch did hit the shuttle itself.
Late Thursday, NASA officials said deeper analysis of camera footage shot during launch showed a small piece of foam may have struck the wing of Discovery's orbiter -- a scenario eerily similar to the accident that doomed its sister ship, Columbia, in February 2003...
Shortly after Tuesday's launch, NASA officials said that camera footage shot of the external fuel tank showed a large piece of foam -- believed to be 24 to 33 inches long, 10 to 14 inches wide and 2.5 to 8 inches thick -- sheared away from the tank. The debris was only slightly smaller than the chunk of foam that left a crack in Columbia's wing, causing it to disintegrate during the heat of re-entry in February 2003, killing seven astronauts.
Though the piece of foam fell away into space and didn't strike the orbiter, NASA decided to suspend future shuttle missions and take another look at why foam was continuing to fall off the tank, a problem engineers thought they had solved after the Columbia disaster.
Then, Thursday evening came news that a much smaller piece of foam may have actually struck the orbiter's right wing.
I don't know about anyone else, but I am really panic-stricken for these astronauts. I will never forget turning on the news after that Shabbos in 2003, only to bombarded with the images of the Columbia explosion and footage of the astronauts from during the mission. They were smiling in the video, as they performed their zero-gravity maneuvers with grace and humor. It was hard to believe that they were suddenly no longer with us. All of the coverage was permeated with a sense of disbelief, as I don't think this was what anyone had expected. The tension and worry that the rest of Discovery's flight will certainly be fraught with, was not in the picture during the last shuttle lauch and attempted return. I hope that NASA takes every step necessary to protect and ensure the safe return of these seven brave people, who returned to space on what was obviously a dangerous mission. I look back at this article from August 2004, where NASA announced that:
NASA’s redesigned space shuttle fuel tanks should no longer shed dangerous pieces of foam when launches resume next spring, officials said Thursday.
I guess they were wrong. I only hope that the next line in the article doesn't become relevant as well:
But if a shuttle wing is gouged by insulating foam or some other debris during liftoff, astronauts still will not be able to fix a hole the size of the one that brought down Columbia.
I doubt I will be able to keep these seven souls out of my mind and my prayers for even a second until the safe landing of the shuttle, be'Ezrat Hashem.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Out of Hand II

A while back, I wrote critically about some settlers who were demonstrating against the disengagement by writing their identification numbers on their arms, `a la the tattoed numbers of holocaust victims. Seems they are still protesting in the same vein. According to this article, some settlers plan to wear concentration camp prisoner uniforms when they are evacuted. They also plan to sew yellow stars which will read "Jude" on to the uniforms. These settlers obviously think they're perfectly justified, from this comment made by one:
"I can't find any difference between what is happening to us now and what happened then [during the Holocaust]," said Gabai.
Oh, please. Are they being forced to cram into cattle cars with no food or water? Are they being transported to concentration camps, where they, if they are lucky, will be subjected to incredibly harsh working conditions or unimaginable torture? Not to mention the systematic killing of 6,000,000, many through horrific deaths in the gas chambers, by shooting, or from starvation or disease.
Chas Ve'Sholom.
Yes, these settlers are being evacuated from their homes, their livelihood, and their communities. The stress of that must be huge. But they are being forced to evacuate with their families intact and well. And to compare this situation to those of the previous generation who had to endure the horrors of the holocaust is an affront to their memory.

Very Distressing

This is very disturbing:
In an astonishing setback for the shuttle program, NASA on Wednesday grounded future flights because the foam debris that led to the Columbia disaster still poses a risk to space missions.
Even though the space agency doesn't think the lives of the seven astronauts are in danger, it plans a closer inspection of the spacecraft.
"You have to admit when you're wrong. We were wrong," said shuttle program manager Bill Parsons. "We need to do some work here, and so we're telling you right now, that the ... foam should not have come off. It came off. We've got to go do something about that."
It is so upsetting to find out that NASA hasn't yet solved the problem that caused the Columbia disaster this way, when seven people are still up in orbit, with their lives possibly in immediate danger. I wonder why NASA felt in necessary, though, to publicize the decision to ground future shuttle flights now, when there is a shuttle still in the air. This development must be extremely distressing for the loved ones waiting for the seven Discovery astronauts to return home safely. I pray for them to have a safe journey and a safe return home.

Good Article

Steven I. Weiss continues to do a bang-up job of following this story, with a piece in this week's Forward. Those of you just joining us will get a very good overview of the proposal from the article. Check it out.


As many of you may know, I am the proud mom of 4 kids. What you may not know is how fantastic they all are. I know I may not be the most objective judge of this, but my children are (b'li ayin hara) four of the most beautiful, intelligent, young human specimens I know. I can attest to the truth of this by the fact that all of their grandparents totally agree with me. Especially my husband's grandmother. The only minor problem I have with her devotion and adoration for them is her claim that every single one of my children is a carbon copy of my husband, or one or another of my husband's relatives.
Now don't misundertand me, I married OrthoDad and think he's great-looking. But does his grandmother mean to imply that all of my (estimated) 23,299 genes have been so diluted by her side of the family's gene pool that they have been rendered completely insignificant?
Let's be clear. I am the first to call a spade a spade. Most of my children look very much like their father. But one kid, (just one! That's all I ask for!) has some of my features. Don't take my word for it, I get comments from strangers about how much this one (just one!) child looks like me all the time. But no. OrthoGrandma is not having it. According to her, the fact that my son doesn't look exactly like my husband? That's because he's the spitting image of my husband's brother as a child.
Arrgh. I can't win. You'd think all I do is just incubate 'em for nine months...
Anyone else have a similar story to tell? Please share. It would make me feel so much less marginal.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


A few weeks into the controversial random bag checks on the New York subway system, the subway crime rate has dropped 23 percent as compared to the same period last year.
Through Sunday, there were 171 felonies in the subways this month, a decrease of 50 from the corresponding period last year, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said.
Not the intention of the random bag checks, but it does prove their worth, to an extent. The deterrence factor that is probably affecting the crime rate will hopefully deter terrorists concerned about being searched as well. That's the hope, anyhow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Foiled Terror Plan?

Fox News:
Osama bin Laden tried to buy a massive amount of cocaine, spike it with poison and sell it in the United States, hoping to kill thousands of Americans one year after the Sept. 11 attacks, The Post has learned.

The evil plot failed when the Colombian drug lords bin Laden approached decided it would be bad for their business — and, possibly, for their own health, according to law-enforcement sources...
I have two questions.
First of all, does anyone else feel that just because this particular drug lord came clean (in a manner of speaking), doesn't mean that bin Laden's plan has been abandoned? The fact that this one guy had misgivings about the alleged terror plot - for business reasons, I might add - doesn't mean that the next guy didn't or wouldn't go through with it, for the right price.
Second, do you think that news of this plot will affect U.S. cocaine consumption in any significant way?
I guess it's all a matter of wait and see.
However, with reports of the recent resurgence of cocaine as a popular "party drug" of choice, this has the potential to affect a more mainstream swath of American society than one might think. The image of the homeless or criminal cocaine addict just isn't a very current one anymore.

Education Proposal Update

Steven I. has another couple of updates on the Lawrence Jewish education initiative. It seems the OU has seen fit to get involved in the tution crisis. I'm not sure that this is a good thing for the Lawrence proposal. As Weiss points out, part of what got this initiative off the ground so quickly was the fact that the effort did not go through the usual Jewish organizational channels, and therefore was able to leaprog much of the bureaucracy that is, unfortunately, one of the hallmarks of many Jewish organizational initiatives. The OU's involvement seems to include shelving the public school proposal, which, however, according to Weiss, is fine by those spearheading it, as it will hopefully solve their original problem - the high cost of tuition.

Related: I, II, III, IV, V, VI


I'm not that clear on something. This article in the JPost talks about the AG of Israel, Menachem Mazuz, and his interest in starting the process for a diciplinary hearing on Rabbi Meir Druckman, the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Motzkin.
Much of the controversy surrounds Druckman's statement that the prime minister has declared war against God and the Torah and his call for a "death curse" to be put on Sharon.
Druckman also has advocated the blocking of roads and said "We will do all we can to stop the evacuation and the destruction. We will be the first to go to jail with heads held high and the true joy of doing a mitzvah."
I'm not really sure why this would constitute incitement. Though I think that it is an abuse of a Chief Rabbi's position to be calling for any violence at all, the fact that they are calling on a higher power for the violence, as opposed to human beings, would seem to me to be more mumbo-jumbo than incitement. And his calling for the blocking of roads and attempts to stop the disengagement would seem to be within his right to free speech. In addition, the story directly below this one in the JPost is about a similar attempt to put a pulsa denura - Aramaic for 'lashes of fire' - death curse on Ariel Sharon by a group of anti-disengagement activists, but this article reads:
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has decided in the past not to launch criminal investigations into rabbis who have instigated the death curse.
Mazuz's decision was based on a previous court ruling in the matter of Avigdor Askin, in which it was decided that the pulsa denura curse ceremony does not constitute a criminal offense.
Now, I would prefer that no one puts any "curses" on Ariel Sharon, but I can't see why one group would get a free pass here while the other would get prosecuted. Any ideas? And do you guys disagree with my assessment on whether a pulsa denura constitutes incitement?

Monday, July 25, 2005


Read this piece. It backs up all of my frustrations in terms of how Israel is treated by the international media, especially contrasted with the warm reception that has met the tragic shooting of an innocent civilian by authorities in London. To wit:
Such was the nervousness in London on Friday that, at 10 a.m., a dark-complexioned man was shot dead on a train at Stockwell Tube station in south London. Witnesses on the train immediately said it was clear the man had been unarmed. In the words of one, he was "literally executed." He was already lying on the ground motionless, having tripped, when British police pumped five bullets into his head at close range. On Saturday evening the police confirmed what had been fairly apparent from the time of the shooting – that they had mistakenly targeted an innocent man. It turned out he was a Brazilian Catholic.
Had Israeli police shot dead an innocent foreigner on one of its buses or trains, confirming the kill with a barrage of bullets at close range in a mistaken effort to thwart a bombing, the UN would probably have been sitting in emergency session by late afternoon to unanimously denounce the Jewish state...
By evening, 12 hours had passed since the shooting, but the BBC still hadn't interviewed a grieving family, no one had called for British universities to be boycotted, Chelsea and Arsenal soccer clubs hadn't been ordered to play their matches in Cyprus, and The Guardian hadn't yet called British policy against its Pakistani population "genocide."
The disparity in how they've been treated by the press is evident.

Empty Threat

Speaking of using the threat of death melodramatically, my friend DovBear said this regarding the initiation of random searches in the NY Subway system:
Personally, I'd rather end up in a box, six feet under ground, than live where the cops can go through your possessions without probable cause. And if you had any sense of the stakes so would you.
Um, no. Even if I "had any sense of the stakes" that you're so sure I don't have. I still wouldn't rather end up "in a box, six feet under ground". Listen, it's nice to live in America, in a place where our civil liberties are taken for granted. But I am willing to give up my right to travel on the subways without being searched in order to improve the level of safety for myself and everyone on that train.
Now, the question of whether "random" searches actually improve that level of security is a different one. I am not personally a believer that they do. I think we would have to switch over to searching everyone seeking entry to the subway system in order to really ensure our safety and security. Especially since the NYPD has promised to avoid any and all "profiling" when they choose who to randomly search. I think this plan is being implemented mostly to improve the morale of New Yorkers. Which is important, but it isn't a security plan. Show me a plan that employs bomb-sniffing dogs, metal detectors, or searching every person who wishes to gain entry to the subways, and then we'll talk.

Give Me Housing Or Give Me Death?

From the JPost:
Some settlers slated for evacuation have threatened to commit suicide if they are not provided with viable relocation options, Disengagement Authority head Yonatan Bassi said Monday.
Now, I've posted before on the fact that I feel that the housing options being offered to the evacuees of Gush Katif seems woefully inadequate. And that makes me feel a tremendous amount of sympathy for those settlers , and anger towards the authorities who did not properly take care of the evacuees' housing needs. But threatening suicide is just too much. Yes, it's a crappy situation. But if someone, ostensibly one with a family and much to live for, can threaten to give up on life because he doesn't like the housing options offered to him, I have to conclude that either he has problems that have nothing to do with the disengagement, or that it's all melodrama.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

"Production Error" Update

I blogged last week about a correction issued by the NY Times, and how woefully inadequate an explanation I felt it was. Well, it looks like I wasn't the only one. The Times published a bunch of letters from readers who had a similar take. My only remaining question is, if the Times felt it necessary to publish 7 letters that all share the same criticism of the paper, how many more do you think the paper received?

A Word To The Wise

Don't go to the donut store to buy fresh donuts for break fast when you're actually fasting. A ridiculous surplus of donuts sitting on your kitchen counter may ensue.
Looking on the bright side: Only two hours left.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Police identified the man who was chased down in a subway and shot to death by plainclothes officers as a Brazilian and said Saturday they no longer believed he was tied to the recent terror bombings.

Friday's shooting before horrified commuters prompted criticism of police for overreacting and expressions of fear that Asians and Muslims would be targeted by a "trigger-happy culture" after two well-coordinated attacks in two weeks.

Yeah, well. No worries. The guy, who was unarmed, and had five rounds pumped into him at close range, while being held down by police officers? Not Muslim. Or Asian. So he's dead, but not as a result of racial profiling. Woo hoo.

Update: Now I understand how this could have happened:
Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission said: "It doesn't matter if he was a Muslim or not. He was a human being who did not deserve to be assassinated."

He said the killing was the result of British police officers being sent to Israel to receive training on how to prevent suicide bombings.

"This is a recipe for disaster. What sort of police are we going to end up with?" he said.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Mi Amar El Mi?

(Who said the following to who?)
At the threshold, an agent whose identity has been revealed must truly be "covert" for there to be a violation of the Act. To the average observer, much less to the professional intelligence operative, Plame was not given the "deep cover" required of a covert agent. ... She worked at a desk job at CIA headquarters, where she could be seen traveling to and from, and active, at Langley. She had been residing in Washington -- not stationed abroad for a number of years. ... [T]he CIA failed to take even its usual steps to prevent publication of her name.
What's your guess? Ann Coulter? Rush Limbaugh? Scotty? The NY Sun?
No, no, no and no.

The correct answer is....ABC, CNN, CBS, Fox, NBC, Reuters, AP, Hearst, Knight-Ridder, the Tribune Company, the Washington Post, and many, many, more news providers. These statements were made as part of an amicus curiae brief that was filed to appeal the grand jury subpeonas of Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller. More choice tidbits from the brief:
There is ample evidence on the public record to cast considerable doubt that a crime has been committed...
Congress intended only to criminalize only disclosures that "clearly represent a conscious and pernicious effort to identify and expose agents with the intent to impair or impede the foreign intelligence activities of the United States..."
Now, please don't mistake my position on this. If Rove is guilty of a crime, I'm all for Bush following through on his threat to fire whoever might have been responsible for that crime. But get your story straight, people! Was there a crime committed, or not? If not, why the breathless reporting style? A little consistency, please!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sexist Post

I'm sorry, but this is just infuriating. I have no problem with him expressing his views regarding being careful with co-workers of the opposite sex in the workplace, but to address this only to "Working Wives"? From the post, which answers a receptionist's questions on how to behave in the workplace:
I hate to say this, but the vast majority of marital complications that I've handled - and I'm referring to the messy ones, those which involve infidelity - sprouted from a seed of indiscreet intimacy at the working wife's workplace.
The "working wife's workplace?" Surely he jests.
But let's assume he's correct, and "working wives", not "working husbands", are the root of all marital infidelity(not likely), his attitude toward women is clear from his next tip:
...To answer your question, your speech should be courteous and polite, but formal and official. Never call a man by his first name, and don't inquire about his life. Substitute "How are you, Sam?" for "How may I assist you, Mr. Stein". Keep the verbal exchange to a bare minimum that's required in your work as front-desk girl.
Been a while since I've heard that phrase to describe a receptionist.
Again, I have no problem whatsoever with a list of guidelines for married women and men to help prevent unprofessional or inappropriate relationships in the workplace, but this is not the way I'd like to see them presented. Is it just me?

Daylight Savings Update

Michael over at The Slippery Slope (altogether great blog, by the way) has posted this update to my post from this morning. The Daylight Savings Time section has been struck from the Energy Bill by Senator Craig, pending further study. As Michael points out, a call to Senator Craig's office to thank him for his attention to the matter would be very gracious. He has all the numbers over there at his blog.

Update: Not so fast. Check the Slippery Slope for more information on this report, which appparently was partly erroneous.


Thanks to Lamed for this beautiful picture. I don't think any commentary is necessary here.

Daylight Savings Proposal

I've been following the recent debate over the proposal in Congress to extend Daylight Savings Time in order to conserve energy. Many Orthodox Jewish organizations have been encouraging members and constituents to contact their representatives and protest this energy bill. From an e-mail sent out:
It's particularly difficult to oppose this from a secular perspective because almost everyone is in favor of reducing the nation's independence on foreign oil (something this bill would help us do). However, as orthodox Jews we must be compelled to to oppose the means used here for it would prevent daily tefilah b'tzibur on a very tragic scale.

Here's why: if DST were extended, sunrise would end up somewhere around 8:15AM at its latest point and it would be near impossible for many working men to daven before they go to work, especially those who need to be in early.
In addition, on the OU's site, they give further reasons for opposing this bill, including:
1.While we support the goal of a energy independent America, this proposal is the wrong way to achieve it.
-This is a simple child safety issue. Schoolchildren will be forced to wait for buses in the dark.
-Accidents are more likely to occur as children wait in the dark and drivers have less visibility.

2.Criminals and others who could victimize children will have the cover of darkness in which to operate.

3.The US Airline industry will lose millions of dollars due to schedule disruptions and landing rights issue at European airports.
This article discusses those issues, and mentions still more American groups that are opposing this bill, including farmers.

I must add that not all Orthodox Jews are in favor of opposing this bill. My friend the Town Crier is against it, as he feels that Orthodox Jews may come off as self-centered, choosing to make an issue over something that makes us seem "grubby". Though I understand his point, I do not agree. The Airline Industry is opposing it for financial reasons, parents' groups are opposing it for child safety reasons, there is no reason that a segment of our population cannot oppose it on religious grounds.
One person who is opposing the bill is Michael over at The Slippery Slope. He has details on how you can contact your elected officials to oppose this energy bill proposal, if you see fit to do so.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Just Lovely...

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has translated and posted the draft version of the Iraqi Constitution. An excerpt:
1. Anyone who has Iraqi nationality is considered an Iraqi citizen, with all rights and duties according to law.

2. An Iraqi may not be deprived of his nationality nor exiled or deported unless it is proven in a trial that he provided false essential information that resulted in his being granted nationality.

3. Any individual with another nationality (except for Israel) may obtain Iraqi nationality after a period of residency inside the borders of Iraq of not less than ten years for an Arab or twenty years for any other nationality, as long as he has good character and behavior, has no criminal judgment against him from the Iraqi authorities during the time of his residency on the territory of the Iraqi republic.

4. An Iraqi may have more than one nationality as long as the nationality is not Israel.

Well isn't that lovely. Nothing like a newly minted democracy with that fresh scent of tolerance in the air.

Orange Day Update

Apparently, the camp was as uninterested in teaching little kids a political message as I was in them doing so. My son came home today saying:
"Mom, it was just Orange Day for no reason. I was wrong."
Or his counselor was wrong, in any event.

Orange Day

So my kids came home with a note from day camp that today is "Orange Day". It read:

"All Campers: Wednesday, July 20 is Orange Day! Please come to camp tomorrow dressed in at least one article of orange clothing! The more, the better!"

I didn't give it much thought, as in years past, there have been many such "theme" days in this camp throughout the summer. Maybe it was too early in the morning, maybe I was distracted, but the color orange didn't strike me as significant, even with my recent posting on the subject. I put them each in orange t-shirts and walked them to the bus stop.
That's when one of them piped up.

"Mom, do you know why the whole camp has to wear orange today?" Right away, I saw where this was going.

"Um, no, sweetie. Tell me why." So he did.

"Because the bad man who is in charge of Eretz Yisrael is kicking the Yidden [Jews] out of where they live and breaking their houses so that Goyim can go there. "

I was speechless. I should have been mad that the camp was taking the politics of their campers and parent body for granted. I should have been angry that my son used the word "Goyim". (I can't stand that word, and refuse to use it or allow anyone to use it in my home.) I should have taken issue with the characterization of Sharon as a "bad man". Instead, my son's words struck a chord. There's something about a young child's voice and innocence that takes the sharp edges off of a statement. And all I could think of was that my children must be having visions of being thrown out of their own house and watching it be destroyed so that someone else can take their place. And suddenly, it brought things home for me.
These people who are being forced to evacuate are families, with young children.
They have known only these houses, and these schools, and these yards, and these friends. Whether for the greater good, or for a naive pipe dream, these people's stability is being sacrificed for a mere glimmer of a hope for peace. And though I think that glimmer is something to keep our eyes on and pray for, I can't get the mental image out of my head of my family being forcibly pulled out of my house by soldiers bearing arms. And it isn't a pretty picture.

Though I won't be going to protests, or wearing orange clothes or wristbands today, I will be davening for a safe and peaceful ending to this awful chapter. No matter your politics, I think we can all do that much.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Out of Line

2,000 people braved the sweltering heat today in Times Square to protest the disengagement, and most of them acted admirably in expressing their views. Except of course, Boro Park's favorite son, State Assemblyman Dov Hikind. From the JPost:
Hikind, the Brooklyn politician who has been ubiquitous at such protests over the last several months and has organized several solidarity trips to Gaza, said he was outraged by the "insanity" of the Israeli government's blockade this week of protestors marching in support of Gaza's settlers.

"Somebody should ask Jimmy Carter to come to the Middle East to observe the behavior of the Israeli government," he said.

"I just hope one thing: that somebody doesn't start shooting somebody," Hikind added. "For Ariel Sharon to be responsible for Jews killing Jews, that would be in his record for all history."
What exactly did Hikind mean by that statement? Are we to take it as a threat? Are we to take it as prophecy? Shouldn't the mere suggestion of violence be off limits for a public official? At the very least, it's extremely irresponsible. At the most, one could make the case for incitement.


Production Error?

A couple of weeks ago, the NY Times ran this correction regarding an Op-Ed piece that had run in the paper:
The Op-Ed page in some copies yesterday carried an incorrect version of an article about military recruitment. The writer, an Army reserve officer, did not say, 'Imagine my surprise the other day when I received orders to report to Fort Campbell, Ky., next Sunday,' nor did he characterize his recent call-up to active duty as the precursor to a 'surprise tour of Iraq.' That language was added by an editor and was to have been removed before the article was published. Because of a production error, it was not. The Times regrets the error.
This is what they call an "incorrect version"? An article that has quotes fabricated out of whole cloth by an editor? Well, apparently, the Times realized how badly this rather terse correction reflected on them from the letters of outrage that poured in, and decided to print a further clarification of how the error occured in Sunday's Times. Except that I don't think it makes them look better at all. From the article:
Captain Carter's message led The Times that same afternoon to propose the textual changes that alluded to the surprise of his call to active duty, the officer said. "Within 10 minutes" after receiving the changes, he recalled, "I said, 'No way.' Those were not words I would have said. It left the impression that I was conscripted." His call-up was "not a surprise," he told me, because he had actually "volunteered" for mobilization. (It's not clear when the editors first learned that he had volunteered for active duty.)

An e-mail response from his editor later in the day continued to press for mentioning the call to active duty. "O.K.," it said, according to Captain Carter, "but we need the personal reference. Not only does it make the piece stronger, we otherwise would not be forthcoming with the readers."
The article then goes on to explain how the version of the article that included the quotes that were rejected by Captain Carter was inadvertently sent to press. That part I can understand. A production error is a production error. (If you buy that's what happened.) What I simply cannot believe is the continued push by the editors throughout the editorial process to include misleading quotes in the article after the author flatly rejected them as untrue. I'm not sure that this follow-up article makes the Times' editorial staff look better at all. The only part of the article that I can actually agree with is the last line:
...the doubts about the paper's credibility stirred up by this incident won't be easily erased.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Take Back the Color Orange II?

Haaretz has an article about all the orange clothing from this year's Spring fashion collections. Apparently, as in seasons past, clothing and accessories in the color orange have been quite the fashion trend. Unfortunately, these orange fashion collections are not exactly flying off the shelves this year, due to the widespread wearing of the color by those protesting against the disengagement. According to the article, many stores are finding themselves stuck with large amount of orange inventory, that they cannot sell even when they steeply discount it. I myself noticed a similar trend of people avoiding the color so as not to be seen as trying to make a political statement, right here. One fashion designer, Ronen Cohen, is seemingly quite perturbed by the phenomenon:
I myself love orange, and at an event in my store recently I purposely wore orange: They won't take the color away from me.
Good luck with that.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Quick On The Draw

My friend Krum as a Bagel beat me to a criticism of a published email exchange between one of the architects of the Lawrence Jewish education initiative I've been discussing these past few weeks, and a detractor. Check it out.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Rabbi Herring's Rejoinder

Many of you have shared my outrage toward Rabbi Basil Herring's comments regarding the Conservative Movement's ruling to allow breastfeeding in their sanctuaries. Some of you commented here, other in private emails. Some people have suggested that his comments might have been taken out of context, as part of a larger statement. A friend has been in private contact with Rabbi Herring, and gave him a chance to clarify his comments. He gave me permission to post Rabbi Herring's reply here.
Thanks for your legitimate (and welcome) enquiry. The quote, while accurate, was part of a larger comment, in which I tried to convey that most Orthodox women with babies of that age would tend to stay home, or else coordinate with their husbands via hashkamah minyanim or other such arrangement. I certainly did not say or imply that nursing mothers would not be welcome in the synagogue, even with their babies, but that most would and do, prefer to be home with such an infant rather than nurse them in public.
Unfortunately, I am still not satisfied with his explanation. I agree to some extent that some women with small infants that need to nurse on demand may not feel comfortable going to shul on a weekly basis. But his statement that most women who are nursing prefer not to attend shul shows Rabbi Herring to be a bit out of touch with what goes on in Orthodox shuls across America. I know many women, including myself, who attend shul with an infant in tow. Most, however, would not attempt to nurse their infants in the sanctuary. As I said in my first post on this subject, I wish Rabbi Herring had just stated that the Orthodox movement does not allow breastfeeding in shul for tzniut and decorum reasons. To state that the issue is not relevant whatsoever to Orthodoxy is just misinformed. I hope to see a further clarification of the issue that takes into account the many Orthodox nursing women who do attend shul.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Out of Hand?

One only needs to peruse my recent archives to read of my sympathy for those Israelis whose lives are going to be changed forever by the impending disengagement. And I am quick to defend the right of the evacuees to protest and make their opposition to the plan heard. But I really think the tattooing of identification numbers to simulate the numbers tatooed onto Jewish prisoners' arms by Nazis during the holocaust to be over the line of propriety. I posted a few months ago about an advertising campaign in a similar vein, using holocaust-era imagery of the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto to elicit feeling of outrage towards the disengagement plan. Frankly, it made me ill, as does this stunt. From the Jerusalem Post:
Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem directorate, called the youths' action damaging to the memory of the Holocaust and a perversion of historical facts.

"As the public/political debate over the disengagement plan intensifies, Yad Vashem calls on all parties to refrain from using symbols and terminology taken from the Shoah," Shalev said in a statement. "In particular, people should refrain from unnecessary and wrong comparisons that cause a perversion of the memory of the victims and events, and may even be tainted with Holocaust denial."

"It is important that the memory of the Shoah remain a unifying factor in Israeli society, not the opposite," he added.
Unfortunately, I think the use of holocaust imagery does not garner for these residents of Gaza the sympathy they so richly deserve and are looking for, but instead serves to anger their opponents to the point that they may lose sight of the most important fact. And that is that these people who are being forced to vacate their homes and their livelihoods are really heroes. And we should be treating them as such, no matter how inappropriate we find their tactics.

Interesting New Ruling

The article in the Jewish Week about the new ruling that allows women to breastfeed in the sanctuaries of Conservative Synagogues does not really affect me one way or the other. I am a big supporter of a woman's right to breastfeed her child, and have done so with all of my children, but obviously, the tzniut issues that come into play for an Orthodox woman are something that limited my doing it in public. My problem, however, was never with the act of breastfeeding per se. But even though I find the thought of a woman exposing herself to nurse, even discreetly, to be inappropriate in a synagogue, I am not a member of the Conservative movement, and therefore I have no opinion on whether a woman attending services in a Conservative Synagogue should be allowed to nurse there or not. So the article would not have stuck in my craw if not for the comments in the article by the Executive Director of the RCA Rabbi Basil Herring regarding the practice:
“The issue hasn’t come up,” said Rabbi Basil Herring. “In the Orthodox world there would be a general understanding that it would be best for the mother and baby to be following the traditional role of staying home. If she does come to synagogue, it would not be in the pews where she would be breast-feeding.”
Huh? Are you kidding me? He couldn't think of a better way to express that the Orthodox movement does not allow breastfeeding in their sanctuaries? He couldn't talk about the importance of a woman's modesty, or the distraction to others who are praying? He had to make it about a woman's place being the home? I'm sure he would have managed to alienate a whole slew of his constituents, if he had any, with his insensitive remarks. Luckily, he does not serve as a pulpit rabbi these days, so we are spared his special brand of inclusiveness.

Check out Miriam and Shanna's takes on this as well.

Lawrence Schools Proposal Nixed by NYCLU

Apparently, Donna Leiberman of the NYCLU told Steven I. Weiss today that in her opinion, none of the three different proposals would work from a Church/State point of view. From their conversation:
The question is whether the plan to tailor the public school education in order to fit a religious agenda impermissibly supports religion, and the answer in regard to both of these proposals is yes. Configuring the school day to fit religious instruction, and have students split their day between religious and secular education is fine, but it’s not a fine undertaking for public schools, it’s a fine undertaking for religious schools.
Plan D, anyone?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Yet Another Lawrence Education Proposal

Steven I., who is clearly doing a quality and quantity of research that no other J-Reporter seems to, has posted yet again on this subject. Seems that one of the chief organizers of the proposal, Jonathan Isler, has, upon meeting with opposition to his first and second plans, retooled the proposal yet again. He is apparently now angling for the secular portion of the Jewish school day to be taught in the Jewish schools, by public school teachers. Though this newest incarnation solves some of the problems with the first two proposals, it seems to bring up a host of problems of its own, which Weiss enumerates. It will be interesting to see if this is the final proposal, or if we will just as quickly be moving on to Plan D. As always, I will keep you posted.

A Study in Contrasts

I'm sure many of you recall the rancorous battle leading up to the School Board elections in my district. I blogged about it here, here, here, here, here, and here. I was reading today about the similar dispute in the East Ramapo Central School District, and I was struck by the difference in the tone of comments made by the admistrators in that district as compared to the rhetoric that we had to endure from the administration and board members here. From the article:
“They know how to work the system,” Schuchman said of the Orthodox. “They vote as one bloc and they’ll do the same thing here that they did in East Ramapo.”
He said the people who send their children to private schools should be barred from serving on the school board.
St. Lawrence, the Ramapo town supervisor, said he finds such rhetoric “really distasteful.”
Orthodox Jews, like any other Ramapo taxpayer whose money funds the public schools, should be able to serve on the school board, he said.
“This is America, people can run for election,” St. Lawrence said. “What’s wrong with having Orthodox people on the school board?
“I’m Catholic, but I can tell you that a lot of lashon hara goes on in this town,” he said, using the Yiddish term for “hurtful speech.”
Of the approximately 26,500 school-aged children living in the East Ramapo Central School District, only about 8,000 attend public schools. Most of the others attend Jewish schools.
“What if all the Orthodox and chasidic people put their kids in the public schools tomorrow?” St. Lawrence wondered. “Property taxes would go through the roof.”
Christian Sampson, the East Ramapo Central School District Board president, said the Orthodox community has legitimate concerns about competing financial obligations: multiple yeshiva tuitions and rising property taxes that are used to fund public schools.
“[Orthodox board members] have asserted that they will strive to find ways to save money without compromising the quality of public education,” said Sampson, who is not Jewish.
These reasoned, logical comments couldn't be further from the kind of heated arguments we received from those representing the public schools in my community. Just after the proposed budget was voted down for the second time, I actually attended a public School Board meeting where one of the outgoing trustees stood up and engaged in the most hateful diatribe against the Orthodox. It was truly distressing. Even more distressing was the standing ovation he received from the public school teachers and parents present, and the lack of rebuke by the school superintendent who was sitting at the table. What the above comments from St. Lawrence and Sampson show me is that there is room for rational debate when both parties come to the table ready to make a good-faith effort to understand each other's needs. I hope that eventually, we can come to that place here in District #15.

More Lawrence Schooling

The Jewish Week posts - er, writes - an article about the Lawrence Public School proposal. Nuthin' new in it.

The Ban on Harry Potter

The Town Crier posted about the new Pope, or the Pontiff Formerly Known As Cardinal Ratzinger, and his opposition to the Harry Potter series. Ha! Those Catholics are so behind on the banning times! Out here in the "Yeshivishe Veldt" (The yeshivish world), Harry Potter books have been banned for ages! Harry Potter costumes were not even allowed into my kids' schools for Purim! It seems that the use of kishuf (witchcraft) that is so rampant in the series makes the books inappropriate reading for their young, impressionable, preteen minds. Even though R' Moshe Feinsten wrote a Teshuva (Igrot Moshe Y.D. 4:13) expressly disagreeing with that view, and saying that as long as the children reading the books are aware that the magic and witchcraft in the books are just fantasy, they may read them for their literary value. I am not an opponent per se of carefully choosing which books to encourage our children to read. As MO Woman pointed out last week, many "children's" books nowadays are far from appropriate reading for children. I do, however, think that banning the Harry Potter series solely on the basis of a fictional depiction of witchcraft is a very narrowminded interpretation of the Torah's prohibition against practicing witchcraft (Shmot 22:17).

Once again, the Orthodox world proves itself to be way ahead of the curve when it comes to banning the use of everyday objects. Who says we're backwards? Look out for the Pope to speak out against Catholic students using cell phones next. You heard it here first.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Jewish Education Proposal: More Updates

Steven I. Weiss has yet more information regarding the new proposal for Jewish education I first wrote about here and here. (Do you ever sleep, Steven?) Apparently, the original proposal has been revised after community Rabbis urged those spearheading the effort to consult and collaborate with the private schools before creating this program. The resulting proposal solves some of the problems I had with the original program, though not all. These changes, though, could result in a much larger pool of interested parents. If they can make this happen, it has a much better chance in it's new incarnation of drawing a significant number of students away from the Yeshivas. I still cannot wholeheartedly endorse this proposal, however. I would prefer to see some of these creative thinkers putting their energies towards working on a way to make tuition more manageable while still keeping Jewish kids in a Yeshiva environment.
I will be following these developments closely.

'Israel will eventually disappear'

How many times have I heard the argument that giving back land is not the answer to peace with the Palestinians. That the Palestinians do not want peace with Israel. That they will not be content until every last Jew is pushed out of the Land of Israel and into the Sea. As Bibi Netanyahu said on CBS's 60 Minutes in 2001 "it seems that the Palestinians don't want peace next to Israel or even a piece of Israel; they want all of Israel." It still hurts to hear it straight from the horse's mouth. From Ynet:
Hamas will not compromise on one inch of Greater Palestine, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar told an Italian newspaper earlier this week. Speaking to the Corriere Della Sera newspaper, al-Zahar said Hamas would "definitely not" be prepared for coexistence with Israel should the IDF retreat to its 1967 borders."It can be a temporary solution, for a maximum of 5 to 10 years. But in the end Palestine must return to become Muslim, and in the long term Israel will disappear from the face of the earth...We won't disrupt the Israeli withdrawal, let them get out of here and go to hell," he said. "The problem will be afterwards, because in the hearts of every Palestinian, the liberation of Gaza must be accompanied by the liberation of Jerusalem and the West Bank."

Lovely. Just in case you were wondering, of course. Follow the link for more choice tidbits from this very personable fellow.

Faux News Revisited

In my round-up of insensitive, idiotic, or outrageous (you decide) statements made by Fox News commentators in reference to the London terrorist attacks, I missed one. From the Guardian:
Another Fox News host, John Gibson, said before the blasts that the International Olympic Committee "missed a golden opportunity" by not awarding the 2012 games to France. "If they had picked France instead of London to hold the Olympics, it would have been the one time we could look forward to where we didn't worry about terrorism. They'd blow up Paris, and who cares?" He added: "This is why I thought the Brits should let the French have the Olympics - let somebody else be worried about guys with backpack bombs for a while."
Now, I am well aware that this comment was made before the attack in London, and that it was not made in reference to the blasts at all. But it does illustrate so nicely how a simply tasteless comment can morph into one that is almost obscene as events unfold. A good lesson to Fox's hosts about being a bit more measured in their comments, lest they come back to bite. Hard.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Heroine of the Day

Today's heroine of the day is Maud Nathan. She was an outspoken suffragette and an advocate for better working conditions for women. Nathan was born in 1862, in New York City, to a distinguished Orthodox Sephardic family. Two of her most famous first cousins were the poet Emma Lazarus, and Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo. She first became involved in social causes when she began teaching English to Jewish immigrants as a member of the board of directors of the Hebrew Free School Association. Through her association with that and other charitable causes, she became interested in helping to improve the working conditions of working Jewish women, and by extension, all working women in New York. In 1890 with other women, she formed the Consumers' League of New York. In her capacity as President of the League, Nathan investigated the conditions under which women worked in stores, and found them to be deplorable. Women were working for miserable wages, under filthy conditions, with rampant sexual harassment and exploitation. Nathan, working with the League, publicized these terrible conditions and the names of the stores that were the worst offenders. They also created a "white list" which named the stores and factories that met the league standards for wages and conditions and urged the public to patronize those stores.
Through her lobbying in Albany for better working conditions for women, she realized that all her work would be in vain unless women were able to vote and exercise power over the legislature. She joined the Equal Suffrage League of New York, and began to devote more and more time to helping women obtain the right to vote. She spoke eloquently in favor of a woman's right to vote, so much so that President Woodrow Wilson, who obviously was less progressive than his reputation suggests, noted after hearing her, "When I hear a woman talk so well in the public interest, it almost makes me believe in woman suffrage."
Nathan was close to sixty when the amendment giving American women the right to vote was ratified. She played no small part in it's passing.
She also dedicated her time to fighting anti-semitism, and spoke out publicly against "Proprietors of fashionable resort hotels and of New York apartment houses [that] frankly advertise that they exclude all Jewish patrons".
Maud Nathan died in 1946 at the age of eighty-four. She had dedicated her life to the social causes of all American Women.

The Kosher Eater's Diet

This week's New York Magazine has an article itemizing the diets of five New Yorkers over a week. As they put it "What five of us ate in a week, down to the last peanut-butter-dipped celery stick". The really (only) interesting part of the feature is the fact that of the five different New Yorkers the magazine interviewed, one of them is titled "The Kosher Eater". I guess that's a testament to New York's large kosher-keeping population, but it's fascinating that the four other people chosen to be interviewed have the rather generic titles of The Bachelor, The Executive, The Teen, and The Globalist. Another interesting tidbit is the fact that our friend The Kosher Eater's diet is extremely heavy on the ethnic Jewish food items New York Magazine probably hoped to see in a Kosher Eater's diet: lox, chicken soup, kugel, chulent, blintzes, challah, honey cake, gefilte fish, rye bread, stuffed cabbage - even seltzer. The cutest part is that the next person in the article whose diet is featured, The Executive, eats quite a bit of 'smoked salmon', but no 'lox', and a 'bread roll' but no 'challah'. If she did eat lox and challah, it wouldn't be quite as much fun, would it?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Update on Lawrence Jewish Education Proposal

Steven I. has done some research on the legality of the proposal first discussed here. As I suspected, it doesn't look like an easy sell.

Summer Weekend Getaway?

This article in Friday's NY Times about the long drives some people put up with in order to get away for weekends in the summer was cute. But the descriptions of the endless traffic jams that beset those making the exodus just reinforced my resolve to stay home, this summer and every summer. The mention in the article of a particularly obscene twelve-mile backup one vacation weekend sounds like a nightmare, especially the thought of getting caught in it with four kids in the back seat. But going to the "Country" (the Catskill Mountains region) for the summer is a time-honored tradition for many Orthodox and Chasidic Jews. I can actually understand the reasoning behind getting away for those who live in Manhattan, in tiny apartments, or in Brooklyn, for those living on busy, overcrowded streets with tiny yards. I have yet to understand why people from my community empty out, though. It is incomprehensible to me why anyone would want to leave a neighborhood with shaded, tree-lined streets, houses with large backyards and a five-minute bicycle ride to the beach. I'm not complaining. Last weekend marked the start of my favorite season in the Five Towns. No endlessly circling the main shopping drag for a parking spot. No long lines in the supermarket. Fewer rude people cutting lines and double parking. And best of all, a shorter commute to the City to work.

But that's not the only reason leaving for a summer home community isn't for my family. Another time-honored tradition for those who summer in the "Country", is for the women and children to spend all week in the summer homes, while the husbands, who obviously have to go in to work, drive back to spend the week as bachelors in the city. I always get a kick out of going out to dinner with OrthoDad at PG on a summer weeknight and seeing the tables of Chasidic and Orthodox men living it up, with no one waiting up for them at home. Not for me. I don't enjoy being away from my husband when we don't have a choice, i.e. for business trips and the like. But to voluntarily spend five nights a week apart for two or three months just ain't happening.

Oh, yeah. And I also can't do it because I have a job. Right.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Idiotic Updated

Fox News, or as some like to call it, Faux News, made two spectacular gaffes in their coverage of the bombings yesterday. First, a Fox News reported talking about those responsible for the bombing:
That these people are, If necessary, prepared to spill Arab blood in addition to the blood of regular -- of nonarab people living in London.
Second, Fox anchor Brian Kilmeade talking about the ramifications of the attack:
And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.
Not the best day for Fox News.

Update: More idiocy. Brit Hume, one of Fox News's top anchormen said yesterday:
"My first thought when I heard - just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"
Great first thought, Brit.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Misdirected Blame

So I'm angry at some of the Bloggers on the Left and their commenters today. Sue me. The fact that the response to the terrorist attacks in London on many of the liberal blogs is vitriolic blame directed at GWB and Tony Blair is just sick stuff. It doesn't surprise me that one of the first comments on this post about the attacks at Atrios reads: "F- Bush and Blair and their enablers". Talk about misdirected blame. If you want to blame anyone, how about you place the blame squarely where it belongs: on the terrorists who orchestrated and pulled off these attacks. If you're really thirsty for some rage, how about you direct it towards some of the Muslim Clerics who openly called for killing innocent people, and their fellow Muslims who refuse to condemn these attitudes. Last I checked, 9/11 happened before Iraq was invaded.

Feeding Frenzy

Much is being made in the liberal blog camp of the news of Governor Pataki's son enlisting in the Marine Corps., while seeking an educational deferment to attend law school. Apparently, the fact that he is hoping for a deferment instead of rushing right in to battle is a sign to them of "spoiled rich boy entitlement". This has to be one of the most mean-spirited takes on the story. Even Charlie Rangel is getting in on the Pataki-bashing:
Rangel said the public revelation of Teddy Pataki's request for a law school deferment must be "very embarrassing for him."
Um, am I missing something, or did Teddy Pataki have no obligation to enlist whatsoever? Last I checked, the U.S. has an all-volunteer armed forces. The attempts by the left to make this reminiscent of GWB and Dick Cheney's "draft-dodging" is ridiculous. From the Marines' press release:
As a football player and fraternity president, his peers respected and admired his choice to take the commission and become a Marine officer, however, it was a shock to Yale as not that many of the students choose to serve in the military. “It doesn’t affect me,” Pataki said. “This is something that I wanted to do.”
I'm sorry, but how again is this choice something to scorn? The fact that he is seeking a deferment does not guarantee that he will get one. He is taking a chance of being shipped off to Iraq that I don't see many scions of Democratic pols taking. This attack is completely gratuitious and not a little mean spirited. Sometimes I feel like I just have to say to these people: Shut Up.


Didn't think I could go without mentioning the horrific terrorist attacks in London. Please have all the injured in mind in your tefillot today.


So my kid who was doing so well at the bus stop yesterday that he didn't even look back? I spoke too soon. He called me from camp crying, to tell me he was homesick. So I gave him a whole speech about how homesick I was my first year of camp, and how it took me a few days, but eventually I adjusted...and so on. So he said, "Yeah, that's all very nice Mom, but we're going to hang up the phone, and I'm still going to be homesick!" I guess just because I'm a parent doesn't mean I always say the right thing.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Condescending or Correct?

I can see the point of an edition of this siddur just for women. It's a nice thought in theory, with special attention given to the tefilot and brachot that are relevant to women, like the brachot for hafrashat challah and hadlakot neirot, and the halachot that pertain to them. But somehow, the description on Artscroll's website just seems patronizing. Or maybe not, and I'm just being oversensitive since I received a letter today from my children's day camp, outlining the dress code that they expect parents to comply with when on camp premises. Some tidbits:
All married women must have hair covered with a wig, hat or scarf.
All women must wear stockings at all times, EVEN ON VERY HOT DAYS.
Blouses should be buttoned as close to the neck as possible.
No slits in skirts, even if the slit is fully below the knee.
No form-fitting clothing.

Now, I am not one of those who bristles at being told what to wear. It's their camp and they are entitled to run it how they please. I have no problem with their having certain expectations in terms of the level of modesty of the women who visit their campus, especially as there is a Yeshiva on the premises all year 'round. I also feel that dressing respectfully when visiting a Yeshiva building is no different than dressing appropriately for a black tie wedding: you do it because it's good manners and respectful to your hosts. My only problem with this whole dress code is, really, the petty way in which the administration outlined their wardrobe requirements. Somehow, it made me feel condescended to, kind of like how I felt I was treated when I was in high school. And God knows I'm not in high school anymore.

Slight Overreaction

This story is really nuts. Vaguely reminiscent of this story that has been dominating the news in my area.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Take Back the Color Orange?

I was talking to a friend today, and he was complaining about the appropriation of the color orange by the anti-disengagement camp. Apparently, every time he wears any one of the many orange garments in his wardrobe, he is the butt of comments and jokes about wearing his political heart on his sleeve. Or his tie. Or his eyeglasses. Of course, he is not trying to make any political point at all, he is simply a clotheshorse. He said he would like to start his own campaign, the movement to take back the color orange. The real question is, do all these fashion-forward types need to find themselves a new color? Or will the color orange revert to being only a matter of making a fashion statement, instead of a political one? I guess only time will tell.
Until then, if you dare to wear orange, be prepared for some to interpret it as "fanatical" instead of "fashionable".

Not So Tearful Goodbyes

Took my kids to the bus stop for camp this morning. I know it's embarassing for them to have to hug the 'rents in front of their friends, but I kinda wish they would have at least pretended they were going to miss me. Still, I guess it beats their counselors having to pry them off me, hysterically sobbing, like some of their fellow campers.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Heroine of the Day

Today's heroine of the day is Asenat Barazani. Born in Kurdistan in around 1590 to a family of notable Jewish scholars, she learned alongside her father, Rabbi Samuel Barazani, who was the Rosh Yeshiva in Mosul. When she got married, her Ketubah contained a stipulation exempting her from housework so that she could devote her time to Torah study. Following the death of her husband, she succeeded him and her father as head of the Yeshiva. She was called "tannait" - Lady of Tanna - by her students, in recognition of her depth of Torah knowledge. She answered many questions posed to her by other Torah sages from around the world, and authored a commentary on the book of Mishlei (Proverbs). Barazani raised her son, Samuel to be a Rabbi and Torah scholar, and to follow in her father's, her husband's, and her own footsteps as head of the Mosul Yeshiva.
It is hard to overstate how unusual it would have been for a woman to assume the position of Rosh Yeshiva in the early 17th Century. Indeed, I have yet to see a Orthodox female Rosh Yeshiva. The breadth and depth of Torah knowledge that Asenath bat Samuel Barazani must have possessed to achieve that post and command the level of respect that had her students calling her "Rabbi" can only be imagined.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone who opposed the gay parade in Jerusalem could think that critically stabbing a marcher is the solution. I'm sure the stabber considers himself a modern-day Pinchas, who stabbed and killed Zimri for publicly having intercourse with a Midianite woman. Though Pinchas is praised as a zealot, Rambam and R' Chisda both tell us that had Pinchas asked for halachic advice, he would have been told not to kill Zimri. Furthermore, Rabbah bar Channah says that had Zimri stopped sinning even for a moment, and Pinchas killed him then, Pinchas would have been brought to bait din, and possibly even given the death penalty. Clearly, according to these opinions, simply marching in the parade would not qualify someone to be stabbed by a zealot, even one who considers himself to be following in the footsteps of Pinchas. I hope to see condemnations of the stabbing from the same Rabbis who roundly condemned the parade. I'm not holding my breath.