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Friday, April 29, 2005

Dial-Up Sucks

I'm away and don't have any broadband service. I'd forgotten what a chore it can be to do pretty much anything except check your e-mail. So I'll have more to say after the trip, when I get back together with my cable modem. See you all then.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

PSP Envy

My husband and I try very hard to instill our children with the right values. In a neighborhood rife with million-dollar homes that have designer SUV's parked out front, that's not always so easy. Though we ourselves do not have any of those accoutrements, our children are not blind to what so many of their neighbors do have. So try to imagine my chagrin when my six-year-old requested a PSP for his afikomen present.
P.S. He isn't getting one.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Justice, Justice, Shall You Pursue

There seems to be a spate of scandal in the press right now, both Jewish and not. Financial improprieties, sexual indescretions, abuse, you name it. Have we really come to such a bad place that there are so many more bad things done by those around us than there were in the past? I don't believe so. Moral lapses in humans, both Orthodox and not, are as old as the hills. What has changed, in my opinion, is the tendency for both the general public and the press to elect themselves judge, jury and executioner.

Whatever happened to the Jewish tenet of "judging each man favorably"? Whatever happened to that good old adage of the American legal system, "innocent until proven guilty"? I am aware that most of these people are probably guilty as charged, and that in most cases, "where there's smoke there's fire" and all that. But what about those wrongly accused?

I remember a case a few years ago of a high school teacher publicly accused by a female student of improper behavior. This man was supended from his post and became a social pariah. He maintained his innocence. Ex post facto, the girl recanted and was found to be not credible by a mental health professional. Even her parents conceded that the story was untrue and apologized to the teacher. Well. Too little too late, guys. Although he was reinstated at his former teaching job, the man was never fully able to resume his life there, and picked up and moved with his family to a different community.

And what about Tawana Brawley? Did the fact that her story was fabricated get anywhere near as much press and attention as the original, horrific, allegations? Did Steven Pagones, the man who was wrongly accused of her rape, get his life back? According to all accounts, no.

Is that OK? Is that just a price we have to pay for increased vigilance? Or have we created a situation where the whistleblower is rewarded to the extent that the veracity of what he is alleging is not even relevant? Let me be clear, I am well aware that are cases of abuse and fraud in every community, and that it does us no good to put our collective head in the sand. I am also aware that our community has a bad habit of sweeping scandal under the carpet, and that tendency has not served us or any victims well, especially in cases of abuse. But is there a happy medium, whereby every allegation gets properly investigated without trial in the court of public opinion? Have we entered an age of justice where the one with the best public relations wins? Does our justice system come to verdicts through public polling?

My question remains, what of those who are truly innocent, as small a percentage as that may be? Are they just collateral damage? I find that hard to stomach. Does anyone else?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Apalling Advert

A Town Crier reminded me that the local jewish rag almost made me vomit onto my shabbos table Friday night. This is the the same paper I wrote about that refused to take a stand against a recalcitrant husband. There was an ad on page three of the paper that was so disgusting that I literally had trouble believing my eyes. The text read:
Jews are once again being targeted by a racist policy that evokes memories of past persecutions. Shamefully, this time it is the policy of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Israeli government.

The expulsion of Jews from Gaza is morally repugnant, the destruction of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues unspeakable. The use of armed soldiers to implement this policy, with its echoes of Jewish deportations throughout history, should shock and appall Jews everywhere. The uniform of the soldiers is irrelevant, and creating territories that are Judenrein is reprehensible no matter where, no matter when and no matter by whom. Would the expulsion of Jews from parts of the United States be tolerated? Jews have a moral right to live freely as Jews wherever they choose, whether in Poland, Cleveland or their ancestral homeland.

It comes as no surprise that a world that stood by silently as six million Jews were slaughtered is demanding the expulsion of Jews as a concession to Arab terror. We call on the Prime Minister of Israel to stop this appalling, racist expulsion.

Can you believe this crap?


Fascinating google search term that brought someone to my blog: Pope carpool. ?!

Passover Packing

I know that cleaning for Pesach is extremely stressful. I know that many of my sisters are on hands and knees, scrubbing under the stove, behind the fridge, in the backs of cabinets, the bottoms of drawers, and inside coat pockets. And I am aware that they consider me lucky to be off to a Pesach program in Southern climes, closing my house up and selling the whole darn thing.

But really, at the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat, it's no fun to pack 1 1/2 weeks worth off dress clothing, swimwear, sportswear, etc. for myself, my hubby and my 4 children. It's no fun to fly 3 hours with 4 children, including an infant. It's no fun to put 4 children, including an infant, into strange surroundings and expect them to sleep well enough for me and my husband to get the semblance of a vacation we are both using up at work. It's no fun to eat every single meal in a large dining room with 40 family members, AND expect your 4 children to sit at a table with you and behave, 3 times a day. And the food at these places generally sucks.

(Please, no flaming from women making Pesach. I HAVE made Pesach at home before. I really do find it easier in some ways, and I'm speaking from experience.)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Spitzer's Ethics

Apparently the NY Sun is uncomfortable with something that's been bothering me as well. NY State Attorney General Eliott Spitzer has been making broad and sweeping public accusations about many, without even bringing to bear investigations on all of the accused. As the Sun editorializes:

Even lawyers, it turns out, have ethical rules. The attorney general of New York, Eliot Spitzer, has made a career out of pursuing what he claims are rule-breakers in the Wall Street research, mutual fund, and insurance industries. But with the excitement of appearing on national network television Sunday, he appears to have gotten carried away with himself and to have broken at least the spirit of the rules governing ethical conduct by prosecutors both in New York State and at the federal level.

These columns carry no particular brief for Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, the former CEO of AIG who bought something that Warren Buffett sold him and who now is mysteriously being vilified in public by Mr. Spitzer before any judicial proceedings have been brought. He's been too soft on the Chinese communists for our taste. But nobody deserves this kind of treatment in America; it violates basic notions of due process, which is why these rules are in place. We'd like to believe Mr. Spitzer when he claims, as he did at a Financial Times event the other night, that he's not pursuing "a populist crusade to redistribute wealth" but rather that he's simply trying to enforce "simple rules of transparency." But for all Mr. Spitzer's talk about rules, he seems to have little regard for the ones governing his own conduct. Who's going to rise to the challenge of investigating Mr. Spitzer? We wish him a fairer proceeding than the one Mr. Greenberg is getting.
To me, the whole concept of a government employee publicizing the names of those he may or may not be investigating in the future smacks of everything our nations's legal code is against: "guilty until proven innocent." Apparently the U.S. Department of Justice agrees:

There are exceptional circumstances when it may be appropriate to have press conferences or other media outreach about ongoing matters before indictment or other formal charge. These include cases where: 1) the heinous or extraordinary nature of the crime requires public reassurance that the matter is being promptly and properly handled by the appropriate authority; 2) the community needs to be told of an imminent threat to public safety; or 3) a request for public assistance or information is vital. ... Particular care must be taken to avoid any statement or presentation that would prejudice the fairness of any subsequent legal proceeding. ... Because the release of certain types of information could tend to prejudice an adjudicative proceeding, Department personnel should refrain from making available the following: ... Any opinion as to the defendant's guilt, or the possibility of a plea of guilty to the offense charged, or the possibility of a plea of a lesser offense.

- United States Attorneys' Manual, U.S. Department of Justice

Bloomberg: Independent of Independence?

After some anti-Israel remarks NY Independence Party leader Lenora Fulani made in 1995 were dredged up this week, Mayor Bloomberg came under fire for not distancing himself from her quickly enough. Apparently, Fulani's comments included the statement that Jews "had to sell their soul to aquire Israel" and had to "function as murderers of people of color to keep it." After she refused to disavow her comments, Bloomberg finally distanced himself from her, calling her remarks "phenomally offensive". The question is, however, whether this will cost Bloomberg the endorsement of the Independence Party and the 59,000 votes it got him last time around, which was more than his margin of victory. The mayor's fellow Republican, Governor Pataki, was at the front of the pack with his condemnation of Fulani, calling on her to immediately apologize.
"Lenora Fulani has to either apologize for her remarks or understand that they cannot be tolerated because anti-Semitism has no place anywhere in the world, and certainly not in the city and state of New York," said Pataki.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Open Bar

So I had to go to one of my husband's work things tonight. It was pretty nice, tons of food and even a kosher table for the orthos catered by Lou G. Seigels (remember them?). Huge open bar serving great drinks - mojitos, martinis, cosmos, the works. But as nice as the party was, nothing says "kegger" like beer served in plastic cups. Kills the whole vibe, know what I mean?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


This Belief-O-Matic quiz is very cute. It puts me at 100% orthodox jewish. But at 96%, apparently I'm almost a Sikh. Take it and let me know how you do.

TurboTax Rocks!

I run my own small business. So I did my own corporate income tax return this week. Let me tell you, TurboTax is a really fantastic program. It basically does all the work for you. If I knew how easy it would be, maybe I wouldn't have procrastinated on this until April 11th. Now if only I knew whether I did it right..

Monday, April 11, 2005

Strange Bedfellows

It's the strangest thing. During the lead-up to the election, everyone in the anti-Bush camp was issuing panicked warnings that a vote for Bush was a vote against peace in the Middle East. Most of them vehemently disagreed with those in the pro-Bush camp who were claiming that Bush was the best friend Israel ever had. Now that Bush, against their expectations, actually seems to be forging ahead on the (long) road to peace, one would expect that the aforementioned Dems would be pleasantly surprised, maybe sheepish, or at least waiting watchfully to see what happens.

Instead, they are crowing about the fact that Bush is actually doing things they were hoping to elect Kerry to do. They are taunting the GOP'ers about the $250 million that the administration has given to the PA. They are all up in arms because Bush is making conciliatory gestures to Abbas. Every step that Bush takes toward peace is met by more bitterness and I-told-you so's from the anti-Bushies, to the point that they sound virtually indistinguishable from the most rabid Kachniks. Guys, aren't you getting what you want? Instead, you sound like...well, you sound like the right wingers sounded during the Clinton years. Is it so important to stick it to the Bushies that you have to start sounding just like them?

Face facts, Bush is not as bad as you thought. And like it or not, it looks like he may actually be accomplishing more than your your hero, the great William Jefferson Clinton.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A "Cure" for my Spring Fever

Unfortunately, the little restlessness issue I had last week due to Spring Fever, seems to have been taken care of. I am now the proud owner of a miserable case of hay fever. I spent today, an absolutely beautiful day here in the Northeast, outside with my kids. And now I am completely congested and covered with hives. So now I can't get any work done because I'm too dozy from the antihistamines I'm taking. Fabulous. Now excuse me while I pass out.

Very Cool

AnotherNYJew pointed out this interesting/kinda scary Google Satellite map feature last week. Let me tell you, it can provide you hours of entertainment.
Someone very clever took this information and put together a website that catalogues different points of interest throughout the world as seen in these satellite pictures. Cool. Enjoy the satellite tourism.

Hat tip: Crossing the Rubicon

Friday, April 08, 2005

Chained Women (Longish Post)

I have to say, just when I thought JWB had gone past the point of no return and had completely lost his way, he posted on a topic that I feel very strongly about. The plight of agunot in the jewish community has always been distressing to me. I have much to say on this issue, and I will have to save some of my thoughts for another post or another day, but just a few points.

The issue of agunot has come up recently in my community because of two cases:
1) A local man who is a well-known promoter of jewish music has been denying his wife a get for some years. Somehow, though, the local jewish newspaper printed a front page ad for a benefit concert with this promoters name fron and center. There was also a front page article (really an advertorial - something this editor does too often, making him hard to take seriously), lauding said promoter for his commitment to the jewish community. When the editor was brought up short on this by various people, he shrugged off the blame, basically saying "don't blame me, blame the school who hired him to promote the concert". MOChassid has more details. What I find appalling here, is obviously the lack of accountability for those who support these kinds of men. Here is a man(the editor) who is in a position to help a woman and her children, but instead he refuses to admit that he is doing just the opposite.

2) A local eatery is owned by a man who was apparently employing his brother as manager of the store. This brother of his was denying a get to his wife. Evidently, the owner of the restaurant was contacted by rabbanim telling him to stop supporting his brother, but he refused. E-mails were circulated and phone calls were made to inform members of our community that one way we could help put pressure on this man to give his wife a get was to stop eating in his brother (and employer's) restaurant. Somehow, when I informed various friends and relatives of this, they were reluctant to stop eating there, for various reasons. Some because they can't give up their daily coffee from there (!), others because they feel that they "dont know the whole story". I feel the latter are infinitely more dangerous. There can be no details of the story to mitigate the fact that the man is denying a get to the woman. These facts are black and white. A man can never use a get as a bargaining chip. Period. No matter what other side of the story there is. Take any issues you have up in the civil courts.

What is similar about both these instances, and what gets me so steamed about them, is that here is an opportunity for people to help these women, but instead they either ignore the problem or bend over backwards to explain why it isn't their responsibility.


Having had a good friend who was an aguna for some time, all I can tell you is that it most definitely is each and every person's responsibility. To the people who say: "Why does the editor of the paper have to get involved in this?", my answer is : "Because he is in a postion to help by boycotting ads for any concerts using this promoter." To the people who say: "Why is it my responsibilty to stop eating in that restaurant?" or worse, "What does this have to do with the restaurant owner, why can't he employ his brother?", my answer is: "Because if you continue to give this guy business, he can continue to pay his brother's salary, and his brother will continue to deny his wife a get because there are no real ramifications". If I had a dime for every stupid, head-in-the-sand comment I got about this issue, I'd have enough money to pay off all these guys to release their chained wives. But I don't get a dime. I just get really pissed off. And right now that's not helping anyone. More to come.

(And yes, I know that plenty of women are guilty of using things like child custody as bargaining chips, but that still does not give these men the right to deny gittin to their wives. And that is for another day.)

Pope's Funeral

I know that we aren't supposed to be watching the funeral proceedings, even on television. But I'm having a lot of trouble looking away. The masses of people alone make it such a spectacle, and then there's all the pageantry. It's like being told not to rubberneck when you pass a car accident. Don't we all anyway?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Spring Fever

Usually, it's my kids who suffer from it, and I'm just the one fighting with them to settle down and do some homework or get in the house to eat supper. This year, for some reason, I've got it bad. I can't get myself to focus on work, I've been blowing off meetings and clients with abandon, and restlessness plagues me whenever I sit down to do anything that requires the slightest bit of concentration. Maybe it's because we had a particularly lousy winter here in the Northeast. Whatever is causing it, I am becoming extremely unproductive. Help!!

This is a Good One

Way back when Terri Schiavo was still starving to death, much was made of the "Republican Terri Schiavo memo". According to the media, an anonymous memo, attributed to the Republican party was distributed to news outlets by Democratic aides. This memo appeared to show proof that the Republicans were discussing amongst themselves how to use the Schiavo case for political benefit. Of course, since Rathergate, everyone has been a bit more skeptical of the authenticity of "found memos", and this one was no exception. Just when it seemed to be a foregone conclusion by Republican conspiracy theorists and Steven I. Weiss that the Democrats had fabricated yet another memo to make the GOP look bad, a Republican staffer went and admitted to writing the memo. More details.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


A big congrats to Steven I. Weiss and his team over at CampusJ. They broke the story about the NY Times making a deal with Columbia University to be the first to get a copy of the University's report on students' claims of anti-Israel bias by professors. In exchange for the exclusive, the Times had to agree to (in their own words) "not seek reaction from other interested parties". In other words, print a completely one-sided story, without even giving the other side any opportunity to comment. Which the Times proceeded to do.

In any event, CampusJ managed to wring a correction that, IMO, is as close as were gonna get to an apology from the Times. Details here.

Anyone Else Out There

find the "halachos" of the conclave fascinating? The whole white smoke/black smoke-locked in the Sistine Chapel-keep voting until you choose a new Pope while sequestered together with 116 other cardinals-shebang? I know I do.

Is it Just Me...

Or is it taking an awfully long time to adjust to the whole clock-going-one-hour-forward thing? Four days later and I still feel jetlagged?? Apparently my kids haven't adjusted yet either - they barely got out in time for the bus the past few days.

Of course, I never had any trouble adjusting to waking up an hour later when the clock is turned back...

Carpool Woes

Wednesday is my carpool day. I have always hated carpool. The act of driving around the neighborhood to pick up five grumpy pre-schoolers before I've even had my morning coffee is a miserable one. Add to the mix the apparent requirement to make small talk with other grumpy mothers/fathers/caregivers while they strap their equally grumpy, squirming spawn into my car. Then, of course, there's the refereeing between squabbling children during the ride to school. Not a treat.

So imagine my chagrin when New York State passed a child seat law. This law states that all children, 6 and under, must be strapped into a child safety seat. Noncompliance can get the driver 3 points on his/her license. Now, I am not one who has any objections to laws that protect us and our children, but let me tell you, carpool was a dream before this. Try to imagine the extra time it takes every parent to drag the child AND the carseat out to the car. Try to imagine the extra small talk required with grumpy parents while they strap said children into said carseats. Try to imagine the extra time required for me to strap children OUT of carseat at our destination. Try to imagine the extra time required to hand each child carseat to bring in to school, (someone else was driving them home) only to realize that they are incapable of carrying carseat themselves. Try to picture my irritation at realizing that every child's carseat must be brought into the building FOR them. By me. Sucks to be me on Wednesdays.

I've just about had enough


Yeah, I read him/her regularly in the beginning, just like everyone else did. I felt the blog started off relatively balanced. The post titles were reasonable, and reflected what was being reported in the mainstream media at the time. Yes, it was pure gossip, but it was nothing more than what we were reading in the Jewish press. And there was a back and forth in the comments, where JWB was actually willing to debate the commenters on the merits or lack of merits of his posts. He/she was even willing to give some ground at times when a commenter would prove a point particularly well. But recently, his/her posts have gotten way out of hand. Many items rely entirely on anonymous sources, theoretical "facts", and pure innuendo. I feel that it has completely descended into the pit of salacious tabloidism, whereas in the past, it was just hovering around the entrance. Not to mention the lives being ruined by his/her vicious gossipmongering.

I used to read JWB as a guilty pleasure, like reading US Weekly or People magazines. Now reading JWB just makes me feel guilty.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Armchair Papal Punditry

Much as been made in the Jewish Blogosphere of the passing of the Pope. There seems to be much disagreement in the ranks over how to address his legacy vis-a-vis "the Jews". Some seem to feel that the late Pope has already been accorded far too much respect by the Jewish Community at large. DovBear , for example. I've lost count of his vitriolic Pope-bashing posts at 15. And I didn't even go back to count posts from when he first got started on this vein, which was during one of the previous episodes of Papal Death Watch. He's gotten really busy since the series finale. Then there's the other side of the coin. Those bloggers and commenters who seem to feel that no amount of recognition is enough. Chakira feels that we should all be learning Torah in the Pope's memory. And apparently, Rabbi Arthur Schneier seems to feel that the world has lost one of the 36 righteous people that Jewish tradition tells us inhabit the earth at any given time.

My views lie somewhere in the middle - but much closer to those of Josh (Chakira). Though I'm not starting a Tehillim group in the Pope's memory, I do feel that the Pope definitely worked hard, throughout his lifetime, to change the anti-semitic views held by the Vatican in the past. The fact that he visited Israel and recognized its' right to exist means something to me. Did he accomplish everything he possibly could? Who, except for DovBear, ever expected him to? I am a firm believer that change is made in small steps. I feel that the Pope took many small steps, and some large. And yes, DovBear, I maintain that he changed the face of Jewish-Catholic relations for the better. And I'm sorry he's gone.

Pleased to Meet You

Hi out there. I figured there comes a point at which the number of comments an individual leaves on other blogs hits critical mass. It is at that interval that said individual officially becomes a frustrated blogger. I think I hit that classification, oh, about 300 comments ago. So here we are.

I am a 30-ish, orthodox jewish, suburban, working mother of 4. I'm opinionated, sometimes cynical, fairly political, decidedly overworked, moderately sleep-deprived and generally happy with my lot in life (Thank God). And I'm jumping on the blog bandwagon.