Monday, December 22, 2008

Can you pay for my trip to the mall? Cuz I don't want to. Thanks

Some newly graduated college guy from Texas or California is biking to Washington to be there for the incredible inauguration in a few weeks. He is biking because he doesn't have the money for a plane ticket. How he can afford to stay and eat where ever he will be staying and eating for the weeks it takes him to traverse the country, I don't know. And how much cheaper can that be than finding a ticket from L.A. to Washington with a few stopovers to save money, I don't know, either.

But wait! He doesn't have to worry about his expenses! He is shnorring from the general public, in the form of a website

I don't get this kind of stuff. Perhaps this is like the Israelis who go to Tibet after finishing the army, or other Americans who travel when graduating college before going out into the working world. Okay, something we in the BY/Seminary/Yeshiva world tend not to do, because, I am not sure why. Whatever. But what does wanting to ride bike across America (which sounds very appealing, by the way) have to do with Barak Obama? If McCain had won, it wouldn't have been a challenge? Because we will now have our first ever black president, riding our bike shows how open minded Americans are? Sorry, Ryan. All the people who will open their homes, barns, restaurants, gas stations (for air) swimming pools and showers, BBQ grills and refridgerators, would do so regardless of why you are biking across America. Americans admire that kind of energy and outdoorsmanship.

I don't know why I listen to NPR, I always get annoyed about something.

So here is my new website:

Every time you donate $10 I will shout, as I spend it, "Americans love free enterprise! America loves to see people buy whatever they want! Look at me being able to go shopping in the middle of the day and America smiles fondly and proudly! Watch me do what I want and spend what I want without having to work to pay for it!"

I love America.


Snow, Night, Chanuka Lights

Okay, not trying to write a bad Hanukkah song to be sung by some Hollywood grade B actor who remembers he is Jewish in December. But the combination...
We had a lot of snow this past weekend. And it is beautiful, clean, soft, silent, dreamy, celestial. And I went out for a few minutes on Friday night. Very, Very quiet. I could hear the tinkling of frozen branches brushing against each other, and the soft plops of snow falling gently from high points down to lower branches. I understood authors like Chekhov who would write about crisp, biting cold air. It was truly magnificent.
And of course coming home to a warm house with lots of people crowded on the couches reading old TinTin's and Mishpacha magazines.

But Sunday night, that was really beautiful. From outside looking in, the warmth of a home diffused by the candles and oil flames was heartwarming and comforting. Hopefully all children inside, for the first night of Chanuka, anyway, set aside differences and disputes and arguments and friendly (or not so friendly) disagreements and sat huddled together on the couch singing Maoz Tzur and dancing to Al Hanisim (tradition in our home).

And remembering that Chanuka is not about our gifts and parties but about the miracles Hashem constantly performs for us.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You Jews and Your Smelly Chickens

Kapparos in Monsey is more than just about atonement for sins committed. It is a chance for us to show we don't care one whit about what the non jewish people (or non frum) think about us. It is a wonderful oppportunity for some in our community to make a Chillul Hashem big time.

read this article.

Then read the comments.

Why would the organizer leave the site a stinking, filthy mess, and then have the audacity to say
"This year I don't think I should be fined even one cent."?? Compared to last year, when he left the site a stinking filthy mess? The comments last year, after Kapparos, when the newspaper described the stench, filth, and disorder, were hateful comments. And I am NOT one who cries anitsemitism every time jews do something wrong and it is pointed out by other people. But perhaps the time has come for everyone to just go to Brooklyn (where they all came from, anyway) or New Square or Monroe to wave their chickens. Because the guy who runs this business doesn't make any effort to think about going out of his way to clean up the site. At All. And this just incites the residents of Rockland County. Seriously, I cringe whenever there is an article that features a frum Jew in it. And the worst? When they quote him and his English is awful. Like when there was a bear running around on some street, and the more the police asked people to step back, the more family members came out. And threw objects at the bear. And got closer to videotape him. And shouted. How embarrassing.

We have so much we can be proud of. We do so many things that could make a Kiddush Hashem. That's what we need to think of every time something happens here in Brooklyn North.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tis not too early in the season, tralalalala, lalalala

Camp applications are in the air, and early bird discounts will expire soon!

Overnight camp fees for half a summer are almost $2000. Yes, we are in tough times, and everything goes up. But you know what? I don't think that's why overnight camp costs so much. Here is the REAL reason:
You have a camp rebbi. He teaches boys in the morning for about 3 hours. The rest of the day he is free to walk, learn, engage in other summer pursuits not available to someone who lives in "the city" and teaches 6 hours a day. (what about those amongst us who work 9 to 10 hours a day and also don't have summer vacations? Or off for yomtov? And reduced tuition at schools?But that is another post).
Here is where your $2000 for four weeks comes in(and check out the dates, it isn't even a full four weeks).
The rebbi comes to camp with his wife and seven children. Three boys go to the camp where he works, the two girls go to the sister camp, the two little ones go to staff day camp, they all eat, use utilities, and enjoy the grounds, night entertainment, and camp trips. And for all these amenities they pay?.......NOTHING! ZERO! NADA! ZILCH!

Now how about the camp director, or Director of Learning, or Director of Directors, or Head Sports, or Head Waterfront, or head/director of anything?? Usually the title goes to someone of a more mature age. Meaning he has married children, who are always invited with their brood to come spend a shabbos!

So there can be 20 staff members, each with one wife, at least three kids, maybe 9 kids, some married kids- oh!-who by the way may also be given a job, like Chief Key Sargeant or Coordinator of Buying Paper Goods, or Maintenance Supervisor. They have a job that requires at least 1-2 hours a day of serious labor. And they get paid for that, too.

And I know you don't have to send your kids to camp, it's a choice, blah blah blah. Pick a better way to refute what I am saying!

Is this cynism? I really don't think so. If you know anyone who goes to camp, go visit them on visiting day. And check this out. Tell me I'm wrong.
Then I'll post instead about how seminaries in Israel are cash cows for people who learned for years then had 6 kids and zero means of support so they decided to open a seminary.

Milk us dry

and I don't think the title of this post really has anything to do with the content herein, but I kind of meandered. Oh well, blogging license!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I got to her first! I am her bestest friend!

Hey, I know I am cynical, but what's with this new trend of running up to the mother of a chosson or a bar mitvah boy right after he has gotten his aliya? And then all those women standing on line to give the beaming mom a big kiss? Which you aren't supposed to do in shul, anyway, but apparently only I and a friend know that. So when has this become the new way of showing how good a friend of the family you are? What's wrong with waiting until after davening? I don't get it.

But to be honest, I don't get the whole oifruf thing altogether. I know it's something to do with almonds and sweetness ( like prunes, or some old yiddish song in every movie about the lower East Side). But why pelt men who may not even know the chosson and his family? I hate it. And for the rest of davening there are out of control little sticky people running up and down the isle smacking into eachother while their mothers look on fondly (see my post on Tzemach Tzedach, different Simcha, same concept). Or are those moms secretly thinking " I cannot believe these out of control dirty monsters are my offspring, I was a size 4 glamour gal- what the hey happened?"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Caged dogs

Even if you hate animals, a story in our local paper this week makes you want to cuddle with a puppy or other fluffy animal.

An elderly woman had more than 20 dogs caged and living in their own feces.
Does she go to jail? Pay a fine? Did she really not know that she was abusing these animals and not caring for them properly? She had once been a breeder of champion dogs, fell on hard times, was reclusive, you get the picture.
So what happens when we get old and we don't realize that the things we used to do well we are now failing at?

The singer who used to hit high notes and now his voice cracks when he gets to the mid note
The energetic grandparent who was full of life and now falls asleep at the table while talking
The academic who loved an argument and now shows a lack of interest in most conversations.

The dog breeder who loves her animals and can't care for them anymore and doesn't realize that she is harming those she used to spend her life caring for.

Will she now be caged herself

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

There is No Black in Nature

I discovered this shocking piece of information when I went camping this past summer in Wyoming. I saw magnificent shades of green, yellow, orange, red, even blues and purples, in the foliage, flowers, rock sediments, and rainbows created by waterfalls and sunlight. But I did not notice any black. At all. I didn't even see a bear, and they are black and supposedly roaming the woods throughout the state parks. I also didn't see any frum women AT ALL, and of course I would have spotted them from far away, because they only wear black! I am sure somewhere some non jewish people think it is a religious thing.
Okay, I know black is slimming. And I also know that thanks to Donna Karan it is actually considered a color. But look at your wedding pictures, or your parents' albums- every guest is wearing color! The dullest color is the bride's gown! Colored clothing has become very
out of town- like they are behind of fashion
nebby- like you got your clothes from Caldor or Walmart
fat enhancing- okay, I do agree with this. Black is slimming. But not slimming enough to change a shapeless salami body from a 14 to a 4. Come on.

I try to add color to my wardrobe. Very pinkish lipstick. Dangly sparkly earrings. A colored pocketbook. Perhaps a belt or funky necklace. But when you wear color, especially here in Brooklyn North, you get the Look from the black only I-look-like-I-came-from-a-funeral- women. Whose faces look like they came from a funeral. I think you have to look very intent and focused on your pomegranite seeds or Panko bread crumbs when shopping in black clothing.

I also think it comes from the middle of the road Judaism trying to move to the right and thinking every behavior and habit of the extreme right wing/chassidim must be better and right. So since that side tends to dress in very drab colors- black, navy, grey, and brown, the new black- we have slowly adopted that.

My fifteen year old revolted. She bought a red Shabbos coat.

Color is alive, energetic, inspiring, mood enhancing, enthusiastic.

But black? Like my pal Annie sez: it's an obsession.