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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Haveil Havalim #236 Is Up!

Erev Yom Kippur 5770

Haveil Havalim #236 is up at Benji Lovitt's What War Zone??? blog!

It's the Pre-Yom Kippur Edition.

Check it out!

G'mar Hathimah Tovah!

Friday, September 25, 2009

JBlogger Press Credentials Revealed

Erev Shabbath Ha'izinu/Shuva 5770

Oh, I feel like such a hypocrite now, having posted "Beware Of Governments Bearing Gifts: Israeli GPO To Begin Issuing Press Credentials To Bloggers."

After being threatened with blackmail by a fellow blogger, I am now forced to confess.

Jewish Bloggers have been receiving Israeli press credentials for quite some time now.

I didn't want to say anything. People might think I'm a government stooge or something, for having passed the scrutiny of the Israeli Government Press Office [GPO].

Then said fellow blogger happened to "discover" an old press badge of mine. I thought that I had lost it long ago.

But, now everything makes sense. I was stupid enough to show it to said fellow blogger one day,...bragging about how I have received one, and he didn't.

Pretty stupid,...bragging like this. I soon "lost" this badge. It was toward the end of the year, and was soon to be issued a new one anyway.

The truth that I am ashamed, and have kept my secret status hidden for years, not wanting to be stigmatized as one the government's PR robots, or worse yet, one of it's "branders."

But, now, I see that I have no choice. I have to come out of the proverbial "press credentials" closet. Here it is, my press badge, proof positive that I'm "one of them."



I thought that by toning down my blog to a level of mere "moderated extremism," that I would be able to get my press credentials, and then seize all of the various opportunities around every corner to ask the hard questions, listen in on backroom meetings in the K'nesseth, and secretly tape-record the occasional drunk official or intern, pumping them for critical information.

But, alas. The K'nesseth may be situated near a rose garden , but being in the press corps is, in no way, a bed of roses.

Sorry, Jameel. I'm sorry to be the one to throw a stick into your spokes, hit your head against the wall of reality, give you a taste of the bitter truth,... Well, you get the point.

Being a member of the elite Israeli Press Corps is not "all that."

The buffet table includes lox from China, not Norway. Our special restrooms only have one attendant, and never enough hypoallergenic hand lotion. And, MK Zahava Gal-On is always trying to point out MK Dalia Itzik's fashion don'ts to me, whispering them into my ear. Honestly, people are starting to talk...

And, I'm suppose to report this stuff?

The truth is that no one cares. People care about the economy, about getting a job, and supporting their families, about whether they're going to get kicked out of their homes any day, about what their kids are learning, or not learning, in school, and whether they'll come home safely or get killed in a terrorist attack (Has weHallilah, Lo aleinu!), not about Opposition Leader Tzippy Livni leaving her house with mismatched earrings, and whether this will set off new, and unfortunate fad among Israeli women.

So, if you're a blogger and want to receive a press pass, then I will simply say to you what we say in sarcastic Hebrew at such junctures...

B'vaqashah. (Please/Be my guest)

Just don't come crying to me when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu insists on boring you with old jokes from his days at MIT.

If you do, then I'll just have to tell you, "I told you so."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Super Power Meme

6 of the Seventh Month 5770

Jacob Da Jew tagged me with the "Super Power Meme." He says he tagged me "'cause the West Bank is the new Wild Wild West and a Superpower sure would come in handy."

Here are the rules of this meme,...which I, in typical Esser Agaroth fashion, will bend, break, and destroy, one by one.
1: Write one superpower you would like to have and what you would do with it.

2: Write why you chose that super power over everything else.

3: Tag and link lots of people, and write why you think they will have an interesting meme.

4: Fix your broken links.

5: Don't forget to leave a comment below with a link to your post on this meme.

So, which super power would I like to have? Well, that all depends. I'll break it down into themes.

If I were a member of the Justice League of America, I'd want to have the power of the Green Lantern's power ring.
The Green LanternThe power ring's most distinctive effect is the generation of green, solid-light constructs, the precise physical nature of which has never been specified. The size, complexity, and strength of these constructs is limited only by the ring-bearer's willpower; whatever the wearer imagines, the ring will create. No hard upper limit to the power ring's capabilities has yet been demonstrated and it is often referred to as "the most powerful weapon in the universe."


Do I really need to provide an explanation as to why I would want the powers of a ring which is limited only by whatever the wearer imagines (...and the color yellow)?

PhoenixMystiqueNow, if I were to choose from the super powers of the X-Men, one of my favorite series, I choose either the telekinetic abilities of the Phoenix or the shape-shifting abilities of Mystique. It would be way cool to be able to move anything around, including myself or to shape-shift into any appearance.

But, the truth is that the one super power I would really like to possess is magic, like in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Or, as Jacob Da Jew might phrase it...



It's all in the wand, baby!


I don't know if Jacob, or the originators of this meme would count this as a super power, but so what.... I'll do what I want. And, if I had Harry Potter's magic, I really could do what I want.

As most of you, know, I do not like to hassle people with tags. I'll just make a few suggestions, going back to the Justice League/Super Friends theme.

Rafi is more of a long-distance runner than a sprinter, but perhaps could be seen as The Flash anyway.

I could see Batya or Lisa as Wonder Woman. (Rumor has it that Lisa is an avid comic book reader, too.)

I have it on good authority that Ron (AKA: The Hashmonean) likes powerful vehicles. I could see him feeling quite comfortable behind the wheel of the Batmobile, souped up with loads of gadgets, mowing down a terrorist or two. I actually see him more as Robin that as Batman. The honor of being Batman gets bestowed on Nathan of Lines Writing Lines. You're both in Tel-Aviv, so that'll be convenient for you to work together. Have you even met, yet? I think you might get along. I'm pretty sure, anyway.

Jack's leadership skills make him suited for the role of Superman, the proverbial head of the Justice League/Super Friends (AKA Super Bloggers). Plus, as an abba (dad) , I'm sure a super power or two would come in handy (eg. x-ray vision, superhuman strength, superhuman speed, flying, etc).

I could see Bar-Kokhba as Aquaman. Don't ask me how I came to this conclusion. It's a secret.

Eric at The Israel Situation would make a good Hawkman. "Why?" you ask. Why not? He's in Colorado,...lots of peaks and mountains. Being able to fly would certainly come in handy.

I wonder if Material Maidel would make a good Bat Girl. Let's ask her.... She already chose "time travel" as super power. But, since she might be a closet nerd, Bat Girl would be perfect for her, as her alter ego is a librarian.

Omri
at Mere Rhetoric could be Atom, getting into places he shouldn't. And Daniel of The Jewish Fist could be Green Arrow. That should help him deal with the local "nuisances"
in his area.

What about Occidental Israeli? Could he be a Human Torch?

Now, how could I possible forget Micha'el at My Random Diatribes? He's one of the few bloggers I know "in real life." He has just the personality to be a super hero. But which one? Which super power would he choose.

Stay tuned....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Haveil Havalim #235 Is Up!

Fast of the Seventh Month 5770

Batya has done a fantastic job hosting the Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival this week!

It's the JBloggers Unite! The Post-JBlog Convention Havel Havelim aka The Slow Fast Edition of Havel Havilim

She has posted it on both Shiloh Musings and Me-Ander.

Don't miss the post-JBloggers Convention posts.Check out exactly what participants liked and didn't like about it. We'll see if they take any such feedback under consideration for next year....

Shanah Tovah!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shabbath Leftovers - Rosh HaShanah 5770

Fast of the Seventh Month (Tzom Gedaliah) 5770

OK, I am obviously not eating anything right now. It's a fast day, and B"H I do not have any health issue which would prevent me from fasting.

only four hours

how many times can I tell you about my omelet or egg sandwich? Booooooring!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Beware Of Governments Bearing Gifts: Israeli GPO To Begin Issuing Press Credentials To Bloggers

Erev Rosh HaShanah 5770

Tomer Devorah alerted me to the following:
Media Credentials for Top Israeli Bloggers

Erev Rosh HaShanah 5770/September 18, 2009, 10:49 AM

(IsraelNN.com) Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office will acknowledge the growing power of bloggers by providing writers of the most popular blogs with media credentials, according to Maariv. The credentials would allow the bloggers to enter news conferences and similar events.

The initiative was first revealed at the Second International Jewish Bloggers Convention this week by Ron Dermer of the Prime Minister's Office, who said it will take some time to implement the program. PMO officials will first spend months investigating various blogs and determining which of Israel's popular bloggers should be offered credentials.

Full story

As I understand it, this parashah was initiated by Jameel Rasheed @ The Muqata blog, when he made a public request for press credentials at the aforementioned convention:
"...Therefore, the logical question I asked was if the Israeli government wants our help to "Defend Israel" through the JBlogosphere (and we gladly help), why can't we get [Government Press Office] GPO Press Credentials? I was surprised that so many people applauded the question. Dermer promised he would take care of it. To help him with his promise -- if you are a serious blogger, drop me an email and I'll put together a request list to him....."
The way I see it, the key word in the above news report is "investigating." Call it K'far Tapu'ah Paranoia, if you must. I choose to call it necessary suspicion of the government.

I have no problem with Jameel's request. If he receives press credentials, then more power to him. However, I believe we must keep this policy in perspective.

The Erev Rav controlled, Israeli government is running scared. The ratio of Haredim in the Israeli population continues to increase, as is that of religious Jews, in general. The majority of second-graders who started school this year are religious. The percentage of officers in the IDF who identify as religious is the greatest it has ever been, and continues to increase each year.

Yet, every time the Torah world attempts to assert its influence, the Israeli Supreme Court immediately shoots it down.

The government knows that it's only a matter of time before they will no longer be able to keep up the resistance.

Eventually they will have no choice but to take increasingly drastic measures, in a futile attempt to prevent the inevitable.

The Erev Rav controls the mainstream Israeli media. The center-right Jerusalem Post is sometimes critical of the government, but does sufficient bashing of Haredim and settlers to keep it off its back.

The last thing the Israeli government needs is a set of independent critics with access to government officials. They know what we have in mind, and they don't like it one bit.

If granted access to press conferences and other assorted events, we will do the one thing of which the Israeli goverment is terrified.

We will be asking questions, and not just any questions, but the questions they don't want to be asked, let alone answer in public. We will be asking the questions to which they do not even know the answers, causing them great public embarrassment. We will be asking "them" to justify their actions. We will be putting "them" under the microscope, and adding the information we gather to our posts publicizing the truth to Jews outside of Israel, keeping them informed as to what is really taking place here.

There is no question that not just any blogger will be granted press credentials. Oh sure, there may be one token they will be able to brand as a nut job in an attempt to discredit other bloggers they do not like. But don't expect any great revelations in freedom for the press with this new policy. No, the powers that be will be using this as an opportunity to "investigate" us.

Fellow blogger Nati of Mystical Paths has already been "visited" by the Shabba"k (General Security Service AKA: "Secret Police") over his writings.

There was a time when I figured that the powers that be did not take English speaking blogs seriously. We're just a bunch of ideological nuts,...regardless of ideological flavor.

Well, there is no doubt that "they" know we're on the map. Whether "they" think we are a threat to them, only time will tell. What we do know is that instead of flying under the radar, the radar will, at least periodically, be focused on us.

Beware of governments bearing gifts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

JBloggers Convention Post-Mortum: No Regrets

26 of the Sixth Month 5769

Well, another Jewish Bloggers Convention has passed, and I didn't even get a lousy T-Shirt.

Do I regret not going? No. But, just because I didn't attend the convention, doesn't mean that I can't provide my very own post-mortum. That's part of the fun of being a blogger, throwing my opinion around whenever I want. Hey! No one said you had to read it!

I included many links in this post. That was not to annoy you, but so that you can know who I'm talking about, that is, if you want to. You don't have to click on every single link. For convenience sake, links to posts and to websites are in blue-green and links to photos are in red.

Convention Communication
As I was trying to leave my house, I saw Benji online, and asked him via Twitter if he had seen any of my attempts at infiltration cards at the convention. Then I noticed Akiva online, live-Twoozing the convention. So, I followed him for a while, and suggested a question to ask at the workshop he was attending.
Akiva: In the Defending Israel through Social Media session. Israeli govt spokesperson, 'We're losing the PR battle.'

10ag: @akivapaths Has anyone brought up that some Jewish bloggers couldn't care less about PR to goyim? Educating Jews, yes....

(cont.) Let's care more about what HaQadosh Barukh Hu (The Holy One, Blessed Be He) thinks, and not what the goyim think. #

Akiva: @benyehudah # I'll ask when they open to questions :-) Yes you can live Twooze your questions!
I'd be interested in finding out what the response was from the panel. Later that night, I did some more, quick Twittering with Ron and Rafi about the convention, kind of a wrap-up.


Convention Voyeurism
Jacob Richman took countless photos at the convention, and was nice enough to post them on his site. He also put many more on Facebook, and opened them up for tagging.

Boy, I'm glad I didn't go, simply because of the crowds. I hadn't even thought of that when I originally posted why I wasn't attending. I'm not claustrophobic or anything, just feel a bit overwhelmed by them sometimes.

Double Tapper was clever enough to wear a shirt with his blog name on it, not to mention bringing his trademark,...a weapon. Steve Leavitt also wore a shirt with his name on it.

Yocheved Golani kept holding up a small poster promoting her book. A little tacky, yes, but can't fault her really. And it worked. Even I am blogging about it, giving her a drop of free publicity. After all, it sounds like it could be a helpful book. It's called It's My Crisis and I'll Cry If I Need To: Empower Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge.

Yocheved is sitting next to Penina Tal-Or of Jews For Judaism, and Ruti Mizrahi of Ki Yachol Nuchal.

Carl was there. Our mutual acquaintance Debbie suggested that he and I meet. Perhaps one of these days...

I also missed meeting Rafi. Here he is with Akiva. I also missed seeing my buddy Shmu'el, now that he's abandoned me.... Actually, I missed meeting quite a few people for the first time: Ron, RivkA, Risa, Jacob, and countless others.


Airing Of Grievances (alla "Seinfeld" on Festivus)
Where to begin? Well, I will just stick with those issues I did not already cover in my original why I'm not attending post.

1. Check out the prayer set-up. Unacceptable. Where are my daleth amoth? (I told you so.) Was there a place to wash ones hands nearby? Was there silence? Was there chit-chat? Was it rushed through? Were the ma'asas of the inyanim of the minhagim emphasized over halacha?

2. I heard from Batya that there wasn't any mention of Twoozer nor of WeJew. Not cool. (Harumpf!) For those of you unfamiliar with these networking tools, Twoozer is the Jewish answer to Twitter, and WeJew is the Jewish answer to YouTube. Here's a photo of founders and operators Avi Abelow and Shlomo Wollins, standing with Moshe and my friend Menahem.

3. Was there any mention of Haveil Havalim or any other blog carnival? (I told you so.)

4. Jack, Soccer Dad, and Leah were not flown in for the convention. (I told you so.) Totally unacceptable.

5. Well, I could go on and on. But as my friend Ariel suggests, there's really no point in doing so.

They didn't seem to listen to feedback last year (...or did they?), so why would they this year?


No Regrets?
So, do I regret not attending the convention? Nope. It still seems to much like a stage for a select few to push their agendas and to make some money. However, most bloggers with whom I spoke were most interested in the social opportunities, were grateful for the set up, and were willing to tolerate the blatant ulterior motives in order to shmooze, catch up, and meet new people.

I sure would have liked to see the looks on people's faces when Jameel Rasheed requested press credentials. (ha ha!)

As you can see, I am happy to promote people, organizations such as WebAds.co.il (Heck! Even my own health insurance company was a sponsor!), even conventions themselves. I am just not willing to attend those conventions which include the participation of representatives from the Israeli government. But, never say never.

OK. Maybe I

By the way, did anyone else besides Ariel, Ron, RivkA, and Benji see my cards which were snuck into the convention? Does anyone know what happened to them?

The "In" Siman (Symbolic) Foods For Rosh HaShanah 5770

26 of the Sixth Month 5769

The "In" Siman (Symbolic) Foods For Rosh HaShanah 5770 were created by yours truly!

You have all heard the one about having lettuce, raisins, and celery on the table on Rosh HaShanah, right? "Lettuce have a raisin celery." (Let us have a raise in salary.) While at work, another siman food, in English, sort of just came to me.

Qishu'im are those "not-quite-zucchinis" I mention periodically on this blog. More precisely, they are green squash. We should have them on the table this year, and say "May our enemies be squashed." If that's too politically incorrect for you, then you could say, "May my yesher hara be squashed." Or if that is still too intense, then say "May my squash game improve this year." I was so excited about how clever I was, that I just had to go around telling everyone at work. Unfortunately, my brilliance was met with only lukewarm response.


One of my superiors was even more clever, challenging me to think of a proper place for chocolate in the collection of siman foods on the table. I met his challenge. Being a grammar nut finally paid off. I couldn't think of any interesting connection in English. So, I broke apart the word in Hebrew to see what I could find. שוקולד (shoqolad) is the Hebrew used for chocolate. ש I set aside. It could mean "that" or "which." Then is hit me. קלד (Q/L/D) is the root used for typing. להקליד (lehaqlid) means "to type" and מקלדת (miqledeth) is a "keyboard." From this analysis, I came up with שנוקלד בספר החיים (she nuqlad b'sefer hahayim).

"May we be typed into the Book of Life!"

*********

You can check out the picture of a chocolate keyboard at Geek Alerts.

And don't forget to make sure that the chocolate you put on the same table with a meat meal is pareve (neutral/non-dairy)!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Esser Agaroth Limerick

25 of the Sixth Month 5769

A certain fellow blogger sent this to me, on the same day as the JBloggers Convention, no less, saying that he "found" it. Well, since it's days before Rosh HaShanah, I suppose I should give him the benefit of the doubt.

How did he know that I liked limericks?

Should I be offended? Or should I feel complemented that he took the time to send it to me?

What do you make of it?

There once was an old man of Esser,

Whose knowledge grew lesser and lesser,

It at last grew so small

He knew nothing at all

And now he's a college professor.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shabbath Leftovers - Nitzavim-Wayelekh 5769: Double Parshah/Double Shabbath!

24 of the Sixth Month 5769

This Shabbath was a double parshah, so I had a double Shabbath.

I was invited a long time ago, and finally went, to dinner by a family from my home town. I did not know until Wednesday that they take in Shabbath early during the summer. No problem. I simply got ready early, and was out the door by 4:30 PM. I had heard that the buses were going to start shutting down earlier than usual, in order to prepare the public for the impending change from daylight savings time to standard time. So, I didn't bother bringing bus fair, and was going to walk. My hosts live in Sanhedria, hilly but doable without getting too sweaty. I brought my spelt bread, as I going to try once and for all to cut wheat out of my diet. I put on too many kilos this summer, the season in which I usually lose weight. So, that'll be one of my "new year's resolutions:" Wheat, out you go ! (among other things, but I digress....)

I arrived for minhah at 5:15 PM. We sat down to dinner by 6:15 PM at least. We ate a comfortable pace, looked at old photos, chatted about the 'hood, and were finished by 8:30 PM.

I walked backed up and down Yehezkel Street, and stopped off to visit friends in Me'ah She'arim, which I had told them I would do. There were just about to have soup, so I sat down and joined them (eating only symbolic portions, of course). I

Gee. Do you think maybe I should cut down on my portions in addition to cutting out certain foods from my diet?

Leftovers? Oh, yeah, ...nothing special. I chopped up the last piece of (unbreaded) shnitzel, and threw it into an omelet. No big whoop....

Hmm... It seems that this is turning into more of a weekly Shabbath Report than a Shabbath Leftovers Report. No matter. As long as I am giving you a flavor of life in Israel.

Have a good week, and see you next year!

...and to those of you at the JBloggers Convention, have a nice time. As you may already know, I am not in attendance. (It's taking place as I write this.) Still, when you're at the convention, look at for a surprise from Esser Agaroth!

NYA HA HA HA!

Next week: Rosh HaShanah Leftovers!

Haveil Havalim #234 Is Up

24 of the Sixth Month 5769

Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival Edition #234 is up at The Reform Shuckle!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

JBloggers Covnention Site Down

21 of the Sixth Month 5769

At about 10:15 this morning, the following update appeared on my Twitter page, as well as the twitter pages of 145 other followers.

jbloggers Jbloggers website is temporarily down for maintenance ahead of the convention.

Whether the JBloggers Convention site is really down for "maintenance" or not, I can't say. But, what I can tell you is that I HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the site being down....

Monday, September 07, 2009

Haveil Havalim #233 Is Up!

18 of the Sixth Month 5769

Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival Edition #233 is up at Joshuapundit!

Check it out!

Why I'm Not Attending The 2009 JBloggers Convention

18 of the Sixth Month 5769

I'm not attending the JBloggers ConventionBefore I get into why I'm not attending this year's JBloggers Convention, let me take the opportunity for some qualification. Steve Leavitt of Webads.co.il, the main organizer of the convention, is a good guy, means well, and is doing to a service to bloggers,...socially, and networking wise. He has always returned my e-mail questions about the Convention very quickly and clearly. Even though he could easily have gotten away with ignoring them or answering them with some kind of snarky comments (...but didn't).

I have absolutely no intention of encouraging a boycott of the convention, or even suggest that other bloggers should not attend. I would never want to harm another Jew's business opportunities, and do not believe that this e-mail will result in anything of the sort (has wehallilah). On the contrary, it may even generate additional interest in the convention, as this kind of material often does.

I am simply posting views on the convention which I believe are worthy of contemplation, as well as answering several bloggers' personal questions as to why I am not attending in one easy to find location, rather than sending out multiple, personalized e-mails.

(Note: I just re-read my own post as to why I did not attend this convention last year. You may want to check it out, and see how things have changed, and how they haven't.)

Remember last year's "branding" presentation? (eyes rolling) Well, our lovely representative from the Foreign Ministry will be back. (10) I am totally against any participation by a representative of the Israeli government, right-wing, left-wing, pseudo-right wing, as in the case of the current government, or career employee or consultant, if for no other reason, than the symbolic power of such presence or participation. I was completely dumbfounded by the representatives assumption last year, that we were prepared to be the Israeli government's front line, Hasbara soldiers. (Um...no, I don't think so!)

"Defending Israel" is great, if you mean defending Am Yisrael (halachic Am Yisrael), Torath Yisrael, and Eretz Yisrael. But I sincerely doubt any of these concepts regularly enter the minds of Foreign Ministry representatives, while they are functioning in that role.

Talkin' 'bout the State of Israel?

I will criticize the Erev Rav-based Israeli government when I believe it needs to be criticized. No matter how independent bloggers can be, no matter how much we can stand by our principles, I refuse to give anything even remotely associated with this government the time of day.

Most bloggers I spoke to told me to get over it, and take the opportunity to enjoy meeting all of the other bloggers I've connected with on line. (not a bad idea, and one of the few reasons why I actually considered attending) After all, there are two alternative workshops held at the same time as the workshop featuring the Foreign Ministry representative, and who's to say I have to go to any workshop. I could just kibbitz the whole time. The only question is will Bibi be back? Or some other "celebrity" be there to take his place as "surprise guest."

As a Southern Californian (from the city, not the country), I am immune to being starstruck. What I am not immune to is being thoroughly annoyed by those people who aren't immune. (9) I experience a violent, allergic reaction when I encounter "fawning" and "slobbering" over celebrities. I have this strong, unyielding desire to gag myself with a spoon.

(8)
The only other things which give me an even worse allergic reaction are pompousness, gaivah, and arrogance so thick that they can be sliced with a knife. I not even talking about the majority of bloggers. Trust me. There are two or three who have enough for all of us. This is, of course, a very minor reason, a reason which, in itself, would not prevent me from attending. However, it is a reason nonetheless, which warrants mentioning.

(7) Where's the diversity at the convention? The inclusion of a couple of token lefties on some panels does not equal diversity. How about including an active duty IDF soldier, a kibbutznk, a mom, someone from the North, someone from the South, someone from Tel-Aviv, someone from Los Angeles, a kibbutznik, or a combined left-wing/right-wing yeshiva student?? Nope. Just the same boring faces and personalities from last year. (I must admit, though, I was happy to see Rebecca Markowitz of The Big Felafel on one of the panels.)

And, speaking of diversity, um,...did someone say she suspects (6) there might be some good ol' fashion Haredi bashing at the convention? (Hmm...)

Meanwhile, (5) I think some mention of Jewish Blog Carnivals could have been squeezed in somewhere (Haveil Havalim, Kosher Cooking Carnival, JPix), as well as some mention as to how they fit into the greater scheme of the JBlogosphere. I still think it will be, but not officially, and not by any of the workshop facilitators nor panelists. Stay tuned....

As I do not know the location of the convention (Do we know the location, yet?), (4) I am unable to prepare for the contingency that the location and atmosphere set aside for tefilloth will not be a conducive environment for me to pray with kewannah (Now, how's that for pompous, gaivadik, and arrogant?). Sure, I can always pray before and after the convention. That's why this is another reason not actually preventing me from attending. It would be nice to be able to pray at a "Jewish" Bloggers convention, though. For too long, I have considered this icing on the cake, instead of the cake itself. How dare I desire to eat it! (LeHathillah, I believe in praying tefillath minhah at p'lag haminhah and tefillath aravith at sheqi'ath hahamah.)

(3)
Benji Lovitt is performing. Sorry, Benji, but after I saw Eddie Murphy, (my SD home girl) Whoopie Goldberg, and Robin Williams all in one night, for only $13 (and that included two drinks), and on a Tuesday no less, with a drunk Bruce Willis getting up on stage to heckle Robin Williams (which backfired of course) there is no stand-up act which could possibly even hope to come close to making me laugh. (Although I have to admit that Margaret Cho is pretty damn funny. But I digress.... Benji, I'm sure you're a nice guy, and a talented comedian, so I hope you know I'm just messing with you here, OK?)

(2)
I'm what you call a "semi-anonymous" blogger, and would like to keep it that way. I have my reasons, which I won't get into here. I use my real name (believe it or not), but few other bloggers in Israel know what I actually look like (Batya, Yisrael, Yo'el, Bob, Shmu'el, Jameel, Donny, Michael, Avi, Miriam, Devash, and Ge'ulah Girl...). Hmm...I guess a lot more than a few could recognize me, after all. Now, assuming each and everyone of the above plays it cool with my identity at the convention, and assuming all of the non-bloggers in attendance play it cool, and my self-centered, arrogant enemies couldn't care less about revealing my identity, I am still not willing to take the chance. Two anonymous bloggers mentioned to me that they were satisfied with how the convention protected their anonymity last year. Yet, from where I stand, I see too many variables which cannot be unaccounted. I don't like when these kind of "surprises" pop up, and so, I am unwilling to take any chances.

Many bloggers in Israel have reported to me that the main reason they are attending the convention is the social component. Any dissatisfaction they have with the convention's content or arrangement is easily overridden by the social and other networking opportunities the convention provides. From this I have determined that the convention is essentially, or primarily, a social event. As a rule, (1) I do not attend mixed social events. You don't have to agree with this policy of mine; you do not have to like it, approve of it, nor understand it. I have no intention of dictating to other bloggers what they should or should not do. So, do me a favor, and accord me the same courtesy. (...and since my presence at the convention, or lack thereof, will not make or break it, who cares?)

I await your threats and other assorted hate mail....

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Shabbath Leftovers - Ki Thavo 5769: Duck, Duck, Goose....

18 of the Sixth Month 5769

This Shabbath I had dinner in Me'ah She'arim, with a fairly standard group of cohorts: A non-meshichist Lubavitcher/Yerushalmi, his wife, his son, another non- (if not anti-) meshichist Lubavitcher, a Belzer, his wife and kids, another Belzer, another generic, yet interesting Jew, my Vizhnitzer friend, and (right wing, super extremist, former "settler") me.

The food was too much, as usual, and I came away stuffed. I really must learn moderation! (...next year, and after the haggim...) The meal included a cake which our host decided would double as my (belated) birthday cake. (8 Ellul - for future reference...)

I had a guest spend the night, but he already made other arrangements for his "spiritual growth and development" this Shabbath, and thus, did not accompany me. He may come for Rosh HaShannah, and so may come with me to Me'ah She'arim after all. I plan to be there for dinner on the second night.

Rav LandaFor years, I have noodged that friend of mine in Me'ah She'arim to prepare duck for Rosh HaShannah, ever since I heard that Rav Landau's team of shohtim (kosher slaughterers) slaughtered ducks just before the fall haggim. However, I never to seem to be able to find any duck. Granted, I have never made much of an effort to search for it,...but so what.

Rav RubinOnce I got nervous, and pissed-off, when I heard my friend's sons-in-law, who works for Rav Rubin, that the Israeli government outlawed the slaughter of ducks. That didn't make any sense. And, since he (like I) couldn't give a rat's tuchus. about any Israeli law which contradicts the Torah, maybe he could shecht me one secretly, off site. He just rattled off something quickly in Yiddish, and sauntered away. I believe I caught the word meshigana in there someplace. Well, he and I never DID get along. But I digress...

Now that I'm in Jerusalem, I don't want to have to shlep back up to K'far Tapu'ah to get someone to shecht me a duck. And besides, where the heck am I gonna get a live duck??

Once in the overpriced super market in the Azrieli Center, Tel-Aviv, I found a whole goose for sale. It was imported from France. I didn't recognize the French heksher, but was not in a position to buy or prepare, let alone in the small toaster oven which was available to me, anyway.

So, readers (all 12 of you), this is your mission, if you decided to accept it. FIND ME A SHECHTED DUCK FOR ROSH HASHANNAH! (No, molded tofu doesn't count.)

Wait a minute. Now I remember. Didn't a fellow blogger shecht a goose, and post about it? Yep. And since a duck is much easier to shecht than a goose, maybe I'll ask him to "look into the duck situation," and see what he comes up with.

But, just in case, please think, brainstorm, and snoop around for ideas. An actual duck would be preferable, but do your best.

In the meantime, I won't let you down. You obvious clicked on this link to check what tasty Shabbath leftover recipe I have left you. You won't be disappointed...

My guest and I never ate the egg salad which I made as one of the items for se'udah shelishith (third Shabbath meal). So, I ate it this morning.

I'm still not down with the whole "provide precise measurements in a recipe" thing. So, I am afraid you will have to be inspired to create your own version, using my suggestions as to how to season it.

Egg Salad
eggs, hard boiled
mayonnaise
salt
garlic, crushed
parsley, chopped
dill, ripped

Mix together the mayonnaise, herbs and spices first, using very little dill. (You can always add more later, but you can't remove any extra!) Next mix in the finally chopped or crushed yolks from the hard boiled eggs. Last but not least, add in the whites, chopped as finely or as coarsely as you prefer.

Enjoy!

(Tip o' the week: If you're not going to be able to use up a whole package of fresh herbs before it all goes bad, store it in the freezer, rather than depending on dried herbs. Fresh is better. This works for any cooked dish and some salads where the herbs are mixed into a condiment.)

How To Get Deeper Into Torah Without Going Off The Deep End

17 of the Sixth Month 5769

I do not remember how old this pamphlet by "Friedman The Tutor" is exactly. However, I do remember that on the version I first saw, explicit permission was given to copy and distribute it, and one was even encouraged to do so. (Please correct me if this has changed at all.) I agree with most all of what Friedman includes in this pamphlet, and highly recommend it.

No doubt, many of the suggestions can be applied to educational institutions other than yeshivas, as well as to making aliyah (immigration to Israel, ie. be patient with yourself when you arrive).

You can read it below (using the full-screen and zoom features.), or view it, or download it here.

My comments on the pamphlet, as well as my suggestions as to how I might change a few things here and there, are found below.

Friedman - Get Deeper Into Torah Without Going Off The Deep End

Go Slow
Friedman brings this phrase in as a section title six times,...probably the right number of times.

Make Friends With Families
I would add make friends with Going to families every single Shabbath not spent in yeshiva can be intense, especially if you're like me and you like your space.

When you're at a family's house, your length of stay is generally controlled by your hosts, as is how long you have to wait until you eat or until the next course, the topic of conversation, who you sit next to, etc. If you can afford it, try to bring flowers, wine, or dessert over, preferably before Shabbath. If you can't afford it, DON'T bring anything. It's their misswah to have you over. Just apologize for not being able to. They should understand, and probably push leftover cake on you after the meal. If it's not their complete pleasure having you over, even though you didn't bring something, consider accepting an invitation from another family the next time.

Take the opportunity to pray with the ba'al habayith (head of household) in his beth k'nesseth (synagogue), so that you can check out a new place. You may like it, or dislike it. Either way, you can cross it off your list of new places to check out. You may also end up at a minyan in someone's house, which can be heimish, or simply ending up meeting new people to whom you can relate.

Do not feel obligated to go to back to the same family a second time. Although if your experience wasn't a complete disaster, they may deserve a second (...but not third, fourth, and fifth) chance. Maybe they were just having a bad day or something....

Make friends with men living in their own apartments. Help organize a Shabbath meal at a friend's apartment. See how you can still have a night out with the guys even though you are now keeping Shabbath. You will have more control over coming and going, and if you help organize or even prepare something, you will feel more apart of the experience, than just being a passive participant.

Make friends with couples your age and make the effort to stay in touch with friends who get married. Sure, they'll want their own space for a while, and have to spend the requisite number of Shabbathoth at the In-Laws. However, you should be on hand the minute they become ready to invite guests of their own. Hopefully, they won't just have other couples over, but have his single friends over or her single friends over, too.

The more responsibility you take for your own Shabbath, the more control you have over it. It may be cramped to get a meal together in a dorm room. But you would be surprised how enjoyable it can be, especially if it's pouring or snowing outside, and you have something warm on the plata to Add some singing, and you've got the potential for a great Shabbath meal with your roommates and neighbors!

Yeshiva Search
There is no rule that that says you have stay at the same yeshiva where you started. As you grow and develop, you find your path moving in a direction you never would have expected.

Three Favorite Halachic Follies
"Learn the difference between halacha and minhag, halacha and humra, halacha and qula, mid'Oraitha and mid'Rabbanan...."

Friedman is quite right. Unfortunately, many yeshivas not only do not teach these differences, but discourage learning about them, so as not "to confuse new students." Then, after a few years, when it's time to begin learning such differences, these students are already used to the way they have been doing things, and are often convinced that they are locked into practices, from which they cannot "halachicly" be released. (See and hear more on the horrors of the increasingly distorted halachic process in "Why are rabbis afraid to decide?" and "Must Halachic Reality hew to the truth?")

Commitment to Torah is not an Address
I certainly agree with the "go slowly" theme throughout this pamphlet. However, I must disagree with this general statement. The proper place for Jews to live, but where we have the potential to apply the Torah in all aspects of our lives in Eretz Yisra'el. All Jews need to come now!

Rather than get into the details of this here, I will simply recommend reading Eretz Yisrael in the Parshah by Rabbi Moshe Lichtman (English) and anything by Rav Moshe Tzuri'el (Hebrew), particularly Otzroth HaTorah.

Top Ten Words and Phrases of תשס"ט/5769

17 of the Sixth Month 5769

The following is the list of Top Ten Words and Phrases of תשס"ט/5769. The presentation of this list is an annual tradition.

If you don't get, don't sweat it. You're just not part my (super spiritual!) inner circle (yet). That's all.

Enjoy!

Shannah Tovah!


10. Nonchalant

9. Disdain

8. Favicon (Credit: Nathan)

7. Post Secret (Credit: Nathan)

6. Ostentatiously Tzni'us - women who "cover" everything up, but still stick out like a sore thumb, due to big, neon, purple turbans and the like. (Credit: The Hayeh Adam Rebbe of Me'ah She'arim)

5. Un-Jews/Un-Jewish (Should be self-explanatory - Credit: Golbert & Co.)

4. Babylonians (Jews who refuse to make aliyah - see also Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 9b)

3. "My rabbi said..." from annoying women after spending a semester or two in "sem." (Credit: The Kalashnikover Rebbe)

2. "My teachers say that I should only marry a man who sits and learns all day AND is "well-established..." (Credit: MDB) ("Well-established" is code for "wealthy." Now you know why there's a so-called "shidduch crisis." It's because of "teachers" like these.) (Credit: MDB)

And the top word or phrase of תשס"ט/5769 is...


1. OMG! I am SO spiritual! (Credit: MDB)

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