A group of Jews endeavors towards total domination of the blogosphere.

Saturday, December 06, 2003  

EphShap is taking bets on whether the woman in the back in the picture below (from Chovvei) is wearing a yarmulke. It's a pretty old picture, and you'd think there's no way it is a yarmulke, but it really looks like it.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:14 PM |

Aidel Maidel announces her pregnancy, and congratulations and good for her. She writes

It’s been hard to keep it such a secret, but I was really just afraid of the ayn hora.
The ayin hora, or "evil eye," is something that, in my research, I've found to be almost entirely absent from Jewish literature (the strongest reference comes from a Rashi commentary, I forget precisely to what). Of course, I haven't really cracked the binding on kabbalah stuff, so I don't know what's there.
BTW: I should add that in my earlier research, when discussing Rashi's comment with a certain professor, medieval scientific hypotheses were brought up. Medieval science held that the eye actually affected that which it saw, as opposed to the reverse; which is to say that rays of eye hit objects instead of rays of light hitting the eye. Thusly, an "evil eye" or a mean look could actually produce negative results.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:27 PM |

I'm going to be a guest on WYUR, Yeshiva University Radio, tomorrow night from 7-8 PM. Topics will likely include Protocols and its one-year anniversary, the Kosher Bachelor, and the kick-ass stuff about the Geneva Accords I'll be posting tonight at Protocols and in a story at Jewsweek. You're supposed to be able to listen in online (I've been having trouble doing this, but everyone else seems to be doing fine), so click over tomorrow, and feel free to call in or send in your questions/comments, as per their procedures.
Of course, all of this is contingent on my actually getting in the building, but the WYUR folks seem to think that won't be a problem.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:13 PM |

Friday, December 05, 2003  

Here's a short sampling of the Q&A with Rabbo thus far in my transcription. The beginning are comments he started before I got to him. In places where there is a "...", I've not yet been able to discern precisely what's being said. Much more to come. The questioner's comments, her transcribed very roughly, are in brackets. In this section, all of the questions are being asked by Stewart Ain of The New York Jewish Week. I will be editing within this post without notice.

we cannot understand that the leftists…should not believe in to trying to find solutions for the basic problems…we cannot say that the present atmosphere of despair…on the contrary, we believe that this should be a motive for us to try to solve the basic elements of the conflict that led to such kind of, eh, using all forms of confidence and trust, and I believe that we need to bring slowly the (inaudible)…otherwise, we are heading towards a disaster
[election year]
look, I’m not concerned with what was said about Arafat for him or against him, what concerns me as a Palestinian is that I need a new atmosphere, I need assurances through which I can guarantee that there will be elections and then my people decide whether whether they want to choose yasser Arafat, a new leadership, it’s up to the people. The main thing for me, the main requirement is to have a different atmosphere for elections; this is my belief.
[supposed to be elections next year.]
Yes, we called for elections at the beginning of this year, but we were prevented from holding it…
[general elections]
I mean general elections. The new government now has called for elections after six months. I hope that Israelis facilitate that and I hope that the Americans also will help us in holding this elections. This will be a very important battle element in improving the condition, but not only inside the Palestinian side, but also between Palestinians and Israelis.
[Palestinians can see an alternative…there’s a leader who they can turn to]
the main thing I would say is that nobody should be taking us officially or unofficially…the more…the more the people believe that there is no need…
[ramallah compound should be liberated]
not only that…it’s not a question of movement
[need Arafat out of the compound…]
this is one reason, but I need not only the free movement of yasser Arafat, I need the free will of the people to express itself through elections.
[you think that’s critical, releasing him from the compound]
this is a necessity…of course, it’s a necessity…
[are you a candidate]
I don’t know, until I see elections, I don’t know…
[would you consider running]
no. I don’t consider anything…not now, totally focusing on one issue I want to convince my people of this accord. that’s the priority now. Nothing else.
UPDATE: Here, questions asked by me are initialed
[SIW: why didn’t you address right of return]
we did address it (pause) we thought it’s not necessary to use the same terminology and it’s not necessary to sink in the swamp of slogans. We wanted to have a simpler, more direct pragmatic approach by trying to find a comprehensive solution, a package of steps for resolving the issue of refugees. It’s better than praising a slogan, say “right of return,” or removing a slogan, or playing the game of slogans, which might satisfy the aspirations of the people, but not solve their problems and does not end their plight.
UPDATE: The conclusion of the Rabbo interview. Questions not labeled SIW are being asked by either Stewart Ain of the Jewish Week or Michael Arnold of JTA. This post will be further updated with the Yossi Beilin interview
[what does meeting with powell do for geneva]
I believe it’s a good beginning, but we need more perspective than that (inaudible) concerning the implementation of the road map
[the two are are not incompatible]
we believe that the road map is the mother plan. And the road map includes the third phase, which speaks about solution in the year 2004, a two-state solution. Okay, here we are introducing a detailed solution for a final status and in this we are complementing the road map, we are giving it more credibility, we are showing that it is applicable as a road map because it is based on this detailed plan and this is what we are trying to do, but we need more active role and more effort from the administration concerning the road map itself.
[you mention 2004]
[2005 realistic]
I don’t know what’s realistic now, I think that ya’ani what should be realistic is to make our efforts so that the majority of the public opinions in both sides will be convinced that this plan we have is the only way towards achieving peace between the two sides.
[SIW: Israeli security]
long pause…look, the security issue was addressed in this document in the widest sense possible, not only as military and security measures, but even as political and demographic measures. So, it’s the only document which deals with the ensurance of security in this comprehensive manner and that’s what should be seen. and that’s the role of our Israeli, ya’ani, colleagues to explain this. I mean, and I believe that those who are, who do not see the basic new elements in this document to address the main interest of the Israeli people, they should not see this, do not intend in fact to give a new chance for the peace process, they want to block the road in front of the peace process
[right of return given up]
look, there’s no simpler thing than the document which we wrote, it’s the simplest thing we did in our life, very simple, very clear, very direct, without ambiguity, without any vague explanations for this issue and that. I advise everybody to read it and we are responsible for every word in it and at the same time we will defend it as it is in front of the Palestinians in Arabic, in front of the jews and Israelis in Hebrew, and in front of all of the world in any possible language.
[res. 194]
we have different approach than approach you are mentioning. Your approach speaks to the slogans; I do not deal with slogans, I deal with the real solutions. You see, if these real solutions will mean to you ‘we forfeit the right…’ it’s up to you, you translate it the way you like. But for me, I want to find the solution for a very serious problem for millions of Palestinian refugees and we introduced a collection of solutions, these collection in itself represent a comprehensive plan and I believe this is the best solution we can afford our people, that’s all. I don’t have to say ‘we quoted this, we stick to that, we accepted’ I’m not playing with the feelings of my people, see, I can use slogans, I mean, and shout ‘no we did not’ or ‘yes we did,’ this will not help we are taking completely different approach than the previous plans had taken…
(chatting with other politicians off-tape)
[SIW: what makes this moment in time different from stockholm, oslo, camp david, etc.]
it’s a new kind of plan, this is the first time in the history of our conflict where we have a detailed, comprehensive plan, and it’s not now the world who is suggesting something to us, we are suggesting something to the world jointly. In the past it is, bush initiative, Clinton proposal, Reagan plan, I don’t know what, I mean, everybody was suggesting things to us. now we are, we are taking the initiative as Palestinians and Israelis and we are telling the world, we can solve the problems by ourselves, here is a detailed plan, please support us, this is the difference, it’s as simple as this.
[SIW: to what degree does this represent palestinians]
I cannot answer this question, it depends, it will depend on the polls, it will depend on the elections, it will depend on the referendum, that we have promised, if this will adopted officially by both sides we are going to hold referendum so that the people will express what they want, but up ‘till now I am optimist because the reaction of the people and the different sections of the Palestinian society were more positive than I had anticipated
[are you upset that Arafat didn’t send a letter]
No, he sent a speech to Geneva, which was, ya’ani, which was a statement which was read in Geneva last week when we launched this, and in this statement he said that he supports the Geneva document, but to endorse it officially, well this is something different, because endorsing it officially needs official negotiations between the two sides.
More to come with Beilin...
This interview has questions coming from Michael Arnold of the JTA, Steward Ain of the Jewish Week, myself, and class-action lawyer Mel Weiss -- yes, class-action lawyer Mel Weiss. In addition to press, honorees and rich people were also in the VIP room.
Here are the first few q's:
[MA: chances of government in power to approve?]
it is possible, it is possible, it may now seem impossible, but I believe if the public opion changes and there is a majority for such an idea like the Geneva accord, then the government will change its policy in order to adapt itself to the situation. We did it in the past, too – Sharon did not want to build the wall, he did it only because of public opinion, it’s a major issue.
[SA: will jews who want to live in territories be allowed to]
in the territories which will become part of Israel, of course, in the territories which will become a part of Palestine, it is up to the Palestinian state. I mean, they will have their own laws, there will not be a special arrangement for jews who would like to live there. But they will have the right like Americans or british.
[SA: so if someone wanted to live in ariel or efrat]
he could not still live there…
[SA: so it could be, someone used the word “judenrein”]
you can say American-rein or british-rein, I mean if the question is, if the, first of all, these people will have to be evacuated, those who don’t, who will not be part of Israel. This is the deal and we’re speaking about 100,000 people. This is not simple, but this is the deal, and we cannot under our responsibility Israelis living in Palestine in such a way, but if in the future, in 10 years, in 20 years, there will be Israelis who would like to live there and according to the Palestinian law it will be possible, then why not?
Getting close to done...
There may be some edits ahead, and I'll be discussing the questions that were submitted and answered soon. Unfortunately, I have a few deadlines in the next 24 hours, so the going may be slow.
[MW: I wonder about more practical things, like the economics that will be caused to haved to be spent on this. It seems to me that the PA will have to be built-up economically, and in order to give the hope to the children that we speak of, they have to see that there’s growth in their economy and security and all the things that we dream for ourselves. has anybody tried to scope out the cost of all this, and if so, where would that money come from, and have arab states been approached to help out?]
We are speaking about an economic draft agreement which will be part of the Geneva Accord in the future and in the next year we will dedicate our efforts, among other things to the annexes of the agreement. now, we have prepared something already, in the past, and we have to update it. It will be updated in a way in which we move from a system of a customs union to a system of free-trade zone; this is our lesson from the last 10 years. But in order to have it as a more institutionalized thing, we will to have to work on this annex, but of course the economic part is a vital part, it is a sine qua non for success.
[MW: It seems to be a Marshall Plan-type of program may be necessary]
Yes, yes, but it is very difficult to get any promise, any commitment right now.
[MW: But that’s something that we as Americans can help with by trying to get the bush administration]
Exactly. I mean, I think that much can be done as a kind of a promise in advance, saying ‘if you sign something like a Geneva Accord’ and it mustn’t be the Geneva itself, it can be something different than that, geneva is just a model, then, this will be the package. So, we are having our demands or, eh, request, I would say, from the arabs, meaning that once such an agreement is signed, they will normalize relations with Israel, we are having our request from the Europeans, meaning, once an agreement is signed, you might become candidates, both countries, to the european union. And to the Americans, it has to do both with NATO and with the economic package.
[MW: I think more discussion of that aspect of the situation has to evolve, because unless you can finance the health & welfare of both states, the odds of keeping people quiet on the street are less and that part of the formula I don’t hear a lot of talk about, of course because it’s gonna mean tax increases to Americans and whatever, but there has to be realistic grappling with that issue. the reason people are terrorists is because they see no hope in their future; there’s nothing, there’s not any that they’re losing]
[SA: What bout the issue of trust, keep hearing lack of trust; Israelis say that Palestinians can’t be trusted, we tried in oslo. You tried with abu mazen in ’96, the Palestinians turned it down. How do we trust again.]
the one who turned it down was shimon peres, of all people, he was the one who did not want it, not the Palestinians. And he made a huge mistake by turned it down, I mean had he agreed as a prime minister to adopt it, we could have been in a very different situation. And about the oslo agreement, the oslo agreement was violated; it was violated by Palestinians, it was violated by Israel, we were the ones who said there were no sacred dates, if you remember it was rabin who said it, and we should not forget baruch Goldstein was the first suicide terrorist -- since oslo, he was the first. Now it doesn’t mean much, it means that you are right in saying that the bottom line is that there is distrust and what we are trying to do right now is to rebuild this trust. By appearing here in the IPF together with Palestinian leadership, the PLO people, the fatah people, ministers, and civil society, it is part of what we are doing. We went to the president of Israel the other week together, the two delegations. And you know we were interviewed by all the, by the whole media, people were very curious about it, it had not happened for a long while.
[SA: khadoumi before un spoke about Israel being an occupied territory]
khadoumi was always against the peace effort, he was very much against the oslo agreement, and we knew it. He is not a real representative of the Palestinian leadership today, although I agree that officially he is there, but nobody takes him too seriously, and he did not prevent us from signing agreements with them, and I am sure that he will be against any kind of agreement like the Geneva accord
[SA: But he speaks before UN as representative for Palestinians]
Yes, yes, yes. I mean, he is not their official representative. Their official representative is saying different things, but I mean I’m not hear to defend this, eh, stupid.
[SA: different pal’s say different things]
Yeah, but nobody takes him seriously
[PE: guarantee that money that goes to Palestinians would actually be used to help the society and not be used for corruption]
we will not give the Americans any guarantee like this, because we are not their patrons, and we shouldn’t play this role. it is up to the Americans to decide how can they monitor their own aid, and that in that they have means, it is not the first time that the Americans are helping countries which are developing countries, and they know what to do, I mean the suspicions of corruption is not something which is unique to one nation or another. and things happened in the past and I think that there are mechanisms which were developed. And one of them was to impose on the Palestinians to nominate a finance minister who is dealing only with this issue and very successfully and very courageously.
[MW: I think what’s necessary also is a developed infrastructure for justice in the Palestinian authority, even Arafat admitted that they hadn’t had one. So nobody’s going to really invest economically unless they see some sort of access to the courts, a way to resolve disputes that makes sense for them as businesspeople. So, you know, that may seem like a detail, but it’s a big one]
No, it’s not a detail, and it is more difficult than anything else, including corruption, because you cannot invent justice. I mean judges have to be there, they have to be loyal they have to get experience, I don’t have to tell you. And if you don’t have the whole structure, when I was the minister of justice, we tried to do something with them and you know I had not been aware of the poverty of the area of this side, there are so few lawyers, I mean, we have as you know, an excess of lawyers, we can export people. But the numbers are unbelievable, 25,000, twice as in japan, you know, it is a little bit. But there is scarcity of lawyers, and they have some good ones, but they don’t have judges.
[MW: But we can help them, we can put together teams of experts to develop constitutions, court systems, procedures. when I met with Arafat with the ipf, that was one of the main points that I emphasized with them, and his aide came, took my card, said we’ll be in touch with you and I never heard from him]
[MA: places like ariel and efrat, part of Clinton plan, how did it come about that these places were given up in negotiations?]
first of all in Clinton plan, there was no map, so nobody can say that efrat or ariel were a part of it. We got the Palestinian suggestion in Taba, ariel was included, but ma’aleh adumim was not included, and for us ma’aleh adumim is a kind of a suburb of Jerusalem, was very, very important. And it was a trade-off, especially when ariel is something which is very very difficult to defend…
[SA: this stems from the Taba?]
What I said in Taba, they were ready for ariel, but they were not ready for ma’aleh adumim, and we actually exchange it.
[SA: so you’re building on Taba]
We are continuing taba
[SA: you don’t think it be any different from taba had you not stopped in taba, the agreement today would be exactly the same]
Exactly, you said my words.
[SIW: you said before that khadoumi should not be seen as representative, to what degree should. Rabbo be seen as representative]
well, he is a prominent person, and I think that there is no doubt, I mean, when you ask Palestinians, khadoumi is representing something which is totally anachronistic, and they know themselves that he is not representing (inaudible), but we are not speaking here about mr. Abed rabbo himself, we are speaking about 25 people who signed the cover letter, and who are representing different parties, and there are three ministers, deputy ministers, people who belong to the central committee of the plo to the leadership of the fatah, to the tanzim, and they are representing, they are the real representatives of the Palestinian street.
[MA: problem that Arafat hasn’t given his approval]
I think that had he given his approval, people would have said how can you trust him, had he not given it, people would have said the most important Palestinian did not agree to it. what he did I think was wise, and I think that he was not asked to do more than that. he encouraged the effort, he did not adopt the wording. And, we don’t need an adoption of the wording, we need the general encouragement, of different leaders, that something like this is important.
[SA: is Palestinian democracy critical]
it may be something which is critical for them, I cannot say the same for me. It is important, but it is not, in my view, it is not critical. I would like to seem them developing as a more democratic society, but I cannot say that for me it is a sort of sine qua non.
[SA: those who say asArafat]
I think that we cannot afford it, to just to say OK, as long as this person is alive, we cannot have peace, I mean at least somebody who lives there and is aware of the dangers, the daily dangers cannot say something like this. Who can say that you don’t want to talk to him, you can say that you won’t to negotiate with him, but to do nothing as long as he is alive, is something that nobody really, who lives in the region, can afford.
[SIW: What specific measures does this contribute to Israeli security]
I think that if there is peace, that it will contribute a lot to our security as it contributed with Egypt and Jordan, and then we have special arrangements there which are very detailed, and all of them are a result of an agreement which was achieved between our former military people who are here, some of them, and their military people, so it was the most professional agreement on security than one could think about.
[SA: What does meeting with powell do for this accord]
It’s part of the encouragement, part of legitimizing the effort. I think the people are looking up to the united states and wait for a sign, and this is a signal, a positive signal, not of endorsement, it won’t be an endorsement, but such an effort is very important. And what president bush said today, with king abdallah, was very very important, encouraging those who are trying to save themselves.
[SIW: What makes this moment in time different from Stockholm, Oslo, Camp David, etc.]
the vacuum, the fact that people are sick and tired of the current situation and they have no better alternative.
[MA: do you think this will affect Israeli plans for the fence, will they speed up construction, stop construction]
I’m not sure, I don’t think that it will have an immediate impact on the current policy of Sharon. In order to change the policy of Sharon, one has to change the public opinion support, and to increase, and only then is there a hope that such changes will take place
[MA: some saying this will help your support to gain leadership of meretz]
this is true, I made it all of it only in order to become the leader of meretz.
[SA: don’t mean to be rude, but there are those who are saying authored by someone other than you, it might’ve had a better chance]
(jocularly)this is also true, and I am working on it now
[SA: you’ve heard it]
(jocularly)yes, of course, I am going to change, It is a process of transformation which will take a little bit longer than I expected, but I am going to do that. No, really I am serious, I am going to do that, you will not recognize me.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:51 PM |

10 a.m. -- Cardinal Edward Egan receives touring relic of ``The Tilma of Tepeyac,'' a small piece of cloth that holds the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
10:30 a.m. -- Chief Rabbi of Rome Ricardo Di Segni and Appeal of Conscience Foundation Rabbi Arthur Schneier denounce Europe's anti-Semitism
Last one's a real dinger:
11 a.m. -- Israel's minister of U.S.-Israeli security relations joins Suffolk County's police commissioner to announce a new cooperative security effort
Yes...because Suffolk County is renowned for its anti-terror operations...riiiiiight.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:06 AM |

Reader Jeremy informs me that instead of responding to the letter I sent to the Arab News, they've simply published it as a letter to the editor, here.
Ah, well.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:43 AM |

OK, I just got back from the Geneva Accords event and I did get to ask some, but not all, of your questions. There was some wacky stuff going down at this event; you're not gonna believe what Tom Friedman did. More details to come, as I transcribe.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:08 AM |

Thursday, December 04, 2003  

Simcha comments to this weeks SLOW post:

I thought the letter about stay at home mothers from the woman who lives in a modern orthodox community should have taken the cake this week.
well, simcha, I was actually going back and forth between the two before finally choosing arbitrarily. At any rate, in the interest of fairness, here's the second letter, written by Malka Miller. What do you all think?
Dr. Levine is all too accurate in his depiction of the brave new world of Orthodox mothers who have little time for their children. As someone who lives in a Modern Orthodox neighborhood and works in a chassidic area, my perception is that the problem is far more acute among Modern Orthodox families — which at first glance might seem odd, since generally speaking the male head of household earns a higher among the latter group.
Why, then, do so many Modern Orthodox women throw themselves into jobs and careers and neglect the noble calling of motherhood? The answer, I’m afraid, is rather obvious: Because of its fascination with all things modern and secular, the Modern Orthodox community is all too susceptible to any lifestyle or life choice that comes along wrapped in shiny and enticing garb.
Thanks to the pervasive influence of feminism on even those women who insist they’re not feminists, being a housewife and a stay-at-home mom is seen as something negative, as somehow a low calling in life. Just speak to a random sampling of young women at Stern College and you’ll see what I’m referring to.
There are indications, noted recently by such arbiters of cultural change as The New York Times and New York magazine, that the pull toward full-time motherhood is causing a number of successful career women to question their decisions and in some cases to ditch the briefcase for the bassinet.
Since it takes about 20 years for the Modern Orthodox to fully embrace secular trends — it wasn’t until the rest of America began to sour on feminism in the late 1980`s that suddenly the phenomenon of “Orthodox Feminism” was upon us — I expect that the new trend away from full-time careers will start reaching the Modern Orthodox world sometime around the year 2020.
As a working Modern Orthodox woman who reads the Times and NY Mag, she seems remarkably ciritical of her peers.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:25 PM |

Meredith points out this stunning guestbook. It's for sure gonna get pulled before long, so save it now for posterity.

YES, The Credit Card Fraud is true, You can check the with the Court system. YES, The PROSTITUTES are real; there is evidence to all the rumors you just have to OPEN YOUR EYES. I fell horrible for you and your family, he is a charmer and you fell for him and that's normal, but not to listen when people want to help your Fault. LO SA'AMOD AL DAM RAIECHA. I WARN YOU TO GET OUT NOW. HE IS A SICK INDIVIDUAL.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:16 PM |

I know its really too easy to bash However, this recent article may well be a new low in terms of apologetics. The question is how to understand the following rabbinic passage:

"Three copulated in the ark, and they were all punished - the dog, the raven, and Cham. The dog was doomed to be tied, the raven expectorates, and Cham was smitten in his skin." Rashi states that as a punishment to Cham’s skin, Cush (Ethiopia) came from him. (Talmud Sanhedrin, 108b)
For the purposes of clarification, being "smitten in the skin" means "having black skin". How can we understand this in a non-racist way? Enter Mesora Guy. First off:
I fail to see what racisim has to do with the passage quoted. If Cush was smitten in his skin, this is G-d’s punishment to Cush and his father Cham, and in no way sanctions racism.
Well, except for the fact that black skin is apparently a hereditary punishment, right? Further explanation, please?
What about Cham‘s sin of copulation? Why was it met with an affliction of skin, and why in his grandson Cush’s skin? We may suggest, that as his sin was one of flesh, the flesh was appropriately smitten for this lesson. But why not smite Cham’s own skin? Additionally, we may ask, if a grandson was the proper vehicle for the punishment, why this grandson, who is also the son of Canaan? A possibility occurred to me: Perhaps G-d afflicted Cham by punishing his grandson Cush, to teach that Cham’s own sin of sexual deviation was carried through his descendants, through his son Canaan, even through Cush. G-d does not punish one who does not sin - Cush must have continued in his father’s path. We said earlier that Canaan sinned with his father in sodomizing Noah. Canaan shared his father’s deviation. To teach that this deviation did not end with Cham, and not with his son Canaan, but was passed to a third generation in Cush, Cush is afflicted. His skin is marked to teach that Cham’s original sin of copulation aboard the Ark was transmitted to Cham’s son Canaan, and to Canaan’s son Cush. The immorality was never corrected, and Cush was rightfully afflicted. This also explains why Cham is always referred to in the Torah as “Avi Canaan”, the “father of Canaan.” With such an appellation, we learn two ideas: 1) that Canaan shared his father’s sin, and 2) that Cham was the source of this inherited immorality.
It seems to me that all this does is extract a racist notion from the rabbinic passage and further buttress it with the well-worn stereotype of Black sexual promiscuity/prowess. In other words, we could have left the rabbinic passage at saying that black skin may originally have been a punishment to Cham and his immediate family, but nowadays it is passed along genetically without any further implication of guilt or punishment. By introducing the notion of transmissible sexual sin/deviancy, Mesora Guy is saying that having black skin nowadays implies some degree of guilt or deviancy. I can't imagine that the questioner was pleased with MG's response.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:07 PM |

I'm going to be attending the aforementioned Geneva Accords event tonight, featuring Yossi Beilin, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Tom Friedman (and possibly others) tonight. I'm inviting all readers to submit questions they'd want asked in the comments below. The latest I'll be checking for questions would be at around 5:15.
This'll be kind of report to the blogosphere. I might also turn it into a story for Jewsweek.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:44 PM | | Bible goes mobile with pay-per-verse (December 5, 2003):

A new text message service launched yesterday in Sydney allows mobile phone users to receive Bible passages direct to their handsets.
The project – Daily Verse SMS – was developed by religious group Church Resources along with the Bible Society in Australia.
It aims to bring 'prayerful reflection' into people's daily lives, Church Resources chief executive Father Michael Kelly said.
'Mobile phones offer an immediate and very personal way of engaging with people. You've got to yell if you want to sell,' he said. 'Now they are a way of encountering the word of God.'
All very well and good, but I don't think this beats mincha on the palm pilot.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 1:27 PM |

5:15 p.m. -- The National Foundation of Jewish Culture presents The Alan King Award in American Jewish Humor to Mort Sahl
And then, on a more serious note (perhaps):
8:30 p.m. -- New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman joins Geneva Accord negotiators Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo in a discussion on America's role in the Middle East at an Israel Policy Forum Dinner and Awards Ceremony

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:43 PM |

Tina Brown discusses Conrad Black. (via Gawker)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:25 AM |

Jarvis writes:

If Europe, Old Europe, were truly concerned about its evil ghost of anti-Semitism rising again, I would do something.
If I heard that children are being told to hide their yarmulkes for fear of attacks, I'd go out and get myself a yarmulke and wear it proudly.
If I were Jacques Chirac, I'd go get a yarmulke and wear it. I'd urge all Frenchmen to wear a yarmulke.
But then, I'm not European.
But you are a New Yorker (at least at work), and there is a growing tide of anti-Semitism here, too.
Meantime, in the comments there, Oliver Willis notes the racism against blacks in America; racism against Arab-Americans is a problem, too.
There's more to say about the difference in categories, etc. Maybe later.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:21 AM |

Wednesday, December 03, 2003  


11 a.m. to noon -- Americans For A Safe Israel protests Geneva peace initiative promoter Yossi Beilin; Israeli Consulate, Second Avenue and 42nd Street.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:24 PM |

Bernstein at Volokh finds a Ha'aretz story which reports the following about two would-be suicide-bombers:

The two also told investigators that they chose to infiltrate Israel from the West Bank, via the northern Jordan Valley, because the separation fence has yet to be constructed in this region.
Bernstein concludes, "Res ipsa loquitor." Except here we only know this speech via the investigators, whom, it can reasonably be said, have an interest in seeing that conclusion reached. Obviously the wall would at least contribute to the prevention of suicide bombings, but this article isn't necessarily proof that it's occurring.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:58 PM |

Reader Shaya sends in this item:

Marilyn Manson, the self-styled "Antichrist Superstar," is under Swiss investigation for allegedly violating religious-protection laws and inciting violence during a 2001 concert. His Bible-ripping act has made him a target of religious groups worldwide.
Did violence actually break out? Or is this like one of those public school cracking down on free speech situations?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:37 PM |

Remember last week, when I was lamenting the fact that I couldn't link to any of the really stupid letters in the Jewish Press since they weren't a)online or b) in the letters section? Well, this week more than makes up for it. There were almost too many worthy candidates in the letters section to choose from. Therefore, this week's SLOW, chosen arbitrarily from two finalists, is from Ken Abrams:

I agree with those people who say that settlements should be uprooted. I also agree that Arabs and Jews cannot live together and that the settlements are a provocation and a source of friction. However, I differ with them on just which "settlements" we are talking about. The settlements that should be removed in the "interest of peace" are the Arab settlements found throughout Eretz Yisrael.
Make no mistake about it, the Jewish claim to Eretz Yisrael is not found in the century-old cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa, but in the thousands-of-years-old Jewish cities of Hebron, Shilo and Bet El. Town after town mentioned in the Torah can be found in Judea and Samaria. These areas form the basis for stating that Israel belongs to the Jewish people.
The provocation occurs when Arabs and their supporters try to claim Jewish land as their own. The unrestricted building of Arab settlements throughout Eretz Yisrael is the true "obstacle to peace." Appeasement to Arab claims has been tried, and it has failed miserably. The settlement issue continues to be raised. That`s great, but let`s focus on the real settlement issue for once.
For the sake of peace, difficult decisions on the settlements must be made. For the sake of peace, remove Arab settlements now.
Leaving aside the clever literary twist, which had us all going for a second (Dismantling settlements? In a Jewish Press letter?), why exactly should we deport 100,000s of full citizens of Israel? Not because of the century old cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa, but because of:
Hebron: population of 120 as of 1997, 400 Jewish.
Shilo: founded 1979
Bet El: founded 1977
This is not the argument that you want to be making, I wouldn't think.
(maybe we'll analyze some more letters over the next few days or so. I don't want this post to be too long.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 5:30 PM |

We're a little more than a week away from the Protocols 1-year anniversary. To the best of our various stat-counter analyses, we attract more than 1,000 regular readers, with roughly 600 on the average weekday. We've had [insert number here] posts that have generated [insert number here] comments.
Suggestions for how to commemorate the occasion are welcome.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:02 PM |

Hareidi Cosmetic Surgery?:

Cosmetic operations even have the backing of certain spiritual leaders, notably Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. According to sources close to Yosef, he was asked about the issue a few years ago and permitted them on the (mistaken) premise that they are not a danger to health and that they can help shidduchs and marriages.
In general, the haredi public is gaining awareness of body image, the sources say. 'The [women] have subscriptions to health clubs; dress in the latest fashions; invest more than $1,000 on a sheitel; undergo plastic surgery, etc.
'This is a growing phenomenon. Rabbi Ovadia has permitted it openly and written about it, but many rabbis quietly permit it. Even men who reach marriageable age have cosmetic surgery.'
Its obviously only a matter of time until this gets codified. So, which set of parents do you think should pay for the kallah's cosmetic surgery? If its her side, do you think that it would allow her to forgo also having to buy the groom the traditional watch? Inquiring minds need to know...

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 3:02 PM |

Return of the King | A True Christian Film Review:

Pastor Deacon Fred had originally inserted a Baptist mole into the offices of New Line Cinema after the Board of Deacons learned that Hollywood was finally creating a movie based on the Book of Revelation. “While the title sounded convincing, since Jesus is the King of Man, we still feared that the homosexual Jews who run Hollywood might be using their trickery to coax Christians into witnessing blasphemous filth. Most of us remember very clearly our revulsion back in 1972 when we went to the screening of that Larry Flynt fellow’s “The Second Coming.” There are so many great Christian movies coming out lately, like The Gospel of John, and even that damned Mary Worshiper Mel Gibson’s The Passion, we just assumed this was another one,” he announced at a press conference. “Boy, were we ever wrong! Them Jews really pulled a fast one on us with this one..."
Landover Baptist continues to produce some of the best parody on the internet.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 11:35 AM |

Just got ahold of the press release for today's NYCCouncil press conference denouncing anti-Semitic acts. At present, the body text reads:

The City Council’s Jewish Caucus will hold a press conference at which they will denounce recent anti-Semitic acts across the City. Among those instances criticized are the slashing of 50 cars’ tires in Borough Park on Thanksgiving Day, the writing of swastikas and racist graffiti on apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Queens and a synagogue in Astoria.
The Council will also speak out against the November 15th and 21st car bombings in Istanbul. Council Members James Gennaro and David Weprin will announce a resolution condemning the bombings at the City Council’s stated meeting.
Joel Levy, Anti-Defamation League Regional Director and Omer Onhon, Turkish Consul General, as well as representatives from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s bias crimes unit and the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush are expected to testify.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:08 AM |

Interesting. Yesterday, AIPAC, or a local chapter of it, hosted Harold Ford, Jr. in Manhattan. I was considering going, so I e-mailed to ask if press was invited to the event. The press person just e-mailed me back, with the response:

That doesn't strike me as a particularly healthy policy.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:48 AM |

Someone arrived here this morning by searching for Kaballah Centre criticism.
I figure you guys can provide a good dose; consider this a discussion thread along those lines.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:44 AM |

WorldNetDaily: Church doesn't think like Jesus

A new survey by pollster George Barna finds only 9 percent of born-again Christians hold a biblical worldview.
For the purposes of the research, a biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.
Only 7 percent of Protestants overall maintained a biblical worldview, according to the study. Of adults who attend mainline Protestant churches, only 2 percent shared those values. Among Catholics, less than one-half of 1 percent had a biblical worldview. The denominations that produced the highest proportions of adults with a biblical worldview were non-denominational Protestant churches, with 13 percent, Pentecostal churches, with 10 percent, and Baptist churches with 8 percent.
Interesting, but then again, I wonder what percentage of even Orthodox Jews would qualify as "biblical jews," whatever that could possibly mean.
[But the percentage of "born-again" Orthodox Jews is probably a lot higher. -- SIW]

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 10:37 AM |

The ADL ad mentioned yesterday quotes Mahathir Mohammed saying "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews." A pretty odd choice, since this is probably the least anti-Semitic thing the guy said; out of the context of the rest of his comments, one would have trouble identifying the sentence as anti-Semitic at all.
Going from the same October 16th speech, here are some better choices:

"The Muslims will forever be oppressed and dominated by the Europeans and the Jews."
"...Today the Jews rule this world by proxy."
"Of late because of their power and their apparent success they have become arrogant. And arrogant people, like angry people will make mistakes, will forget to think."
And that's just from that speech alone; the link above has an ADL-produced list that's quite long.
Why the weak quote?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:09 AM |

Tuesday, December 02, 2003  


12:30 p.m. -- City Council's Jewish Caucus denounces recent anti-Semitic acts across the City
I wonder which acts they'll be denouncing.
1:15 p.m. -- City Council Speaker Gifford Miller honors the Mayor of Jerusalem Uri Lupolianski with a City Council proclamation for his service to the Israeli people; City Hall.
The man's been busy on his trip here.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:15 PM |

Just received the following e-mail from

Jokes on you Arab lova...

since you posted my e-mail address - I have received
tens of e-mails from folks saying they TOTALLY but
TOTALLY agree with my e-mail to you.

Thanks for da reinforcement.

Hope you wise up...
This is referencing this racist piece of shit's earlier e-mail.
Assuming the guy's telling the truth, we have "tens" of racist pieces of shit reading our page. Never all that surprising, but certainly disappointing.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:11 PM |

More on "Hust". Reader Shaya has found this discussion I'm currently poring over.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:11 PM |

I've been thinking about doing a story on the whole Naomi Ragen thing. I'm not sure if I will or won't. Anyway, I just read the editorial in the Commentator, and it occurs to me how much they could use the talents of Elder Kraut.
BTW: The Commie now requires registration to read its content (a really stupid move), but Arts & Culture Editor Menachem Wecker has granted Protocols readers blanket permission to use his,, on condition that you "must read the arts section" as payment for usage. Surely, you'll comply.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:01 PM |

I'm still interested in this "Hust" thing. Does anyone have pics? More info?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:10 PM |


Recently, a manuscript museum opened at the new Alexandria Library, which was renovated by the Egyptian and Italian governments via UNESCO. In the November 17, 2003 issue of the Egyptian weekly Al-Usbu', correspondent Jihan Hussein reported [1] that the museum had added "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" to the display case of the holy books of the monotheistic religions, next to a Torah. The book on display is the first translation of the "Protocols" into Arabic, by Muhammad Khalifa Al-Tunisi, and its binding, according to the report, features "a Star of David, the Bolshevik Jewish symbol, surrounded by symbolic snakes." The following is an interview with the museum's director, Dr. Yousef Ziedan, in which he explains why he decided to add the "Protocols" to the exhibit:
(via OxBlog)
The weirdest part of the interview, discussing popular knowledge of the Holocaust:
"This is knowledge that has reached the world via a diverse stream of information from journalists' reports, historical research, compensation, [the] unceasing buzz in the media, and films such as Schindler's List which made the entire world cry and which was banned in our country [Egypt] so that we won't cry too over the fate of the poor Jews!"
Does that sound like regret at the end there? I'm not sure.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:38 PM |

You might've seen the ADL's TV ad recently. It seems to be part of an explosion in ADL advertising (1, 2).
There doesn't appear to be a press release about this; no clue why.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:17 PM |


8:15 p.m. -- Holocaust survivor Jack Silverman and his brother, Peter Silverman, meet Jadviga Konochowicz of Belarus, the woman who saved them from the Nazis
This will likely be too late and too far out of Manhattan for it to make any of the dailies tomorrow.
Also interesting:
7:30 p.m. -- New York Women in Film and Television holds panel discussion on ``Producing In: Central & Eastern Europe''; Czech Center of New York, 1109 Madison Ave., at 83rd Street.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:49 PM |

Apparently fairy tales aren't good for kids after all:

Researchers have decided that age-old fairy tales such as Cinderella and Snow White contain so many stereotypes that they are just as harmful to children’s psyches as the misogynist, violent, drug-addled videos of current popular culture.
The Press Association reports that researchers in America found that the tales passed down since the 1800s put too much emphasis on physical beauty and could harm kids’ self-esteem as a result.
'There is a lot of association between beauty and goodness and then conversely between ugliness and evil and laziness,' said study co-author Liz Grauerholz.
Grauerholz tells HealthDayNews that parents should change the stories. Tell Cinderella to your child as if she were male. Or change the ending so she decides the prince wasn't right for her after all and lived happily ever after by making her own life.
What about Bible stories?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 2:20 PM |

A reader just inquired about Web copies of Making of a Godol, the most recent auctioned copy of which sold for just $450.
A PDF web copy is still available here.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:55 PM |

Apparently a bunch of stickers are popping up in Brooklyn reading "Hust".
There's a discussion of it here, with no real conclusions among proclamations of worry about the "appropriateness" of discussing the term at that site. Needless to say, Protocols has no such standards of decency, so please share.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:49 PM |

Yada points to a Forward story on a growing trend in Jewish detective novels. I'm hesitant to characterize it as a recent or growing trend -- there's a bunch of stuff from a couple decades ago, though the differentiation between rabbi detectives and lay detectives is cute (plus, Faye Kellerman is soooo much older than me). And no mention of Gemarakup? For shame.
Irresistible joke not made: Why are Jews such great detectives? Because their noses are perfect for sniffing out clues.
BTW: The story is written by Zackary Sholem Berger, whose blog we haven't mentioned in a while.
Another Yada post mentions the "Queer Eye" movement of a ketubah from the bedroom to the bathroom to better cohere with the color scheme; I happened to be in a Judaica store with my kid sister yesterday, and she was glancing at the marriage contracts on display -- she said if you go with a paper-cut, you can always just change the color scheme by switching the background.
There you have it: your first "Queer Eye" tip on Protocols, and it came from me. How ironic.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:00 PM |

Rabbi Yuter sends in this story, "Iraqis Wrestle with the Jewish Factor."
This only further emphasizes how, especially for Jews, this whole Iraq-war thing really was a liberal endeavor, one that was done with the knowledge that these people hate us and would support violence against us, but that nonetheless deserve freedom. And, of course, hopefully freedom will let them see what many non-Jewish Americans who celebrate their freedom see.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:22 AM |

Anti-gay-marriage groups allying with alleged terrorist-supporting organizations (via Instapundit): has discovered that prominent religious conservatives — Jews, Catholics and Evangelical Christians — are allied with a radical Islamic group to stop gay marriage. Pushing a constitutional amendment that would restrict marriage to heterosexuals, they work with the Islamic Society of North America. What is ISNA? According to terrorism expert Steve Emerson, ISNA:
-has held fundraisers for terrorists (e.g., after Hamas leader Musa Marzuk was arrested, it raised money for his defense, claiming he was innocent and not connected to terrorism)
-has condemned US seizure of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad assets in the United States after 9/11
-has consistently sponsored speakers at their conferences that defend Islamic terrorists. Recently, a leader denied in an interview with an NBC affiliate that ISNA took any Saudi money but that was a brazen lie as evidenced by a recording of an ISNA conference in which it was revealed that money came from Saudi Arabia.
The board includes executives at the Rabbinical Council of America, basically a surrogate for the Orthodox Union, as well as the Orthodox Union itself. Sure, they're not acting on behalf of the RCA or OU, but in all likelihood they attended -- or strongly agreed with -- Rick Santorum's speech before the OU on "The War of the Jihadists Against the West."

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:25 AM |

That European Union report on anti-Semitism that never saw the light of day now will, thanks to a leak to the Jerusalem Post; here it is. (via Volokh)
This will make for an easy and revealing comparison with the resolution that Israel introduced to the UN.
UPDATE: Reader Shaya is hosting the text here.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:41 AM |

Monday, December 01, 2003  

Jewsweek is apparently setting up shop at CafePress, with one design featuring this week's front page, and my cover story. Almost makes me think I should buy one for the 'rents.
What do you guys think of the stuff there? Any ideas?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:40 PM |

ATS finds a curious Arab News column that, in the first, lists some beyond-belief spurious charges (it basically claims that Israel wants to split itself with a canal -- huh?), but then has:

Let Netanyahu ask the Jewish clergy why they have a special prayer every day wishing illness, ruin, death and destruction upon the Egyptians.
Other than the article's continuing insistence on assuming Netanyahu runs the country, this seem's the article's most easily-falsifiable claim. Any ideas what prayers may be being referred to?
The only stuff that I can think of are references to having already whupped the Egyptians and generic pleadings about wiping out enemies (interestingly, the most vehement of these is the "v'lamalshinim" blessing in the Amidah prayer, which is actually meant to target heretical Jews).
I asked Reader Duvie if he could come up with examples, and he mentioned v'lamalshinim, as well as Psalms 135 and 136, but these fall into the former category of past-tense references.
I actually used the "Comment on this article" feature to drop a line with my inquiry. We'll see if anything results.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:43 PM |

Interesting stuff in Washington Heights this weekend:

There will be an oneg Friday night at 8:00 pm, featuring Ed Fox, Deputy to the President of Yeshiva University, speaking on the topic of "Yeshiva University: Looking Ahead". There will be refreshments.
Hopefully we'll have reports back on this.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:29 PM |

Friend Sruli sends me this link...

'Foot in mouth' prize for Rumsfeld

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A comment last year by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was awarded the "Foot in Mouth" prize Monday by Britain's Plain English Campaign.

Rumsfeld, renowned for his uncompromising tough talking, received the prize for the most baffling comment by a public figure.

"Reports that say something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know," Rumsfeld told a news briefing.

"We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

John Lister, spokesman for the campaign, which strives to have public information delivered in clear, straightforward English, said: "We think we know what he means. But we don't know if we really know."

Although Rumsfeld's comments were made at a news briefing in February 2002, they were nominated for this year's award.

Rumsfeld, whose boss, President Bush, is often singled out by language critics for his sometimes unusual use of English, defeated actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger for the booby prize.

"I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman," the new California governor said.

posted by Pinchas | 12:55 PM |

JewView rants on the idea that not participating in Christmas stuff is akin to being anti-American.
This reminds me of a story David Wallach once told me of his high school principal roaming the school's halls dressed as Santa Claus and distributing candy canes. Wallach declined the offer of sweets, and the principal made a point of touting the universalist appeal of candy canes by saying "They're ecumenical!" (And, presumably, "Ho ho ho.")
Many people toss around the term for its attachment to an idea of universality, but it has its roots in Christian tolerance of other Christians -- something entirely irrelevant to the Jews who were slaughtered by Christians of all stripes.
Christmas isn't a universal holiday, and people should be wiser than to treat it as such.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:32 PM | | 11/30/2003 | American voters increasingly split along religious lines:

A new poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center For The People & The Press this fall confirmed that the gap remains; voters who frequently attend religious services tilt 63-37 percent to Bush and those who never attend lean 62-38 percent toward Democrats.
'We now have the widest gap we have ever had between Republicans and Democrats,' said Andy Kohut, the director of the Pew survey.
Well, doesn't look good for Lieberman, at any rate.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:14 PM |

9 a.m. -- U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler meets with the mayor of Jerusalem

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:08 PM |

This picture accompanied the wall coverage of at least two J-weeklies this weekend. It is definitely the most interesting picture of the wall I've seen. In this setting, the incline of the hill makes the segments of the wall into a sort of stairway; the rough-goings on either side of the wall make it appear that the wall's stairway will probably serve the function of being the hill's easiest section to scale. So, first, there's the "wall as transport" angle that's interesting. More interesting is that, with the wall's stairs being the primary form of ascending and descending the incline, the majority of people on the hill will be on opposite sides the stairway, a foot or so apart from each other and yet entirely unaware of the other's presence.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:03 PM |

There've been two really interesting essays in The Guardian of late. One, via Jarvis, has a columnist leaving the publication with a major dis on its Israel coverage; the other, via Kesher Talk, is an essay claiming that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
More comment may come later.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:18 AM |

Its been awhile since the fact, but we finally got an on-site report from Rabbi Orlofsky's shiur in Mt. Sinai two sundays ago (or was it three?). Much thanks goes to Meredith for writing all this:

All right, so my guest hock covering halakhic funnyman *Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky's recent visit to the Heights is *two weeks tardy, but I promise that I wasn't busy doing anything that every other girl out there hasn't done at least twice.
Yes, I know that I'm being cryptic. And yes, you're going to have to deal with that.
Rabbi Orlofsky's visit marked the New York kickoff for Darchei Bina's new pet project Bina Yesirah, an effort spearheaded by DB Rabbi Shimon Kurlandow "for all women in the post seminary generation to keep the spirit and hizuq of post-seminary going" as they trudge through the gashmius of hutz la'aretz. In other words, to keep the warm fuzzy glow of year in Israel non-reality kindled inside of us for as long as possible, ideally until we send our own kids off to do their tour of duty in Kerem b'Yavnah and MMY (but more ideally B'nei Torah and BJJ).
Renowned in the Modern Orthodox velt for giving solid halakhic arguments that scare the bejesus out of us, Rabbi Orlofsky stayed true to form and delivered a well-reasoned shiur that, well, scared the bejesus out of me. (I can't honestly say "us" because I was one of the few, if any, out and out not-Yeshivish girls present.) He focused on man's limited, if even existent, ability to perceive reality in this oilam. Think the classic amud/odom odom/amud paradigm from Mesillas Yesharim chapter 3. (Amud/odom odom/amud paradigm: Explaining how the world is so shadowy that we can't even differentiate between a cloud, amud, and a man, odom, and taken a step further shows that we can't distinguish between fleeting perceptions, i.e. clouds, and the existent, i.e. men.) Even worse, the things in this world that aren't reality---say, a ride through Disnyland's haunted house or a Hollywood-esque notion of romance---try their darndest to convince us that they're reality, to the point where we start buying into the illusions.
Thus the problem boils down not to our inability to discern, but rather our inability to tell what *needs* to be discerned.
Case in point: Some years ago, Eretz Yisroel ran into a schooling crisis where there weren't enough seats in the Bais Yaakov-type high schools for all the girls who wanted to attend. Rabbi Eliyoshuv shlit"a stepped up to the plate and decreed that no school would open until every girl had a seat, and appointed a ya'adah to assign girls to the most accessible schools. Every school complied except one, whose administrators dug their (modest) heels into the ground and spat that they weren't taking the girls they were assigned and would hold out for the girls they wanted. Days passed into weeks, and when Sukkos finally rolled around none of the high school had opened yet because this one school still refused to abide by Rabbi Elyoshuv's pesaq. Now, bunnies, who do you think caved? That's right, the godol. The truly phenomenal part is that when the school was asked afterwards what the standards were that they fought so vehemently to maintain, they said "to make sure that we're known for giving the finest girls the finest hinukh." And what was the moral they hoped to instill above all others? "The importance of respecting da'as Torah." Hmph.
According to Rabbi Orlofsky, the real problem is that we someday wake up from our fantasy-land only to be confronted by the reality which we inadvertently based on false perceptions. This is right where he lost me. His primary suggestion for thwarting this eventuality is striving to live "not [as] a frum Jew," but instead "to be kodosh." Now bunnies, can anyone tell me what, precisely, "kodosh" is? Anyone? Not even the quiet l'il Gushie in back?
I thought not.
"Kodosh" is different things to different people. Some people consider a "kodosh" life as the ability to weave together their Jewish rites with modernity. For others, it's filing rank with the masses in Lakewood. There's no one set of criterion which everyone can agree to, and while each camp can say "I'm right and you're wrong" it doesn't help Rabbi Orlofsky's premise hold water against those who disagree. To an extent, this is problem is a non-factor. Rabbi Orlofsky speaks to a specific demographic and no one in that demographic would find fault with his own definition. However, it leaves him wide-open to anyone outside of that very select mindset.

Once again, thanks Meredith.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 1:10 AM |

Sunday, November 30, 2003  

I'm not quite sure why I didn't know this already, but Reader Yitz has sent in a link to Yeshiva University Radio Online.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:56 PM |

Check out Yada's redesign, and note that it's also now reachable at

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:07 PM |

Meredith bears the happy news that Hasidic Rebel is still alive and kicking. Despite not having updated his blog or posted to his yahoo group in some time now, he did leave a short message on a comment thread attached to his last post. Hopefully there's more where that came from.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 6:25 PM |

This is really interesting. At first I thought it was going to be a bunch of hipsters, but then I read the name of the contact.

2:15 p.m. -- Williamsburg Rescue Committee holds rally ``to protest the selling of our neighborhod to high-income individuals''; Gretch Building, 60 Broadway, Brooklyn.
--Contact: Rabbi Simon Stern, (xxx)-xxx-xxxx
Did anyone attend?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:50 PM |

Re: My article in about the Arab-American Comedy Festival, I've had a number of e-mail discussions that I might soon share, but I just got this one (from this guy) that is very different from all of the others:



You make me sick.

Hanging out with your arab friends - swinging on their nuts - kissing their ass' - what a cheerleader you are... this while over 700 jews are dead, murdered by arabs, and 1000's more left injured, with no parents, brother, sisters,,,

Why don't you go to the cemetary and write about all those jews who died thanks to your lovely friends - with their support and funding. I have seen them on TV (don't you watch?) those same ass holes you protec - lash out at jews as baby killers! and israel as a nazi state. NEXT TIME GET YOU HEAD OUT OF THEIR ASS AND SEE WHAT THEY HAVE SAID BEFORE YOU SATND UP FOR THEM. but i geuss it's tough to write with something in your mouth.SHAME ON YOU... ..
He reminds me a bit of Iceland Man. And, again, his e-mail address is:

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:15 PM |

The newly online issue of the Observer has an article on what's become popularly known as Wiederot - RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Wieder's meorot-esque discussion group. Two comments:
1) A general editing point. His name is spelled "Wieder," not "Weider." For crying out loud, he's a Rosh Yeshiva. Someone should have caught that.
2) The more serious point not really addressed by the article is the meaning of the fact that a Rosh Yeshiva (along with the mashgiach) of YU has to take students all the way to Teaneck to discuss a controversial contemporary issue. Says something about the culture on the YU campus, no?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:32 PM |
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