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

Saturday, September 18, 2004  

Chakira writes: Calling the Arabs Amalek is a Bad Idea

posted by LukeFord | 11:19 PM |

Daniel Radosh writes:

Like Ali G, Borat is played by Sacha Baron Cohen, a British comedian who specializes in prank interviews. As Borat, Cohen has told a dating service that he is looking for a girl with “plow experience,” persuaded a meeting of Oklahoma City officials to observe a ten-minute silence in memory of the (fictitious) Tishnik Massacre, and, most notably, led a country-and-Western bar in a sing-along of “In My Country There Is Problem,” whose chorus goes: “Throw the Jew down the well / So my country can be free / You must grab him by his horns / Then we have a big party.”

posted by LukeFord | 11:18 PM |


1 p.m. -- Symposium addresses ethics and the implications of forgiveness after the Holocaust, with a panel discussion including a group of survivors and historians; Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:40 PM |

A summary of some Rosh Hashana speeches delivered by rabbis at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale's auxiliary minyan:
Adam Starr kicked things off at Ma'ariv, discussing the ritual of eating certain foods, other than those (new fruit, fish head) that have more obvious connotations. He declared that the source of this custom is in their names, that they are consistent with words indicating good things. He then raised the question of whether this kind of association was similar to witchcraft, discounting the question on the basis that the individual eating the fruits wouldn't really expect the foods to achieve some supernatural good, but to put the individual in a more positive mindset.
In the first morning service, Avi Weiss discussed the day's Torah portion (of Sarah's expulsion of Hagar). I'm forgetting the deliberation, and might update later.
Later, Weiss discussed the prayer of "U'nesaneh Tokef," attaching specific connotations to the list of how people will die that comes in that part of the service("by sword" means Daniel Pearl, "by fire" means those in the World Trade Center, etc.). It was a touching speech in that sense, but conveniently avoided the very specific and potentially unsettling theological concept that is a core part of the service: these people would be dying for their sins.
Eliezer Franklin, a rabbi who's served in seven countries and was visiting for the holiday, discussed the notion of spiritual preparedness for death through a very personal lens: the death of his niece at the hands of terrorists in a suicide bombing in Israel.
Two other interesting items:
1) Nearly every speech was perforated with discussions of Darfur and the terrorist attacks in Russia, among other crises domestically and abroad. I've never heard synagogue speeches containg such a consistent and broad focus on these kinds of pressing worldly topics.
2) Now having heard Weiss speak at length over a period of a few days, I think I finally get why his message works: because he gives a great impression of both caring about and understanding what he says. As he was introducing Franklin, he said that "the texture" of Rosh Hashana and Shabbos were different, and as he did so, he rubbed his fingers together, as though feeling the day. That's just the most poignant example of his expressing something in such a clear manner that there's really no doubt that he gets what he's saying. It's possible the audience doesn't, but at the least they get that he gets it; it's a feature few speakers have.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:40 PM |

Wednesday, September 15, 2004  

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Now you see it. Soon you won't. In a trend sure to be a relief to some and a disappointment to others, women will cover up instead of baring it all next season as the "slutwear" look comes to an end.

Demure designs have replaced scanty navel-baring looks on the catwalks of this week's semi-annual run of fashion shows, a reliable sign of what shoppers can expect to find in stores next spring.

"The slut is out now. She's dead," said Godfrey Deeny, senior fashion critic at Fashion Wire Daily.

posted by LukeFord | 4:58 PM |

The Question of God: C.S. Lewis vs. Sigmund Freud

posted by LukeFord | 4:55 PM |

How to tell if your ho is an extraterrestrial. I found this very helpful.

posted by LukeFord | 4:53 PM |

Matt Welch on handwringing over blogging by the establishment media.

posted by LukeFord | 4:25 PM |

annabel lee
Location:Los Angeles, California, United States
26. Jewish. Female. Single-ish, subject to change. Fond of writing. And sentence fragments. And introspection, astronomy, math, rambling, and comments. Very fond of comments. Not that I'm fishing.

posted by LukeFord | 3:54 PM |

Pop superstar Madonna has embarked on a spiritual pilgrimage to Israel - home of her newfound Kabbalah faith.

posted by LukeFord | 3:08 PM |

Cathy Seipp writes: Free minds, free markets, free lunch, or: Cato-a-go-go

posted by LukeFord | 3:02 PM |

Esther's roundup of young women bloggers looking for love.

posted by LukeFord | 3:01 PM |

It's somewhat beyond belief that it took so damn long for the JTA to drop a piece of shit like this article abut the WJC situation on the collective head of the Jewish public. Check out this gem of an anonymous quote:

Furthermore, noted one observer, “Any negative perception of the way the organization is run, even if not considered a scandal, could have a negative effect on the willingness of the charitable public to contribute to that cause.”
Oh, wow, that's quite a ballsy notation. I can see how the reporter had no choice but to guarantee anonymity.
Much like the NYJW story, it's got some interesting facts that seem to sway against Isi Leibler, but buries them after many paragraphs of crap:
But confidential e-mails obtained by JTA, which were sent in late August by Leibler to Dinstein, who was overseeing the congress’ restructuring effort, seem to show that Leibler was willing to forego his demand for “a comprehensive full investigation and audit of the past five years” if the congress complied with several other demands: making Leibler a member of the board of a WJC institute, creation of a budget for Leibler’s international activities and control over certain personnel decisions in the congress’ Israel office.
Leibler says those e-mails were “purloined” from his computer, but he did not deny their veracity.
Also in late August, Leibler met with Israel’s minister of Diaspora affairs, Natan Sharansky, to raise his questions about the congress’ operations. A Sharansky adviser called the meeting “inappropriate,” and some Jewish officials point to that meeting as evidence of Leibler’s alleged intent to bully Bronfman and Singer into giving him more power in the organization.
In a telephone interview with JTA from Jerusalem, Leibler initially denied meeting any Israeli government officials to discuss the matter.
“Any insinuation that I would have wanted to meet with a government official is outrageous and obscene,” Leibler told JTA. “The last thing I would want to do would be to bring disrepute to the body. If anybody is insinuating that I have met or spoken with any outside party, it is outrageous. I would regard that as defamation.”
Vera Golovensky, an adviser to Sharansky on Diaspora affairs, said she was with the minister when Leibler met with him.
“It was our assumption that we would be discussing anti-Semitism,” Golovensky said. “When Mr. Leibler showed up for the meeting, he expressed and talked about his concern about irregularities, which he claimed are taking place in the World Jewish Congress. When Mr. Sharanksy heard that, he strongly urged Mr. Leibler to take these allegations about irregularities that he’s so concerned with to the organization itself.”
When confronted with the account of the Sharansky meeting, Leibler said, “If you were talking about Sharansky, he’s one of my close friends.”
Leibler acknowledged that he had met with the minister but said, “There was absolutely no involvement with the minister beyond discussing aspects of Jewish corporational life and Jewish Diaspora life.”
Minutes of a WJC Operations Committee meeting of July 18 demonstrate Leibler’s awareness of the bank account in Geneva, and its subsequent transfer to New York.
Strangely, the reporter, again like the NYJW, speaks to Dinstein, but fails to get those key quotes from him saying there weren't irregularities with the $1.2M.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:58 PM |

I got a relationship coach.

posted by LukeFord | 1:51 PM |

Dennis Prager writes: What American Jews need to think about this Rosh Hashanah

Every one of his points in his column Prager has repeated endlessly except this one (I only recall a few mentions of this on his radio show):

"First, in the spirit of this time of year, some Jewish leaders owe our fellow Americans who are Christian an apology. These leaders predicted that serious anti-Semitic consequences would follow in the wake of American Christians seeing the film "The Passion of the Christ." Not only did no such thing occur, polls indicated an actual diminution in anti-Jewish feelings among some Christians who saw the film, and no change whatsoever among the vast majority."

posted by LukeFord | 1:29 PM |

William Safire on Israel's big bang.

posted by LukeFord | 11:36 AM |

As rift at World Jewish Congress goes public, women, children and minorities hardest hit

posted by LukeFord | 3:15 AM |

I just sold the movie rights to my book: Yesterday's News Tomorrow: Deep Inside American Jewish Journalism.

posted by LukeFord | 3:13 AM |

I email Jason Maoz: "When should I capitalize Halacah? I have it entirely in lower case in my book."

Jason replies: "I don't capitalize it. There's no capitalization in Hebrew, so the only Hebrew words I capitalize in English are the names of books, holidays, names of people and prayers and titles of songs. That said, most Orthodox Jews probably do capitalize "Halacha" for no rational reason."

What's the deeper story here? Is there a metaphor in our discussion?

A wise man writes: "Sometimes, Luke, a cigar is just a cigar."

posted by LukeFord | 1:44 AM |

I met Penn Jillette at today's swanky Cato shindig. All part of my moral preparation for Rosh Hashanah.

posted by LukeFord | 1:31 AM |

Tzemach Atlas: You can't make this up even if you try

posted by LukeFord | 1:06 AM |

Tuesday, September 14, 2004  

Rosh Hashanna: Who's Judging? By Rabbi David Aaron

Rosh HaShonnah: A defense of the defenseless. By Rabbi Yonason Goldson

Thank Heaven for the simple, spiritual life. By Ari L. Goldman

posted by LukeFord | 11:21 PM |

Does anyone have an email address for David Klinghoffer, author of The Lord Will Gather Me In?

posted by LukeFord | 10:53 PM |

Rabbi says would hold Kabbalah ritual calling for PM's death

posted by LukeFord | 8:57 PM |

A source writes: Hirhurim's bombshell - Rav Elyashiv retracted his psak on Indian Hair sheitels and they are now permitted, but the info is being kept from the public by his spokesmen for political purposes. Rav Elyashiv was informed of certain facts withheld from him, after which he changed his psak. However, his spokesmen are withholding the information for political reasons. More info is needed here - time to harness the collective Jewish blogosphere to get to the bottom of this, like what happened with CBS's Kilian documents. I heard the rumors of a retracting from multiple sources. I did hear in June from a prominent Orthodox posek that Rav Elyashiv wasn't informed of certain facts regarding both the Tirupati ceremonies and the percentage of Indian hair coming from the temples, in order for certain people to crusade against sheitels in general. I also heard recently that he retracted, but it's being kept secret. I assume Simcha is alluding to the earlier development.

posted by LukeFord | 8:47 PM |

Chakira writes: How can we try to shorten the burdensome liturgy of the High Holidays? Which piyyutim deserve to be voted off the island (or machzor)?

posted by LukeFord | 6:41 PM |

Tonight is the community board meeting which will have the topic of the Carlebach street renaming on the agenda. If you were planning on attending, please note that the location has been changed to:

American Bible Society
1865 Broadway & 61st Street
One of the odd things about the Carlebach situation is that even beyond the molestation of underaged young women in private, he was also groping, grabbing and kissing random women in public, so his situation is very well known. Many middle-aged women have things to say about him that don't necessarily fit the "survivor" mold that the Awareness Center constantly refers to. Many of these women are just confused by the renewed respect and emphasis his work has received in the past decade. It must be astounding for anyone who experienced this personally to walk into a synagogue that holds what is explicitly termed a "Carlebach minyan."
UPDATE: According to an e-mail from the Awareness Center, citing a spokesperson for the community board, the application for the street renaming has been withdrawn, and, thusly, is no longer on tonight's agenda.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:08 PM |

Here's the paperback cover of my new book, Yesterday's News Tomorrow


posted by LukeFord | 11:44 AM |

American Jews should consider emulating the eagle, rather than the ostrich. By Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder

Beating terrorism by beatings — and worse? By Daniel Pipes Two opposite responses to Muslim violence

posted by LukeFord | 10:32 AM |

New Tour Explores L.A.'s Jewish Scene

(Wireless Flash) -- Los Angeles tourists who want to bone up on Orthodoxy will soon have their chance.

A journalist named Luke Ford is offering something called "Jewish Tours" -- tours of L.A.'s Torah landmarks.

Some of the landmarks on the tour include the spots where various rabbis kicked Luke to the curb.

Some tour groups may also visit actual synagogues, which Ford says "can be a turn-on for the first four times or so."

The Jewish LA Tours will officially begin June 25 and will cost $25 a pop.

Ford plans on giving the first tours himself, but, if successful, he hope to hire scantily clad tour guides as soon as possible.

Luke Ford's Magical Mystery Jewish Tour

Needing some extra dough to romance Hebrew Honeys, I've decided to start up a Luke's LA Tour.

Participants will pile into the back of my beaten van while I drive you around all the most important to Luke Jewish sites in Los Angeles.

Chaim Amalek writes: See, one of the benefits of dating a jewess is the motivation to become prosperous that it provides. To date the jewess is to spend lots of money, and if you are to come by that money honestly you will have to work smarter and harder, at least until you marry and impregnate her.

The tour is not such a bad idea. Kenny Kramer, the putative model for the character "Cosmo Kramer" of the jewish Seinfeld show made a mint for himself with his "Seinfeld Reality Tour" in Manhattan. You can do the same with rabbi-star tours in LA, but I suggest you charge more money for it. Tours should include aids clinics, the local bus depot where many a Torah star was discovered, etc. And each tour should end at the Museum of Tolerance. Tell folks that you will be waiting for them right behind the door labeled "tolerant" to give the unsatisfied among them refunds. I suspect that in no time at all, you will have to rent some large buses to handle the spurt in business. Time to prove that you really are worthy of Honey's Jewish genes by making this go.

Now, some of the rabbis will object to having their homes on the tour. Not surprising, as all big stars value their privacy - Hollywood or Valley, it's all the same, no? As for giving out their real names too, this is more troubling. On the other hand, if everyone thinking of going into Torah knew that you would quickly strip them of their false identities, perhaps fewer innocent young Christian girls would be defiled at the hands of swarthy, bagel-eating, greedy rabbis. Clearly there are good arguments on both sides, but I think I come down on the side of NOT divulging the christian names of these young women.

Lynne writes: Luke, I like your idea of a tour. So many of the kosher manufacturers have tried so hard to be discreet about their locations, and you could ruin that for them instantly. You could start in the West Valley and finish in Laurel Canyon at the site of the Wonderland Massacre. In between, I would suggest a stop at a distributor, because the sight of thousands of seferim piled on shelves is very impressive, and a stop at Aish HaTorah, where the fake wailing wall is very impressive. For an extra $5, your guests will receive a genuine Aish Ha Torah Polaroid of themselves in the nude (a great souvenir for the family photo album, don't you think?)

For another $5.00, the Deluxe Tour could include a visit to an actual minyan. You will have to kick back some of that money to the producer, but it would be welcomed. Many minyanim no longer have room in their budgets for condoms, so not only would you be exploiting the performers, but doing something really valuable at the same time, like keeping them alive.

Nice Jewish Girl says your driving is really atrocious, and, since you have few enough true fans as it is, I hesitate to consign them to the back of your van. Your van is more suited to smuggling illegal aliens who don't care about such niceties as seat belts, door handles or air conditioning. And you do not speak Japanese, so you will need an adorable Asian "I'm really a molecular biologist" cutie riding shotgun to interpret for you.

Arrange to stop at your favorite valley eating place and let your tour group purchase lunch. The restaurant will kick back a free lunch for you (although skipping lunch for a bit might not be a bad idea, Luke. There's not a big market for pudgy TV personalities.) Maybe they'll even name a sandwich after you. The Luke Ford special. The contents of that sandwich escape me, though -- does anyone have any ideas? After visiting Wonderland and leading the group in a moment of silent prayer, you can drop off your group at the Hollywood Greyhound Bus Depot, so they can get the true perspective on what it's like to step off the bus when future Torah stars arrive in Los Angeles to embark upon their new careers. Plus they can get home from there.

Mdl writes: Lox and schmaltz on a rye loaf -- open faced. Just think, you could arrange the shinny pink lox in an attractive shape and drizzle the schmaltz over the top. There could be variations:

The Luke Ford Sister - roast beef instead of the lox.
The Luke Ford Extreme - 1 side roast beef -- 1 side lox, with whole baby carrots inserted and globs of schmaltz instead of drizzles.
The Luke Ford Voyager - it's amazing what you can do with a pimento olive.

Helpful writes: Other possible interesting stops on Luke's Tour include:

The actual corner on Santa Monica Boulevard where Matt Ramsey was discovered. The front of the Larry Flynt building where Mike Albo mercilessly bitch slapped poor Luke (and with one hand tied behind his back too).

The scene of the infamous John Holmes "Four on the Floor" murders in Coldwater Canyon.

Dave Hardman's former residence where a distraught Lynne Lopatain was arrested for stalking him with a loaded hand gun in her purse.

Charlie Sheen's Malibu Manse where more newcomers hit the sheets than at Ed Powers couch!

The Altadena love palace where Max makes so many girls deepest, darkest fantasies come true.

The World Modeling agency where booking agent, Jim South and his horny associates make so many of their own deepest, darkest sexual fantasies come true.

The Slums of Beverly Hills Apartments where Luke Ford makes surprisingly few lucky young Jewish ladies' deepest, darkest sexual fantasies come true.

The Los Angeles area Men's detention facility where Jack Hammer currently makes so many of his burly cellmates' deepest, darkest sexual fantasies come true.

The AIM testing facility where members of Luke's Tour can socialize with the charming Sharon Mitchell and receive a free blood panel analysis.

The cardboard box behind the Hollywood Boulevard Stop-Go market where super-agent, Scotty Schwartz lives. Rob Spallone's shooting house. WARNING: Please no rummaging through the trash cans for Kendra Jade's discarded soiled panties. Luke has already done so and they are available for sale at the end of the tour.

The Doc Johnson Sex Toy manufacturing facility where for $29.95 tour members may have a lifelike mold of their genitalia formed in silicone.

NOTE: All silicone penises of tour members over 8 inches in length become the "intellectual property" of Doc Johnson, Inc.

The Gold's Gym in Venice where AVN bull-stud, Gene Ross, works out daily. CAUTION: Ladies please refrain from touching Gene during his work out. and finally . . .

The fiery gates of HELL ! ! Where all porners are destined to end up at.

Remember in June all topless tour members bust size D and above get 50% off admission!

Goddess writes: The Torahland tour sounds cool, but I'm wondering if you're gonna have any rides--ya know, like Disneyland?? Just curious, cause if you're gonna have a Gene Ross ride, I'm gonna be on that sucker all day... BTW, "Helpful," if I can't touch Gene while he's flexing and squating, what the hell is the point?!

Kaspar writes: Hey there - great idea about the bus tour. But you want to do it right! You need a bus and a driver for that bus. My cousin Hector is new here and does not know the language, but he can drive a bus, and I can get you a bus at a very good rate. Fully air conditioned, too, with a pa system so you can talk over the traffic, and new shocks. Needs a bit of work to pass inspection, but not a problem, we can take care of that. So how about it Amigo, ready to do some business?

Ben writes: HI Luke, Luke! Now this is a great idea. I phoned a few of my jewish friends, they just can't wait for you to start these tours.I would like to ask you IF? there was a Van full, could we have a group rate? Say $ 18.99.Plus, yes there are a few. Would you pick us up from LAX? You would spend not time at all picking us out, of a busy airport. We have Ski jackets on, and rubber boots on, and our faces very white, no tan at all. Now, about your apartment. Will it sleep 8 persons plus yourself? (We have to keep the cost down)

Kaspar: I spoke with my cousin Hector. First, he wants to know how many miles a day this will be. Also, he insists that you do not go to where the black people live. too dangerous. And do you really have the money to start this? Just because we are Mexican does not mean we are cheap. You get what you pay for.

George writes: Luke; That Tour sounds like a hell of an idea. My only problem is the $20 for the tour. At present I have only a single Canadian twenty in my wallet. Would that be OK?

I was also thinking that for the extra I might need, the NJG could come along and pay that, besides her own, and for that I would hold onto her and keep her safe because of your atrocious driving that she mentioned. Hell for that price I would even bring an extra pillow to put in front of her face.

That would be for just before you run into something so that she doesn't get her beautiful looks ruined before marrying some rich guy that is going to keep her in the lap of luxury that she is preparing herself for. If her gorgeous face was damaged all she could hope for is some ordinary working stiff like myself. Heaven forbid that should happen!

Lord Peter Luther Christian writes: Dear Mr. Ford:

Speaking from the Christian perspective, there is much in your new business venture that can be laudable, provided it is executed properly. Your tour could be used to educate tourists on the dangers of perdition that come with the sin of random fornication outside of Christian marriage.

Begin, as has been suggested by others, with the bus depot, the Gates to Hell where many a young girl has begun her descent to damnation. Continue to the Demon Flynt Building, where Satan first breaks many an innocent's spirit. Then continue on to the filth factories of the Valley, where the dehumanizing process proceeds apace. Be sure to visit some HIV treatment centers, and discuss the relationship between the moral diseases of pornography, feminism, sodomy, etc., and such physical diseases as HIV and hepatitis.

Next stop - an abortion clinic, where unborn children brought to life in this moral sewer are masticated by the whirring blades of the abortionist's cutting tools, to the beat of a hip-hop sound track. This should be followed by a visit to the graves of the damned - porn actresses whose lives were cut short as a result of their involvement with pornography.

This can be a very depressing experience, with little to commend repeat business. So you will want to end on a high note: a trip to a Christian church, where the good news of Christ everlasting, and the promise of forgiveness of even the pornographer's sin, is presented to the shocked attendees in word and song. Finally, offer baptism to all who wish it.

Victory in Christ!
Lord Peter Luther Christian, OBE

John Douglas writes: Dear Lukey, I hope you got my IM where I put in for a reservation for your tour. I see it referenced that the first outing is for the media and since we are often referred to as a very watered-down version of I assume that I qualify as media. So once again, I am claiming a seat. I shall bring the appropriate gear (including a cell phone should you decide to ditch us all in a gang-infested barrio of East Los Angeles - which is okay with me since I have relatives in those parts).

Confucy writes: You must contact the owners of Graveline Tours and pick their brains. They have one of the most popular tours on the Westside of L.A. Graveline use to make a potty stop at the park across the street from Aaron Spelling's mansion.

You could drive your van into the parking lot of West Hollywood's Pleasure Chest store so people could rush in and pick up one of the most popular vibrators of this century, "the mini- massager G2 Pocket Rocket!"

posted by LukeFord | 1:36 AM |

Monday, September 13, 2004  

Evan Gahr writes: Journalist expelled from Kerry national HQ for "illegal" camera use. How long does it take to bait Kerry & Co into quotable quotes and goofy actions, which arguably run afoul of local and federal law? Exactly 53 seconds.

posted by LukeFord | 9:12 PM |

American Reform Responsa -- Concubinage as an Alternative to Marriage

posted by LukeFord | 7:17 PM |

Richard Pipes Loses His Mind

You can check out, here, my critique of Richard Pipes's recent, abysmal NYT op-ed.

posted by Deranged GOT Fan | 9:14 AM |

One thing I find grating about women in general and most female Jewish singles columnists (Teresa Strasser is the big exception) in particular is that they think they're so wonderful.
Here's an example from Esther D. Kustanowitz:

"Occasionally someone — usually my mother — will ask me why I, a vibrant, intelligent, attractive and witty Jewish writer, am still single."
The spinsterhood of these women, including Chayyei Sarah, is always laid at the feet of big bad dumb men. Rarely do I read or hear any genuine introspection over the possibility that these women, like men, might have flaws that stand between them and marriage.
I think this is the flip side of the female's greatest fear - that she is not worthy of love. Those who particularly doubt their worthiness are the ones most driven to constantly and publicly lay claim to their worthiness.
(A male's greatest fear is lack of competence. Hence he doesn't like to ask strangers for driving directions, even when lost.)
I have many parts of me that I have to fight to be a decent person (yeah, I know, I'm losing the battle). Any man who is real about himself knows that he has the capability to be a rapist unless he fights himself (to give one example of moral struggles that men have).
I rarely encounter a woman who's in touch with her own struggle to be decent. When I ask women about their moral struggles, they will say things like, I give too much. I'm too trusting.
In short, I'm too wonderful.
WaPo: "He's Just Not That Into You."
Rabbi Gadol writes:
And speaking of which, why do so many women (like this Kustanowitz person) think that what men really want is a devastatingly witty female version of Woody Allen? I find it tiresome to banter all the time with a woman who thinks sarcasm is a virtue (when the concept itself appears nowhere in the Torah). What I want is a woman who is kind, smart, seems like she'd make a great mom to my kids (and is young enough to MAKE said kids), and gives me erections now and then when I am thinking of her. Oh, and one more thing: Jewish women in particular wait too long to marry. The Jewess needs to appreciate that she is not a bottle of fine wine that only gets better with age no matter what her spinster friends may be telling her. She needs to start thinking about what sort of man she ought to be looking for as soon as she clears puberty, find said man, and seek to be married to him by age 23 - just like virtually all of the generations of women who preceded her.
PS Do Palestinians or Mexicans have "dating coaches" or singleton columnists? Nope. They are too busy having children, and lots of them.

posted by LukeFord | 1:38 AM |

Many of the youngsters have been asking me if I planned to attend the Moshav Band portion of this event, wondering at my lack of enthusiasm for it. I'm confused: the band was so over well before I stopped following the J-music scene. Are they now "cool" again? Or is the younger generation a sadder situation than I'd previously assumed?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:11 AM |

An excerpt from David B. Hart, "The Pornography Culture," The New Atlantis, Number 6, Summer 2004, pp. 82-89:

There would be little purpose here in rehearsing the story of how late medieval "voluntarism" altered the understanding of freedom—both divine and human—in the direction of the self-moved will, and subtly elevated will in the sense of sheer spontaneity of choice (arbitrium) over will in the sense of a rational nature's orientation towards the good (voluntas); or of how later moral and political theory evolved from this one strange and vital apostasy, until freedom came to be conceived not as the liberation of one's nature, but as power over one's nature. What is worth noting, however, is that the modern understanding of freedom is essentially incompatible with the Jewish, classical, or Christian understanding of man, the world, and society. Freedom, as we now conceive of it, ­presumes—and must ever more consciously pursue—an irreducible nihilism: for there must literally be nothing transcendent of the will that might command it towards ends it would not choose for itself, no value higher than those the will imposes upon its world, no nature but what the will elects for itself. It is also worth noting, somewhat in passing, that only a society ordered towards the transcendental structure of being—towards the true, the good, and the beautiful—is capable of anything we might meaningfully describe as civilization, as it is only in the interval between the good and the desire wakened by it that the greatest cultural achievements are possible. Of a society no longer animated by any aspiration nobler than the self's perpetual odyssey of liberation, the best that can be expected is a comfortable banality. Perhaps, indeed, a casually and chronically pornographic society is the inevitable form late modern liberal democratic order must take, since it probably lacks the capacity for anything better.

All of which yields two conclusions. The first is that the gradual erosion—throughout the history of modernity—of any concept of society as a moral and spiritual association governed by useful ethical prejudices, immemorial reverences, and subsidiary structures of authority (church, community, family) has led inevitably to a constant expansion of the power of the state. In fact, it is ever more the case that there are no significant social realities other than the state and the individual (collective will and personal will). And in the absence of a shared culture of virtue, the modern liberal state must function—even if benignly—as a police state, making what use it may of the very technologies that COPA was intended somewhat to control. And that may be the truly important implication of a decision such as the Supreme Court's judgment on COPA: whether we are considering the power of the federal government to penalize pornographers or the power of the federal court to shelter them against such penalties, it is a power that has no immediate or necessary connection to the culture over which it holds sway. We call upon the state to shield us from vice or to set our vices free, because we do not have a culture devoted to the good, or dedicated to virtue, or capable of creating a civil society that is hospitable to any freedom more substantial than that of subjective will. This is simply what it is to be modern.

The second conclusion is that every time a decision like that regarding COPA is handed down by the Court, it should serve to remind us that between the biblical and the liberal democratic traditions there must always be some element of tension. What either understands as freedom the other must view as a form of bondage. This particular Court decision is not especially dramatic in this regard—it is certainly nowhere near as apocalyptic in its implications as Roe v. Wade—and no doubt there are sound legal and even ethical arguments to be made on either side of the issue, within the terms our society can recognize. But perhaps the COPA decision can provide some of us, at least, with a certain salutary sense of alienation: it is good to be reminded from time to time—good for persons like me, with certain pre-modern prejudices—that our relations with the liberal democratic order can be cordial to a degree, but are at best provisional and fleeting, and can never constitute a firm alliance; that here we have no continuing city; that we belong to a kingdom not of this world; and that, while we are bound to love our country, we are forbidden to regard it as our true home.

(David B. Hart is an Eastern Orthodox theologian and author of The Beauty of the Infinite.)

posted by LukeFord | 1:10 AM |

Sunday, September 12, 2004  

On Thursday, two more papers jumped in on the World Jewish Congress controversy.
The Forward went the interesting route of running an unjustified assertion in its headline and lede for the story. Could the WJC "split"? Dunno. Do "observers" really "say" that the issue "threaten[s] to destroy the organization." Dunno. Wish I did, but, much like a self-important frat boy, the article just has hyperbolic, breathless accounts coming out its top and nothing to back that up down below. It's a "he said/he said" account that seems to want to come out on the side of Israel Singer, but just...can'
Contrast with Melissa Radler's NYSUN account, which for some odd reason quotes Singer's lawyer; I'll leave it to you to figure out exactly what that does to add to the credibility of Singer's own claims.
So three J-media outlets (NYJW, Forward, Ha'Aretz) and one semi-J-media outlet all come out with stories on this topic within 24 hours of each other, and none seems to be able to compile all the evidence, sort out the competing claims, and present all of them in a coherent manner.
This is especially disappointing because the NYJW story, the first to come out, has hidden away at the end of its long piece the precious factoid that Yoram Dinstein, who is identified earlier in the article as an appointee of a task force assembled by the man making the allegations, Isi Leibler, has found no support for the claim that any fiscal badness has taken place. A shoddy job by the NYJW of presenting what, if the way they placed the information is any indication, they had no clue was important information.
Special slaps on the hand go to Radler, who, firstly, got scooped even though she writes for a daily and, secondly, failed to incorporate the important info from stories that came out before hers went to print (she was the only reporter who had this opportunity).
[Sorry for the late post, but earlier versions of this got bloggered.]

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:57 PM |

I want to create a magazine called Better People - devoted to the development of character. Instead of Better Homes & Gardens, Better People will concentrate on how we can be finer, kinder, stronger, more moral. I'd envision an ecumenical magazine that atheists, religious and secular people of all stripes can get behind.

You want to visit the sick? How.

You want to work with retarded people? How.

Would you like to lobby on moral issues? How.

posted by LukeFord | 10:29 PM |

Dennis Prager writes: If you are not Orthodox and you believe in the divinity of the Torah, the chosenness of the Jews and that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman, please send me an e-mail.

I am entirely serious about this (you can easily email me through my website, I would like to know that there are other Jews like me. It can be pretty lonely in Jewish life if you aren't Orthodox but believe that core Jewish values such as man-woman marriage and God-based morality are immutable.

Why is it lonely? Let's begin with Orthodoxy. I wish I could believe what the Orthodox believe. Orthodoxy holds what I hold sacred-for example, a God-based Torah, the sanctity of male-female marriage, and the immutability of the Torah's values. Moreover, Orthodoxy can be a warm, life-embracing, comforting system that provides community, friends and meaning. I was raised Orthodox, and tried to live it again with the birth of my first child.

posted by LukeFord | 9:05 PM |

According to religious law, one must fulfill the following criteria before reprimanding a fellow human:

1. Can you honestly say that you love this person and truly care about his/her welfare?
2. Are you totally devoid of glee, smug satisfaction, or revenge in reprimanding this person?
3. Are you 100% sure that you are correct in your reprimand?
4. Will you reprimand this person quietly and privately, with every effort of avoiding embarrassment and needless pain?
5. Are you sure that the long-range results of your reprimand will the results be positive?

posted by LukeFord | 8:21 PM |

R. Shalom Carmy on reading non-Orthodox writings.

posted by LukeFord | 6:16 PM |

Tzemach Atlas received a letter from Isi Leibler on the World Jewish Congress imbroglio.

posted by LukeFord | 1:13 PM |

Tzemach Atlas on tribal ecstasy -- when, where and how Jews gather.

posted by LukeFord | 11:23 AM |

Alone, But Not Lonely: The Tate's Hopper And The Jewish Museum's Modigliani
By Menachem Wecker

posted by LukeFord | 1:50 AM |

I've been hanging out on Frumteens and making friends and preaching the good news of my forgiveness of sin special.

Topics under discussion: Skirt Lengths, and "Platonic" Relationships:
Why do they care about these so much?

posted by LukeFord | 1:44 AM |

Barefoot Jewess on lashon hara and what she feels as humiliating her, the convert.

posted by LukeFord | 1:39 AM |

GoodBye, My Shabbos Queen

Amalek writes me: "Does it sadden you to see the Shabbos Queen depart, or are you happy to be able to return to your work?"

I fear that I usually look forward to returning to work, but I also usually look forward to the onset of the Shabbat Friday afternoon. It's the long Sabbath afternoons in the summer that are tough.

posted by LukeFord | 1:25 AM |

From a dvar Torah on

"Each of us has been given a different ball set of talents to play with. Focus on the ball that you've been given and get on with your game."

"As a member of the Jewish team we are always being challenged to put out for our 'teammates.' Be there for them."

posted by LukeFord | 1:23 AM |

Rabbi Yitzchok Raitport released today his p'sak regarding the bugs in the water in Brooklyn. In the p'sak Rabbi Raitport writes ten reasons why the water has no problem with it and is 100% ok to drink.

OU Fact Sheet on New York City Water

posted by LukeFord | 1:16 AM |

Young Israels vs Black Hat shuls.

Adam Ragil responds.

posted by LukeFord | 1:13 AM |

I went to a screening of the documentary Missionary Positions, on the XXXChurch, which was founded by a couple of pastors who want to fight p--- addiction.

posted by LukeFord | 1:12 AM |
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