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

Friday, June 20, 2003  

Yahoo! News - Powell Calls Hamas 'Enemy of Peace'. I suppose this is some sort of development?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 1:31 PM |

Southern Baptist Watch. Why should this year's SB convention go by without head-shaking incident? This year's prize goes to the Rev. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In his speech to his fellow pastors, he reiterated the movement's emphasis on converting Jews.

He illustrated Jewish evangelism by comparing it to a medical doctor. A person with a potentially deadly tumor would want a doctor who would give them a truthful diagnosis, not one who would, in an effort to avoid offending them, tell them that all is well. In the same way, Christians must tell unsaved Jews and all non-Christians the truth of the eternal danger they face and steer them to salvation in Christ, Mohler said, and thus proclaiming the Gospel is a genuine display of Christian love.
Obviously, the ADL was less than thrilled. Gotta love it.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 11:29 AM |

For those of you devestated by the news that the Israeli Antiquities Authority concluded that the James Ossuary was a fake (and there must be one of you out there, right?) -- all is not lost. Its now officially a matter of scholarly debate. Heshel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archeology Review and Rev. Ben Witherington III, New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, have defended their claims as to the authenticity of the inscription. (via PaleoJudaica). Nothing like bickering scholars to get things exciting...

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 10:46 AM |

Happy Birthday Ephraim

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 10:38 AM |

Zohar Azolay on YU's webpage! Yup, the pic is:

and It's on Revel's front page!
Elder Pinchas noticed this, and he -- and I -- wonder how long it'll be before someone "holy" notices it, too, and demands it down.
Some context for the unitiated: When Zohar was a junior, he ran for student council president at YU, and a smear campaign orchestrated by various idiots among the students, and a bunch of the rebbeim, did whatever possible to have him lose because of rumors he was gay. It came to a head during a debate when a major idiot asked the question, "How can you propose to represent the student body when you are a sexual deviant?" And thusly did that election enter it's McCarthyist stage. You've gotta love it when the webheads and PR do something like this -- and you wonder: are any of the people who'd care knowledgeable enough about the Internet to find it?
Send in more crazy pictures!

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:37 AM |

Gil Perl and Yaakov Weinstein write a pamphlet warning parents about the dangers that secular colleges present to their children's Orthodoxy. Richard Joel responds (via Jewish Week)

Yeshiva University, Joel said, should not be seen as a haven from the dangers of secular university. Instead, it should be a place for those who “believe that during the college years it’s important to have a very focused curriculum devoted to increasing Jewish learning” and see “a particular value in continuing to surround yourself with people who primarily share your worldview during the undergraduate years.”
“If a person decides he doesn’t want to put himself in an environment where Jewish learning is at the center, then I think there are campuses where you can maintain your lifestyle and get many benefits of university life,” he said.
This is where we see a difference in worldview. Dr. Lamm probably would have included a snippet somewhere about YU's top-tier status and tried to turn the quote into a recruitment campaign. Joel at least realizes that YU is not for everyone, and thats a good thing -- both for the kids and for YU.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 2:25 AM |

[I was in a charitable mood, following our first 500-hit day, when Meredith rather audaciously asked to post here. She couldn't give a good reason why the post didn't belong at her blog, but oh, well. Here it is. Enjoy. -- SIW]
I was at one of those awkward Sheva Berakhos tonight . . . you know, where you show up and realize that out of a crowd of fifty, you only know the chosson and two other people, one of whom has to leave early. Anyway, for reasons that I still can’t quite understand I ended up talking with another guest, who studies at JTS, about the impending downfall of Conservative Judaism.

We were both of the opinion that at some point during the next twenty years, the Conservative moment’s going to split over the question of homosexuality. Those on the “left” of the issue will merge with the blossoming observant Reform community (to differentiate between the “God, eh” Reform community of the 1980s, which quickly feel to the wayside once they realized how many of their kids were intermarrying) and those on the right will join with the Modern Orthodoxy of YCT.

Your (collective) thoughts?

I. --- Thanks for having faith in a young upstart.

posted by Meredith | 12:31 AM |

Protocols got 514 hits yesterday (Thursday), a record and our first time over 500.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:05 AM |

Thursday, June 19, 2003  

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Someone arrived at Protocols by doing a Google search for: sex and orthodox judaism hole in the sheets. We're the 11th hit, thanks to this Playboy-quoting post by Elder Pinchas.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:28 PM |

Adi Neuman writes in:

I might not be the first to mention this, but one of the blogspot ads above Protocols is for "MessianicConnections: where Messianic singles click."
I would complain, or something. From the site: "All Profits made from will go towards the Messianic Bible Society/Messianic Prophecy Bible Project, providing Bibles to spread the Gospel of Yeshua to unsaved Jewish people."
Well, Adi, you are the first person to complain, because -- and I don't know how you haven't noticed this -- all of the Elders and what appears to be the larger block of our readership are Messianic Jews, eagerly awaiting the return of Yeshua. In fact, Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik has been documented as first crypto-Messianist leader to take refuge in the States, having escaped the oppression of the Zionist Conspiracy in Europe with the hope of practicing the True Religion freely and openly here in America.
In other news, Adi is still not posting! What gives?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:22 PM |

I don't know if she's serious or not, but Meredith is writing about "Brooklyn’s “high stakes” dating scene":

For those of you who aren’t in the know, high stakes dating is where shiddukhim go for $20,000 a pop upon engagement. Usually the main players are the kids of European diamond jewelers and New York financiers, but every now and then, if there are highly mitigating circumstances (say, you’re a sweet, brilliant, idealistic, frum waif) a pauper or a BT--or in my case, both--can worm their way in.
She goes on blah-blah-blah-ing about not wanting to lose twenty pounds, but I'm more interested in this "high stakes" thing.
A) How does the payout work? They give it to you upon engagement? Is that then discretionary spending, or to be used for wedding-related activities?
B) If it's "high stakes," what happens if you lose?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:09 PM |

Funniest Ariel Sharon joke ever. (Realplayer video)
More Daily Show: The Jewish cabal and Eric Rudolph.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:39 PM |

Jewish Week roundup.
A bevy of stories on the Jewish Population Survey: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
In other news, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's nephew is the new rabbi at the Carlebach Shul. The synagogue, legacy to the singing/swinging late rabbi had some political infighting a year or two ago when Rabbi Sammy Intrator, whom the elder Carlebach had chosen to lead the congregation, was ousted by the board. Intrator subsequently did guest appearances at the West Side Institutional Synagogue. I believe I read about this ousting in the Jewish Week but it's described in this article thusly:

Rabbi Sam Intrator, Shlomo’s closest aide, filled the void for a few years but left in search of other projects several years ago.
By the way, the new guy is Rabbi Naftali Citron, and "he has no intention of being an Elvis imitator."
Also, "can't-buy-a-seat" former legislator Noach Dear is scrapping to get back in the game, while the other elected voice for Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn -- still in-office Assemblymember Dov Hikind -- is opposed to this resurrection.
OH, YEAH, and there's a front-page story on Arab nations' leaders' collusion to expel Jews. This report will presumedly be used to support the inane effort to get reparations from these countries for Jewish expulsions.
There's also coverage of Michel Friedman, the German Jewish leader/coke addict. The article notes:
Some see the Friedman episode as the biggest test yet of postwar Germany’s readiness to eschew anti-Semitic stereotypes. So far, reviews are mixed.
We've chronicled what appears to be a rebirth of scary feelings in Germany here at Protocols before (See posts of 5/27, 5/20, 5/18). Worst writing of the issue is probably in this article:
In the minds of many, Friedman’s free fall is paired with that of Jurgen Mollemann, Friedman’s political nemesis, who literally free fell recently in a plunge to his death.
Mollemann, a skydiving enthusiast, did not open his parachute in a June 5 jump that is being considered a suicide.
The article contains repeated assertions that there is too much attention being paid to this scandal for that attention not to be engendered by anti-Semitism. Then there's this paragraph:
In January, the Central Council signed a historic contract with the Federal Republic of Germany, putting it on a legal par with the Catholic and Protestant Churches.
Which makes Friedman, what, a Cardinal? Would a coked-up cardinal receive similar attention?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:53 PM |

Charlie's Angels edited to make Cameron Diaz's eyes bluer. This recalls for me the recent wedding of Yehuda Shmidman to Rebecca Glass (took place this Sunday). The first picture Shmid got of the two of them, back when they started dating, was on the Commie's digital camera. He brought it back to the office and the photos had red-eye. I Photoshopped them back to his baby blues, and now they're hitched. This is why I have better karma than any of you.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:08 PM |

Back with my computer...what to do first?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:35 PM |

I just called Best Buy and they said my computer's back! Dun-Dun-Dun!

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

Weird experience last night. A friend of mine comes home from learning, and says that his chavrusa, at the end of the session, said that he could continue with more sessions only if my friend could pay him $50/hour -- this being a cut in his normal rate of $100/hour. I was disturbed by the charging to begin with, but I was even more disturbed by the first couple of sessions that were done essentially under false pretenses -- the guy knew he'd charge my friend, my friend didn't know that. It should be obvious that in this equation my friend was really learning from the other guy, but my friend is also someone who is obviously unable to afford such a price (even if it were somehow worth it). Has anyone else heard of stories like this?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:30 PM |

According to the Forward a split is developing between the Jewish communities lay and religious leaders. Apparently, the religious leaders are quicker to attack Bush for his domestic (read: tax) policy, while the lay leaders are too interested in not damaging the Administration's support for Israel to say anything about that. As far as Israel, the religious leaders are more likely to support the current drive towards an agreement, while the lay organizations are taking harder pro-Israel lines. Interestingly, the article fails to mention any Orthodox institutions -- the religious leaders mentioned above were the Conservative and Reform movements. Is it because we're too small to register, just don't care about politics (right!), or something else?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 10:01 AM |

The Forward's Philologos column attempts to distinguish between an "yeshiva" and a "seminary". Clearly, in the 19th century, as the article points out, they were very different institutional models. Now?

Yet for the most part, the contrast between the two institutions remains. Walk into the Jewish Theological Seminary and you will be in a building of professors, students, classrooms, and courses similar to what you would find in Columbia University next-door. Enter a typical yeshiva and you will be in a large hall in which dozens of young men are studying on their own or in small clusters, each cluster reading, discussing and debating as if the others didn't exist.
What if you'd walk into the Rabbi Issac Elchanan Theological Seminary? Is RIETS somehow a seminary with an embedded yeshiva? When people refer to Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzhak Elchanan, do they mean just the beis midrash, or the homiletics classes as well? Also, how significant is it that Rabbi Avi Weiss named his institution Yeshivat Chovevei Torah instead of, say, the Open Orthodox Seminary or something?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:09 AM |

I really wasn't going to respond to this. I really wasn't. Until someone suggested I should, since they "call [me] out by name." Okay, so here goes. Mobius/Daniel Sieradski posts:

check out rushkoff's cover story in the new york press ...especially you, steven i. it deals nicely with your unfounded accusation of conspiracy theory.
I had originally taken this as lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek, and actually thought it was kind of cute.
But then Sieradski's mom chimes in in the comments:
the last line of the previous post says it all. if he is a true blue jew, he will respect all jews. and not serve just one part of the population. isn't that the point douglas has been trying to make?
And while I think I'm supposed to be offended or take umbrage, I'm really just confused. I don't really know which "one part of the population" I'm hoping to serve, or what that has to do with my criticism of Mobius for being, at turns, wrong about anti-Semitism and irresponsible in documenting an event. As to Mobius' contention that i have an "unfounded accusation of conspiracy theory," again, I thought he was joking -- if not, I really don't know what to think, since I explicitly wasn't saying anything about a conspiracy, but rather about how the actions of one guy were wrong.
His mom followed up with this post, which, thankfully, doesn't require much response on my part. Though it did give me something to get the ball rolling on the Rushkoff discussion. Unfortunately, the NYPress site is down now, so I'll have to clue you in to what that is when they fix it (presumably in the morning).

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

Rabbi Shalom Carmy's latest Disease of the Week dispatch:

Suppress your appetite and help your diabetes.
Use the saliva of Gila monsters.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:24 AM |

By the way, we'll be expecting to blog about at least a few books this summer. Your suggestions of upcoming titles or perhaps some of the classics are more than welcome.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:16 AM |

Per Meredith's recommendation, consider this a discussion thread on falls. Go at it, ladies.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:10 AM |

Wednesday, June 18, 2003  

Judith Weiss' Kesher Talk heads up, according to The Blueprint, the most recommended Jewish blog on the internet list, followed up by LGF. Other blogs reviewed are: Hasidic Rebel, Klezmer Shack, JewSchool, and Marduk's Babylonian Musings. Shocking absent from the list is PROTOCOLS. It's OK, though, we're tough. We can take it. Just don't expect us to pretend we don't have a chip on our shoulder.
[How should we be responding to this? -- SIW]

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 10:04 PM |

I just received word from Doug Rushkoff that we'll be getting copies of his book, Nothing Sacred, for extended review and discussion here at Protocols. Click below to get your copy and follow along with us:


posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:21 PM |

Deja Vu All Over Again?
Today we had the first Hamevaser meeting for the upcoming academic year. Despite the fact that we couldn't get an issue out this year (not that I didn't do my part -- I contributed my 10 pages), everyone seems very fired up, determined, and purposeful. What do you think?

[There was a time way back when, when a group of industrious fellows declared they'd put out more and better issues than their predecessors. The year went by and nary an issue arrived. The next year saw Ari Schick doing layout over the course of a few months, and, finally, the issue arrived. -- SIW]

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:21 PM |

AKS on why last night's shooting is a big deal. Basically, because it has rich people, who live in the suburbs and who don't take buses, scared now that they could be likely targets. This puts forth the possible inference (mine, not AKS's) that the upper class -- which to some large degree includes the intelligentsia, the politicians, the press, etc. -- never really understood what was going on in the battle against terror in Israel.
There are some interesting tidbits in the comments there. For instance, Alisa says, "I feel the exact same way. I have been consoling my self with the fact that I am unlikely to have to ride buses in Israel."
And then there are some comments about how this affects the immigrant population, which is naturally more likely to be lower-class. Miranda says that, "this risk distribution is precisely what makes quite a lot of new and not-so-new immigrants leave the country as soon as they can -- or decide against the Aliyah in the first place." And Otter cites what -- if true -- is an amazing statistic: "For all the fuss about Abu Sayyaf, there have been more Filipinos killed in Israel than in attacks in the Philippines," adding "Lasst year Haaretz reported that if foreign workers could vote, it's likely they'd mostly support Likud or the far-right parties."
This, obviously, can affect our thinking as Americans. A Pentagon employee in the comments there says:

I travel on public transit to and from work. I try to be alert and see if anybody looks like a sucide bomber so far I have not seen any. I do try and avoid public transist during evening rush hours, (that is one of the reasons I am typing this post at work now) and other times when there might be a lot of people using it and therefore a prime target for a sucide bomber. I know back here in the US we have not yet had any sucide bombers on public transist, but I believe that it is only a matter of time before we do.
So what should Americans be doing? This certainly clarifies TNR's continuing crusade against Bush, whom they recently labeled "The September 10th President" for inadequately responding to homeland security concerns. Indeed, when the Department of Homeland Security hasn't just been changing the color of the terror alert arbitrarily, it's been hunting down Democrats for Tom DeLay.
I'm beginning to imagine a dichotomy between Israeli politics and American politics and I don't know if it's real. It seems that immigrants, typically aligning with the Left in America and receiving goverment benefits here, align with the Right in Israel -- where benefits like welfare and avoiding the army are recently being broadcast as primarily to the benefit of the ultra-Orthodox who've been there for decades. Of course, there's also some breakdown differentiating, say, immigrants from a position of wealth (Americans, for instance), and immigrants from a position of poverty (Russians, for instance). I'd like to see more on this.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:12 PM |

The Weekly Glance at the Jewish Press Letters Section reveals a somewhat unexpected response to Rebbetzin Leah Kohl, who wrote an essay about women and Judaism (archived on that included the following inflamatory passage:

For thousands of years, Judaism has attested to a woman's unique power to influence the development of those around her. Her ability to shape those in her world far exceeds a man's, as the Talmud attests in the following parable: The sages of the Talmud tell of a righteous couple who divorce. The righteous man then marries a wicked woman, and the righteous woman a righteous man; the virtuous woman in turning her new husband into a virtuous man. The Midrash concludes that all depends on the woman (Midrash Bereshis Rabba 17:7).

In a more modern account the Chazon Ish, a Torah giant of the last generation, was asked by a community with limited resources whether they should build a seminary for the girls or a yeshiva for the boys. He told the community leaders to build the girls' school, because without women dedicated to Torah and the Jewish way of life there would be no need for yeshivot.
Obviously, those loyal to the true ideals of Authentic Torah Judaism --of both genders -- weren't going to let this one go. Boruch M. Selevan and Batya Hiller tie for Stupid Letters of the Week, and the highlights are excepted below:
On the contrary, a famous Gemara asks, “noshim bimai zachyan?” (from what do women accrue merit?) and the Gemara answers, from waiting for their husbands to come home from learning Torah and taking their youngsters to the house of study. If “everything depends on the woman,” how can we understand the question of the Gemara there? Even if we say that those two teachings contradict each other, we know that Gemara is considered more authoritative than midrash, so the Gemara would trump the midrash on this matter...

An illuminating discussion of the midrash is found in the excellent sefer “Male and Female He Created Them — A Guide to Classical Torah Commentary on the Roles and Natures of Men and Women” by Yisrael Ben Reuven (Targum Press 1996). A whole chapter there is devoted to the matter. The sefer states that perhaps the midrash may talking about a case of a man who is not particularly driven by his own internal motivations. In such a case, the woman may play such a decisive role. However, in a case of a motivated man, one cannot say that...

To sum up, while it is good to encourage b`nos Yisrael to work for lofty goals by telling them that they can accomplish great things, nevertheless, since our Torah is a Toras Emes (a Torah of truth), it is improper to exaggerate their roles...

Why do Bible-believing Christians have no problem teaching G-d`s ordained roles for men and women — including the truth that men are to lead their families and that women, as important and unique as our mission is, are to be the subordinate partners — with no fear of what the feminists and the intellectuals will say, while our Orthodox thinkers and leaders are scared to death of unambiguously proclaiming the same biblical truth?...

Interestingly, both letter writers fail to relate at all to the Chazon Ish story. Clearly, he has nothing to do with Orthodox tradition.

Also, Chananya gets support for his endthemadness letter, and women's tefilah groups are not Orthodox at all -- no matter how subservient their participants are to their husbands when they get home.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 3:17 PM |

YU launches its new website today! Of course, we're upset since they didn't hire Ephraim to do it for them, but its nice that YU's moved into the late 90s.
[They've got categories for Prospective Students and Current Students, but nothing for Disgraced Former Students. What gives? -- SIW]

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 2:54 PM |

Glenn Reynolds teaches Bill O'Reilly a thing or two about the blogosphere. O'Reilly again comes off as hypocritical, arrogant, and out of touch -- gee, big surprise there.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 10:43 AM |

Bangitout's Top Ten Camp Lists:
You Know You Went to Camp Raleigh
You Know You Went to Camp Lavi
You Know You Went to Camp Moshava Wild Rose
And no Camp Stone yet...
UPDATE: So I sent this in. We'll see if they post it.
10) You can name which Avodah built every structure in camp.
9) You don't understand what other people are saying when they talk about waiters at camp.
8) Your ambition is to one day escape from a terrorist kidnapping, just like Yehuda Rothner.
7) You thought the camp went soft when it built a swimming pool.
6) You derive eerie pleasure from duckwalking on a gravel road in the middle of the night, then doing push-ups in an oil-tainted puddle.
5) You went to the only camp that had legal raids.
4) You woke up in the middle of your sophomore year and realized that somewhere between half and all of your wardrobe consists of "irregular" sports clothing that you picked up at the Champion Factory Outlet.
3) The word "stoner" never really had a narcotics association for you.
2) Bruce beat/tortured you in some way you'll never forget, and/or you recall JoJo's castration.
1) You think everyone at Wild Rose and IO is going to hell.
UPDATE: Bangitout posted it, and it's here. I imagine the follow-ups should be quite funny, as well, so check back there. Meantime, Ephraim writes in that his list about Camp Mogen Avraham is placed above mine. I'm unsure as to why he'd make a point of saying that, but given the juvenile nature of it, I'm inclined to reply, "Ladies first." No insult meant, of course, to the ladies.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:57 AM |

Heights Wiffleball League

(via Bangitout)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:52 AM |

BlissfulKnowledge links to a story in TNR about Europeans' distaste for Israel. There's a lot to be said about this, and hopefully I'll get to it very soon.

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

It seems that Pavel Podkolzine, an 18-year-old, 7-foot-5, 303 pound NBA prospect has a pituitary disorder. Gee, ya think?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:16 AM |

Tuesday, June 17, 2003  

The Jewish Press is running radio ads on WABC now. Thats basically enough to drive my radio back to FM radio where its belongs. Oh, and watch this space tomorrow for our weekly look through the JP's letters section. Fun for the whole family.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:49 PM |

It's that time of year again. Time to gear up for the Southern Baptist convention, this year in Phoenix. Without further ado, some past SB highlights:

  • "I went from worshipping a false, dead idol to knowing the one true living sovereign Lord," by the Rev. Ergun Caner, a converted Muslim. He got a standing O.

  • "[Muhammed was] a demon-possessed pedophile," by the Rev. Jerry Vines, at last year's convention. Another standing O.

  • "God almighty did not hear the prayers of a Jew," by H. Bailey Smith, convention president, 1980.

  • "Hindus are living in the hopeless darkness of Hinduism," the convention's International Mission Board, 1999.

  • "[Modern society is] a culture of perversions," Vines, this year.
And that's just the quotes from this one article. Why all the rhetoric? In the words of the Rev. Frank Ruff, a Roman Catholic priest who attends the convention as a representative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
"They do this because they are convinced this is going to be a better way to reach people for the Lord. Others like the Catholic Church and other Christian groups believe the better way to reach people with the message of Jesus Christ is looking for common ground."
Somewhere, this must be working or they'd have abandoned the strategy, but its hard to imagine. Oh, and don't think they've abandoned JewsforJesus or other such movements. If you suddendly feel the need to make fun of Southern Baptists, check out Landover Baptist.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 8:24 PM |

My blogging will still be slow until I get my computer back. This week, I'm alternating between getting time on my roommate's comp & coming in to the Voice (where I am now). I'm just busting at the seams for when I get her back.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:26 PM |

Meredith seems to be hinting that kids in Teaneck are getting plastic surgery as a reward for getting good grades. True?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:23 PM |

Orthodox Jewish Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver places the alleged rapist on his staff on a leave of absence. It seems it took him a while, no?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:13 PM |

Reader Bryan submits this flash presentation about anti-semitism from somewhere on the internet. Thoughts?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 1:44 PM |

Personally, I don't care how many Harry Potter books get stolen as long as nobody gives away anything before I get a chance to read it.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 1:29 PM |

NYT article on feet and sandals starts thusly:

She ravished his eye with her sandals. Honestly, that's what the Bible says. In Bethulia, an ancient Jewish city besieged by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, a widow of bravery and beauty took it upon herself to enter the enemy camp. According to legend, the widow, Judith, entered the tent of Holofernes, the general who led the invasion, and then, aided by maidservant and some lovely footwear, she managed to lop off his head.

For centuries, this deliriously gory narrative has provided subject matter for artists from Artemisia Gentileschi to Cindy Sherman, as well as meat for scholars, who dissect and analyze Judith's tale for its protofeminist import. The fact is, however, that hardly anyone beyond the poets who wrote the Apocrypha ever mentions the pivotal role played by Judith's footwear. How can that be? What is it about the bared foot that, even today, has the power to turn otherwise sensible people into prudes? Why is it a virtual secret that nearly a quarter of the footwear sold in the United States last year was sandals? What, one wonders, are the mystifying properties of the naked foot.

(via Paleojudaica) Something for all you Revel Bible people to think about.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 11:14 AM |

Really weird WP article about David M. Colburn, former AOL business head. Apparently he once got 3 Rabbis to pray for AOL stock to rise to a certain point in return for $1 Million to a Jewish cause. The Rabbis countered by getting him to go to shul in return for praying in the first place. By the end, he was in shul and the Rabbis had their million. I'm not sure that this is supposed to tell us, except that the Rabbis should be fundraising for YU.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 2:56 AM |

Richard Joel Update: Four days into the new era, and everything still feels the same.
[What are a few things that RJ could do to give the impression that a new regime really is in charge? Stopping by Protocols to say hello, that'd be one. -- SIW]

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 2:30 AM |

After a full day of suspense-building silence, Blogger Meredith finally spills the beans on Hockers, Inc. One can only shudder to think of the consequences of violating whatever version of omerta is in play here....

While tinkering around with my new toy, I shared sparing word with a rather irate Elder I:

SHLEVE1: Whatever happened to that dispatch from the Internet Hocker
MiramFayga: Working on it. I fell asleep last night, unfortunately.
SHLEVE1: Lady, this is the blogging world . . . we don't wait on news here.
SHLEVE1: Fell asleep?!?!?! Blah!!

Oops, I knew I forgot to do *something* today. Well, here's hoping that yesterday's news can be tomorrow's most comment-worthy blog post.

* * * * *

Under normal circumstances, you'd think that the only way to get a decent cross-section of New York's Jewish Jews would be to stake out Dougie's Monday Night Buffet. But yesterday afternoon, a seemingly innocuous Flatbush dining room teemed over with representatives of just about every frum tri-state area demographic you could imagine.

Among the cast of characters:
-two fast talking, scale defying (*so* skinny!) sisters from Monsey
-one chaste Bruria honors student
-the unthinkable . . . a childless 26-year old Chassidisha woman from Willyburg
-our hostess, a newlywed Flatbush pre-school teacher
-a Borough Park standard, complete with her chosson cell phoning her every ten minutes
-the token "modern" girl (a.k.a. me), complete with her hair thrown up in a messy, trendy up do and trademark coal eyeliner

Now, you might be wondering, what could bring such a cast of characters together in one living room? We're different ages, different hashkafas, different speeds . . . different lives. What could we possibly share in common, besides a complete devotion to all things H&M? Simply, hock.

To hock. To talk. To tell. To share. To reveal, revel in and wonder at the lives of Internet personalities you've never met and presumably (yesterday afternoon being the obvious exception) never will. There's no good definition of "hock" but you know it when you see it. Read any hocker's webpage, and you could be treated to daily diary entries of school going-ons, general life gripes, spirituality, random observations on the Q train--anything's fair game. If you've got a website and gumption you're good to go.

This his highly differentiable from the blogging phenomenon that's swept the Internet over the past six months. Hock is to blogging what ICQ is to AIM: An antiquated relic, but true masters of the field appreciate it's simple, elegant style. However, "hocking" is a uniquely Jewish (yeshivish at that) phenomenon. The first hocks came about in September 2000, when a young upstart at Ner Israel Rabbinical College started posting his diary online. Others followed. But, while the blogosphere developed into a news-oriented medium, old skool hockers continue to write in the original format pioneered by Adiel. Not surprisingly, many hockers today view Adiel as the archetype for what a "with it" yeshivas boy ought to be. And much revered is the hocker who had a chavrusa with him in NIRC, or enjoyed the pleasure of his company on a lobby date.

So, for whatever reason, a certain female hocker decided it was all time for us all to gather face to face. With name tags cluing everyone into our online identities, we spent a great three hours shmoozing, eating, joking and laughing. We played games (fun), discussed which male hockers we'd shiddukh our friends with (none) and even got to see two centimeters of the chassidish woman's shaved scalp (no comment).

The weird thing about hocking is that it's a tail-end paradigm. In order to have cool stuff to hock about, you need to have a really crazy-insane life. But to give a good hock on your life, you need to have the time two hock. Rarely to they both go hand in hand. The biggest hockers can spend four, five hours a day online. That's a bit much for someone with a job, in school, raising kids, grocery shopping, cleaning up after her husband . . . basically, any relatively normal girl leading a relatively normal life.

Yet somehow, at the end of the day, it all gets done. It sort of makes you wonder: Are we the new wave of savvy frum women, able to balance a full pate of professional and ome life, *and* 'net contacts to boot? Or are we just a bunch of dorks with nothing better to do after folding the laundry and checking our calc homework than hock until 3:30 M about how Mrs. So-and-So hasn't shaved her hair in eight whole weeks? You decide.

Just don't share your thoughts with me.

(Oh, and if you're wondering why they branded me the "modern" girl --- it's because I said I know two of the Elders personally. Me and my shady neshama.)

I guess its nice to know the group that's been populating our comments boards (except, of course, for Blogger Ephraim). If anyone else has any more information or a rebuttal, please let us know. Better get as much in the open air as possible before the Homeland Security people come knocking, and at this point I'd say that's a distinct possibility.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 2:09 AM |

Reader Meredith is now Blogger Meredith. Let there be blog. I was wondering about what different approach she'd have in her blog to the responses she's had to Protocols, and she replied:

well the thing is, i never really had anything to say, becuase i don't follow the news, and you all write about news.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:53 AM |

Allison Kaplan Sommer wants to know about us. Or, at least someone like us. Here's her post and the responses of the esteemed Elder I (I'll assume Elder Avraham will add his when he next stops by):

OK, Who Wants to be Quoted in "Hadassah Magazine?"
Me. It's my lifelong dream.
This has got to be the laziest method of doing journalistic research on earth, but here goes...
I'm working on an article about the Jewish sector of the Blogosphere for Hadassah Magazine (yes, everyone's aunt and grandma needs to know what a blog is, don't they?)
For the article, I'd love to hear from bloggers on any aspect of the subject. Some of my questions: [1] What moves you personally to blog about Jewish topics? [2] Do you think that blogs are an effective tool for deepening dialogue among Jews, between Diaspora Jews and Israelis, and between Jews and non-Jews? [3]Or is it just partisan sniping?
1) Well, I've been a writer about Jewish issues for some time, so it kind of flows naturally from that, if you're in my generation of journalists. There seems to be a common rule in the blogosphere: You blog what you know. As unfortunate as it may be, that's often not the case in standard journalism. It is here, so that's what we do. Were we to actively not blog about Jewish topics and leave that up to the un-cut of the blogosphere, errors would be rampant. Much as I limit my blogging on nanotechnology, I expect Glenn Reynolds to defer to some degree to the Jewish bloggers on matters of Jewish interest.
2) Blogs are a highly effective tool for deepening dialogue among Jews, as strong argument is built into the system. If you can't link to or quote from something to justify your point, your argument is dead on arrival. Other bloggers will pile on, and everyone will know that you lack credibility when they come to you. This also builds on the specialization point: bloggers can't use their good job on other posts to outweigh a shoddy effort on a particular post; this is less the case with, say, the New York Times, which establishes credibility for each bureau or reporter by the credibility of the paper overall. As to each of the categories: Jews in general -- the existence of dialogue within the Jewish blogosphere indicates that's the case; Diaspora Jews and Israelis -- take a look at the give-and-take over my Sharon rant last week, wherein that same dialogue took place; Jews and non-Jews has less opportunity -- take again the example of the kings of the blogosphere, Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan, who often characterize certain individuals or rhetoric as anti-Semitic, and even though I am a blogger and I disagree, my footprint is far smaller than theirs. For the most part, Jewish blogs are rather specialized, and they can be hard to penetrate -- even from one sect to the next; I can't imagine why a major non-Jewish blogger who wasn't explicitly involved in Jewish studies would bother to read Protocols.
I'm curious as to whether the people involved in the Jewish blogosphere the type of people who join synagogues and organizations anyway -- and visiting Jewish websites -- or is it working as an outreach tool to Jews who otherwise aren't involved in the community?
It could be all of the above. As far as it being an outreach tool, only in that inquisitive people could come to inquire. Many of the non-religious or non-affiliated bloggers I've read seem to be quite confident in their life choices, as I think most bloggers are, generally. You have to be a pretty assertive, pretty confident person to start blogging aggressively; the Jews who do it would generally not be of the "searching" persona, I'd imagine. All of the Elders attended Yeshiva University at least for undergrad and spent their grade school and high school years in Orthodox Jewish schools; they could all be categorized as Orthodox.
Is your blog more involved with Judaism than you thought it would be when you started it? Less?
My first blog, Iatribe, had little focus on Jewish issues. I started Protocols because I thought blogging was fun, and I wanted to do it with my friends. At first, I was annoyed that we tended to focus on Jewish issues, and was particularly troubled by our focus on more insider baseball topics surrounding Yeshiva University and Modern Orthodoxy. Over time, I accepted Protocols as a blog focused primarily on Jewish issues, and only post on Jewish issues here. And, as I focused more attention on it, I've come to neglect Iatribe far more than I find acceptable. With that attention, Protocols began getting more hits than Iatribe and more of my time. Now I'm almost exclusively a Jewish-issues blogger because of that, though I still hope to change back, to some degree.
Are you surprised by the number of blogs that are very aware and involved in pro-Israel advocacy and fighting anti-Semitism that aren't written by Jews? (I am...)
Not really. I'm more surprised by the black-and-white nature with which some of them approach these issues. To them, an anti-Zionist is an anti-Semite, no questions asked; Jews understand that's not the case. Bloggers tend to be more of a put-up-or-shut-up, libertarian-with-a-right-leaning-bent crew; their views are pretty self-selecting.
And of course, what your favorite Jewish blogs are.
AKS, of course. Protocols rules. My favorite blogs run mainly by Jews: OxBlog, Talking Points Memo, Kausfiles.
I'm interested in hearing from bloggers of all stripes, left, right, Orthodox, non-Orthodox, etc.
You can respond by E-mailing me, or here in the comments section. If you'd rather do a phone interview than write, E-mail me your phone number and availability. Don't participate unless you are willing to give me your full name and the area you live in. I've got to be able to prove you exist (this being the post-Jayson Blair era and all.)
I think it's interesting that AKS didn't ask us to post our answers in our own blogs -- that'd seem the true blogging spirit. Well, that's that. Thanks for this opportunity to deeply gaze at my navel, AKS.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:45 AM |

It seems that PETA is now protesting in front of KFC stores to get them to gas their chickens to death instead of electrocuting or butchering them. Funny, this from the people that only recently compared the American meat industry to the holocaust.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:35 AM |

Monday, June 16, 2003  

Rabbi Shalom Carmy's latest DotW dispatch:

DotW congratulates all the doctors listed in NY Magazine's "Best doctor"
series & their families.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:36 PM |

Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish Assemblyman Dov Hikind wants religious & private schools getting more cash for anti-terror security. Of course, Hikind is a blowhard, so you've gotta take that as your pound of salt with it. The whole article's pretty short:

Citing terrorist threats, a Brooklyn assemblyman is calling for religious and private schools to get the same security funding as public schools.
Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has introduced a bill that would bring taxpayer-funded surveillance cameras and other security measures to yeshivas, Catholic schools and other private institutions.
Hikind played down any possible constitutional challenge to his idea, saying separation of church and state should not be an issue in this case.
"This is an issue of security, this is an issue of protecting kids, it's as simple as that," said Hikind.
His office took an informal survey last year of 74 Jewish schools, finding that 75% had little to no security measures.
Hikind said he focused on private-school security when terrorist threats against Jewish interests surfaced last year.
He also noted an Al Qaeda training video found in Afghanistan last spring suggested that the terrorist group might be targeting American schools.
Hmmm...I haven't heard of that video -- has anyone else? Also -- have NYC public schools beefed up their security post-9/11 to deal with terrorism? I wasn't aware they had. Most school security has focused on students themselves since Columbine, and the only other reason for security was to keep non-students out; admittedly, the latter reason could be used to keep terrorists out, as well, but that's never really been on the school security agenda, so far as I can tell (except for bomb threats during finals week, of course).

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:50 PM |

At some sites, like Daily Kos, you'll occasionally see the blogger post an "Open Thread," meant to spur discussion amongst the readership about whatever they choose. I think it can be interesting, but I'll borrow a page from Linda Richman, and suggest a topic: Abortion and Jewish Law. Discuss.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:55 PM |

Naomi Chana's discourse on metaphysics.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:49 PM |

Sorry for not posting much this weekend; our Verizon DSL connection in my new apartment sucks, and while my computer is in the shop, I'm using my roommate's slow one (but beggars can't be choosers, and I'm most indebted to him). Anyway, here at Protocols, one of the discussions we've occasionally had is how to declare benchmarks of having "made" it. Whether number of hits, number of posts, number of responses, etc. The following is not really a benchmark for Protocols, but it's interesting as some sort of benchmark, certainly. . I hope that most of you read my recent Ombudsman piece for Jewsweek, in which I found Dick Locher's cartoon (posted there) not to be anti-Semitic, as many had claimed. Today, I received a letter, supposedly from a military fellow, attacking my supposedly Zionist viewpoint, in a most odd way. If Glenn Reynolds & co. thought the cartoon was anti-Semitic, I wonder what they think of this guy?

Dick Locher's view of the Middle East is one shared by 95% of the planet, as well as over 100 million Americans nd counting.
"Wacky" is an adjective better suited to describing your looks.
Considering your Anti-American zionist views, why are you still living here, instead of your homeland? Wouldn't you be happier amongst your own, nd living in a country you cn honestly give your loyalty to?

Captain A.K. Wilson
Cmp Pendleton, CA

I sent him this in reply:
Captain -
1) Are you truly Captain A.K. Wilson of Camp Pendleton?
2) What of my "Zionist views" are you referring to?
3) What is Dick Locher's view of the Middle East, to your mind, and what gives you the impression that "95% of the planet" subscribes to it?
4) Just how "Wacky" do I look?

keep it good,
Steven I. Weiss
I'm hoping to hear back from him soon. If not, I guess I guess I'll contact someone in PR over at Camp Pendleton? By the way, this isn't the first nutty letter I've received in response to my writing about Israel in a clearheaded way; certainly not the first.
By the way, the Ombudsman piece was mentioned at Romenesko, and I thank him for that.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 6:06 PM |

The EU is considering listing Hamas' political wing as a terrorist organization, citing its increasing connection to the terrorist wing, which is already listed. (via JPost) What exactly does the Hamas political wing do?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 3:53 PM |

Summer Research Update/Rant: I just finished re-reading an article by Melissa Aubin (FSU) entitled "'She is the beginning of all the ways of perversity:' Femininity and Metaphor in 4Q184" from the Women in Judaism journal. While the scholarship itself is pretty good, I'm wondering what the point of proving just how misogynist the Qumran sect (the one that produced/collected the dead sea scrolls) was is. I mean, gee, a monastic, ultra-frum, fire-and-brimstone sect that broke off from society 2000 years ago to live in the desert wasn't exactly what we'd call egalitarian? Well, I'm just shocked. Oh, did I mention that the standard scholarly position maintains that the sect was chaste and that there were no women out there at all?

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 3:45 PM |

Test your moral intuition with a game of Taboo. (via Kesher)

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 3:06 PM |

Reader Meredith sends in a link to the review of Making of a Godol. Its somewhat less positive than the Forward's was.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:41 AM |

WND reports that Sharon's security's been beefed up to protect him from a possible assassination attempt from the far-right. You can only shake your head.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 9:17 AM |

This might only matter to a really small group of people, but volume II of Bar-Ilan's Jewish Studies Internet Journal is out AND Shamma Friedman has an article. It's looking like a good day already.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 7:21 AM |

Some recent archeological discussions revolving around the recently found Jehoash inscription and James ossuary leads Biblical Archeological Review to sponsor a $10,000 Create a Fake and Fool the Expert contest. Arts and Crafts people, get cracking.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 1:45 AM |

Sunday, June 15, 2003  

New York Times article about UJA census that reveals that the number of Jews in NYC dropped below a million for the first time in a century. In 1957, one of 4 people in NYC was Jewish. Other stats: number of Hasidim jumped by over 10%, number of conservative/reform dropped correspondingly. Maybe as a result, 1 of 5 Jews in the City now live below the poverty line.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 11:55 PM |

This is only tangentially Jewish interest, but still interesting. Matt Drudge (who relates to a Jewish 'tradition of rebellion' - see, there is a connection) is the subject of a long, meandering, a tad scatterbrained, and somewhat intreresting interview conducted by Camille Pagila. Interestingly enough, the same issue has a gossip piece on political shock-jock Michael Savage (also known as Michael Weiner - bet you didn't know that, did you?), but I'm going to rate the link PG-13 for being somewhat disturbing.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 6:40 PM |

Just in case you've been wondering who the greatest American of all time is, a WND article says that a BBC show is going to reveal, based on an online poll, that The Public seems to think that its actually Homer Simpson. Woo-hoo, indeed.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 5:10 PM |

Are we starting a revolution? Not so clear on the details: another Stern blogger?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:30 PM |

Saturday's The Boondocks:

I assume the usual suspects will be up in arms.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 2:29 PM |

Here's a weird story about a normal pack of bubble gum in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a temporary tatoo inside the wrapper -- by all accounts, a normal prize. Only the tatoo was an image of a "hooded figure in a white robe with flames going up around him". Not very normal. Other questionable images were found in other wrappers. According to the article, the gum is produced in Turkey.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:09 PM |'s Steven Landsburg provides some theories as to why you never hear about Jewish farmers. One of his arguments is the need for Jews to be literate and educated to fully participate in Judaism, which uniquely qualified them for professional careers going all the way back. As for the ones that didn't get educated for one reason or another:

While the world population increased from 50 million in the sixth century to 285 million in the 18th, the population of Jews remained almost fixed at just a little over a million. Why were the Jews not expanding when everyone else was? We don't know for sure, but a reasonable guess is that a lot of Jews were becoming Christians and Muslims.So—which Jews stuck with Judaism? Presumably those with a particularly strong attachment to their religion and/or a particularly strong attachment to education for education's sake. (The burden of acquiring an education is, after all, less of a burden for those who enjoy being educated.) The result: Over time, you're left with a population of people who enjoy education, are required by their religion to be educated, and are particularly attached to their religion. Naturally, these people tend to become educated. And once they're educated, they leave the farms.
Personally, think that Jews were never a big farming people because they usually weren't allowed to own land, and that the population numbers are more due to various types of persecution than a need for a graduate degree. After all, even into early modernity, I'd assume that most Jews had only a very basic education if any at all. Still, its kinda cool to think that we were born for the academy or law/medical/business school.

posted by Voice From The Hinterlands | 12:01 PM |

Come back later today for a report by Reader Meredith on a conference of Jewish Internet Hocker Ladies, who find their main hangouts at message boards and at At the conference, apparently, their lack of actual blogging will be discussed, as will the relative handsomeness of the various Elders.

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

If Carmy sends it, why not blog it? Some of our readers may already be familiar with Rabbi Shalom Carmy's somewhat-more-than-weekly "Disease of the Week" dispatches, culled from the WSJ and other sources. It's achieved some not-insignificant fandom, and has inspired disease-o-philes across the vast landscape of Modern Orthodoxy. Here's one just received:

You don't have to be a monkey to have monkey pox.
You don't even have to know a monkey. An African rat or a prairie dog can
transmit it.
If you've been exposed to monkey pox, get vaccination against smallpox.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:36 AM |

Let the catfights begin. Reader Nechama sends in a Top-10 List of why there aren't Stern bloggers:

I'm betraying the Stern sisterhood here. But all is fair for a few cheep jokes, no?
10 Reasons why you can't find any Stern bloggers.
by Nechama
1 Who would read it anyways? "Dear Diary, Today the caf only had pecan and strawberry fro-yo. I ate a salad AGAIN. I looooove Rabbi X's class but I miss sem soooo much. I'm still not married yet. What is taking soooooo long? Chani's ring is soooo gorgeous! I can't believe she is engaged! It took her soooo long, they went out, like, 5 times!!!! I can't believe I still not married yet!!!!!
2 Might chip a nail while typing and ruin her $17 airbrushed manicure.
3 If she wanted to write about Stern life, she'd be on the Observer.
4 Does not want to admit she attends Stern and ruin chances of a good shidduch.
5 Her Rav in Israel from seminary says the internet is assur.
6 Only site she wants to get on is Only Simchas.
7 Still has not figured out how to hook her laptop up to the network in Brookdale.
8 She already rehashes her life every night on AIM with seventeen people; you want her to write it up again on a blog?
9 Still too busy studying for Med school, while her friends and neighbors think she is a Judaic Studies major, minoring in Psychology.
10 Goggle searches for stern + college + girls only bring up porn sites.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:50 AM |
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