Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.
~ Dr Seuss
Hat tip to @bethanyshondark.
The community prospered during the presidency of my father ... I do recall, however, while I was yet a child, certain scoundrels rose against my father and his fellow officials, and sought to insure the community. ... Now that they are dead and stand in judgment before the Most High, I will not name them, but everyone in our community well knows who they were.Now, if someone was blogging this today, they might suspect that no one in their community even reads their blog. The point, then, is without problem. But for those who do read the blog, they would know who she's talking about and might find it offensive or, on the other hand, amusing. Those reading the blog with no connection to the community would be completely uninformed and she's saved face by not naming them! I recall writing something like this on many occasions, such as when I wrote about a synagogue in Chicago (of the Reform slant) that was X, Y, Z. People in Chicago who had been to the shul were well aware of what shul it was. But was I crass enough to talk about the shul by name? No. I mean, come on. Privacy and respect folks!
But what if ancient Israel was "invented by Jews living much later, and the biblical literature is therefore nothing but pious propaganda? If that is the case, as some revisionist historians now loudly proclaim, then there was no ancient Israel. ... The story of Israel in the Hebrew Bible would have to be considered a monstrous literary hoax, one that has cruelly deceived countless millions of people until its recent exposure by a few courageous scholars. And now, at last, thanks to these social revolutionaries, we sophisticated modern secularists can be "liberated" from the biblical myths, free to venture into a Brave New World unencumbered by the biblical baggage with which we grew up. (p. 40-41)Oh that was good. Do you feel the knives and jagged edges in those words? Look out revisionists, you just got your tush handed to you on a platter by Dever.
"Why," they ask, "should verification be a prerequisite for our acceptance of a tradition as valuable in respect of historical reality? Why should not ancient historical texts rather be given the benefit of the doubt in regard to their statements about the past unless good reasons exist to consider them unreliable in these statements? ... Why should we adopt a verification instead of a falsification principle?I tend to agree with these guys when it comes to the idea of revisionists that it's all a bunch of ballyhoo. I also am a big fan of the benefit of the doubt theory, because more often than not academics assume that absence automatically suggests non-existence. This, of course, is ridiculous. However, I think their statement fails in one way, because who is to say what a "good" reason really is when it comes to deciding what is reliable and what isn't.
...It is incumbent upon every Jew to drive their rabbi nuts before Pesach.Love it! Poor rabbis, however. I've had minimal questions for my rabbi this year, and most of the questions Tuvia has passed along (e.g., what's the difference between a convection oven and a regular oven?). But I am, in a way, heading to the in-laws for Pesach. Future in-laws that is. We'll be in Florida strictly for the first two days of the chag, which means flying down, doing the seders, and then coming back. No vacation time, no time to drive down to Boca, nada. We're staying with family friends (who aren't kosher, and I mention this only because I worry about refusing something so simple as a cup of water because of issues of kashruth), and I'm hoping that things go smoothly. Last year, Tuvia and I were still getting into our observance around this time. We were still lenient on our kashrut, functioning kosher in-house and watching what we ate out of the house, so going out to eat with family or driving around on Pesach were no big thing. Now? Yipes. We're in a different boat.
IZGAD!!Email me with your address and I'll get this book sent off to you as soon as humanly possible.
As if we ever talk about anything at else around here anymore? Books are my joy, my life, my livelihood! As evidenced in my bookworm/bibliophile post of recent. I'd wanted to do this in a vlog, but I'm just not in the mood, and I'm in desperate need of a haircut. So for now, this is how we'll roll.
I've been meaning to write about Rabbi Marc D. Angel's new novel, "The Search Committee," for about three weeks now. The rabbi was kind enough to send me a copy of whose words I devoured quickly and with delight. To be honest, the book is an incredibly quick read. I do find it interesting, though, that his name appears on the book as "Marc Angel" and not "Rabbi ..." But maybe I'm just nitpicking! So first, some background on the rabbi.
Rabbi Angel is the rabbi emeritus of Congregation Shearith Israel of New York City (a Sephardi congregation), and is the founder of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals -- a group which I highly recommend you look into. They put out oodles of interesting papers and responsa about issues facing Orthodox Judaism, not to mention the greater Jewish community. Rabbi Angel is the author and editor of more than two dozen books, and this is his first work of fiction! How exciting for him and for us, eh?
So where to begin? The story revolves around a series of testimonials issued to the search committee at a prominent Yeshiveh. The most recent rosh yeshiva has died, and his replacement is to be made by this search committee. There are two rabbis in the running -- one the son of the former head of the school who is essentially staunchly similar to his father and maintaining the present order, and the other a younger rabbi who comes across as very modern in his Orthodoxy. We hear from each rabbi, their wives, students, philanthropists who give to the school, yet interestingly -- we NEVER hear from the committee itself. What a juxtaposition for the book to be titled as such and yet the committee never graces our presence.
Many of the characters are entirely believable, their testimonies sounding as though they were truly coming from the mouths of real individuals. Other characters, including (in my opinion) the deceased rosh yeshiva's son, seem almost unreal in their outrageousness. I do appreciate that the characters -- both those believable and perhaps not so much -- are deeply encamped in their Jewishness. As characters are giving their backgrounds and how they arrived at the present situation, we get long, meandering stories with often unnecessary details -- I can picture the traditional rabbi and his wife at the meeting, as if standing at the pulpit, carrying on and on with over-emphasizing hand gestures and a deep accent. The book is written very much so that we can sympathize with one party over the other, I think, and it is quite obvious that there is a message here about the old versus the new, tradition as it evolves, and the world of the yeshiveh and Orthodoxy in general -- as it accepts outsiders, new ideas and approaches, and makes decisions about the future of how it schools its children.
But to be honest, the book's outcome absolutely surprised me, and I think that for those who take the chance to pick the book, you also will be surprised. The book seems to lean one way -- it is cut and dry that there are two definite sides of Orthodoxy here -- but the outcome chosen by the search committee left me feeling perplexed and almost uncomfortable. But perhaps that is Rabbi Angel's intention, and if so, then I applaud him for a well-composed book that questions what we know and what we think we know.
I think anyone and everyone should pick up this book. I imagine Rabbi Angel has unique experiences that allow him to assist us in delving into the world of the yeshiva and the schisms between more traditional Orthodoxy and more modern Orthodoxy. It is, as I said, an incredibly quick read. So nu? Pick it up already!
The teacher of Scripture in a little Polish town got sick and tired of his drudgery and of suffering cold and hunger. He decided to become a robber.
One day, he took a knife from the kitchen and went into the woods. Hiding behind a tree he lay in ambush for passersby. At last he saw a rich lumber dealer of the town trudging along unsuspectingly. Without a word, he threw himself upon him and raised his knife as if to stab him. Suddenly, he seemed to recall something and let the knife drop to the ground.
"It's your lucky," he muttered. " I just remembered that this is a milchig knife!"
A poor Talmud student was making the rounds from one householder to another. each one, out of the goodness of his heart and as an act of piety, gave him food and lodging for several days. In one of these homes, however, he was treated with ill-grace and in a perfunctory manner. Three times daily they gave him only one dish to eat -- potatoes.
One day, when he saw the platter of potatoes being placed before hijm, he shuddered and asked his host, "Tell me please, what is the benediction that is said over potatoes?
"What a question to ask!" exclaimed his host. "You're a Talmud student, aren't you? Why, even the most ignorant man knows that you say: 'Blessed are the fruits of the earth,' over everything that comes out of the soil."
"This may be so," retorted the Talmud student, "but what should I say when the potatoes are coming out of my ears?"
A remedy for ugliness
A Talmudic student was engaged to a very ugly girl; his father had forced the match on him. He therefore took the matter very much to heart and went to talk it over with the rabbi.
"Really, Rabbi," he complained, "she's so ugly she'll make me miserable if I marry her!"
"My son, use your head!" rebuked the rabbi, with impatience. "Now let's examine the problem at issue. All right -- she's ugly. Nu, so what? Just answer me: when you're in the House of Study all day -- will you look at her? No! When you come home for meals -- will you look at her while you eat? No! When you go to bed at night -- will you look at her in the dark? No! Furthermore, when you are asleep -- will you look at her? No! Finally, in your leisure time -- will you want to look at her? No! You'll go out for a walk. So I ask -- waht's all your excitement about? When will you look at her?"
I got into NYU!Yes, I have been accepted for their Dual Degree in Education/Jewish Studies and Jewish Studies/Hebrew. Color me stoked. I also am happy to report a scholarship for tuition and fees! At NYU, that's big doings. Now, there are those of you who are thinking, Why on earth are you getting ANOTHER MA? At that, why TWO more? Well, the answer is really long and complicated, but let's just say that although I love the program here at UConn, it's not doing what I need it to do, and I wasn't qualified on paper to compete with PhD students for the caliber program I would like to be in. I'm short on language, teaching experience, you name it. Sure, I've given papers and taught classes and stuff, but it's bigger picture things that matter. There's one main professor in my program, and while he is the most awesome professor out there, he's holding the program on his own. Thus, I'm off for more academic pursuits, in the hopes of becoming a Jewish educator of tomorrow. I'm going to light all sorts of fires, darn't.
StandWithUs is an international education organization that ensures that Israel's side of the story is told in communities, campuses, libraries, the media and churches through brochures, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel, and thousands of pages of Internet resources.
StandWithUs was founded in 2001 in response to the misinformation that often surrounds the Middle East conflict, and the inappropriate often anti-Semitic language used about Israel and/or the Jewish people worldwide. StandWithUs has offices and chapters in Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Michigan, Chicago, Seattle, Orange County, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, the UK, Australia, and Israel.They have oodles of information on their website, and this week being "Anti-Israel Apartheid Week" on so many college campuses, the website might have plenty to offer those of you out there looking for some good facts. One of the most shocking questions asked was by a much older gentleman who asked "Do you know what Israel is doing with the 3 billion dollars that the U.S. gives Israel?" The man went on and on about how Israel should be doing good things with "our" money -- after all, we want peace, so Israel should be using that money on peace. He also asked an asinine question about why Israel can't make a two-state solution out of making Gaza and the West Bank the Palestinian State.
Risa!Mazal tov for being my lucky winner!