November 30, 2011
Religious Pluralism in Nahariya....not!
Last night in Nahariya there was a meeting touted as a panel discussion among representatives of major streams of Judaism discussing Jewish Peoplehood and Israel-Diaspora relations. It was organized by Partnership 2000 with the cooperation of the Education Ministry, as I understand it. The emcee, from Jerusalem, was Dr Yossi Zadok, Education Ministry's person responsible for overseas relations. Nahariya's own Rabbi Eliahu Blum, head of the hesder yeshiva represented orthodoxy. Rabbi Gadi Raviv from Carmiel represented the Reform Movement- Rabbi Raviv led services once during Rabbi Horowitz' sabbatical from Emet ve Shalom, and recently officiated at good friends' daughter's wedding. Rabbi Michael Ben David, pulpit rabbi in Carmiel, represented the Conservative (or Masorati (traditional)) movement on the panel.
To see the glass as half full is to congratulate Rabbi Blum on even sitting with rabbis from non-orthodox movements. I have heard more than once about events like this being planned, and then being canceled at the last moment when the orthodox representative found himself "unable" to participate.
So that was moment number one.
Moment number two filling the glass to 5/8 full was the rendition of Oseh Shalom by Rabbi Raviv.
That was it for glass full. The rest of the two hours was straight downhill.
The moderator, a kippa-wearing Jerusalemite, tried, I am sure, to be fair to the participants, but, consciously or unconsciously did not succeed.
He asked repeatedly pointed questions to the Reform and Conservative Rabbis about their "red lines", but did not ask Blum about his "red lines".
The moderator asked every question first of the non-orthodox rabbis and allowed Blum to speak last.
The moderator referred to the Reform Rabbi by his first name- Rav Gadi. He referred to the orthodox rabbi as Rav Blum, not Rav Eliahu.
The moderator asked whether the non-orthodox rabbis accept halacha and Torah from Sinai, when they had already indicated their answers in their introductory words.
The moderator, who is from Jerusalem, never asked a single question about the discrimination against women taking place in Jerusalem- excluding them buses, from sidewalks, from singing, from the Kotel, etc etc etc.
Blum stated several times that non-orthodox movements are not "authentic" Judaism (He used the Hebrew אותנתי).
Blum said several times that non-orthodox streams of Judaism have existed for hundreds of years, and that cults (He used the Hebrew קט) including Shabtai Zevi etc have come and gone through all the years, and that the present day cults will someday fade into history.
Blum said that there is nothing like walking into a "real" synagogue and having this wonderful feeling of holiness wash through you.
Blum said that when Rav Raviv quoted certain items in the Bible that he was engaging in demagoguery, apparently unaware of the irony of his remark.
Blum set up a beautiful straw man by saying that all approaches to Judaism may be valid for an individual who is too weak to accept orthodoxy, but what he (Rav Blum) doesn't accept is someone saying that he has the "right" way and Rav Blum's way is wrong. Of course, neither non-orthodox rabbi ever made that claim.
Much of the audience showed no understanding (and no desire for understanding) for the most part of what Reform or Conservative Judaism is about, and seemed genuinely afraid of a "different" approach.
One audience member asked if a Reform Jew could believe in Jesus, I suppose implying somehow that Reform Jews and Jews for Jesus are somehow related.
No one asked if a Jew can believe in evolution; if a Jew can believe that Arabs should be punished for being Arab; if a Jew can believe that Sephardim or Ashkenazim are better than the other; if it's all right for Jewish rabbis to inspire someone someone to kill a prime minister; if it's all right to massacre Arabs if you're wearing a kippa.
The evening quickly descended into standard non-dialogue between orthodox and non-orthodox. I found nothing of value concerning Jewish peoplehood and relations to Diaspora Jewry.
In fact, just the opposite. When we receive groups from Partnership 2000 from the U.S. is our public line that the non-orthodox among them are practicing non-authentic Judaism, are, in fact, members of cults! Or should we talk one way to our own and another way to visiting Americans.
I left the evening depressed, disappointed and insulted.
I'm not sure that I can continue to sit on the same committee with Rav Blum. Not that my leaving would be a great loss for him, I guess.
Emet ve Shalom hosting Temple Emeth, NNJ Authentic Jews
Eek! Turned 63 2 days ago. Good party last night. Facebook wishes.
But the highest point of an otherwise low day was the call last night from Arbel from the army just to say hello. When I told her we were sort of celebrating my birthday, she said "It's your birthday!? How old are you?" "63" "Wow, 63...what a young grandfather I have!"
Now, of course, I don't take this at completely face value, because Arbel's other grampa is younger than I am.But still, it was a good feeling. Thank you Arbel.
The political situation in the United States is so bothersome. I cannot believe that I won't vote democrat for the first time in my life. Not that I will vote for one of the Republican clowns, but the schmuckocracy in the White House is becoming overwhelming. The entire goddamn Middle East is going up in fire, and still and still and still the main focus of these morons is Israel.
That said, the smug response to Hilary's questioning of women's rights in Israel is certainly overdone. "We're not Saudi Arabia". Well, duh. We're not Bangladesh or Ivory Coast either. We're a country where the establishment winks or nods off when women are told to get to back of the bus; to the corner of the Wall; off the sidewalk (Nuremberg law anyone?); to stop singing please; to dress differently; to get on the other side of the wooden barrier. Example after example of misogyny and mental illness in the name of religion. The cultists rise and we're asleep at the wheel. The stupid secular in this country who can't see that they are being distracted by more "significant" issues. Ugh.
At this moment we're watching the Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden. The musical interlude includes a blonde soprano. If a certain Israeli were to be the recipient, he'd have to leave the hall during the interlude. "No", we tell ourselves, "We're OK. We're not Saudi Arabia."
IAMU News- Jimmy "Apartheid" Carter today addressed a pressing issue which may become supremely important in the not-too-distant future. He stated his grave concern that Israel's response to a potential Iranian nuclear attack not be disproportionately severe. "We know that Israel has a terrible history of overreaction to provocation, and I believe that the international community must impress on Israel its great responsibility to act in a reasonable manner if it is attacked. Like all of you, I read the remarks of my good friend Momy, Prime Minister of the UAE * and I think his remarks refer to a potential tragedy of incalculable magnitude. The destruction of Teheran would involve millions upon millions of innocent deaths, the loss of irreplaceable cultural treasure, as well as the destabilization of the entire world. I strongly believe that I and Desmond MeTu and the rest of The Elderly must take a stand with the international community to convince Israel that a massive attack on Iran is simply not to be countenanced. We will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from going through with its promise to destroy Israel, and if Iran attacks despite our best efforts, we will, of course, use all our influence to limit the effects of such an attack, and protest loudly to the responsible international bodies.'
bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
discounted on Tuesday the West's concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran.
It's 2012, and I'm starting to think that the 21st century is a realityImagine living in a region where the major towns were Kutztown, Mertztown (anyone remember Ethel and Fred?), Grimville and Krumsville. Add to that Molltown and Virginville. A real recipe for success. Or you could be east of Allentown in Butztown, the first city named by Bart Simpson. The past weekend consisted of driving the width of Pennsylvania, Corry to Binghamton, past these scenic locales, to visit Arieh for erev shabbat, then Binghamton to NYC to visit Syd and Matthew, then NYC to Pittsburgh to return to Leslie on New Year's Eve, the next evening Pittsburgh to Corry and back to work. Nearly a thousand mile weekend. But in a Prius, so it was quite bearable.
This is one of my favorite pictures ever.
More on our family's loss soon.
2012- Israel is so frustrating. It's obviously not enough that we have terrorists firing Katyushas at us. We must have these extremist misogynist cultists controlling much of our society. A small example from their press. A picture of the US Washington control room when bin Laden was being offed. The original pic and the photoshopped version that the woman despisers put into their newspaper, presumably to avoid becoming overly stimulated by images of Hilary:
July 2012- I was in the US when the Facebook IPO fiasco occurred, and watching CNBC no less, with a savvy investment advisor. He opined they were all a bunch of crooks. Needless to say, I bought a few shares just to assure their failure. The next day I caught this egregious headline in Yahoo News (just writing "Yahoo News" feels so stupid when their news headlines consist mostly of Lindsay Lohan and giant crocodiles):
All that hype for a 23-cent gain! Facebook's (FB) first day as a publicly traded company started with a bang and ended in a wimper.
Aieee! Please don't tell me that the children's book resulted in a new dictionary word so that spellcheck didn't work and the proofreader was at a lhoss.
August 24, 2012
Short note- the surrealistic news from Germany is that they've passed legislation outlawing circumcision because the procedure harms little babies without their consent. Awww....the Germans are concerned about harming widdle babies....how nice, how moral.....Germany providing moral leadership for the Jews. I'm reminded of the Tom Lehrer song in which we are reassured that in the decision to use nuclear arms, one of the fingers on the button will be German. Really, have they no shame, no sense of history, no sense of irony? Germany providing moral leadership to the Jews. WTF!? Perhaps they could just SHUT UP. At least for another hundred years or so.
September 29, 2012
Two short anecdotes from the runup to Yom Kippur, just in case this blog is read by would-be makers of aliyah.
As we left the house for the car (we drive to synagogue before the holiday, then walk back and forth several times- but the car is there for us after neilah), we saw that across the street in a space for two cars bounded nicely by a driveway behind and a jutting curb in front, an Israeli driver had parked in the precise middle of the space. The car stayed there for the next 28 hours or so. "Ha ha all you frierim- I got both spaces, screw you."
The, in the car, in the final block before the synagogue, on a one-way street, we encountered a young driver coming the wrong way. I do some sort of questioning head/hand movement- like, you're going the wrong way, are you aware?- and he responds in kind...by giving me the finger. On erev yom kippur. Like, screw you, I can go any f*@king way I want because I'm an Israeli jackoff.
No big deals. Just enough to make you shake your head and wonder.
October 1, 2012
Didn't take long for another short anecdote- here we were in the middle of Sukkoth morning services, in our bomb shelter, and we hear someone in the adjoining room. I go out, and here are two guys of about 30 searching around our stuff.
"Can I help you?"
"We want to take a table to eat lunch."
"Excuse me, we're in the middle of prayers."
Blank look. "But all this belongs to the municipality."
Beth comes out. "No, the place is from the municipality, but everything here belongs to our congregation."
Blank but disparaging looks. They leave.
Now imagine, if you can, these same two jerks wandering into an orthodox service and searching around for something to borrow.....tough, eh?
A break from Israeli jerks. Just made a picture book. Let's see if this works:
Click here to view this photo book larger
There's a real problem now that Facebook takes so much time and energy, and is so immediate. It's easier just to put stuff there, but then it's gone! Of course, our geocities page is gone too!
Anyway, here's a picture from the recent Edinburgh Copenhagen adventure that is good enough for the blog:
Well, I have no love lost for the concept of royalty, especially in our "modern" times (along with other concepts which have served their purpose), but the description of the "Collector" Charles I is just too funny for words. The offhand way in which his fate is mentioned: "Yeah, he added some pictures, and then we killed him". he more striking story after visiting Edinburgh is that of Mary Queen of Scots: imprisoned for 17 years by her COUSIN, followed by a kangaroo trial, then killing her. Royalty, shmoyalty.
October 20, 2012
An incident last week deserves mention. An activist for women's rights in Israel, the heroic Anat Hoffman, sang the Shma Yisrael at the Western Wall (on the women's side). She was approached by the police who told her to stop singing or she would be arrested. She sang. She was led away in handcuffs by Israeli police. She was physically abused on incarceration.
When I posted this disgraceful newspaper story on facebook, one of the comments I received, from a woman (who lives in Israel), was that first we must stop the oppression of Arabs, then we'll have the luxury of dealing with women's rights to pray.
I don't even want to comment. How sad for Israel all the way around. How sad for women. How sad for the police. How sad for all of us.
This is my comment on a Roger Cohen column in the NYT on June 20, 2013- the context is obvious. Yet another column about the beastliness of Israel from those comfortably distant. The awful thing is that I am still in the left camp, but the naiveté of the Jewish columnists is just so galling!
The slant continues unabated, whether ahistoricity or gratuitous insults:
1- "since the lightning victory in the 1967 war" - so Israel started a war in 1967 to conquer the west bank?
2- "Israel...exercise[s] humiliating dominion over West Bank Palestinians" - so from 1948 to 1967 Jordan exercised benign dominion? And then joined in an extermination war against Israel despite being cautioned not to do so? How humiliating was the "dominion" before the glorious intifada started, when there was relatively free interchange between our communities?
3- "Many Palestinians.....still dream of all the land, the destruction of Israel" - Roger, the PLO was formed in 1964, to "liberate" Palestine, ie Tel Aviv. The possibility existed of an independent state in the West Bank- why was it not exercised?
And, especially, after the debacle of the creation of a Palestinian "state", when the rockets start raining on Israel, what will the American Jews do? "Sorry, we really didn't expect it, we thought the situation in Lebanon and Gaza were the outliers. We're sure you'll manage. You're in our prayers." Most American Jews don't even have the courage and/or interest to VISIT Israel, so by what right should they have a measure of control over Israeli domestic politics?
Sometime in May 2014
OMG, can it be that I have not opened this page in almost a year!! On the list of priorities it is obviously lower even than wondering what to do with the record colleciton. On the other hand, no one has complained about the lack of postings, confirming that the only one reading this stuff is me, and not very often.
So why am I here today? We once had friends who believed in dream diaries, a notebook by the side of the bed in which one records his perverse movies from the night. I don't see the point. But last night was special- how about a situation in which I had to interview academic folk (one was the head of the pediatrics dept who recently received a promotion to professor), but I really had no idea what to ask, so I requested a rehearsal with the director of the interviews. And he asked me: Are you energetic? And I launched into an answer showing just how energetic I am. And then he asked: Do you have athlete's foot? At which I was nonplussed. And then two cats came racing into the room, obviously distressed about something. And then I saw a black insect on the floor, no a scorpion, and the cats circled, and suddenly the scorpion was on the neck of the black cat, stinging, and the black cat collapsed dead with blood running from his mouth. Before or after this incident I also tried to find the interview room and got completely lost- a very recurrent theme. And yet another dream this same last night- on a train with multiple suitcases and bags, grabbed a pole for support, the pole came off in my hand, and to the amusement of the passengers I pretended to hang on the unconnected pole for support. But when we arrived close to our destination, there was no way I could handle all the suitcases, and suddenly I had traveling partners, told them to try to hold the train I was changing to, until I could make multiple trips with the suitcases across the tracks. Anxious about something? Duh. Interviewing medical students in July and giving some talks in May and June. Moderately anxious in my conscious state, but clearly perturbed somewhat deeper. Just need to get through these couple of months. Isn't it always the way?
Meanwhile, so much has happened in the past year, but certainly a recap is not in order. Maybe I should get to this page more often, and to transient facebook a bit less. Posterity and all.
Actually, one picture- had dinner last night with my wonderful vegan soldier grandson Adar at the Pacific Restaurant in Nahariya, and in the fish tank behind me was this big specimen:
Ya think he got insulted in fish school- hey, brainiac, you think you're so much smarter than us? You think he got a lot of dates?
So, in May 2014, the website refused to take the picture of the giant-headed fish in the Pacific Restaurant tank.
Is that the reason that 2 1/2 years have gone by and it's now October 2016??!! Whatever happened to thinking a year was a long time not to visit this stupid website, 2 1/2 is already beyond the bounds of crazy. Just the births, deaths, weddings and my retirement would fill an entire book for these 2 1/2 years!
But actually I know the reason, and it's facebook. Every opinion, reaction, congratulation, everything has been written in real time on facebook, and therefore lost forever.
So why am I here today, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, trying to refigure out how to even use the webpage and FTP Commander?
Two reasons: I am paying for this website- I think I've put in about $250 for NOT EVEN USING IT for 2 1/2 years, how stupid is that???
Second, I actually wanted to write something that I'd like to revisit some day, and that won't happen with facebook.
As I've written elsewhere (probably on FB) I love coincidences, and there have been two in the last few days that I would like to document. Also maybe an incident during a night that might vie with Sharon King's marvelous stories.
First things first.
Here's my review in TripAdvisor for a place called Parc Monceau in Paris where we visited several weeks ago:
"If you've been to Paris sufficient times that you don't find frenetic museum-going a necessity, there's a nice book for you called Quiet Paris by Siobhan Wall. It gave us hints for relaxing corners of this busiest of cities. One of these is definitely Parc Monceau, a lovely place to stroll, picnic, and just sit and relax. Before or after or in between, there are two museums in the neighborhood worth a visit- Nissim da Camondo Museum and Cernuschi Museum, both family mansions of wealthy collectors, bequeathed to the city of Paris but under very different circumstances."
Didn't mention in this blurb that both museums were bequeathed by rich Jewish collectors, and that the family of one of them was murdered in Auschwitz. Anyway, since retirement I've had a little more time for reading, and a book that caught my eye in the NYT Book Review was "The Hare with Amber Eyes", a memoir/history by a Edmund de Waal who became fascinated with his family's complex history including exotic locations like Japan, and pulled together by the family's collection of Netsukes.
Anyway, here's a sentence from that book:
"The [netsuke's] story starts where it is made. Edo, the old Tokyo before the black ships of th American Commodore Perry opened Japan up to trade with the rest of the world in 1859. But its first resting place was in Charles's study in Paris. It was in a room looking over the Rue de Monceau in the Hotel Ephrussi."
So, an undeniable "aha" moment. I will return to this post as I proceed with the book, and learn more of the ultra-high class Jewish neighborhood that bordered Parc Monceau, and included the da Camondo's, Cernuschis and Ephrussis.
The second coincidence involves a movie and a book, and is far less personal, but enjoyable nonetheless. The award-winning Spielberg/Coen brothers/Tom Hanks movie "Bridge of Spies" has been out long enough to have gotten to TV, but we first saw it only a couple of nights ago. Colonel Rudolf Abel, the infamous Russian spy, is portrayed as a talented amateur artist, plying his spycraft and painting skills in Brooklyn.
Only a week previously I had finished Jules Feiffer's autobiography "Backing into Forward", and read this:
"Through David and Burt, I met, and became friendly with, an older, would-be painter, an amateur who was taking lessons from my friends.....His name was Emil Goldfus, and he was from Canada....Emil was friendly, benign, something of a burnt-out case....One look at him was enough to know that Emil was the past and we were the future....He was showing a new interest and feeling for color at the time the headlines took him out of our lives and the FBI arrested him...Under the banner headline RED POSING AS B'KLYN ARTIST INDICTED AS TOP SOVIET SPY was Emil Goldfus....Emil wasn't Emil, or so the indictment claimed. He was a Russian colonel named Rudolf Ivanovich Abel...And then one day I picked up the newspaper and he was in the headlines again. He'd been freed in a prisoner exchange with the Soviet Union...The Russians turned [Francis Gary] Powers over to the United States. They traded him for Emil....Emil, who was not Emil, was also not Colonel Rudolf Ivanovich Abel, He was Willie Fisher, raised in England, the son of a transplanted Russian Jew who fled the czar and returned after the revolution with his English-speaking son, who was perfect material for a spy."
Still the same day, October 10, 2016, but trumpeting amazing news which goes against the old saying "We get too soon old and too late smart".
You see the big-headed fish in the story above??? I tried uploading the damn thing 20 times before I almost threw the computer against a wall 2 1/2 years ago. And now, with about ten minutes of work, I uploaded it with no problem. Ha HA! Next to get rid of the frowny faces where the Amazon ads used to be on page one. Yes, i realize no one is reading this page except me, but it's really cheap therapy, no?