Sunday, November 29, 2009


the past few sundays i have spent walking through the nature of upstate new york as well as the nature in the urban jungle of nyc. i feel lucky that we have had some beautiful weather to facilitate such enjoyment. it has been so good for my soul. i really need to spend more time with nature.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

killing kasztner

i saw the documentary killing kasztner last night. it was a bit slow moving for the first half hour or so , but was an interesting subject no less. im not sure that i can recommend the movie after viewing it because it was a bit dry , but the subject itself is riveting.

rudolph kasztner saved nearly 17 thousand hungarian jews including the satmar rebbe during the holocaust. he did it by making deals with nazis . eventually after the shoah he ended up in israel . a reporter named malchiel gruenwald accused him of collaborating with the nazis and berated him for not having saved more jews. eventually kasztner was assassinated. not only were kasztner and his family harassed over this, but the survivors who kasztner saved were harassed as well. since he saved nearly 17 thousand jews why couldn't he have saved more?

it took sixty years for kasztner to be honored by yad vashem for having saved so many jews. though he wasnt able to witness this many of those he had saved were able to see this. they finally felt vindicated.

i dont claim to know all of the facts about this case , even after seeing this film . i will say that its a crime that kasztner was assasinated. the fact that he had saved SO MANY jewish souls should have been heralded. he many not have saved more than 17 thousand, but this number is incredible. i am also quite certain that others who saved jews made deals with nazis in order to save jews and were honored for having saved jews as well they should be. kasztner should be honored as well . those who he had saved had enough survivor's guilt. they shouldnt have been made to feel bad because of the circumstance they were allowed to to continue living.

after viewing this film i want to read more about this topic. though i cant recommend this film with a full heart because it was slow moving, i am glad that i saw it . it opened up a door of knowledge. now all i need to do is find a copy of perfidy by ben hecht and the kasztner train by anna porter and im good to go.

Monday, November 23, 2009

as time marches on

i havent lived with my parents since i was a month shy of 18. i remember being a kid and living with them but to be honest its but a distant memory. whenever i meet adults my age who still live with their parents i always wonder WHY? granted, im originally from the midwest, and moving to new york is a rite of passage for frum young adults who want to marry someone frum, but even so i think that by the time i would have graduated college and started working i would have moved out of my parents house even if i would have been a native new yorker. as frustrated as i am about being single, i am always comforted by the fact that at least i am capable of independence. i have my own apartment and i can afford to support myself. if i lived with my parents i would feel like i was just waiting for my adult life to begin. some people who live with their parents are independent, many are not. some wait far too long to move out until their parents are too old and then they cant leave them.
many singles past a certain age dont want to date men who were never married. im not so particular. i just want someone who can take care of himself.

making trouble... again

as anyone who reads this blog knows, im a big fan of movies and an even bigger fan of movies with jewish themes. i reviewed the movie making trouble almost two years ago after i viewed it at the jewish film festival. since i wrote this review january 23, 2008 which was at the beginning of my blogging career i thought this movie deserves a second mention for those of you who may not have seen this review, or the movie for that matter.
this review is a bit updated from my last review because after a second viewing of the film i realized that i had mixed up some of the facts in my first review! anyway, here goes....
making trouble is a film directed by rachel talbot and presented by the jewish womens archive. the movie is about funny jewish women, featuring molly picon, fanny brice, sophie tucker , joan rivers, gilda radnor , and wendy wasserstein. though joan rivers is not the youngest of the lot, she is the only one still alive. the movie begins with four younger jewish comediennes- judy gold, jackie hoffman, cory kahaney and jessica kirson sitting at katz's deli discussing the topic of jewish women in comedy and introducing these legendary ladies of comedy.
the first great lady of jewish comedy featured was molly picon. she grew up in philadelphia and started out performing in vaudeville. subsequently she starred in many yiddish films and plays. to me she is legendary even though i had never heard of her until i happened upon her 1980's autobiography at the library. after reading about her life i watched many of her films on video from the library and became a huge fan.the woman did somersaults at eighty!! one of the most touching scenes recounted in the film was how molly went to the d.p. camps after the holocaust and performed for the survivors. in an interview, she spoke of a mother who held out her small child and begged molly to perform saying " my child has never heard laughter. perform for her!" and she spoke of child survivors who she had performed for outside who insisted she perform even in the rain. it was amazing to see film clips of an exuberant molly playing a teenager in yiddle mitn fiddle at 37 years of age.
next up was fanny brice who was quite a star in her time as well. my parents have always remembered her playing baby snooks. fanny brice was so popular that a betty boop cartoon even features her in cartoon. fanny brice was a beautiful woman, but since she didnt posses the blond haired, blue eyed look of the time so she became a comedic actress instead of the romantic lead. she eventually got a nose job to look less jewish. from the footage she looked very jewish , but contrary to what many say, she was not ugly. apparently she did not have a yiddish accent, but affected one when she performed.
sophie tucker , who id heard of but knew the least about was also featured. she grew up in connecticut to an observant jewish family. after a brief marriage and the birth of a son she went off to become a performer at the tender age of 17. to me she seemed the least jewish of all of the comediennes featured even though her life was very much entwined in the jewish community.
sophie's grand-niece was featured giving insight about her aunt. eerily this niece very much resembles her great aunt.
next up was joan rivers. when they showed a recent clip of her it was heartbreaking. she has done so much plastic surgery that she looks more like jocelyn wildenstein than jocelyn wildenstein herself. id seen old footage of joan rivers when i was a child, but this was the first time i had seen old footage of hers as an adult. she was truly funny from the start. the thing that i have always like about joan rivers is that she never denies her jewishness. in fact she owns it. upon viewing her pre-plastic surgery self, i realized that she never needed any to begin with.
gilda radner was always my favorite on saturday night live. i read a lovely book about her by alan zwiebel called bunny, bunny. alan zwiebel was featured in her retrospective in the film. the film included my favorite snl faux commercial for jewess jeans. i hadnt seen it in years. it was just as funny now as it had been then . they also showed a clip with bill murray and john belushi where gilda lights the menorah and says the bracha over the candles. they also showed clips of lisa lupner and roseann roseanadann.
last but not least was wendy wasserstein. though i admit that ive only read a few of her works i think that she was truly amazing. it is so unfortunate that she died so young. i met her in person a few years ago when she did a book reading at barnes and noble for her book shiksa goddess. wendy was such a regular person. she appeared to be the type of person you'd want to be friends with. she was so real. the interviews for this film were taped right before her passing. in fact she passed away before the film was made. it was hard to watch those recent clips of her because she looked like she was in so much pain. thankfully there were other clips of her when she was more vibrant. when the sisters rosensweig came out they wanted her to change the name because it sounded too jewish. why did she have to call it the sisters rosensweig? they said that people around the country would not be able to relate to it. to which she replied " people in around the country don't have sisters?"
i appreciated the contrast between the younger jewish comediennes and the older ones. as you are hearing them retell the stories of these great ladies, you hope that one day their careers will be retold on film.
i wished the film would never end, but alas it did. it was perfection. i highly recommend it. it was a fabulous retrospective with an equal mix of facts i had already known and facts i was honored to learn. once in awhile it is screened around the united states and its now available on dvd through the jwa.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

look to the cookie

in new york there is a cookie called a black and white. black and whites have a vanilla chewy cupcake like consistency and are round and flat. on this round , flat cookie is half white icing and half chocolate icing. in one episode seinfeld has a great line about the symbolism of the black and white cookie. he says "look to the cookie" as a symbol of racial harmony. hmmm.
can there be wisdom to be gained from other cookies? perhaps there is wisdom in a chinese fortune cookie? now if you knew me in person you would know that i dont believe in horoscopes , segulahs, mood rings , four leafed clovers or other such hocus pocus , but do bear with me. i dont mean that i think the fortune in the fortune cookie is viable, but is there a reason one is reading the particular fortune cookie message at that particular time? it could be a totally bogus coincidence, but it also might not be. i recently opened a fortune cookie with a message that i think is very true and there probably is a very good reason i got that message. my message was " a good friendship is often more important than a passionate romance." or if you ask me , there definitely aint going to be any romance without a good friendship. i would actually go as far as saying, that if i had a choice between good friendship or romance i would choose good friendship because good friendship can turn into romance, but romance without good friendship is not even worth the gas emitted from cholent beans.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

its not a set up

one really cant rely on others to find a zivug. a friend of mine recently started dating someone who is a an acquaintance . when i found out i actually felt bad that i hadn't thought of setting them up myself. i see them together now and i think that they make such a great couple . why hadn't i thought of it ? this is exactly why im so pro singles events, and dating sites . one can be pro-active. one doesn't have to rely on others to set them up. because frankly if you wouldn't try any direct venues of finding a match even one's best friend might not think of anyone for you even if they were standing right in front of them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

you just never know....

i love when the tv news interviews neighbors of a criminal and the neighbors say, " gee he was such a good neighbor, so quiet, would not have suspected a thing." one always assumes this is hogwash. or is it? unfortunately i have learned that this is not true. sometimes one finds out a friend or acquaintance has committed a serious crime and one would never have guessed that they would have. i think that part of the reason is that one would never suspect that anyone one knows could be capable a serious crime. guess again. it is possible. unfortunately.
a man who had done construction work for my grandparents years ago later committed a serious crime. one would have never thought it possible. he was so nice to my grandparents . unfortunately the man snapped and and the rest is history.
its such a crazy world. one just never knows....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

has anybody seen my hat?

the other day i was on the train and accidentally lost my hat. usually i take my hat off when i get on the train because its too darn warm and i put my hat in my backpack. on this particular day i was waayyyy too tired to do so. at some point i dropped my hat never to be seen again.
the thing that gets me is that whenever i notice that someone has dropped something on the train i tell them. in my case, no one did. perhaps no one noticed, perhaps someone noticed. ill never know. all i do know is that i lost my beloved crocheted hat that i made with my very own hands.
luckily i still had some red and white yarn sitting around, and whipped up a near identical hat.
why am i so upset? ill tell you why im so upset. i lost a hat i created and i wonder where it has gone. is someone else wearing it? did someone throw it out? did it totally get trampled? so many unanswered questions.
alas, i am glad i was able to crochet another red and white hat, but i really dug the old one and wish it was still in my possession!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

classmates of anne frank

in commemoration of kristllnacht (november9-10 , 1938) the jcc of manhattan screened the documentary classmates of anne frank.
classmates of anne frank
was the brainchild of theo coster, a former classmate of anne frank's . theo coster and his wife ora are the creators of many delightful childrens games which include my personal favorite guess who.eyal boers, a family member of theo coster is the director.
though this film does not delve deeply into the specific horrors of the holocaust , it does make one feel the great loss of anne frank. one sees her eighty year old former schoolmates and she is not alive to reunite with them. you see they are vibrant seniors who despite all they have endured, have had families , careers and most of all long life. anne and so many other of their classmates did not. anne was a young lady with many friends and admirers and would be a bubbly bubby today if not for hitler and his nazis. the diary of anne frank is one of the most well read books in the world. imagine how many blockbusters she would have written had she survived.
one sees the triumph of spirit these classmates have .
ive often heard it said that anne frank might have had more of a will to live had she known her father was still alive. upon mention of this in this film , anne frank's former classmate nanette konig debunked this theory. anne died of typhus. whenever anyone had typhus in the camps that was it. it was too deadly. no matter how high one's spirits.
another myth is the passage of anne's diary where she says in the end she believes all people are really good at heart. as hanna goslar and nannette konig said separately THIS WAS BEFORE AUSCHWITZ.
many of anne franks former classmates speak the world over about the holocaust. they are pleased to be known as former classmates of anne frank.
after the film there was a question and answer session with the director eyal boers as well as the daughter of anne frank's former classmate nanette konig.
as a child i encountered many holocaust survivors. they were parents or grandparents of my classmates . a documentary like this one is very important. these elderly survivors are a bridge to the past . their stories are sad , yet so inspiring. i cant imagine a world without these individuals. films like this assure that their stories can be heard in their own voices for future generations.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

tweetup / blogger meet up

i went to the jewish tweetup /blogger meet up at 92y tribeca last wednesday.
when i first saw the event advertised by frumsatire on facebook, i wasnt sure if i even wanted to go. it would be fun to meet other bloggers, but did i want to blow my anonymity? would it make any difference to those who would meet me if i were no longer anonymous? would they even know i am a blogger anyway?
WELL ... i decided to go anyway. i figured chances were there would be so many people there that it wouldnt matter anyway....
there were not so many in attendance, but it was definitely quality above quantity..... though not a huge turnout, it was so social i didnt get a chance to chat with everyone!
moshe and his wife who i met months ago were there , heshy fried of frumsatire, wolfishmusings and jacobdajew, elisheva and her husband therealshliach, jacobdajew, and susanne were there. i met elke reva sudin of hipstersandhassids and her husband saul . i met itamar and metroimma. i also met sshriki who frequently comments on my blog.
it was cool to see those responsible for typing some of the blogs that i have read. there really werent enough people to make it too overwhelming.
it was kind of like a book event at barnes and noble for bloggers. someone was even on her computer during the event to make all of us bloggers feel at home. after all , stepping out of the computer into real life can be a bit daunting.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

rock the vote

yes i admit that for someone who didnt even realize that there was going to be an election until last week that 'rock the vote' is quite an interesting title for this post! no matter. i might not have realized that there was going to be an election, but that does not mean that i dont think that it is important to vote.
i voted this morning at my most favorite time - 6:30 a.m. this is before work. i don't like having to stand in line to vote and usually if you vote this early in the morning there is not a line.
when i grow up i want to be one of those senior citizens who work at the polling centers. they look like they are having so much fun .
i used to go to the polls at 6:00 a.m. when they allegedly open. no more. at 6:00 a.m. the employed seniors are just trying to remember what the procedures are. i could vote that early but im not too confident my vote will actually count at that hour. by 6:30 everything is usually up and running so i feel safe to vote.
i don't know about you , but i always seem to misplace the orange or yellow postcard which tells me which election district i am in. i usually have to look up my voter registration online. i always remember where im supposed to vote. when i asked the senior at the polling center which area of the building i needed to go to to vote she told me that she thought i was in the wrong polling center. but of course. eventually i found the correct area to go to . i knew i was in the right place because i saw the same senior from last year manning the election booth.
i love the fact that new york still has the old fashioned voting booths. they are so cool. no chads to deal with either. its also good because this way the seniors who run the polls don't have to deal with any new fangled technology.
there is always so much drama during the voting process that i almost forget to find out who won!

Monday, November 2, 2009

a serious man?

the only thing serious about this movie is its title. it is a coen brothers film about a jewish physics professor named larry gopnick who is black mailed , has marital strife and and various eccentric family members. the jewish week likens larry gopnick to a modern day job. i say they are giving this film too much credit. this is a film that is one note more serious than an adam sandler movie.
the film begins with larry's 12 yr old son in hebrew school. he is close to bar mitzvah. the funniest scenes are those with the hebrew school teachers and children.
the film seems to be depicting reform jews in 1967 who seem to know a heck of alot more about judaism than most reform jews know. granted this is 1967, not 2007, but the characters are constantly referring to g-d as hashem, and ive never met a reform jew who would ever do this let alone actually know that hashem meant g-d. several of the rabbis in the film do not wear kippot in the tradition of reform jews of that era. the rabbis were portrayed in seinfeldian tradition. because they were sooo cartoonish you couldnt be too insulted by how absurd they behaved. i wish i knew more about reform judaism because i think i was missing out on some of the jokes.
as usual when i watch a movie with more authentic jewish references i find myself the only person in the audience laughing. often the hebrew/yiddish terms were not translated. the barmitzvah boy had a friend named he kept calling faigel. turns out the kids last name really was faigel. it took me awhile to figure this out . i kept thinking he was making fun of his friend. this of course was an inside joke for those in the know because it was never explained. i of course was the only one laughing about this one. there were other instances too, but i dont want to give them away if you decide to see the movie.
there is strife between larry and his wife who is carrying on with a homely widower 20 years her senior. one would be offended by the wife's overdone stereotypical jewish wife behavior, but she was so over the top one could not help but just laugh.
this is one of those few movies where actual jewish actors were used to portray jews.
after all of the comical strife that befalls larry gopnick the film has the most perfect ending. i will not tell you what it is, but i loved it.
this movie is most definitely not the the story of a modern day job. its much too over the top .
entertainment weekly said and and i concur that the idea of this movie is to show how jews of the 1960's thought they were so assimilated, but really they weren't. the way they showed this was by the inappropriately frum jargon the characters used by reform jewish characters. i find this especially interesting because more yiddish would have been used if this film were more authentic to the time period. more hebrew was used due to the lack of fluency in yiddish of the current young movie going audience.
a serious man was not the dark film i thought i was going to be. i didnt want to actually like it, it just worked out that way.