Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Lady in Number 6

      I recently watched the documentary 'The Lady in Number 6' . It is a documentary about the life of Alice Herz-Sommer, an 109 year old holocaust survivor.  She was a pianist and the fact that she was able to play piano is why she survived the holocaust. The documentary is a bit slow moving, but it is amazing to see the spirit of Alice Herz Sommer. She was such a positive person despite all the tragedy in her life.  
      Sommer's husband was killed in the war, but she and their son survived. He grew up to be a musician as well. He died at the age of 64 after a concert tour. He left a wife and two sons. Sommer was so grateful that her son did not have a long and painful illness. She stressed that she believed this with all of her heart. She was so thankful. It really gives a person perspective. What Sommer was really saying was that she was grateful that her son lived to the age of 64 and was not murdered in the holocaust. Indeed she was correct. Though her son did not live an especially long life , he was able to live a good life and give her much nachas. Hitler wanted her son to die as a child . Instead, b"h , he lived to be a successful musician a husband and a father. Her relationship with music made gave her life, her appreciation for what is important in life makes her someone to be admired.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

     As a kid Memorial Day was just a fun day off of school. I didn't really think much about what it stood for. Now that the gulf war and 9/11 have happened I have more of a reverence for those who have served our country.
     This week in New York was fleet week which is the week where navy boats dock by the intrepid and various other spots in NYC. I did not manage to get to the intrepid this Memorial Day, but I did go to Staten Island to view the USS Cole and  the USS McFaul. It was quite interesting. Sailors gave tours of the boats.  It gives you respect for anyone in the military . They go through so much to keep this country safe.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Breaking up is Hard to do

     Seinfeld knew what he was talking about. He did an episode about  having a friend he did not want to hang out with anymore. His take was that its easier to break up with someone you are dating than with a friend. When someone you are dating breaks up with you well that's a clear message and that's that. It is so much harder to break up with a friend. Especially a friend that doesn't know that their personality is grating and you really don't want to hang out with them anymore. Its nothing specific but definite. I have that a lot. I meet people who would be OK if they just wanted to be a once in a while to get together friend but are so lonely they always want to get together. I try to make sure I sound really busy but sometimes I am bored so I get together with them a lot and then I realize they are really annoying . If only I could break up with this friendship in  a direct way. Instead I start to ignore their calls and not call them back so often or promptly. Eventually they get the hint. It would have been so much easier to be direct about it, but I think it would be more hurtful. So I usually go the indirect route.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Who is Frum?

     Yet another crime is committed by a frum Jew and the reaction of many is "They aren't frum" and my response is  "Yes they are. By saying they aren't its a cop out. " Let me explain. When one is frum one still has a yetzer harah and a yetzer tov. The frummer one is the stronger the yetzer harah. Thus many slip up. It does not make them unfrum, it just makes them human. It also means that they have to be more careful to not to be involved in a ponzi scheme ,or the averah of the month because when they mess up it is an even bigger chilul hashem because THEY ARE FRUM.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


     I have never smoked cigarettes and hate their odor. I also hat how addicted the people who smoke them are . The most annoying thing is to finally get up the subway stairs onto the street , try to breathe in deeply and there is some bozo who also got out of the station who just lit up. Gross. I don't even know how THEY have the energy to do it. I know that they have spent their train ride smoke free and are suffering withdrawal, but why do I have to suffer with smoky air because they are addicted ?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On The Train

When you take the train every morning you get to see the same people everyday. That could be good , that could be bad. I don't mind seeing friends on my way home from work , but when I am going to work in the morning it is just to early to say much more than "good morning". 
      Its always fun to see where everyone sits or stands on the train. It usually depends on what exit is closer to their optimal train station exit. Sometimes you even notice where it would be better for someone else to stand. There is one lady on my morning train who is like that. She always stays by the second  door exit in my car. She should really stand next to the third or fourth door. They would be closer to her subway station  exit.  She gets really uppity about where she likes to stand on the train as well . If you are in her way she pushes you. I always want to tell her that if she wanted to leave the car quicker she would use the other exit. But I don't tell her. I don't want to seem rude.

 When I was new to New York I used to always look around at people and wonder what their lives were like.  Now I am  less intrigued . I just hope the subway acrobats don't board my train and that a fat person does not sit next to me.  If only my train ride was boring. 
Once I was on a train minding my own business when suddenly this couple stood near me. It instantly smelled like a latrine. I thought that its a shame that young people are  not attending to hygiene anymore. When I glanced at the end of the car I realized where the odor was emanating from.  A homeless woman had just did her business all over herself and  her seat. It was repulsive. I regretted  thinking that  the teenagers had rank body odor. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lisa Kudrow's Son's Bar Mitzvah

      I read about this awhile ago, but when I saw this on you tube I had to post it . To hear Lisa Kudrow tell the story is priceless.

Mars and Venus

      Years ago I read John Gray's book MEN ARE FROM MARS AND WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS. For those of you who may not have read it , this is a book about how men and women think different and once everyone realizes this it will be easier to form relationships with each other. While it is true that not all women are one way and not all men are the same, there was a lot of truth to Gray's book.
       My most favorite jewel from this book is that women connect through speaking and venting. There is not necessarily a purpose to the conversation. Its about the journey. Men speak for a reason and usually to solve a problem. I wish I had known this when I was twenty. I would not have believed it, but it would have been nice to at least been privy to this . So often on a date I would innocuously speak  about something and suddenly my date would be trying to solve my "problem" that I didn't realize he was going to decide to fix. It was also downright annoying. I didn't have a problem, I was merely sharing.
       Now that I have realized that men often can't identify when I am venting , I actually tell them that I am venting and that the only solution needed is listening  to me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

No Offense?

      When I was a kid people used to say something ultra critical to someone and then say "no offense" . It always struck me as odd. Just because you say "no offense" after being mean does not give you  permission to be obnoxious. In fact whenever they would actually preface their  insult with them not meaning to be offensive you always knew something insulting would be coming out of their mouth. It would be more honest to just blurt it out. If you think what you are saying may be offensive maybe rethink your words. Then there won't be any offense.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cheap or Endearing?

      I was recently speaking with an elderly acquaintance who told me that he did not want to spend extraneously on himself because he wanted to leave a lot of money to his children. He did not seem to be living like a pauper, but he was money conscious. My first reaction was that it was very sweet. He loves his children that much. On the other hand he could not be tricked into overspending because he had a goal in mind. I also wished that I was as disciplined. I don't have children at the moment, but its not a bad idea to save for the future. I wish I had that kind of discipline.
      A number of friends of mine said that though they married on the later side neither they or their husband had much saved up. I guess when one is single one can get caught up in the single life and can forget that there will be a future that one should be saving up for.
      As for my acquaintance, I hope his kids appreciate his kindness and love for them now while they are still together.

Friday, May 9, 2014

To Be Free

      I find it very curious and not coincidental that people OTD are often called frei which is Yiddish for free. Its usually proclaimed in a derogatory manner but It still makes me take pause. So often those who go OTD do so because they yearn to be free of mitzvos. I am not sure why many who are OTD prefer to refer to themselves in a negative like off the derech instead of saying they are free Jews. That would sound a lot more positive. Hmm...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

IDF attends to Special Needs

      I just watched this video . It speaks for its self. It is about how special needs Israelis are included in the IDF. It is very moving.

      Only in Israel would they find a way to include special ed individuals in their army. It is amazing how deep their feelings for their country is. I dare you to have a dry eye after watching this.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Israel

I would have liked to have posted this earlier today, but I was stuck at work all day, so this will have to do. Happy Israeli Independence day.
          When I was in Israel at 18 I remember Yom Ha'atzmaut well. I went to the center of town in Jerusalem with my roommate. Everyone had these baby toy hammers that squeaked and they would bop people on the head with them. It was really silly, but also really meaningful. Where else on earth could anyone be so playful with strangers and there not be a riot?  It really struck me as incredible and this was as a Midwestern Jew who had not yet lived in New York City. It was also electric to see the joy of people dancing in the street in celebration of the Jewish State.
           Israel is not perfect, but what country is? The fact that Jews of all backgrounds live there as a country makes it so special. The fact that it is our homeland is special. Forget the Arab-Israeli conflict. We Jews in Israel and world over need to work on V'ahavta L' rayacha kamocha. . We need to treat our fellow Jews with love and respect, even those Jews who are not exactly as we are. Until this happens we will be in galus.

Its Show Time

 I found this clip of the subway "dancers". I could not find a video of the full routine. Usually  they start by saying "Its show time." I guess it looks cool on video , but not so much fun when you are sitting on a train hoping the "dancers" don't hit you in the face by accident. My personal favorite is when they dance while kicking their shoe. Its not at all fun to see in person I must stress. These young men are the only ones who have figured out what to do with the bars that are on the ceiling of the train. Unfortunately they decided to hang from them and  do acrobatics. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Shiva - To go or Not to go

      If a person wanted to he or she could make a shiva call every night of the week. One would have to be rather depressed to actually do this. Making a shiva call is a big mitzvah, but sometimes when I make one I feel like I would have been better off staying at home.  After going to several shiva houses for people I did not know well I have come to the conclusion that unless you knew the deceased well or the people sitting shiva well it is better to send a condolence card .

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Meanwhile Years Later

      Things often aren't what one thinks . When I was a kid in school there was a boy a few years older than I was who I thought had a really cool name and came from a pretty frum family. While I still think that his name was really cool,  I realize that he had a more sordid family background than one might think. He had several siblings who went off the derech in radical ways and a brother who I had heard had been in a bad car accident who I found  out years later had really committed suicide. Its always sad when the bubble of illusion is burst and all that is left is cold harsh reality. As a kid you think that everyone you know has it easier than you do and then you find out years later that they really , really did not. Funny how that is.