Monday, February 29, 2016

The Fragility of Life

     Just when I thought it was safe to exhale I found out that a good friend of mine has a serious health issue and has had it for the past few years but had not shared the news until today. After wanting to kill her for not having told me yet it really made me sad. This friend does not live nearby and I know that I need to see her sooner rather than later. With the help of Hashem she will have a refuah shelemah, but since no one knows what the future may hold and  it would be best to see her sooner rather than later.
      It always makes me sad when one contemplates seeing someone who is ill because they are ill. I always think that it is too bad that I did not make the effort when they were healthier. In the case of this friend I did go to one of her son's bar mitzvahs and I visited her on another occasion, but I could have made a bigger effort to get together more often. I guess there is always work that gets in the way and of course the thought that one has time to get together at another time.
       Baruch Hashem there is  still time, though it is more precious right now, I am grateful that I have not missed the window. I know that the lesson is to try to get together with good friends and family as often as possible because life is so fragile and good friends and family are such treasures that it is important to prioritize them.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Marrying a Jew

      Another annoying Shabbos table discussion with misguided men trying to tell me how they think that shiksas are so much nicer than Jewish girls . I hate these discussions because the same could be said of gentile men being nicer to Jewish girls than Jewish men . I hate this kind of talk because its counter productive. The idea not to date a goy has NOTHING to do with how nice or not nice a goy is . It has to do with living a Jewish life. If you want to live  an observant Jewish life its best to marry someone Jewish.  End of story. 

Monday, February 22, 2016


     Sometimes certain things that happen in someones life are not a deliberate choice but more of a choice that happened because other choices were not made. I always feel that they aren't really choices. I would like more of my choices in life to be because I deliberately chose them instead of because I did not think about them enough or by default.  Not always an easy thing to do, but important to contemplate.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Teaching Moment

      I do a lot of employee training at work. Fortunately I enjoy it . Its always  fun trying to find the delicate balance between being really bossy and letting the person do things by themselves.  There is that moment when you know that the person can do the work on their own but you are afraid that they will mess up. Of course you have to step back and let them do things on their own because they will never learn otherwise. Sure they will mess up but most of the time they won't. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Season 2, Episode 3: The Double Date

     This is sooo funny. Unfortunately its  a litttle too realistic...

Not Friendly

     A big Brooklyn religious personality trait that I really can't stand is the one where you bump into or meet someone and they ask a battery of questions that sound a lot more intrusive than friendly. Its like they went to a shiur that told them people like to talk about themselves so they commit to asking others a barrage of questions every time they meet someone new or just bump into a neighbor. I guess the actual questions would feel less intrusive if they were in the natural course of a conversation instead of when I am exhausted and not in a particularly social situation. I can tell that my interrogator thinks that he/she is being friendly and looks self satisfied . All I feel like asking them is do they also want to know what color underwear I am wearing? They are that intrusive. I wish they would just talk about themselves instead of interrogating me. Sometimes I turn it around and ask them questions, but I really do not care that much. Sometimes they will insist on me answering their question because their questions are a way of deflecting away from themselves. I think that its most friendly to just be natural. Just say hello, how are you and leave it at that. That would be soooo much friendlier.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A comedic break

    Sometimes I need a good laugh so I thought that I would post this. Its one of his classic bits, but funny nonetheless. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Spark Among the Ashes , A Bar Mitzvah in Poland

    Truth is stranger than fiction and some things you just can't make up. So goes this documentary that I just watched on Amazon Prime called A SPARK AMONG THE ASHES: A BAR MITZVAH IN POLAND .
     The film is the result of a Jewish  group who had visited Poland in the mid- 1980's fulfilling a request of an elderly Holocaust survivor named Maria Yakobovitz. When the Jewish   group including Mike Gladstein  visited her community they asked what they could give them , Maria Yakobovitz said that they did not need money but she wanted to see a bar mitzvah in her synagogue. Somehow they found a boy named Eric Strom from Stamford , Connecticut who was willing to have his bar mitzvah in Krakow,  Poland. In the film they show step by step the planning and the story of what happened at the bar mitzvah.
       Eric and his family were reform Jews who in 1985 had a woman rabbi at their synagogue. I did not realize that there were women rabbis in 1985. Anyway, as the event became more publicized a rabbi in Brooklyn , Rabbi Elbaum,  became upset that a reform woman rabbi would be performing this bar mitzvah in Poland, a place where no bar mitzvah had occurred in so long. There was a lot of controversy leading up to the bar mitzvah , but it did happen . The service ended up being led by the orthodox rabbi, the men and women sat in separate sections,   the boy was able to read his Torah portion. The reform rabbi even managed to give her speech. Rabbi Elbaum was interviewed as well in the film which was quite interesting. Though he did not mince words about his feelings for reform Judaism , he did concede that he felt that Eric  did a good job and that he has a good heart.
      I found this documentary hard to watch at times because there were so many sides to the story and I sympathized with everybody. The Stroms took their two children and their parents to Poland for the bar mitzvah of their son to fulfill the wish of a holocaust survivor that they never met. Maria Yakobovitz had probably been orthodox before the war, but by 1985 likely was less so. The Stroms went to a reform temple that happened to have a woman rabbi who did seem to be respectful of those who were orthodox . The orthodox Jews who were upset that they were going to have a reform bar mitzvah had hoped that if there would be a bar mitzvah again in Poland felt that it was a shame that it would not be an orthodox one.
         In the end the bar mitzvah occurred fairly smoothly. Maria Yakubovitz was so happy . I am certain that the Stroms will never forget this bar mitzvah.
         I would love to see an update on the Stroms . I feel like this documentary was the ultimate Jewish reality show. We could use a reunion film or perhaps an epilogue.
          Though this film was a bit like a reality show, it really was quite amazing. A Jewish family had a bar mitzvah for their son in Krakow in 1985 to fulfill a request of an elderly holocaust survivor that they had never met. There are some amazing Jewish people.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016


      Even nice people have their limits. When pressed even nice people can lose their cool .  Its so interesting when this happens. People act so surprised. I never understand the surprise . A person can't be a chump forever.  The other unfortunate part is that if one does not occasionally "flip out" people will continue to push the limit. Life stinks.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Goldie Locks Syndrome

      One of the hardest issues in the dating arena is getting the religious issues in sync. Everything else could be right but not that one. Its a big one. If one person is more religious the other person may not want to tweak their position to match . The less religious person might wish the more religious person would be less staunch. Of course there is a third possibility. They each could maintain their current religious values. This third possibility is a tough one depending on how wide the religious gap is. Sometimes the religious gap isn't really the internal religiosity but the externals. Is the clothing religious enough. Is the yarmulke the right color ? Are the sleeve lengths up to par?
        I really do not claim to know the answer. When people have been dating a long time they think that compromise is the only way to go. The problem is that it  would be much easier to compromise on these issues if they were younger. When one is older one has gotten used to one's own derech and its harder to imagine doing things another way even to get married. By now an older single is used to being single as well.
        I think that a person needs to think about what is actually important to them and what they think they realistically would not mind doing the way the other person would want . Some things depend on how much one really wants to do for the other person but then again not necessarily . One might think that they would not mind doing something more strictly or less strictly but three years from now when the honeymoon is over one might not think so. I think a person has to try to be realistic.
       I know that no two people are exactly alike religiously or in any of the other issues that make finding a spouse challenging, but I think that its best for two people to be more similar than less similar religiously . I have gone out with guys much more religious and guys much less religious and both are a real challenge. I think that its hard to go outside of one's comfort zone. Its hard for someone a lot less religious to suddenly want to be a lot more religious just for someone else and its equally difficult for someone much more religious to give up their current level of frumkeit. I think it would be best if each was able to maintain their own chosen religious level in a marriage but this may be difficult when raising children. This can even be difficult without the children issue. Religious level dictates what community one wants to be a part of , where one lives and  who one prefers to associate with. Judaism isn't just a bunch of  rituals . Its a way of life.
       All I can say is that its a miracle anyone gets married.