Thursday, January 31, 2008
First off, let me say this: it was an AMAZING wedding. Yes, the hall was beautiful (I do recommend Shaar Yerushalayim as a really nice place to make a simcha -- but I did not particularly care for Zusha - he is the person who coordinates all the events at the hotel.)
The flowers were beautiful -- the arrangements on the tables were simple: long and tall and narrow clear glass vases with long long stemmed white lilies, about 4 per vase. The arrangements for the chuppah, the bedecken, etc, were more ornate, large, using mostly the white lilies, and roses, greenery and more. I am sure we will have pics of them soon.
There were about 250 people in attendance, and enough of my own friends and family to make me feel comfortable (THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO CAME!!!). The music was great, it was an Israeli-Irish music band (hows that for amazing combination?). They even had a harpist, who happened to be a friend of theirs and so that part of the music was a gift.
There was an amazing cake, that had 4 tiers of two layers each, with completely realistic look flowers and greens on it -- that were made of sugar! The top most tier had flowers "painted" on the top. When I saw the cake the first thing that came to mind was, "I do not remember ordering this", and the second thing was, "This is going to be very expensive!". Then, I was introduced to the cake maker (baker?), and was told that the cake was a gift (and of course, great promotion for him!). We were unable to cut and eat the cake in the hall due to hechsherim (kashrut) issues. (Yes, the cake was kosher, but not "hechshered" -- or at least not according to the one that the Hotel accepts). However, we did get to eat the cake AFTER the wedding, and were eating it all week long, until after the final Sheva Brachot in Nof Ayalon! And, not only did this cake LOOK good, but it TASTED great! (I will post his info here later).
The physical chuppah leaned a little like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and I asked that it be straightened but Zusha insisted that it could not be done. I was not happy with his response.
The Chuppah, the ceremony, was beautiful. The seder of the Chuppah was like nothing I had ever experienced but it was PERFECT. The breaking of the glass occurred in the middle, before the Brachot, and was a somber moment -- NOT accompanied by cheers of Mazal Tov -- which actually makes more sense given that the breaking of the glass is supposed to represent the destruction of the Temple!
Jonathan attends a Yeshiva in Petach Tikva and so all (at least it SEEMED like all) the Yeshiva boys were in attendance, and between each ritual of the Chuppah they sang. It was so beautiful that it had my mother and me and my brother in tears -- and after the Chuppah, both my brother and I fell into each others arms, sobbing. It was really beautiful.
The Mesader Kedushin, however, never said ONE word to me and I was annoyed about that. Not even a simple Mazal Tov. I was never introduced to him nor he to me. I think that was disrespectful to both of us. He did not stay after the Chuppah. But that is normal.
There is more for me to post but I will complete this later. Now I must go and get dressed for work.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
You can go to http://www.onlysimchas.com/v4/index.cfm/fuseaction:simcha.view/simchaid:71997 to view the pictures. There are, to date, three galleries there. I invite you all to view the pictures, and, if you have any pictures, to send me them for inclusion in the Only Simchas Galleries.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
My daughters' father is not Jewish, but I am. Thus the Rabbinate asked for a copy of my Ketubah. I scanned and emailed said Ketubah to Chloe. She presented this to them and they then asked for the ORIGINAL. Now for those of you who know the Halacha (Jewish Law) you know that there is NO WAY I am going let my Ketubah go out of my possession, especially via a carrier service overseas!! So, it was at that point that we requested intervention by Rabbi Shaul Farber and Rabbi Yosef Adler and Rabbi Berel Wein. Rabbi Wein wrote a letter of verification of whom my daughter is and that he knows the family, etc. They finally, in the end, accepted the letter.
So, this past week was just going to be a matter of filing the final paperwork. First, she had to speak to some Haredi Rebbetzin who was wearing the stiffest and ugliest wig I have ever seen. The Rebbitzin did not talk very nicely to my daughter, barely nodded to me -- and asked questions that I thought were none of her business -- all having to do with niddah, and bedikah, etc. My daughter's answers did not please her since she obviously adheres to a much more machmir (strict) observance of the halacha - and she rebuked my daughter very strongly. When she finally terminated her cross examination of my daughter she gave her a form and sent her to 'the man at the end'. So, we trudged over to 'the man at the end'. We waited on line, and waited, and waited, only to learn that it was the wrong line. We were sent to another place 'in the middle'. Again, we waited on line, and waited, and ...again the same response. We were sent back to the 'man at the end' -- only this time we perceived another door and found another person there. This apparently was who we needed to speak with. This man was downright rude. He asked for the tik number and she could not remember it but gave him her name and that of her chosson. He would not do anything without the number. (BTW, none of this was computerized -- EVERYTHING was on paper. It was a small office, and there were not THAT many files around. Finally, we called her Chosson and he gave us the number and thus were we able to do what we needed to do. But this man continued to be arrogant and rude to my daughter.
We left the office and my daughter turned to me and told me that EVERY time she has visited the Rabbinate, they have managed to make her feel worthless and stupid. She then burst into tears, sobbing. Needless to say, I was quite upset.
This is a girl whom they should be THRILLED to help. When she was born, her mother was not religious, her father was not Jewish. She went to public school until she was 9. The chances that she was going to become religious, a Zionist, make aliyah, get married to a nice Jewish boy -- at that time were slim to none!! Instead, they do their best to revile her, to make it difficult for her, to make her feel badly. What a turn off. Instead of ensuring teshuvah and thus continuity, the Rabbinate is going to be responsible for the wholesale leaving of frumkeit by young modern Jews.
Haredi Judaism, with its blinders to the outside world, with its chumras and unscalable concrete walls with barbed wire around it's version of the Torah (not a fence!), is doing much to undermine the work of modern Orthodox Judaism, which seeks to embrace all the good that the secular world has to offer, while yet adhering to the Halacha -- and remaining accessible to modern young Jews, who may yet be disenfranchised. What a shame, what a shanda!!
Saturday, January 19, 2008
- NEVER, NEVER, NEVER fly Israir. I had actually flown Israir in the past. It was not good then. But I got suckered into a "cheap" fare. Their planes are the MOST uncomfortable planes ever. They pack us in like sardines in a can. It is HORRIBLE. And worst of all, we have to fly Israir back home -- I am SO not looking forward to that trip.
- The apartment we rented is beautiful, and quite large. But it has some very serious design flaws. Let's take the master BR with bath ensuite. The wall between the bathroom and the bedroom is glass. Most of the glass is frosted so it is not completely see through, but the bottom and top of the glass is not frosted. So here are the problems with that:
- When my husband goes to the bathroom, and I am sitting on the bed reading. I happen to look up and what do I see? My husbands pants down around his ankles! Now, he and I may be married, but what we do in the bathroom is PRIVATE -- and that was actually embarrassing to me! (and him, when I told him).
- At night one of us may get up to use the bathroom. We turn on the bathroom light and ---- the entire BR get's lit up, thereby waking the other...NOT GOOD!
- On Shabbat we usually leave a light on in our bathroom. If we did that we would never sleep since the light in the bathroom lights up the bedroom too!
Anyway, I am tired and there IS more to tell but that will have to wait.
Monday, January 14, 2008
and I will be wearing my long, curly fall, curled really kinkily, with this headband, in dark brown:
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Read article below for more info about the Ms. magazine abhorrent action, and further below for info on how to contact Ms. and express your dismay and disappointment in their publication.
Ms. Magazine Blocks Ad Because It Is Pro-Israel January 10, 2008
Ms. Magazine has long been in the forefront of the fight for equal rights and equal opportunities for women. Apparently that is not the case if the women happen to be Israeli. The magazine has turned down an AJCongress advertisement that did nothing more controversial than call attention to the fact that women currently occupy three of the most significant positions of power in Israeli public life.
Click here to see the ad. http://www.ajcongress.org/site/DocServer/Ms.pdf?docID=1961
The proposed ad included a text that merely said, “This is Israel,” under photographs of President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinish, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. “What other conclusion can we reach,” asked Richard Gordon, President of AJCongress, “except that the publishers − and if the publishers are right, a significant number of Ms. Magazine readers − are so hostile to Israel that they do not even want to see an ad that says something positive about Israel?”
When Director of AJCongress’ Commission for Women’s Empowerment Harriet Kurlander tried to place the ad, she was told that publishing the ad “will set off a firestorm” and that “there are very strong opinions” on the subject − the subject presumably being whether or not one can say anythingpositive about Israel. Ms. Magazine publisher Eleanor Smeal failed to respond to a signed-for certified letter with a copy of the ad as well as numerous calls by Mr. Gordon over a period of weeks.
A Ms. Magazine representative, Susie Gilligan, whom the Ms. Magazine masthead lists under the publisher’s office, told Ms. Kurlander that the magazine “would love to have an ad from you on women’s empowerment, or reproductive freedom, but not on this.” Ms. Gilligan failed to elaborate what “this”is.
“The only conclusion that one can reach from this behavior is that Ms. Magazine feels that an ad highlighting the accomplishments of three incredibly talented and dedicated women would offend their readership. Since there is nothing about the ad itself that is offensive, it is obviously the nationality of the women pictured that the management of Ms. fears their readership would find objectionable. For a publication that holds itself out to be in the forefront of the Women’s Movement, this is nothing short of disgusting and despicable,” stated Mr. Gordon.
Ms. Magazine has a long record of publishing advertisements rallying readers to support reproductive choice; opposing the Religious Right; highlighting the fragility of the pro-Roe v. Wade majority on the Supreme Court; charging that “Pat Robertson and his Religious Right cohorts don’t like individual freedom;” announcing support for the “struggle for freedom and human rights;” opposing the Bush administration’s campaign to fill federal courts with judges who “will reverse decades of progress on reproductive rights and privacy, civil rights, religious liberty, environmental protection and so much more;” as well as accusing the Bush administration of being “bent on rewarding big corporations and the rich, turning back the clock on women’s rights and civil rights, and promoting a U.S. empire abroad.”
“This flagship publication of the American women’s empowerment movement publishes ads that are controversial in the general culture but not so among its readership,” Ms. Kurlander said. “Obviously, Ms. believes our ad would enflame a significant portion of their readers.”Mr. Gordon added, “What really amazes me is that just recently, in their Winter 2007 issue, Ms. ran a cover story with a picture of Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi with the heading in big letters: “This is What a Speaker Looks Like.” While Ms. has every reason to be proud of Speaker Pelosi and her accomplishments, as are we, the only discernable difference between Speaker Pelosi and Speaker Itzik apparently is that Speaker Pelosi is not Israeli.”
Mr. Gordon noted that while Israel was apparently too hot to handle, Ms. Magazine did not extend that taboo to Arab and Moslem women. “What is even more amazing is that, while refusing to publish a simple ad praising three very notable women, women who embody the ideal that Ms. Magazine seemingly espouses, Ms. has run a cover article in the Fall 2003 issue on Queen Noor of Jordan, has featured a number of articles on Muslim women, and even ran an article in the Winter 2004 issue entitled, ‘Images of Palestine,’ which discussed the Ramallah Film Festival and gave sympathetic reviews to films concerning ‘the liberation of South Lebanon’ from Israel as well as numerous films which portrayed terrorism as legitimate ‘revolutionary’ activity against Israel and miscast Israel’s activities to counter terrorism as ‘oppressive.’”
“Clearly Ms. has changed a great deal from the days when AJCongress members and leaders of the AJCongress’ Commission for Women’s Equality −including Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug and Ms. co-founder Letty Pogrebin − were at the forefront of the Women’s Movement that led to the creation of Ms. Magazine.”AJCongress President Gordon concluded, “Ms. has the right to turn down our ad. But in exercising that right, it has spoken loudly about itself and its readership, and their lingering hostility to Israel.”
The American Jewish Congress is a membership association of Jewish Americans, organized to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad, through public policy advocacy, in the courts, Congress, the executive branch and state and local governments. It also works overseas with others who are similarly engaged. Click here to see their PR response to this outrageous action by Ms. magazine.
Here is the contact information if you agree that this latest move by MS Magazine is an outrage:
Senior Editor Michele Kort
Advertising: Ms. magazine
Attention: Michel Cicero, Managing Editor
433 South Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
For questions regarding material: (310) 556-2515
There are things that are taught to the children, in Israel, that they should not have to learn. No child should have to learn to look for suspicious people who they think might blow up the bus that they are on. No child should have to learn how to put on a gas mask. And no child should have to learn that a siren means run for your life, because you have only seconds before there will be an explosion.
I remember, years ago, during the Gulf war, my sister who lives in Israel and had just had a baby. They needed to convert a room in their home into a "safe room" -- a room that is sealed, so no airborne poisons can enter, a room that is stocked -- with the needs of life in order to be able to live there for a while. They also needed to install a device that would seal the baby's crib, since the baby could not wear a gas mask. The other children all had gas masks and she had to teach them how to wear them.
I remember her telling us about all this. I remember how my mother cried to learn of it and how I shuddered. Chloe, you were a little girl back then. Wetold you, too, what your cousins were going through. I do not remember your reaction.
But we Jews are a hardy people (some say "stiff necked") -- we go back, we stay, we make our homes there. And we know the dangers. You, Chloe, as a little girl, and then again as a young teenager, went to visit your cousins in Israel with you grandparents, and you fell in love with Israel. You decided on your second visit that you wanted to go back to Israel to live.
When you completed Yeshiva HS here, you went to Israel for a year of learning at Michlelet Orot. Then, shortly after that you made aliyah. You stayed true to her decision to live in Israel. (Many years ago, I made that same decision. But for lack of familial support IN Israel, I did not stick to it -- and after 2 years in Israel I returned to the States.)
Now you have been in Israel for about 3 1/2 years. About a year ago or so, you fell in love again. This time with a boy -- a very nice boy. You surprised us with an engagement this past summer and we began planning a wedding. That wedding, IY"H, we take place one week from today -- in Eretz HaKodesh, in Ir HaKodesh.
Twenty one years ago, when you were born, if someone had told me that my daughter would make aliyah and make her life in Israel, I would have laughed at them. After all, I was not religious, your father was not Jewish. So, life is funny, life is unpredictable -- and there are both good and bad things that can happen.
This is one of the BEST things.
Chloe and Jonathan -- I love you and hope you both have lives full of love, happiness, health, and mazel.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Soon President Bush will visit Jerusalem. (And I will be in Israel hot on his heels -- we leave for Israel the same day he leaves Israel -- albeit for different reasons!!)
Below is an article that points out some of the tensions surrounding his upcoming visit:
The Bush Visit and Tensions in the U.S.-Israel Relationship
- Gerald M. Steinberg (Institute for Contemporary
Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The December "surprise" resulting from the publication of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate disrupted fifteen years of Israeli policy based on working with the international coalition to pressure Iran to drop its nuclear weapons program through sanctions and the threat of military action, and has reminded Israelis of the limits of American security guarantees and strategic cooperation.
- Within two weeks following publication of the NIE report, China signed a major contract on energy development and supply with Iran, and Russia quickly dispatched two shipments of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr nuclear reactor. Egypt moved to improve relations with Iran, and Saudi Arabia welcomed Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Mecca for the Haj.
- Prime Minister Olmert had explained the logic of the "Annapolis process" in terms of the coalition to stop Iran, but two weeks after Annapolis, with the release of the NIE report, this rationale has lost much of its relevance.
- Another source of stress comes from differences over renewed U.S. efforts to forge a quick agreement with the Palestinian Authority at a time of continued terrorism, the violent conflict between Fatah and Hamas, the failure to develop functioning Palestinian institutions, and the PA's ongoing incitement and rejection of the legitimacy of a Jewish state.
- In addition, the overall decline of U.S. influence, as reflected in Iraq, the return of Russia as a world power, the chaos in Pakistan, and other developments, has highlighted the limits of Israeli reliance on American assistance, and the need for Israel to maintain an independent capability to act when necessary.
The writer is head of the Political Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and Executive Director of NGO Monitor.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
I designed the entire website, and it is my "baby". It is at this moment, sadly out of date -- due to the lack of content given me. Actually, truth be told, I had the content but it was handed to me in hard copy and I simply did not have the time to spend manually typing it all out. However, that is changing -- we now have a new person who is working with our communication committee and he is very gung ho and hopeful. I have already been given much content in electronic format, thus making my job much easier. However, I cannot upload said content until we get approval from the required parties. I anticipate that the site will be updated by mid-week next week. So watch..
In the meantime I have been having an ongoing "discussion" (for lack of a better word) with another member who is practically anti-website. This person finds reasons at every turn not to publish anything on the site. I find it to be maddening.
I created a rebuttal, below to this persons constant harping against the site.
We should not assume that we should be like that cozy little coffee shop with books and comfortable seating which one randomly encounters and then patronizes regularly, gets to know the regulars, and keeps the knowledge of our shul a secret because that would ruin the experience.
Our shul should be making an effort to stand out where it can be seen. Some of the people who might come to our shul will initially look online. That is the best reason to have a website, right there. (And to the person who says, “Oh, no one around here would do that,” the correct response is “By not making shul available and accessible online, you’ve actually guaranteed that no one will.” Online access has increased at a rate that indicates that the people we want to reach are very likely looking for our shul online.)
Not only that, but these are visitors who have already set out to find our shul in one way or another. They’re not just randomly surfing the ‘net, but they are looking for our shul. Many people who set about looking for a shul online come from a sector of people who are interested in joining a shul of young, upwardly mobile religious Jews in the Teaneck area.
So our taking the simple step of putting a web page in the World Wide Web, with directions, davening times, and a user-friendly design, our shul will significantly increase the likelihood of being available to a would-be visitor (who could be a potential future member) when that visitor comes looking.
Part of the value of a web page is that it is a public self-definition of our kehilla: “This is who we are, and what we stand for.” That definition serves not only to invite (or fend off) visitors and potential future members, but it also serves to help our own kehilla recognize its own reflection in the mirror of the culture.
The attention that an effective web site requires grows from, develops, nourishes, articulates, and extends the very energies that contribute to our vital community life. A web site should be all about communication, quite public communication. A good site helps a kehilla with an overview of what’s going on. It provides visitors with a sense of what kinds of people and interests they’re likely to meet. Through the website we can signal much that our visitor(s) may care about by how we characterize our shul culture and events.
An easily-constructed, frequently-updated web site expresses, generates, reflects, and encourages a conversational sense of what the kehilla is about. A living kehilla partakes of many of the characteristics of a good, long, satisfying conversation; why not permit those positive characteristics to show online?
Now, having said all that, I must add a warning: having a website designed chiefly to attract newcomers to our brick-and-mortar site is worse than having no Internet presence at all. Let me explain.
A website intended to serve two audiences should have features for members (newsletters, events calendar, event updates, committee updates, and contact information) and features for visitors (area map and directions, photo of the shul, "frequently asked questions" and youth committee contacts). Increasingly, our web page may be the only glimpse people ever have of our kehilla. We should at least spend as much time and energy on our website as we would on our shul building’s design
An online community cannot replace the power and richness of "real world" community interactions. However, using the Internet can promote the benefits of technologies—such as Instant Messaging, Skype, VOIP Phone calls, email, forums—between parties living vast distances from one another, providing opportunities for contact not otherwise practical or even possible. Furthermore, when operating within a moral framework, OUR moral framework, our online community can become a valuable and constructive tool, especially as a supplement to, or extension of our real world community.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Anyway, I thought my readers might be interested in this particular entry of his -- he discusses a rather interesting conundrum for himself. Click on the title to this entry to view...