Monday, June 29, 2009

Anyone know what prompted this?

Why are they seeking to set up a fast so close to 17 Tammuz? What particular concern do they now have about giluy arayos? Is this just because people go around more scantily clad in the summer? The following was posted on the shuls list:
We will be perfoming a special tikkun for tshuvah on geeluyai arayot on July 5th (men only). The tikkun will be done during minchah time and will take a few hours. It involves fasting the entire day, showing up and partaking in the tefillah service. This prayer service is a amazing opportunity for everybody and an amazing remedy for parnasah, shiduchim, and shalom bayit problems.

Email me at for further details.

Mincha Taanit Tzibur
Sunday, July 5th 2009
4:30PM Sharp!

Step 1: Kabbalat Taanit. Acceptance of the fast must be done the day before during Shabbath mincha time.
This can be found in most siddurim. Taanit starts at 4:18 AM for those who wish to eat before it starts.
Remember not to eat or drink anything on Sunday all day. If you cannot fast call for details!
Step 2: Bring Tallit and Tefillin to Mincha (optional but all are encouraged to do so. R"T tefillin for those
who have or Rashi for those who don't)
Step 3: Bring money to do your Pidyon Hanefesh. It is best to bring the equivalent to 84 meals which is
$320 which would mean $5 per meal or $84 assuming $1 per meal. Any amount can be brought
even 84 preutot (check with your Rabbi regarding the value of a preutah today) for an individual who
cannot do the Pidyon representing 84 meals (representing 84 Taaniyot). Nobody will be turned away.
Checks can be made to Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills Tzedakah Fund.
Step 4: The service will start with Tikkun Haklali at 4:30PM followed by Korbanot, Ashrei as any other day.
Afterwards we will have Kriyat Hatorah (Parashat Vayechal) followed by Haftorah. During the silent
amidah include the aneiynu insertion we give you into the beracha shomeah tefillah. During the
Chazarah HaRav will be doing Aneiynu L'Fi HaRaShash for Pay Daled Taaniyot. This takes approx.
30 minutes alone. The chazarah will be done with all the kavanot of the Rashash and will take approx
1 1/2 hours altogether. This is an amazing experience for anybody.
Tikkun Hanefesh for Teshuvah on all
forms of Geeluyai Arayot and Pidyon
Henefesh with all funds going to:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What do those shidduch terms mean?


Friday, June 26, 2009

An eligible bachelor lacking in funds but not in attitude

SUJMA ISO SSJF. That stands for Single Unemployed Jewish Male with Attitude In Search Of Slim Single Jewish Female. The title of this actual post is " SHIDDUCH: out of work - seeks - a cheap date - 39." As Dave Barry always says, I am not making this up. The following was posted on the (moderated)5 Town Shuls list:
it seems my regular stream of dating prospects has dried up since losing my job.with NY'kers suffering from 10% unemployment for now, I figure there are many ladies staying home from their social life, just to avoid the same social stigma.

instead of missing the chance for summer romance, let's agree to meet on the cheap!I'm an above average looking fellow with diverse interests, curiosity and should see cups as half full, and be able to pour into a single digit dress size.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

As a parent, I am neurotic about . . .

I am not an overly nervous or overprotective parent. For example, I never boiled my babies' toys in an attempt to keep them germ free. But I do admit to being just a tad neurotic about certain safety issues. So all babies rode in cars only in carseats. All children below the age of 7 rode in boosters. And all kids are directed to apply sunscreen before going out into the sun -- and not only for swimming. I am trying to not only prevent sunburn now but sun damage that can cause skin cancer in the future.

So are you considered neurotic about as a parent?

Quid pro quo prayer and more

I recently saw the following email:

Hi all!

looking to start a tefillah/tehilim forum focused on those seeking new employment. we know that often there is very little we can do for those who are out of a job other than to be good friends, neighbors, spouses, etc. we can sympathize, empathize, etc but unless we 'know someone' we can't really help. however, there is one thing we can do which is to pray for each other and direct our tefilos toward each other's financial success and well being. to add my 'two cents' to this i want to get names (hebrew with mother's name, similar to praying for a sick person) and give them out via email to others to pray for them. no last names required, and identities will be safe. all you need to do is reply to this email with your name and need and i will reply, within 24 hours, with another person's name to pray for.

we know that if a person prays for a another person and they are in need of the same then God answers you first. sounds good to me!

let us hope that we can be successful in our endeavors and let us work/pray for our chaverim in this very serious time of need.

See parshablog: Segulah-izing prayer for others
As Josh observes about the promotion of the I pray for you, you pray for me idea:
The thing is, in neither of these two examples was the Biblical character doing this as a trick, to force Hashem to fulfill one's will. Rather, they were able to put aside their own "selfish" concerns and focus on other people's needs, even where the other person had the same need as himself. . . .

But if someone would not be davening for other people having the same condition, except that he or she heard of this gemara and of this segulah trick, then are they really davening for the other person? Or are they really davening for themselves, in a clever roundabout fashion? Are you developing within yourself, or manifesting, this trait of caring for others and not just your own narrow concerns?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Beauty and the JAP

This was originally posted in June 2007. Those blog posts are now only accessible in the record you reach from the link on the sidebar. I decided to revisit this post in light of the question another blogger raised about Jewish women's self-image.

Ironically, the attempt to erase the hated Jewish nose, hair, body type, and dowdiness through surgery, hair processing, dieting, and shopping sprees for makeup and clothes actually is seen as inscribing a Jewish trait. The struggle to look as good as a shiksa results in a woman being labeled a Jewish American Princess, an object of ridicule. As Roiphe says, “It is hard to hear the world laugh at the Jewish American Princess. It is not her fault if she has been taught that her role in life is to catch a rising man and that she has learned the more money spent on her outside, the more chance she has for success. Her shallowness is not her cultural error” (Roiphe 201-202). The question then arises, what is the source of such “shallowness” whose “cultural error” is it? The answer is not simply Jewish society. It is rather the Jewish society within an American setting that molds the expectations for its inhabitants. Within the context of American demands, Jews have adjusted their expectations for the female form. Jewish women strive to live up to the paradigm of American beauty and find themselves fettered by undesirable Jewish features.

In The Mind-Body Problem, Rebecca Goldstein attests to the connection that is assumed between beauty and non-Jewish looks. Her narrator says, “His former wife, by the way, was not beautiful. . . . she was no contest as far as looks went: short, dark, stocky, looking much more a daughter of Israel than I, although she’s only half Jewish “ (Goldstein 243). The dowdiness linked to the image of “a daughter of Israel” haunts Jewish women who feel they come up miserably short when compared to the attractions of the shiksa. Goldstein’s narrator enjoys being blessed with the attractive features that don’t trace her heritage. Thus her lover gives her “the highest praise of which the Jewish male is capable: You don’t look at all Jewish. Our brothers always expect us to thrill at the words, because of course in their scheme of things there’s nothing so desirable as a shiksa” (Goldstein 209). The assumption of natural endowments works against the Jewish woman. With the goal of attaining the type of beauty that attracts their men, Jewish women expend their energies on the attempt to make themselves over. When the amount of time, money, and effort expended on the pursuit of attractiveness is deemed by others to be excessive, the woman falls into the JAP trap. Her artifice earns ridicule rather than devotion. In Portnoy’s Complaint the hero delivers a diatribe on the style of dress and hair that his mother adopts in her attempt to look young and attractive. As Baum, Hyman, and Michel, comment: “If Jewish women dye their hair platinum in an attempt to give themselves what Jewish men are attracted to, why are they being scorned?” (251). This comment encapsulates the scorn that is the lot of the woman who lives under the strain of the JAP stereotype. Men note the monstrous quality of the artificiality on women but fail to realize that they are the ones responsible for the creation of the monster.

While the notion of Jewish ugliness is part and parcel of anti-Semitic propaganda, the experiences of some Jews caused them to succumb to the view that they are physically deficient. In recounting her years in hiding as a young girl in Belgium during the Holocaust, Clara recalls another young girl’s concern: “’The Nazis say we’re ugly. Am I ugly?’” Clara declares, “’I think you’re beautiful.’” However, her friend persists, “”Then why do they say we’re all ugly? Do you remember the posters and the cartoons in the newspapers before we went into hiding?’” Though she answers that her friend must not be taken in by “Nazi propaganda,” she does not succeed in reassuring her about her own attractiveness (Issacman and Grossman 98).

After surviving Nazi persecution Jews felt that they needed objective corroboration to lay claim to beauty. They found it in Atlantic City in 1945 when Bess Myerson was crowned Miss America. Jew who were still in DP camps rejoiced at the news. Bess’s victory was viewed as proof that Jews are not as ugly people to be distinguished by numbers on their arms. As she recalled about the days of the competition, “we always met up with groups of Jewish people who wanted to hug me and shake my hand, who wished me well and said, ‘Your our beauty queen, Bessie, you’ve got to win.’” It was then that Bess Myerson felt “vindicated” about her refusal to change her name for the competition to conceal her Jewish identity (quoted in Dworkin 109). Her victory was seen as a triumph for all the Jews who saw a positive representative for them in the beauty queen. For Jews who had been dispirited by the horrors of the holocaust, her win was a vital affirmation that Jewish can be beautiful. However, it was one-time deal, for there were no other Jewish Miss Americas. The crown of beauty now rests on the heads of Gentile women.

Whereas Jewish women in general find themselves pushed out of the running of beauty contests with their Gentile counterparts, Orthodox women who adhere to the directives for modest dress established by Jewish law find themselves at a greater disadvantage. Jewish men who are not acquainted with Orthodox women assume that they are as dowdy and plain as the old world ways they believe them to represent. Consequently, their initial reaction to seeing an attractive Orthodox woman is one of disbelief. Thus Roy Neuberger recalls his thoughts upon seeing Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis for the first time: “What’s a rebbetzin anyway? Hey, she’s good-looking. I don’t get it. I thought she’s supposed to be Orthodox.” (Neuberger 85).

Stephen Bloom is more explicit when he is surprised find an exception to the predictably dowdy cast of women of the Hasidim of Postville. He gets very enthusiastic in describing a prominent Hasid’s wife: “Leah, thirty-four, was different from the ascetic, downcast, almost downtrodden visages that I had come to expect from the Postville Hasidic women I had seen on the sidewalks walking in pairs behind the baby carriages. She was a firecracker, a dynamo. Even with her obvious sheitel, she was a knockout. Given a few minor adjustments, she would look like Demi Moore” (155 ) Her favorable appearance, though much appreciated, is presented as the exception that proves the rule.

Though they do not readily apply the JAP label to themselves, Orthodox women do not find the term as explosive as others might. Thus it was taken as the title for a one-woman show performed by a convert to Judaism whose religious restriction compel her to limit her audience to women only. It was advertised on an online bulletin board as follows:

Performance For Women A young, Japanese American girl from Hawaii
searches the glitzy L.A. dance scene and the gritty Broadway stage
looking for love, looking for fulfillment, looking for herself.
She finds them all…in Judaism? Life is full of surprises and
things are never what they seem when you’re a J.A.P.. . . . Written and performed
by Rachel Factor who appeared on Broadway in “Miss Saigon” ,
“Shogun, the Musical”, at Radio City Music Hall as a World Famous
Rockette and in numerous film & television shows before
discovering Judaism and choosing a Torah way of life.

Rachel Factor defends the title in an interview for an article in the New York Times. She asserts that the acronym that forms the title of her show “’represents where I’ve come in my life, in terms of my self-image.’” She explains: “’I’m Japanese. And Jewish. And American, just as American as anyone else who was born here. I don’t consider myself a princess, but I consider myself worthy for the first time in my life.’” (qtd. in Bronson). That Factor disassociates herself from the full-fledged espousal of princess status would indicate that she is aware of its negative association. Instead, she backpedals on her assertion somewhat by referring to feeling “worthy.” In front of an audience, who, she may believe, will not be critical of the term, Factor validates her title in declaring herself proud to be a Jewish American Princess. Clearly, she does not intend to label herself in a derogatory sense. She does not describe the extent of her wardrobe or other hallmarks people associate with the JAP image. Rather, she points out that what she wears conforms to the guidelines of Orthodoxy. She gestures to her long skirt and long sleeves that are requisite for the frum (observant) set, and draws attention to the fact that what is apparently her hair is really a sheitel.

Rachel Factor’s self-identification as a Jewish princess would be akin to its use by another convert, who, like Factor, made her home in Israel. In her autobiography, My Sister, the Jew, Ahuva Gray recalls the day she finalized her conversion to Judaism: “On that day my childhood fantasy of wanting to be like Princess Grace of Monaco had come true. I had become a Jewish princess” (176). Having no need to pun on the double meaning of JAP invoked by Factor’s show’s title, and living as an Israeli, Gray does not include the term “American” in the phrase. Gray embraces the princess title with no irony, even though she mocks herself as she wears out her hands while cleaning for Passover, because she does not associate it with the JAP stereotype. For her the princess identity is an affirmative one that signifies her feeling of both belonging and contributing to the Jewish people. It does not connote a woman defined by her consumerism but one who takes price in her religious heritage. She proclaims herself a Jewish princess as a positive declaration of her uniqueness, not a Jewish American princess who affirms herself through shopping.

Though Rachel Factor only discusses her becoming a Jew for the last part of her show, much of her struggle with finding herself as an outsider in the American mainstream parallels the experiences of those growing up as Jews. Factor recalls her teenage years when beauty guides with Caucasian models were her “bibles.” She struggled to achieve the looks they mandated and was frustrated by the failure of her Asian features to meet to their standards. She details her attempt to follow the directions for applying eye shadow that compelled her to create an artificial crease above the lid by applying scotch tape and then eyelash glue. Though the glue caused irritation, she persisted in suffering for the sake of the beauty stnadard. She practiced pulling her face into a frozen wide-eyed grin to minimize the Asian appearance of her features. As she falls into and out of relationships and experiences successes and failures in her show business career, she is forced to face the truth about her own self-hatred. Ultimately, she comes to realize that her Asian features are beautiful and no longer feels the need to mask them. Ironically, it only once she embraces this identity that she begins the relationship with a Jewish man that ultimately leads to her conversion. Despite accepting herself as an Asian, she only feels that she truly has a place where she belongs in the Jewish rituals and gatherings that she adopts on her road to conversion.

While she does not draw the connection, her story really does relate to the stereotype of the JAP identity. Just as Factor compared herself to the Caucasian image held up by models and actresses, Jewish women measure themselves against the ideal of American beauty embodied by the non-Jewish woman, the invariably alluring shiksa. It is she who sets the standard according to which they will always fall short. The shiksa that Jewish men envision with desire and women with envy is tall, slim, clear-complexioned, a life-size Barbie with silky (preferably blond) hair. In contrast, the physical type associated with Jewish women is that of the figure too fleshy for modern tastes without the height to counterbalance it and the coloring that is not the prized golden one.

What are the origins of the stereotype?

Some argue that the Jewish American Princess does not, in fact, exist. As Riv-Ellen Prell writes, “The JAP representation of Jewish women took on the appearance of reality because ‘she’ appeared in print and because legions of experts suggested that ‘she’ was real” (188). People mistakenly believe in the existence of the JAP, according to this view, due to the propagation of this anti-Semitic stereotype that projects the conspicuous consumption and material obsession of Americans onto Jewish women. The JAP stereotype conveys an image of a female who exhibits specific negative character traits that, though they could be possessed by anyone, are labeled “Jewish.” Attributing the negative character to the person’s Jewish identity suggests an anti-Semitic assumption. Accordingly, Jews who adopt the term JAP, as well as Jewish writers who portray characters that embody the myth have internalized this bias and show themselves to be self-hating. As Sander Gilman explains, “Self-hatred results from the outsiders’ acceptance of the mirage of themselves generated by their reference group – the group in society which they see as defining them – as a reality.” On that basis, an “illusionary definition of the self” that conforms to “the reference group’s mirage of the Other” is formed (Gilman 2). So these writer insist that the JAP does not exist but is a projection of others. Janice L. Booker asserts in her book, The Jewish American Princess and Other Myths: The Many Face of Self-Hatred, that Jewish use of the stereotype is symptomatic of “internalized oppression at its worst” (39).

While such an analysis does make sense, it is not always the case. The fact is that people who invoke the JAP stereotype do not do so in a single, consistent way. The question is: what provokes the label? If a woman shows interest in fashion and her appearance, she is not unique in a culture that sells magazines that direct women what to buy and wear, feeding a multi-billion dollar industry. Women who exhibit such traditional feminine behavior are needed to keep that economy going through their purchases, and they constitute a major market. Why are some stigmatized by the derogatory label of JAP? The answer differs for the anti-Semite, the self-hating Jew, and the Jew whose religious identity is paramount. What’s implicit in the JAP label is that the three terms together are offensive, but which is the key to understanding the insult depends on who is using it.

The anti-Semite who uses it assumes that the Jewish woman, as a member of an inferior class of people, has no right to feel entitled to the trappings of society. Her dressing herself up is a shameless attempt to gold-plate tin. To differentiate the Jewish woman who attempts to dress well from the approved feminine woman who does, the anti-Semitic portrayal of the JAP includes a shrillness and assertiveness that is at odds with proper feminine deportment. She is both demanding and shameless as she negotiates buying her way in to the world of fashionable status. This perspective is upheld by the self-hating Jew who wishes above all to distance himself from all that is associated with other Jews. For such a Jew, the label is used to show that he is worthier of the larger world’s esteem than his fellow Jews because he can look down on them. Another use of the stereotype is a man’s can justification for going outside the fold for marriage. As Edward Shapiro observes, the propagation of another possible consequence is a boost for intermarriage. The negative view of the JAP confirms that “Gentile women” are a better choice for marriage, yielding a diminished “number of potential mates for Jewish women” (Shapiro 249). Indeed, intermarriage rates continue to rise, though that phenomenon cannot be traced directly to a single cause.

Among Jews committed to marrying coreligionists, the use of the JAP term is far less sinister. When used by Orthodox Jews, the label does not suggest the unpleasant personality and pushiness anti-Semites ascribe to the Jewish type. Nevertheless, Orthodox Jews rarely seriously apply the term to themselves. This is particularly striking in the Five Towns area. Here it is common to see Jewish women who are stay at home moms dressed in designer outfits, their pedicured feet and waxed legs shown to advantage in high heels, and their sheitels smoothed and waved in a way not usually to be found in one’s natural hair just when doing their grocery shopping.

When my New Jersey neighbors heard I was moving here, they expressed surprise, observing that I would be living in the midst of “a bunch of JAPs.” However, nobody I have spoken with here admits to being a JAP. Even the schools that are known to attract a wealthy clientele indicate that they are not the “Jappy “school, leaving one to wonder, then which is? What is right and what is excessive will always depend on the perspective of the individual and is subject to change. Thus while cell phones for teenagers would have been considered “Jappy” ten years ago, they are now largely the norm, and only the question of at what age it is appropriate to get the cell phone can be open to interpretation. Once something becomes part of the standard expectation, one who has it cannot fairly be called excessively materialistic. The key difference between Orthodox usage and outsider usage of the JAP label is that those within the Orthodox set are not considered princesses because they are Jewish but because they are too American in their pursuit of conspicuous consumption. The suggestion is that they allow their Jewish identity to be overridden by the American culture of consumption. The women who shop in high fashion outfits with salon styled hair, full makeup, manicured hands, and just the right accessories would likely not declare themselves JAPs because they believe that they are merely maintaining the set standard for appearance. Consequently, they submit to the torture of walking around in stiletto heels because they believe they cannot compromise conformity for comfort.

Works Cited

Booker, Janice L. The Jewish American Princess and Other Myths: The Many Faces of Self-Hatred. New York: Shapolsky Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Prell, Riv-Ellen. Fighting to Become Americans: Jews, Gender, and the Anxiety of Assimilation. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999.

Shapiro, Edward S. A Time for Healing: American Jewry Since World War II. vol 5 of The Jewish People in America A Series Sponsored by the American Jewish Historical Society. Ed. Henry L. Feingold. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Job Offer 10 cents per hour

A US job that pays just 10 cents an hour in 2009 seems unbelievable, right? But there are many freelance positions offered on the site that seek to pay only cents to a hour per hour or that amount for a 500 word article. The following is a real post for a job with a location in NJ -- not some third world country.
We're hiring about 300-800 candidates, we're expecting and will surely hire people who have a bid of 10 cents --- 80cents /hour

wage will increase as our business profits more and more.
On going project...we'll continue giving work

Gud luck

This job received over a dozen applicants! However, the applicants themselves all have foreign sound names.
Here's another one with a New York location:

I am looking for writer(s) who can work for me on regular ad hoc basis. I am running many Blogs and websites and I usually needs Articles, Blog posts, PR, Product reviews, Web content. I have plenty of work.

I am looking for dedicated Writer(s) preferably Native English speaker OR the writers who can write without spelling or grammatical mistakes.

I am hiring Now!!! So please Apply ASAP. Apply with your samples and Rates.

Obviously I am looking for low rates, So place your best or lowest Bid you can offer, but no compromise on the quality.

I Promise I will reply each and Every provider and will discuss it more.


Please Apply with your rates per 100 words. And again I must say that I prefer Low rates but good quality.

Top quality at low rates. How low? Well, this job post drew 41 applicants in various price points. But only 4 were granted interviews. Their average rate was $1.65/hr.

I wouldn't even dream of paying a kid for babysitting that little. But that is what is offered to adults with experience and skills in this market.

PS: This post generated quite a bit of discussion on the Magazine Group of LinkedIn. If you are a member of the group, you can view it at:

Failure is an option

The RALBAG on this past week's parsha explains that Moshe changed the name of his disciple to Yehoshua to give him the strength to overcome the plot of the meraglim. So his pshat is consistent with Rashi's. However, Rashi seems to indicate that Moshe's desired effect was achieved in that Yehoshua had the strength to not bow to the group and held his own against the 10. The RALBAG, on the other hand, sees a failure here because Yehoshua was not able to sway the people; the nation accepted that bad report of the ten rather than the good report of the two.

Think of the the quote, "Failure is not an option." We tend to think of failure as the worst possible outcome. But I think that we find here and in another episode covered by the Midrash that sometimes failure is the only possible option from a moral and realistic point of view. Even though they did not succeed in convincing the people, Yeshoshua and Caleb still get full credit for not being swayed themselves. They did not say, "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em." They maintained that they were right and the others were wrong. Theirs was not the type of innocent idealism conveyed to children that the good will always triumph and defeat evil. Clearly, they were the ones being defeated in the eyes of the public. Practically speaking, they were failures. But they still took the option to fail because they knew that being right does not depend on who beileves you but one what one knows to be true.

I saw in this a parallel to the Midrash on Pharoah's 3 advisors -- Bilam, Iyov, and Yithro. It was Bilam who gave Pharoah the idea of slaguhtering the babies. Iyov did not second the motion but remained silent. Yithro protested and so was compelled to leave. So Bilam got punished only down the road in the confrontation with Bnai Yisrael in the desert. Iyov was punished with various afflictions for remaining silent when there was a moral imperative to protest. Yithro got to become pretty important as the father-in-law of the Jews' leader who gave the advice to set up a system of judges. Now, again, Yithro clearly failed because the plot for evil did take place. One would think that Iyov did the only thing possible in such a situation; he did not make a futile protest knowing it would have had not impact. But, in that case, the right thing to take the moral stand, even though it was doomed to fail.

While the Torah directs, "Acharei rabbim lehatos," [incline after the majority -- as is the case of psak and verdicts] it also says not to do so "leraos" [for evil]. The individual is not commanded to subsume him/herself unthinkingly into the larger group, no matter what. The group is to be maintained but only when directed correctly. There are many examples in the chronicles of the neviim that show the prophet exhorting the people even in the face of utter derision and persecution. Even when all his words appeared to be a wast of breath, the navi would still opt to take actions that would fail rather than simply joining in.

Friday, June 19, 2009

How long should the shadchan be involved?

For the first and second date? How about the third, the fourth, . . . the seventh? See the post by
Wolfish Musings: Perhaps We Some Should Return To Fully Arranged Marriages?
and on Serandez at
As I said in my comment: It seems that the parents are the ones who want the alliance to go through even though the young people do not. Odd as this approach sounds, I once heard a well-known rabbi suggesting something like what this mother is doing. (I blogged about it at the time) Don't misunderstand me: I find it wrong. But they really believe that young people should be pushed along. He said it facetiously but suggested saying first, "just go out." Then "just go out again," Then "Go ahead and get engaged." They seem to believe that if the older people looked into the backgrounds, etc., and believe the couple should prove compatible, it can be made to work. The fact that the young people are not yet mature, they feel, works in their favor in adapting to the match. See

Again, this is not my philosophy, but they really believe that it is best to marry people off on the younger side and that there will be fewer issues. They also seem to think young people will be able to "fall for" the person directed at them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Well, there was a bright spot today

One of my nicest advertisers, Nancy Yachnes of Sparkling Video, made her son's bar mitzvah at the hall of another one of my advertisers, Rockwood Park. She reported a very positive experience. That corroborates the description of the services of Crown Royale Caterers in the article I ran in the summer issue of Kallah Magazine. I am very glad when my recommendations turn out well for people.

When the going gets tough

It helps to have a major public figure explain that there is value to what you do. No, that does not apply to me but to actress Nichelle Nichols who played the communications officer on the original Star Trek series. In her biography, she relates how much racism she had to contend with while working on the series. She was planning to quit the show. But then she was told that a fan wanted to see her. That fan was none other than Martin Luther King, Jr. He told her that she was accomplishing something very important in portraying this character on television. Well, with that type of encouragement, she determined to continue. I come across many references to MLK in the examples SAT students use to illustrate their essays. So it was almost jarring to read about someone who actually met him and was directly influenced by him.

Stacking the deck on the web

Well, they're honest about what they're doing and why. On a site for freelancing, I saw this job posted:
We need about 20 articles written. This is for SEO/Reputation management. Although we have thousands of satisfied customers, a few complaints from our earlier days of poor customer service resulted in some negative postsings [sic] on the net which we are now trying to bury in the search engine results. We are a very hardworking company that provides excellent products, so please help us to improve our reputation with some nicely written articles and press releases. ...

So far the day has been pretty lousy

and it's just after 10 o'clock! I probably should take some more tests at oDesk to make myself feel better. It got mildly worse. This other thing was again due to someone else's false move.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Would you like to be the last to know?

Yesterday my children were told by someone in the neighborhood that her sister was getting engaged that day. Take note of the tense there. She told them this in the morning because, apparently, the young man her sister was seeing announced that he was going to pop the question that day. Perhaps this was in order to give them time to plan an apparently impromptu party. They seem to do this in this particular social circle. A couple of years ago, the same neighborhood person told us of a friend whose young man also told everyone of their acquaintance in advance to gather for an engagement party. Now, if I were in the kallah's shoes, my reaction to this would be very negative. I would not like for my mother, my sister, and all their friends and neighbors to know that I was becoming engaged before I did. I would want to be the first to know -- not the last. Happily, that event took place for me quite a number of years ago. I am now closer to the stage of warning my own children off such plans than to worrying about this for myself -B'H.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Plan Ahead: Frugal Fun for Father's Day and the Summer

Looking to get out without having to shell out? The summer issue of Kallah Magazine offers loads of options in the NY/NJ for $10 or less. I put it up on the Money Matters page. Just click: and scroll down past the Saver or Spender quiz. You'll see a picture of roses at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on the right side.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Litearary Theory and Halacha

"The halachist acknowledges that this meaning is a construct and not a discovery of original meaning, but that does not matter, because Torah interpretation is validated and measured by communal consensus regarding those conclusions and not by degree of historical fidelity to some unknowable original intent.

Google ad and Kallah Magazine ads

You may notice that there are now Google ads on the side. I like yo see which ones change according to what is posted. One of the ads that appears is actually also an ad on -- the mikvahcalendar one. More info is provided about it on the Kallah 101 page of

Added: Just after I posted this, I visited the site of a Jewish business that had a banner ad from Google about an effective prayer with "Jesus loves you" in big letters. The problem is one has no control over which ads go in. I did limit my ads to textual ones, but I believe that some Messianic type messages may also appear from time to time. So I apologize in advance if anyone is put off by them. But I only can review the regular ads on my site.

PS I do not enter the individual Google ads and cannot edit their typos as in this one: "Traditional Jewish Burial Funeral home located adjacent to Long Island's Jewsish Cemerteries."


There are some really nice people in Teaneck. One of them very kindly offered to transport boxes of the latest issue of Kallah Magazine over for me. Of course, I offered to bring them to where she was in the 5 Towns, but she came to me. Extra chesed points! So thanks to her (and Elie Katz) residents of Teaneck should soon be able to pick up fresh copies of the summer issue.

It's already in the 5 Towns, Queens, Flatbush, and Boro Park.

follow up post

to this one: This week's paper announces: "Reintroducing the Simcha Supplement" to appear in next week's paper. I hear echoes of 1984 where the news is always changed on the supposition that memories of the previously declared allies and enemies have been erased.

At least the word "savings" spelled correctly this time around in the ad promising "Great Savings" (rather than "Great Sevings" as it said last week.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tznius as its own religion

Let me clarify: I dress according to pretty strict tznius standards and tend to wear "Mommy" clothes that are comfortable and easy care rather than stylish. I favor skirts with length to spare way below the knee, and do not wear halter or tank tops over skin-tight shells. My shoe wardrobe is devoid of stilettos, gladiator sandals, or high and tall boots. So, I admit it, I err on the side of dowdiness in dress, and I do consider it wrong for frum-owned stores to peddle inappropriate clothing styles to their Jewish customer base. Still, I don't consider my standards for dress to be my entire religious raison d'etre. However, in the push for tznius, some seem to magnify modest dress into its own religion. constructing the the entire identity of a Jewish female on the basis of tznius.

Here's a practical take on the subject -- a guide to sewing tznius clothes:
Seams and Souls A Dressing, Altering, and Sewing Guide for the Modest Woman
By Rivka Glazer published by Feldheim and probably available in a seforim store near you.


  • An uplifting hashkofah section on the topic of modesty.
  • A thorough explanation of sewing terms along with detailed, step-by-step, alteration instructions.
  • A wide variety of creative tips and techniques for tznius solutions for sewers at all levels.
  • Over 250 modest, easy-to-follow diagrams for altering the most problematic parts of garments.

    Open Seams and Souls and discover the joy of creating a delightful, great-looking wardrobe that meets every measure of modesty. Ideal for every Jewish home and classroom, and a must for every Bas Yisroel.

  • In fact, when I thumbed through the book at Eichler's I saw that it constantly uses this construct of the "Bas Yisroel" in its directives. For example, it warns that a shirt may be too big; the problem with that is that the opening around the neck will be too big, and hence untzniusdik. The author solemnly states that some shirts are too big for a Bas Yisroel. I am not making this up. You can see the official book description here.

    Sunday, June 07, 2009

    It bears repeating

    This is a blog post from over 2 years ago, that I found in my archive of the Word Press Kallah Magazine blog. It is logically connected to the post I put up last night

    Friday, March 9th, 2007

    While vacuuming, the Chazal about the days of Chezkeyahu Hamelech popped into my head. During his reign, all across the country there was no a single child (tinok o tinoket) that were not thoroughly versed in hilchos tuma and tahara [the laws of ritual purity]. There is that wonderful picture of the king planting a sword in the doorpost to demonstrate his point that anyone who does not study the Torah would be stabbed by the sword. Int hat case, strong tactics worked. But what the king imposed was not his own authority or even blind obedience to other authorities; he imposed studying enough so that one knows on one’s own—even a female one—what the halacha is. In contrast, today many push for people—particularly female ones—not to really learn the principles and derivations of halacha. The goal is not that one should know the halacha oneself but that one should know just enough to ask questions over every little thing. The ideal is not well-educated Jews who can independently do the right thing but Jews—particularly Jewesses—taught to be ignorant, so that they would be dependent on asking rabbinic authorities for any move. Now, of course, there are times when real questions do arise, and a competent posek should be consulted. However, there are many, many more things that are not real questions. Their status has been established long ago and even recorded in sforim. So individuals can be taught enough to know these established principles without asking each time they come up. Apparently, that was what Chezkeyahu called for. Today’s standards are quite different.

    I will add to this the quote from Rabbi Wagschal's book that seems to value the delicate exotic fruit of ignorance in the female mind:

    Taharas Am Yisroel: A Guide to the Halachos of Jewish Marriage by Rabbi Shaul Wagschal, first published in 1979. The copy I took this quote from was the 4th edition from 2002 (Judaica Press). On pp. 122-123, the topic is 'The Designated Times for Oinoh." It contains the usual information about frequency with the warning that a man may sap his strength which is needed for kollel or work, so his wife should understand and not demand too much. Here is point #7: "A kallo may not exactly know what oinoh means, [I am refraining from adding my comment in here] but she should accept that this is the way Hashem planned the complete union of husband and wife, though we do not understand why [bold in the source]. She should also know that this is the only way in which a woman can become pregnant." So it seems that a "kallo" today should be kept in the dark and know less than the tinokes of the days of Chizkiyahu.

    Saturday, June 06, 2009

    Frum fools

    What do you think of that as a blog title? Research enough and you can dig up quite a number of chumros. But if you decide to keep every chumra you find, you are more foolish than frum. My husband was thumbing through a sefer today that digs up some chumros people have never heard of. My son thought there is something positive in this. I reminded him of what Chazal say of poeple who adopt the chumros of both Hillel and Shamai: they are fools. They are not lauded for their scrupulousness but derided for their lack of judgement.

    Thursday, June 04, 2009

    Promises freely made and freely broken

    I picked up the local paper today to see what would be in the "Simcha Supplement" it boasted about. It was set for this week. Actually, it was originally set for a date in May, but then started to show this date. Previously the supplement had been deferred, though the much touted feature ususally did appear several weeks later then originally promised, as the advertising people saw they needed more time to get the minimum number of ads in. But this time, there was no supplement and no note about its cancellation or postponement. It's just great that publishers get away with promising anything to their readers in their attempt to lure advertisers and then simply fail to deliver with nary an apology.

    That is not to say that I think I or anyone else is seriously missing out. Previous "Simcha Supplement" features were really nothing to write home about. Essentially, the publisher moves his simcha related regular advertisers to that section and asks for a higher than stanadard price from new advertiser to appear in it by saying that so-and-so, and such-and-such will be in it. I guess this worked well enough more than once, though as some people do not have complete memory loss, they probably remember that it did not offer anything worthwhile.

    I would feel utterly humiliated if I had publicly published such a promise and then failed to deliver. But as this publisher's work would be called a much greater success than mine, the fact is that there is no reward for keeping your promises.

    I would also feel utterly humiliated if I mangled an ad into saying in big letters: "GREAT SEVINGS" [sic!]

    Tuesday, June 02, 2009

    Gender confusion

    This is the shidduch form from of a NY organization. Note that I did not change anything (including the missing d for the word married). Note the language and questions. This is the male form as indicated by references to dating "a girl," but it still asks about"your plans for your husband" and hair covering.
    What is the age range you prefer to date? -
    What is your Marital Status?Never Married


    Other (Please explain)
    If divorced, give the following Information:
    Do you have Children?Yes No
    If yes, How many?
    Which Rabbi facilitated the Divorce?
    Rabbi's Telephone Number
    Which Beit Din?
    Educational Background:
    What Elementary school did you attend?
    High School?
    Undergraduate degree?
    Graduate Degree?
    Current Occupation:
    What is your family background
    (i.e. Ashkenazi, Egyptian, Bukharian, etc.)
    What Languages do you speak?
    Religious Status:
    What is the religious status of your family?
    Fathers Name
    Mothers Name
    Are you a Kohen, Levi or Yisrael?
    Do you Smoke?Yes No
    Are you willing to date a smoker?Yes No
    For the following Questions answer one of the following: Yes, No , Prefer Not, or Doesn't Matter
    Would you date a girl that was once married?Yes No Prefer Not Doesn't Matter
    Would you date a girl that has children?Yes No Prefer Not Doesn't Matter
    Would you date girl of a different background than yours?Yes No Prefer Not Doesn't Matter
    Would you date a girl that converted to Judaism and is fully observant?Yes No Prefer Not Doesn't Matter
    Does it matter if the girl is religious from birth or not?Yes No Prefer Not Doesn't Matter
    What do you do in your spare time (i.e. reading, sports, etc) ?
    When you are married what are your plans for your husband in terms of learning Torah?
    Would you want a TV in your home?Yes No Doesn't Matter
    Do you plan on covering your hair when you get marrie?Yes No Doesn't Matter
    How would you best describe yourself?
    What Synagogue are you affiliated with?
    Please provide the following information of 2 references that are not related to you. One reference should preferablybe a Rabbi or religious mentor who knows you well.

    NameTelephone NumberRelationship
    At the bottom of this page, it says: "May you Merit walking down the Chupah as a Kallah, in the very near future, Amen"