Friday, April 27, 2012

How much do you think a prize of a wedding amounts to?

I'd guess that a modest frum wedding in New York cost close to $30K. I do know of someone who pulls together weddings for people who can't afford them and, supposedly can do it for about $5K, though that is relying on high school aged kids to serve as waiters in the school auditorium where the dinner is served. But many people in this area, likely, spend upwards of $55K. That's 10x the amount of the prize.

Why do I bring this up? See to find out.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

When opposites marry

What starts out as the attraction of opposite types could contribute to conflict later on. How to manage? See

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Susan Cain's grandfather

At the end of her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain puts in "A Note on the Dedication" that explains why she selected her grandfather for that honor because he "spoke so eloquently the language of quiet." She doesn't identify him by name but drops a number of hints, like "Brooklyn neighborhood where he served as a rabbi," "as a widower he'd lived alone for decades," "when she spoke the congregation swelled to standing- room-only," and "he died at the age of ninety-four, after sixty-two years at the pulpit." 

She also gives a couple of clues to her family by identifying  her father as "a dedicated physician" and the size of her family, which included one sister and one brother. So these were what I had to go on to make the connection. Well, actually my husband took over the Google search when he arrived at

Everything fits with Rabbi Israel Schorr. He died at 94 in the month of April of the year 2000 after serving as " rabbi of Congregation Beth El and then, after a merger, of Congregation Beth El-Young Israel for 62 years."  The family details match, as well: "He was predeceased by his wife, Bertha. He is survived by his daughter, Gail Horowitz of Lawrence, N.Y, and three grandchildren."  Another source reveals that Gail Horowitz is married to Dr. Lawrence Horowtiz, the doctor father of 3 identified in the description. It's possible to dig up even more information if one wants to pay for it. But what I was really after was the name of the grandfather. 

Other posts related to the book:

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring scene

Learn the name of the styling for the tree in the picture and find out where you can see it in Hint: it's where a cherry festival takes place the last weekend in April.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Points to ponder from Pesach on Divrei Chaim

. The Chasam Sofer in his derashos is mechadesh that when the ultimate geulah comes we will still have to celebrate a yom tov sheni shel galiyos as a remembrance of the days of galus in which we now find ourselves. He compares this to the renaming of the months of the year post-galus Bavel  from chodesh ha'rishon, chodesh ha'sheni, etc. to the names we now have as a way to create a remembrance of the years we spent in Babylonian exile (see Ramban, Shmos 12). Interesting... Seems to me that one can distinguish between the two ideas.  Yom tov sheni is not a function of galus per se, but is a function of living too far from Eretz Yisrael to receive prompt calendar updates from messengers of Beis Din and therefore having a safeik as to when to celebrate Yom Tov.  Even b'zman habayis, yom tov sheni would be celebrated by those outside Eretz Yisrael.

2. My wife gets the credit for pointing out an amazing Sefas Emes (5642 d"h b'Shir haShirim) that explains that just as our ancestors were 100% convinced that the galus in Mitzrayim would go on for 400 years and never imagined that Hashem would hasten redemption by counting the qualitative intensity of servitude as a substitute for the quantity of years required, so too, we are all convinced based on our mesorah and seforim that the tzaros of chevlei moshiach will be painful and tragic, but it could be that the length of our galus, the quantity of time we have spent in exile, will serve as a substitute for the intense quality of pain predicted. The galus may be long, but this may be b'chasdei Hashem a means of ultimately lessening our overall pain. 

Sefas Emes goes on to say (based on Midrashim) that the whole machlokes (Shabbos 55a) whether the merit of zechus Avos still can be invoked is irrelevant to our achieving geulah, as even if we have exhausted our zechus Avos, there is a far deeper well of rachmanus we can draw on in the form of zechus Imahos.  It is in their merit that the future redemption will come.  

Read more at Divrei Chaim: some final thoughts on pesach:

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I put up a spoof like this years ago

It was a fake ad in the Purim issue of Kallah Magazine, which included a contest for spotting the fake ad. Unfortunately, many people didn't get it, and now I see why. Some people really seem to believe it's a good idea to resort to cosmetic surgery and other erasures of what is not so appealing for the sake of a shidduch.  The infamous article by Yitta Halberstam generated quite a slew of comments here. What amazes me is that some actually agree with her.

As for the argument that all this is worthwhile if it makes just one shidduch happen, I offer the flip side: what if one death or case of infertility results from the surgery or anorexia induced by this preoccupation with living up to the model ideal of beauty. (which itself isn't real see "Models are Made and Fotoshop by Adobe)  I have heard of at least one death of a frum girl that was due to a heart attack caused by her anorexia.

 I know that Mrs. Halberstam may not agree, but I still think it is better to be alive and normal looking (even if single) than to be literally drop dead gorgeous from unnatural habits and procedures. In any case, I know for a fact that the most beautiful girls are not always the first to marry. And those who remain single are not necessarily ugly. There are many factors involved in a match beyond such superficial considerations.

Halberstam draws on her own experience of straightening her hair and nose (to erase the traditional Jewish looks associated with less than perfect noses and wavy hair?) to become a swan-like beauty and win her produce to produce yet another prince who gets girls thrown at him all the time. Alas, the masses of singles she sees before her at a gathering are too unattractive to bear consideration. And they don't even have the sense to make the sound investment in cosmetic surgery and gobs of makeup that she did. (Could that be what's behind this ?If  she suffered for beauty, and if she wasn't good enough as created, then....)

For my less than superficial analysis of the American beauty's standard effect on Jewish society, see and

There's a nice response to Halberstam's piece by Gila Manolson who confesses that she never wears makeup except on Purim. Also see

The Chazal that came to mind when I thought about this assessment of the single girls as unattractive is from Nedarim 66a:
 Rabbi Ishmael wept and said, "The daughters of Israel are really beautiful, but it is poverty that makes them look ugly."
. The difference between his view and the cynical advice (well-meaning, though it may be) offered today is that he 1) he believes in essential beauty,  which he is able to perceive despite the lack of accessories and makeup 2)he  sees the need to beautify those who are not appreciated as something worth weeping over and 3) he offers adornments-- which is a far cry from cosmetic surgery

One more link that illustrates beauty comes from within and thinking of yourself in positive rather than negative terms radiates to others at

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pesach products informal review

This is to serve as a reminder for myself for the future.
I do not want to wash dishes with the Glick's formula again. I really don't like the smell, though I picked lemon, which I usually find the least obtrusive. It seems to cling to the dishes and silverware, and doesn't even clean so well.  (one star out of 5)

The Streit's chocolate chip cookie mix remains the family favorite. The only downside is that each box makes only one small tray of cookies. I already knew that, though, and bought 3 of them this year. (5 out of 5)

I ventured into buying a couple of other gebrokts mixes that went on sale. It's always fun to mix those up with the pan that comes right in the box -- but not for $4 a box. I spent $2 and then even saw them for $1.  The Manishewitz crumb cake was a hit, though it really goes fast in a family because the cake is smaller than the box it comes in, of course. (5 out of 5). The gooey brownies from the same brand did not go over as well. (3 out of 5).

The Oneg chocolate chips are pretty good. When you can't have Trader Joe's brand, they are more than passable (4 out of 4).

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