Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Great Nefesh B'Nefesh Presentation

Celebrate Chanukah in Israel!!! Ah. If only I could...

Sorry I haven't posted lately. I've just been so busy at the bakery, (which I LOVE!!!) and I'm exhausted when I'm home or dealing with the kids. And I've really been trying to keep my blogging to things I think worth my time at this point. This certainly qualifies!

More later!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Why the UN Truly, and Simply, Sucks.

The UN has always been known as a very anti-Semitic organization. Here's why:

Even when faced with the truth, they simply don't even care. All they "cared" about here was a supposed lack of decorum. What a lovely group of assholes. Really.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009


It's a pretty new feeling, being happy. I'm working, I love my work, my boss is great, and I have a regular (not large, but regular and dependable nonetheless...) paycheck coming in every two weeks in addition to my wife's salary. It's no longer a struggle to pay all our bills, and when I'm done paying the bankruptcy trustee his $333.33 per month for a year (only ten payments left!), it'll be even easier.

I absolutely LOVE working at the bakery. It's a little over a block from my house, it's kosher, and it's pretty good! And the best part is, I'm happy. It's nice to be happy. It's nice to get paid for work (unlike my other work, brokering medical imaging equipment, which paid nothing unless I closed a deal, which was rare because of this screwed up economy) and to actually be appreciated.

Best of all, it's nice not to have to receive handouts from people. I appreciated it with all my heart. All the people who came through during the tough times truly deserve a huge share of Olam Haba. But it's nice to have need it any longer. It's also nice being able to actually GIVE tzedakah rather than receive it.

All-in-all (yes, that IS a cliche), our situation is thankfully so much better than it was two months ago, and it will, God willing, only get better.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I don't know. Maybe I'm naive. Or incredibly smart (I like to think the latter...). But wouldn't the best, and easiest way to reform the healthcare system in the United States to simply regulate the health insurance companies/providers?

Basically, just as Wall Street needs regulation, a fact that became painfully obvious last year, after the crash due to nearly complete NON-regulation of the financial industry, so does the healthcare industry. It's time for insurance companies to have deep, strict regulation. That regulation would include complete and utter abolishment of discriminating against people who have "pre-existing" conditions. It includes regulation to prevent insurance companies from revoking insurance people who are already insured and who lose their insurance when they get sick and the insurance companies claim the person lied to get insurance. It includes regulation against charging people who DO have "pre-existing condition" far more than what they charge people "without" "pre-existing conditions." It would include regulating how much insurance companies can charge PERIOD.

Regulation would force insurance companies to expand coverage, without raising the price, to cover medical conditions they currently refuse to cover, or only cover for a much higher price. In my case, the prime example is insurance companies not covering medically supervised weight loss and, in many cases, bariatric surgery (while at the same time they refuse coverage for people who are obese because obesity is a "pre-existing condition").

Healthcare reform would provide for the nearly fifty MILLION Americans who cannot afford health insurance with quality healthcare.

And finally, as a parent whose children are currently on medicaid and whose children have a WAY better plan than my wife and I do, healthcare reform would definitely provide for a buy-in option to government provided healthcare.

Pretty simple, to me, if you simply stop listening to the asshole lobbyists and Republicans.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Whew! This job is wonderful, but very exhausting. I've spent next to no time at the computer for the last week or so.

BUT, I wanted to comment on Congressman Wilson, ass that he is. The comment is this: If this had been while Governor Bush was in his stolen position as president, and, say, (name your Democrat) had yelled out to Bush that he was a liar (which, by the way, he WAS!) in the middle of Bush's address to Congress, the Republicans would simply have declared war on the Democrats and marginalized them even more than they had while the Republicans held House (and Senate) majority.

But you know what? A democrat wouldn't have done that. Know why? Because no matter how wrong the president is, you simply DON'T do that.

And this is the problem with the Democrats, or some of them, at least. Stop being so damned liberal that you want to make peace with someone who will happily stab you in the back at the first opportunity. God forgive me for saying this, but it's time for Obama and the Democrats to do what what Bush and his Republican cronies did during the Dark Years (2001-2009): JUST GET IT DONE. Don't worry about marginalizing the Republicans. Don't worry about hurting their feelings. They didn't worry about hurting yours!

Now, pass this healthcare bill already!

Friday, August 28, 2009

My New Job!

So, I started work yesterday (Thursday, August 27) at 4 AM! I had a break to go daven, but otherwise I there until a bit after 12 PM, on my feet the ENTIRE time. The work was hard, exhausting, and sometimes grueling. But you know what? I LOVED it!!! It was fantastic starting to learn a new skill, one in which I have my own private and rather considerable experience. The owner of the bakery liked my work and told me so. I go back Monday - Thursday next week, mostly for just a few hours a day except next Thursday. After next week, the work, the owner told me, becomes really hard in preparation for the chagim.

I look forward to continue learning this profession and becoming proficient at it. Thank God this is happening!

Thanks to all for your moral support. It's been invaluable.

Darth Vader at the Improv?

Hilarious! :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A JOB!!!

Holy moly! I actually found a job, and it's something I actually WANT to do! I'll be working at a local kosher bakery, training to take over as baker and manager. I'm starting off on a trial period that will last through the chagim. If all goes well, and I sincerely hope it does, I'll be hired full on for a salaried position. The more I take on, the more money I'll make, the better I'll get at it. Later down the line, when we're a bit more financially secure and maybe even have some money set aside, again, if all goes well, God willing, I'll even have the option to buy the bakery because the owner actually wants to sell it.

Oh, boy! It really is a new start. I hope and pray it goes really well.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Electoral-vote.com: Election news

Electoral-vote.com had a fascinating dissemination on health insurance and whether the insurance model is even the right model for the United States. Take a read. It's very eye-opening.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Holy Moly! I have actually started interviewing! What a shock! My first one was today at a local kosher bakery. The owner is looking for someone to learn all the ropes, bake, and manage the bakery as he steps back from the day-to-day operations. He even mentioned the option, later down the road, to buy in to the bakery and own a stake in it!

This is great. Today, he had me come in so he could give me a tour of the facility. I'm supposed to speak with him next week about whether I'm interested. I definitely am. It will start off as an apprenticeship and move on up from there. The starting pay is pretty low, but I'm hoping I can negotiate a better starting pay. Hours will be a bit funky (it IS a bakery, after all!), but I think I can live with that.

I'm also waiting to hear from a local restaurant about a manager's position there. Not as excited about it because it doesn't really offer as much opportunity as the bakery, but the starting pay (which is really important right now) might be better.

The question will be: Will I be able to go to school at least part-time while working a bakery job? Since much of the work is seasonal (it IS a full-time job, but there are times of years that are busier than others), having set hours when I know I can attend classes might be difficult.

In any case, I will continue studying for the GRE exam (started today - wish me luck!). At least, once I take it and hopefully do well and get it out of the way, I'll be able to see how things work out and apply to school when I can.

Once again, this is one of those instances where it's WHO you know, not WHAT you know. My chavruta, a rav in the community, also happens to be the bakery owner's chavruta, and he connected us, knowing the owner was looking to gradually step back (and possibly even sell it at some point, though I'm not too sure about buying a bakery at this point if my ultimate goal is to make Aliyah) and knowing I love baking and would love to work a bakery job, despite the funky hours. My chavruta also knows I desperately need a job.

As for my other work, the "company" my father so lovingly left me, I think that's done. While at first, after his death, I was rather busy and even managed to sell two systems (for a total of $1800 in commissions - woo hoo), it's been deathly quiet of late. I MAY have set up a system installation, which I will probably attend IF this deal goes through and I'll make a whole $1000. Though if I end up taking this job before installation begins, I'll probably just give that up since I won't want to take off a real job to go learn something that may or may not pan out for future training in installing system.

In the meantime, I'm pretty ready to lay my father's business to rest and bury it with him and move on to better, more concrete things. It's just going to be part of the process of fixing our financial mess, straightening ourselves out, and getting on the path of success and maybe even Aliyah at some point.

Monday, August 17, 2009


This is just too funny! Of course you DO see it coming as soon as the empty arrow hits the wall...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why There Will, And Can, NEVER Be Peace With the Palestinians

Mitchell Bard published a fact sheet recently discussing why peace with the Palestinians, or at least their rulers, and unfortunately, an entire younger generation brainwashed by those rulers, is pretty much impossible, and that the Obama administration is really quite naive when it comes to these matters. Maybe someone should forward this to the White House.

Fact Sheet

#71: Palestinians Declare Three Noes to Peace
(August 11, 2009)
Echoing the Arab rejection of peace with Israel expressed at Khartoum almost exactly 42 years ago ("no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel"), the Palestinians declared at the Fatah conference in Bethlehem in August 2009 three noes: no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and no end to the armed struggle against Israel.

The delegates to the conference, the first Fatah has convened in two decades, were competing among themselves to see whose position toward Israel would be more radical. Though deeply divided over who will control the movement, the Palestinians were united in their obduracy toward Israel.

In fact, in addition to the three noes to peace, the Palestinians had more than a dozen other demands, including Israeli acceptance of the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees, the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, the freezing of all settlement construction and the lifting of theGaza blockade. They also vowed to continue the struggle against Israel "until Jerusalem returns to the Palestinians void of settlers and settlements. "

These recalcitrant positions come after Palestinian AuthorityPresident Mahmoud Abbas's previous statements that he will not negotiate with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuand expects President Obama to bring about Netanyahu'sdownfall.

Fatah officials also discussed the possibility of forming a strategic alliance with Iran, the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism, which opposes the peace process and has threatened to destroy Israel. Fatah's Jerusalem Affairs Liaison, Hatim Abdul Qader, said that in light of the stalled peace process, Fatah had no choice but to seek help from Iran and, last month, Palestinian Chief Negotiator, Saeb Erekat, met with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Egypt. Paradoxically, Iran has funded Fatah's opponents, Hamas, which prevented Palestinians in Gaza from participating in the conference.

The Fatah conference demonstrated once again that the range of Palestinian opinion is not from radicals opposing peace withIsrael to moderates who favor a negotiated settlement, but from radical to even more radical opponents of an end to the conflict.

Sadly, the desire of the Palestinian people to coexist with their Israeli neighbors has once again been sublimated to the irredentist ideology of their fanatical leaders leaving Israel with no partner for negotiations. Roughly half of the population is under the thumb of Hamas, which is at war with Fatah. Meanwhile, Fatah is at war with itself and divided into at least three factions. And none of the men (and they are all men) who claim to represent the people are interested in peace withIsrael.

The Palestinian position, combined with that of the king ofSaudi Arabia and other Arab leaders who rejected President Obama's pleas to take steps toward normalizing relations withIsrael, has driven a stake through the heart of theadministration's entire Middle East strategy. The administration approach was built on the premise that publicly pressuringIsrael would win support from the Arab states, who would then take steps to normalize ties with Israel, which would lead to a peace agreement, which, in turn would result in Arab cooperation on the Iranian nuclear issue and make all of the other problems in the region melt away.

The question now is whether the administration can recalibrate its policy to the reality that negotiating with Abbas is a dead end and that pressuring Israel alienated the Israelis while emboldening the Arabs to believe he would force Israel to capitulate to their demands without them having to do anything in return.

Read all Fact Sheets

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009


So. We've bankrupted. A new beginning, albeit a kind of lousy way to go about it. But we'll survive.

Now we have to figure it all out. I'm looking for a job. My business tanked. Frankly, I never liked it anyway. It was my father's and not something about which I ever truly strongly felt. So, we'll see if any opportunities pan out.

Ideally, I'd like to find something part-time. My wife (who is also looking for a new job because she hates the one she's at right now) has full benefits, so those aren't really an issue for me when job searching. I'm going to study for the GRE exam (that's the one to get into grad school). I'd like to go back to school. I have a few choices in front of me. One is a PhD in counseling psychology. Another, one that is probably more realistic, is a Master's in education. It's something I can use in Israel.

Which brings me to the next step. I'm hoping, once done with school, in whatever subject I choose, to make Aliyah. It's getting to be time. My wife, given a workable, viable, REALISTIC plan, is open to the idea.

While I would like nothing better than to pack up tomorrow and go home, I won't do it. First, there's the history lesson. My dad did it that way. You know what it did? It screwed up my life. Royally. He didn't give one damn where we ended up, whether he had a job waiting, or what the quality of the schools was for his children. I actually ended up in a cheder for two and a half years. No general studies education whatsoever. For that entire time. Imagine how well I did when we came back to the States at the beginning of high school. Yeah. Not so well...

Second, there's a Shalom Bayit issue. I love my wife very much. I am completely devoted to her. Only problem is I haven't acted that way the last several years. That's changing. She will not go without a real plan of where and how we're going to live and we will absolutely go somewhere ONLY that offers the best possible school for our children. And she will not go without at least one of us, preferably both, and most preferably me, without a job waiting. Period. And you know what? She's absolutely correct. I have a friend/fellow blogger who told me the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael is more important than Shalom Bayit. I respectfully disagree. And I speak from experience. It's not just Shalom Bayit between spouses. It's also about Shalom Bayit with one's children and doing what's best for them in the best possible way. My father did it in the worst possible way. The results were, and still are, unacceptable. It's not going to happen that way again.

So there you have it. We'll go, God willing. But we'll go properly this time, not helter-skelter as my father did. I will NOT screw up my children's lives the way he screwed up mine. Period.

Now I just gotta take that GRE exam. Oy. Then I gotta figure out what I want to do. I'll only get one chance at this, and I gotta do it right.

Well, That SUCKED!

Ok. We had our bankruptcy hearing today. All done. Only bump was that since we own my car outright, it's an asset the trustee wanted to liquidate and give the money to the creditors. However, what he will do is take $4000 out of the equity I have in the car and make me pay it back over the course of a year, at $333.33 per month, no interest, which is actually a pretty good deal, assuming I can afford the $333.33 per month, which I'm hoping I will. It's a gamble, but a good one.

Here's to hoping!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Am I Too Young To Be a Great Uncle?

Apparently not! My nephew, who is almost 24 years old, just became a daddy! That makes my sister (heh heh heh!) a GRANDMOTHER, and my mother a GREAT-grandmother.

Pretty cool! Mazal Tov to my nephew, his lovely wife (whom I've never met and to whom I've never spoken), my sister (the grandma, heh heh heh!), all my other nieces and nephews, and my mother. I'm pretty sure there will be MANY more to come in the future (after all, my sister is a mother of EIGHT!).

As for me, my oldest (of two, and we're pretty sure it's gonna stay that way!) is only seven years old, so I've got plenty of time until I become a grandparent! :)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Priceless... Star Trek Style

What could be better than a Star Trek "Priceless" Mastercard commercial? :)

Another MIssed Opportunity for an Absolutely FANTASTIC Show!

I just finished watching the shortened season of NBC's Kings. Placed in a modern day setting, it is essentially the story of a young David and an older King Shaul, called Sylas in the show. Ian McShane plays David, and does so wonderfully. While using many basic plot elements from Tana"ch, the show is original, and really quite wonderful.

Unfortunately, Philistines that so many people are, not many tuned in to watch the show, and it died before it could gain much of a foothold. It's really too bad, because this was a really fantastic series.

All thirteen episodes are available on Hulu for free.

Maybe the Sci Fi Channel (sorry, Syfy) will pick it up. If they don't, it'll be a real missed opportunity. Kind of like Firefly, which I also watched recently and really enjoyed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tenth Anniversary - Nope. Not Wedding. That'll Be Eighth. Next Month.

Well, I just realized today, Erev Tish'a B'Av, was the tenth anniversary of the greatest mistake of my life, probably the one that caused me to be, ultimately, turned off to so much about Yiddishkeit and certainly the one that led us to all the financial troubles we've had, which, in turn, eventually led to us having to declare bankruptcy.

Yep. It's the tenth anniversary of my getting accepted to yeshiva (Chofetz Chaim, by the way), and actually deciding to go. What a stupid, stupid, STUPID mistake. Instead of taking those three years and doing something useful with them, like continuing my interrupted education (I had gotten my BA, but nothing further) and getting a graduate degree in something useful that would have served me as a career for a long, long time, I decided instead to waste those years and go wallow in some yeshiva.

What a waste. What a waste. What a stupid, stupid waste.

Yes. I have regrets.

Well, I guess it just adds to the mourning, which is, after all, the theme of the day - mourning what we lost and mourning lost opportunities...

From Not Always Right - Great Site About How Often the Customer Is Simply NOT Always Right...

Great story from the recent Comic-Con in San Diego:

I Find Your Lack Of T-shirts Disturbing
(Note: I’m selling t-shirts at Comic Con in San Diego. Two men are dressed as Star Wars characters come to my booth.)

Jedi #1: “Man, these shirts are all great. I don’t know how I’ll pick.”

Coworker: “Well, they are two for $35, so you can get any two you like.”

Jedi #2: “Is there any deal for three?”

Coworker: “Nope, just by twos.”

(Suddenly, the second Jedi activates his light-up light saber and speaks in an angry, menacing tone.)

Jedi #2: “How about now?!”
Not Always Right

Lack of Emunah! Caught Red-Handed!

So, the rabbi of the Young Israel I attend gave his usual between Mincha=Maariv drash last night. The topic, of course, was Hilchos Tish'a B'Av. He ended with a rather, I thought, peculiar bracha: May we merit this be the last Tish'a B'Av we fast and mourn, and may the next one be a day of joy and happiness and redemption, etc, etc, etc.

Except for one problem. This was last night, about twenty-four hours BEFORE the fast begins. What did he mean THIS Tish'a B'Av should be the last one? Does he lack the Emunah in of the Thirteen Principles of Judaism? The one that goes like this: "Ani Maamin b'emunah shleima b'vias hamoshiach, v'al af pi sh'yismahameha, im kol ze acheke lo B'CHOL YOM SHEYAVO?" - "I believe with complete fatih in the coming of the Messiah, and although he may delay, I anticipate EVERY DAY that he will come."

Well, if we anticipate Mashiach's arrival EVERY SINGLE DAY, what kind of message was the rabbi trying to convey? That he does not, perhaps subconsciously at least, truly believe Mashiach could arrive ANY DAY, even today, or even tomorrow, on Tish'a B'Av itself (after all, what more appropriate day IS there for Mashiach's arrival than Tish'a B'Av?)? Does it mean the rabbi has some deficiency in his own belief? I certainly hope not. He's a really great guy whom I really admire. I'll have to mention it to him when next I see him...

Now, then. May we merit THIS Tish'a B'av be a day of joy, happiness, celebration, and, most of all, complete Geualah.


Solomon Dwek disowned by father...

Oof. That's GOTTA sting! Apparently, according to the article, Rabbi Yisrael Dwek, the moser's father, has publicly disowned his son on Shabbos:

A lot of people might like to wring his neck, but the sleazy real-estate mogul who ratted out everyone from politicians to rabbis in a massive corruption case is apparently already as good as dead to his father.

Israel Dwek -- the father of Solomon "Shlomo" Dwek, who helped the feds nail three New Jersey mayors and several rabbis in Brooklyn last week -- plans to sit shiva for his son because he is so disgusted with his turning on other Jews, reported the Web site PolitickerNJ.com.

Shiva is the traditional Jewish mourning period held after a family member dies.

The father -- citing "the Talmudic Law of Moser that prohibits a Jew from informing on another Jew to a non-Jew" -- renounced his son from the pulpit at his synagogue in Deal, NJ, on Saturday, the site said.

Israel Dwek is a revered leader of the Sephardic Jewish community in the wealthy enclave.
Way to go, Rabbi Dwek.

Oh. And Ha'Makom Yenacham Otcha B'Toch Sh'ar Aveilei Tzion V'Yerushalayim. May you and your know only good things from now on and may you and your family be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

UPDATE: According to a reader, this story is not true. According to VIN who researched the story, he denounced moserim from the pulpit but no more than that.

Obama and Israel

A few people have recently asked me whether Obama's stance on Israel, as well as that of his administration, concern me, upset me, or make change my mind about supporting him.

Here's my answer: Do I like that Obama is trying to set policy for Israel within Israel? Absolutely not. I hate it. I vehemently disagree with him and his policies. Based on all very objective, very empirical evidence from the Palestinian Authority, there will never be peace between them and Israel. They've stated it explicitly time and again, most recently saying quite clearly that their objective is STILL the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. I do not think Obama and his administration are being intellectually honest here. And I NEVER said I would be likely to agree with Obama about Israel. In fact, I said quite the opposite. Remember, when it comes to Israel politics, I'm VERY right wing.

But we have to remember this: Clinton was a lot of talk. It was George W. Bush, twice illegal president of the United States, who drafted (well, his people did, anyway) the "Road Map to Peace" that was to be the guidelines Israel and the Arabs were to follow toward an ultimate and lasting peace between Israel and the PA. Israel did its best to live up to its obligations. The terrorists did not. But BUSH was the first to put in writing that Israel give up land it had rightfully conquered AFTER BEING ATTACKED in the Six Day War. Bush. Not Obama. Bush. Israel's "best friend ever." The Obama administration is simply following, more aggressively, Bush's policies, which, though I think following ANY Bush administration policies is bad, is worse in this case, as Obama really has no right to follow those policies and make demands on Israel when the Palestinians are not, in ANY way, living up to their end of the "Roadmap."

So, do I like what Obama and his administration are doing? Hell, no. But I did not vote for Obama based on what his policies would be toward Israel. Israel, with God's help, will take care of herself. Notice, Netanyahu became PM just as Obama became president - the perfect counter-balances to each other.

However, no. I have NO regrets about voting for and supporting Obama. I voted for Obama based on who I thought would be the best president for the United States, not for Israel. McCain could NEVER have achieved anything. He was a pushover, and his campaign proved it. And Palin would have screwed up this country even more than it was already screwed up. I think, given time (remember, Obama's only been in office seven months), the economy will recover under Obama's guidance. I think the healthcare overhaul, which is taking a while to get underway because they NEED to find the best balance possible in the best system possible.

So, no. I do NOT regret voting for Obama. In fact, I'm quite happy with my choice. And no. I do NOT like his policies toward Israel. But that does not make him a bad president. A bit naive, perhaps, when it comes to Israel, but not a bad president.

Re-Post - William Shatner Poetizes Sarah Palin...

In a brilliant tribute to his own now famous (or, maybe, infamous) reading of Rocket Man, Captain Kirk himself takes the Poets' seat again to read Sarah Palin's farewell speech as a poem... Absolutely brilliant! :)

Youtube had to get rid of this, so I reposted it from NBC.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ah. Finally the Answer to a Most Pressing Question...

Ever wonder why the Starship Enterprise has the two warp nacelles and the cylindrical bottom (aka the engineering section) in that particular shape? Here's the answer! :)

By the way, I did see the new Star Trek movie. I really and truly enjoyed it. It was like visiting an old friend. Ironically, the only part I didn't really like was Leonard Nimoy's performance. It was very wooden. What a shame. It was otherwise a really great movie!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Laffa and Pita bread recipes

I've been enthusiastically baking laffa bread the last few Fridays. I'd been looking for a recipe for a long, LONG time. Since our move to the Midwest, we simply haven't had any, and there is none to be found within at least 400 or 500 miles. In any direction. I found this recipe and we all really love it. In truth, it's a simple pita recipe. The laffa is just made a bit differently than the pita. If you know of a better recipe than this, PLEASE leave for me in the comments or email me! Thanks!

7 cups bread flour
one package dry yeast
3 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar (a bit more may be added if desired)
1 teaspoon salt (again, a bit more may be added for a saltier bread, but don't overdo it!)
4 tablespoons olive oil (I use the mild kind, but any will do).

Mix the yeast with the flour. Add water, sugar, salt and olive oil and knead for about 10 minutes, until dough is smooth, shiny, and slightly sticky. Add flour if needed (too wet) or water (if too dry).

Transfer dough to a large greased (I use olive oil) bowl (in truth, I just knead the dough in a giant bowl to begin with and when I'm done, I take out the dough, grease the giant bowl, and return the dough to the bowl). Generously rub top and sides with olive oil. Allow dough to rise to double its size.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces (you may get one or two more, and that's fine). Roll each piece into a ball, place on a floured surface, cover with a damp towel (I just wet and use a paper towel) and allow to rest for ten minutes. Roll out each piece into a 12-14 inch round.

Now, there are two ways of baking:

Method 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. place rounds on a cookie sheet (covered with parchment paper) and bake for about ten minutes.

Method 2 (the one I use simply because I haven't tried Method 1 yet):

This is easiest of you have an electric burner.

Turn burner on to a medium high heat. place a large pan or wok BOTTOMS UP over the burner and bake the laffa on the bottom of the pan (I happen to have a new pan I never used, so this worked well for me). Bake until bubbles form and bottom of the laffa begins to develop some brown spots. Flip and bake other side. Make sure the laffa is COMPLETELY flat, otherwise you'll have unbaked edges. I use a spatula to flatten the bread when I turn it over.

Recently, I started using an 11"x11" stovetop griddle (two, actually, over the large burners). I use a slightly lower heat. This method takes far less time and I think they come out even better than baking them on an upside-down pan.

Remove from over or pan (depending on what method you use) and place inside a towel (any kitchen towel will do. Let cool for about a minute, and then immediately transfer into a plastic bag and close it up! The moisture from the heat is what will make the laffa very pliable, moist, and yummy. Keep adding laffas to the bag.

Enjoy warm. You may freeze these. When you reheat, reheat IN the plastic bag so they stay moist.

Hope you have as much fun making these as I do!

P.S. To make these into pitas:

Follow steps UP to the part where you divide the dough:

Divide dough into TWENTY equal parts, roll into balls, place on floured surface, and cover with a damp towel. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Roll out each ball into a 10-12 inch round and about 1/4 inch thick. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes, just until the pitas swell up and begin to show golden spots. Avoid over-baking if you don't want to end up with giant pita chips.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Cover pitas with a kitchen towel for a few minutes to keep them soft. Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Want to Go Home...

It's been my mind a lot lately. I really want to go back to Israel. Problem is, if we can't make it here financially, how are we supposed to make it there? So, I have to come up with a long term plan. It needs to involve me actually making some money here, going back to school to get a graduate degree, and making sure, should we decide to make Aliyah, that at least I, preferably both of us, have jobs in Israel. As I understand it, now is a great time to make Aliyah as the economy there is better, for the first time in history, than it is in the US.

But there's more to it than that. I have felt my connection with Judaism, Torah, and God slipping drastically in recent months. I'm always quite angry at God. The only time I ever feel a real connection is when I'm learning Navi, davening on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (and yes, I STILL do daven thrice a day and put on talis and tefilin for shacharis), and when I'm listening to older Jewish music (pre-1990 - anything after is pure crap). Aside from that, I just really feel no connection, except to one thing, which is a constant at this point: Eretz Yisrael. I miss it. I love it. I cry when I think about it. I cry when I daven about it. I cry during the three haftarot preceding (especially Shabbos Chazon) AND the seven proceeding Tish'a B'Av. On a side point, what really upsets me is that I daven in a Religious Zionist shul, and during these deeply moving and emotional haftarot, through my own tears, I see and hear people talking and chatting, not paying any attention to these haftarot (and even the ones who do pay attention so not seem to have any kind of emotional response) and the message they convey. It is deeply upsetting to me.

A friend, who also happens to be my rav, discussed the mourning period known as the Three Weeks. For a memory refresh, my issues with the Three Weeks are recorded here. I mentioned I find the idea of building UP to the worst day rather than down seems a bit backward when it comes to mourning. This is especially poignant to me having experienced going through aveilus after my father died (and yes, I'm still quite angry at him and do very much despise him, but I'm passed that now!).

He said, and I agree, one does build up, whether it's Rosh Chodesh Elul to Rosh Hahshana to Yom Kippur or Shiv'a Asar B'Tammuz to Tish'a B'Av, one builds up to the culmination.

Good. But, I said, I still don't agree, as mourning is supposed to dissipate, not get worse, and this is a mourning period, unlike the Yamim Noraim, which are does of repentance, and DO legitimately build up.

So, he asked me: "Do YOU deeply feel the loss of the Bais HaMikdash EVERY SINGLE DAY?"

I answered, honestly, that I did. Not for the Bais HaMikdash itself or even for what it represented, which was a closeness to God, because in truth, WITH the Bais HaMikdash, WITH the opportunity for such closeness, that closeness was squandered.

No. I feel, daily, all the time, the loss of the what the Bais HaMikdash was SUPPOSED to represent. It was a place where ALL Jews, regardless of HOW they worshipped God or HOW they followed legitimate halacha and a Torah lifestyle, were supposed to come together in Achdus, in universal unity. They were supposed to come together, bound by a love of their land, Torah, and each other, following the creed of "V'Ahavta L'Rei'acha Kamocha" - loving one's fellow Jew as one loves oneself.

But they didn't. And they STILL can't. Yesterday's events with that horrible moser, the "frum" person who baited people into laundering money for him and then turning them over to the government, is a prime example.

I just finished watching the miniseries Masada (Peter Strauss and Peter O'Toole) from 1981. There was one great line Peter Strauss, as the character of Elazar ben Yair said to Peter O'Toole's character of Flavius Silva. He said (I can't quote directly, but you'll get the gist) the problem Romans are having with the Jews is the Romans' own fault. When the Romans came in, they were a common enemy against whom the Jews could stand united. What the Romans SHOULD do, said Elazar ben Yair, is just leave the Jews alone. Left to their own devices, the Jews will be at each others' throats before long.

Truer words are difficult to find, again, especially light of yesterday's events.

So, yes. I do feel that loss. On a constant daily basis. And I do want to go home. I want to feel my connection to God and Yiddishkeit again. I've lost it, and that loss cannot be replaced with anything but what I've lost. I don't really know any other way to get it back.

Here's to hoping my wife and I can get our lives to a point where, soon, we can make Aliyah, happily and agreeably, and go home, where we belong.


Well, I figure, while I'm blogging, I might as well blog.

So, we finally went through with the bankruptcy. Our credit is shot to hell. The BK will be on our report for ten years. We won't be able to get any kind of credit (not necessarily for credit cards - don't want those EVER again - but for things like home or car loans) for at least the next two to four years.

BUT. We'll be out of credit card debt once we attend our hearing next month. That'll be a huge, $50,000 relief. Now it's time to pick up the pieces and move on. My wife and I are both looking for jobs. Me because my business pretty much died and her because her job just sucks. We'd both love to go back to school, and if I can at least find a part-time job, it's something I might be able to pull off. We'll see what happens. But first I gotta find the job. Here's to hoping!

More to come...

Disgusting Events

Hi all (assuming anyone's still reading this!). I guess yesterday's events are bringing me back out again. I'm sure I don't need to quote any articles or link to anything. It's already quite well known.

There was a big sting operation in New Jersey, in which, among others, a bunch of Chareidi rabbis were arrested for money laundering. Now, obviously I have no sympathy for these scumbags. They broke the law AND halacha, and for that I simply say what I've been saying all along: These groups, with their chumrahs and "holier-than-thou" attitudes, are simply not frum. They disgust me. This is a prime reason why. Not only are they simply NOT shomrei Torah and Mitzvos, they also make all the rest of us who DO try to live a Torah observant life, and even those of us who don't but simply live lives as good people, look awful to the rest of the world. In short, it's pretty damned embarrassing.

But there's more. The informant the articles mention, the witness who was undercover for about two years, is ALSO a "frum" Jew, one under indictment for fraud (not sure what else to call being busted for writing and bouncing a $25,000,000 check), who volunteered to the Feds to bait and incriminate others JUST to save his own skin and get a lighter sentence. Isn't that lovely? He is a Moser, in the worst sense of the word. And here we are in the middle of the Nine Days leading up to Tish'a B'Av, our national day of mourning when we commemorate the destruction of the Batei Mikdash, which God destroyed because of (at least in the case of the second one) Sinas Chinam and people turning others into the government. This is a prime example of the Kamtza/Bar Kamtza story. But at least in THAT story, one may understand WHY Kamtza (or was it Bar-Kamtza? I can never remember) did what he did and caused the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash. He was terribly embarrassed and no one spoke up for him.

In this case, this guy got others guys busted just to get a lighter sentence. What a disgusting example of a Jew at his worst.

In the question of who is a worse person here, the money launderers or the Moser (informant), I'm gonna go with the informant. How can a person with ANY kind of conscience do something like this?

Oh, and I might add his father is a very popular and well-known rav in NJ. I've actually met him.

In truth, I'm beside myself with disgust. And then people wonder how it is that Moshiach hasn't come. Is it really any wonder?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Awesome Retrospective About Sarah Palin

This article is just such a wonderful retrospective about how insanely unqualified Sarah Palin was for the job of Vice President of the United States of America, I simply couldn't pass up posting it. Think of it as my own sigh of relief at avoiding such an unmitigated disaster...

It Came from Wassila, by Todd S. Purdum - Vanity Fair

One of the most priceless, and most revealing lines from this article:

As governor, she hired several old high-school, hometown, or political friends with minimal qualifications for important state jobs. One friend, a former mid-level manager for Alaska Airlines, headed the department that reviewed candidates for state boards and commissions; another became director of the state Division of Agriculture, citing a childhood love of cows as one qualification.
Hmm. I guess now we know where she got the idea that being able to see Russia from her backyard gave unprecedented qualifications in foreign policy...

Priceless. Simply priceless...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And in the Latest Political News... Updated

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled Al Franken won the election. Coleman said he would NOT take the fight to the federal courts, but we all know Republicans simply are not capable of telling the truth, so we'll see. In the meantime, MN governor Tim Pawlenty, another Republican, previously stated he would certify whoever the state courts ruled had won the race for the senate seat. Again, we'll see if he keeps his words, but his certification is NOT necessary for the Senate to seat Al Franken.

In case anyone missed this, the victory gives the Democrats a 60 seat, filibuster proof, majority. NOW it's time to really repair this country and the damage the Republicans have merrily done since early 1995.

The funniest thing about this Minnesota election race is that it was a couple of MOTs (Members of the Tribe - in other words, Jews), fighting over one of the most goyishe states in the union. I mean, really? MINNESOTA?! :)

And in further developing developments,

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Republican Norm Coleman conceded to Democrat Al Franken in Minnesota's contested Senate race on Tuesday, ending a nearly eight-month recount and court fight over an election decided by only a few hundred votes.
Coleman announced his decision at a news conference in St. Paul, hours after a unanimous Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" comedian and liberal commentator, should be certified the winner.
"The Supreme Court has made its decision and I will abide by the results," Coleman told reporters outside his St. Paul home.
"In these tough times we all need to focus on the future, and the future is that we have a new United States senator," Coleman said.
Franken's presence in the Senate would give the Democrats control of 60 seats, enough to overcome any Republican filibuster if they stay united.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the earliest Franken would be seated is next week, because the Senate is out of session for the July 4 holiday.
Let's hope the rest of the Republican Party adheres to this...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

More Star Wars Mr. Potato Head characters!

StarWars.com | One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, More

MaSHter Yoda, CHIPbacca, and C-3PotatO.


Although, in all honesty, I DO have a Darth Tater on my desk... :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Economy Gone Bad, Worse, and Worst

Pretty good article by Arianna Huffington about the economy, the Wall Street Bailout/Economy, and the "real economy" and where it's all gone so wrong and continues to go so wrong. Arianna Huffington: Mission Shrink: We've Gone From Saving Wall Street in Order to Save Main Street to Just Saving Wall Street.

President Obama, PLEASE don't let us down...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Not Blogging Much Lately...

I don't even know if more than a couple of people even read this blog any longer, but to those who do, I'm sorry I've not been blogging much lately. I haven't stopped, I've just slowed down a bit as so much has been going on in life lately. The latest drama is actually declaring bankruptcy this week. The credit card has simply overwhelmed us and the income simply isn't enough to pay the credit cards. On top of that, one of the credit companies is suing us for the $20,000 balance we owe them, and rather than allow them to put a lien on our home or garnish wages, we decided, since the company refused to be reasonable and wait a bit longer, it was time to his the reset button.

We hate doing it. It's caused LOTS of stress, it'll be on our credit report for ten years, and it all-around sucks. But we're out of choices at this point.

I just hope after all the smoke clears we'll be able to better our lives, move on, and live our lives again for ourselves, rather than for the credit card companies.

I plan to be back, and I will blog periodically, as I have been. It'll just take a while.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A Bit of Politics...

Oh. My. GOD!!! What a freakin' idiot!

I'm speaking, of course, about Nevada governor Jim Gibbons (Republican - DUH!), who is doing terribly in the polls (he's at 17% and, apparently, only about 17 % of REPUBLICANS will vote for him in the primaries). So, as his latest tactic, he's decided to attack to the White House and President Obama:

For weeks now, Gibbons has been attracting attention for lashing out at Obama after the Democratic president bluntly suggested to corporate executives receiving government aid: “You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas ... on the taxpayers’ dime.”

Claiming that Obama’s comment led to the cancellation of conferences, which harmed his state’s largest city, Gibbons blasted the president. “Obama stood for change,” the governor said, “but all he has done is brought negative economic change to Nevada.”


“Gov. Gibbons’ only concern is President Obama’s insult to Las Vegas and Nevada,” said Dan Burns, Gibbons’ press secretary. “I would hope that anyone would stand up for Nevada like Gov. Gibbons has stood up for Nevada and Las Vegas.”
Uh. Yeah. Jim? Remember how pissed off pretty much the entire friggin' country was at the corporations taking bailout money (from Bush, I might add) and then using said money to take the corporate executives on vacation to Las Vegas? Remember that? Hmm?

So, you're blaming Obama for the corporations NOT using OUR money to spend in YOUR state? And THAT'S the platform on which you are basing your campaign?!

That's just pathetic. Here's hoping to see YOU out of office real soon...

For the full article about two governors (the other is Republican governor Rick Perry of Texas - big surprise there...), click here.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama Speaks in Cairo... Iran Blocks Signal

So, Obama gave a pretty good speech in Cairo. He said the Palestinians need to stop terrorizing (yeah, like THAT'S gonna happen), and Israel needs to stop building settlements (yeah, like THAT'S gonna happen, too!).

He also made some good comments about not fitting all Muslims into a "crude" stereotype, nor of fitting the US into a stereotype of a self-interested empire. Then the article went on to say this:

Obama's remarks were televised on all radio and television stations in Israel, and with Arabic voice-over translations by Arab satellite stations Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera, Egyptian TV and Al-Manar, an outlet for the militant group Hezbollah. The speech was not broadcast in Iran, where the goverment jammed signals to block satellite owners from watching.
Seriously? You gotta love those Persians. Is Ahmedinejad so stupid, and government so stupid, they don't realize people who have satellite likely have internet access as well and would be able to access the speech, if not live, then not too long afterward, online at any number of websites? And what were they afraid of, in any case? Obama trying to bring peace to a troubled region? Well, obviously, they were.

What a bunch of tech non-savvy idiots.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The World of Tomorrow

Just found in the archives: An amazingly accurate, mid-Twentieth Century prediction of what the year 2000 will be like!

Heh heh heh... :)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Toy Story 3!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bang It Out's Top Ten Shavuot Rules

These are great! Thanks to Bangitout!

Top Ten Rules of Shavuot

10. If a shiur title has any arbitrary pop-culture reference (Gossip Girl/American Idol/CSI) it is a key sign: it will be about the most boring topic on earth

9. No man has ever looked at the words of Akdumus without instantly dozing off

8. There may only be a handful of people staying up, but at 3:30am all of the shul's 1000 Styrofoam cups will be used

7. You can (and are obligated to) murder any chazan who decides that 5am may be a good time to belt out some long winded hallel tunes (Amen to this one...)

6. There must be at least one family who doesn’t "hold of eating dairy on yuntif"

5. Learning from Midnight to 5am on average yields about 15 minutes of real actual Torah study

4. A comment regarding how much lighter one feels since they aren't eating meat every meal, must be recited/heard at least twice a day.
(Oddly, all the stories in Nach and in the Midrash about eating dairy is the point was dairy made people drowsy and fall asleep so they could be offed by a woman...)

3. As a kid, you felt that the person who slept long enough to say Brachot in the morning was probably going to hell

2. The number of books you bring to shul is directly proportional to the number of books you will end up using as a pillow

1. Most overly-used Rabbi excuse to leave early and sleep must be invoked: "I have to conduct morning services"
(Heh. I've actually heard this one before!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

the Dry Bones Blog

My dear friend Yaakov Kirschen, of Dry Bones fame, posted this wonderful little quiz today. Can YOU answer all the questions correctly?

Kudos, Yaakov!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Breaking News! Wile E. Coyote Kills Roadrunner!

This is F&#@ING HILARIOUS!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Comedy Only as Dom DeLuise Could Pull It Off...

Sigh. Rest in Peace, Dom. You were one of the greats.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We Wanna Sue Israel. But Wait! We Don't RECOGNIZE Israel!

Stupid Iraqis:

Iraq Considers Suit over 1981 Israeli Strike
by Maayana Miskin Iraq to Sue over Israeli Strike?

Iraqi parliamentarians are weighing a lawsuit against Israel in which they would demand compensation for Israel's 1981 strike on the Osiraq nuclear reactor. Israel demolished the reactor to prevent the terror-supporting state from attaining nuclear weapons.

Iraqi MP Mohammed Naji Mahmoud is leading the push to sue. Iraq deserves “billions of dollars” in damages, Mahmoud has said.

The MPs hope to pass a bill that would require the Iraqi government to sue Israel for damages. However, the government must do so without recognizing the State of Israel as a legitimate entity, the MPs say.

The suit, if it is filed, will use the United Nations condemnation of the Israeli strike as proof that Israel unfairly caused Iraq financial losses.

Supporters of the initiative say it does not indicate support for former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, whose regime built the Osiraq facility. Any money gained from the suit would be used to build the current state of Iraq.

The MPs' plan to sue may be linked to a lawsuit filed by former Iraqi Jews, who have sued for compensation for properties in Iraq that their families were forced to abandon when they were driven from the country by increasing Muslim violence following the establishment of the State of Israel. The Iraqi government claims that Iraqi Jews who left for Israel did so by choice.
Best line in the article:
The MPs hope to pass a bill that would require the Iraqi government to sue Israel for damages. However, the government must do so without recognizing the State of Israel as a legitimate entity, the MPs say.
Um. So which will it be? Recognize Israel and sue Israel, or don't recognize Israel and sue whom?


Too Little, Too Late - NEVER Trust Them!!!

Church committed to reconciliation with Jews: pope

Church committed to reconciliation with Jews: popeAFP/Pool – Pope Benedict XVI at the Eternal Flame in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial …

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday said that theCatholic Church was "irrevocably committed" to reconciliation with the Jews.

"Today I have the opportunity to repeat that the Catholic church is irrevocably committed to the path chosen at Second Vatican Councilfor a genuine and lasting reconciliation between Christians and Jews," he said at a meeting with Israel's two chief rabbis.

"As the declaration Nostra Aetate makes clear, the Church continues to value the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews and desires an ever deeper mutual understanding and respect through biblical and ideological studies as well as fraternal dialogues."

Nostra Aetate, passed by the Second Vatican Council in 1965 underPope Paul VI, proclaimed that the Jewish people as a whole could not be held responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 11, 2009

To Not Like It Would Make Them...

Well, I'll let Leonard Nimoy tell you...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Klingon Defense Academy!

This is REALLY funny!


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

It's Like Na'Aseh V'Nishma, Only Without the Nishma...

I had a very interesting experience last Shabbos. It was yet another example of Chareidism/Yeshivishness not in any way representing Orthodox Judaism, any more than Conservative and Reform Jews do not in any way represent Orthodox Judaism.

A very nice family invited us for lunch this Shabbos. Along with us, they had another family over (and that other family happens to be our best friends here). Two members of that other family cannot eat anything with gluten in it, so the hostess asked me to provide a gluten-free dessert. I was happy to, of course.

I brought over my world-famous (OK, maybe not WORLD famous...) chocolate mousse pie, sans the pie crust. In other words, I brought over chocolate mousse.

I mentioned to our hostess as we were enjoying the dessert, that this was much better than my Pesach chocolate mousse because on Pesach I have to use one of the "frummie" brands, and they all just really are not good at all. In fact, they're all pretty terrible. She asked me if the "frummie" brand chocolate chips I used for Pesach are any better during the rest of the year. I told her I had no idea as during the rest of the year I use Trader Joe's brand pareve chocolate chips that have the circle K hechsher on them.

Our hostess became very quiet. I made nothing of it. We finished lunch, and the kids and I went home. My wife stayed behind to chat for a few minutes. I went to bed and had a nice nap.

Then I had a rather rude awakening. My wife came upstairs and let me know our hostess had sent home the chocolate mousse because they only eat bishul Yisrael, and as the mousse was made with non-"frummie" brand chocolate chips, they just couldn't eat it.

I flew off the handle at that, but kept it in the house. I was angry. No. I was REALLY angry. In fact, I was so angry, I was going to write this post as soon as Shabbos was over. But, I thought better of it. My wife convinced me not to write an angry rant. So, I let it cool down for a few days.

The next morning, after davening, I asked my rav, who also happens to be my chavrusa, about this chumrah of "bishul Yisrael." He asked me what that meant. So I told him what happened. He told me that's the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard. First, having a hechsher on a product negates the need for "bishul Yisrael." Second, "bishul Yisrael" has no bearing in this situation. He explained to me nicely, and pretty much said what the following Wikipedia article says (sources included):

Bishul Yisrael is a Hebrew term for one of the laws of kashrut in Judaism. The rule prohibits eating certain foods if they are cooked entirely by non-Jews.[1] The term bishul Yisrael (literally "cooking of Israel" - i.e., by a Jew) is the opposite of bishul akum, (cooking of a non-Jew), which the rule forbids. ("Akum" (עכו"ם) is an acronym of "Ovdey Kochavim U'Mazalot" (עובדי כוכבים ומזלות), literally "worshippers of stars and zodiac signs", but is actually a term for non-Jews).[2]

This rule is part of a set of decrees instituted by the rabbis of the Talmud to prevent intermarriages with non-Jews.[3] The purpose of the rule is explicitly to inhibit socializing with non-Jews. The prohibition of bishul akumapplies to a formal meal prepared exclusively by non-Jews, even if the situation was one which had no other kosher food problems.[4]

The prohibition applies only if the food is prepared exclusively by non-Jews.[5] A small amount of Jewish participation can suffice to keep the food kosher.[3] Different rabbis have different views on the absolute minimum: Sephardi poskim state that the minimum participation is to light the fire and place the pot on it to cook, while Ashkenazim are satisfied with merely lighting the fire, or even making a slight adjustment to a fire which was already lit by a non-Jew.[3]

The law applies only to foods which, according to the Talmud, are "fit for a king's table" (and could not be eaten raw).[3] Foods which would not be served at a state dinner are exempt from bishul akum, and are kosher even if cooked totally by non-Jews, provided that all the other requirements of kosher food are met.[6] Maimonides explains that this prohibition was originally decreed in order to avoid a Jew being invited over by a non-Jew for a meal (which may lead to intermarriage), and people do not invite each other for dinner over food which is not "fit for a King's table" (Maimonides, Ma'akhalot Asurot 17:15).

In contemporary observance, the mashgiach, along with supervising food preparation, typically helps start the stove and/or provides other participation in the cooking sufficient to ensure that the rule of bishul Yisrael is complied with.[7] In situations where bishul akum would present a problem, our Chachomim have instructed us that this disqualification can be avoided by having the observant Jewish homemaker or a mashgiach, a kosher supervisor, perform an integral part of the cooking process, such as turning on the fire. When a Yehudi, an observant Jew, assists in the preparation, we say that the food is prepared through bishul Yisroel.


In other words, while I'd like to think my chocolate mousse is fit for a state dinner, I certainly wouldn't put JUST chocolate chips on the table. I'm pretty sure no one else would either. Further, as is the case with pas palter, we're allowed to eat mass produced hechshered breads because there's really no "danger" of associating with non-Jews as there might be if one ate from one's non-Jewish neighbor's kitchen.

This rabbi, of whom my rav has a VERY low opinion (and that's putting it in much nicer terms than he did), is apparently feeding his congregants blanket chumrahs without explanations. This has come up with this rabbi before, as well. Apparently, according to this rabbi, one is not allowed to use baby wipes because they're designed to exude moisture, and doing so on Shabbos is forbidden. What he said one IS allowed to use is a damp paper towel because paper towels are designed to absorb moisture, not let it out.

Hmm. Not sure about anyone else, but the last time I gave a squeeze to a damp paper towel, the water DID come out.

Next case was an Eruv case. Apparently, according to this rabbi, who claims he asked Rav Elyashiv in Israel and is basing his psak upon that of Rav Elyashiv's, the eruv in our town is not a kosher eruv. However, one MAY push a stroller or a wheelchair in the eruv. And so our host was indeed pushing a stroller. With a three and a half year old in it, not an infant.

When I told my rav about this rabbi asking Rav Elyashiv, my rav in no uncertain terms pronounced this rabbi a liar.

This chumrah happiness is like Na'Aseh V'Nishma, Only Without the Nishma. No one seems to find it important to get reasons for certain chumrahs and halachas. Apparently it's only important to just do, without thinking about it and without questioning. Except the possuk said "Na'Aseh V'NISHMA." We will do and we will HEAR. Hearing means learning the nuances of Torah, of Halacha. Not just doing blindly to the point where one hurts other people's feelings and transgresses the halachas of Bein Adam La'Makom, where the halachas Bein Adam La'Chaveiro are thrown out the window in favor of silly chumrahs. I'm not worried about my hurt feelings. Frankly, it meant more chocolate mousse in the house, which made my wife, her parents, and my mother quite happy. It's just that these chumrah happy people, rabbis and followers alike, simply know nothing about halacha, never think to ask, and simply and blindly follow, regardless of consequences or of other people.

Once again, this type of Judaism, this chumrah happy Chareidism, is simply not in any way representative of what it means to be a Torah observant Jew.