One People

Achdus is Hebrish for “unity”.

Life in Israel

My friend Rafi G. has a blog with that title.

I haven’t written in awhile, not because I haven’t been on the look-out for hypocrisy and reasons we should love one another right now.

But because I took a trip to the Holy Land!

If you’ve never been to Eretz Yisrael then you have to think about this, or rethink it, I should say.   It’s not negotiable. You have to go.

Every time I go I get closer to wanting to be there full-time.  I already think I should be there full-time, but have many practical reasons not to be there full-time, none of which I feel like sharing right now.  But wanting to be there full-time is amazing enough.

A Jew should want to be there full-time.  Being a Jew is already a full-time job.  Why not take on the full measure of being one?  Oh, we have our reasons.

My friends who made aliyah in the 80’s tell me the life is hard in Eretz Yisrael.  You wait and wait til the kids serve their army time, then they’re in the army, and you wait and wait until they get out.

Worry, worry, worry.

When I did live in Israel  my youngest kid got picked on a lot.  We took a year off with the kids and left America to immerse ourselves in the hashpa’ah, the influence of Israeli culture.

The first week there was a bomb on Ben-Yehuda (a really popular hang-out street for tourists and kids).

Violence by the Arabs aside, the Israeli children were tough.  We put our kids in Israeli schools, not the schools with the most  Anglos, because  we thought ours would learn Hebrew faster if that was all they heard.

They were miserable for 5 months, but they did catch on.  They’re quite fluent now.  Anyway, the littlest guy was in 4th grade and the Israeli kids would push him, take his glasses, that sort of thing.

I was told that their parents didn’t discipline them because they felt bad that the kids would be disciplined soon enough. They’d go to the army, learn to be tough men and women, and for all they knew, be taken from their parents the hard way, forever.

So I kept my mouth shut, knowing that the difference in midot (pronounced me-dote, means “manners, ways”) had to do with teleological necessity.  Kids do need to be tough in the army.

And my kid got tougher.

That’s for sure.

But did I let him get beat up for a year?  Nah.  His big brother found the toughest kid in 4th grade and reminded him that indeed, there’s always someone bigger and tougher.  And the other kids paid attention as he lifted him three feet off the ground.

respectfully yours,


July 31, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Don’t See Any Bugs

One of the things that separates the Orthodox from other Jewish people is a certain compliance to the tiniest details of the law.

My Reform, Conservative, Tradition, Humanist, etc. friends sometimes will say about an adherence to a certain law that it’s a little silly, meaning that it seems irrational. I’m always saying, Well, I don’t make the rules I just enforce them.

Inexplicable rules are supposedly going to be explained when Mashiach comes, hopefully any day now.  Many of us follow them, basically, because we’re Jews (pronounced Chews).

But lately a LOT of attention has been paid to bugs. They’re not kosher, you know, and we try to wash our fruits and vegetables well because of that.  Considering there are toxic pesticides all over the produce, it’s a good idea ot wash the fruit.  You don’t have to be Jewish.

But we can take this to the extreme.  You’ll see bags of “kosher” lettuce at certain stores.

And there are people who are really, really concerned with strawberries right now. There’s a right and wrong way to wash them, I hear. Hack off the stem first but be super careful to toss it in the garbage before the little critters sneak their way back to the hull of the fruit. Then wash the berry with a vengeance.

I heard about this conversation only two degrees of hearsay from one of the rabbis:

Rabbi 1 (to man concerned about strawberries, wishing to make it a Top Issue): I don’t see any bugs.

Man concerned about the bugs: Can’t you see? Look more closely.

Rabbi 2: I don’t see any bugs.

The rabbis in that conversation are pillars of my particular Jewish community, one full of  tremendous talmidai chachamim (smart Torah scholars). They’re at the top of their game. Everyone admires these rebbaim.

So I’m writing this to tell you that it isn’t true that the “frummer” (more religious) you are, the “crazier” you are. In fact it can be the opposite.

Attention to details like bugs is nice, if you have time, for sure, and maybe those of us who don’t pay enough are in big trouble. But I thought you should know that some of the pillars of a relatively large Jewish Orthodox community actually might be thinking, when it comes to bugs, What Shtus (nonsense)!



July 9, 2007 Posted by | bugs, frummer Jews, shtus, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Dangers of the Internet

The chashuv (important) Orthodox rabbis in my community, and there are many of them, have all agreed that we need a community meeting to discuss the dangers of the Internet.  My rav told us in no uncertain terms,

Be there.

I had a feeling this was brewing and am not at all sure what it’s about.  Maybe it’s about gambling, more probably it’s about porn.

One of my married children said that what we’ll hear, if we go, and really, who wants to go, is this:

Keep your children off the Internet between the ages of 2-20, and if they’re  male, forever.

My mother-in-law said that the rabbi kept using the word, ADDICTION.  I didn’t hear it.  I was sitting in the back.

What’s an Internet loving, Israel-news junkie supposed to do with this?  Should I go to the meeting and voice my objections, risk cherem?

How do I translate cherem? I thought it meant that one’s soul is rejected from Paradise, but maybe not, maybe it means just the community rejects you, and for sure, cherem implies that unmarried children won’t find suitable matches.


We’ll see.  I’ll try to attend.

Addictedly Yours,


July 1, 2007 Posted by | addiction, gambling, Internet, porn, rabbis | 1 Comment