Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Kosher Compass

This site, provided by my friend Jerry, shows us how anyone will buy anything so long as you market it right. The Kosher Compass claims that it will always point to Jerusalem and doesn't necessarily always point east.

They claim it is also patent-pending, and contains no circuitry, I can only imagine how it analyzes barometric pressure, compass coordinates, etc and then miraclously points east!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dhengah is back!!!

A couple of years ago there was an auction on e-bay for an Aliyah in the 'Dhengah' shteeble on Yom Kippur. The auction lined to
the unofficial website of the Dhengah Chassidim. It was down for a while and now is back. The yiddish on the home page (loosely translated) reads:

If you can read this, we beseech you to follow the [rulings of] our Rabbis (my they live long) and quickly shutdown your filthy, impure, disgusting Internet - G-d save us from it and destroy its name from the world - and rip the wire out of the wall and cut it into little pieces. After which, you should grab a book of Tehillim (psalms) and recite some of the chapters for several hours.

Or, if you don't want to, click here.

When did Jewish Singers go Mainstream?

I must confess, for the first 11 or 12 years of my life I grew up listening almost exclusively to Jewish Music - groups like Uncle Moishy, Country Yossi, and the Miami Boys Choir were always playing in our house, and Shloime Dachs, before his solo debut, was a guy who worked with us in Camp. Haven't heard of Moishy, Yossi, or Shloime? Maybe because their music is a combination of liturgical, Hebrew, and religiously inspired pieces. Just like I would never have heard of any of the stars of Christian Rock, I imagine that many of my non-Jewish readers wouldn't have heard of these guys.

They were mostly limited to the Jewish world, but now they are finding new ways to branch out. Firstly, just like Jessica Simpson busted*out of the Christian Rock scene, we now have a crossover in Matisyahu , a.k.a. The Chassidic Reggae Guy. But cheaper video production costs and tools like Google Video, have begat the spread of videos like the one to the right. Now it's not enough for little choir boys to simply shuffle their feet in unison on stage, but they need to have an MTV-style video. What happened to good ol' fashioned chazzanut? Oh wait, there is a movie about that too.

Still, I guess it was about time for this to happen, and quite frankly I am glad it did. My mom bought my boys an Uncle Moishy Video for chanukah, and they love it. As much as I love that they enjoy Jewish Music, I enjoy it even more when they sing it around the house.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I should find and patent the sports gene...

There was an article in Wired recently about how drug and dna research companies are finding and patenting genes. To me this is the crescendo of the lengths of stupidity of our patent system - someone is patenting something created by G-d (or, if you are an atheist, something in nature - either way, it is something that they didn't create, yet, somehow they can reserve the rights to it).

In any case, since the study of DNA has become commonplace over the last several years, there have been many interesting findings (for example, the study that tried to establish the 'Cohen' gene).

But the one gene they haven't found yet is the 'Sports Gene' that little gene that somehow all men, regardless of their athletic prowess, seem to have, and a gene that seems to escape most women (oy, am I going to get flamed by the sports-loving women out there).

I don't know what it is - I don't follow too many teams to closely. I love the Mets, I try to watch as many Giants games as my busy fall Sunday schedule allows, and all told, I am more the kind of person who prefers participating in sports rather than watching them. Yet for the 3 minutes of the sports report on the news each night, I am in the zone. My wife can't talk to me, and I just drop everything and focus. Maybe it's genetic? Because at the end of the day, my life won't be any better or worse if the seemingly hapless Knicks beat the Cavs or the Bulls or whatever, yet somehow for those 3 minutes it matters. As bad as I am, I am even worse when it comes to my boys and sports.

My kids are almost 2 and almost 4, and even though they are not quite old enough to participate in many of our local sports programs (most start at 5, and even though my 4-year-old is big for his age, he is not yet at the point where I see him sitting with a coach and taking directions). Yet just yesterday alone, I had three thoughts about them and sports:

  • I saw the $10 t-ball special gloves and thought about buying them so that we can play catch in the backyard.
  • I saw a project book that showed how to make soccer goals out of spare PVC tubing
  • I thought about finally fixing the bike in my garage and getting one for my big guy so that we can go biking together this summer.

My wife often wonders aloud if I would be this sports-crazed if we had girls. And somehow, despite my earlier statements seemingly to the contrary, I say yes. Sports teaches so much more than physical activity and competitiveness, it teaches teamwork and work ethic (i.e. the harder you practice the better you will become) it builds self-motivation and esteem in kids, and gives them a sense of belonging.

Despite nature, I think nurture goes a long way too.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Site changes...please be patient

Just FYI, I recently migrated from Linux hosting to Microsoft so that I can compliment my blogs with some ASP.NET programming. However, I am still in the conversion process, so bear with us as we get our house in order.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Boys

Thanksgiving 05' + 020
Originally uploaded by yonah_w.
Here is a recent picture of my two boys that I wanted to Share. Mitch has done a lot of growing up in the last year - to think it's still been less than a year since he had that long flowing mane of hair.

While Mikey's hair started growing a little more rapidly of late, he still doesn't have that much. Strange as it may seem, the hair in back is growing faster than his bangs, giving him the look of a natural mullet.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Chabad means many things to many people. In the Orthodox Jewish world, it is also one of the few things that Jews always seem to have an opinion on, and are hardly ever indifferent about.

I am definitely a Chabadophile. I went to a Chabad High School for 3 years, and the school and our teachers, made an major impact on my life and how I view judaism, my commitment to it, and my relationship with G-d.

I recently spent a week at my in-laws home in Florida, and the nearest shul was the Chabad Center of West Boca / Jeff Weltman synagouge. In many places I have had a hard time adjusting as a visitor, but needless to say, the Shul was welcoming as I would expect from a Chabad house. While I participated in the davening, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic remembering the songs, liturgy and customs from my High School days. It also helped me remember some of the wonderful things that I learned from my Rebbeim at the yeshiva, as well as the notion that Chabad actually 'gets it' - i.e. they understand how to take Judaism and bring it to the masses without watering it down - sometimes to a fault.

Well I got to go - there is a little voice in my head trying to get me to sing Padeh B'Shalom.