Friday, December 28, 2007

My other heart...

January 4th is a sad day in my mind. For many of you it is a day of no significance, but for me it is a sad day on the Calendar. You see, January 4th, 1994 was the last time I set foot in Israel. From Sept. 1992 until that day (with a ten week gap in between) I lived in Israel. While many students who spent the year in Israel, say they studied there for a year, I say I lived there because, in my mind, I truly did. For 16 months I became (at least partially) Israeli. I spoke Hebrew every chance I could - even in the Anglo-speaking neighborhoods; I taught Hebrew and Yehadut to Ethiopian immigrants, I met people from all walks of life, I even spent a week on a farm in Gaza picking tomatoes alongside olim from the FSU, Ethiopia and migrant workers from Thailand.

Everywhere I went from Yesha to Herziliya, from Eilat to the Golan , I loved every minute.  I was determined to make Aliyah, and yes I was well aware of the consequences of making Aliyah alone, that serving as a Hayal Boded was not 'cool', but difficult, that once my parents stopped sending cash, it would not be as fun. And yet, here I am, almost 14 years to the day after I left and I haven't been back.

Recently, I've been talking to several friends of mine who are contemplating Aliyah (including some that are going this summer!) while it hasn't quite brought back an immediate desire to jump on a plane and relocate my entire family, it does make me more and more aware of the long gap since I've been there. I really want to go, and I really want to take my wife and my sons and bring them there. To bring them to all of the places that have special meaning to me, and to the new places I've yet to see. To show them how wonderful a country Israel really is - despite its government and the morons around the world who say otherwise.

When I lived in Israel, I wrote a poem about the thoughts of Aliyah that danced in my head. While I don't know whatever happened to the poem, the crux was that I had a difficult choice to make between my two hearts - one being the American lifestyle, and the other being the land of me and my people. I pined in the poem that it is difficult to choose from among two hearts, and while I've made my decision to remain in Galut, I definitely think I owe it to myself, my wife and my kids to pay my other heart a visit.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Celebrating Thanksgiving... Yesterday and Everyday

Yesterday was the first time in a long time that we didn't have a real Thanksgiving dinner. Usually, we have my in-laws, parents and siblings over, but because of the fact that we had a six-week old baby in the house, we decided to forgo that tradition this year. Nonetheless, I was reminiscing the other day about my days in Yeshiva and how Thanksgiving was one of the 'Red Flag' absence days.

What are the 'Red Flag Absence Days?' those are days in which the Yeshiva would give you an extra hard time if you were absent, because it presumptively meant that you were doing something on those days that wasn't appropriate in the eyes of the Yeshiva. Thanksgiving was one of those days, the other was the day of the Salute to Israel Parade in NYC (I guess the school was against celebrating any type of government?). Obviously, on Thanksgiving, this meant that you skipped out on learning Torah (there were no secular studies that day, because the secular teachers - usually moonlighting public school teachers - couldn't be persuaded to work) in order to celebrate a 'goyish' holiday. While I understand their dismay in the bittel torah (loss of Torah Learning time), I am dismayed at them for not recognizing the original meaning of Thanksgiving.

It's not about putting money in the hands of Turkey farmers (kosher and otherwise), it's not about football, or about the Wampanoag, or about stores getting ready for their 'Black Friday' deals - it is about giving thanks to G-d for all that has given, is giving, and will give to us, and to thank him for allowing us to live in a place, where our religious freedom is one of the most respected rights granted to us - Jew and non-Jew alike.

People take religious freedom for granted. They either don't know or turn a blind eye to some of the forces that would love to eradicate Jewish practices in this country - Shechita (ritual slaughter of meat) and Milah (circumcision) are two examples of areas where many people are trying to attack our religious life and practices, and thankfully they haven't been successful.

My children wake up every morning, make Brachot (blessings) over Kosher food, wear their Yarmulkas and Tzitzit with pride, and go to Jewish Schools. These are things that were not possible for my in-laws under Soviet rule, and things that were taken away from my grandparents in Hitler's Europe. Something that I and all of my family are grateful for, and a very good reason, IMVHO, for us to eat turkey once a year.

It is for these very reasons that I listen with as much intent to the prayers for the US Government and its soldiers as I do those for the Israeli soldiers. Americans in Uniform in Iraq, Afghanistan or wherever, are serving our nation and protecting our freedom. The least I can do is pay attention in Shul when we collectively ask for their safe return home and answer Amen. 

Of course, we don't just say this prayer on the weekend following Thanksgiving, we say it every week - which leads me to share this thought with you - Everyday is Thanksgiving. Everyday is a day where we need to be thankful for what we have, and especially for the freedom to follow our beliefs and serve G-d without and restrictions imposed by the government.

So on that note, please accept my wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving, Yesterday, Today, and Every day.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

An exciting program

Two Jewish Organizations - The Jewish Funders Network (JFN) and the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) have announced that they will match any first time grant to a day school with $0.50 per dollar. There are several catches of course - the grant needs to be the first grant given by the donor to any school, or it needs to be at least 5x times larger than any previous gifts, and the pool is only $5 million. That being said, there is still money to be had, because all told, this campaign will hopefully raise $15 million for day schools around the country.

While $15 million may not do much on the national level, that money is great for those schools that will get it, and hopefully it will set precedents for other similar programs in the future.

If by chance, you are sitting on a wad of cash, and don't have a particular school in mind, why not give it to my kids school?

Friday, October 26, 2007


While it's difficult enough for parents who are trying to teach their kids about their own culture and language in an ever-increasingly assimilated society, it's gets even harder when that culture and its language have a completely different alphabet.

When my oldest son was 3, for his upsherin. We made him a chart (similar to the picture on the right) with all of the Hebrew Alphabet (One might argue that the term alphabet comes from the Hebrew Aleph, Bet and not the Greek Alpha, Beta).  These 22* letters are the core of our Jewish lives, and they are much more than just letters that are used to make words (for example, each letter has a numerical value as well, and numerical analysis of scripture often reveals some interesting facets of the Torah).  Much like any child in any language, we have been teaching our boys the Aleph-bet since they were toddler, and similarly, while children can memorize the symbols in the alphabet quite easily, putting them together to make words is something that typically isn't done until the child is of kindergarten age.

Now that my oldest child is in Kindergarten, at our orientation meeting, his teacher talked about their curriculum and how they have a 'Letter of the week'. Each week will have its own letter, and each week they will be learning words that correspond to that letter. She also made it clear that they would also learning the Hebrew letter with the corresponding sound.

Well, the first week was 'A' which corresponded to the Hebrew Alef. The next week was B- bet. I was anticipating that the third week would be 'C', but instead of 'C' words, my son was learning 'G' words. It took me a second, but then I realized that 'G' corresponded to 'Gimel' the third letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were learning the English alphabet in order of the Hebrew Alphabet.

Needless to say, our son's Hebrew vocabulary is increasing week by week, almost to the point, where he picks up on the conversations that my wife and I have in Hebrew so that the kids don't understand. I think by June we'll have to switch to a new language.

And baby makes three...

I've been very busy over the last three weeks, welcoming our third son into the world.  In addition to Mitch and Mike, I no can share foibles of Jake too!

The Purpose of a Yarmulka

After having just talked about the uphill battle in getting my middle son to wear a Yarmulka, an interesting thing happened to me yesterday, that has led me to reflect on the purpose in general of wearing a Yarmulka.

Last night, on the train, I was studying Daf Yomi. It was a crowded train and I was standing the whole ride. As we stopped at 125th St., a familiar face got on the train. I immediately recognized this person as the Rabbi of one of the non-Orthodox shuls in town. In addition to his suburban pulpit, this Rabbi also teaches at his denomination's seminary as well.

Normally, I am friendly Jew, and I like discussing religion and torah with all those curious around me. But something about this particular Rabbi turned me off completely. He wasn't wearing a Yarmulka.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn't the worst thing on the planet. Many of my friends and relatives don't wear their Yarmulkas to work, and don't necessarily throw them on their heads as soon as they get on the train. But then again, none of them are Rabbis or rabbinic educators!

Were this Rabbi an Attorney, needing to appeal to a Jury and Judge, or a Wall-Street Trader on a trading floor that sounds like a dockside bar, I could understand his lack of headgear - but this is a person who not only purportedly does the work of G-d, but also teaches others to do so as well!

The purpose of the Yarmulka, and the etymology of the word itself (which is why I prefer it to the more generic 'kipah') comes from the phrase - Yoreh Malka - (lit, Fear of the [heavenly] King). While I don't begrudge those of my friends and family who don't wear a Yarmulka in their professional life, how can someone who is a reglious leader and educator not acknowledge the creator above him? That he too, just like all of us, must defer to a heavenly king.

What message is this Rabbi sending - that fear of heaven is only for the synagouge and seminary, but not for the train, the street, and everywhere else? How can he utter the words of the Shema with any degree of sincerity?

I wonder if he even wears a Yarmulka to teach, and if not, what message does that send to his students!

I wanted to ask him this very question. But I was afraid to get into an argument! So I ignored him, which was the wrong thing to do. Maybe next time when I encounter him, I should ask him to learn with me, and offer him my Yarmulka.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Yarmulkas and Kids

To be perfectly honest, I don't remember when I started wearing a Yarmulka on my head. In my parents house, there are pictures of me at 3 without one, and at 4-5 with one, so I am guessing that at some point in between the ages of 3-4 I started to wear one. With my older son, this wasn't a problem. We cut his hair at his upsheren when he was 3, and ever since then, we've had no trouble getting him to wear a Yarmulka, his little brother, however, isn't so keen. We've tried all kinds and types of Yarmulkas, hats, and other head coverings, but alas, none has lasted more than a few minutes (thankfully, at his upsheren he kept the Yarmulka on long enough for us to snip and snap pictures).

I am trying to be a little more forceful with him about it, but I hesitate. I have this inherent fear that if I push him and push him, he will never want to wear one and that this will be the beginning of his association with Orthodox Judaism.

We told him that he needs to wear one everyday to school this year, although his pre-school doesn't enforce it. School starts Monday, I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Two perspectives, two opinions...

Somehow today, I stumbled across an article about Florida's first Hebrew Cultural Charter School - the Ben Gamla Charter School.  Earlier this year, I commented negatively about a similar program for Arabic culture, the Khalil Gibran International School being opened in NYC.

My argument there was that these type of schools promote cultural segregation - and in this case, I don't disagree. IMVHO, the whole point of a public school system, is to enhance the education by embracing the diversity of the people in its community. Contrary to that point, the purpose of parochial schools - regardless of the religion - is to creative an immersive environment where kids from relatively homogenous (at least religiously) backgrounds can grow and learn to appreciate their religion amongst like-minded individuals.  This is one of the primary reasons why we have Catholic Schools, Hebrew Day Schools and Midrasas as opposed to sending our kids to after school religious education programs. Obviously both Ben Gamla and Khalil Gibran are toeing the establishment clause line because the cultures that they teach have unique ties to specific religions, and therefore their student body would be skewed towards practitioners of those religions. But I would be just as much opposed to similar schools that emphasized French, Latin, or Asian cultures. Why - because we are using this as a guise to segregate our children. Truthfully, do you not think that a Spanish cultural school's student body would be heavily skewed towards Hispanic students? It would be tantamount to creating a school only for Hispanic people, which in and of itself defeats the purpose of public schools.


But on the other hand, demographics can do this as well. If public schools serve local communities, and those communities are ethnically homogenous, then the only thing different is the official curriculum. (I say official, because in those circumstances, the teachers will definitely make adaptations towards the local culture and customs).


 While Ben Gamla and Khalil Gibran scare me as an American, Ben Gamla makes me happy as Jew. There are many traditional Jews in this world who would gladly send their kids to some sort of Jewish/Hebrew cultural school if it wasn't so cost prohibitive. By establishing Ben Gamla, it now gives those who wouldn't otherwise consider an Orthodox or Community Day School and option to imbue their children with, at the very least, a Hebrew Cultural experience. This in and of itself, will help build a Jewish Identity amongst its students for years to come.


To put the shoe on the other foot, I can see how Khalil Gibran would make New York's Arab community feel about educating their children in a similar environment so that they don't completely lose their Arabic culture.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Promoting Intramarriage

Back in May, I talked a bit about a story on the Jerusalem Post website about a woman who couldn't understand how her boyfriend could reject her simply because she wasn't Jewish. In the last week, there has been a big todo over Noah Feldman's article entitled The Orthodox Paradox in the New York Times Magazine last weekend, as well as Rabbi Shmuely Boteach's article in response to it  Stop Ostracizing the Intermarried.

While I am not always in agreement with Rabbi Boteach, I happen to agree with him in this case. In halachic discourse there are two terms that are often used B'Di'Avad and L'chatchila. The former refers to a situation where an action has been performed (lit. "It has been done") and the other it prior to any action (lit. 'To begin with'). And IMHO, the approach to Intermarriage needs to fit the either of those two situations. In the case of the former - where a couple is already intermarried, I agree with Rabbi Boteach. Yes this person has done something to take his or herself away from religious practice, but at the same time, that person is still someone's child, friend, or sibling.  While it hurts on so many levels, at the same time, we need to acknowledge reality.

Whether they acknowledged it or not at the time of their wedding, an intermarried person at some point becomes aware of the sacrifices they made in order to marry outside the faith - why should they have to sacrifice their family and friends too.

But Boteach and Feldman's articles aside, the trick here is not to even get there, to pull the L'chatchila out of the question. For years, parents have been emphasizing the negative - don't marry a shiksa, don't bring me home a goy, etc. without ever accentuating the positive aspects of marrying a Jewish spouse.

How many thousands of secular parents have toed this line and only brought their children to synagogue on a couple of days a year - and even then reluctantly. Or how many of these parents also forced their kids to attend a watered-down Passover seder every year. If you don't show enthusiasm for your Judaism, how do you expect your children too.

The trick here my friends , isn't to prevent Intermarriage, but to promote Intramarriage. To make Judaism special and important to the next generation of kids so that they will not ever dream of marrying anyone who wouldn't want to start a family to carry on those very same meaningful traditions.

That is my goal everyday - to teach my children the beauty of Judaism. In our songs, in our liturgy, in our rituals. I can't teach them how to feel, nor can I make it automatically have meaning in their lives, but if I show them the beauty of our practices, my hope is that when they form their own ideologies and start thinking about their own families, the experiences I have given them in their youth will resonate for years to come.


As for the already intermarried, overcome what hurdles you might have and embrace them. It is a difficult situation - one chock full of internal conflict - but at the end of the day, at the very least, they and their non-Jewish spouse might gain some exposure to these traditions, and might fight meaning and substance in them - even after the effect.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Benjamin Netanyahu on the academic boycott

As you would imagine, I am angered by the latest attempts by British Academics to boycott Israel. This is not the first time they have tried this, and this won't be the first time that this will fail. What makes this time different is that Israel hasn't done a damn thing. Yes there are rockets falling on Sderot, and Israel is retaliating, but there is no war here. We aren't in Gaza, we are out of Lebanon, and what good has it done us? They're still firing rockets at us, and still trying to boycott academically. I could talk to it myself, but no one can talk to it as well as Bibi does in this YouTube Video.

British Academics can do what they will, the only ones who will suffer are them. If Britain doesn't want to work with Israel's brain trust (with the highest per capita percentage of College Grads and PhDs of any country in the world!, then Israel will innovate with the Americans, the Indians, the Chinese, and the Singaporeans. And while Israel and her supporters will reap the benefits of advances in Energy, Medicine, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Telecommunications and Computing, the Brits, will once again, miss the boat.

I guess they can always sip tea.

Friday, May 04, 2007

She wore an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot ...Yarmulka?

I came across this article in the Jerusalem Post entitled My Story: In a story that sounds (as the author admits) like it was a scripted chick flick plot, she dates a Jewish man (she is not Jewish), then when he breaks up with her, she pretends to be Jewish and stalks him out on JDate.

Seemingly the crux of her article (which isn't very clear) is that when she puts on her Jewish Mask, but talks and acts the same, somehow he finds her acceptible. Yet under her normal shiksa face, he has no interest.

What the author doesn't seem to get is that there is a lot more to life than walks on the beach in Haifa. Relationships have many stages and levels. As a relationship progresses from one level to the next one some of the things that don't matter to us in the shorter term, start to matter a lot more when we start to think long term. When I was in college I often got embroiled in the 'Why do you only date Jewish people?' argument.  People called it discriminatory, but I called it being selective. They would argue back and forth with me about it until I used this analogy, or something along with it:

Let's say you love dogs. You have two of your own, you spend as much time with them as possible. Obviously when you are dating, you prefer someone who likes dogs, but that is not your most important requirement. You start dating someone, and the first few dates go well, you decide its time to introduce her to your dogs... Only to find out, she hates dogs (or even worse, she's allergic). She hates them with a passion to the point where she won't go to your apartment without insisting you lock them up. How would that make you feel? How would that change your long-term outlook on the relationship? While you don't mind locking up the dogs now, you know that in your heart of hearts, long term, you can't put the dogs in the bedroom for 40 years, nor are you willing to abandon them completely, or visit them on weekends at your parents house. Clearly, even though you were willing to date her initially, your relationship came to a point where her attitude towards dogs mattered.


For some, it wouldn't have even gotten that far, for their love of dogs precluded them from even thinking about dating anyone less than a dog lover. I apply the same thoughts to Religion. If religion matters to you - at any level in life - at some point you will want someone who is compatible with your religion. For me, it was a forethought, for the guy who is the subject of this article, its an afterthought, but nevertheless, it entered his long-term vision. Unfortunately, the author of this article doesn't get that. Maybe in time she will.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

But who will tell them...

I haven't yet taught my children about the Holocaust. Honestly, I don't think I knew about it before I was 6 or 7, and there is no need for me to rush to educate my 5 and 3 year-old sons about something that they cannot even begin to comprehend.

But, when I was old enough, and when I was able to feel emotions from those very disturbing images, and ready to hear the stories, there were survivors to talk to.

Thankfully, none of my four grandparents were in a camp - My grandmother was the last one to leave Europe and she left right after Crystalnacht - but there were always other survivors. The people with numbers on their arms, the people with the stories to tell. To help personify the atrocities that took place. This wasn't a far-fetched story from years ago, but something that happened to my neighbors, to my relatives, to our friends.

One day, I will talk to my children about the holocaust, but I only hope that there will still be people to tell them first hand, so that they to can personify it, so that they too can see the pain and the suffering in that person's eyes. So that they too can tell the stories to their children. For when my grandchildren come around, I don't think a single survivor will be left.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

If you had brothers like these, you'd turn to a stranger halfway around the world too

The Jerusalem Post reported today that senior Israeli and Palestinan officials met with their Japanese counterparts to discuss Japan's plan for Economic growth and development for Israel and the Palestinian territories. (The picture and article are from the AP, l-r Saeb Erekat, Shimon Peres, and Shinzo Abe)

While we tend to approach any of these initiatives with several grains of salt, if you read between the lines a bit, there are some interesting things going on.

  1. Israel, already a partner with China and India, is looking to Japan as another avenue of growth.
  2. Jordan is at the table too, and at least Jordan and Israel are serious partners with one another
  3. Given the fiasco of poverty and unrest since Hamas took power, its quite plausible that the Palestinians would look forward to some economic opportunity.

What bothers me the most is, why is Japan the partner? Why not the Saudis or the Kuwaitis? Think about it for a minute, just from an economic and logical standpoint, there is no reason that the Palestinians can't do for Arabic-speaking customer service what India did for english-speaking customer service. Labor is cheap, which means that a decent living wage for a Palestinian is still probably more cost-effective than hiring a saudi. The bottom line is that Arab nations haven't done a damn thing for the Palestinians economically, short of rewarding the families of suicide bombers. I hope that this Japanese plan works out, and that it becomes the model for future development in the region.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Day Schools and Financial Disclosure

It seems that no matter where I am, whenever I get together with other Jewish parents at some point the conversation gravitates towards the subject of Day School tuition. The thought came to me recently to look up schools on Guidestar (a service that rates charities. Since most Day Schools in the US are registered as tax-exempt organizations, they are listed here), but, it would seem that Day Schools and other religious institutions are not required to file the same IRS form 990 that charities are. Primarily because they are faith-based and don't need to.

It's funny, each year, my kids school sends me a lovely letter to accompany the next years tuition schedule. It seems that the year is the same year in year out. Save for the date and dollar values, there is always the same story about why they are justified in raising tuition.

While I don't doubt their motives or analysis, I find it insulting to my intelligence that they don't provide us with some sort of summary financial data.

To be frank, I am not looking for detailed salaries for every last staff member, but it would be nice to see the breakdown of salaries between administrative, teachers, and managerial staffs. A breakdown of maintenance and other costs would be nice as well.

Truthfully what are schools afraid of? The number should tell a story - a story that justifies tuition increases, and that should be evident from some simple numbers. If it's not, the school has some explaining to do.

As a parent, seeing the numeric justification will enable me to have confidence in the value I am receiving from the school, as well as compel me to potentially give more. It will also empower me as a person to feel as if I have some more disclosure and input as to the direction the school is going in.

It is well played out that parents who ask for scholarships need to bare their lives and finances to school administrators - why should those administrators be forced to share the same data with us?

Friday, March 09, 2007

My little one, now Bigger

My little guy Mikey sure grew up fast. He is now 3! And we just cut his hair. When my wife was pregnant with our first son, I was not totally convinced that I would like the whole Upsherin concept. Truthfully, while my family has very Chasidic roots, my parents never followed suit with any of us. (Although one of my cousins did have an Upsherin with the Bovover Rebbe Z"L and, as my Dad tells it, it is a very humorous story). My wife doesn't have any brothers, so at least in our generation we hadn't really participated in an Upsherin for members of our own family.

Still Faigy insisted, and before I jumped in wholeheartedly, I wanted to study it some more. So I did the research and discovered that the custom has very strong roots in the Kabbalah and is commonly practiced amongst Sefardic and Chasidic Jews. The gist of it is that man is compared to a tree, as it says in the bible -"..Man is like the tree of the field (Deut/Devarim 20:19). In Judaism, trees have very special meaning as well as their own laws and customs. For one, they have their own new year (Tu B'shvat) and when one plants a fruit bearing tree, we cannot derive any benefit for the fruit for the first three years. So too, a little boy is just like that tree. For the first three years of his life we follow his cognitive development (his fruits). When he reaches three, the age of Mitzvah education, his fruits (his mind) are ready for consumption with Torah thought and religious education.

This is such a beautiful custom, and I am glad that I agreed to follow suit. But even more than that their is a much greater psychological effect on the child as well. In his new look, my son now equates himself as a 'Big Boy' and proudly states "I am not a baby!".

As much as I miss my 'Goldilocks', I now have another big boy to bring into the world of Torah and Mitzvot, and I am eternally thankful to G-d for that every day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Didn't we abolish segregation?

My friend Rob sent me this link from NY1 News about how the City School Board is opening an Arabic Public School in Brooklyn . According to the Article, the Khalil Gibran International Academy will enroll a diverse student body, even though many courses will be taught in Arabic. While I think that it is great that Brooklyn's burgeoning Arabic-speaking population has a school of its own, I think that this is a bad idea for two primary reasons.

Firstly, all 60's-style segregation arguments aside, this school is only going to work to segregate the Arabic community from the rest of New York. The point of Public school is to blend the diverse ethnic groups in a community so that members learn about each others cultures and appreciate them, while preserving their own. How does this accomplish that? Yes they want to enroll a diverse group of students, but how many Jews, Asians, Italians, and Hispanics will send their kids to this school? How is teaching in Arabic any different from Teaching in Spanish? I understand that some of these new immigrant students need extra help learning ESL, but we should accomodate that so that they gain fluency in English, and not Arabic. If they stay in the US, how will it help them to learn Algebra in Arabic? While I am all for teaching Arabic language and culture in regular public schools, and giving native Arab speakers some help in their native language, this concept, IMVHO, is counter-productive to societal integration of an ethnic group that already has issues with societal integration.

Secondly, this opens the door for creating, essentially, state-sponsored ethnic schools. Okay, fine, the board of ed insists that the school will have a 'diverse' student body. Let's say for arguments sake, the first year, there are a bunch of Asian kids in that school. Their parents get involved, and see how there is this rich Arabic curriculum, in both language and culture and realize its their tax dollars paying for it. They then say amongst themselves that we need to create something similar for Asian culture. They lobby the board of ed, and the 'Mandarin and Cantonese' academy is born. They pull their kids out of the Arabic school, and put them into M and C. This kills the diversity at the Arabic School, but that's okay, because all of the wait listed Arabic speakers now have spaces. After the Asians, the Spanish-Speakers follow suit, and then the Jews, etc. Until we've completely killed the diversity of our public education system.

Maybe this is a little extreme, but is it really that far-fetched? If a couple of smart Jews lobby the Board of Ed to create a similar Hebrew School that promoted Hebrew Culture. That taught nothing of a Religious nature, I would gladly move back to the city and enroll my kids there and give them religious instruction in an afterschool program?

I think this is a bad idea, and I am eager to see how it fares.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Why do we have to treat them?

I have been away for too long. Both from blogging and from being in the loop on what goes on in Israel. I spent a few minutes today to try to see what's been going on in Israel. Of course there is a lot going on, a debate about repairs on part of the temple mount, the ongoing Hamas-Fatah war, etc.

Then I came across this news article from Arutz Sheva about how 60 or so wounded palestinians were treated in Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. They quoted an injured Israeli woman in the hospital asking why do we need to treat them? To her credit, I can only begin to imagine her frustration - living in fear of Kassams falling on her rooftop every night, so I am not going to question her motives. But I will do my best, sitting in my comfortable American home to explain - we treat them, because unlike them, we actually value human life.

Yes it is very easy for me to say this from my comfortable home in the United States, but I would like to think that my thoughts wouldn't be any different if I lived in Israel, and served in the IDF. Every human life - even those of terrorist bastards - is precious, and we must do our best to preserve them.

Would they give our wounded the same treatment? The same level of service? (or at least the best available?). That is irrelevant. We are not them. We are humans, and we are commanded by G-d to revere all of his creations with respect.