Monday, February 28, 2005

Mrs. World

Old news? I don't care, this woman's beautiful!

How? How could no one mention that this year's Mrs. World is Israeli???
Does no one care about the Mrs. World contest?

Really--this woman's gorgeous...and Israeli!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hot Tamales, Cookies, and Peanut Butter

I ate too much candy today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Who's in Israel?

So here I am, sitting in Ra'anana in a relative of mine's house. I'm sitting here thinking "wow, I'm in Israel not having classes while all my Hunter College Hillel buddies are in school, in the cold cold winter months of New York. I saw the snow as I was lifting off (well, ok, it delayed my plane 4 hours, but that's ok) Why was my plane delay so ok? I'll tell you all why!

There was an empty sea next to me during the whole boarding process. I'm way at the back of the plane, last row possible, and it's only a two seater. Made for a nice couple, one would say. So the seat is empty, and I'm getting really excited, because if I get an empty seat next to me in a two seater, I'm set for the flight. Talk about sleeping, I'd be out like a brick. So, the seat wasn't empty, to my displeasure. But, who sat down next to me? This REALLY attractive girl. As I told Dina, one of the most beuatiful girls I've ever seen. She's even religious! What are the chances?

So the conversation didn't really "lift off" until our plane was delayed. She kept waking up periodically (she was VERY tired) to see what was happening, and small talk would happen. Long story short, we I was chatting her up as much as I could, and she was totally going for it. By the end of the flight, it was as if we boarded the plane together. We even went through passport control together... it was actually kind of weird, come to think of it. Going through poassport control with a girl, just a girl... people probably thought we were getting married or something. Anyway, so that all happens. I got her number on the plane, and she said that I should call her.

So, the next day I call her in the evening and she was a little budy, told me to call back in a few minutes. Called some other friends I have in Israel, made some plans, and called this girl back (her name is Zahava, she lives in Montsey (spelling?!)). So she picks up, and the small talk happens. Then I say "so what are you up to tonight?" She responds "look, I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but I can't really talk to you..." I said ok and just said goodbye, and that was it. All gone. Nothing.

To be fair, she was at seminary, so I could write it off that I'm only in Israel for a week, and she shouldn't be talking to boys she's not going to marry, but still, I wasn't even thinking shallow on this girl. She was awesome, great conversation, and really attractive. Worth a night out at least.

Oh well, I guess I'll never see her again, unless I track her down through the Jewish network. Anyone want to get on that for me?

Oh, and my parents bought an apartment in Israel. Yay Newcombe family!

Have a nice week guys!

Punk of World Currency and Fraternities

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Gates

I went to Central Park today on my way to school. After all the talk of, “is that really art?” I wanted to see Christo’s Gates for myself. I’m pretty liberal with my definition of art. If it’s a physical manifestation of someone’s creativity, it’s art to me. I don’t like when people confuse art with skill, though. Sometimes I wonder if portraits hanging in some museums are art. They are most definitely skillful, but are they art? Erm--maybe not to me. Unless, of course, I can justify the portrait or religious scene as the way that person perceived the situation. But it’s still iffy to me.
I didn’t know if I’d like the Gates, but I didn’t doubt its legitimacy as art. Christo had a vision and he shaped it into something sensual. So I went to partake in this great debate everyone around me was discussing. The Gates are an acquired taste, I decided. My initial reaction was that the color was so hideous I couldn’t look past it. By the time I was halfway through my walk, I couldn’t stop smiling. The Gates made me happy. And it wasn’t because I actually got a piece from one of those ladies with the tall poles topped with tennis balls.
The Gates are a bright, ugly shade of orange. They are boxy and not too aesthetically pleasing. But they sway with the wind, they don’t fit in, and they are the brightest looking things in Central Park in the middle of February. I totally love the Gates.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Subliminal in New York!

Is my birthday week not the best?
UPDATE: Just click here to register for tickets!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Goodbye Gaza!

Well, today marks a historic and momentous occasion in Israeli history. The Knesset finally agreed to pull out of Gaza, a place that has caused Israel and the world too much trouble in the past 60 years. The vote was pretty definite. The law was approved in a 59-40 vote with five abstentions. The opponents included 17 Likud MKs. The law is finally through.

The settlers aren't going to be left completely in the dust though. There is 3.8 billion shekels available (averaging 934,000 shekels per family) to all the 9,000 currently in the Gaza strip. The plan includes an extra $30,000 for families that move to the Negev, Galile, or a new yeshuv near Ashqelon. This will finally eliminate all Jewish presence in the Gaza strip.

The process, although nearly completely irreversable, can still go all wrong. A referrendum stopping the action is one option (though, knowing what I know about most Israelis, a referrendum would work against the settlers), and the toppling of Sharon's government is another option. If Sharon does not pass his budget in March, then he could lose it all and have new elections, which will at least slow withdrawal, and may stop it all together. Let's hope for the best (that it keeps going).

I know a lot of people want to keep the Gaza strip because it's part of the land of Israel, but let's not kid ourselves here, we can't keep the Gaza strip and our security. Also, I was thinking about this earlier, if the boarders of Israel are changable according to HaShem's will, then can't he shrink the boarders of Israel? Just curious.

Regardless of that argument, Gaza has caused us nothing but trouble. It's time we got rid of it, give it to the Palestinians and let them try to make a country out of it. If they do make a proper country, then it's not a bad neighbour to have. It provides a very large work force that's looking for jobs. If Israeli companies can work together with Palestinian companies, a lot of good can come out of the region. I don't know if that will fly with the other Muslim nations, but maybe it's time for them to end their dated boycott on Israel.

Zeh HaKol

The Punk of World Currency & Fraternities

Friday, February 11, 2005

If diplomacy requires me to shake hands with those who allow me to be hated, I will be a diplomat no more

(Note: this essay is still in the editing process so it may seem to be missing parts or have underdeveloped ideas.)
“At the camp gate we were greeted by a sign reading, “Arbeit macht
den Menschen frei,”--work will set you free.
It soon dawned on me that the sign meant that
laboring in this murderous camp frees you and strips
you of your humanity.”
-My great-grandfather, Opa, upon his arrival to Bergen-Belsen
from his privately published memoir To My Dear Children

There is a sign in the Palestinian Club room at Hunter that says, “History Repeats: Look What Hitler Taught Some of His Victims.” The letters on the sign are dripping, as though of blood. Under the copy is a star of David morphing into a Swastika. That’s right, not an Israeli flag morphing into a Swastika or Ariel Sharon learning from Hitler--a Magen David--the emblem of Hitler's victims, the Jews, on the sign.
I know this because I saw it. I walked into their club space one day after hearing about the sign and saw it up close. My heart sped up, my breathing stopped, and my eyes were trying not to look at the one thing they couldn’t stop looking at.
My grandmother spent her young teens barely living in Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi concentration camp in northwestern Germany, during the Holocaust. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “50,000 Jews and other prisoners died of disease, brutality, starvation, and sadistic medical practices” at Bergen-Belsen. My grandmother and her family were some of the few fortunate survivors. My grandfather’s entire family was killed when their shtetl in Lithuania was massacred during the Holocaust.
I tried to consider the possibility that the people who made the sign and the club who hung it on their clubroom wall hadn't realized what it might be like for a grandchild of Hitler's victims to see a sign that calls her Hitler. Maybe the Palestinian Club didn't mean to call me a Nazi, but intended, rather, to make a political statement. Of course, while I had to consider that, I feel that regardless of their intent, they took it too far.
After months of going back and forth between the Leadership Council for Jewish Student Life, the Palestinian Club leadership, and Dean Escott, we finally had a meeting at which two delegates (me and Steve) were going to tell the Palestinian Club how we felt about their sign and have them vote on the necessity of having it hanging in their room.
I was waiting in Room TH 105 with Steve Yuniver, the president of HIPAC, for the Palestinian Club to come and begin the meeting at which they were supposed to vote on the fate of the sign hanging in their club room. Palestinian Club members trailed in a few at a time until we were really just waiting for the leadership to arrive.
I saw Dean Escott walk in with the Palestinian Club leaders and sit down at the head of the three small, round tables we had pushed together. He put a copy of an article I wrote for CampusJ on the table and addressed me concerning it. Apparently, there is a difference between a legal right and a moral right. I wish I would have known about this when the first issue--that of the sign in the Palestinian Club room--came up. Now that I’ve been thinking about it a lot, I think I can remember him telling me and another Jewish student that while it may not be morally right for the sign to be up there, it is legally right. This time, however, I got the flipside of the argument.
I explained to him that as this is an issue that pertains to all students on campus, all students had a right to know what was going on. When I was at that meeting last semester, I was there as a representative for the Jewish community, not for myself alone. It was well understood at the beginning of the meeting that we Jewish leaders would leave and report back to our community and that the Palestinian Club leadership would report back to their club.
Then Dean Escott told me that it was wrong of me to make this known to people in other schools, too. What I didn’t say but should have was that if there is something that he doesn’t want other people knowing about it should be a situation. It’s okay that I left that out, though, because there is so much more I did say on the topic.
I told him that when we originally approached him, he explained to me that he was aware of the situation, but that the Palestinian Club had a right to free speech. He then warned us that if anyone were to rip the sign down he would be the one in a position to expel the student and he wouldn’t hesitate to do so. Our meeting lasted no more than 5 or 10 minutes.
I didn’t end there, though. I went on to explain that near the end of the meeting that Jerrell Robinson moderated between us and the Palestinian Club, he and Dean Escott were trying to convince me and the HIPAC officers present that maybe it was time we “looked beyond the sign” and worked with the Palestinian Club anyway. They implied that we were being silly in getting worked up over the situation and should act mature and swallow our misgivings. I felt that I was being told that I didn’t have a right to be offended by the sign and that my feelings about it were not being allowed validity.
“And that, Dean Escott, is discrimination.”
He argued that he worked hard to make that meeting between us and the Palestinian Club possible, but I could argue strongly against that. When we first went to him he really had no interest in getting involved. I think he saw it as a student affair to be settled between the students. It was when I saw Dean Schachter, the Dean for Diversity (God bless her!), that I was told that the President’s office had only recently been made aware of the issue and that a meeting would happen very soon--she’d have Dean Escott on it.
Between when I saw the sign hanging on the wall of the room until today, three months later, my intolerance for it has grown. Originally, some friends criticized me for not being enraged enough (others, of course, thought I was nuts to get excited). But I figured then that it was just a sign. Words don’t mean the world and I haven’t seen the students who hung it up attack any Jewish students yet. But then I tried doing something about the situation and felt that I kept running up against a brick wall. The Palestinian Club wasn’t as cooperative as I would have liked and the Dean of Students did not have any interest in helping us arrive at a conclusion until an authority above him made him get involved.
I started wondering if the sign had been a direct attack on any other minority, whether it would have been considered as acceptable as this one. It doesn’t seem very likely that if the Conservative Club had a Confederate Flag with racist slurs painted onto it, or a sign proclaiming that all practitioners of Islam are suicide-bombing Fundamentalists, that it would still be around.
I am a strong believer that it is not history that repeats itself but human nature that doesn’t change. When we stop allowing a group of people to feel a certain way, and strip their feelings of validity, we are not too far from not considering them as human as we are.
While at a recent conference, I heard Rachel Fish of the David Project speak about a similar situation she faced at Harvard Divinity School when she was a graduate student there. She said she found herself having to say, “words have consequences, so it does effect me,” to people who thought she was overreacting. I think she’s right. The sign my Opa was greeted with at Bergen-Belsen was just a sign. The sign in the Palestinian Club room is just a sign. But pictures speak a thousand words and a person’s reaction to a picture speaks even louder about their society.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Chutzpah: Saudi Style

If there is anything that we have yet to be blamed for, please tell me. You can count on arab autocrats to come up with this stuff.

I have to admitt that i found this article by going through

Saudi official: Bin Laden sent by Jews
Defense minister spoke ahead of global confab in Riyadh

Speaking at a meeting of Saudi leaders in preparation for the kingdom's international conference on counterterrorism, Defense Minister Prince Sultan referred to Osama bin Laden as being "sent by the Jews."

The prince was quoting a poet who said, "Long live security - may its men hold their heads high on every corner. [Bin Laden], whose ideology is sick, who was sent by the Jews, who is the architect of theft, was treacherous and sent us the criminals. This traitor of the nation tried to harm us, but his efforts boomeranged back upon him."

Friday, February 04, 2005

Parshat Mishpatim: Part Deux

And I’m not done with the parshah.

Once, a friend asked if I could buy him a siddur. I went to the local Judaica store and picked up a small, travelable Artscroll for him. I figured it was the best one because there are enough commentaries on the bottom to keep him interested and enough obscure brachot and different prayers in there to keep him looking through it. He was really happy with the gift I had given him and used to bring it to school everyday. (It’s possible he still does, but I can’t state that with certainty.)
One day in Hillel, this friend was packing up his things to go to class when someone noticed the Artscroll in his bag. A secular guy with an Artscroll??? Clearly, the guy was confused by what he had just seen. Actually, he made it clear that he was confused.
While walking to the elevators with said secular friend, he commented to me that sometimes he feels isolated in the Hillel room. One of the tribe and he felt like he didn’t belong among us. I don’t know if heartbreak would be the appropriate term for how I felt when I heard that, but if it isn’t, I felt something close to that.
In this week’s parsha, it says,

“You shall not abuse a stranger and you shall not oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not persecute any widow or orphan. If you will persecute him…! -- for if he will cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his cry. My anger will burn and I shall kill you by the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children orphans.”
And something to keep in mind always, not just when it's what we read from the Torah that week.

Parshat Mishpatim: Part One

I had a feeling that this parsha was going to be a good one when I saw that it starts on page 248 of the Rashi Chumush (favorite time of day: 12.48, favorite commentator: Rashi). Then, I looked at the Parsha.

I once read somewhere, and I can’t remember, where someone used the verses,

“When two men will fight and they will jostle a pregnant woman and she will miscarry, but there will be no fatality, he shall surely be penalized when the husband of the woman shall impose upon him, and he shall give it thought the judges’ orders. But if there will be a fatality, then you shall give a life in place of a life…”

to explain the Jewish view of abortion. While most people associate religion with being anti-abortion, that’s not what Judaism is about. Judaism understands that what is most important is the health of the mother. Now, with regard to the above verse, it states clearly in the Torah the if a woman is killed, she is counted, like all other people, as a fatality. If someone causes a woman to miscarry, they are not charged with murder because a miscarriage is not counted as a fatality (but they will definitely be punished by the husband of the woman).

All I’m saying is that when the government takes away your choice, it doesn’t create a stronger, more unified nation. When people grow up in a society with choice, they learn that consequence comes with poorly made decisions and that responsibility is a byproduct of having the ability to make decisions. But go ahead and think what you’d like, erm-hrm, Coops.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


If you're interested in knowing the going-ons of Jewish student life at Hunter, you no longer have to wait for the Hunter Hillel Happenings e-mails that only come around once a week...

We now have, a site where you can read about just that--what is happening with the Jews at Hunter.

So, yeah, check me it out...

this is liberalism?!?

So I was reading a few days ago, and I found this. If this is what liberalism means, I'm going fascist.

'If you don't take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits'
By Clare Chapman
(Filed: 30/01/2005)
Daily Telegraph

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year....

The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe....

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

Screw the Germans, if they don't like it there is always Canada.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Only Simchas, Here We Come

I am proud and honored to announce that a woman perfect for the role as partner for our resident Raging Bull has been found.

Her name: Holy Terror.

Check this out and let me know if I'm crazy or DB Coops is about to be crazy in love and moving to the West Bank with his new wife!

I regret to inform those of you who didn't get a chance to see the link when it was still up that it is no longer available. However, if you do want to find out what was so special about Holy Terror that I thought she was amaaaaaaazing for DB Coops, read this: the reason she was kicked off Jewschool.
I must admit, too, that I am quite impressed. She even beats Coops's wearing that khafiyah at AIPAC to show his solidarity as a "Palestinian Jew."

On the Terribly Significant Business of Other People

This past Monday, we, the dorks at Hunter Hillel, gave away 250 free Krispy Kreme donuts as a Welcome Back to School from Hillel. One of the women I met that morning was a professor who will be teaching Jewish-American Literature. I took that class last semester and when I told her she mentioned that her class is going to be a lot harder than Professor Benjamin's was (the class I took). Because we're all meeting new people now in our classes and trying to get to know each other better, I thought this quote from Philip Roth's American Pastoral, a book I read for the above mentioned class, was totally appropriate to quote. Yeah, lame excuse, but it's my favorite quote ever and I wanted to share it.

You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home and tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another's interior workings and invisible aims? ... The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that--well, lucky you.
excerpt from American Pastoral by Philip Roth (pg. 35)
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