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It looks like all the active communities here are writing communities. Not necessarily worth moving over here.
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So I went through some old LJ entries last night in search of something I'd written about 5 years ago. Man, in 2006, I used to write so much on here. Most of that was driven by having folks respond to me and having other folks write stuff. Other parts of that might have had to do with a more chaotic life and more free time at work. Anyway, I came across a few great posts and great memories, including a reminder about Stephanie Sun/Sun Yanzi who's a great, if over-emotional, Singaporean singer. I think I like her in part because she makes me think of China and in part because she is very easy to understand. I'm listening to her now on youtube.
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I sent this earlier today. Please feel free to send a similar letter to MSNBC....

To Whom It May Concern:
I was watching MSNBC this afternoon where you featured an ad sponsored by the Committee For Israel, a right-wing organization that tries to get Jews to vote Republican. Due to the distastefulness of and untruths in the advertisement, I am writing to ask you to stop accepting ads from Committee For Israel and to apologize for airing this ad.
The ad, aired at about 3pm on Tuesday, October 18, 2011, claimed that Occupy Wall Street protestors are primarily a anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, and showed protestors holding signs with trigger words like "Hitler." It was filmed in a news-like or documentary style to add to its pretense of legitimacy.
As a progressive Jew, I cannot say that I have ever favored this organization or its message, but I don't often write to news organizations on the ad revenue they take in. This particular ad was incredibly distasteful. I've been to the affiliated DC protest, and have many Jewish and non-Jewish friends involved in the Wall Street protest. Jews have been primary actors in these protests - holding services on Yom Kippur and the Sabbath, and erecting sukkahs in observance of Sukkot at the protest sites. Judaism and its adherents have been treated with nothing but respect from other protestors. The concept that the "top 1%" or "the bankers" are synonyms for "Jews" is a fabrication of the protest's opponents.
Please stop accepting ads from Committee For Israel and please apologize for airing this misleading and insulting ad.
I look forward to your reply,
[livejournal.com profile] leftyjew

EDIT:  I submitted it on a black hole contact form on their website with the subject "MSNBC TV - general" and feedback type "Correction request."  (also added the link to the ad)

EDIT 2: Cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] weirdjews which has resulted in the longest civil discussion I've ever seen!
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tldr: i hope there's more to this than the death of a person )

Anyway, while everyone else is posting about this and Holocaust Remembrance Day, I'd like to instead say something about this and the sefirot in which bin Laden was captured and killed.

Sunday night began Day 13 - Yesod of Gevurah
Sunday day ended Day 14 - Hod of Gevurah

Chabad writes about each one:

Yesod of Gevurah:
For discipline to be effective it must be coupled with commitment and bonding. Both in disciplining yourself and others there has to be a sense that the discipline is important for developing a stronger bond. Not that I discipline you, but that we are doing it together for our mutual benefit.
Exercise for the day: Demonstrate to your child or student how your bonding with each other is an essential ingredient in discipline and growth.

Hod of Gevurah
The results of discipline and might without humility are obvious. The greatest catastrophes have occurred as a result of people sitting in arrogant judgement of others. Am I arrogant in the name of justice (what I consider as just)? Do I ever think that I sit on a higher pedestal and bestow judgement on my subjects below? What about my children? Students?
A judge has to be the most humble of creatures, recognizing that he sits in judgement not by his own merit but only because G-d gave the right to judge His children.
Exercise for the day: Don't judge anyone unless you are doing so selflessly with no personal bias.

I hope (and doubt) that our pursuit of bin Laden was done with humility and commitment to world peace and not only with justice and vengeance in mind.
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In the elevator, as we chatted, an African-American woman said to me:
Her: Today's the second day of Kwanzaa.
Me: Oh! Happy Kwanzaa! What does this day symbolize?
Her: Oh, I don't know. I'm not Jewish, I just know it's the second day today.
Me: Kwanzaa's not a Jewish holiday.
Her: Really? (gets off elevator)

WTF!?

Well anyway, to those who celebrate, happy Kwanzaa!
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no more facebook. i'm done.
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So this Rosh Hashanah, I heard two stories worth repeating.

1. The joke

In my shul growing up, the rabbi would always start with "So." (pause) and then a joke. So this was his joke from this Rosh Hashanah:
One night, a poor man comes to the rabbi and says, "Rabbi, my horse died. Without my horse I can't harvest my crops and my family will have nothing to eat this winter." The rabbi says, "Okay, let's go over here." The rabbi takes the man to the stables of the richest man in town. Everyone in town knows this guy, but he knows nobody. Anyway, it's night, so the rabbi and the poor man are alone looking at the horses. The poor man looks at one and says, "Rabbi, these are amazing, but look especially at this one! The ears! The tail! The muscles! This is a truly great horse!" The rabbi says, "Then take it." The poor man refuses, "Rabbi, that's stealing! I can't take the horse of my neighbor!" The rabbi says, "Listen, I'm the rabbi. I'm telling you - this isn't stealing. It's okay. Just take it." So the poor man, without another hope, listens to the rabbi and takes the horse.
The rabbi then lies down in the hay where the horse was and covers himself with the blanket the horse was under. That morning, the rich man who doesn't know anyone in town is walking through his stables. He looks at the rabbi and says, "Who are you and where's my horse?" The rabbi says, "I'm a rabbi. Some time ago, I had lustful thoughts about a woman, so I was turned into a horse. You've taken such good care of me all these years! Thank you! You've given me food, shelter, company, and always kept me clean. You've been such a wonderful owner! Now I'm going off to my home where my family is hopefully still waiting for me." With that, the rabbi stands up and walks home.
A few years later, the rich man is walking through the market and sees a horse for sale. He recognizes it instantly. It has the same markings, the same color, the same eyes. Flabbergasted, he goes up to the horse and whispers in its ear, "Rabbi! Again?!"

2. The story

At [livejournal.com profile] chococynic's shul, the rabbi told a remarkable story before we blew the shofar:
In Barcelona, Elul, at the height of the Spanish Inquisition, the secret Jews were confused. They could practice Shabbat in secret at home. They could practice Passover and Shavuot in secret at home. They could not understand how to keep Rosh Hashanah without community. To add to the confusion, there was a concert planned erev Rosh Hashanah to celebrate the discovery of the New World. Should they go? This would be the perfect chance to show Torquemada's men that they were no longer Jews. Plus there was a rumor circulating that it would be worthwhile. So many Jews went. They heard new music composed for a whole set of indigenous instruments form the New World. Among these instruments was a ram's horn which played a full halakhically-appropriate set of tekiahs, shevarims, shevarim-teruahs, teruahs and a final tekiah gedolah with the Spanish nobles none the wiser. Only the conversos knew that they had just heard a shofar sound.
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If you read this but are not listed as my "friend". I'd just like to know if I should bother making anything viewable for more than just friends. You can either email me, call me, or comment on this post. I will screen comments for your anonymity.
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In a traditional modern Jewish wedding, the bride spend the morning of the wedding getting primped and such and then sit on a chair to welcome people who give her blessings and say happy things to her. This is called her "kabbalat kallah". During this time, the groom is hanging out with his raucous male friends and relatives. While they get drunk, he tries to give a dvar Torah, but in order to hide his inherent nervousness (of getting married, of having sex, or of public speaking), his ever-more-inebriated friends consistently interrupt him with clean "Rocky Horror Picture Show"-style call-outs and random bursts of song, barely letting him get a word out. This is called his tisch.

At the start of the process, [livejournal.com profile] chococynic and I thought, "Why don't we learn tractate Kiddushin and then have separate tisches celebrating our achievements on finishing that (siyyums)?" So we got to learning Kiddushin together. Once. Maybe a half-dozen times. We didn't get through more than 20 pages together out of over 140 (I think we get to leaf 8a or so). I decided I'd try learning it on my own since I had free time and [livejournal.com profile] chococynic was in school. That was hard going. I like detail and understanding what I read, and sometimes it's useful to have another person's perspective on what the heck they're talking about regarding XY or Z. Anyway, the long of it is that though I had a more regular pace, I never finished, and [livejournal.com profile] chococynic who read it straight through over a few weeks, did. So her tisch was also to be a siyyum, and mine was not.

We had been told that the rooms were next door to each other, very small (lie) and that they could only fit 15 or 25 in each (wrong). So we only invited a small group of friends each to the tisches. [livejournal.com profile] chococynic chose one dedicated group of friends who'd done this all before and knew what to expect and how to be rowdy. I chose friends from a wide spectrum who would be fun to sing and dance with and who didn't need TOO much background information. Oh, and unlike traditional modern tisches, they would be potluck affairs since the caterer was in a different location. I provided a bit of food, some animal head paper plates, some booze, and paper cups. Everyone else was asked to bring food (and [livejournal.com profile] nosockstorock was to coordinate all of that).

Anyway, we headed from the photo session into the tisch rooms - [livejournal.com profile] chococynic's first, greeted by her singing, dancing friends and a table all set up with plates and people standing and waiting to joyously welcome us and dance with us!

Then I passed through onto my room... with no one there. Admittedly, the invitation asked people to show up by 11 and it was 10:58, but I was a little sad. But soon good people started coming and more and more the room filled up and I started my speech. I gave a three minute speech in 20 minutes as I was interrupted by loving friends and family, my nieces got to join in some of the singing, and it was a good time. I was nervous then and the night before when I was drafting my speech, so it was nice to have the interruptions.

I said something about the Jews mourning for Aaron but not Miriam in the desert and how they each represented something important, but Miriam's contributions were not as easy to spot and therefore, we didn't mourn her. I said that [livejournal.com profile] chococynic and I would try to be both Aaron and Miriam to our friends and communities — by both like Aaron making peace between people and actively creating holiness but also like Miriam by providing the basic foundations of existence (e.g., stacking chairs or having people over).

We ended with dancing and singing, and [livejournal.com profile] chococynic being danced into the room with all her raucous friends (who we could hear through the wall the whole time!) Ohhh ohhh ohhh ohhh! Aiyai yai yai! And we circle-danced for the next good while (there are photos on Facebook of this, and others will go online one day).

Things calmed down and we cleared everyone (and everything) out of the room to make way for the document signings and the bedeken.
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Just heard about Prop 8 results. woo hoo!


The trip over was uneventful. We got there a half-hour late. I thought [livejournal.com profile] chococynic would be mad, but they were also late. Only the photographer and my sister (plus husband and kids) was there on time. The rest of us were a comfortable half hour late. Oy. Well, aside from sister + fam being upset, hot and tired, nothing really was wrong.
The photographer decided that instead of taking bride-groom photos near the beautiful artwork (it was at a friggin' sculpture garden!), he'd take it by random trees and bodies of water. At one point, [livejournal.com profile] chococynic, a.k.a., the bride, said, "That is my favorite sculpture in the whole place. It would be great to take a photo there." So the photographer sent his assistant to take a photo of it. Without us. He also insisted that her name was Rachel (and argued
We'll see how the photos come out, but it's a shame that we don't get much of the sculpture recorded (maybe there are copyright issues with that anyway?).
So we walk around in the hot hot heat mostly under shade (still too hot for all of us) taking photos, being posed, and arguing about the whole Rachel/[livejournal.com profile] chococycnic thing.
Then we took family photos which the photographer wanted to take inside. My brother-in-law said, "Why not outside?" Good call! So we all went outside and took some more photos. It wasn't so bad, really.
My nieces really loved the peacocks and peahens which roamed the garden freely. It was mating season, so they'd call out every so often. They really seemed to respond to kid voices. "Mom! I said hello and he said hello back!"
When we finished taking photos, we headed inside for our tisches.
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NOTE: Jewy words largely have hover text, so if you have no clue what something means, just hold your mouse over the words.

I had to be at the wedding site (40 min away) at 9:30 am since I finally agreed to take photos before the wedding. I didn't really like the idea of seeing [livejournal.com profile] chococynic the day of without some ceremony attached. And it's a Jewish thing not to see the bride at all the week before the wedding. That would have been logistically complicated and involved burdening our friends with a couchal visitor (me), so we didn't think it was an okay thing to do, but I would have (in my head) liked to see her first only at the ketubah-signing.

Anyway, very late in the game (Tuesday maybe? Thursday?), I was convinced to arrive early to take photos all together (instead of separately) and I'm sorta glad that I did.

But before any of that....
Although it's entirely appropriate and expected for the bride to dunk in the mikvah up to the end of her last period of ritual impurity before the wedding, the custom for men is apparently more of a day-of thing.
Mikvah logistics )
So that morning I woke up at 6:15 and started the extra-long prayer service of normal Rosh Chodesh shacharit (which includes a whole bunch of extra stuff) plus the long confessional inserted into the pre-wedding silent prayer and the silent prayer before Yom Kippur (since the wedding is seen as a personal Yom Kippur). I added it into both shacharit and mussaf just in case. It took quite a while! I was done by a bit past 7:30, had breakfast. Thank G-d you get to eat before your wedding if it's Rosh Chodesh (since the normal pre-wedding day fasting is forbidden on joyous days like Rosh Chodesh) or my mom would have killed me! Then my Dad took me out to dunk. We got there at 7:58 after getting a little lost, and Rabbi 8:30 was there waiting for us. All right!

The experience wasn't particularly what I expected in that it was not at all remarkable. The mikvah was very sterile and chlorinated. Not particularly spiritual or anything, but very visceral and in that way, very interesting as a religio-spiritual experience.
While I was inside, I heard my Dad and the Chabad rabbi talking about how I grew up Conservative and went to public school and whatnot, along with general chitchat. Anyway, I'm really appreciative for the whole experience.

Afterwards, we headed back home, I took a shower, got dressed in my suit, said a few shechechiyanus for putting on new and special clothing, grabbed all my stuff and headed out the door - to never return to my parents' house as a bachelor.

Married!

Jun. 15th, 2010 09:43 am
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I got all married up on Sunday. More in person if you want.
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stayed up all night packing. just called a coworker "dude". Movers are totally the best thing ever.
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[livejournal.com profile] chococynic: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World??! Somebody stop them! Hand them a stick of butter or something!
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it snowed. a lot. a real whole lot. like holy crap a lot.

So what did I do?

I learned how to make real snow cones - they are much better than from a truck.
I threw non-formed snow in the biggest organized local snowball fight.
I went sledding down a flight of stairs and almost into a creek.
I had more snow cones. ([livejournal.com profile] msschein: Look! [livejournal.com profile] leftyjew brought dessert... but he overcooked a little)
I walked along car-deserted streets - "Everyone was keeping shabbas".
I went to a baby shower.
I got really sore in my "staying up" muscles.
I read lots of blogs about the snow.
I went to work today, but stayed home Friday.
I did laundry.
I went in an igloo.
I had a really great time!
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In order to make a web page, first he had to gather the silicon, then dope it, then ... then write the bit-level assembly compiler, then write the higher-level language compiler, then write the operating system, then ..., then write the programming framework, then write the code, and then do his own QA and deployment. And forget about user testing! But when I kill the Java that came with my computer, all I have to do is Google for help!

Blessed are You, G-d, King of the Universe, Who creates an open and helpful tech community!
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Ask me in real life if you want to know where it is!
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I seem to enjoy life best when I'm planning for 3 things at once. For instance, right now I'm planning a Tu BiShvat seder, a wedding, I'm looking for housing, and I'm helping to run a Jewish education program, and I am happy as a clam. Maybe it's looking forward that makes me happy.
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Welp, the pipe dream of starting a new life in Silver Spring remains a pipe dream. [livejournal.com profile] chococynic and I will be signing a lease somewhere in the greater Dupontal area. Further updates will be forthcoming.

PS - I'm super proud of myself for figuring out how to capitalize an LJ username at the beginning of a sentence.
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I was surprised when I showed up and people started calling me Charlie. Charlie is apparently slang for a white boss man in Haiti.
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