What’s Up With That?!?!

March 25, 2008 at 2:12 pm | Posted in News and Views, Opinion piece | 1 Comment

We’ve heard all about Client #9, threesomes, adulterous affairs, and scandalous text messages. If you think this is about the private lives of Britney, Lindsay, and Paris think again! By now, we’ve all heard about the downfall of Eliot Spitzer, the alleged threesomes of ex-Governor McGreevey, his wife, and their driver, and the extramarital troubles of the current governor of New York, David Patterson. Now we are hearing about the extra curricular activities of Kwame Kilpatrick, the mayor of Detroit.  Doesn’t anyone take cold showers anymore?

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Juno

January 9, 2008 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Movies, Opinion piece | Leave a comment
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 WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

The movies that stay in your head are not necessarily the most dramatic or violent movies. They are movies that take you back in time, teen movies have always done well in box office, well most of the time. Who doesn’t remember Ferris Bueller and the John Hughes trilogy of Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and Breakfast Club? The latest entry into this genre is Juno and it has been getting fantastic reviews. Is the movie worth the hype?

While Juno is a funny, amusing movie I don’t think it is the greatest movie ever made. The dialogue was witty although I don’t think most high school kids really talk that way in real life. I enjoyed all the acting, particularly Allison Janney and Jk Simmons as Juno’s parents. I really loved the scene where Juno’s step mom tells off the ultrasound tech. I was touched when Juno’s dad was telling Juno to find someone who loves her for exactly who she is. Her parents were making the best out of a tough situation.

 I loved seeing the relationship between Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. You could see there were some issues right from the beginning and I liked how their relationship was portrayed honestly, adopting a baby was not going to fix their marriage. In the end, the dad left the marriage.

Overall, I do think Juno is worth the $10 admission fee. It is a slightly new twist on the teen movie.

Judaism and Ice Cream

December 10, 2007 at 9:38 pm | Posted in Judaism, Opinion piece | 1 Comment

What do Judaism and ice cream have in common? Ice cream comes in almost any flavor you can think of and as this article in the New York Times demonstrates, services also come in different flavors, especially if you are lucky enough to live in a large city. Reading this article made me think back to when I first started going to services regularly in New York City. First, a little background: The only times I went to shul when I was a kid were during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Imagine being in a building where you are one of the youngest people there and reciting prayers that have little, if any, meaning to you. You might think that I would have an intense dislike of  synagogue and at one point, I really did. Moving to a new city gave me the opportunity to go to Jewish events and see what I had been missing out on.

I started going to the beginner/intermediate services at Aish Hatorah 5 years ago. There was separate seating for men and women and most of the service was conducted in Hebrew; asking questions was encouraged, particularly in the part of the service where the Torah portion is read. I also started learning at Aish during the week and made some very good friends that I still keep in touch with today. It was the first time that I saw Judaism as having meaning in my everyday life and not just something I acknowledge only during holidays.

I also went to services at Reform and Conservative shuls; one time it was for a bat mitzvah; other times I went with friends or on my own. When I went to the Reform shuls, I felt like I was in church with all the organ music. It was very disorienting. I also tried services at a popular West side synagogue known for their music; while their services did not appeal to me, I have gone back a couple times for concerts.

I identify and connect the most with Orthodox services. I like the separate seating, it just reinforces that you come to synagogue to connect with G-d. Afterwards, it’s time to socialize : ). However, I understand that not everyone feels the same way. For those who are uncomfortable with Orthodox services, I feel that it’s better to go to a non-Orthodox service and truly connect with Judaism rather than go to Orthodox services and resent the whole thing or worse yet, not having any connection with Judaism.

What kind of services do I go to? I go to intermediate services at my shul, there is a nice crowd of 30-40 people that show up, sometimes more if there is a bar mitzvah/bat mitzvah going on. They are very similar to the Aish services I started going to. When I am visiting my parents on the weekend, I do go to the shul I mentioned in the first paragraph. I still am one of the youngest people there, 3 rabbis have moved to the area in the past 3-4 years and they have brought new life to the shul. I am very friendly with one of the rabbis in particular and have shared many Shabbas and holiday meals with him and his family.

I can’t get ice cream out of my head now. Here are my attempts at analogies:

Traditional Orthodox services: vanilla ice cream

Carlebach services: Ben & Jerry’s Phish Phood

Anyone want to try?

Denial Ain’t Just a River in Egypt

November 21, 2007 at 3:12 pm | Posted in News and Views, Opinion piece | Leave a comment

The New York Times has an interesting article on the role of denial in relationships. If you want to look at the whole article, go here.

 There is a concept in Judaism known as shalom bayis. When used in a healthy way, denial is an essential tool needed in keeping peace in the home. It not only applies to relationships between husband and wife but is essential in frienships, relationships between employers and employees, coworkers, and last but not least family. If we held on to every bad thing ever said and/or have done to us by the people closest to us, relationships would not last very long, that’s for sure.  I might have more to say on this later.

ETA: Regarding the title, if you’re a big fan of Saturday Night Live, then you know who I’m referring to .

Go It Alone?

November 2, 2007 at 8:10 pm | Posted in Judaism, News and Views, Opinion piece | 3 Comments

Judaism places a huge emphasis on marriage and children; you might have heard of the phrase “be fruitful and multiply”, you can see that in Genesis 1:27-28

“And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth. ” (taken from www.chabad.org)

Jewfaq has this to say about the importance of marriage in Judaism:

“Marriage is vitally important in Judaism. Refraining from marriage is not considered holy, as it is in some other religions. On the contrary, it is considered unnatural. The Talmud says that an unmarried man is constantly thinking of sin…….Marriage is not solely, or even primarily, for the purpose of procreation. Traditional sources recognize that companionship, love and intimacy are the primary purposes of marriage, noting that woman was created in Gen. 2:18 because “it is not good for man to be alone,” rather than because she was necessary for procreation.” (taken from www.jewfaq.org)

What happens when you are dating for what seems like forever and you are no closer to getting married now than you were when you started dating? Women have one factor that weighs on them very heavily, especially as they get older. Newsweek has an interesting article this week on women who choose to be single mothers rather than have no children.  I can’t say I blame these women, sometimes you can try every avenue in the book in order to get married and if it doesn’t work out, what do you do? I think we are so lucky to live in an era where women have options. In previous generations, there was no IVF, or sperm donation. There was more of a stigma attached to single motherhood than there is now. We have good old Murphy Brown to thank for paving the way.

Even though I support the decisions of the women profiled in the Newsweek article, I am not sure that I would made the same choice if I was in their shoes. Hopefully I will not have to find out. With all the emphasis on marriage and children in Orthodox Judaism, I wonder where single people fit in. It is very easy to be single and Jewish in New York City but when you move out of such a large city, you find that religious Jewish singles have it very hard. At least in NYC, we can go to events and classes every night and meet people our age. In more suburban and rural communities, your options are few and far between. For example, the shul I go to when I visit my parents serves mostly senior citizens and young families. Where does a young, single Jew fit in that shul?

I was browsing the Chabad website and I came across the “Dear Rachel” column, women ask Rachel a variety of questions and she answers their questions using Jewish wisdom. A single woman in her 40s asks Rachel if there is a place in Judaism for her even though she is not married and does not have any kids. In her answer to the woman who asked the question, Rachel gave some sensitive thoughts that not only answered this woman’s question but I find that any woman can use this advice in her own life. If you want to see the whole column click here.

“Our Sages teach that there are “70 faces” to the Torah. That means that for every word, every sentence and every concept that exists in the Torah, that there are (at least) 70 different ways of understanding it. Take for example the commandment “be fruitful and multiply.” The classic and simple meaning is “have and raise children.” But if you care to expand your conceptual framework a bit, you could also understand this to mean: be creative, work hard, and contribute to this world and your good deeds and effort will be your legacy, the fruits of your labor… your spiritual children if you will. “

“So even though you may sense an ideal of a married life with children, it is important to understand that there are many ways to be a wife and a mother. We can wed ourselves to observing the Shabbath…And we can be a mother to a sick person in need of love and attention. We can nurture a community project and reach out to others in need. There are wonderful opportunities to wed, and worthy projects to mother. “

I support any informed and educated decision a woman makes regarding having children. We only have one chance in this world and if a woman is not married and wants to have children, if not having kids is something she will regret for the rest of her life, then she should have a child, whether it’s by IVF, adoption, or other methods. If a woman does not have children, then she deserves the same respect. If she is making the best decision for herself, then who am I to criticize? Who is anyone to judge?

Going to the Chuppah

October 31, 2007 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Dating, Judaism, Opinion piece, Relationships | 1 Comment

Last night I went to my chavrusa’s engagement party (for the sake of anonymity, I will call her D.) We learn together once a week through the Aish 1 on 1 learning program. We’ve known each other a little over a year and have formed a close friendship.

D. and her fiance were dating for 5 weeks before they got engaged. They are not the only couple I know of who got engaged after a short time of dating. Bill’s friend recently got engaged after dating her fiance for 2 months (before dating, they were acquaintances/friends for 5 years) and my friend, J., got engaged to her then boyfriend, now husband, after 3 months of dating.

How well do you really know someone after 1-3 months of dating? D. told me that she went on 13 dates with her fiance’ and that each date was 5-10 hours in length. If you are scratching your head in confusion, here’s a little background: D. and her fiance live in religious neighborhoods in the New York area. D. was brought up religious and I think her fiance was too. If you want a primer on dating in orthodox jewish circles, go here. During those dates,  D. and her fiance were shomer negia, and I also assume that they will be shomer negia until their wedding day. Imagine 12-13 dates of 5-10 hours each spent talking, you get to know someone very well that way.

I can’t help but look back on my thoughts on dating and marriage before becoming observant compared to the way I feel now. Before I became observant, I used to think that dating for years at a time before getting engaged was the norm.  There might also be a large amount of time between when a couple gets engaged and when they get married, depending on how large (and expensive) of a wedding they want. Some of the couples I know dated for several years before getting married, we are talking family and friends, friends of friends, Jewish and non-Jewish too. This was the norm for weddings I went to before I became observant.

It took a 2 year relationship that ended for me to think “Hmm, maybe Orthodox Jews are on to something.” It takes a long time to integrate new beliefs into your old way of thinking, that is something I’ve noticed with my friends who have become observant. We have to navigate this new world of religion into our lives and try not to step on too many toes in the process.

I have noticed that orthodox judaism has seeped its way into pop culture and it sometimes makes it easier to explain to non-Jewish and non-observant Jewish friends and family why we are observant. VH1 had a popular reality show earlier this year on a former TV star who woke up one day, realized that he is in his 40s and has never been married, and wants to examine how he got there.   I think a show like this can really open the doors for discussion between a newly observant person and his/her family about Jewish perspecitves on dating.

As for me, while I don’t feel that 1-3 months of dating is enough time to date someone before engagement, I have shortened my time frame considerably. Now I feel that 6-12 months of dating is a good amount of time for a couple to date before getting engaged. When I started writing this post, I had a different idea of where this would go. This was a little more serious than I originally intended and I still don’t feel like it has a clear sense of purpose, it was a very scattered post : (  Writing is not always a smooth process, hope you get something out of this post anyway.

Heroes Season 2 Chapter 5: The Debut of Veronica Mars

October 29, 2007 at 2:10 am | Posted in Opinion piece, TV shows | Leave a comment

I loved this last episode of Heroes. I have read quite a few reviews stating that the quality of the first few episodes is downhill from the last season and I disagree. It takes time to build a storyline and we are so used to instant gratification; it’s like we don’t know what to do when things move slowly. I feel that this episode is the beginning of a great payback for the viewers.

I loved the storyline with Nathan, Matt, and Matt’s dad. It turns out that Matt’s dad can not only read minds but can also trap people in their own nightmares. The scenes of Parkman and Matt fighting their demons only in the end to figure out that they are fighting each other was the coolest scene of the season so far. The picture of the older generation is a great foundation for the first half of the season; I can’t wait to see what’s next.

I like Kristen Bell’s character; the scene where she says “I killed him, so what’s the big deal” cracked me up. Bill and I discussed who could be Elle’s dad, and he thinks that Parkman’s dad is also Elle’s dad, which I think makes sense. Parkman was 13 when his dad abandoned the family, there seems to be a 13 year age difference between Parkman and Elle.

BTW, does anyone know of bars in the new york area that shows Heroes on Monday night? I would love to find a group of fans who are crazy about the show as much as I am.

Don’t Cry

October 25, 2007 at 4:38 pm | Posted in News and Views, Opinion piece | Leave a comment
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This article caught my eye this morning, my first impression upon reading the title was “Geez, I knew that already”. I don’t think I have ever seen a man cry at my current job or my previous job, I can count a handful of cases when I have seen my female co-workers cry. For a little background, my previous job was working with teenagers with autism at a school in central New Jersey. I held that job for 3 years. I work now for a large medical institution doing administrative work, previously I worked for a small non-profit organization doing the same kind of work. I have been working in administration for 6 years.

At my previous job, there was only a handful of times that I cried. The few times I cried were due to job-related issues rather than co-worker issues.  I remember a very difficult day of teaching which unfortunately happened the day I was being evaluated. There were some unexpected incidents that threw me off and I couldn’t recover. I failed that evaluation and as soon as the day ended, I had a really good cry. As a result of my evaluation, there were some changes in our classroom that were beneficial for the students and the teachers, and when I was re-evaluated, I passed with flying colors. I ended up leaving my job at the end of that school year.

The job itself was extremely stressful, working with teenagers can be challenging, when you add autism to the mix you really don’t know what you’re in for. I liked the unpredictability of the job, and the wealth of opportunities available for teaching. Any time we went to the grocery store or we went out to eat at Applebees was an opportunity for teaching. However, there are severe issues when you work with that population, specifically issues with aggression. What initially attracted me to the job proved to be my undoing.

At my current job, I sit at a desk almost all day as compared to walking around and being on my feet almost all day at my previous job. The job itself is pretty predictable, the most difficult part of this job is dealing with the different personalities and egos of the people I work with. I work with very nice and interesting people from all over the world, some of the scientists on staff have come to the US from all over the world (China, Hungary, Italy, England).

There are 10-12 people in the labs I work with. I have to take care of all their day to day needs; ordering office supplies for the labs, human resources issues, paperwork for all the studies and grants going on, etc. The times that I’ve been so frustrated to the point that I burst into tears were when colleagues got upset because they felt like their issues weren’t being handled as quickly as they would have liked it to be. The fault for that lies with me for not communicating as openly as I should have; it is important in that situation to communicate what is going on with certain things and not to let things slide.

There have also been times when personal issues outside of work have gotten in the way and have caused me to cry at the job. Those times to me have been the most disappointing, I’m a firm believer that when you are at work, you focus on work and you put all personal issues aside. Of course, there are issues that are too difficult to put aside and I am not referring to those. I am referring to issues such as stepping in dog poo on your way to work, your dry cleaning not being ready on time, etc.

How has crying in the office affected me? Well, people at my jobs have always been surprised to see me upset about anything. Most people view me as a happy, well-adjusted person who rarely lets anything get to her; maybe it’s a relief to some people when I get upset, like “See, she’s not happy all the time!”. My co-workers have been supportive and understanding. G-d only knows what they say behind my back but I am assuming, perhaps naively, that there is none of that going on in my case. You can chalk that up to wishful thinking…

After the whole Ellen DeGeneres incident, I feel a little better about the times I cried at work. Only a few people saw me cry, as opposed to millions of people in Ms. DeGeneres’ case. We’re human beings, not robots, and sometimes we cry, even at work. I will conclude with a deep thought by Jack Handey.

If you want to share a time when you cried at work, do so in the comments section.

A Night With Morrissey: Finding My Inner Misery Chick

October 24, 2007 at 2:27 pm | Posted in Music, Opinion piece | 1 Comment
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Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Morrissey at the Hammerstein Ballroom. I went with my friend, LR.  We always see each other at the monthly Shabbat dinners at our friend’s apt. in the neighborhood and we bond over our shared taste in music (Pet Shop Boys, New Order, The Smiths) and fondness for putting lame cliches in conversation and cracking each other up.

When I told LR that Morrissey is in town and I can get cheap tickets, of course he agreed to accompany me. We start off our evening with a yummy dinner of chicken soup and french fries at Kosher Delight and then head down to the HB. First thing I do is ask if there’s a coat room, and to my surprise, there is no coat room. After a minute of whining, I get over it and we look at the merchandise and gasp at the $35 price of Morrissey T-shirts. We make our way to the left side of the floor for the opening act.

Kristeen Young opened up for Morrissey. She started at 8:00 on the dot, not 8:00 on rock n’roll time. Her voice could be described as ‘haunting’ and paired with a hard rock edge could be an interesting combination. After 3-4 songs of the same thing, I was tired of the whole thing. You know you don’t like an opening act when you are texting your boyfriend in the middle of it. After 40 minutes, she got off the stage and we had to watch 20 minutes of random videos while they prepared the stage for Morrissey.

At 9:00, Morrissey comes out, decked out in denim. His hair is now gray instead of black and he has put on some weight but he still has such presence and command of the stage.  The first words Morrissey says to the crowd are “Welcome to the Frankenstein ballroom” and starts the show off with an awesome rendition of “Stop Me”. Some other songs he performed were “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side”, “Irish Blood, English Heart”, “Tomorrow”, “Sister I’m A Poet”, Disappointed”, and “The Boxer”.

Morrissey is one of those artists whose upbeat songs even sound sad. His lyrics are always thought provoking and the melodies of his songs range from rock n’ roll with incredible guitar solos to slow and may I say, depressing melodies with mournful violins thrown in for good measure. I did not know of at least half the songs he performed and I thought I knew alot of his music. Sometimes the quality of an artist’s music decreases a bit with age but I find with Morrissey his music has always been the same high quality and sometimes even better. I would get his latest CD (I think it’s the one with Irish Blood, English Heart).

The mark of a good concert is if I would see the artist again and I would absolutely love to see Morrissey perform again, the only thing I would change is if Kristeen Young were to perform again as opening act I’d make sure to be late to the concert.

PS: Dan, if you are reading this post, I did not forget your question. He did perform “How Soon Is Now”, it was the next to last song he performed and it got quite the reception. Here is his performance of the song from Monday night.

Beyond BT

October 23, 2007 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Judaism, Opinion piece | Leave a comment
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After a 6 month absence, my latest post is at Beyond BT. Check it out here.

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