The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Lot More Fun When You're In Shape

I just received an email from the organizers of my annual bike ride in Israel.

It reads, in part:

You should be starting to plan your training program for the spring and summer. This year’s ride will be in the desert, which adds a dimension of heat and dryness to the ride that many of you will not be used to. We will be doing some serious climbing no matter what route you choose, so you should include some hill work if you can. The Dead Sea is 400+ meters (1300+ feet) below sea level and the Negev plateau is about 300 meters (almost 1000 feet) above sea level. So climb you will and it’s a lot more fun when you’re in shape.
Really makes you want to do the ride.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Worst Nightmare



Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Last Science Fair

I have been ranting for years about the uselessness of school science fairs to all but the two or three eggheads that populate each elementary school class.

Baruch Shepetrani.

Our younger daughter just finished her eighth grade science fair project. That means we're done forever with this nonsense. OYD spent all day Sunday working on it, did a masterful job, and got a grade of 100.

The project, though, really had nothing to do with science. It had to do with writing and computer skills, and to some extent, logical thinking. But not science.

The same skills could be engaged in a topic of much more interest and importance to the children. Pick your topic. Jewish history, tefilah, Zionism, etc.

My days of screaming about science fairs are officlally over. Now it's your problem.

CAVEAT: If the Baby stays with us, we will choose an elementary school based solely on whether or not they have science fairs. (Not really, but it's nice to dream)).


Monday, March 27, 2006


Aron Razel, Shlomo Katz and Ari Boianjiu will be performing at a special night of music sponsored by Aish Kodesh, this motsai Shabbos at the Young Israel of Lawrence Cedarhurst (corner of Broadway and Spruce in Lawrence).

The gig will start at 9 p.m. Admission is $20, $15 for students (a bargain at twice the price). Please pass the word.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Very Tough Week for HAFTR

No, this is not what you're thinking. I'm talking hockey.

This evening, DRS's (HALB's boy's high school) varsity hockey team defeated HAFTR's team 2 - 1 in a very hard fought semi-final. This loss comes on the heals of semi-final losses by HAFTR to the DRS Junior Varsity (3-2 in overtime) and to the HALB 7th and 8 th grade team (2 - 0).

How have the mighty fallen.

The game itself was fantastic. This was the third meeting between the teams. Each one was exciting but this was the best played and hardest fought. After giving up a goal in the first two minutes, DRS dominated play the rest of the first period and managed to tie the score with a few minutes remaining.

The second period was plagued by penalties on both sides and there was no real flow to the game. (The refs did a very good job of controlling the game; as it was the game got very physical). The period ended with the score still tied, 1 - 1.

The third period started with DRS narrowly missing a scoring chance on a power play. DRS was then called for a penalty and here is where the game turned. DRS's penalty killer put an easy half court shot on net and followed it aggressively. Instead of pouncing on the ball, the HAFTR goaltender, in a brutal error, failed to get control. DRS's man got to the ball and poked it in for a one-goal lead.

The rest of the period saw an ever more desperate HAFTR team trying to tie the score. Here, however, DRS's greater depth came in to play. Despite HAFTR's desperation, DRS, whose players were generally fresher (because the coaching staff used many more players during the course of the game), had the better of the play for the remainder of the game (and, indeed, had the better scoring chances). The last few minutes were wild, but DRS was able to hold on.

So, next Sunday, IYH, the MoC family will be going to its 6th scholastic hockey championship game of which we have so far won three and lost two. (Sadly for our older son, both losses (each by one goal in varsity championship games) came at the expense of his teams and OYS is 3 - 0, two 7th/8th grade and one JV championship). I am glad that we only have one more year of this. I can't take much more. As our older son said, it is much more nerve-racking to watch these games than to play in them.

As always in these situations, I feel very bad for the boys on the other team. They played very hard and could easily have been on the other side of the score. I especially feel bad for the goalie who will, doubtless, have a bad night tonight. These teams met three times this year and the total goal differencial was only two.

One week to recover.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

"My" Car, II

Our Younger Son (OYS) just celebrated his 17th birthday. Happy birthday, OYS.

This is a very significant birthday. It means I no longer have dominion over my car. Not only that, but now MHW and I have to mediate car usage between OYS and OOD.

This post, written two years ago, more or less summarizes the situation; just change daughter to son and add the complication of a daughter who gets home from Stern College on Thursday afternoons. It's even the same car (although it's now been paid off).

I have more than a year before OYS goes to Yeshiva in Israel and I get my car back.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Even More Scholastic Hockey

The other night I went to a JV hockey semifinal between DRS and the distinguished, currently co-ed institution from across town. Since I have no dog in this fight (our son is on varsity) attending this game proves beyond a doubt that I don't have much of a life.

(The DRS fans were taunting the HAFTR fans by calling out the nickname of another local yeshiva's team (if you know what I mean); the HAFTR fans responded by calling out: "Where'r your girls". You gotta love it).

DRS had beaten HAFTR three times already this season so one might have expected an easy win for DRS. Wasn't to be. While DRS had the better of the play in the first period, they walked away with only a one goal lead, a shot from the point by a defenseman.

DRS scored quickly in the second period on a wraparound; a momentary lapse by HAFTR's goalie who was otherwise exemplary. From that point on, however, the tide turned. HAFTR scored the next two goals and regulation ended in a tie.

In overtime, HAFTR continued to press the play but, suddenly, DRS got a quick shot on goal and scored on a rebound to win the game, 3-2. Just like that.

Great game. I felt sorry for the HAFTR kids who played their hearts out and deserved to win as much as DRS.

DRS is 12 - 0 for the season and will be playing TABC, also 12 - 0, for the championship. Sadly, I won't be able to make it because I have a business commitment.

This Sunday the varsities of these same two teams meet for the third time this year in the varsity semifinal. I am getting too old. My nerves can't take much more of this.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Belated Megilah Meme

Romach tagged me for the megilah meme but I just discovered it. So, let's make it quick.

This is what I was thinking during the megilah reading.

Monday Night:

1. Wow, this ba'al kriyah is moving. He's MUCH faster than our regular guy.

2. This place is empty. Where is everyone?

3. Spagetti and cheese to break my fast. It doesn't get better than that.

Tuesday Morning (6 a.m. minyan):

1. Wow, this guy is ridiculously fast. We'll be outta here in no time.

2. It's so much more pleasant without the cap guns going off at Haman's name.

3. In about 15 minutes I'll be having a babka top and cup of Joe at Toddy's. How great is that?

I won't tag anyone cause it's too late.


Ari Boiangiu

I was going to write a review of Ari Boiangiu's debut CD, Rosh Ashmurot, but Jewish Music Blog beat me to it and pretty much sums up my thoughts.

Besides being the extraordinary lead guitarist (and bandleader) for Neshama Orchestra, Ari is one of the sweetest, nicest guys you'll ever meet and has managed to maintain his timimus despite being exposed to the often sketchy J music world. The CD reflects this sweetness as well as his virtuosity.

My only personal beef with the CD: I sense that Ari purposely restrained his electric guitar playing; I would have prefered that he would have let loose a little more. On the other hand, Ari showed us some sensational acoustic guitar playing, a side of him we don't often see.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Shmuel

Yesterday was our grandson's first birthday, zzg.

We feel fortunate beyond words to have been blessed with such a cute, healthy, happy baby. (And to have had the baby named after my dad, z'l, only a few months after his passing, brought great nechamah).

With the arrival into our home of our own foster baby only a few months after Shmuel was born and the craziness that that has engendered (how many people do you know in the non-chareidi world are raising babies younger than their grandchildren), perhaps I haven't adequately expressed to our son and daughter in law just how much Shmuel means to us.

May he continue to thrive and be a source of nachas to his parents , grandparents, great grandparents and all of Klal Yisrael.


The Sad Life of a Jar of Lekvar

I opened my refrigerator this morning and staring me in the face was a 3/4 full jar of lekvar (prune filling). MHW and the girls had made hamentashen for Purim using the lekvar but the vast majority of the jar remained.

What will become of it? There is absolutely no use for lekvar other than filling hamentashen.

In all likelihood, MHW will toss it in the trash just before Pesach. How sad.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

On the Road Again: Polyurethane Man

I finally got on my bike again. Friday was a beautiful day and the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend was pretty good, so on Friday morning I called MHW and asked her to bring by disassembled bike to the shop to be put together (I have not gotten on the bike since the end of the Alyn Ride, in November).

I went to the vasikin minyan this morning and was on the bike by 7:15. It was still pretty cold that early so I put on polyurethane arm warmers, polyurethane leggings, polyurethane shoe covers, a polyurethane headband that covers my ears, a long sleeve undershirt and a windbreaker. I was ready for anything. Except rain. Which it did, on the way home. Polyurethane cannot keep the wet out and when you get wet, you get cold. So, the last twenty-five minutes were pretty cold. But, after the experiences I had during the two days in the Golan Heights during last year's Alyn ride, nothing will ever phase me again.

And, there is nothing like a hot shower when you get back from a ride like this morning's. 8 months to go till the ride.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Two Years

Two years ago today, on a whim, I started blogging. For the record, BloginDm was my initial inspiration. In that time I have posted almost 600 times (not including my biking blog), retired from blogging more times than Michael Jordan, married off a son, lost my father,z'l, was blessed with a grandson (named after my father), changed jobs, more or less lost a fosterboy, was blessed with a foster baby, met some great fellow bloggers, had a lot of fun, and most importantly, was mifarseim the term "Shiny Shoe Music" which is now almost universally accepted, even in the shiny shoe music world. (Chaim Dovid coined the term. We were talking and he referred to the "musicians with the shiny black shoes"; I took it from there). If I do nothing else in my blogging carrer, dayeinu.

Last night I was perusing some of my earlier posts. I was so much sharper back then. The truth is, I don't have much time to think or write about serious (or trivial) issues. In the beginning I blogged because I was bored; now I blog to take breaks from my very intense job. Some people do yoga to relieve stress, I blog (I actually do yoga too but that's a story for another day).

There are issues that I have been meaning to address seriously, e.g., Jewish education, and perhaps I will down the line, probably during weekends.

Finally, I greatly appreciate your attention and comments and I look forward to continuing this silliness until my next scheduled retirement.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hagbah Discrimination II

A while ago I posted about how I, as a virtically challenged American, am constantly discriminated against when it comes to Hagbah. I noted that since my bar mitzvah, I have been to hundreds, if not thousands of minyanim, and I've only been chosen for hagbah a handful of times. (Despite the fact that I am in excellent physical shape, can press my own weight, etc.)

Well, while over the years society has addressed other forms of discrimination, many of which have become unacceptable, hagbah discrimination continues until this day, as exemplified by the following story, maisa she'hayah.

Our older son (OOS) went to the hashkamah minyan in his shul this past Shabbos. During layning he was tapped by the gabbai and told to do hagbah.

OOS, who, at 5"6" and probably less than 140 lbs. is huge by MoC family standards, was surprised but excited. Now 22, he couldn't remember the last time he was asked to do hagbah.

Layning ended and the gabbai called, "yamdu hamagbiah v'hagolel."

OOS got up, and walked over to the Torah. Arriving at the same time was a man about 6'2" who, presumably, was called for gelilah. The man took one look at OOC, headed straight for the Torah, and without a word, took the handles and lifted the Torah above his head.

OOS is looking forward to the next time he gets called for hagbah, probably in about 5 years.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

PSA II: Digital Torah

Aish Kodesh is now exclusively selling MP3/MP4 versions of Rav Moshe Weinberger's shiurim through its web site. There are over 1000 shiurim available, each at the price of $2.25.

(For those who still prefer CDs, Rav Weinberger's shiurim are available here.

Modern technology has enabled the shul to make these shiurim available at less than half the cost of what CDs or cassettes used to cost. More important, people in Israel and all over the world can access the shiurim without having to pay ridiculous shipping costs or worry about customs, etc. (And, from the shul's perspective, there are no more inventory issues. All you need is bandwith and some storage capacity. It's a win-win for everyone).

So, go crazy.


PSA I: Music

Aron Razel and Shlomo Katz will be doing a concert at Aish Kodesh on Motsai Shabbos, April 1st. Admission at the door, $20, $15 for students. More to follow.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dov Bear's Hall of Fame

As usual, I'm right on top of things. I just discovered that I was elected a charter member of DovBear's Hall of Fame. I'm honored. If I knew how, I would put the fancy emblem on my blogroll (or whatever that space on the right is called).

The reason I didn't discover it until now is that, sadly, I don't often read the Dovster's blog anymore. For two reasons. First, I just don't have the time. I barely have time to post on my own blog and I only check a handful of other blogs each day. Second, if I wanted to be aggravated, I would read the New York Times.

Despite the fact that he is hopelessly lost politically and often arrogant, DovBear can still be one of the funniest reads in the Jblogosphere. I will try to make my way over there a little more frequently.


Trading Floors

Last week I attended a meeting that took place in a conference room overlooking the trading floor of one of the city's well-known investment banks. Like most modern trading floors, it was vast; hundreds of turrets, most with two or three large screens.

During the meeting, I noticed a couple of guys throwing around a football. This might strike people who are not used to a trading floor environment as strange but it is perfectly normal on "the floor". Indeed, the football catch brought back sweet memories of my days on the trading floor. I myself have been involved in countless catches.

In 1986, I joined an investment bank as counsel. While I had a regular office, I spent a great deal of time on the floor. All the noise, the ocassional screaming, the balls flying around, the loony array of characters (and the salty language) took some getting used to. In the beginning, talking on the phone while on the floor was quite a challenge. Drafting or editing documents was a real test because I was used to a quiet environment that was conducive to concentrating.

Quickly, however, I got used to it and actually began to love the energy generated on a busy trading floor. What made things particularly fun was that we were in a new and developing business and we were sort of making it up as we went. And, we were the market leader. Those were wild times.

A couple of years later we moved to another space and my office actually overlooked the floor. From that point on I was almost never in my office and got completely comfortable with the lunacy of the trading floor. I never had as much fun as I had during those years (at least until now).