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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back and Better Than Ever

1. The Alyn Bike Ride was gruelling. Lots of fun, but gruelling. I may post my daily diaries in the next few days. Baruch Hashem, no injuries, no flats and no SAG vans.

2. Yerushalayim needs a power wash. It is really filthy. I don't know whether I'm just noticing an old phenomenon or it's worse than ever. On top of that, the Rakevet Hakalah (the light train) (known widely as the rakevet haklalah (the cursed train)), has managed to create massive chaos and traffic jams in Central J'lem. My only thought was that this had to have been planned. I refuse to believe that it's possible to randomly cause so much chaos, congestion and inconvenience without trying. (It is no wonder that a new, reform-minded mayor of J'lem was overwhelmingly elected during the ride. Good luck).

3. London was depressing. I met with about 15 different financial and legal firms over three days and there wasn't a remotely optimistic word among them. A bunch of Dead Men Walking. While we are facing difficult times here, everyone expects that it will be even worse, and longer, in the UK and Europe.

Lots more to say but I have to get some sleep.


Friday, November 07, 2008

No Yoplait...Now I Feel Safe

I had a surrealistic experience at Newark Airport yesterday.

While going through the metal detector and putting my bags through the X-Ray machine, my backpack was randomly picked out for a explosives exam.

Fair enough. That happens from time to time and someone who travels as frequently as I is bound to get picked out from time to time.

Then, for some reason, the explosive alarm was triggered when they tested my bag. Must have been the Mojo Bars.

They then proceeded to test every. single. item. in. my. bag.

Then they patted me down.

Then they strip searched me.

I know, I'm pretty scary. When the half-hour ordeal was over, the TSA officer wished me a good trip. Thank you.

(Luckily, I kept my cool and did not miss my flight (or land in jail) by telling them how idiotic this all was).

The good news is that their diligence wasn't just limited to me.

While this was all happening, they also patted down an 80 year-old couple who could barely walk because they couldn't go through the metal detector (because they both had pacemakers). This is reassuring since we all know how many terrorist actions have been perpetrated by barely breathing 80-year-old white couples.

Finally, the alert TSA crew also confiscated a Yoplait from a two year old chareidi girl. The supervisor ruled that while yogurt was ok, Yoplait was a liquid and, therefore, verbotten. Now I really feel safe.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Website Stress

Is there any corporate website that is more frustrating than El Al's? It just -doesn't - work.


On the Road Again - Take 5

Posting here will be very spotty over the next two weeks.

I am leaving to Israel in a couple of hours to do my fifth Alyn bike ride. After that, to London for three days of meetings.

So, for those of you with way too much time on your hands, sorry, I probably won't be helping you out much.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Three and a Half Going on 17

Today, The Toddler, henceforth to be known as "The Vance" (pronounced vahnce), turned three and a half.

BH, she is doing very well. She is happy and funny and loves school. She can also be a pain in the neck, like any three year old. And, although three and a half, she has the vocabulary and some of the mannerisms of an adolecent. This leads to endless laughter in our home. Not a day goes by where The Vance doesn't say something that totally cracks us up.

(To cite just one example: On Shemini Atzeres, The Vance was eating a plate full of candy (brought by one of our guests) for "gessert". OYD tried to take a couple of pieces by distracting The Vance. The Vance caught OYD in the act, looked her in the eye and said, "Nice Try!").

We are hopeful that her "situation" will resolve itself favorably over the course of the next few months and, in the meantime, enjoy her day by day.


Two Pushkas

For the first 50 years of my life (and probably for hundreds of years before that), shuls seemed to do just fine with just one tzedakah box. For the past three or so years, I have observed two tzedakah boxes; one for "bedek habayis" (upkeep of the shul) and the other for the Rabbi's diascretionary fund.

I find this disconcerting.

I like things simple, particularly early in the morning. I used to be able to drop a buck into the pushka and that was that. Now I have to decide between bedek habayis and RDF. That's a lot to ask at 6 a.m.


Monday, November 03, 2008

No Mas

After attending the hilula with Yosef Karduner and watching these videos during the same week, it occurred to me what a waste of time it is to bother writing about Shiny Shoe Jewish music (TM).

Karduner represents all that is holy, pure, refined and uplifting about Jewish music. Jumping MBD and his ilk represent all that is prust and unrefined. It is silly to even mention them in the same paragraph. It is like comparing, l'havdil, Mozart with Madonna.

So I won't anymore.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Pictures From The Hilula

Courtesy of Dixie Yid.

Before I leave on Thursday for my Alyn Hospital bike trip, I hope to write my last post on Jewish music. It occurred to me during last night's hilula that there is simply nothing more to say. I will explain soon.


What's With The Hand Kissing?

Among the many things that annoy me, add one more.

Here's the deal. You go to shul, say "good Shabbos" to a guy, shake his hand, and the next thing you know is the guy takes his hand to his lips and kisses it.

And the guy's not even a Sefardi.

Help me here. What's up with that?

I know it's meant to be some kind of show of respect or brotherhood or something but, seriously.

(This is different from the minhag among many sefardim to kiss the Rebbe's hand; something I know my Rebbe is totally uncomfortable with but has to deal with given the relatively large number of sefardim who attend the shul).

So, please. I'm looking for some answers.