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

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Among my many blessings growing up was the fact that I had almost perfect skin. I do not recall ever having to deal with so much as one pimple. As you can imagine, this was no small thing as a teenager. (Speaking of small things, perhaps it was a tikun for having to grow up small. hmmm)

Then, all of a sudden, when I hit the age of 52, I started to see red splotches on my cheeks and nose. After stalling for over a year, MHW finally persuaded me to see the dermatologist. (The only reason I went, in truth, was because I was afraid it might be yenem machlah). I was relieved to have been diagnosed with Rosacea.

The reason I bring this up today is that my firm brought in a professional photographer to take "head shots" of the senior executives. So, of course, yesterday, under immense pressure, my Rosacea started erupting like a volcano.

The good news: The photographer had makeup.


More MoC Muses on Jewish Charities

In the Jewish Star.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lagging Indicator

The main reason I have not posted much recently is that I am insanely busy at work. Things have reached an unprecedented level of craziness and each day brings another challenge the likes I have not seen in 23 years in this business. Make no mistake, I am not complaining. During these times, I am very grateful to be in this position.

A few minutes ago, on a wet and cold night in Manhattan, I called a car service to take me home from work later tonight. In the past, on nights like this, I would have gotten a smirk from the operator who would have told me either "fuggedabodit" or there's a 45 minute wait for cars. Tonight, no problem. "We will call you with a car number 20 minutes before your requested pickup time."

The demise of Wall Street reflected in car service availability.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

No Caroline

Here is Caroline Kennedy's statement regarding her withdrawal from consideration for appointment as Senator from New York:

"I, like, informed Governor Paterson today, you know, that for personal reasons I am, like, withdrawing my name from consideration, you know, for the United States Senate,"
It's bad enough that we had a carpetbagging Senator from Illinois by way of Arkansas by way of Washington, DC. Even if you didn't like her you had to admit she was competent. Nothing of the sort could be said about Caroline Kennedy. Good riddance.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I am saddened and disappointed that president Bush did not find it in his heart to commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence. I just don't get what they want with this man. While I've never been an apologist for Pollard, enough is enough. Where's the rachmanus? Very sad indeed, with virtually all hope now lost.

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Thoughts on A New Era

1. Nice speech; certainly not Lincolnesque. Too much blah in the middle but he ended very strong. Could have been 5 minutes shorter.

2. The stock market is down over 200 points as I write. Obviously, Wall Street does not share the Messianic vision. It's going to be a very tough year.

3. No matter what one's politics, you had to have been a stone not to have been moved by the scene in Washington this morning. The orderly, gracious passing of power to a black man, the millions in the crowd, the stirring words (at least at the end of the speech), Aretha, wow!

4. It is only a matter of time before the whacko left starts to lose patience with their Messiah. Obama strikes me as a pragmatic politician more than an idealogue and, especially given the financial situation we are in, the nut jobs of the ilk are sure to be disappointed.

5. I worry about Obama's understanding of the Islamic threat. Does he really understand what he's dealing with? Does he really think he can reason with these people? I am afraid that this does not bode well for Israel.

6. I also worry about his ability to deal with the financial crisis without turning the US into a socialist country. The nationaization is already terrible (albeit probably unavoidable. See what happened to poor Bank of America who got completely screwed by the government for being a good citizen and taking on Merrill (Toxic Waste) Lynch even after it became apparent that ML was in much, much worse shape than originally anticipated).

7. What was up with the Boy President's yellow scarf? Did he want to be noticed? Maybe it was a gift from Monica.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Two More Parking Morons

Moron 1. Last Friday, after Kabbolas Shabbos, a visitor to the shul approached the president and asked him if the janitor was around to move his car. He had been running late for shul and parked his car in the neighbor's driveway (blocking two other cars).

(The backstory is that we had a Rebbe in Residence and a Semi-Famous Shiny Shoe Singer leading the davening that night and this dodo came to be inspired, I guess. Needless to say, MoC davened at the local minyan across the street thereby avoiding much agmas nefesh. This story was related by witnesses).

The good news is that the irate neighbor called the police and the offender's car was ticketed to the tune of $110.

When he president located the janitor, the offender asked, "Can I trust him?"

Moron 2.

Sunday morning a visitor from the holy city of Far Rockaway came to the 8:15 minyan and parked his car on the street directly in front of the shul. He was politely told by one of the gabaim that (i) he was parking illegally and (ii) had a high probablility of being ticketed. He shrugged and said, "that's ok".

During the amidah, this very same man was davening with vein-popping kavanah. So much so that when his phone went off...twice...he simply ignored it.

The good news is that we stickered his car with a no-parking sticker. The bad news is he didn't get a ticket.


Another Example of What Makes America A Great Country

Deutsche Bank lost $1 billion from proprietary credit bets in the fourth quarter in a unit led by the New York-based co-head of global credit trading, Boaz Weinstein, people familiar with the matter said on Dec. 12. Weinstein plans to leave the firm with about 15 of his colleagues in the second quarter to start a hedge fund, the company said on Jan. 9.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Sherman in Gaza

Can you imagine William Tecumseh Sherman agreeing to a three hour cease fire in order to deliver humanitarian aid to the citizens of Atlanta? Nor can I.

How much longer would the Civil War have lasted and how many more Northern soldiers would have died had Sherman not employed his scorched earth policy?


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ein Od Milvado in Woodmere


Shivi Keller, the front man for Ein Od Milvado, will be playing a kumzitz in Woodmere this motsai Shabbos at 8 p.m. at the Gerber residence, 325 Howard Avenue (corner of Bryant Street). $15 per person at the door.

I have never seen Shivi Keller in person so I am looking very forward (and I hope to see my holy friend from the Ayalon Valley who also promises to be there).

Update: More Video of Shivi in Teaneck

(Hat Tip: JBVChabakukist)


B'Lev Echad

I know some of the people promoting this effort to honor the memories of the eight kedoshim who were murdered by our enemies at Mercaz Harav. I totally support it and so should you.

Historic Jewish Unity Event Being Planned for Anniversary of Mercaz Haraz Massacre

The historic Jewish event will be a worldwide broadcast of eight Torah scrolls being dedicated in memory of the eight boys who were murdered while learning Torah. The event will take place on the one-year anniversary of the attack, February 24th, 2009 in Jerusalem, Israel at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav. The event hopes to attract tens of thousands of people participating live at the dedication, while hundreds of thousands view the live broadcast online.

In addition to the Torah scroll dedication, a global learning initiative and mitzvah (good deeds) campaign in memory of the victims who devoted their lives to these causes has been launched. "The purpose of this is to create an unprecedented celebration of unity to commemorate these eight students and the Torah to which they were so committed," explains Jeremy Joszef of Woodmere, NY, one of the project's organizers.

An anonymous family from the New York area is funding the project and event, while a small group of young adults along with hundreds of volunteers from around the world are organizing it. The volunteers are using all avenues of communication in order to spread the event to all corners of the world. They have already reached 50,000 people in less than a month and continue to build momentum as the event draws closer.

The project is operating under the title of "B'lev Echad," the Hebrew term for "one heart." It is not being associated with any specific organization in the hopes that it will attract Jews from across the religious and political spectrum. "We could have easily gotten any organization to back us, but we specifically did not want to attach ourselves to any organization and bring in any politics," the anonymous family emphasized. "We didn't want to turn off any types of people from any community."

Participants who sign up will receive specific instructions regarding what to learn, with content geared toward both young people and adults. Schools will receive resource material, including signage, preparatory learning packets, and details about the 8-for-8 mitzvah campaign including suggested projects. All this information and more can be found by clicking here.

About B'lev Echad – B'lev Echad is a grassroots organization that is committed to involving everyone who is interested in participating in a meaningful and inspirational tribute. B'lev Echad is apolitical by design and as such is able to transcend borders regardless of religious persuasion/commitment and political affiliation and agenda. B'lev Echad is being funded by a family from the New York area and seeks no other funding.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Edamame, Baby Corn, Avocado and Hamburgers?

What do these four foods have in common?

They are four of The Vance's favorite foods. Who do you think is the influence for the first three and who for the last one?


Never Say Never Again: Marathon Version

Back around 1982, I worked on the financing for a James Bond film called Never Say Never Again. The title was an "in joke" since the movie starred Sean Connery as Agent 007, this after he had sworn never to do another Bond film.

The reason I bring this up is that I just committed to run the 2009 New York Marathon on behalf of Ohel. In 1995, upon finishing the New York Marathon and realizing how stupid it was to do a second marathon, I promised MHW that I would never do one again. I wonder if I have to do hatoras nedarim?

After finishing my fifth Alyn Ride and knowing that I wouldn't be going back next year, I decided that I didn't want to give up the approximately $25,000 that I've been able to raise each year for tzedakah. I figured that I could raise a like amount of money if I did the marathon and made the mistake of expressing that thought to the hanhalah at Ohel. The next thing you know, I'm in.

Since I still prefer riding my bike to running and have no intention of giving it up, I will be training in a wholly unconventional way. My plan is to run during the week and do very long rides on weekends. I will, of course, throw in an occasional half-marathon to train for the full marathon but I have no plans to do the kind of long runs that one is supposed to do before a marathon. I believe that if I can ride hard for seven hours, I can run at a 9 mile pace for four.

Anyway, that's my position and I'm sticking to it.

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