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

Friday, October 27, 2006

Random Thoughts From Israel

The Flight: I had a restful and uneventful flight. 3 glasses of chardonnay and one ambien tend to have that effect.

Driving: I rented a car for one day. It made more sense to do that since I had to get from the airport to where I'm staying, drop some stuff off at OOS, and get my bike to Alyn.

(I was also able to stop off at the Mother Ship and drop off some CDs with the Rebbe of Klal Yisrael. That alone was worth the cost of the rental.)

In less than 24 hours I made about eight U turns and managed to get cursed at a similar number of times. Can't the Israelis take a joke? It occurred to me that while I don't always know how to get where I'm going, I at least recognize when I'm going the wrong way. That's not a small thing.

The Ride: I'm still wondering when I'm going to get excited about the bike ride. Since it starts on Sunday, I hope soon. I'm still very wary of the start of the ride when 450 riders, many of whom have never done anything like this, will be decending from Har Hatzofim to the Dead Sea; 18 miles straight down with gradients as high as 15%. I don't understand what the organizers were thinking.

Shabbat Shalom to all (I can say that here).


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Sticky CD Post

Since I am leaving tonight for my annual bike ride in Israel, I am updating the CD post and will leave it here until I get back.


WHAT THE JBLOGOSPHERE IS SAYING: Seraphic Secrets, DovBear, Orthomom, A Simple Jew, BloginDm*, Krum As A Bagel, Life of Rubin.

I am not aware of any other reviews. Please bring them to my attention if you see them.

*BloginDm is my blogging daddy. Not only did he inspire me to start this drivel, but I hold of his musical opinions so a favorable review from him meant a lot to me.

WHERE YOU CAN HEAR ABOUT THE CD: Interviews with Nachum Segal and on the Sameach Podcast (at the 15 minute mark).


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The JM in the Am Interview Archived:


Nachum Segal was as gracious as ever. We all had a good time.

(BTW, the young men from Omek Hadavar will be in the studio tomorrow)


MoC Meets Maria (Sort Of): Nine Minutes and Eight Seconds of Fame

Last week was one of the wildest weeks of my professional life. On Monday I was quoted on the front page of the New York Times (above the fold, no less) in an article about hedge funds and confidential information (fascinating stuff...I know).

When I got to work that morning, there was a message from a producer for CNBC. Would I be willing to appear on a television show that afternoon called At the Bell?

I called my publicity guy and he set it up. An interview that afternoon at 4:30 p.m. with Maria Bartiromo. Big stuff. All hell broke loose in my office.

First problem: I needed a haircut. It was a day after yom tov and I was a mess. I ran downstairs to one of these haircut factories and, luckily, Ricardo was free. Fifteen minutes later I was back in my office, nice and neat. Sometimes it pays to have very little hair left.

Second problem: I was dressed like a shlump. Well, perhaps not like a shlump, but certainly not ready-for-Maria. I was wearing my usual work clothes. Blue button down Oxford shirt (long-sleaves, of course), black Easy Fit pants from the Gap.

I also keep a white shirt and a blue sports jacket in the office so those were theoretically available.

The first thing we did was ask one of our administrative assistants to go to Brooks Brothers and buy me a tie. In a scene reminiscent of a certain cable television show that I've heard of but never seen, he came back with three ties and the entire office staff decided which one I should wear. (I cannot be trusted with such weighty decisions).

The more we thought about it the more we were sure that a sports jacket would not do. I needed a suit. We sent a car service to my home to pick up one of my black pinstripe suits (that's all I own; black pinstripe suits).

I was now hooked up.

I got to the green room which was decidedly not green, hung out for a while and was eventually led to the "studio". The studio was a tiny room with a camera and a monitor. There were no actual live people operating anything and Maria herself was on the other side of the Hudson River.

The interview itself was nervewracking but I apparently held my own against an onslaught from Maria. At least that's what my mother says.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Nochi Krohn: Not So Simple

This post is in response to a post by my Jblogging buddy, A Simple Jew, in which he reviews Nochi Krohn's new CD, Ananim.

ASJ gives the CD a rating of B- (apparently, upgraded from an even lower mark after a couple of more listens).

I must say I am perplexed. I see the CD completely differently. I think the tunes are excellent and the arrangements are very original and fresh. I think it's a great CD.

(Of course, I am nogei'a b'davar. I first met Nochi when he was a 17 year old kid doing the sound for Chaim Dovid. Chaim Dovid also let him play keyboards (just as Shlomo Carlebach let Chaim Dovid play with him, not having any idea that Nochi would turn out to be a fabulous pianist and amazing musician). He was, and remains, one of the sweetest, most humble young men you could ever meet. He has backed up many of the musicians that have played at my shul, including Aron Razel (who is very difficult to play for because his style is so different). He also plays at our annual Lag B'omer hilula (with Eitan Katz) in front of hundreds of people and absolutely rocks the place. We also hired Nochi to play at our son's vort and would have engaged him for the wedding but he was already booked. Finally, Nochi is a big contributor to my own CD, with an original tune, a Carlebach cover, backup vocals and piano on other tunes.)

So, you can take my recommendation with a grain of salt, but I think you will be happy you followed my advice.


JM in the AM with Chaim Dovid, Nochi Krohn and MoC

Assuming that I can figure out how to get to the studio in time, I will be spending some time with Nachum Segal at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow on JM in the AM to talk about the new CD.

Chaim Dovid and Nochi Krohn will be joining me so maybe we'll hear some live renditions of some of the songs on the CD.


MoCD Podcast

Sameach Music's latest podcast includes an interview with yours truly. The interview starts at the 15 minute mark.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

When Did You Take Down Your Succah

I took mine down this morning. Three months ahead of schedule.


A WQ Moment

Readers of this blog know that we measure the strangness of my shul with a tool called WQ. WQ is usually calculated by dividing the number of weird people in the shul by the total number of people. (All determinations of weirdness are made by me in my absolute and total discretion).

However, there are occasional moments when the WQ transcends mere mathmatical calculations. Today was one such moment. In the middle of musaf Rosh Chodesh this morning, we suddenly heard what sounded like chazanus, perhaps Moshe Kussevitsky.

We turned around, and it was, indeed, chazanus, coming from a strange-looking guest's cell phone. Another WQ moment.


PSA for Bochrim

This public service announcement comes from OOD and her friends and is directed to fashion-challenged bochrim:

Under no circumstances should you wear short-sleeve, button-down shirts. It is (apparently) beyond nerdy.

(I am also told that this rule does not apply if you are a man thirty years of age or older, which is good because I have been known to wear short-sleeve button down shirts in the summer (although NEVER a white shirt).


Friday, October 20, 2006

Karduner Gigs UPDATED!!

Yosef Karduner is playing on Sunday evening at The Shaare Shalom Mashadi Jewish Center. The address is 54 Steamboat Rd in Great Neck. The concert is called for 8:30 but in Mashadi-speak that means that there is no chance the gig starts before 9:00 and probably not before 9:30.

He is also playing next motsai shabbos (October 28th) at Mount Sinai Jewish Center, 135 Bennett Ave. in Washinton Heights at 8:30 PM. $12 for students, $15 for adults. For more info email

Finally, he will be in Teaneck at Cong. Beth Abraham on October 29 will be at 8:30 pm.

Monday, October 16, 2006

MoC Live

If you have nothing better to do this afternoon, check out The Closing Bell on CNBC at 4:30 p.m.


The Gong Show...

One of my friends came up with an absoultely brilliant description of my shul.

The Gong Show without the Gong.

There is simply nothing more to say.



The chaggim were beautiful and it's sad to see them over.

One issue: Shtick on Simchas Torah.

I have no philosophical issue with shtick on ST. There are sources in the seforim for the idea and they go back a long, long time. My issue is not with kibud tefilah, etc. It's with lack of humor.

Does anyone really find it funny when the chazan davens Maariv in nusach Yomim Noraim? How many times do you have to hear Hallel to rock tunes before it gets tedious? Water splashed in the face of the ba'al musaf when he says Mashiv Haruach U'morid Hageshem...That's funny?

Sorry, I find it hard to muster up any belly laughs. We need some new material.



I am announcing a one-day moratorium on the boycott of the New York Times. The article on page one regarding hedge funds is so important that I urge all Yiddin everywhere to read it.

While you're at it, you may also find picking up today's Financial Times worthwhile.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Fleeting Moments III

I've always loved Sh'mini Atzeres and Simchas Torah. For many reasons, not the least of which is that our home often resembled a youth hostel rather than a private house. Sleeping bags all over the place, kids all over the place.

This year, however, with the exception of OOD and her good friend (and an honorary member of our clan), the Shevster, it's just me, MHW and the newly-walking Toddler.

OYS and OYD each decided to blow us off this year for greener pastures and friends in far off places. I can't believe our little girl (not the little-little girl) is off doing the Simchas Torah thing. (Background music: Sunrise, Sunset....)

Who am I going to tell my corny jokes and Chassidishe stories to? OOD and the Shevster have heard them all and the Toddler won't understand them yet. I must be getting old.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Simple Review

A Simple Jew rates the CD a B.

Money quote (after suggesting that a couple of the songs were not that strong):

Don't get me wrong, "U'Shmuel B'korei Sh'mo" is a very good CD. Its quality sets it apart from many recent Jewish music releases. MoChassid has taken more than a few steps in the right direction with this CD and I hope we can expect more compilation releases from him in the future.
I can live with that.

Personally, I think he underestimates the Aron Razel songs. In general with Aron's music, it is important to listen a few times before making a judgment. It tends to grow on you. I actually think that U'vamidah, the last song on the CD, is very special. But what do I know?


OrthoMom Loves the CD

So do the OrthoKids.


Bear CD

That well known expert on Jewish music and life in general, Dovbear, likes the CD.

(However, one of his commentors, JMF, suggets that half the songs are shiny shoe songs without the blaring trumpets. Woo. That hurts. I think he's totally wrong but what do I know).


Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The Toddler finally conquered the walking thing, so MHW bought her her first pair of shoes today. TT was none too pleased according to eyewitness reports. I, of course, in the midst of the pre-annual conference push, will have to take their word for it.

Speaking of TT, tomorrow marks 15 months that she has been with us. Hard to believe.
Seraphic CD

Mr. Avrech weighs in on U'Shmuel B'Korei Sh'mo.


The Making of a Gadol, Um, CD

In this week's Jewish Star.

Scroll Down to page 3.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fishing With Fosterboy

I spent a good part of my Columbus Day day off on a fishing boat with Fosterboy.

I was pretty wary about this outing because I thought that he would lose interest after a while and we would be stuck on a boat for two or three more hours with no way off. In fact, I was hoping that Fosterboy would forget that he had asked me to hook this up last time he visited. Of course, by now I know that he never forgets anything.

In any event, he was actually very good and hung in the entire time.

But, before I get to the fishing, a word about the amazing tzadikim that have played a major role in keeping Fosterboy attached to his Jewish roots. As I've noted before, Fosterboy is the only Jewish kid in his residence. It is an amazingly difficult environment for maintaining his frum identity. This has been exacerbated by the decision of the administrators to cut him off from us with the exception of a monthly non-overnight visit. When all seemed lost, a number of locals stepped into the breach and have been visiting him and hosting him for Shabbos and Yom Tov meals. This year they arranged for a succah to be built on the premises! What an incongruous sight (Fosterboy was very proud of it and took me to see it when I came to pick him up). And, I can't say enough about Fosterboy's apparent inner strength. He continues to inspire me.

We got to Freeport and boarded the boat with minutes to spare. Within five minutes of departing, Fosterboy had already cased out the joint. He was on a first-name basis with the captain, knew all about the sonar computer system they use to locate fish, knew where the bathroom was, knew that they were selling drinks for a dollar, etc.

We rode out almost an hour from Freeport before we anchored. (Do they not have fish in Freeport?). Fosterboy climbed up to the second deck and loved the ride so that worked out well. The fishing itself was completely unproductive. Although the boat was very crowded (or perhaps because the boat was very crowded) very few fish were caught in aggregate. Neither Fosterboy nor I had so much as a bite.

(It was interesting to note the differences between the members of Amcha (of which there were quite a few) and the members of the nations of the world. The Amcha kids came with pekalas full of drinks and snacks were more appropriate for four day tours rather than four hour tours. Many members of the nations of the world came armed with beer coolers that looked more appropriate for a four day tour rather than a four hour tour. But I digress.)

Thankfully, the weather was ideal so, despite the unproductive fishing, Fosterboy and I had a very pleasant day. And, if all goes well, it will be many years before I step on a fishing boat again.



Page C5

UPDATE: I emailed a colleague from my crackberry about my being quoted in the Journal. She wrote back: "U R a ROCK STAR!"

I wrote back to her: If I'm a ROCK STAR why I am riding on the Long Island Railroad rather than a limo?


Monday, October 09, 2006


OOD had an excellent ha'ara regarding the difference betwen MHW and me. She told a friend that when MHW and I go to shul, MHW cries from the intensity of her davening. I cry because the ba'al tefilah's nusach is off and it drives me crazy.


Friday, October 06, 2006


Yesterday morning at the end of shul, one of my chaverim, the Holy Mashgiach, asked me if I wanted two tickets to the Yankees game that had been postponed due to rain on Wednesday night. The Mashgiach had gotten the tickets from a balabus and gone the previous night but, because he to mash, couldn't go that day. I said yes in a nano second. I rearranged my afternoon meetings and took the number 4 train up to the Bronx at around 12:15.

The seats were field level, 7 rows back ($206 face value each).

It was a nice day, but I would have preferred the third base side, in the sun. But, recipients of free $206 tickets can't be choosy.

The Yankees were really flat but that's not what I want to write about. I want to write about the tortured soul called A-Rod.

Readers of this space know that I have been a defender of Mr. Rodriguez. His numbers over the past 10 years are historic. He is one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game. He is also the best fielding shortstop on the Yankees.

But, oh, is he pathetic.

Even I, a sybermetrics guy who doesn't believe there is much to the concept of clutch hitting (for example, the great Derek Jeter's post-season numbers are virtually the same as his in-season numbers), have to admit that A-Rod seems to be the ultimate choke artist.

Yesterday he struck out three times, the first time with the bases loaded and two outs on three straight pitches from a pitcher who, until that moment had walked two batters and was having an impossible time getting the ball over the plate.

This just won't fly in New York. He is doomed in New York.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Things Go Better...

With Coke in Israel.

I arrived home last night to be welcomed by 1400 CDs. After so many months (I actually thought of the idea of producing a CD in memory of my dad during shiva) I was emotionally wiped out.

The printing job came out beautifully. I could not have asked for a better job. I think the music will work for a lot of people. I think it will be a fitting tribute to my dad.

Other than doing my best to promote the CD, I am done. I am so drained.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

CD Online

The CD is available for purchase and samples of each song are available here.



The CD is being delivered to me and to Sameach as we speak.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The President

No, DB, this is not about the president. It's about being president of a shul. My shul in particular. On Yom Kippur.

Let me start with a story. Maisah she'hayah.

Since we moved to our new building 5 years ago, our Rav has been giving a shiur on inyanei teshuva on motsai Shabbos Shuva rather than the traditional Shabbos Shuva drasha. (We started doing this because we were no longer welcome at the gym where we had been doing it for many years. And, since we typically drew 600 to 800 people and the main sanctuary could only hold 450, the new building on Shabbos afternoon simply didn't work. Instead, we import AV equipment and pipe the drasha into our beis medrash and basement. In total, we had over 800 people in the building this year).

In any event, before the Rav's drasha, our current president made a few announcements. Apparently the sound quality was not up to expectations of one of our members who remarked, "you should invest in a better sound system." This same member, who drives a fancy car and lives in a fancy house, days earlier had pledged the sum total of $100 to the Kol Nidre appeal after a seven minute conversation with the self same president.

And then there are the members who go directly to the Rav to complain about their seating assignments or the fact that they didn't get maftir Yonah even though they pledged $18 (or nothing) to the KN appeal and don't so much as lift a finger on behalf of the shul.

Last year someone actually got into a heated argument with the president during the break between Musaf and Mincha on Yom Kippur.

The president is ultimately responsible for seating over 750 people in two minyanim. Of handing out scores of kibbudim in two minyanim. Even though there is a seating committee chairman and there are gabbaim, the close calls all go back to the president. Talk about thankless jobs.

Last night as we finished Ne'ilah and the ba'al tefilah and Rav were dancing on the bimah, I saw a look on the face of our president that I have seen before. On myself. I did this gig for six years. It is a combination of exhaustion, relief and resignation. Sort of, "what was this all about?".

On one hand, you know that you played a major role in something very unique and special (even if few people recognize it). On the other, you harbor feelings of bitterness and resentment for all the smallness you've seen and don't like that you feel this way. You are also very glad that it is over, and not because you are hungry.

I am very glad that I served my time. I am even happier that I'm done.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Thoughts of My Father

I went to visit my father's gravesite this morning. I was away before Rosh Hashanah so today was my first chance to get there.

If all goes well, the CD that I produced in his memory will be ready on Wednesday. While I am happy and relieved that the project is finally complete (and that it has come out about as well as I could have expected), I am also happy about it for another reason.

My father, z'l, was a very vibrant, active, physical man. He swam and walked for miles almost every day. He ice skated like men 30 years his junior. Until his last few years when Parkinson's began to wear him down. So, unfortunately, my last memories of my dad are of an old man who could barely walk. (Nevertheless, my father never gave in; he fought the illness and continued his physical activiy until it was impossible. Indeed, the owners of the gym to which he belonged called us to ask us that he stop going. They felt it was very dangerous for him to continue going on the treadmill in his diminished state).

What makes me happy about the CD is that we've included in the insert three pictures that depict my father during his more robust days. Because of the CD, I have been able to replace the images in my head of my dad as a dimished old man with the images of what he really was: A vibrant, happy, active man with a constant smile on his face.

Gmar Chasimah Tova to all my readers. I ask mechilah for those I certainly have offended through my words.

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