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

Friday, December 29, 2006

MoC Gets Results

Clearly in reaction to this post, the North Carolina Bar Association finally took action againt the scoundrel district attorney Mike Nifong.

Never underestimate the power of the new media.


Chareidi Bashing

DovBear recently linked to this important post by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. To his credit, Dovbear has long been a supporter of Rabbi Horowitz and has linked to his artilces many times.

Unfortunately but predicitably, some of the commentors got all over Rabbi Horowitz, accusing him of fundraising on the backs of abuse victims. This charge is too idiotic to even waste my time replying to (and many of the commentors on DovBear do a fine job of defending Rabbi Horowitz).

Full disclosure: Rabbi Horowitz is my cousin. I have known him all his life and have the highest regard for him both professionally and personally.

The people giving Rabbi Horowitz grief are classic, pathologic chareidi haters. After months of appropriate bashing of the chareidi world for not taking the issue of abuse seriously, along comes a respected, progressive chareidi leader with a long track record of achievenments (who, by the way, is a sought after speaker on parenting issues in the MO world as well) who decides to address this issue head on (at great personal risk). So, do the bashers embrace him or his message? No, rather than give anyone with a long beard the benefit of the doubt (or the credit that he deserves for going out on a limb and taking action in a world where taking action can be very risky), they make preposterous allegations that he is doing this for the money.

They should ask themselves: Did he develop Project Y.E.S. for the money? Did he start a progressive yeshiva, Darchei Noam, for the money? Has he been writing articles that can be viewed as radical in the chareidi world for the money?

Instead of embracing and supporting one of the lights of the chareidi world, the chareidi haters jump all over him. Would they have reacted that way if he didn't wear the levush?


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Levayah (after 120)

I recently went with MHW to a levayeh for a very fine Jew who passed away way before his time. Very sad. The place was packed and it became very hot inside. It was standing room only and I was standing.

The levayeh went on and on. And on. And on.

I have shpilkis under the best of circumstances but when I'm standing in a crowded and very hot room, I for sure can't deal with it. So, after a while I walked out and waited in the vestibule.

When we left, I told MHW that when it's my time, after 120, I want to be back in the hearse and on the road within 30 minutes of the start of the levayeh. A couple of people can get up and say that I was generally a nice guy, I popularized the term "shiny shoe music", I could sing a nice harmony and did some decent things. If anyone wants to know specifics they can come to the shiva. The last thing I want for my last act on this good Earth is to be a tircha d'tziburah.

The good thing is that MHW knows me well enough to know that I'm absolutely serious.


Suggestion for Richard Joel

Last night I attended a varsity hockey game between OYS's team and MTA. The game itself was fantastic. One of the best regular season hockey games that I've seen in my 9 years of watching. OYST won, 3 - 1, despite using its third string goalie (the first two had stomach viruses), in a very hard fought, intense game.

The defense did a wonderful job of shutting down MTA, minimizing the number of shots on the inexperienced goalie, and the goalie came up big when he had to. As often is the case, OYST, with its great depth and good conditioning, wore down MTA and totally dominated the third period. OYS himself played a very solid game.

OYST is now 11 - 0 with only two games against their crosstown rivals standing in the way of an undefeated regular season and number 1 seed in the playoffs.

Now, to the title of this post. The "gym" at MTA could use an overhaul. The "seats" are window sills. The "penalty box" is a window sill. So, Mr. Joel, how about using some of that $100 million to build a decent gym? That would be much more useful than endowing another couple of goofy chairs at the university (how many chairs does a university need). Instead of chairs for the university, how about seats for the fans at hockey games?


Time Out

In general, The Toddler is an absolutely delightful child, smiling, laughing and playing most of the time, sleeping through the night most of the time and still napping during the day. For parents like us who are relatively long in the tooth, those are good things.

But, TT is almost 20 months old. In other words, approaching the dreaded terrible twos. And, of course, she is not perfect. Often, when she finishes a meal, she will look you in the eye and throw her food on the floor, knowing it is forbidden. And, when you admonish her, she will look you in the eye even more deeply and do it again.

This calls for "time out': one minute per yer of age, or, in the case of TT, about a minute and a half.

Here's where the problem is.

MHW puts TT on the "time out stool" and TT dutifully stays put with a goofy smile on her face. MHW then tries to talk firmly to TT but, inevitably, cannot maintain control and bursts out laughing. TT is simply too cute sitting there.

MHW then quickly leaves the room and comes back when she pulls herself together.

I'm not sure what the long term ramifications of this are. Only time will tell.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Monday, December 25, 2006

Missing Chambre's Wedding

OOS writes poignantly about missing one of his best friends' wedding.

Chambre (I don't recall his first name; I always called him Chambre) and Hooie were the shomrim at OOS's wedding. OOS and the two of them became very close during their two years at the Mother Ship. MHW and I always loved those two. They are very solid friends. And, they "get it".

My bracha to Chambre is that he and his kallah should join OOS and OHDIL in Israel soon. My bracha to Hooie is that he should quickly find his Bashert and go with her as well. What a cool neighborhood that would be.



Late last week I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that suggested that a lot of bad news is likely to be released on the Friday before XMas and on the Friday before New Year's Day. The reason: It is the best time to bury the news since people are preoccupied with the holidays.

As if on cue, the office of the district attorney for Durham, North Carolina District Attorney, Mike Nifong, released the news on Friday that it was dropping the rape charges against three lacrosse players from Duke.

This case has been one of the most outrageous perversions of justice that this country has seen in many years. The charges against these players are based on the flimsiest evidence. Actually, virtually no evidence, except the goofy and contradictory testimony of an unstable stripper.

Nifong has shamelessly used this case to curry favor with some of his constituents and win re-election. He has illegally and unethically withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. The fact that he is ruining the lives of three Innocent men does not seem to bother him.

His case is finally crumbling. He should be recalled and disbarred. He is making a mockery of justice. He is a disgrace.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sports Friday on Sunday

1. After starting the Fantasy football season 1 - 6, I have finally climbed all the way back to .500 with a crushing victory over Team Elster. (It is not official until after tomorrow's games but I am up by 60 points and the margin is actually likely to increase.) Elster made the terrible mistake of putting many of his fantasy eggs in one basket and, unfortunately for him, the basket was the Giants. He also ran into terrible luck with a number of other premium players.

So, although my score is only a modest 106 (with Tony Romo yet to play) this game is in the bag. So, I won with LT finally coming down to Earth with only 20 points.

If Joe can come back tomorrow (a pretty likely scenario) I will find myself in third place with a shot at second next week (which is where I belong since I have 100 more points than the third highest scoring player (Joe is first by over 50)).

2. Is there a more horrid team than the Giants? Can you believe they will make the playoffs with a win next week? Coughlin must go.

3. What's up with the Rangers?

4. Big high school hockey game on Tuesday. Results to follow.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Home of His Own UPDATED

(This post will remain at the top of my blog for a while. For newer stuff, scroll down)

This is the story of a boy. Let's call him Judah. Judah is 12 years old. He was removed from his home when he was three. Since then, he has lived in five or six homes, I’ve lost track. He lived with us for a couple of years. For the past three years, Judah has lived in institutional residences to treat certain psychiatric and emotional issues.

Judah is very sweet and loving. He can converse with you about the deepest topics, conversations you wouldn’t expect from most 12 year old boys. He is very smart but he has some learning disabilities. He reads a lot but has trouble making change. He can’t sit still for long periods of time. He has psychiatric and emotional issues that are being treated.

Judah loves to watch and play sports. He likes to wear sports jerseys. He loves to go to ballgames. When he was six, I took him out to ride his bike. He insisted that I take off the training wheels. Against my better judgment, I did. He started riding by himself the very first time I let go of his bike. (He couldn’t stop but that’s another story). Today, I took him ice skating for his first time ever. Same thing. He never so much as touched the rails.

I never once saw him cry when he got hurt. If he walked into a wall he’d just grimace and keep going. He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met.

Judah's devotion to Hashem (G-d) is inspiring. Despite the many trials and disappointments in his short life, he has never taken it out against the Master of the Universe. He keeps kosher and wears his kippah in an environment where, not only is he the only Orthodox kid, he is the only Jewish kid. Sometimes the other kids in the residence get non-kosher goodies, but he passes, without complaint. He benches (grace after meals) and says Asher Yatzar ( aprayer said after using the bathroom). He is fervently Shomer Shabbos (Sabbath observant) and even makes his own havdalah (a prayer said at the conclusion of Sabbath). He learns with volunteers at every opportunity but his Hebrew reading needs work. I don’t know where he gets the strength to maintain his Jewish identity in such an uninviting environment. I am humbled.

His inner strength is equally inspiring. He has always adjusted to the many changes and challenges that he’s faced. He remains an optimist despite everything.

Judah loves to be hugged. It wasn’t always that way, but it is now. When he first came to us, many years ago, after spending a year at another foster home, he was very remote and reluctant to let his guard down. Getting a hug out of him then was out of the question. (Can you blame him?) Now when Judah visits us, he makes sure to give me and MHW big hugs both when he comes and when he leaves.

He loves all the kids in our family. Our kids love him back and consider him part of the family. He will always be a part of our family. (Our son OOS insisted that Judah walk down the isle at his wedding even though Judah hadn’t been living with us for a while.)

It is difficult to adequately describe the tremendous impact that Judah has had on our lives and in the lives of all those who have gotten to know him. He has connected to us, inspired us, and made us laugh and cry. Our lives and the lives of our children have been immeasurably enhanced by our having cared for him.

His relationship with the baby we are fostering is even more remarkable. In some kind of mystical way that I can’t explain rationally, Judah and the baby seem to have connected in a very deep way. She follows him around during his visits as if he were the Pied Piper. I know that makes him feel special.

Now, it is time for Judah to find a home. He is doing very well and the residence wants to place him in a home. They feel that not only is he ready for a home, he needs to be placed in a home.

All we have to do is find him one.

He needs parents who have infinite patience. Who can lavish him with attention and love. Who are structured and firm. He needs a family that will take him in as one of their own.

I am not so naïve as to believe that finding him a pre-adoptive home will be simple. Judah is not simple. On the contrary, he is a complicated, smart, insightful, sweet, sensitive, affectionate 12 year old boy. And, like any other 12 year old Jewish boy, all he wants is a home of his own. A family of his own. A place to come back to after school, day after day. A place to get hugged.

If you or anyone you know in the Metropolitan area might consider becoming Judah's pre-adoptive foster family, please contact me at emansouth @ or Shulamit Marcus at OHEL at 718 851 6300. The transition process from the residence will take a number of months. OHEL will assist in each phase of this transition. Sara and I would be happy to discuss this situation in detail with any prospective foster families.

(I respectfully ask all my blogging friends to link to this post which I will keep at the top of my blog for a month)


Friday, December 22, 2006

The Great Joe Schick

This week was a sad one for the JBlogosphere. One of the earliest and most respected Jbloggers, Joe Schick, decided to call it a day. This is what he wrote:

I am pretty sure that it is time - probably long past time - to close this blog.

This is one of the oldest Jblogs, having been formed in May 2003. I have posted 1188 times. I have said at least 99 percent of what I want to say about Israel and about Jewish issues.

Even my sports posts are becoming predictable.

When I have a strong opinion about something, I no longer feel any need to blog about it. Indeed, blogging feels like another burden. I have enough burdens right now.

Until now, my reluctance to shut the blog down has stemmed from my awareness that almost all retired bloggers come back. Some come back within days, some only years later. But almost everyone eventually feels the need to write again, and returns.

I no longer think the likelihood that I will unretire is a good reason to continue blogging. Perhaps the Jets will make the playoffs, and there will soon be a flurry of posts about them. But for now it's time for at least a break.

Thanks to all those who have read and/or provided comments at The Zionist Conspiracy.
Joe was passionate about Israel, issues affecting Jews everywhere, and the Jets and Mets. His writing was clear, and he was an articulate voice of reason in a noisy and increasingly goofy and disfunctional Jblogging world.

I will miss him at that level.

(I also think that he will not be able to resist the temptation of blogging if the Jets do, indeed, make the playoffs (or, perhaps, make it to the second round)).

But beyond the blogging, my relationship with Joe has become one of those weird Jblog friendship deals. I've never met or even talked to Joe but I feel that I have gotten to know him. He has been a frequent commenter here and I on the Zionist Conspiracy. We are competitors in a fantasy football league that he set up (Congratulations to Joe who scorched us all) and he has helped me avoid ridiculous mistakes.

Now that he has given up his own forum, I hope to see him commenting here more often and he is always welcome to guest post, especially if the Jets do well.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to the great Joe Schick.


Thursday, December 21, 2006


Next Tuesday and Wednesday I will be attending my fifty-first and fifty-second (and final) business lunches of the year.

Yesterday, at my 50th, I had a hangar steak. Very good but it killed me for the rest of the day and evening.

My resoulution for the next fiscal year is no more steak. Ich kenesht.

Happy Moo Year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Strategic Thinking, or the Lack Thereof

The situation in the Five Towns involving Gourmet Glatt gets uglier and uglier. An anonymous letter has been making the rounds in support of GG that is intended to put pressure on the Vaad. Orthomom has been following this matter closely (although she has not yet piped in on the letter) and I have zero interest in getting into the details. Suffice it so say, it's been a very sad chapter all around.

(An aside. I have absolutely no use for anonymous letters. They make me crazy. If you aren't willing to put your name on it, don't send it. It's cowardly. But we digress).

Instead, I will focus on an aspect of this situation that has slipped under the radar. It is a topic that is near and dear to me and one that I have written about previously in different contexts. To wit, the absolute absence of strategic thinking by any of the parties involved in this dispute.

My current job requires me to build consensus among parties with very divergent interests. In order to do this, I must always think strategically. Indeed, one could argue that the most important part of my job is to think strategically. I don't make any significant moves without thinking through their short, medium and long term consequences. I am pretty good at what I do mainly because I think this way.

So, a few questions:

What was GG thinking when they hired a second mashgiach? Did they consider how the Vaad was likely to react? Did they really think that the Vaad would not react? Did it occur to GG that they were forcing the Vaad to act?

What was the Vaad thinking when they suddenly pulled their hashgacha and suggested to the community rabbanim that GG be boycotted? Did they consider that their ban might not stick? Did they consider the consequences of a ban that did not stick?

What a mess. I don't really know anything about the specifics of this case (nor do I wish to) but it's hard to believe that a settlement could not have been reached whose consequences would have been far better than the current fiasco .

BTW, if anyone wants me to broker a deal, you know where to reach me. Pro bono.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Controversy as Sport UPDATED!

The following was a comment to a post on a famous Jbloggers blog.

Im not certain why this foster child should attract this special attention. There is no shortage of foster children in need of homes. You should simply link to the general contact info for foster care agencies.
There is only one Jblog where a commenter would actually register a complaint against this post.

DovBear. How did you guess?

In response to my emasil to him advising him of this recent post, Dovbera emailed me to express his disappointment that my first ever mention of the Kolko situation was in the context of my criticism of his blog.

In retrospect, I think that Dovbear's point was fair. I had never given him credit for ranting about Kolko and it was unfair to mention it only in the context of unrelated criticism. (By the way, for the record, there is no place in Hell hot enough for people like Kolko and his enablers).

In fact, my criticism of his blog was that, in general, it attracts farbisiner (bitter) commentors (among many excellent others, of course), and that, in particular, his spoof on Chareidi Airlines (which I personally found unfunny) was gratuitous and enabled the psycho commentors.

Then, when I saw the comment quoted above, it all became clear.

Dovbear is all about controversy. He thrives on it. He invites it. He instigates it. You've heard of a rodeph shalom (one who seeks peace)? Dovie is a rodeph controversy. He loves controversy for the sake of controversy.

So, instead of presenting arguments in a measured, thoughtful way, he will present them in an outrageous, thoughtful (and often hilarious) way. The more outrageous, the better. He will make an argument in the most controversial and annoying way possible while still maintaining his credibility. Thus, his position may well be valid (or, at least arguable) but his method of delivering it is specifically designed to drive those who disagree nuts.

As they say, it sells papers so who am I, whose hit rate is a fraction of Dovie's, to argue?

That style also attracts whackos. That's why, in addition to the many sane and reasoned commentors, he get so many fringe, marginal nutjobs, on both sides of arguments, to comment.

At the end of the day, Dovie plays an important role in the Jblogosphere. He is the Reggie Jackson of the Jblogosphere. The straw that stirs the pot.


Monday, December 18, 2006


When does it kick in? It's so amazing to watch. One day, The Toddler is grunting, pointing and getting frustrated, and the next, the words begin to flow.

Over the past few weeks, the transition has started in earnest. What does a sheep say? Baa, baa. A horse? Neighhh. A dog? Woof. Who's that? Abba.

Today, the key word: More. (MHW, a speech and language pathologist, had taught her to sign the word 'more' (putting her two thumbs and index fingers together). That used to crack me up, but now she speaks the word).

And, as Richard Nixon once said, you can't get the toothpaste back in the tube.


Sunday, December 17, 2006


Today, OYD and I took "Judah" (f/k/a Fosterboy) ice skating. OYD loves to skate. I also love to skate but it's been a few years since I've done it. MHW and I used to take the kids skating all the time. (And, I made my first moves on MHW on a skating rink).

Judah, on the other hand, had never ice skated. Last month when he visited he asked me if I could take him skating next visit. I thought that was random but agreed. And, since Judah never forgets anything (hence, I ended up on a fishing boat in October), off we went.

I was able to find an almost brand new pair of hockey skates in the basement, skates that OYS probably wore three times.

When we got to the rink, I laced him up and he was off before I could get my own skates on. After a half revolution going the wrong way, Judah righted himself. He started skating right away, as if he had been doing it for years. Amazing. And, of course, he tried going as fast as he could (like any other 12 year old boy). So, he ended up splattered on the ice about 20 times but was no worse for wear.

After skating we had a very lovely Chanukah dinner with that part of the family that had not moved off to Israel. Judah had a great time (meatballs and spaghetti, his favorite) and The Toddler enjoyed herself, following him around again.

The sad part was when the volunteer came to take him back to the residence before we were really finished with dinner. He was momentarily very angry but did a great job controlling himself. The volunteer was very gracious and waited for a half hour.

We packed him up with his Chanukah present, extra meatballs, chicken soup, sufganiot (jelly donuts) and chocolate and sent him on his way. By the time he left he was fine.

But its always very sad.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Sticky Chanukah CD Post

Get my new CD in Time for Chanukah. You can get it at a fine Judaica store near you or order on the web,


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

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

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sports Friday (A Little Early)

I will likely not have time to post tomorrow and it's been a while since I posted on sports.

1. Hockey Update: OYST continues to roll, albeit in a maddeningly frustrating way. They have run into good goaltending, teams that play in defensive shells (and are absolutely no threat to score) and bad luck. The result: Instead of winning by scores like 8 - 0, they are winning by scores like 2 - 0 and 3 - 1. The side benefit is that OYS gets to play entire games rather than the period and a half that he's been used to. The second of four meaningful games will take place a week from Tuesday with the remaining two in January.

2. Fantasy Football: Although I am only 31 points behind Joe, he is in first place, 10 -4, and I am in fourth/fifth place (out of 6), 6 - 8. I may have the best second-half record but it means little. I had the highest score again last week despite a quarterback who scored zero points. The question, again, this week is Romo or Brady. The second is do I start Reggie Bush?

3. Beer: Last week I met OYS and two of his friends at the Rangers game. During their train ride into the city, OYS told his friends that I would order a beer and say: "This is my semi-annual beer. I never drink beer except at a hockey game or a baseball game."

During the first period, I ordered a beer and said: "This is my semi-annual beer. I never drink beer except at a hockey game or a baseball game."

Go have kids.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Visceral Hatred

Why do so many of Dovbear's commenters have such a visceral hatred of Chareidim? After numerous Agudah-bashing posts (in which many of the comments were truly disgusting and over the edge) DovBear posted a guest counterpoint that enumerated many of the good things that Agudah does.

Instead of taking their cue from the reasoned post and leaving well enough alone, these commenters couldn't handle the fact that something nice was being said about the evil Agudah and continued their nasty bashing, many, again, in an over-the-top way.

I'm just a country lawyer, but I think there must be some serious pathologies at work.

And, while I'm at it, I think DovBear has gone way too far. After registering valid criticism of the Agudah's leadership for not taking a firm stance on the Kolko situation, DovBear has engaged in a series of gratuitous attacks on the Agudah and Chareidim and, worse, has provided a forum for the above-mentioned psychos to vent, many in a vicious manner.

I think it's way more than enough.


It's All About Me

This afternoon, I gave the last of four presentations regarding an important topic in my industry. All together, I spoke in front of about 300 live people and another 600 or so through a webinar set up. In order to try to accommodate as many people as possible, sessions were scheduled once a week for four weeks, and two of the sessions were scheduled for the morning and two for the afternoon.

Today's took place at 1 p.m.

This morning I received a call from one of our members.

Member: "I'd really like to come to the presentation today but I have a lunch scheduled for 1 p.m.."

Me: .

Member: "I don't think I'll be finished until 2."


Member: "I don't think I'll be able to make it."

Can anyone tell me the point of this guy's call?


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cops Folly

This morning I witnessed an idiotic misuse of the police. Three cops parked on the westbound side of the Long Island Railroad tracks, out of sight. They waited for the gate signaling an oncoming train to go down and, when the inevitable few stragglers crossed the tracks, they pounced on them and gave them tickets (and did not allow them to board the 8:01).

Wow, now we're safe.

The cops engage in this charade every six months or so. It is a complete waste of time for many reasons. First, no one ever gets hurt crossing the tracks to make the 8:01 because the train stops in the station. Second, the minute the cops leave, people will resume crossing the tracks against the barrier. They have been doing so from time immemorial and will not stop because the cops show up three days a year.

Whose idea was this? Would their time be better spent giving tickets to double parked Escalades on Central Avenue?


Monday, December 11, 2006

Well Trained

It occurred to us last night that The Toddler has used the 17 months that she's been with us to train us very well. MHW, OYS and OYD and I were eating dinner with TT when she began to give us signals.

First, she put her hands on her head. This, of course, meant that she expected us to sing "Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes".

She then put her two index fingers and thumbs together, signifying her desire for us to sing "The incy weensy spider".

Finally, she pointed her index finger to the sky and (much to Dovbear's chagrin) expected us to sing, "Hashem is Everywhere".

From there she put her hands up, a clear sign for "Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun".

In each case, she insisted that each of us participate. During each song, she looked around the table and if anyone was not singing, she signaled directly to the recalcitrant member of the family and said, "Uh, Uh" until he or she joined in.

TT will be giving parenting classes in the very near future.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Uberimma's Haskama

Uberimma approves the CD.

Money Quotes:

I highly recommend this CD to all Jewish women, particularly those with small children who insist on only listening to Uncle Moishy CDs, because Mr. Chassid has the advantage of having a name that could potentially fool good-natured toddlers if you call him "Uncle M. O. C." It sounds a lot like Moishy if you say it fast.

May Hashem grant the producer of this CD health and parnassah, or at least enough parnassah off of this CD to want to do it again so that we can enjoy another one. Oh, and may He also grant Yidden everywhere the sense to realize that pirating a CD with an actual song on it about Melech Rachaman is just... I mean, really, we just shouldn't have to go there. Come on, people! Think a little!
Uncle Mo C? Hmmmm. Why didn't I think of that?


Friday, December 08, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

More America Gonif

OYS called me late yesterday afternoon. Apparently, all meaning to his life would disappear if I were not able to score a few tickets to tonight's Ranger's game. I called a couple of my chaverim in the Greater Metropolitan Legal Community and was able to nail down four premium ducats.

(Interestingly, since the tickets I got were still available at 2 p.m. today, it is pretty safe to say that they would probably have ended up in the trash bin had I not asked for them. I wonder how many law firm tickets go unused).

Problem: How do I get them, and, how do I get them to OYS? (I was not initially sure whether I would be permitted to join OYS and his friends. As it turns out, OYS is graciously permitting me to attend so long as I behave).

Not to worry. Today, you can simply email tickets and print them out on regular paper. Once the paper ticket is scanned, any duplicate of that ticket becomes void automatically.

Amercia Gonif!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006


This afternoon, my firm hosted a very interesting seminar attended by about 100 lawyers. Before introducing the speaker, I asked everyone to turn off their blackberries. (I think it is safe to say that it is likely that every single person in the room had a blackberry or similar device; how pathetic). I did that for a few reasons. First, even if people don't answer their emails, the buzzing of the berries is very annoying, second, the signals coming from incoming emails mess up the audio, and third, answering emails while someone is talking is terribly rude.

For the most part, people complied. The problem is that many came late (in and of itself a rude thing to do).

After more than 20 minutes, a woman entered and sat down near me. I was sitting in the front row, right in front of the speaker. She did not stop emailing for the duration of the two hour session.

I guess they didn't teach common courtesy in her law school.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Moral Victories

Is there such a thing as a moral victory? Or just tough losses?

Last night, OYS's hockey team played an away game at a local school. In their previous encounter, a home game, OYS's team (OYST) trounced the crosstown rival (CR) 8 - 0. OYST also went into the game with a record of 8 - 0, outscoring their opponents by the aggregate score of about 80 to 3.

OYST quickly scored two goals and it looked like another rout in the making. CR then changed goalies and, remarkably, did not allow another goal the entire game. While OYST totally dominated and peppered the goailie with at least 50 shots on goal, they either missed totally wide open nets or could not get the puck by the new goalie. (OYS himself had at least 5 shots on goal and hit the crossbar while killing a penalty). OYST got increasingly frustrated but was never really threatened and the game ended 2 - 0.

Is this a moral victory for CR? While the players on CR should feel good about their effort, at the end of the day OYST is now 9 - 0 and CR suffered another loss.


Monday, December 04, 2006

CD Stories

My brother walked into a store in town yesterday and was very pleasantly surprised to hear my CD, U'Shmuel B'Korei Sh'mo, playing over the speaker system. He started talking to the proprietor and in the course of the conversation, the proprietor told him two things. First, he liked the CD alot. Second, he didn't buy it; he downloaded it off a computer.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a person who is very involved in the music industry. I had given him a copy of the CD and this was the first chance I'd had to ask him his thoughts. He gave me very good constructive criticism then we started talking about sales.

He has produced many CDs and described first hand the terrible impact on CD sales of projects that he'd produced caused by people downloading music illegally.

In November, I had lunch with Shlomo Katz in Jerusalem. He told me that everyone he talks to has his wonderful new CD, V'Hakohanim. Unfortunately, actual sales do not nearly reflect this (the CD is still doing reasonably well).

I have not yet received a report on how the CD is doing. I should be getting the first 90 day report in the near future. Truthfully, despite the almost unanimous positive reaction to the CD, strong backing from Sameach and a bunch of advertising by me, I don't know what to expect. I knew when I produced the CD that the market for non-Shiny Shoe music was extremely limited but I did not take into account the rampant stealing that goes on among even among this chevrah.

MHW asked me tonight whether I would have done the CD project knowing what I know now. The answer in this case is yes. It was done primarily as a tribute to my dad and I was willing to lose some money on it. However, I would never do another project based on the same model. I would look for independent funding before embarking on any major new production. As long as poeple take the music without paying for it, the economics simply don't work.



Today is the second Yahrtzeit for my dad, Shmuel ben Moshe Dovid.

My dad came to America from Romania in 1937. He served in the US Army, mostly in North Africa, from 1942 until the end of the Second World War. He worked very hard and honestly for over 50 years to provide for his wife and family. He left four children, 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren (at the time of his passing; that number has grown to 17).

This is part of what I said at the levayah (funeral):

It is customary to refer to your father as Avi, Mori; my father, my teacher. That, indeed, was the essence of what my dad was.

He taught us both concrete things and abstract concepts. He taught us to throw a softball and he taught us to be erliche Yiddin. He taught us a love of baseball and he taught us to be menches. He taught us the importance of being physically fit and he taught us the importance of being real. He taught us to swim and he taught us the power of music. He taught us the importance of a smile and a good word. He taught us about the sweetness of Shabbos. He taught us z'miros in three-part harmony. He taught us that it was more important to get out of the Shea Stadium parking lot quickly than whether or not the Mets won. He taught us that if you walk at a fast pace you get to where you are going more quickly. He taught us to give tzedakah in a tzniusdik way. He taught us the importance of being oskai Tzorchei Tzibur B’Emunah. He taught us the importance of being on time, especially for appointments with the Ribbono Shel Olam. He taught that it was not beneath his sons or grandsons to do the laundry, clear off the table or wash the pots. He taught us a love for Eretz Yisrael. He taught us never, ever, to raise our voices, especially to our loved ones. He taught us how much a person can overcome in life just by force of will and determination.

And, he taught us all this without ever darshaning or giving mussar. Indeed, he taught us all this by hardly saying a word. He taught us all this simply by the way he conducted himself. He understood on a very simple level that he was a Ben Melech, a child of the King, and conducted himself accordingly.

My father was a very special man and we will miss him dearly. I take comfort from the pasuk in Tehillim that I was reading last Sunday night when we thought he was about to leave us. Yodai’ah Hashem Yimai Timmim, V’nachalasam L’Olam Tihiyeh. “Hashem recognizes the days of the righteous and their inheritance will be forever.” The Even Ezra says that nachalasam, the inheritance of the righteous, refers to their children and grandchildren through the generations. The Radak says that nachalasam refers to their olam habah.

May Hashem grant my father the olam habah that he so richly deserves and may he be a meilitz yasher for all of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and all the generations to come.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Yonason Hill

Rav Ari Waxman, shlita, just told me that Yonason Hill has just completed a new CD. It isn't in stores yet but I am trying to track down a copy through private channels.

I first heard Yonason Hill's heavenly voice on Rav Waxman's own CD, B'eor Panecha (which, by the way, if you don't own, you should immediately drop what you're doing and get). I was, to put it simply, blown away by the sweetness of his voice. I understand that he is also an accomplished musician, a fiddler, if I'm not mistaken.

Yonason Hill is a Chassid who lives in Meah She'arim with his wife and a passel of kids. He is also the son of the actor turned Ba'al Teshuva, Steven Hill.

When I first heard Rav Waxman's CD and was told of the relationship between Yonason and Steven Hill, I did a double take. I remembered that almost 40 years ago I went to camp with a tall, thin, athletic and very quiet kid named Jonny Hill (I remember that he was a lefty; he could hit a softball a long way). We heard that he was an actor's son but he never talked about it.

I'm pretty sure Jonny Hill is Yonason Hill.

In any event, I look forward to hearing the new CD and will report back when I get it.