Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ha'edah Responds

Ha'Edah has responded with an editorial assailing those who went to Iran for the "Holocaust Conference." Read the JPost article here. Shmuel Popenheim, editor of Ha'Edah, and author of the editorial claimed that these fringe members account for 25 people worldwide and are out to sully the Eda Hareidit's name.

Quote from Israel Hirsch, one of the 25 fringe members:
Asked what he would do if forced to choose between joining the Arabs in a war against Israeli Zionists and defending Zionist Jews, Hirsch replied that he would join the Arabs.

"All Jewish Zionists, whether they call themselves religious or secular, are apostates who have cut themselves off from the Jewish people," he said.

Popenheim responds:

Popenheim said that he, too, was virulently opposed to Zionism and agreed in principle with Hirsch that Zionism was equivalent to apostasy and rebellion against God. But he said that there was no justification for joining forces with Arabs or Iranians against Jews.

"If I saw an Arab terrorist trying to kill a Zionist Jew, I would shoot the Arab," said Popenheim...."We have to pray to God that he will hasten the demise of this impious sovereignty in a way that no Jew is hurt in the process."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

All Day Rush Hour Traffic

This article on CNN is pretty stupid. It claims that by 2030, NYC will not have enough electricity to meet its needs, that there will be so many people that rush hour traffic will last all day.

Umm...hello? The electricity bit? Well, they assume the population will continue to grow, but that no new power plants will go online. At the same time, they assume many of the older power plants will be shut down. If that's not a recipe for a skewed observation, I don't know what is.

Ditto for roads. More people and more cars, but not more roads. And presumably, the number of people who can telecommute to work (that wonderful internet thing) won't increase. Gotta love "massaged" numbers.

The article raises good points, about how NYC needs more power plants, more housing, etc. Of course, ideas like deregulation or reforming rent control and housing laws are out of the question. They also ignore that little thing called...the market.

See, the way it works is this: If people have to spend more than x hours in traffic, they just won't go to work. So what will happen? Businessess will relocate outside of Manhattan. They'll hope over the bridge to Jersey.

The real argument is that, in order to continue growing, NYC needs to invest in infrastructure. But they don't tell you that. NYC will continue to exist period, and I doubt it'll fall from 8m inhabitants to 2. It just might not grow as much. But they don't make that argument. They really do say people will be in traffic. All day. Idiots.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Vomit Alert

Apparently some folks, dressed like Jews, have decided to attend the Holocaust Denial Conference in Iran.

While the caption doesn't state which sect these "Rabbis" are from, if I had to wager...
And the shot is from Reuters. Its telling that when I saw this photo I actually believed it, despite its origin from Reuters, an agency not exactly unknown for falsified news...

And yet people still wonder how I wonder if I could actually daven with someone like this. You tell me, if one of those six was the tenth man at your minyan, what would you do? After vomitting, of course.

[Update: And the third from the right, he really gets me.]

Monday, December 04, 2006

Calling Elderly People by First Names - Respect v. Obligation

Mt. Sinai, a shul in Washington Heights, is a rarity. Members comprise two main demographics, post college and young adults and people who have been in the shul for 50 years. There are a few people, but not many, in between.

What about the Board of Directors? The same. There are people on the board who are in their 70s and 80s, others in their 20s and 30s. The older board members have been members of the shul longer than the younger board members have been alive.

How to address the older members? The simplest case is a formal board, where everyone is addressed by titles (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc). But what if the older members call the younger ones by their first names. Is it proper for the younger members to do likewise?

The thought of calling someone 50 years older than me by their first name is scary. As it is, I call anyone older than me sir or ma'am when I'm on the street. Nonetheless, the younger shul members should call the older ones by their first name, indeed, they may have an obligation to.

Why? A name is a powerful thing. We're more embarrased by forgetting a name than we are of a birthday or school attended. If I can't refer to you on the same level you refer to me, if you're in my personal space but I'm not in yours, you have an advantage. An important one. You also have power over me. You refer to your shul rabbi as Rabbi not just because of kavod haTorah, but because it helps the Rabbi maintain his authority, it keeps a wall between the two of you. One which the Rabbi can breach at times, but you can not.

A board member's responsibility rests not towards the other board members, but to the shul and its members. Each board member has the obligation to bring their full faculties, opinions, and views to the table. To push for what they think is right for the shul. If other board members put a wall up, if they're in your personal space but you're not in theirs, you can't do your job fully or correctly. You violate your obligation to the shul.

Pragmatic concerns enter the equation as well. Rocking the boat your first day is a bad idea, and calling an elderly board member by his first name might lead you to your being sidelined. But the default should be using the first name, unless there's a very good reason not to. And then, let him or her refer to you by your last name too.

(And yes, this was a discussion I had, last shabbos. Of the 12 people at the table only one agreed with me. Let the onslaught begin.)