Thursday, December 29, 2005

Grand Chanukah Party in Palo Alto

Rabbi Yosef Levin of Palo Alto is inviting everyone to his Chanukah bash:

For those of us who have stayed in town this weekend, if you are looking for something Jewish and fun to do on Saturday night, Dec. 31. , come to the Chabad Center for a Chanukah party at 8:30 p.m.

Please bring a wrapped gift worth about $10 - $20, and put a clue on the outside as to what it is. We will auction the gifts.

There will be latkes, food, divrei Torah, dreidel games, etc.

Chabad of Greater South Bay
3070 Louis Road Palo Alto, CA 94303

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Buy Your Own Quality Car Menorah

It's probably too late for this year, but keep it in mind for next Chanuka:

Help Support New Torah in S. Cruz

An important message from SC locals Jeanne Rosen and Doron Fishbin:

Happy Chanukah!

We hope you are all enjoying this wonderful holiday of light and joy. May it bring special blessings to you, your family, and all the world.

The two of us have taken on a special "task" this Chanukah -- to raise enough money to purchase a Torah for Chabad by the Sea. Our Chabad has had a Torah on loan all this time, which needs to be returned soon.

It is a rare, perhaps for some of us a once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity to participate in a community effort to purchase a Torah. Being part of such a mitzvah during Chanukah, a holiday that celebrates our dedication and persistence in upholding Jewish traditions, feels especially meaningful.

We have each made a substantial donation ourselves, and others have already joined with us in this holy task. Thanks to the generosity of many of you, we are already well on the way toward meeting our goal and are confident that Chabad by the Sea will soon have its own Torah!

Should you wish to be part of this community effort, please make out your check to Chabad by the Sea, note that it is for the Torah, and mail it to Chabad by the Sea, 406 Mission Street, Suite B, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. You can also contribute by going online to; please remember to specify that the contribution is for the Torah fund. You are welcome to call Jeanne (685-8350) or email her ( with any questions.

We hope to conclude this effort by the end of Chanukah. And then we look forward to seeing you all at a big celebration to welcome the Torah to its new home!


Jeanne Rosen and Doron Fishbin

Lighting in Downtown SC!!

Let's Make Light - From Scratch!
Chanukah Oil Press & Menorah Lighting

You are invited to join us on the corner of Pacific and Cooper, at 5:30 PM this evening (Wed., Dec. 28th) to make some Chanukah light.

We'll press fresh olive oil and then use it to kindle the Menorah - just as they did back in the times of the Maccabees!

Don't forget to bring along a friend!
Enjoy music, Gelt and lots of fun!

Happy Chanukah!

This event is a joint project of Chabad by the Sea and the Santa Cruz Downtown Association.

Community Member Shares Middle East Experience

Robin Kopit, community member, is presenting a story through pictures of his "Trip to Israel and Palestine with the Compassionate Listening Project" Thursday, January 12th, 7-9pm at the Louden Nelson Center (301 Center Street, Santa Cruz, CA). The event is free. Contact Robin at (831) 458-4115 for more info.

Jewlicious at the Beach v2.0

The great minds behind and 'Jewlicious at the Beach' have done it again:

The second annual Jewish student gathering Jewlicious @ The Beach.2 — a hip, eclectic conference on Jewish life and identity — is February 17-20, 2006. Hundreds of Jewish college students are expected in Long Beach, CA from colleges and universities all over the Western states.

Jewlicious @ The Beach.2, or JTB2, will feature presenters and musicians from across the USA, Canada, and Israel. Some of the best and brightest emerging Jewish talents will be part of the weekend festivities that include explorations of modern art, fashion, henna tattooing, print and online journalism, improv, activism, wine-making, bronze-casting, podcasting, Indie music, spoken-word, unorganized religion, and blogging —all in a passionate display of the vitality and diversity of Jewish life.

Whether we are Ashkenazim or Sephardim; atheists, agnostics, or believers; nerds, jocks, geeks or hipsters, we are all members of the same community. The chance to learn from and about each other is a rare and precious opportunity to revel in our shared culture and history.

Weekend highlights include folk-jazz café, master challah baking, Friday Night Feast, Kiddush wine tasting, iMac Saloon, iPod listening lounge, WIFI, concerts, films, poker tournament, parties, dramatic Torah reading, fashion show and bazaar.

As of right now, Rav Shmuel, DJ SoCalled, and the Makkabees are billed to perform. I don't know, it almost sounds too good to be true. Check out the podcasts, amazing. Click here to join the JTB2 listserv. Earlybird cost of weekend is $36. More info to come.

One Last Chanuka Movie

I'm pretty sure this short movie from will be the last for this season. It's not as cute as 'My Menorah,' not as controversial as Sarah Silverman's 'Give the Jew Girl Toys,' not as irreverent as 'MechaKing Menorah;' it is what it is.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Word on Chanuka from Feival Mendel Tolk

Last year, one of my best friends in yeshiva was a man very much in touch with nature and who started the healing practice known as "Zokef K'fufim" (lit. "straightener of the bent"). His name is Feival Mendel Tolk, and he had this to say about Chanuka:

The Greeks were very wise and they had a very sensible relationship to all the peoples around them. When they conquered a people they would ask, "What's your god like?" and if they had one that was similar they called it by both names, and if not, they just added that new god to the list. When they came to the Jews they said, "You only have one God? We can deal with that." The Greeks are into wisdom and that's why the first language the Torah is translated into is Greek because they want to know, they want to understand what's happening here. They raped and murdered and pillaged but they were very wise.

They went into the Jewish temple and they made the oils impure. How did they make the oil impure? They opened the oil and stuck their finger in and then closed it and put it back. Now wouldn't we expect them to grab it and throw it on the floor, or tip and spill it? But they didn't do that. When the Jews came back they found lots of oil but all the seals were broken. Why didn't they destroy the oil?

Because oil is light, and the Greeks are into wisdom; they don't wish to destroy. They are very interested in what we have to say, to tell us more, but there is one thing the Greeks aren't interested in and that is things that don't make sense, things which are irrational. If I can't see it under a microscope I am not interested in it and that's why in the prayer we say "your [G-d's] Torah." What bothers the Greeks is that there are things called laws which don't make sense, which are beyond human intellect. They want us to learn Torah, they want us to explain it to them but they want us to forget that it is "your Torah, God" that there are things here that come from the infinite and that is why they didn't destroy the oil, all they did was make it impure.

Now if you put impure and pure oil under the microscope there is absolutely no physical difference. It's a spiritual difference and it's one of God's laws which are beyond human understanding and that's what the Greeks can't allow. The Greeks' whole mindset was "I need to understand" and "man is the pinnacle." And what we are saying in Torah is that "I have to put my understanding to one side because I am finite and I want to connect not just with Torah but with God who is behind Torah."

The Chanukah lights that we will light in the darkness are a symbol of the pure oil, a symbol of connecting with the Giver of Torah, it is connecting with the concept that "I may not be able to understand everything completely." That doesn't mean I have to make my mind blank and have no personality. Once I have received Torah then comes the next dynamic, that God is very interested in each one of us in our own unique fashion connecting to Torah in a real and honest way. There are those things which I don't understand and they annoy me, and I ask for God to explain it or for a rabbi to explain it to me and I may go through life as a Jew and have questions but that doesn't mean because I have questions that I am going to throw out everything. Because I realize that I am finite and God is infinite and this is an opportunity for me to connect with the infinite.

The dynamic of Chanukah is to connect with the understanding that the first phase is: First I will do and then I will try to figure it out. This is why, while you are sitting in a class learning, don't ask questions (not don't ask questions at all, but save them for later) because while you are learning, be in the receiving mode because if I am so full of my own questions then those questions will not allow me to receive. Put yourself to one side and if there are questions (and there should be questions), first I have to receive and then after I have mulled it over I can formulate my questions. Indeed, one of the signs of a kosher animal is that it chews its own cud; first it swallows then it brings it up and ruminates, it thinks about it. People are not changed by arguments, nor by philosophy. People are changed by doing. Introduce a new habit into your life, and your entire Perspective of the world changes.

First do, then learn about what you are already doing.

This is an audio file that Feival sent me, a recording of a talk about Chanuka:

Monday, December 26, 2005

Aliyah Revolutions

Check out the short flash movie on It's like a Jewish version of the Matrix, i.e. Neo is Jewish and it's not the Matrix he wakes up from, it's the Exile (Galus). It's cute, and true.

Shabbaton in the Cruz

JSN Shabbaton in Santa Cruz January 6-7
116 Pearl St.

"The Jewish community is invited to join Rabbi Yisroel & Sandy Gordon of the Jewish Study Network for a beautiful Shabbat right here in Santa Cruz. Special thanks to Jeanne Rosen for sponsoring this event and bringing more Shabbat to our community."

January 6:
Minchah, followed by Kabbalat Shabbat: 4:50pm (Candle lighting 4:49)
After davening, a traditional Friday night dinner will be served.
January 7:
Shabbat Lunch: 2:00pm
Minchah: 4:30
Seudat Shelishit, the third Shabbat meal
Havdalah: 6:20

"We look forward to creating together an unforgettable Shabbat of spirit and song. Please RSVP to This is another free community event created by the Jewish Study Network. Find out about our classes and events at"

Sunday, December 25, 2005

From the Kosher Top 10 has a kosher top 10 section, not always glatt kosher, not always funny, but I thought this one was pretty good, and particularly relevent to UCSC:

Top 10 Ways You Know You're An Observant Jew Attending a Secular College (by Sarah Galena, et al.)

10. You get a fake I.D. to purchase alcohol...... for kiddush

9 You spend half your college career at the Hillel/Chabad, and the other half complaining about the Hillel/ Chabad.

8. Your professors begin studying Jewish laws in order to verify that the holidays you tell him you observe actually exist.

7. You tell people you took Hebrew 101 to become closer to your heritage..not to mention closer to getting on Dean's List.

6. You did not want to go to Stern/ YU because you wanted to have more academic options, consequently you are majoring in Psychology, minoring in Jewish Studies.

5. Every time a bomb goes off in Israel there is a speaker lecturing on: "The Middle Eastern Conflict, from an Academic Perspective" by professor Abdul-Rahim, followed by a non- denominational prayer service for peace.

4. Your idea of an intense chavrusa is debating whether you should make a bracha on pot-brownies.

3. Shomer Negiah does not include the hot guy/girl who lives on the same floor as you since he/she is not Jewish or if they are, but you don't intend to marry him/her.

2. All your non-Jewish professors are more than accomodating for your observance of Shabbat and Chaggim -- All your Jewish professors schedule the Midterm on the 1st day of Pesach.

1. The Friday night kegger is conveniently renamed "an Oneg".

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Today I stumbled upon, a webcommunity in the tradition of Friendster and MySpace, but Jewish. Although, I wouldn't say that the Jewish presence in places like MySpace is underdeveloped by any means; we even have rabbis like Rabbi Yonah Bookstein repping Torah there, and I personally am part of a group called 'Tasty Torah Treats' on MySpace. There are actually some quite diverse groups, like 'Chabad', 'Jewish Stoners Union', ect.

In related Jewish online-community news, came out of the closet and recently started offering an option for homosexual dating. Also, it seems like Google is taking over the online universe these days, and is, in good form, introducing their own online community called, and of course, they're using the same method that created so many waves for gmail, you have to be invited to join. Yeah, it's like that.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

New Matisyahu Video About to BLOW UP fo' rizzeal

as reported on
I'm sure you've all been waiting, and now it's here (or here): a newly produced video of 'King Without a Crown.' If for some reason you don't have time to watch it online, I'm sure you'll see it on MTV soon 'nuff, because it's bound to blow up on TRL.

Also, in related news, I've been in Southern California for the past couple days and have already heard Matisyahu's songs on the radio at least four or five times (mostly on KROQ, where he is at this moment listed as the #1 most played artist). It's all very hard for me to believe. Just a year ago I heard about him from my yeshivish friends, some of them even called him a gimmick at the time. But it looks like now everybody loves him. His December 31st show in San Diego sold out a long time ago, and now those tickets are selling on Craigslist for $200 a piece.

But, as with any popular music phenomenon, there are dissenters. Max from the blog, thinks Matis is "not-all-that" and, being the Chassidic reggae connoisseur that he is, says he was way more into Benny Bwoy, who he considers the O.G. chassidic reggae champ. Well, time will tell, won't it, Max?

While Matis has taken the pop-reggae scene by storm, I don't know if the world is ready for a Chassidic rapper like Jewda Maccabee. The video is way cheezy, but the lyrics are pretty deep and his voice reminds me a bit of Eminem. In fact, as far as quality of video production, I wouldn't rate Jewda much higher than The Chevra boys. And their fans.

And then there are the Islamic fundamentalist reggae artists, pffff, the amateurs. Islamic jihads got NOTHING on Matis.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Chanuka Extravaganza Continues

These animations are more disturbing than cute, but what can you do?

The Chanuka Bird.

As reported on
Mechaking Menorah.

Thursday, December 15, 2005 Chanuka Guide is launching this year's edition of the Chanuka Guide, "chock-full of great content and lots of fun for the entire family, beginner and scholar alike." I personally have found their holiday guides to be useful and insightful, to say the least. Here are some of the features on the site:


b.t.w., two weeks ago was the 2nd birthday of the Chabad Student Center at UCSC. Happy belated birthday! You should have continued and increased success in the coming year.

The JSN Chanuka Experience

Join the Jewish Study Network for an evening of good Torah, good food, good music & good company!

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

7:00 p.m. the learning begins

8:00 p.m. the party starts

Kehillah Jewish High School – 3900 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, CA
Cost: $10 suggested donation



Sunday, December 11, 2005

For the SoCal Crew- Moshav Band

December 17th, 2005
Los Angeles, CA- Cong. Magen David
R' Shlomo Yartzeit Concert
9717 W. Pico Blvd.
Doors Open 7:30pm. $15/$10 Students

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Sigma Winter Rush

"The first and only Jewish interest sorority at UCSC."

Thursday, Jan. 12- Info Night

Tuesday, Jan. 17- Game night with Sigma

Wednesday, Jan. 18- Bowling @ Boardwalk Bowl

Thursday, Jan. 19- Dressy Dessert @ Hillel

All events will meet at 8pm in the Quarry Plaza in front of the Baytree Bookstore.


Cassie @ (415) 827-1333
Stephanie @ (818) 631-6860

Subliminal Messages about Chanuka (and T.A.C.T.)

For all the SoCal yidden, as posted on Subliminal's Myspace:


December, 25 2005 at THE AVALON, HOLLYWOOD
1735 N. Vine Street
Hollywood, CA

Cost: $45
$55 at the door

Musicall Fairfax: 323-951-0111
Musicall N. Hollywood: 818-980-9848
Woodland Hills:
Eemas Market: 818-702-9272
Elite Market: 818-985-8507
Stimatzky: 818-708-2347
Production office: 310-273-2824

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Some Photos of Some Yidden

Adam Savel forwarded me a link to a fine collection of black and white photos documenting American Jewish life. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It has begun!

As posted on

Let the Channuka entertainment begin!!!!

As posted on

A musical short by Sarah Silverman: Give the Jew girl toys.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Non-Observadox Paradox

Click here for Ben Baruch's latest.

Going going back back to Israel Israel

I was notified via email of this petition to reinstate the U.C. study abroad program in Israel. The program was nixed in 2001 at the behest of the U.S. State Department, so students like me who wanted to study abroad in Israel had to take a leave of absence from the U.C., and transfering credits was a bit shady (but it was the best year of my life thus far). Since April 2005, the warning was changed and now only "urges U.S. citizens to carefully weigh the necessity of their travel to Israel."

Aaron Stone, of the Twelve Tribes Co-op, a veteran U.C. Santa Cruzer, had the following to say:

"The PetitionOnline is cute, but to do anything in the University beauracracy, you need to find out who's on which committee. In this case, you're looking at the Committee on the Education Abroad Program; there's one at each UC. Here at UCSC, these are the folks to talk to:

"Putting your name on a web page to show solidarity is about 1/10,000 as effective as calling these people up and asking if/when they plan to reinstate the Israel programs, and if not, what their concerns are and actually working to allay those concerns. Cancelling a program is often a top-down decision (EAP, Journalism, Languages, etc.), but reinstating it has to be a grassroots effort to alter the formal recommendations of dozens of committees.

"Get involved with your College's Senate/Council/Parliament. Sit on a University committee. Become a representative to the SUA. Run for an SUA seat. Get to know the influential professors who aren't already out there talking about these issues and let them know how you feel."

And Tammi Benjamin, seasoned Israel supporter and professor at UCSC responded with the following:

"Aaron is right about how decisions are made at the university, and that for change to happen it must go through the proper channels of the university bureaucracy. I also agree with his suggestions for contacting influential professors and the members of the academic senate committee on the Education Abroad Program, and getting involved in the governance structure on campus. However, I still believe the petition is a good idea for the following reasons:

"1) The petition reaches beyond any one campus, which is important because while there is an EAP Committee on each UC campus, the EAP policy -- for instance the decision to suspend or reinstate the programin Israel -- is determined system-wide and not by any single campus.

"2) The number of signatures gives an indication of how much support there is to reinstate the program. A petition with thousands of names and comments from students, professors, parents and California taxpayers, is a great supporting document when speaking with the individuals responsible for making decisions about the UC Israel abroad program.

"3) The petition raises awareness about this issue not just on UC campuses, but in the local communities as well. This is important because a grassroots effort to reinstate the Israel abroad program will be greatly strengthened by the efforts of a broad spectrum of people, both on and off campus. The petition can be useful in identifying individuals who can help."

Moshiach is coming! Vice Magazine and a Chassidic wedding

as reported on

"Berel is a Hasidic Jew who I always see hanging around at parties and stuff. I asked him what it’s like to be “of the people” and he invited me to go to a real-life Hasidic wedding with him." Photoessay by Patrick O’Dell

Thursday, December 01, 2005

JDub Presents: Jewltide & Vodka Latka in 4 Cities

I received an email from about upcoming Channuka events:

JDub is proud to partner with the Jewish Funds for Justice and the Progressive Jewish Alliance for a series of Hanukkah events across the country. Each event will feature a JDub headliner, "The Festival of Rights," a unique menorah-lighting by local social justice activists, plus guest bands and DJs. JDub Hanukkah events have a history of selling out so get your tickets early!

Wed, Dec 21: Vodka Latka Los Angeles w/Balkan Beat Box @ The Knitting Factory
Thurs, Dec 22: Vodka Latka San Francisco w/Balkan Beat Box @ Cafe Du Nord
*LA & SF will feature special guest DJ Garth Trinidad of KCRW's Chocolate City

Sat, Dec 24: Jewltide Brooklyn w/Balkan Beat Box @ Southpaw
Mon, Dec 26: Jewltide NYC w/The LeeVees @ The Bowery Ballroom
*Brooklyn & NYC are also sponsored by Brooklyn Jews
Tues, Dec 27: Jewltide Boston w/The LeeVees @ Paradise

Check out for tickets or more info.