Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Latest From Ben Baruch

Anarchy in the UC

To: Campus Community
From: Denice D. Denton and David S. Kliger

We want to inform all students, staff, and faculty about a series of incidents of vandalism that have been reported recently.

December 3 Star of David symbols were defaced on message boards next to three doors in a Stevenson College residence hall.

January 3 Ten doors of administrative and faculty offices were kicked in at Cowell College (occurred during the break)

January 17 23 doors of administrative and faculty offices were kicked in at Stevenson College

January 17 Windows on two University vehicles were broken at the Blacksmith Shop parking lot

January 17 New electronic display trailer was damaged by rocks, and wiring was torn

January 17 Hole kicked in wall of bathroom at Cowell Coffee Shop

January 20 Door at Casa Latina (Merrill College) was pried open with a crow bar

January 23 Seven doors of administrative and faculty offices were kicked in at Cowell College Faculty Annex

We have no way of knowing who is responsible for these acts. If you are aware of events of this sort, we would appreciate it if you would contact the campus police, so we can track and investigate such episodes. (Call 9-1-1 from campus phones; dial 459.2345 from other phones.)

Also, please recall that the Campus Provost provided in his message of last October 14 earlier examples of vandalism, along with a reminder that such behavior is unacceptable. (http://messages.ucsc.edu/05-06/10-14.community.asp) To repeat from that message, we must make it clear that vandalism, threats, acts of hatred, and violence have no place in our community. We must discourage the use of confrontation and violence and ensure that all community members can live and work freely without fear of intimidation or physical harm. Together, we must consider creative ways to engage our campus community in activities that provide opportunities for expression in ways that uphold our Principles of Community (http://www.ucsc.edu/about/principles_community.asp).

Monday, January 30, 2006

Exploring Judaism with Rabbi Yisroel Gordon - The Talmudic Parsha: Bo

This Monday, January 30th at 7:30pm, we will continue our series of classes devoted to mining the weekly Torah portion for its mitzvot. In each class, a new mitzva will be analyzed fromm Talmudic, Halachic and Midrashic perspectives, in an attempt to glean legal definitions and relevant lessons. Join us as we learn, discuss and experience the extraordinary depth of Torah! We currently find ourselves in the saga of the 10 Plagues, and the following is a discussion submitted to the JewniProj by Rabbi Gordon:

In this past week’s very entertaining parsha we find the first seven of the famous Ten Plagues. After a futile attempt at shuttle diplomacy with his trusted ambassador Moshe, G-d resorts to the military option. He attacks Egypt with an arsenal of unconventional weaponry, but Pharaoh stands firm.

Pharaoh’s intransigence goes far beyond his refusal to free the Jews; he won’t even accept the existence of G-d! When Moshe first approaches Pharaoh and declares in the Name of G-d, “Let my people go,” Pharaoh replies, “Who is G-d that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not recognize G-d” (Shemot 5:2). So much for ‘know your enemy.’

The plagues begin and the question we are confronted with is this: Who needs them? It is obvious that G-d does not need plagues to force Pharaoh to free the Jews; it wouldn’t take G-d ten plagues to accomplish that. Nor can we say that the plagues were exclusively for the purpose of punishing the Egyptians for enslaving the Jews. If that were the case, why does Moshe keep saying that if Pharaoh frees the Jews the plagues will stop? Rather, G-d’s primary objective with the ten plagues was to introduce Himself to Pharaoh, the Egyptian people, and the world.

A careful reading of the text will reveal that the ten plagues are actually a beautifully structured lesson plan for a basic theology course. The first nine plagues are divided into three sets of three, each set with its own message. At the beginning of the first set G-d says, “Through this you will know that I am G-d” (7:17). The first thing Pharaoh needs to learn is that G-d exists.
Before the second set G-d proclaims, “You will realize that I am G-d, right here on Earth” (8:18). Lesson two is the concept of Divine Providence. Not only does G-d exist, He is intimately involved in the affairs of man. Before the third set G-d says, “You will know that there is none like Me in all the world” (9:14). In this set G-d demonstrates His ability to break the laws of nature. (To explain how each of these lessons is taught by the plagues of each set is beyond the scope of this overview. See Abarbanel and Malbim.) The tenth plague, the Plague of the First Born, stands by itself. In that plague, G-d Himself descended into Egypt (11:4). The final lesson is that there can be a revelation of G-d’s Presence in the physical realm.

This is not all. The Ten Plagues have more to tell us about the nature of G-d. For example, we see the effectiveness of prayer (2:23-24, 8:5-9), G-d’s love for the Jews (8:18), and His compassion for the Egyptians even at a time when He is punishing them (9:19). The plagues, when viewed in their entirety, also attest to the truth of monotheism. Otherwise, the only way to explain events would be to say that the God of the Nile, the God of weather and the Gods of wildlife all got together and formed a united coalition against Egypt. Of course, this is inconceivable. Gods don’t work together, they fight each other. The only explanation that makes sense is that one G-d Almighty controls everything.

Although G-d is a great teacher, Pharaoh’s arrogance makes him a slow student. He stubbornly refuses to accept G-d and actively “hardens his heart” time and time again (7:13,22, 8:11,15, 8:28, 9:7). So G-d decides to take drastic measures. After attacking Pharaoh’s country, palace and body to no effect, G-d invades his mind. In the sixth plague, “G-d made Pharaoh obstinate” (9:12). Can we imagine Pharaoh’s terror at the realization that he had lost control over his own mind? Maybe this was his breaking point. In the next plague, at the very end of the parsha, Pharaoh’s arrogance is shattered and he faces the truth: “This time I am guilty. G-d is Just! It is I and my people who are in the wrong” (9:27).

The purpose of the Ten Plagues was not just for the education of Pharaoh and the ancient Egyptians. It is for us Jews today as well. G-d tells Moshe, “I have made [Pharaoh] and his advisors stubborn, so that I will be able to demonstrate these miraculous signs among them. You will then be able to tell the story to your children and grandchildren how I made fools of the Egyptians, and how I performed miraculous signs among them. You will then fully realize that I am G-d” (10:1-2). In other words, G-d deliberately designed things in a way that would make for an entertaining story, in order to facilitate the education of future generations!

With the Ten Plagues G-d taught mankind who He is. It was a lesson for all time, never to be forgotten. He is One, creator and director of all the forces of the world. He is a G-d of both Justice and Mercy; a G-d who answers prayers. It is He who grants man free will, and He has the power to take it away.

This Shabbat when we study the Ten Plagues, G-d is both the curriculum and the instructor.
This course was, and is today, a core requirement for enrollment into Sinai.

For location, contact Rabbi Yisroel Gordon at (650) 961-4576 or at yisroel@jsn.info .

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Seriously, Jewlicious At The Beach v2.0 Is Where It's At

You guys, I don't know what else to say. The price for this amazing Shabbaton is only $36 (including room and board), which will go up to $54 on February 3rd. YOU GET TO SPEND SHABBAT WITH MATISYAHU, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE! besides all the other awesome stuff going on. Check my homeboys Rabbi Yonah and David Rayhan in the following ad for the event:

And here is a sample itinerary:


  • Registration / Welcome Program

  • Challah Baking, Shabbat Decorating, Fitness, JTB2 Café Open, Kitchen Club with Gourmet Chefs from LA and NYC

Bring on Shabbat Your Own Way:

  • Carlebach Style Kabbalat Shabbat Service or Shabbat 101 Discussion or Meditation Circle

  • Huge Friday Night Medieval Jewish Feast

Evening Programs

  • Desert Buffet

  • Panel Discussion: Jews In Love about Sex & Relationships

  • Kiddush Wine Tasting

  • “Tish” with Special Guests


The Morning Show

  • Continental-Shabbat Breakfast, Pilates, Meditation Circle, Women’s Inspiring class, Improv Torah Sportz, Big Kiddush Lunch

Afternoon Programs

  • Organized sports, Nap/Shluf, Schmooze with Jews, Café Open, Exotic Tea Time, Board Games, Parsha, Panel Discussions with invited presenters: Jews Who Rock on Jewish Music in the age of Matisyahu, Modern Jewish Student Girls Guide to Life, Israeli Jews Debate the Future of the Jewish State

  • Afternoon Shabbat Service, Meditation Circle

Big Fish Third Meal

Evening Program
  • Musical Havdallah, Café Acoustic Music, Poker tournament, Fun Zone, Jewish Movie-oke, BBQ For Carnivores and Herbivores, Jam Session w/Special Guests, Dessert party


  • Pilates, Meditation Circle, Minyan, Sunday Paper, Coffee & Tea, Morning Blog & Email Time, Bagel Brunch, The Tribe Film with Director, followed by discussions

Afternoon Workshops:
  • Tilelicious Jewsaics, Bronze Casting, Henna, Blogging, Spoken Word Poetry

  • Afternoon Panel discussions with special invited presenters:
  • Jews Who Write on The Future of Jewish Writing, Jews Who Protest on Why They Don’t Just Chill, Calvin Klein to Dov Charney: Jewish Men and Fashion, Rabbis on Kabbalah and Madonna

Evening Program
  • Jewbilation Concert—Four Bands, DJ, Original Fashion Show, Concessions, After-Concert Theme Parties


The Morning Show
  • Minyan, Coffee, Breakfast, Tidy-up, Adventure: Harbor Cruise, or Whale Watching Cruise, Land Lover Option Aquarium of the Pacific, Picnic Lunch on Board

Afternoon Program
  • Environmental Tzedek Project: Post-Tu-Bshvat Beach Clean-Up, BBQ Beach Fiesta with Jazz Band at the Beach at Sunset

Hit up JTB2.com for more info or to register today.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Kabbalah Energy Drink

I should start a section called 'Crazy Things I Heard Around The Shabbos Table.' So today, I found out those crazy Kabbalah Center people have started producing an energy drink. I got the following info from DailyOrange.com (via a Google search):

Kabbalah Energy Drink

Claim to fame: It is said to be made with water blessed by a rabbi and has healing powers. It is used by stars who practice Kabbalah, such as Madonna.

Active Ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, citric acid, Kabbalah water

Brought to you by: Kabbalah international. Web site: Kabbalah.com

Student thoughts: "I think it is ridiculous. I would intentionally not drink it because I don't understand or agree with its connection to Kabbalah," said Sara Beckerman, a sophomore communication sciences and disorders major.

Price: Only about $2.00 for 12 oz. of mystic healing powers. Wow!

"Wow!" indeed. I wonder if it's even kosher. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. No, jay kay. Anyway, for more info, check out KabbalahEngergyDrink.com, or click here, or here, or do a Google search.

Shabbat Report

This past Friday night, over 80 UCSC students were involved in Shabbat celebration with Hillel and Chabad. According to student Scott Fox, there were between 20-25 people at Hillel Friday night, and it was a shmoozing evening, with lively conversation. There were two services, one, more traditional, led by Hillel Director Shalom Bochner, and the other, more Reform/alternative, led by Scott and a friend. Reflecting on the evening, Scott said, "It was a quiet Shabbat, normally not that quiet."

Right around the block at the Chabad House, over 60 people were packed in for an extra special feature besides the usual words of wisdom from Shlomie and Devorah Leah's excellent kosher cuisine: Rabbi Yosef Langer, Rabbi to the Stars, friend of Rock icons like Bob Dylan, Rock promoter Bill Graham, and Jane's Addiction front man Perry Ferrel, was in town as a guest. Among the numerous amazing stories he told of his star-studded past, he told one personal story that especially stood out.

It was at Woodstock '99, and Rabbi Langer had hooked his crew up to get a mitzva trailer backstage in order to spread a little Jewish energy among the performers. One evening, hip-hopper Wyclef Jean (daaaaang, remember The Carnival?) came to receive a blessing from the Rabbi. The two of them were chilling for a while, having l'chaims, and Wyclef asked if his crew could come over (meaning the family and friends). The Rabbi said sure, and soon the trailer was filled with Wyclef's crew and others, talking, laughing, chatting. Wyclef's mother and sister sang Amazing Grace, everyone was having a great time.

Then, someone was overheard saying 'you gotta call a spade a spade,' which has explicit racist connotations (i.e. "blacker than the ace of spades," which means someone basically dropped the "N-bomb" in a room full of Wyclef Jean's family and friends). Needless to say, the room became so silent you could hear a pin drop. Wyclef spoke first. "Thas right y'all, you heard? You gotta call a spade a spade." The tension was so thick you could cut it with a challah knife. Rabbi Langer leaned over and looped his arm with Wyclef's and announced, "and you gotta call a heart a heart!" After that, everything calmed down and the tension in the room went back to normal. Eventually, Wyclef and Rabbi Langer blessed each other, and B"H everything turned out ok. Seriously a beautiful story with a valuable lesson.

Also, (and you heard it here first) Rabbi Langer will be hosting the biggest Purim event in Northern Cali called 'Purimpalooza,' featuring Matisyahu, Perry Ferrel, a freestyle rap competition, costume competition, and much, much more. Check it out here, and check back at the JewniProj as the date approaches for more info on rideshares etc. And, if you haven't already signed up for Jewlicious at the Beach v2.0, they just announced that Matisyahu and his wife and son will be spending Shabbos there as well. Seriously, don't come crying to me after Presidents' Day weekend and tell me I didn't tell you how cool it was going to be.

Also I want to mention that towards the end of this past Shabbos, I had the pleasure of attending a beautiful traditional Third Meal that was hosted at the house of a few UCSC students (and I hope they won't mind if I refer to them as my good friends). The meal was attended by about 13 people, some active in various groups and orgs such as Leviathan, Chabad, Hillel, SCIAC, Students for Peace in the Middle East, and the JewniProj. Yeah, grassroots Judaism, it's like that. It was a beautiful Shabbat, indeed.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bulletin Board

Shabbat with Rabbi Yosef Langer

This Shabbat, parshat Va'eira, Chabad by the Sea will be hosting Rabbi Yosef Langer of Chabad of S. Francisco.

We invite you to join us at 10 AM on Saturday for services followed by a special Kiddush with our very own "Frisco Kid". (Can't make it for services? Join us for Kiddush at approx. 1-ish.)

We hope you can join us.

Shabbat Shalom.

email: info@chabadbythesea.com phone: 831-454-0101
web: http://www.ChabadbytheSea.com

Thursday, January 26, 2006

R' Naftali Citron on Chabad, Breslov, and Reb Shlomo - Response by R' Dovid Sears

Longtime friend of the SC Jewish community Rabbi Naftali Citron, and now the rov of the Carlebach Shul in New York, has recently spoken about the differences between Chabad and Breslov approaches to Chassidus, and hinted at why Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach took the path he did.

Rabbi Dovid Sears, a well-known Breslov author and teacher, takes issue with Rabbi Citron's comments.

Both the original piece and the reply are well written and great reading for anyone interested in Chassidus and Reb Shlomo.

A Simple Jew: Guest Posting From Rabbi Dovid Sears - Comparing Chabad and Breslov: A Response to Rabbi Naftali Citron

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Legalizing Marijuana: If You Will It, It Is No Dream

Tomorrow, Thursday, January 26 at 8:00pm is the panel discussion in Kresge Town Hall entitled "Legalize it? Pros, Cons, and the Jewish Perspective." What do you guys think?

It's funny, I heard when they were trying to find people to be on this panel, they couldn't find a single person in opposition to the legalization of marijuana in some form. That's Santa Cruz for you. No, but seriously.

Truth be told, one of my first experiences being at Santa Cruz all those four years ago had to do with pot, during the first week of school. It was September 17th, 2002, and word had been spreading around the Merrill dorms that the Santa Cruz City Council was going to be giving away free medicinal marijuana from the steps of City Hall in protest to the federal government's bust of a small medical marijuana farm.

Of course I showed up. Not to receive any pot, mind you, but because I was absolutely incredulous that such rumors could be true. So first I had to find the place, which wasn't too hard seeing as how there was a huge crowd and news vans and live music (Santa Cruz, what do you expect?). So everyone was milling around before the pot-giving would take place. I soon found out that only card-holding patients would be receiving the goods, but yes indeed, free pot would be given out. It was worth milling around just to see it happen--City Council giving out free pot in public from the steps of City Hall, with police protection. What a trip.

At one point, I noticed someone darting in and out of the crowd, leaning in to people as he passed them, holding a basket of something. I realized it was a basket of cookies, and he was distributing to whomever wanted one. Now, I don't want to say this guy looked like a stoner, but he had a certain glimmer in his eye, a certain jolly, almost nymph-like mischievous look on his face. As he approached me, he leaned in and with a furtive grin, whispered, "Pot cookies." Now, this was a particular situation that I was completely not ready for. A situation like this didn't exist in my reality at the time. I made a number of quick assumptions to make up for my extreme confusion, took a cookie, nodded and gave a small smile of 'thanks,' as he moved along leaning in and offering his cookies to others in the crowd.

I stood in slight shock, trying to figure out what was going on. I reasoned that, first of all, no one would give away a real pot cookie. They would sell it for sure. And anyway, who would be brash enough to go around in public offering, indiscriminately to give away pot cookies? What if there were undercover police, or narks, or something (remember, I was a freshman)? So, I figured it wouldn't hurt to eat the cookie, and so I did. Well, I'm not going to write what happened after that here. You'll have to ask me yourself for that. But just so you know it all really happened, check out the pics
here and read an article about it here.

And come to the event to find out what Judaism has to say about it.

Special Talmud Class for Women.

Join us for some special learning!

We will be studying select portions of the Talmud known as 'Aggadah'. The Aggadah consists of the inspirational and ethical teachings of the Talmud.

Classes will be at Chabad by the Sea on three Wednesdays in February. The 1st, 8th and 15th at 7:30 PM.

For Women Only.

Suggested Donation: $18/series (and up).

Call (831) 454-0101 or e-mail rabbi@chabadbythesea.com for more information.

Reminder: Matisyahu Performing in Santa Cruz in One Month

That's right, Jewish slugs, just a reminder that in 30 days, Chassidic Reggae superstar Matisyahu will be gracing the stage of our fine Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium during a night of Bob Marley celebration. Seriously, if you haven't seen him perform yet, you're missing out. And word on the street is, he might be stopping by the Chabad House after his performance to chat with students.

As you may or may not know, Matisyahu didn't grow up an Orthodox Jew. In fact, he grew up mostly secular like many of the students at UCSC. For a while, he was what we might call a hippy, following the band Phish around, and eventually got into reggae. He said he developed his beat-box skills at parties, just beat-boxing with his friends like people sometimes do after a few beers. But he just has more skill than the average party beat-boxer, and now he actually gets paid to do it. Eventually Matisyahu felt an emptiness in his life, like a vessel waiting to be filled, and followed a winding path that eventually led to a Torah-observant lifestyle. The clip below is one of the best videotaped interviews I've seen with Matis so far, where he divulges his colorful past.

To buy tickets to the Santa Cruz show, click here. You have to register if you're not already a member (registration is free). I also want to remind everyone that JewniProj's exclusive Matisyahu MP3 from his upcoming album 'Youth' is still available for download here along with the lyrics.

Oh, and one more thing while we're on the topic of reggae/Bob Marley: This Thursday night, January 26 2006, is, well, I don't know if I can call it a debate, maybe more like a rally for legalizing marijuana. No, jay kay, it's called a discussion. Entitled Legalize it? Pros, Cons, and the Jewish Perspective, being held at 8:00pm in the Kresge Town Hall, co-sponsored by the Leviathan. I'll be there. You'll be there. It will be a smoking good time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Jewish Rock Climbing Rocks!

If you missed the Chabad Student Center's rock climbing and barbeque event this past Sunday, well, then you're one of those few thousand Jews on campus who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. We met at Pacific Edge climbing gym at around 12:30pm, got situated for the special Chabad hook-up price of $9, and hit the rocks. The following is a summary:

We climbed for three or four hours, then headed over to the Chabad House for a kosher barbeque, and mmmmmmm was it good. It was a great event.

Launch Of Radical Torah

Today Mobius from Jewschool and OrthodoxAnarchist announced the launch of a new alternative Torah portion resource, RadicalTorah.org. This is what he had to say:
Radical Torah is a weblog which features multiple takes on parshat hashavua (the weekly Torah portion), as seen through the lens of progressive religious and political viewpoints. The project seeks to create a resource of authentically Jewish responses to pertinent social justice issues, timed in accordance with their relevancy to the Jewish calendar. . . Many secular Jews who identify strongly with the Jewish social action tradition often feel alienated and repressed by our religious tradition. One of the primary aims of Radical Torah is to provide this group with Torah that is empowering and which confirms their deepest convictions towards issues of social justice. Thus, for the secular Jewish activist, Radical Torah can be a catalyst for Jewish engagement.
Click here for the full post on Jewschool. Hopefully, if this thing gets rolling, it would likely be a valuable resource for Jewish political activists in Santa Cruz.

Also, there was a very interesting post on Jewschool a week ago titled 'Tikkun Olam: Not All It's Cracked Up To Be?' It seems according to Agudath Israel’s Avi Shafran, the Patriot
Act is all about *gasp* tikkun olam. See for yo' self.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Rep for the Jews on Campus

a note from Tammi Benjamin:
Dear Hebrew students, past and present:
I wanted to remind you about the following opportunity to perform
in an "Evening of International Music and Dance" on March 8th. If you
would like to sing, dance, play an instrument or recite poetry in
Hebrew for this event, there will be auditions this Wed. January 25,
5pm - 6:30pm in the Cowell Fireside Lounge. I hope you will consider
it -- it should be lots of fun!

from the Jewish Studies Department:
We are pleased to invite you to a "Lunch and Learn" with Brian Catlos. His talk, entitled, "Jews of Muslim and Christian Spain in a Humanistic Perspective: Three Episodes," will be held this coming Wednesday, January 25 at 12:00 pm in the Silverman Conference Room at Stevenson College. In his talk Catlos will be discussing three episodes in the Jewish history of medieval Spain: the Granada pogrom of 1066, the Barcelona Disputation of 1263 and the Expulsion of 1492, each of which is analyzed in the broad contexts of developments in the Jewish, Muslim and Christian worlds.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Kosher- But Were Afraid to Ask!

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Kosher - But Were Afraid to Ask.

A behind the scenes view of the Modern Kosher World followed by a Q & A Session with Rabbi Reuven Nathanson, West Coast Director of Kashrut for the OU.

Are Swordfish Kosher?
What needs a Kosher Certification?
All your questions answered!

Monday, January 23rd 8:00 pm
No Charge
Lecture Sponsor $180

At Chabad of Sunnvyale
1110 Sunnyvale Saratoga Road, Ste B, Sunnyvale

For more information, or to reserve please call 408.720.0553

Rabbi Reuven Nathanson, West Coast Director of Kashrut for the OU Kosher Certification will offer insights into the complex nature of Kosher supervision in the modern world. Rabbi Nathanson who has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Tulane University, is a kashrut expert with two decades of experience in the Kashrut field. He will gladly answer any questions you may have regarding kosher foods and supervision.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Continue Shemot with a guest speaker!

Exploring Judaism with Guest Scholar Rabbi Yitzchak Feldman - The Talmudic Parsha: Shemot.

This Monday, January 23rd at 7:30pm, at the home of the Rossmans, Rabbi Yitzchak Feldman, of Congregation Emek Bracha in Palo Alto, will be our guest speaker as we continue our series of classes devoted to mining the weekly Torah portion for its mitzvot. In each class, a new mitzva will be analyzed form Talmudic, Halachic and Midrashic perspectives, in an attempt to glean legal definitions and relevant lessons. Join us as we learn, discuss and experience the extraordinary depth of Torah!

Contact Rabbi Yisroel Gordon at (650) 961-4576 ot at yisroel@jsn.info for more information.

McHenry Graffiti + Reflections on Shabbat 200

Shavua tov, everyone. Well, frankly, I was disappointed by the attendance at 'Shabbat 200.' We barely had 140 students there, if that (out of the 3,000 or so Jewish students at UCSC). All I can say is, the students who did attend enjoyed themselves very much. Shlomie Chein from the Chabad Student Center and Shalom Bochner from Hillel led a very engaging evening. There was plenty of spirituality, chicken, kugel, and tofu to go around, and there was even some left over. Next year, we're going for 'Shabbat 2,000,' at least.

In other news, I recently had to walk past McHenry library. I used to spend lazy evenings there the past few years, sauntering up in the late afternoon, napping in the basement or quietly pretending to study, and stumbling out towards 11 or 11:30pm as the late-night cleaners were beginning to vacuum the floors. So if you didn't know, they cut down quite a number of trees outside McHenry and they're expanding the library. **UPDATE** I just discovered that there is a 'McHenry Library Addition and Renovation Blog,' laugh at it here. And the renovation site itself is located here. Apparently in protest (or perhaps just an exercise in civil disobedience), certain people have designed very nice stencils and spray-painted the boards by the construction area of McHenry. The following is a summary:

So, I know there are quite a number of you passing through this blog daily. I don't know if you attend UCSC or not, but I want to inform you that you have the right to comment freely on JewniProj's posts. You don't have to be a member or anything; in fact, you don't even have to be a student of UCSC to leave a comment on any of these posts. So please express your opinion (and I know that every one of you has at least two opinions) on anything that is posted. In this case, what do you think about the McHenry expansion, and people's reaction through graffiti? To offer a bit of insight myself (however shortsighted it may be), I want to present the Jewish concept of 'baal tashchis' (that everything physical that exists is sacred). I found a good quote on some random Google search as follows: "The only right we have to consume food is because G-d who created the entire universe gave us that permission. But only with one fundamental condition: That we use the energy we gain from the food for constructive, higher purposes, to transform this world into a home for G-d." So, maybe expanding McHenry is expanding knowledge of the universe, and simultaneously expanding respect for humanity and the Earth. Or maybe not.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bulletin Board

Tonight, Friday, January 20th at 6:00pm is SHABBAT 200 at the Stevenson Event Center! It's the event of the week, fo' shizzle. Over 200 Jewish UCSC students coming together for a Shabbat experience, including a FREE phatty dinner. And don't be scurrd to show up fashionably late, 'cause dinner don't start till 7pm.

On Thursday, February 2nd, 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m the JSN will be hosting The Mystical Hebrew Alphabet: The Letter Beit, taught by world-renowned lecturer Rabbi Yaakov Marcus. He'll be explaining how the letter "ב" "bet," out of all of the Hebrew letters, explains how we, as Jews, are supposed to be "a light to the nations." And it happens to be the very first letter of the Torah. Jewish Study Network, 2584 Leghorn, Ste A, Mountain View. Cost: $10, pay with cash or check at the door (Scholarships available). Register online here.

Stay updated on Jewlicious at the Beach v2.0, a spectacular three-day event taking place in Long Beach, CA, Presidents' Day weekend. We're organizing transportation from Santa Cruz, so be in touch if you need a ride!

Keep in mind that Matisyahu will be performing in Santa Cruz on February 23rd. Click here for tickets or more info. (Pre-sale tickets $40).

I Can't Believe It's Not Treifa (previously 'Kosher Product Spotlight')

So I'm changing this section's title to 'I Can't Believe It's Not Treifa' because, first of all, it's more catchy, and secondly because that's more the focus of this section (i.e. to publicize products that are so tasty/healthy/earth-conscious/'munchies-qualified' that you're thanking your lucky stars that they're kosher).

This week's feature is Tofutti's Tofutti Cuties. They're half the size of traditional ice-cream sandwiches, but are, like, twice as satisfying. And being dairy-free (vegan), without butterfat or cholesterol, and completely trans fat free, they even sound kind of healthy. Cuties are Tofutti's best selling product, and after initial success with traditional flavors like 'vanilla,' Tofutti innovated much-needed new ice-cream sandwich flavors. If you haven't tasted the mint-chip or peanut butter Cuties yet, they are seriously TO DIE FOR.

Tofutti Cuties are availabe in town at the Food Bin, Staff of Life, and New Leaf. For more info, visit Tofutti's website at Tofutti.com.

For those interested, the blessings on a Cutie are "borei minei m'zonot" and "al ha'michya."

Israel Roundup

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Matisyahu on David Letterman

thanks Jewschool.

Where's Shlomo?

The West Coast emissaries of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement had their annual meeting in LA this past weekend.

Play a relaxing game of "Where's Shlomo?" , Jewnification's very own kosher version of "Where's Waldo?", and see if you can find Chabad Student Center's beloved Rabbi Shlomie Chein amid the sea of beards and black hats.

For a bonus round, see if you can find Chabad by the Sea's Rabbi Friedman.

Have fun...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Robin Kopit Addresses Students On Prospects of Coexistence

Tonight, hosted by the Santa Cruz Israel Action Committee, community member Robin Kopit addressed a number of students regarding his most recent journey to Israel with the Compassionate Listening Project. The following are some photos from his trip, and the rest are available for viewing here.

Robin opened his slideshow with a quote from Mark Twain's 1867 writings on his trip to Israel The Innocents Abroad. A sample from that text, describing Israel at the time, follows:
“ ...[a] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds-a silent mournful expanse....A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action....We never saw a human being on the whole route....There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
Robin then proceeded to tell of his own journey through pictures and stories. While staying in the Ecce Homo Convent in the Old City of Jerusalem, Robin had an excellent view of the Temple Mount. During his two weeks, Robin met with a number of interesting people, from a man running for office in the Arroub refugee camp to R. Yehoshua Kahan from Yeshivat Bat Ayin.

A few points really stood out to me. Robin mentioned that he had asked a Palestinian man, who had been speaking about how some of his land had been cut off by the Security Wall, how he acquired the land. Robin said the man uncomfortably answered that his father had farmed it, and his father before him. There is no established ownership, as in other places. So Robin posed the question, in such a situation, how can we talk about ownership without established ownership or private land?

Also, he noted that right outside the confines of the refugee camp was plenty of lush and open space, an Arab town in fact. But the 8,000 refugees were not allowed to live there, as the Arab residents of that town expected them to move back to wherever it was their grandparents had lived.

Robin also visited Chevron, and visited a memorial museum to the 1929 massacre of Jews by Palestinian Arabs there. He also visited the Gush Bloc, which was originally a kibbutz established in the 1920's, but was also destroyed by Arabs in the 1947/48 war, and its Jews massacred, but today it is again a thriving area with eight towns.

And, he also commented on the million-dollar Arab mansions he saw in Chevron. He said a journalist friend of his said that Chevron would lose a number of millionaires if the US ever succeeded in cutting off funding to Hamas.

But overall, it seemed to be a very positive journey and made me hopeful for peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Lubavitch.

Next month's issue of National Geographic will be featuring an article on Chabad-Lubavitch. The story is by photographer Carolyn Drake. Check her website for a sneak preview of what the pictures featured in the article might be like.

JewBlog Roundup

from Jewtastic:from Jewschool:Also, just an update on the Campus Calendar,


According to the Arizal, the great kabbalist Yitzchok Luria of Tsfat, this week is the start of the six week period of ShOVaVYM. ShOVaVYM is an acronym for the first six parshas in the book of Shemot: Shemot, Vaera, Bo, B'shalach, Yitro, Mishpatim.* Together, the first initials of these six Torah portions form the word "shovevim", or "mischievous ones", an allusion to Hashem's mischievous Jewish children who must rectify their ways.

The Arizal teaches that this is a period of repentance, as the next six Torah portions move from the theme of slavery to redemption, with slavery representing being bound by the weight of our sins, and the redemption and revelation at Sinai being a recommitment to the ways of the Torah.

The Arizal himself advocated holding regular fasts during this time, although this is no longer done. However, it might interest the S. Cruz chevre that some Breslov Chassidim refrain from eating any animal products from dawn to nightfall on Thursdays during this time, and some even refrain from eating animal products for 24-hours at a time.

While you may not want to fast or give up your glatt kosher burgers, now is a great time to spread a little extra tzeddake and crack open the Five Books of Moses, to see what Moses and the Exodus was all about.

*: If you are wondering why it is ShOVaVYM and not ShVaBaBaYM, I recommend taking Biblical Hebrew at UCSC to find out why!

Getting into Shemot...

Exploring Judaism with Rabbi Yisroel Gordon - The Talmudic Parsha: Shemot

This Monday, January 16th at 7:30pm, at the home of the Rossmans, we will continue our series of classes devoted to mining the weekly Torah portion for its mitzvot. In each class, a new mitzva will be analyzed from Talmudic, Halachic and Midrashic perspectives, in an attempt to glean legal definitions and relevant lessons. Join us as we learn, discuss and experience the extraordinary depth of Torah!

For more info contact Rabbi Gordon at yisroel@jsn.info or call (650) 961-4576.

The Latest from Ben Baruch

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Shabbat Report

On Friday night of this past Shabbat, January 13th 2006, there was a heavy rain fall and evening temperatures around 50 degrees. Despite the weather, around 20 students attended Hillel's Friday night events, and around 65 students attended the Chabad Student Center (CSC)'s events (estimates). The Jewish frat AEPi was featured at the CSC dinner, and frat brother Philip Coburn gave an address on the merits of Jewish Brotherhood and Sisterhood. At Hillel, services were conducted with a spirited Carlebach-style davening, followed by a Chinese-style dinner. At the CSC, an excellent traditional five-course meal was served followed by a special brownie-cake dessert in honor of Kira Gaber's birthday. Rabbi Shlomie Chein gave an extraordinary rendition of the last few chapters of the book of Genesis. It was also announced that the CSC is offering that anyone who brings a new friend to the CSC Friday night will be entered in a drawing (at a later time) for an iPod Shuffle.

No school this Monday! Have a great week everyone!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Shabbat 200!!!!!!!

Shabbat shalom, everyone! Just a reminder that next Shabbat, January 20, will be Shabbat 200. Join 200+ students Friday evening at the Stevenson Event Center for a festive meal and praises to the Most High.

Also, keep in mind that Presidents' Day weekend, February 17-20, is Jewlicious At The Beach v2.0, an amazing event in Long Beach, CA, featuring varied presenters, speakers, artists, musicians, and panelists from myriad backgrounds. And the whole thing only costs $36! Seriously, it's almost too cool to believe. Check out the website at JTB2.com for more info.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

'Father of LSD' Turns 100

Ok, this isn't exactly UCSC Jewish news, but I think it's relevant for a couple reasons, if not only because his name sounds Jewish. Albert Hofmann, known as the 'Father of LSD,' turned 100 years old today, January 11, 2006. Like many of the great discoveries of all time, Mr. Hofmann discovered the effects of LSD by accidentally spilling some on himself in April 1943. An international symposium was held today in his honor.

The New York Times reports,
"As the years accumulate behind him, Mr. Hofmann's conversation turns ever more insistently around one theme: man's oneness with nature and the dangers of an increasing inattention to that fact."
That's right, so get out there and learn some Torah! The article continues:
"'It's very, very dangerous to lose contact with living nature,' he said, listing to the right in a green armchair that looked out over frost-dusted fields and snow-laced trees. A glass pitcher held a bouquet of roses on the coffee table before him. 'In the big cities, there are people who have never seen living nature, all things are products of humans,' he said. 'The bigger the town, the less they see and understand nature.' And, yes, he said, LSD, which he calls his 'problem child,' could help reconnect people to the universe."
"'I was completely astonished by the beauty of nature,' he said, laying a slightly gnarled finger alongside his nose, his longish white hair swept back from his temples and the crown of his head. He said any natural scientist who was not a mystic was not a real natural scientist. 'Outside is pure energy and colorless substance,' he said. 'All of the rest happens through the mechanism of our senses. Our eyes see just a small fraction of the light in the world. It is a trick to make a colored world, which does not exist outside of human beings.'"
"But Mr. Hofmann calls LSD 'medicine for the soul' and is frustrated by the worldwide prohibition that has pushed it underground. 'It was used very successfully for 10 years in psychoanalysis,' he said, adding that the drug was hijacked by the youth movement of the 1960's and then demonized by the establishment that the movement opposed. He said LSD could be dangerous and called its distribution by Timothy Leary and others 'a crime.'"

Full article here.

For more information on Hofmann's discovery, check out the Erowid psychoactive vaults.

New Matisyahu Track from 'Youth'

JEWNIproj EXCLUSIVE: Click here to download a lo-fi , live-recorded MP3 from Matisyahu's upcoming CD 'Youth' and if you like it, make sure you buy the CD. I also posted the lyrics below as far as I could hear and discern them, and there may be mistakes. If I did make a mistake, or if you can understand the parts I labeled as "indiscernible," please let me know. Also, Matisyahu's new collaboration with POD is available for listening on their MySpace here. Also (and maybe most importantly), Matisyahu is coming to SANTA CRUZ on Thursday, February 23rd!!! Believe it or not. And he got a new domain where you can buy tickets etc at Matisyahu.org. He's also playing in SFC on Saturday, February 25th. Enjoy!

Matis 'Youth' Lyrics

some of them come now
some of them are running
some of them are looking for fun
some of them are looking for a way out of confusion
some of them don't know what to be
some of them don't know where to go
some of them trust their instincts that something's missing from the show
some don't fit society,
insides are crying low
some of them teachers quash the flame before it had a chance to grow
some of them embers still glow
them charcoal, hushed and low
some of them come with the hunger suppressed, not fed
them feel a death blow


young man, control in your hand
slam your fist on the table and make your demand
take a stand
fan a fire for the flame of the youth
got the freedom to choose
better make the right move
young man, the power's in your hand
slam your fist on the table and make your demand
you better make the right move

"youth is the engine of the world"

Storm the halls of vanity
focus your own energy
into a laser beam
streaming shattered light
unites to pierce
between the seams
and it seems
in a world open
peering, the children see
rapid fire for your mind
half a truth is just a lie
they refuse them a way
then say "now why you fall behind?"

seventeen, disconnect, left out
the concept as to why
there's a spiritual emptiness
so the youth them get vexed
skip class and get wrecked
feel with beer and cigarettes
to fill the hole in their chest!


freedom to choose
better make the right move
got the freedom to chooooose



These lyrics are noticeably different from the "Open up my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise" of Matis' previous lyrical ventures. The content is not explicitly Jewish, but rather a characteristic appeal to the jaded "youth" of our generation. Some people have attributed the shift in focus to Matis' switch to Sony, and have suggested pressure from the corporation to conform. I doubt that, because it's Matis' essential Jewishness that makes him unique, and it is his revolutionary Torah and Chassidic references that so intrigue his audiences.

I first heard about Matisyahu more than a year ago from yeshivish friends of mine while I was learning in Jerusalem. What a rush it was to hear music like that with lyrics that a dead head at Bonnaroo or even my rabbi could listen to! In fact, I remember one instance last year, while I was in shiur at Mayanot, my rabbi asked how many Yidden got left behind in Egypt, and I answered 4/5. He asked where I had learned it, I said from Matisyahu. At the time, his was still an ambiguous name and the significance was lost on that particular occasion. But had 'Youth' been the title track of the 'Arise' CD, would he have had the same appeal? But then again, rabbis and yeshiva bochrim aren't the target demographic.

For a number of weeks now, Matis' 'King Without a Crown' has been the number one song on 106.7 KROQ, the most popular radio station among teenagers and young adults in Southern California. It's quite a trip to be cruising the 405 with the radio blaring, and to have Matis' deep and soulful musings on G-d, Moshiach, and Avodat HaLev stream in over the radio (and it's a whole different experience when I'm cruisin with my brother who has a phatty sound system). Matisyahu's remake of the 'King Without a Crown' music video has been circulating now for over a month, and another new video from the 'Youth' CD is due out anytime soon. Some people were paying upwards of $150-200 for tickets to his sold-out December 31st show in San Diego (however, at the door they were paying more like $50, I was there).

Yet, despite the overwhelming popularity and fame, Matis has remained humble and one of my favorite parts of his shows are the words of Torah he gives over. When you meet him, he comes off as soft-spoken and humble, and you feel that he genuinely listens to what you have to say. Some have compared his wide appeal and kiruv effect to Shlomo Carlebach z"l, but I don't think there is any real comparison. Matis is spreading Torah and Mitzvahs in his own way, and hopefully there will be more spiritually charged tracks on the new CD than the current track, above. Time will tell.

Do Matis a favor, and if you like the CD, buy it and don't burn it from your friends. He is a dedicated chassid and a husband and a father. Hope you enjoy the JewniProj exclusive. Praises to the Most High, and yasher koach Matisyahu.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

B"H We Had A Minyan for Mincha Yud Teves

Yud Teves, a somber day indeed, we had a minyan at Chabad by the Sea. Benyomin Kantz got the first aliyah, followed by Dr. Schiff, followed by Rabbi Shlomie Chein. Zev Hoffman had hagba. Also present were Shalom Bochner from Hillel, four UCSC students, and regular attendants of Congregation Kol Tefilla and Chadesh Yameinu.

Local Students Help Rebuild New Orleans

As some of you probably know, Chabad on Campus organized a rebuilding mission to New Orleans during winter break. What you might not have known is that three of our own from Santa Cruz participated: Aaron Buchbinder and Nicole Falk, both students at UCSC, and Michel Deleage from Cabrillo. According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, all three are active in the Student Chabad Center on campus. The Sentinel reported:

"About 100 student volunteers from more than 30 colleges, including Columbia, Harvard and Northwestern, will participate in relief missions... The relief mission is a joint project between the Chabad on Campus National Foundation and Lubavitch Rabbi Yochanan Rivkin, director of the Chabad Jewish Student Center at Tulane, whose efforts have been praised by President Bush."

Sweet, way to go Jewish Santa Cruz humanitarians! Lubavitch.com posted an update on the mission:

"Most college students are forgiven if they sleep in on January 1, nursing a headache from the past night’s excesses, but Erik Steel awoke early to catch a flight to New Orleans. Steel, a student at the State University of New York in New Paltz, buckled himself into his seat, quieted jitters about his first time ever on a plane, and headed off to join 49 other college students massing at Chabad of New Orleans."

Full article here.

It's efforts such as these by local students and Chabad on Campus that are making this world a better place to live in. Keep it up.

Jon Stewart to Host the Oscars

as posted on beachhillel:

Jon Stewart, host of the ever-popular "Daily Show" and potentially one of the funniest Jews on the planet, has been tapped this year to take Chris Rock's place in hosting the Academy Awards.

After asking Rock, who hosted last year, and Billy Crystal, the incumbent yid of Oscar, Stewart was offered the job. He said he was honored, but then said: "Although, as an avid watcher of the Oscars, I can’t help but be a little disappointed with the choice. It appears to be another sad attempt to smoke out Billy Crystal."

Producer Gil Cates said, "Jon is the epitome of a perfect host — smart, engaging, irreverent and funny." Hopefully, Stewart will keep up the schtick that keeps the Daily Show one of the best news (albeit fake news) programs on the air today. Hopefully, he will turn the Oscars into a three-to-four hour "Daily Show" program, complete with reports by Rod Coddry and segments of "This Week in G-d."

Now that, my friends, is heaven.

Jewish & Muslim Students Come Together Through Social Action

as posted on Jewschool:

The AP reports:

What started out as a modest effort to raise money for a homeless shelter has blossomed into a triumph of understanding and goodwill that managed to overcome centuries of conflict between two of the world’s most antagonistic groups.

A group of 10 Muslim and 10 Jewish girls has been meeting since May to help set up a shelter for homeless families. But the teenagers got much more than they bargained for: a genuine understanding of each other’s culture and religion, and the realization of things they never knew about themselves.

“Project Provide A Home” was launched by the Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation, a 40-bed shelter for single, homeless people. It planned to open a shelter next door for families, and was looking for help.

The shelter hosted a group of Jewish volunteers one week, and another group of Muslims shortly afterward. The symbolism - and the possibilities - were not lost on the executive director, Matt Kamin, a Jew, and Amal Abdallah, a Palestinian who helps line up volunteers to serve meals.

“We were trying to figure out why our communities didn’t get along,” Kamin said. “We started talking and said, `Why can’t we get these two groups together and do something?’ It was that easy.”

Full story.

Kosher Product Spotlight: Food for Life Ezekial Bread

In honor of today being a minor fast day in Judaism, I present JProj's first Kosher Food Spotlight. By now, if you shop at any market in Santa Cruz, you've probably seen Food for Life's Ezekial 4:9 Certified Organic Sprouted Grain Bread. Why is this "bread" different from all other breads? Mainly, it is made from sprouted grains, without flour, which has special significance for Jewish people. As I've said before, my mom always taught me to say 'thank you' when people did favors for me. Who do I thank for bread? G-d.

Usually for bread, Jews ritually wash their hands and recite the blessing "hamotzei lechem min ha'aretz" over bread ("Thank you G-d, the One who brings forth bread from the earth"), but since there is no flour in Ezekial "bread," one need not wash, and the blessing is instead "she'hakol ne'yah bidvaroh" ("Thank you G-d, by whose word everything comes into being"), as was explained by Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz in KosherQuest's December 31, 2000 Kosher Alerts:

3. Alert: Food For Life makes an Ezekiel bread certified by the Kof k which uses only sprouted grains. Since no actual grain is being used, only the sprouts, a Shehakol and Borei Nefashos should be said. We do not wash over this "bread" as well.

But the bread is also supposed to be super healthy. According to Food for Life,

"Ezekial 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread is inspired by the Holy Scripture verse: 'Take also unto thee Wheat, and Barley and Beans, and Lentils, and Millet, and Spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it...' Ez. 4:9.

"We discovered when these six grains and legumes are sprouted and combined, an amazing thing happens. A complete protein is created that closely parallels the protein found in milk and eggs. In fact, the protein quality is so high, that it is 84.3% as efficient as the highest recognized source of protein, containing essential amino acids. There are 18 amino acids present in this unique bread - from all vegetable sources - naturally balanced in nature.

"Ezekial 4:9 Bread, made from freshly sprouted organically grown grains, is naturally flavorful and bursting with nutrients. Rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and natural fiber with no added fat. Try it served warm to release its exceptionally rich natural sesame taste.

"This Biblical Bread is Truly the Staff of Life."

Food for life also produces English muffins, tortillas, cereal, pasta, buns. Their products are available in town at the Food Bin, Staff of Life, New Leaf, Trader Joe's, and Shopper's Corner.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Forgotten Refugees on KZSC 88.1

Today at 3:00pm on David Anton Savage's show 'Filtered Camels' on KZSC 88.1 (UCSC's radio station), there was an excellent interview with Rafi Finegold of the David Project and the Forgotten Refugees project. These two projects deal with the Forgotten Refugees of the Middle East, viz. upwards of 900,000 Jews from Arab Muslim countries who were forced to flee their homes during the 20th century due to anti-Semitic violence comparable to pogroms in Eastern Europe. While many left the Middle East and spread throughout the world, many were also immediately accepted into Israel and eventually integrated into Israeli society. It is a largely ignored piece of history, and has special significance to the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

On the show, Rafi and David discussed the contrast between the way the plight of the Jewish refugees was so quickly ameliorated by Israel, and how Arabs from the region previously known as 'Palestine' under the Ottoman Empire and British Mandate are still living in refugee camps to this day in the Middle East (as opposed to being absorbed into Jordanian/Syrian/Egyptian society). In any case, it was surprising to hear this oft-forgotten piece of the Middle East puzzle being broadcast on the radio in Santa Cruz.

If you are interested in seeing the documentary 'The Forgotten Refugees," it will be shown on the UCSC campus on January 30th at 7pm.

For information on the documentary the Forgotten Refugees, check out TheForgottenRefugees.com.

For more info on the refugees and their stories, check out DavidProject.org or JIMENA.org.

Also, just a reminder that Robin Kopit of congregation Kol Tefillah 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). Contact Robin at (831) 458-4115 for more info.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

PRO LIFE: Leviathan Issue 1 Volume 33

The new Leviathan, our university's student-produced Jewish newspaper, has been released. The cover article, an "exclusive interview" with ‘Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad,’ wasn't anything to write home about, except for one insight of the interviewee Susannah Perelman:

"I think a lot of people of our generation are rather turned off by the institutionalized version of Judaism that we all grew up with, which I like to say is a lot of florescent lighting. It's not just Orthodoxy; I grew up in a Reform [household] and I found my synagogue rather repressive. I found a lot of synagogues really repressive. But I did find that people want to come together and that people want a community, but they don't want to be hit over the head with it."

Susannah’s comment struck me especially because I had the same experience as a youth in the Reform movement. It was repressive. Education is a powerful tool, and a central theme in Jewish life, and yet at my wealthy Reform synagogue in the OC, I was deprived of a proper Jewish education. By the time I was 17, I could barely name the major holidays, didn’t know much about what Kosher meant, and I was largely under the impression that the only time people went to synagogue on Saturday mornings was to attend a bar or bat mitzvah. But thankfully things are changing in the world every year, and Jewish education is spreading despite the efforts of anachronistic Jewish institutions (see the shabbaton post below for more info).

But what should have made the cover of Leviathan and what I'm using for this entry's namesake is Talia Coutin's timely piece titled "Pro Life." Talia reported on the current endangered state of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA) and the Interior Department's efforts to make it extinct. In short, the ESA protects lots of endangered species by protecting their habitats. Mr. Pombo, representing the interests of varied business enterprises, seeks to limit the protective powers of the ESA which would effectively leave over 200 endangered species vulnerable to extinction, “including the bald eagle, the wolves of Yellowstone, and numerous species of Pacific Northwest salmon.” And for those who don’t act until they feel the “in-your-own-backyard” effect, Santa Cruz’s own Santa Cruz Cypress is an endangered species and needs your protection. “Congress has already passed Pombo’s euphemistically termed Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005…”.

So what does all this have to do with Judaism? Talia brings a number of sources from the Jewish tradition emphasizing humanity’s obligation as caretakers of the physical world, and asserts that, “What is crystal clear, however, is that G-d instructs human beings to govern the land and animals with prudence. Safeguarding species is a crucial part of our existence.” Dang straight. She cites the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) as an example of the organized Jewish effort to take care of the environment. Moreover, there is a small but growing environment-intensive Jewish farming movement, with such international bastions as Yeshivat Bat Ayin in Israel, the Eco-Beit Midrash in Jerusalem, the the Living Land project in Amherst, Massachusetts, our own Four Gates Winery in the Santa Cruz mountains, and we had a community member living, learning, and working at the UCSC organic farm who recently moved to Israel to start his own organic farm.

You can and must help make a difference in this struggle for our future. “Current ESA provisions require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to rely heavily upon citizen petitions in addition to scientific field study reports when considering endangered species candidates. Ordinary citizens have the power to register a species as endangered or threatened by petitioning the government, submitting statements during the public comment period, attending hearings, lobbying their congresspersons and senators… Saving the ESA is a good deed, one we must do not out of choice, but out of necessity. This is what it means to be pro-life.” Yasher koach Talia, I hope people read your article and make a difference.


As a side note, I would like to point out that at one point Talia writes, “Melting glaciers, vicious hurricanes, increased droughts and floods, the extinction of entire species – sounds a little too apocalyptic for a Jewish piece.” Yeah, you would think so. This line reminded me of how surprised I was when I happened upon Marge Piercy's ‘He, She, and It,” an unmistakably Jewish, post-apocalyptic, feminist, cyberpunk novel. The book weaves two stories together, one of the 16th century kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Loew, the Maharal of Prague, and his golem, and the other of a Jewish community about 60 years in the future (from today) who live in a world disparately different from our own. The ozone layer has been depleted, the ice-caps have melted and the oceans have flooded what was left of the great bread-baskets of the world. A nuclear war decimated Israel and the Middle East, and starvation and disease have wiped out a majority of the world’s population. All governments fell apart, and now a handful of powerful corporations run what is left of humanity. And in the Jewish free town of Tikva, the Jews are still dedicated to G-d and, while waiting for deliverance, are fighting for their existence by making their own cyber-golem-of-sorts. Yeah, it was quite an interesting read. But I digress.

What is the main theme from this issue of Leviathan? “We hope sex sells.” You guys can do better. This ain’t no Heeb magazine, you don’t have to throw yourself upon the lowest common denominator. This is a publication of university students, use that intellect. Like Matis said, “Slam your fist on the table and make your demand – take a stand!” And get out there and save the world, like Talia said.

JSN Shabbaton a Huge Success

The most recent JSN shabbaton has just ended, attended by a total (estimated) 60-70 community members, some from as far away as Berkeley and Palo Alto. The event brought together quite a diverse crowd under one roof, with representatives from varied philosophical streams of thought, from the Chassidic movement to the Conservative, from Modern Orthodox to Renewal, from some who usually find even the Reform movement too repressive to a native of Bat Ayin. I think the point is, despite these labels, we're all simply Jews, and when we came together under the auspices of JSN, we all laughed and learned, and brought even more light into the world.

The shabbaton was sponsored by Jeanne Rosen and run by Rabbi Yisroel Gordon and Rebbetzin Sandy Gordon. By lunch we were treated to locally-produced organic wine made by Benyomin Kantz, whose Chardonnay was quite a hit (I don’t want to pretend I know anything about wine, so like Tony in ‘Scarface,’ all I can say is it was really good). During lunch we were also treated to a discussion on the Torah portion led by Rabbi Gordon. He expounded on the travails and triumphs of our ancestors, the children of Jacob ( i.e. Joseph, his twelve brothers, and sister Dina). This week we catch up with Joseph, originally a scrawny 17 year old sold into slavery, who has risen to be the second most powerful man in Egypt, and a famine is plaguing the land (I’m sure you all saw the musical). Upon Joseph's request, his brothers have brought their youngest brother Benjamin down to Egypt, Joseph has accused him of theft, and threatened to lock him up. Fast forward, he sees the brothers have changed their ways, and reveals to them who he is. Jacob regains his powers of prophecy, and the whole fam moves down to Egypt.

Also, Rabbi Shmuel Braun of Sunnyvale, who works with high school youth in Santa Cruz, led parts of the davening. Yisroel Stein of Berkeley chanted Torah. Zev Hoffman got an aliyah in the morning and Adam Savel got hagba, and I had the honor at mincha. It is a rare occasion when there is a minyan in Santa Cruz for Friday night services, Saturday morning services, mincha services, ma'ariv, and kiddush lavana (and at meals), but this Shabbos, baruch Hashem, there was. It was a beautiful shabbaton, and G-d willing, our community will merit such an ingathering of the dispersed again, and soon see the ultimate ingathering and Jewnification in Jerusalem! Shavua tov.

Are Mushrooms Kosher? HECK YES THEY ARE!

The annual Santa Cruz Fungus Fair will be taking place on Sunday, January 15 from 10am-5pm at the Louden Nelson Center. Catch a Mushrooms 101 talk, learn how to cook mushrooms, and gain some valuable skills on finding and identifying wild mushrooms. For more information on 'shrooms in Santa Cruz, check out SC's Fungus Federation, who have a mushroom identification meeting on the first Monday of every month.

My mom always taught me to say thank you when someone does something nice for me. So who do I thank for all the amazing types of mushrooms on Earth? G-d. And, interestingly enough, the specific "thank you" to G-d for 'shrooms, set forth by our Sages of blessed memory, specifically doesn't mention fruits or vegetables (i.e. "Thank you G-d, by whose word everything comes into being"). So why do we say a different blessing on a mushroom than we would on a zucchini or a potato? In the Mishna, it says that this is the blessing to be used for things that don't grow from the earth. But wait, it sure looks to me like that's exactly how they grow. But I'm a Psyc major, what do I know about mushrooms? It obviously takes a skilled scientist or a great Rabbi to know how they actually grow.

gmushrooms.com sheds some light:
"Mushrooms develop differently than plants or animals do. Plants and animals grow through cell division - to get bigger they have to produce more cells. Cell division is relatively slow and requires a lot of energy. The mushroom body also grows by cell division. However, the mushroom fruit does not grow by cell division. Just about as soon as it starts to develop, a mushroom has almost the same number of cells that the mature mushroom will have. The mushroom increases in size through cell ENLARGEMENT! This means that the cells can balloon up very rapidly. Very little energy is required, basically the cells just enlarge with water. So a mushroom can increase in size as fast as water can be pumped into its cells. Almost overnight a mushroom can go from a pin head to a large mushroom."

So there you have it. So go find some crazy good mushrooms up in the forest, and be thankful.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Whoa, whoa, I gotta go... back to school again!

Welcome back to the most stoned university for another quarter of 'higher education.' Just a heads-up for upcoming happenings-around-town: be on the lookout in the coming days for a new issue of the Leviathan, our student Jewish newspaper, sure to be filled with jewlicious news, stories, and opinions.

Worry no longer about trying to sneak food out of the dining hall in order to stock up for the long winter ahead, because Hillel has a free BBQ every Tuesday at 7pm, Shalom Bochner does his kosher BLT thang at Stevenson Cafe Wednesdays at 4pm, and Wednesdays at 7pm, snatch some kosher tacos with Shlomie Chein at the Chabad Student Center with 'Tacos and Talmud.' And if you're still hungry by the end of the week (spiritually, or you know, in your stomach), you can fill up (your soul and stomach) for free at either the Chabad House or Hillel, who both offer praising Hashem with mad holy energy further than plants, stars, and spirit, followed by Shabbat dinner. And I can personally attest to Rebbetzin Devorah Leah's mad cooking skills.

Keep on the lookout for updates on Shabbat 200, planned for Friday, January 20th, where we try to get at least 200 beautiful souls together on campus for a Friday night Shabbat Celebration Extravaganza Hecka Sweetness. It's going to be a beautiful quarter.

Ariel Sharon Fighting for His Life

In case you haven't heard, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had been in intensive surgery last night, getting blood drained from his skull, after a second stroke. The Jerusalem Post reports:

"Sources at Hadassah-University Hospital, Ein Kerem in Jerusalem reported Thursday night that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered extensive damage to the right lobe of his brain during the hemorrhage which he underwent Wednesday night.

"They noted that such an event might have been caused by personal or emotional stress, and couldn't reject the possibility that the recent reports of developments in the police investigations severely harmed his health."

... click here for the rest of the story.

Reminder: Shabbaton in S.C. this week! (note updated schedule)

An updated message from R' Gordon about the SC shabbaton:

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 Morning Services: 9:30am
Shabbat Lunch: 12:00pm (not 2:00)
Refreshments and Parsha discussion: 2:00
Minchah: 4:30
Seudat Shelishit, the third Shabbat meal
Havdalah: 6:20

All Shabbat meals, services and Torah study will take place at 116 Pearl St.

We look forward to creating together an unforgettable Shabbat of spirit and song. It is not too late to join! Just RSVP to sandy@jsn.info.

This is another free community event brought to you by the Jewish Study Network. Find out more about our classes and events at www.jsn.info.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

N'shei Convention

This is not really local news, but it may be of interest to some of the local women:

Nshei Convention
San DiegoFeb 3-Feb 5, 2006.
Register today at: www.sdjw.org
Early Bird Discount thru Jan 10th

The 44th Annual Chabad Nshei UBnos Chabad Women's Convention will be held at Four Points Sheraton, SanDiego and will include workshops, lectures, dinners,boutiques, and much more.

Feb. 4th, Motzei Shabbos Melava Malka for Men & Women
Welcome: Rabbi Yonah Fradkin
Greetings: Councilmember Brian Maeinschein
Keynote Address: Rabbi Yossi Jacobson
Special Video Presentation

Feb. 5th Gala Banquet
Welcome: Mrs. Leah Fradkin, Chabad of San Diego
Greetings: Rivi Feldman, Nshei Chabad Crown Heights
Rebbe's Letter: Mrs. Miriam Cunin, Chabad ofCalifornia
Keynote Address: Chana Weisberg
Musical Entertainment: Malky Giniger in Concert

Shabbaton Update

The JSN S. Cruz Shabbaton will now also feature Shabbos Morning davening!

When: Shabbos Vayigash/Sat. January 7th at 9:30 AM.

Where: 116 Pearl St. in S. Cruz.

For more info on the shabbaton, go to Shabbaton in the Cruz

Regarding questions contact R' Yisroel Gordon at yisroel@jsn.info.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Guerilla Minyan in SFC

The first Friday of every month, the Mission Minyan in San Francisco, an organic, creative, community-focused minyan, takes place. Here's info on this coming Shabbos, and visit their website at MissionMinyan.org to learn more:

Hello and welcome to January with the Mission Minyan! The Sisterhood is very, very over the whole latke/jelly donut/bad chocolate thing and we're sure you are too. Here's hoping for jicama slaw, tofu and steamed spinach this Friday night.

Here's what's in store for the minyan:

* * * * *
6:30 PM at the Women's Building
3543 18th St. between Guerrero and Valencia.
Kabbalat Shabbat this month is being sponsored by Rachel Sheinbein. We'll be in the Audre Lorde Room. (The Women's Building, by the way, is a co-ed place.)

We start Kabbalat Shabbat at 6:30 sharp, and we'll get to ma'ariv by 7:00. A kiddush will follow around 7:30, sponsored by Brian Garrick.

* * * * *

9:30 AM at the home of Andy and Emily Shapiro Katz
675 Guerrero, between 18th and 19th
Join us for Shabbat featuring Parshat Va'yigash. If you are interested in participating in the service by leyning, leading part of the service, hagba, etc, let David know ASAP at marhevka@calmail.berkeley.edu.

***NOTE: We need a minyan by 10 AM so please come on time. A minyan is 10 men and 10 women.***

* * * * *


1. BYO kippah Friday night, and share your siddur with someone. We only have 100 copies, and until we can get more published, we'd love it if you can make a new friend and share your copy. Alternately, consider bringing your own before Shabbat, you can leave it at the Women's Building front desk. And incidentally, if you know of a stack of siddurim needing a new home, get in touch with Mickey at heimlich@stanford.edu.

2. Save some extra spaces at your Shabbat Dinner. We expect 150 or more people Friday night! Your Shabbat hospitality would be most appreciated. If you can host some extra people at your meal let Jonathan know at Jonathan.Esensten@ucsf.edu so that he can make a match.

2. Host an overnight guest from outside the Mission area who needs a place to walk to and from services. If you have space at your place please let Noa know at noabar@yahoo.com.

3. Host a Shabbat lunch on Saturday. So far we have only one host and this will not be enough to host everyone who would like to share a Shabbat meal after services. Can you host a meal, sponsor a meal in someone else's home or perhaps team up with a friend? Please let Jonathan know at Jonathan.Esensten@ucsf.edu. This would be a wonderful gift to the community.

4. Make a donation, large or small, to help us pay for the room in which we davven, the meals we provide or a kiddush. Sponsoring davvening costs $110. Team up with 2 friends and it's 36 apiece!

Go to
http://www.missionminyan.org right now to make a paypal donation, or send a check made out to Mission Minyan to:
Mission Minyan c/o Jeff Lerman
2124 McKinley Ave, #14
Berkeley, CA 94703