Sunday, April 30, 2006

Week in Preview

Monday, May 1st: Exploring Judaism with Rabbi Yisroel Gordon: Is it a Mitzvah to Live in Israel? 7:30pm. Email JewniProj@gmail.com for location or other info.

Tuesday, May 2nd: Yom HaZikkaron (Israel's Memorial Day). Israel Fest in the Porter quad, 6:30pm. Bringing Heaven Down to Earth with Rabbi Yochanan Friedman at 7pm.

Wednesday, May 3rd: Yom HaAtzma'ut (Israel's Independence Day)! Bagles, Lox and Torah with Rabbi Shalom Bochner at Stevenson in the afternoon and Tacos and Talmud with Rabbi Shlomie Chein in the evening.

Friday, May 5th: Friday Night Live at the Chabad House, and Student-led services and Shabbat dinner at Hillel.

Jew-Hater To Speak Again at UCSC

On Thursday, May 11th, the Committee for Justice in Palestine is bringing Abdel Malik Ali to speak at UCSC once again. In this short video clip provided by Beach Hillel, Abdel Malik is seen blaming Jews for the Danish cartoon controversy that occurred earlier this year.

In the past, he has advocated the eradication of the Jewish State and condoned suicide bombing and encouraged the Jews to "go back to Germany."

He will be speaking about how Arab-Americans are treated in America in front of the Bay Tree Bookstore Plaza on the 11th from 12-1:00pm.

A meeting is being held tomorrow, May 1st at 3:00pm to coordinate a response to Abdel Malik's return to UCSC. For location details, email JewniProj@gmail.com or contact me directly. Your participation will be much appreciated.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Spirituality, Activism, and the Arts

This sounds like something Santa Cruzians would be interested in...
SPIRITUALITY, ACTIVISM AND THE ARTS
With Larry Harvey, Rebbetzin Hadassah Gross, Annie Sprinkle, and Ken Goldberg

Blessed-be! Right on! Share in a think-in on revelation and revolution with Larry Harvey, the founder of the modern desert pilgrimage Burning Man, and Rebbetzin Hadassah Gross, queen of Judeo-kitsch, performance artist and sexologist Annie Sprinkle and UC Berkeley professor of engineering Ken Goldberg, whose artwork defines the cutting edge where art and technology meet. They will discuss art, creativity and contemporary spirituality.

When: Monday, May 8, 8:00 pm

Where: JCCSF, 3200 California St. at Presidio Ave

Tickets: Member $10 . Public $12


Dress as your favorite playa chicken, Shabbos queen or gospel superstar and receive $2 off!

JCCSF Box Office: 415.292.1233
Box Office hours: Monday - Friday, 12:00 - 7:00 pm; Saturday, 12:00 - 5:00 pm.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Gay Pride in Tel Aviv

YNet reports:
The first Hebrew city wants to be the first gay city. Work is underway in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism to turn Tel Aviv into the international tourist destination for the gay-lesbian community in order to boost business in restaurants, hotels, city attraction sites and beaches.

"Gay tourism has been accelerated lately, and we are entitled to large support from the Tel Aviv Hotels Union and the Ministry of Tourism," Shay Deutsch, spokesperson of the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community, said Wednesday.

Click here to continue reading.
Hm, pretty interesting. In the article, they affirm that "[t]he gay community in the United States is estimated to spend USD 54 billion a year on tourism." They're even coming to a tourism fair in San Francisco to promote Tel Aviv. The Ministry of Tourism in Israel has taken some other interesting steps this past year to promote tourism, including redefining the term 'Holy Land' (not tznius).

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rally against genocide... because numbers do matter

Major Effort To Stir Action On Darfur Lowers Sights
By JENNIFER SIEGEL
April 21, 2006

After months of mobilizing for what has been described as a major effort to stop an unfolding genocide, planners of next week's national action for Darfur are now speaking in measured terms of a radically more modest effort.

Leaders of the main effort, scheduled for April 30 in Washington, were reluctant to offer projections of turnout. But several people closely involved in the campaign offered an estimate of 20,000, and interviews with organizers in several cities reinforced that prediction.

One prominent activist said he had been led to believe that the rally was aiming to draw hundreds of thousands, in order to shake the national conscience.

No less disappointing, the mobilization — seen by organizers as an outreach effort building on the Jewish experience of genocide but embracing broader circles — does not appear to have drawn comparable attention from non-Jewish partners.

"If the numbers are so low, I think it will not be a success," said Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of Manhattan's historic Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. If the crowd is "disproportionately Jewish, that's only to the credit of the Jewish community. But if it's disproportionately Jewish, it won't be a success."

Read the rest of The Forward article here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Religious Absolute

Also forwarded to me:
Gil Anidjar, Asst Prof, Middle East Languages,
"The Religious Absolute”
Respondent: Charlotte Fonrobert, Professor, Religious Studies, Stanford


Thursday, April 27 - 4:30-6:30pm – Oakes Mural Room

Gil Anidjar is Associate Professor in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. He is the author of “Our Place in Al-Andalus”: Kabbalah, Philosophy, Literature in Arab Jewish Letters (Stanford, 2002) and The Jew, the Arab: History of the Enemy (2004). He is currently completing a manuscript entitled: Blood: A Critique of Christianity.

Charlotte Fonrobert’s interests include talmudic literature and culture; gender in Jewish culture; the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in Late Antiquity; the discourses of orthodoxy versus heresy; and rabbinic conceptions of Judaism with respect to Greco-Roman culture. She is the author of Menstrual Purity: Rabbinic and Christian Reconstructions of Biblical Gender (2000), which won the Salo Baron Prize for a best first book in Jewish Studies of that year and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Jewish Scholarship. Currently, she is working on a project about the relationship between religious identity and space, ranging from urban neighborhoods to the wilderness, in Jewish and Christian Late Antiquity. As part of this project, she edited and introduced a collection of articles on the subject of "Jewish Conceptions and Practices of Space," together with Vered Shemtov (Stanford University). She is also coediting the Cambridge Companion to Rabbinic Literature, with Martin Jaffee (University of Washington).

Moderator: Bob Meister, Prof. Politics, UCSC
Co-Sponsors: Jewish Studies and Literature Department
Sounds pretty interesting.

The Holocaust - Get over it

Yesterday was Yom HaShoah.
By Bradley Burston
Haaretz

He was well-meaning. I'm convinced of it. His words were meant to be helpful, and, in the way of many well-meaning people, they were also deadly.

This is the fourth Holocaust remembrance day since the letter came in. Responding to an
article about astronaut Ilan Ramon and the imagery of the Shoa that framed the doomed flight, a reader from Kennewick, Washington headed his letter: "Get over the Holocaust!"

"The nation of Israel", he wrote, needs "to mature and get over the Holocaust. It is like water under the bridge, the past, history. Americans must get over the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Viet Nam, Grenada, and Iraq (Desert Storm). That is life. Experience it for all God gives you and get over the past!"

It's a sentiment that makes a certain sense, at least from 9,000 miles away. You want to help, so you advise people who are still pained, still grieving, to move on, to get on with their lives.

It's a sentiment that also proves that it's a long way from Washington State to Auschwitz, and farther still to this place, which manages to find room to hold all of the ghosts of Auschwitz and hosts more, from as far back as the Inquisition, the destruction of the Temple, slavery in Egypt. All of them, and this month's Passover terrorism as well.

There are readers, many of them, who at this very moment are thinking "Oh no, here it comes, the litany, the ostentatious suffering, the reveling in victimhood, the endless preoccupation with the woes of the Jews."

There are readers who at this very moment are thinking, "These Jews, with all due respect, they learned nothing from the Nazis - they're just as bad in their treatment of the Palestinians, if not worse."In fact, one of those who chose this Holocaust Remembrance Day to tell us to get on with our lives was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


Continue reading
Learn about the inspiring stories of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.

Jewish teenagers visit Rwanda to learn about the genocide that happened there in 1994.

Never forget means never forget. Jewish communities are leading the campaign across the nation to heighten awarness and advocate for action in Darfur. Who wants to join me to represent the Jewish community of Santa Cruz to march in San Francisco this Sunday, April 30 to protest the human catastrophe?

Punk Rock from the Holy Land

I got forwarded this info about a film screening in SF this Thursday, April 27th:
Jericho's Echo: Punk Rock in the Holy Land at the Red Vic!

Local director Liz Nord brings her critically acclaimed documentary, "Jericho's Echo: Punk Rock in the Holy Land," back to San Francisco for ONE NIGHT ONLY.

In the documentary, shot in Israel and produced in San Francisco, rebellious Israeli youth take up the arms of punk rock, loud guitars, and mohawks in the most politically charged area of the world. Through interviews, verite´ scenes and live musical footage, we see how these well-spoken and outspoken kids deal with life in their explosive, ancient region.

More info at
JerichosEcho.com

Screening Details:
Thursday 4.27.06
Q & A with Director Liz Nord following the screening
Red Vic Movie House
1727 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
7:15 PM
9:15 PM
(2 shows)
$4.00 Seniors & Children
$8.00 Adults
Anyone interested in the 9:15 showing?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

ISRAEL FEST 2006!!! Next week!!!


For more information please click here or here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

So How Was Mimouna?

Resistance to oppression and freedom from slavery are of course major themes of the Passover holiday, and Jews around the world recently celebrated the time of the Exodus in many unique ways. In Israel, a Sephardic Pesach custom -- namely the celebration of Mimouna originating in Morocco -- has been adopted by much of the country and is now celebrated by both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews alike. The Mimouna festival is a fascinating example of the myriad of ways that Jews actually go about remembering what we are told to remember.

It is a wonderful celebration of friendship, love, togetherness, freedom, and hospitality that also marks the first time that Moroccan Jews would eat leavened bread after the conclusion of Passover. The festival takes place in people's homes, and traditionally Moroccan Jews would visit the homes of their Rabbi, Chazzan, family, friends, and neighbors and eat special foods for Mimouna that have numerous symbolic meanings.

As with many Moroccan Jewish celebrations, dairy products have a huge presence on the table, which is usually decorated with a white tablecloth and flowers, along with nuts and fruits (especially dates), cakes, candies, and all things sweet to remind us of the sweetness of freedom (contrasted with the bitterness of slavery). Fish, bean pods (representing fertility), and eggs are also present at the table along with wine and sweet Moroccan mint tea. Coins hidden in certain dishes represent the hope for prosperity, and blessings for tarbeh, or success, are uttered throughout the festivities. Mufleita are also eaten, usually as the first leavened food after Passover; it is a thin, round, crepe-like dish that is eaten with butter and honey. To go with everything, a traditional alcoholic beverage called Mahya (better known as Arak), a sweet, anise flavored beverage -- similar to the Greek drink Ouzo -- is also served.

My mother, who grew up in Morocco, has vivid memories of celebrating Mimouna in Marrakech. It was known as a time of good fortune as well as a time to meet new and old friends. This year she had the great fortune to be in Israel, and was surprised to see the large number of people who now take part in the Mimouna celebration. People's doors are opened for friends and family to enter and eat, families go to the beach and barbecue, and some have parties in their backyards.

I mentioned to her that here in Santa Cruz I would be attending Moshiach's Feast at the Chabad Student Center, as there was no Mimouna festival that I knew of, but explained that it happens at the same time as Mimouna. However, she didn't quite understand that they are two different things. Afterwards, she asked "so how was Mimouna" and if the Mufleita were good; I had to explain to her that Mufleita isn't something that one would eat at Chabad and that Mimouna is also something that they don't celebrate, but that it was great nonetheless. Still wondering how someone could have a meal after Passover without Mufleita and honey, she was happy that I at least had a meal. Any Jewish mother would be happy about that.

Pesach @ The 12 Tribes Jewish Co-Op

Pesach, oh what joy!

Pesach at the 12TJC was fascinating. So many Jews, so many customs. It was as complicated as asking Jewish mothers to pick pizza toppings. But in the end, there was a consensus. -- Sephardi on the left, Ashkenazi on the right :) Meals were all Ashkenazi style, with Sephardi options on the side.

I survived exclusively on matzo pizza, a delicacy developed by our forefathers Antonio, Yoshi, and Joseppi back in the Old Country. Matzo pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, not to mention midnight snack.

I got to make my famous matzo lasagna, if you missed out, let me know, and I'm sure I can whip you up some, provided you supply the matzo.

And then we discovered the Israeli chocolate-hazelnut spread. Like Moshiach in a tub. That, and tequila. If only the Israelites had had it this good :)

So eight days we toiled under the oppression of the matzo-constipation, and on the 9th day, we celebrated at SeaBright Brewery. It's funny how hard beer will hit you after not eating bread for a week.

So this is what I propose. I saw online about Passover cruises with professional chefs and whatnot, everything taken care of. Let's do the same thing at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. We go all out for Spring Break.

Next Year In Vegas!!!

Friday, April 21, 2006

We want Marijuana now, we don't want to wait!

So yesterday was the eighth and last day of Passover for this year, the day on which the Feast of Moshiach traditionally takes place; that's the part that I fear most UCSC Jews were not aware of. However, I have a funny feeling that most of you knew that it was 4/20.

Did your humble servant, G-D SQUAD, make it to the Porter meadow, you ask? Indeed, he did. "But it was Yom Tov!" you protest. "Jews are forbidden from riding on UCSC shuttles and Metro buses on Yom Tov! You had to be in services and make kiddush and all that jazz!" Indeed, indeed.

In the morning, I and a handfull of your fellow students were at services and got to hear the special Torah reading for the last day of Passover (B'H). I then had the schus of attending a festive se'udah until midday, which included kiddush and an array of excellent holiday foods. Then, at around 3:00pm, I walked up to Porter. Yep, straight up.

When I arrived at Porter, the scene seriously reminded me of what I imagine it will be like when Moshiach comes (l'havdil) and everybody will be going to Jerusalem to the Beis HaMikdash.
There were streams of people coming from all directions, walking towards one central location. But it wasn't to greet Moshiach, it was apparently to stand together and smoke pot.

Well, I walked around in the crowd and bumped into a number of you Jewish slugs. Yeah, I saw you with your Jewish camp shirts on, your "You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Levy's" shirts, and your Jew-fros. I always thought THC stood for "The Hebrew Crew." I saw one holy Yid carrying boxes of matzah up to share with his peeps, yasher koach.

Passover wasn't just about becoming free in the generic sense of the word. It was about being free to be a Jew, to be connected with Torah in a way not possible when you're a slave. Yeah, pot is cool, but don't be a slave to pot. Next time you roll a fatty, remember that it's also cool to roll a Torah scroll.

D.C. and Israel for Free

For anyone insterested in going to D.C. and Israel for free this summer, check it out:
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) is looking for exceptional students from Berkeley, Stanford, SFSU, SJSU, UCSC, Santa Clara, or Davis. The FDD (DefendDemocracy.org) is accepting applications right now for bay area students, for their "Undergraduate Fellowship on Terrorism" - an anti-terrorism training program. The program will take place in Israel from July 29 - August 13 and Washington D.C. from January 7 - January 10.

The program provides students with a detailed understanding of the terror threat that faces our nation and sister democracies. It is centered on a course taught in conjunction with Tel Aviv University. Participants interact with academics, diplomats, military and intelligence officials, and politicians from Israel, Jordan, India, Turkey and the United States. They also visit military bases, border zones and other security installations to learn the practical side of deterring terrorist attacks. All expenses are paid by FDD. Candidates may contact FDD through their website.
I personally don't know anything about this org, but I thought I'd at least pass the info along.

Car wash to help cure cancer

This Sunday, April 23rd, from 1-5pm Ayla Stern will be holding a car wash at 900 High St. to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You know your dirty old VW bus that runs on soy oil or whatever needs a wash anyway! NOT! I know you wouldn't even buy a German product because of the whole thing! Anyway...

Volunteers are appreciated. If you can help wash for even an hour or two, contact Ayla at aylastern at gmail dot com. You can also still visit her Team in Training website to donate online.

Come and show some support, and have fun!

Coming soon from the Netmessiah

Chag Sameach Everyone!
It was a fabulous Pesach and 420, and thats not the number of glasses of wine I had this passover. I just wanted to let everone at the JewniProj know that I have a buncha things I promise are coming....for example:
1. A look back on the Hillel Seder
2. Pesach at the 12 Tribes Co-Op
3. The release of Yonah's demo
4. the REAL 10 constipated men in the bible song - ive had a ton of requests for this
(everytime I try to sing it at seder, its always after the third glass and I cant quite remember after 8...)
5. Events for the rest of Spring - Concerts, Speakers, Must Do Conferences for the Summer!

Love Ya Lots
Dont let the Matzo Constipation blues
get you down :)
-The NetMessiah

Chometz Fest to Fight Cancer

Shalom,

A previous post reported on how Ayla Stern is participating in a triathalon to fight cancer (leukemia and lymphoma in particular).

Ayla, Ari and I all recently had birthdays that we haven't been able to celebrate fully.

AND it's the end of Pesach...

So, we are going to have a little mesiba at our house. Please bring $3 to donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We are going to be celebrating all of our birthdays and fundraising to fight cancer; won't you help us celebrate?

9PM this Sat. night.

DRESS UP AS YOUR FAVORITE DECADE!

ciao

Thursday, April 20, 2006

ISRAEL FEST 2006!!!

Israeli Independence day- ISRAEL FEST 2006!!!!

Come celebrate Israel's 58th birthday in a carnival/festival style like no other! Catch a glimpse of Israeli culture and have some fun in the sun!!!

FREE CONCERT by Universal Language!!! GREAT Middle-Eastern Cuisine!!! Mini-Israel on the QUAD !!!


When: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 6:30pm-10:00pm
Where: PORTER QUAD
What: A carnival/festival to celebrate Israel's independence and free concert by UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE at 8:00pm. Come experience a glimpse into Israeli culture and have some fun in the sun!

Hope to see you there!!!

Corinne Strasser
Grinspoon Israel Intern
Santa Cruz Hillel
(831) 426-3332

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Matzah Ball Soup and Sudan

Amidst mouthfuls of matzah and 4 cups of wine we are, apparently, supposed to pay attention to slavery today. Well, there is currently a wave of violence sweeping the Darfur region of the African country of Sudan. The numbers of dead range from over 180,000 [1] to over 300,000 [2]. In any case it's a terrible situation.

The conflict started when militia groups in Southern Sudan attacked the government in Northern Sudan. Caught in the middle of the fighting, many people living in Sudan fled to the Western region of Sudan known as Darfur. In Darfur refugee camps were set up to accommodate the fleeing people. After lots of fighting, the militia groups in southern Sudan came to a truce with the Sudan government. The militia groups in the south received positions in the Sudan government and money from the country's oil industry. After this, groups began to form in the Darfur region where people were and are living in terrible conditions in the refugee camps. These groups also erupted into violence against the Sudan government. In response the Sudan government sponsored groups, known as "Janjaweed" militias, to completely wipe out the people in the refugee camps in Darfur. Currently, the government-backed Janjaweed-militias kill Darfur refugees daily.

The world response has been sluggish at best. Little to no attention is being paid to the situation in Darfur.

There is, however, a rally being held in Washington DC and in San Francisco on April 30th.

As Jews it is our responsibility to stay active. The best way to stay active is to stay informed. If you read about Darfur then you might accidentally mention it to a friend in conversation. Hopefully that friend will think about it and maybe they'll pass it on. Who knows? Maybe you could start a movement...probably not, but these people need our help.

Darfur Links:
Save Darfur.org
Darfur Conflict on Wikipedia
American Jewish World Service
Postcard Campaign
Committee on Conscience

In Da Seda'

Last week, on the evenings of April 12th and 13th, the Chabad Student Center hosted two student-oriented Passover seders. The events were attended by so many students that a tent was rented and most of the backyard was converted into a huge dining room, complete with a YomTov-safe heating system.

The tables were covered with festive white tablecloths and each place was set immaculately. On the head table, two tall, polished, silver candelabra stood with candles burning, the light from the flames flickering and dancing among the various green, blue, and clear bottles of wine lined liberally along all the tables.

We eat many symbolic foods and read many traditional texts during Passover, but the Chabad House seder brought Jewish tradition into the 21st century in an engaging and meaningful way. Each step of the seder was accompanied by Rabbi Shlomie Chein's renowned running commentary and a choice of four or five varieties of wines (Manischewitz was nowhere to be found, and it's questionable whether it's actually a wine anyway).

Fourth-year student Jessica Steinberg, who attended the second seder, gushed that, "It was definitely the best seder that I've been to since I've been in college. It's the next best thing to being at home, because of the intimate atmosphere." Reflecting the sentiments of many students who attended, Jessica also thoroughly enjoyed what Rabbi Shlomie had to say, noting that, "For every part of the seder he incorporated life lessons." Jessica found that much of what R' Shlomie said was relevant to her life right now.

A Cabrillo student, Jacob Nixon, attended the first night's seder. He said,
"The seder at Rabbi Chein's was really inspirational. I spent the next day reading over and over the prayers he lead us in that night, taking in the meaning in English and practicing them out loud in Hebrew. What an awesome guy. The energy in the room during the service was so powerful; all of us together wanting to hear the Rabbi sing these prayers aloud the way our ancestors did. I felt consumed by everyone in that room, all of us praying together as one. I haven't felt so hyped up in a long, long time."
Of course, no seder would be complete without the se'uda, the heart of the meal. Rebbetzin Devorah Leah, with the help of numerous student volunteers, artfully prepared an amazing feast, complete with fish, hearty vegetable salads, hot kugel, vegetables, and chicken, so that no one left with a dissatisfied palate (not the vegans, nor the vegetarians, nor the omnivores).

G-d willing, next year in Jerusalem. But for the time being, I'm so happy I got to be at the UCSC Chabad Student Center this year. A sincere thank you and yasher koach to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Chein, to Zalman Chein, to Mendy, to the Maitl Place, and to all the students who helped out.

Just a reminder that the Chabad Student Center will be hosting a mystical end-of-Passover seder this Thursday evening at 7pm. They also host family-style Friday night dinners every Friday night at 8:00pm and every Jew is always welcome. Click here to find out more.

Oops! addition to SCIAC

addendum:

I forgot to mention:

In addition to tonight's meeting, our assignment from last week was to email the UC Provost about reinstating the EAP program to Israel. Although with the recent bombing in Tel Aviv, who knows what will happen to the future of the EAP program to Israel.

Israel Action Committee Meets Tonight

Hello to everyone and Chag Sameach!!!

This is just a friendly reminder that SCIAC - the Santa Cruz Israel Action Committee meets tonight at 8:30pm at Hillel (222 Cardif- across from the base of campus and right next to 7-11 and Slug Books!!)

Hope to see you all there!!!

-Corinne

PS. Check out the website:

http://iheartisrael.googlepages.com

I was almost in Tel Aviv when...

After debating whether Hevron was a safe place to go during Chol HaMoed Pesach or not, my friend and I decided that despite increased security, Hevron may not be the safest place given the political climate here in Isarel. Instead, we boarded a bus to Tel Aviv around 1pm. While on the bus, my friend and I were dozing until we heard the frantic voice of a woman on the radio. We didn't catch every word, but we heard the words "danger", "bombing" and "Tel Aviv central bus station" in Hebrew. Not long after, friends who knew our plans to go to Tel Aviv started calling to make sure we were okay. Baruch Hashem, we were not there and none of our friends in the Tel Aviv area were there. It wasn't until we started chatting with some ladies at a suburban bus stop that we heard what had happened. A young boy had blown himself up around the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station - at the time we were talking to these ladies, they told us 6 people were dead and 30 were wounded. Today, the Jerusalem Post counted 9 people dead and 70 wounded. There is a dispute whether the boy was 16 or 21.

I am still trying to put into words not only how I felt about the possibility of having arrived at 1:30 instead of close to 3:00 (we had intended to leave much earlier in the day) or my anger at the suicide bombers, but also in general my feelings towards the Israeli government who has made countless vows that this time, things will be different. Well, so far nothing is different. Nothing has been different for the past 30 years. The Israeli goverment is constantly spouting that they will not give land to the Arabs until there is peace. And yet Israel no longer controls the Sinai or the Gaza Strip. Now there are rumors of evacuating settlements in the West Bank too. For what? To give the Arabs an even greater opportunity to unite and try to annihilate us? Yes these views are harsh, but I could have been there! Israelis are fighting for our existance here, and can't always watch out for whose toes they are stepping on. In America, it is easy to sit in your apartment (or tent in the redwoods if you're in Santa Cruz) and talk about peace talks and two state solutions and ask yourself, "Why can't they just get along?" But when you're here in Israel and you're friends with the people who are fighting for your life, and you're friends with the people who have lost loved ones in war and acts of terror, you can't afford to sit back and relax.

So what's the solution? I don't know. What can Americans do? Go to Israel, buy Israeli products, learn about the History and hold the U.S. government accountable when it is dealing with Israel. What can Israelis do? Take a stand. The Israeli journalists are great writers, but they never ask politicians the tough questions, and Israelis never force the journalists to ask. Israelis need to hold their government accountable as well. In addition to our hard work, we must all daven to HaKodesh Baruch Hu that He will continue keep His covenant to Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaakov. We must do mitzvos to show Hashem we still love Him and we haven't turned our backs. And at the right time, Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael will be redeemed.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I can't believe it's not treif, Passover edition

I hope everyone is having a happy and healthy Passover so far. During this freedom festival, sometimes we forget that there are many, many kosher for Passover things to eat other than matzah and macaroons (as those of you who have been partaking of the Chabad Student Center's kosher-for-Passover meal plan know).

Our featured product this week is Ceres' 100% fruit juices. Their website and ingredients list both read that the juices have "no added cane sugar, colorants or preservatives." The juices are certified kosher for Passover and are available year-round. The flavors include, but are not limited to, passion fruit, mango, youngberry, guava, medley of fruits, and apricot.

The juices are available in 1 litre boxes at Staff of Life, New Leaf, and the Food Bin. Visit their website at CeresJuices.com for more info.

Suicide Bomber in TLV

His bandana says, "No to military recruiting on campus! Destroy the war machine!"

This morning a 16 year old Arab suicide bomber blew himself up in Tel Aviv, murdering nine people and wounding 50-60 more. I heard about it on BBC World News, but all the printed news say he was 21.

The reps of the Palestinians being interviewed on BBC were evasive and only spewed rhetoric. I'm glad withdrawing from Gaza is leading to continued efforts by both sides to increase the peace (sarcastic).

Baruch Dayan HeEmes.

Read about it on BBC, Arutz Sheva, JPost.

Week in Preview

Another three days of Passover, hang in there. Check out this clip or this clip for a bit more Passover entertainment (from the Itche Kadoozy Show). And have a great week!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Matisyahu Update

Matisyahu did a sick beatbox rendition of the classic psalm Shir HaMa'alos at Chabad of San Francisco's Purimpalooza.
I was asked a number of times during the seders where Matisyahu was spending Pesach. Well, as reported by Esther on Jewlicious.com, he was apparently at the Chabad House at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (indeed, he turned down the invitation from Madonna to attend her Kabbala seder). You can click here for an interview from Chabad.org with Matis about Pesach. It's been a good while since we've had a lengthy Matisyahu post, so here you go.

Some of our readers may not be aware that it's been somewhat of a rough ride for Matisyahu in recent months. He was accused of being a back-stabbing, self-glorifying, shomer negiah woman-hating, Black-culture appropriating Yachinik. And quite a number of people have plainly said that they think his new album sucks. And they've already started looking for the next Chassidic musical sensation.

But around here, I like to think that we're a little more open-minded than most people. And I think we have a little more love for Matis than all those critics. Afterall, when is the last time that an observant Jew has held such a prominent place in pop culture in North America? Um, never.

Here's Matisyahu in the early days with Pey Dalid.
I'm sure you've all read the bios. He grew up secular, went to Israel when he was a teenager, also became a deadhead around the same time. Got into drugs and music, Phish, reggae. Then he found Torah, the truth that he had been seeking but never found in drugs. Now he's happily married and has a son, and is part of the Chabad-Lubavitch sect of Chassidism. His lyrics often overtly reflect themes from the central Chassidic work of the Chabad movement, composed by the Alte Rebbe, known as the Tanya.

It's well known that his music has been well received. I live near Barson Street, the ghetto of Santa Cruz (galus of galus), and people have driven by my house blasting Matisyahu. Well, as pop-culture would have it, people are already selling (and buying) not only t-shirts emblazoned with Matisyahu's face, but also kippah's with Matisyahu on them. You can even download Matis ringtones to your celly.

Here are a few sweet video clips that you may have missed, compliments of AOL Sessions: Beatbox and Ancient Lullabye.

Here's a pretty sweet interview. And here is a very special clip, passed along to me by Fedora Black, of a homevid from Matisyahu's yeshiva, Hadar HaTorah: click here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Jews and Drugs

As many of you know, 4/20 is coming up. It happens to be the last day of Passover this year, but is also a counterculture holiday on which marijuana is traditionally smoked (known commonly as "four-twenty").

A slew of articles have surfaced in the JTA recently dealing with drugs in the Jewish sphere. American teens are getting busted in study-abroad programs in Israel, substance abuse is reportedly on the rise in the Jewish community in the US and in Israel, and supposedly even elderly Jews are taking part in the fun. This all brings back memories of last year in Jerusalem when a yeshiva student overdosed on heroine. Many people were scandalized. Are these isolated incidents, or is there an epidemic at hand?

Well if you want to see actual video footage of how real and how bad the situation is for some people, check out this music video. The rapper is a Jew named Necro, and one of those men is his uncle.

A couple of the JTA articles I listed above suggest that there is a drug epidemic in the Jewish world, but that it's never discussed. I might ask, in light of my Health Psychology class earlier this year, if there isn't a drug epidemic and dependency problem in the US at large? Maybe there isn't. I don't know. The only gauge I have is my own experience.

I don't know how many of you remember the epic series of articles written in the Fish Rap by Aaron Cress, detailing his experiences as an American Jewish tourist trying to score some weed all across the Holy Land. His wasn't a unique story, of that I can be sure. Last year when I was in Jerusalem, multiple students in my dorm complex at the Hebrew University actually had marijuana plants growing on their window sills. Last month, accused Israeli drug-dealer Ze'ev Rosenstein was extradited to the US for dealing 700,000 ecstasy tablets.

So, four-twenty is coming up and I've always advocated the rights of individuals to smoke marijuana. But this four-twenty, make it count. If you're going to get high, so get high. But if you really want to get high, keep in mind that it's the last day of Passover. The Chabad Student Center will be offering a special seder called Moshiach's Feast. If you really want to get high, get high with Moshiach.

Goodbye Chametz... Co-Op Style

Tonight, members of the Twelve Tribes Jewish Co-Op purged their kitchen in preparation for Pesach. Floors were mopped, countertops were scoured, shelves were scrubbed, refrigerators were sponged. We re-Kashered the dishes and stocked our pantry with the finest Passover delicacies that Safeway had to offer :)

To finish off the evening, we had a ritual hunt for Chametz, leavened bread. We then torched the bread in the BBQ grill with a little help from our friend mr. gasoline can. We said goodbye to chametz, and piled in the car to have one last bout at Jeffrey's restaurant.

Goodbye Chametz, Hello Matzoh
-With love, the Netmessiah and the 12 Tribes Co-Op

Monday, April 10, 2006

Jewschool's Guide to Passover

ShamirPower, of Jewschool.com, posted a huge collection of Passover resources on the web, from Chabad.org's Passover megasite, to vegan kosher l'pesach recipes, to a Conservative guide to the halochos of Passover...

Check it out here.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Not Just Tradition

Me and Ze'ev have been cleaning the Bochur Pad pretty intensely the last 24 hours in preparation for Passover. In the process of scrubbing, kashering, vacuuming, dusting, etc, I noticed that we have Oneida silverware.

Oneida is a respectable silverware company, but the thing most people don't know is that the company originated with the Oneida Society, a Utopian community from the 19th century that practiced free love and communal raising of children. But I digress...

These days, sometimes you'll hear people say that things like pork were only made unkosher in the Torah because people used to get trichinosis. Therefore, today pork should be kosher. This reasoning fails to take into account the fact that Jewish law isn't derived from human intellect. And for those who say, "Well, that's a matter of opinion," there are myriad examples of modern science confirming halachic intricacies that were, by anyone's estimation, beyond human intellect of the time.

Case in point: Chometz. The stuff we're forbidden to eat, own, or benefit from during Passover. The Sages, of blessed memory, made halachic distinctions with regards to chometz that don't really make sense to the average person. For instance, why can't corn or rice become chometz? Why does fruit juice as a replacement of water not produce chometz?

The "why" doesn't really matter, as tradition tells us, because at Mount Sinai, upon receiving G-d's Torah, we all said, "We'll follow it, and we'll learn about it." We'll do it, then worry about figuring out why later on. But when modern science sheds light on the "why," it reveals the depth of the connectedness of the intellect of our Sages.

I've been reading bits of Rabbi Avrohom Blumenkrantz's The Laws of Pesach recently, and the introduction to the section about chometz was trippy. If you're interested, here is the technical discussion about chometz from Rabbi Blumenkrantz's book:
"...B-Amylase is missing in the corn and rice. Thus, the leavening process cannot take place, since no carbon dioxide gas is released.

"In wheat and barley, enzyme action begins immediately after water is added, forming alcohol and carbon dioxide. The proteinase begins its action, but the odor associated with decomposition is overshadowed by the fermentation process. With the corn, however, having no fermentation, the decomposition process becomes more evident. This is called sirchon.

"In the leavening process, the gluten which holds the particles of dough together prevent the immediate escape of carbon dioxide. This causes a "hollow" sound when the dough is slapped. As the process builds up, gas accumulates below the surface of the dough. This is soon extended, causing the "whitening" and "hair cracks" mentioned above. At that moment, the fermentation is up to the level at which the dough is considered halachically chometz. At normal temperature, this takes place about 18-20 minutes from the time the water is mixed with the flour, explaining the urgency of getting the dough into the oven within 18 minutes. As long as the dough is being kneaded and pummeled, however, it will not become chometz since such manipulation enables the carbon dioxide to escape.

"The Torah refers to two kinds of chometz: chometz proper which is edible and s'or or leaven, which is formed when dough is allowed to stand for a long time. This dough is used to speed up the leavening of other dough, a function performed nowadays by yeast.

"Finally, matzoh can be made because the heat from the oven expels all the water from the dough, preventing the enzymes from operating. In addition, B-Amylase is destroyed by heat at 80 degrees Celsius.

"The holocho states that fruit juices in the dough cannot produce chometz. This is because fruit juices are acid and A-Amylase cannot work in the presence of acid.

"We can see from the above, that Chazal, in formulating the laws of chimutz thousands of years ago, already incorporated into the holocho the scientific knowledge being learned today."
Indeed. I hope everyone's Passover cleaning is going well.

Pesach Class: Doing Pesach Right!

Exploring Judaism with Rabbi Yisroel Gordon:

Pesach Class part II: "Doing Pesach Right: A Review of Pertinent Halachot"

Monday, April 10th at 7:30pm.

This is the second in a two-part series to help prepare for Pesach. Having attended part one is not needed to follow this class, so feel free to join us.

Email yisroel@jsn.info or call (650) 796-6752 for location.

Tzedek Through Artwork

Third-year student Brooke Baxter has done a series of watercolors and mixed media paintings based on the media images shown after Hurricane Katrina. The paintings explore the racism and classism found in the media portrayal of the disaster. The artist's work is no doubt driven by a deep-seated sense of justice instilled in her from her Jewish roots.

On Thursday, April 13th at 7:30pm, Brooke's artwork will be on display at the College Eight Cafe at UCSC, 200 Heller Drive. This event will feature musical accompaniment by Io Berreitter and a discussion on Hurricane Katrina and the media.

Since this evening also happens to be the second night of Passover, hopefully the majority of you Jewish students will be at a Passover seder. However, many of you may have non-Jewish friends who would be interested in learning about the racial and economic injustices that currently plague America, and if so, you should let them know about this event.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Week in Preview

Yep, it's Passover in less than a week!

Monday, April 10th, Passover education, part deux, with Rabbi Gordon (email yisroel at jsn.info for more info).

Tuesday, April 11th, free barbecue at Hillel.

Wednesday, April 12th, there will be two student-oriented seders, one at the Chabad House and one on campus at Merrill (Reform-style, by Hillel). Both seders are open to all.

Thursday, April 13th, there will be a student-oriented family-style seder at the Chabad House. Kol Tefillah, Santa Cruz's Conservative congregation, will be hosting a Conservative Passover seder downtown.

Friday, April 14th, Friday Night Live at the Chabad House includes free four-course Shabbat dinner and good vibes. Student-led services and free dinner at Hillel.

And here's your end-of-the-week entertainment. I wish I could have posted something about Passover, but I think I exhausted the Passover entertainment already.

So this clip is from one of the funniest Israeli television shows ever, called ארץ נהדרת ("Eretz Nehederet"). Not that I watched that much TV in Israel, but this was one show that I felt was often worth it.

I would say it's the Israeli version of The Daily Show, but obviously it's on a whole different level. I think they speak enough English in the clip that you get the point.

The Birthday of a Revolutionary

I was notified that this coming Sunday, April 9th, Molly Resnick will be speaking on her personal recollections of the last Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, whose birthday is on Sunday.

The event will take place at 7:15pm at Congregation Chevra Thilim, 751 Twenty Fifth Ave., San Francisco.

I was intrigued by Molly Resnick's bio, reprinted here:
Molly Resnick is a veteran journalist who is the founder and director of the grassroots organization MATCKH, Mothers Against Teaching Children To Kill and Hate and writes a weekly Childwatch column for the Jewish Press. She is also a former NBC TV producer.

Resnick, who is a political science graduate of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, provided the simultaneous live translation for Begin's speech for NBC News when Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to the Knesset.

A former left-wing Israeli liberal who promoted Palestinian products internationally, Resnick realized that any hope for peace was doomed when she discovered that the Arab Palestinian curriculum was indoctrinating children to become suicide bombers.

Before 9/11, Resnick produced the video Creating Peace: One Quilt At A Time, predicting how the anti-American, anti-Western education that teaches violence and hatred put the safety of the entire world in jeopardy.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Student With a Cause: Raising Funds to Fight Leukemia & Lymphoma

Third-year student Ayla Stern has been training seriously for her triathlon on May 7th. But she's not competing to win the gold, she's raising funds for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma research and patient services.

She is involved through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training, whose participants have raised over $660 million since 1988.

Ayla has a goal of raising $2,900, but she needs your help. With the triathlon approaching, she has so far raised about 15% of her set goal.

She related this touching story to me recently:
"A couple weekends ago we had a training and camping weekend at Lake San Antonio where the actual triathlon will be held. I was sharing a tent with a girl who is one of the honorees on our team, and she was telling me about her struggle with cancer and how one of the reasons she is alive today is because of treatments funded by things like Team in Training."

To make a donation, you can visit her Team in Training page here. All of us here at the JewniProj would like to commend Ayla for her efforts.

Holy Corruption! Rabbis who file for moral bankruptcy

JERUSALEM, April 4 (JTA) — With scandal threatening the tenure of one of the top rabbis, some Israelis are asking whether Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is needed.

In a move unprecedented in the Jewish state, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz issued a public call Monday for the Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, to resign.

Mazuz, an anti-corruption crusader, cited suggestions that Metzger illicitly accepted discounted rates for himself and his family at a luxury Jerusalem hotel during High Holidays in 2003 and 2004. He is also accused of staying at hotels at the taxpayers’ expense despite having been provided with an apartment by the state.

“It would be appropriate if Rabbi Metzger took personal responsibility and decided on his own to step down,” the Justice Ministry said in a six-page statement.

Metzger, 52, denied wrongdoing and vowed to petition the High Court of Justice against Mazuz.

Read the rest of the JTA article

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Conservative Movement Faces Internal Contradiction

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin is probably best known at UCSC as the backbone of the entire Hebrew Language Program and for her scholarship in Biblical Hebrew and Jewish Thought. She may be less known to students as one of the founding members of Santa Cruz's only Conservative congregation, Congregation Kol Tefillah, and her active leadership role in the lay-led kehilla.

Tammi recently published an extremely critical scholarly article about contradictions in the Conservative Movement in the online publication The Open Source Project. The article was previously rejected by four other publications, namely: JUDAISM, Tradition, Azure and Conservative Judaism because, Tammi believes, of her paper's controversial nature.

The article focuses on the implications of the movement's 2001 Torah commentary Etz Hayim, which is the first new Torah commentary for the movement in over 70 years. What bothered Tammi is the Conservative movement's professed dedication to halacha, despite the fact that their newest Torah commentary openly rejects the belief that the entire Torah was received by Moses at Mt. Sinai. In other words, it assumes that the Torah was written by multiple authors at different periods throughout history.

There are huge halachic implications in the multiple-author theory, which leads to "inconsistency and compromise at the highest intellectual level" according to Hillel Halkin, and potentially renders entire classes of halacha (like those of milk and meat, Shabbat, and Kohanim) impotent. In her own words:
"Having publicly identified itself with an interpretation of P’shat which denies the unity of the Torah, the Conservative Movement is now in a serious theological quandary. For as a movement which swears fealty to Halakhah, its rejection of the most fundamental theological assumption of the rabbis who derived that Halakhah from the text is seemingly self-contradictory."
The paper itself, Tammi says, is mainly a response to her frustration with inadequate responses she received from some of the Movement's leading rabbis regarding its "open rejection of Torah mi'Sinai." Tammi ends the piece warning that continued contridictions within the Conservative movement don't bode well for the movement or for the Jewish people as a whole.

I applaud Tammi for her intellectual integrity regarding the movement that she has been so dedicated to. To read the article yourself, click here. It's a pdf file. Also, it is an obviously well-researched and scholarly article, so don't be intimidated by its length, because it's completely worth the read.

Let the apologetics begin!

Passover Entertainment

Here we go.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Shabbos in the City

By guest contributor Blake Landau


It’s 12pm and I’m in Crown Heights. It's my first time in this Jewish enclave in New York’s biggest borough. I have erased all material evidence that I come from another world, dressed modestly under a long black coat that belts at the waist. I spot two girls with long manes draping over the park bench. My Santa Cruz friends Sarah* and Rivkah* are waiting for me.

Sarah’s over-sized Jackie-O glasses greet me. I am happy to recognize my friend’s chutzpah. She hasn’t traded in her hippie-dom. Sarah wears a teal skirt covered in eyelets with many layers, like a cake.

Looking around, the young women here don’t wear clothing of the “old world.” They look chic and hip, in an Anthropologie sort of way. Like most New Yorkers, the men walk with intent. They are coming and going from 770. The older guys huddle in circles. The day is cold and the streets are scattered with giddy children in kippas.

We wander around East Broadway only walking the periphery of the Jewish area. The streets are quiet and calm farther away from the excitement outside of 770.

At 1:30pm Rivkah, Sarah and I head to the house of Shneur Zalman, a rabbi who has opened up his home to us for Shabbos lunch. We come upon a warm colored brownstone. A young pretty girl answers the door. Her name is Misha’el. She wears a black knit sweater, a shawl, and a skirt that drapes to the floor. She holds a prayer book, and, with an inviting smile, nods us to come in. We follow her quiet footsteps along the wood floor up to the kitchen where we meet Meirav.

At the top of the stairs a wide eyed three-year-old, Rachel, peaks her head out and squeaks in surprise. Her mother Meirav is close by in the kitchen doing light preparation for the meal.

Meirav appears to hold no skepticism. She doesn’t mention my Asics or Sarah’s teal layer cake. Toys are dispersed on the floor, and Meirav laughs about the inevitability of their destiny there.

While we wait for the other two children and the rabbi, Rachel plays target practice with our heads. When we cajoled her we hadn’t anticipated a three-year-old would have the arm-strength of Derek Jeter. We laugh when Sarah, without her Jackie O’s, almost loses an eye.

Children always succeed in doing two things: providing entertainment and neutralizing the atmosphere of any room.

Misha’el tells us about the shawl she is wearing. How grandmother’s cashmere flannel shawl from Russia, the fabric and style has been appropriated by the fashionistas of Park Avenue. Though the siblings fight for the relic, the grandmother prohibits it leaving the property.

We hear clumsy footsteps on the other side of the wall and Meirav casually confirms which child will tumble through the door first. Isaac then Joseph, both toddlers, come breathlessly bursting through the door. She knows the rhythm of her children’s footsteps.

Following the boyish energy that poured in the room is the rabbi, Shneur, a gentle, jovial man with the presence of a quarterback.

Hungry, we gather around the ornate table to say the prayer for the wine. But Shneur’s efforts are thwarted by syncopated outbursts from his children. I actually find the chaos comforting. The boisterous kids ease my nervousness about my own faux paus. On Shabbos, I often feel clumsy and awkward in my Reform-Judaism-skin. I am especially unversed in the nuances of the Lubavitch.

Fluffy New York challah is circulated. The gefilte fish glitters with pink rosy specks. Two different fresh salads, lox, hummus and babaganuoche are passed around the table. Rivkah, Sarah and I devour the meal with our eyes before lifting a fork.
I of course, forget there will be more food, and have my fill.

The conversation is polite, until the name Matisyahu is mentioned. Seemingly mild-mannered Misha’el bursts into an animated uproar. The next ten minutes the table engages in a heated back-and-forth about the future of Matisyahu’s career. Misha’el thinks the reggae rocker is a one hit wonder and his fifteen minutes of fame are almost up. Meirav’s British brother, clad in a pink collared shirt, vehemently disagrees. Shneur plays devil’s advocate to all parties.

The cholent is meaty and savory. A dish of carefully prepared fried chicken is shared. I am amazed by the nonchalance of everyone. They seem un-phased by the decadence of the meal.

Rachel grabs a fire truck from the floor and sets off the siren. After two minutes Meirav muffles the modern toy’s screams by moving the device into a neighboring room. The table is relieved when, all on her own accord, Rachel returns to the room that houses the truck and turns the noise off.

A diverse and colorful arrangement of cakes and candies are arranged on the table after dinner. Brownies, smooth, thick and dark, in pristinely cut squares, are placed under our noses. Sarah consumes enough kosher vodka to knock out a small army, and Shneur Zalman jokes that Rivkah will have to carry her home. As we serve ourselves I remember I have never met this group of people in my life, and they expect no return on this five star meal.


"Sarah consumes enough kosher vodka to knock out a small army, and Shneur Zalman jokes that Rivkah will have to carry her home."
Isaac sits on top of a cousin’s lap and eats sweets until his father encourages him to only have one more. Sarah, in her sweetest voice, reminds Isaac that if he eats treats he will get fat. Rivkah and I freeze. The California college kid-speak and the Crown Heights-speak have crossed. Seinfeld called it the “collision of worlds.”
On my way to the bathroom I notice the kitchen sink piled high with silverware. Nechama Dina rarely says anything through dinner but pleasantly sits watching her children.

I catch a moment when Shneur Zalman, with flushed cheeks, looks at Rachel with eyes of love and encourages her to smile. I imagine the strength it takes to take care of three little children, with another on the way, feeding extended family at a moment's notice, and college students. I forgot to mention her ability to do this all with grace and composure.

Shneur Zalman serves us black coffee in delicate glass cups. Misha’el and I lean in and whisper about dating and marriage. Mostly she talks and I listen. Misha’el tells me of her time in New York, away from Florida, where her parents run a Chabad center. She is here one year, teaching in Manhattan at a pre-school on the upper west side. We are the same age. She wants to meet her match, but informs me of the insular nature of the Lubavitch dating scene. She is very discrete in her language and polite in her word choice. She hardly touches the liquor poured for her.

She tells me of the way some girls daven on the subway each morning, but she likes to wake up in time to daven in the privacy of her aunt’s home. She talks of what it would be like to live in the “outside world,” and tells me of the choice she makes every day to fulfill her daily rituals.

Three quarters through the meal I realize how unbelievably relaxed and happy I am. I am unsure if it’s the Lubavitch community’s trademark liquor, the myriad of beautifully prepared foods, or the kindness of strangers.

I think about my gentile professor at UC Santa Cruz, Earl Jackson, Jr., and the way he praised Shabbos as a unique time for contemplation and reflection, and how surprised I was at this statement coming from him.

After many l'chaims, song, and the celebration of Sarah’s Jewish birthday, I am still genuinely shocked by the complete generosity of this family.

After three months in what has been described as the meanest city in the world, I am elated by the good nature of this family, and a religion I had all but abandoned.

*All the names have been changed.


Blake graduated UCSC in Fall of this year with a degree in Modern Literature and the History of Art and Visual Culture, and currently finished an internship at Blackbook Magazine in New York City, New York. During her time at UCSC, she edited the music and arts desks for City on a Hill Press. She has interned at the Santa Cruz Sentinel, SOMA Magazine, and a think tank on foreign policy.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dissecting the Plagues with Shlomie Chein

This Wednesday, April 5th, join Shlomie Chein at the Chabad Student Center for tacos and a discussion entitled Ten Plagues. Four Dimensions. One Question: How will you be freed?

The holiday of Passover is upon us, make sure you're prepared.

The event is free and everyone is welcome.

Former Slug Gershom Gorenberg to Speak in S.C.

I received word from the Jewish Studies department that on this Tuesday evening, April 4th, UCSC Alumnus Gershom Gorenberg will be speaking on his new book The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977. "Critical, but sympathetic, this book shows why support for Israel is not the same as support for the settlement enterprise."

Our student-run Jewish newspaper, the Leviathan, will be sponsoring a special intimate dinner and discussion with Gershom at 6:30pm in Kresge Seminar Room 159, followed the main lecture at 7:30pm, also in Kresge Seminar Room 159.

Gershom is currently the Jerusalem correspondent for the Forward. A lengthy interview with him is available here, and some of his works are available here.

The event is sponsored by Hillel, The Center for Justice, Tolerance and Community, and the Jewish Studies Program.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Pesach Class in S. Cruz

Exploring Judaism with Rabbi Yisroel Gordon:
Pesach Class part I: "Selling Your Chometz - A Legal Fiction?"

Monday, April 3rd at 7:oopm.

This is the first in a two-part series to help prepare for Pesach.

Email yisroel@jsn.info or call (650) 796-6752 for location.

Birkat Ha-Ilan: Blessing the Blossoming Trees


The Torah calls the month of Nissan אביב (Aviv) -Spring. It is a time of renewal, where the trees break out of their slumber and blossoms begin to grow. Judaism marks this period with a special blessing that can only be said once a year: Birkat Ha-Ilan -The blessing of the blossoming trees.

The optimal time to say this blessing begins on Rosh Chodesh Nissan and runs till the end of the month. However, it can be said later if the trees have not yet begun to blossom or if one forgot. The tree must be a fruit tree in the bloomingstage, i.e. flowers have begun to grow, but there is not yet fruit. Upon seeing such a tree, one says the following blessing:

Baruch ata Ado-nai , Elo-hainu Melech ha-olam, shelo chisar ba-olamo davar,
u-vara vo be-riyot tovot v'-ilanot tovim, l'-hanot ba-hem b'-nai adam.
"Blessed are You, Lord, Our God, King of the Universe, for nothing is lacking in His universe, and He created in it good creatures and good trees, to cause mankind pleasure with them."
So go out and bless a tree, and thank Hashem for one of the miracles Hashem has created!

(For more information, visit Aish HaTorah )

Mazel Tov!

Mazel tov to former UCSC jew-slug Sarah Rivkah Steinberg (neé Phillips) and her husband Shmuel on the birth of their baby girl, Channa!