Monday, July 31, 2006

A Bit Of Irony

Every morning I find myself checking for the latest updates on the war with Lebanon. I saw this advertisement for a mortgage firm and found it a little ironic, especially since tends to carefully choose which adds they post. What do you all think?

Take it to the Streets

With peace like this, who needs war?I'm all fired up. So, here's the situation: This Friday, August 4th, from 5-6pm there will be a "shame on Israel" rally at the corners of Pacific and Front across from the clocktower downtown. In response, there will also be a pro-Israel rally occurring at the same time at the same place.

The "shame" organizers end their call-to-action with this inspirational cry: "We call on everyone who believes in peace to come out and call for an immediate cease fire and Israel's immediate withdrawal from Lebanon and Palestine." Everyone who believes in peace... That's quite a generalization. What type of peace are we supporting? The type where these same anti-Israel demonstrators start attacking Jews in their homes and murdering them in their Federation buildings?

And if you want to see the type of un-peaceful [expletive] that's going down at other anti-Israel rallies across the US, check out this post from, which documents a lone Jew's dangerous encounter at a rally in Boston. Please, let's at least have enough Jews out there this Friday so that lone Jews don't get attacked. If you're planning on coming, you can either post comments or email zmiller [at]

And, if you're not the rallying type (or even if you are, but you want to help even more), check out this website where you can send care packages to "lone Israeli soldiers" (soldiers who do not have families
in the country) and other soldiers, packed with treats and practical items. You can also support Israel by buying stuff at the not-for-profit website

Also, there is the website which "is a neighborhood social services organization in Beit Shemesh, Israel. They are currently taking into their community Israeli refugees who have fled from the constant Hezbollah shelling of the North. Lemaan Achai is currently directing activities towards helping over 300 people who are being put up in Beit Shemesh for two weeks. Sixty-three are living in one school, Shaalei Torah, and another 60 are living in another school, Uzziel. The rest are being hosted by families in the Beit Shemesh area. Lemaan Achai is providing food and utensils for these families and it costs quite a bit of money. Every penny of your donation to Lemaan Achai will go to helping the families from the north. They don't take overhead."

May the Force be with you.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

SF Jewish Film Festival

We're in the midst of a Jewish film festival. Who would have known? Here is the website: Tomorrow will be its last day in San Francisco, then it's moving to Berkeley next week, then to Mountain View the week after, then to San Rafael.

Summer Reading

I know this sort of thing isn't really JewniProj material, but if anyone wants to read a moving story, I was referred today to this fictional piece by Zalman Velvel entitled The Rabbi's Daughter. I started browsing through it, and ended up reading the whole thing. It addresses some issues between observant and non-observant Jews, and is moving besides (actually, I shed a tear towards the end).

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.

Talmud Class in Santa Cruz

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah:
Talmudic & Halachic Perspectives
Rabbi Yaakov Grossman

Where: Santa Cruz Hillel (222 Cardiff Place)

When: Thursday ( 7/27) at 8:00pm
Sunday (7/30) at 7:00pm
Monday (7/30) at 8:00pm
Tuesdat (8/1) at 8:00pm


(No Hebrew language skills or prior experience necessary.)

Rabbi Yaakov Grossman has been training "Yeshiva Bachurim" in Talmud study for over two decades at Yeshiva Shaar HaTorah of Queens, New York. Rabbi Yisroel Gordon of the Jewish Study Network is one of his many students.

Special thanks to Stan Einhorn & Leon Kaplan
for bringing more Torah to our community.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Opportunities to Support Israel

San Francisco on Sunday, July 23 at 12:00 noon
Stand Against Terrorism - Stand With Israel Community-wide Rally
Justin Herman Plaza
At the foot of Market street and the Embarcadero
Volunteers needed for this event. Please contact the JCRC at 415-472-5128 if you would like to volunteer.

San Jose on Sunday, July 23 at 5:00 pm
Stand With Israel Rally
Circle of Palms
On Market Street between Fairmont Hotel and San Jose Art Museum

South Peninsula on Monday, July 24 at 7:30 pm
A Night of Solidarity with Israel
Congregation Beth Am
26792 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills

North Peninsula on Tuesday, July 25 at 7:30 pm
A Night of Solidarity with Israel
Peninsula Temple Beth El
1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

Oakland on Wednesday, July 26 at 7:30 pm
In Prayer and Solidarity for the State of Israel
Temple Sinai
28th and Webster Streets, Oakland

Lafayette on Thursday, July 27 at 7:30 pm
In Prayer and Solidarity for the State of Israel
Temple Isaiah
3800 Mount Diablo Boulevard, Lafayette

San Francisco event sponsored by Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, and Contra Costa Communities; the Jewish Community Federation of Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties; and the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay. Co-sponsored by American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); Anti-Defamation League; American Jewish Committee; Board of Rabbis of Northern California; BlueStarPR; Congregation Beth Sholom; Congregation Emanu-El; Hadassah; Congregation Sherith Israel; Jewish Family and Children's Services; Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa; New Israel Fund; Orthodox Rabbinical Council of San Francisco; Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club; Republican Jewish Coalition; StandWithUs/SF Voice for Israel; Union for Reform Judaism; United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

San Jose event co-sponsored by Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center; American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); Ahabat Torah; Chai House; Congregation Beth Am; Congregation Beth David; Congregation Shir Hadash; Congregation Sinai; Eitz Chaim Academy; Hillel of Silicon Valley; Jewish Community Relations Council of Silicon Valley; Jewish Family Service of Silicon Valley; Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley; Jewish Study Network; Kehillah Jewish High School; South Peninsula Hebrew Day School; Temple Emanu-El; Yavneh Day Schoo/.

South Peninsula event co-sponsored by Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center; the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); Chabad of Greater South Bay; Congregation Beth Am; Congregation Emek Beracha; Congregation Etz Chayim; Congregation Kol Emeth; Consulate General of Israel; Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, and Contra Costa Communities; the Jewish Community Federation of Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties; Jewish Study Network; Peninsula Jewish Community Center; Taube-Koret Campus for Jewish Life.

North Peninsula event co-sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); Consulate General of Israel; Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, and Contra Costa Communities; the Jewish Community Federation of Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties; Peninsula Jewish Community Center; Peninsula Temple Beth El; Peninsula Temple Sholom; Peninsula Sinai Congregation; and Temple Beth Jacob.

Oakland and Lafayette events sponsored by Jewish Community Federation of Greater East Bay; Jewish Community Relations Council/East Bay Region; Consulate General of Israel; Temple Isaiah; Temple Sinai; and JIMENA.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Israel Rally this Sunday in SF

And if you want some action this Sunday, here it is:
Hi all.

This morning, I took part in an emergency strategy session with representatives from Jewish organizations (Israeli Consulate, JCRC, ADL, Federation, NIF, AIPAC, and others) to discuss a coordinated, community-wide pro-Israel response to the deteriorating state of affairs in the Middle East.

We will need a ton of help to pull off an ambitiously large 5000-10,000 person rally This Sunday! Please mark your calendars now.

Once the official advertisement for the rally is finalized (probably by tomorrow), PLEASE BLAST IT to all your friends, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.

Thanks for any/all help you can offer in spreading the "Stand Against Terrorism. Stand With Israel" message.


Deborah Schultz
For more info:


12:00 noon - Sunday, July 23, 2006

Justin Herman Plaza - San Francisco (at the foot of Market street and the Embarcadero)

More information: 415.957.1551

Sponsored by
Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties Jewish Community Relation Council Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay

Co-Sponsored by
Anti Defamation League, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, American Jewish Committee, Board of Rabbis of Northern California, Blue Star PR, Congregation Beth Sholom, The Congregation Emanu-El, Congregation Sherith Israel, Hadassah Jewish Family and Children's Services, Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, New Israel Fund, Orthodox Rabbinical Council of San Francisco, Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club, Republican Jewish Coalition, StandWithUs/SF Voice for Israel, Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Also Israel Solidarity Rally in SAN JOSE
Sunday, July 23 at 5:00 pm
Tentatively planned for either Plaza de Caesar Chavez or City Hall.
You will be notified of the exact location.

For more information:
(408) 366-9108

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Brit Tzedek in Santa Cruz

Well, here's an announcement I received for all the "progressive Jews" of Santa Cruz:
Dear Friends,

Please join us and the Alliance for Justice and Peace, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, to talk about the current crisis in the middle east, and to discuss Brit Tzedek's progressive Jewish response.

Dr. Molly Freeman, chair of the Bay Area chapter of Brit Tzedek will lead the discussion on Sunday, July 23 from 2:00-3:30 PM at Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center St., Santa Cruz.

We are forming a Santa Cruz chapter of this progressive Jewish peace group to respond to the ever worsening situation. Brit Tzedek provides a unique opportunity to express our feelings and take action; learn what you can do to help end this conflict.

We hope to see many of you on Sunday.

Shalom and Blessings,

Santa Cruz Brit Tzedek conveners,

Howie Schneider, Rabbi Paula Marcus, Ayelet Almog, Diane Brayman, Michael Zucker, David Werlin and Jeanne Rosen

"Emmuna News" @ "Lazer Beams"

Rabbi Lazer Brody's award-winning blog Lazer Beams has been featuring a series of posts called Emmuna News, in which world events, and in particular events pertaining to Israel and the Jewish people, are seen through the lens of Torah. During this time of crisis, Rabbi Brody has been updating his page multiple times a day, sometimes even hourly.

In addition to being an excellent summary of what is happening in Israel, Rabbi Brody brings a unique perspective to these events. He is an American who became an officer in the Israeli special-forces, and served in Beirut in the early 1980's. After his military career, Rabbi Brody became a Breslov Chassid, and is currently a rav in Ashdod and is the assistant to the Melitzer Rebbe, shlita.

Living Space for the Grossmans Needed

Dear Freinds,

Several individuals in the Santa Cruz community have been trying to find a place for Rabbi Yaakov and Rashi Grossman to stay for a couple of weeks. We had several houses as possibilities especially one close to town. However we have not been able to secure this house or any other and now urgently need a room or house for the Grossman's to stay in.

The Grossmans arrive this Sunday July 23 and would like to stay until Tuesday August 8th. We were hoping to have a couple of shabbats with them but due to the living situaton this may not occur and we were thinking of going to Palo Alto. We still need a place for the Grosssmans during the week. Rabbi Grossman of course would like to spend time teaching but first we need a place for them to stay.

If there is anyone that has a suggestion please call:

Leon at 426.5350 (h) 831.247.5016 (cell) or
Shlomo at 688-8828 (h) 685-8228 (w)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Update from Tsfat

Yoni Lipshutz of Simply Tsfat gives an update on life in Tsfat at the moment at A Simple Jew, and encourages people to email him at, saying "it keeps me busy!"


Rabbi Binyomin Rosenberg of Eizer L'Shabbos gives an account of the critical situation in Tsfat.

For those who are interesting in supporting the Tsfat community, I would suggest sending any amount you can to either of the following organizations:

225 West 34th Street, Suite 701
New York, NY 10122

EIZER L'SHABBOS: Tzfat Emergency Fund
5014 16th Avenue, Suite 319
Brooklyn, NY 11204

Friday, July 14, 2006

A View from Tsfat

As we have all heard in the news, the mystical city of Tsfat and nearby areas have been hit by rockets, at least one person has died from their wounds, and a number of people have been wounded, including children.

Yoni Lipshutz of Simply Tsfat gives a first hand account at A Simple Jew.

The public is also asked to pray for 4 children, some unconscious, critically injured in Tsfat:

Michal bat Revital

Bat-tzion bat Revital

Avraham Natan ben Revital

Odel Hannah bat Revital

(from via A Simple Jew)

What Can We Do for Israel?

I've received this from a number of Rabbis and thought you all may want to read:

As these lines are being written, the hearts and minds of Jews all over the world are with our brothers and sisters in the land of Israel;

With the kidnapped Israeli soldiers being held by cruel and vicious terrorists;

With their families and loved ones anxiously awaiting word of their fate;

With the residents of southern and northern Israel, living under a deadly rain of fire on their kindergartens and shopping centers. Most of us are hundreds or thousands of miles away; yet our very being cries out: What can we do?

With our soldiers, risking their very lives to eliminate the terrorist threat hanging over our people.

At this time, every Jew is asking him or herself: What can I do to help?

$$ to go to Israel

I know it seems like things are a little crazy in Israel right now, but it's really an excellent time to go. And if you need some money, here are a couple accessible scholarships, for starters:

San Francisco Bay Area Financial Assistance for Study in Israel or Global Jewish Service Available now through October, 2006; College-aged and/or young adults will be able to return to Israel to participate in short-term educational study or participate in global service programs run by Jewish organizations. Applicants must reside in or have their permanent address in the greater San Francisco Bay area and must be enrolled in college or be between 18 and 32 years of age. For additional details contact The Bay Area Jewish Service Learning Project Director, Jare Akchin: or 415-751-6983 x113.

Jeff Seidel scholarships to Israel
The application took about five minutes and I was notified that I was selected to receive it in about two days. Click here for more info.

If anyone knows about other useful scholarship-to-Israel programs, please let me know.

What happened to Matisyahu?

He's still out there. I know, I know, it's the Three Weeks and the last thing you want me to discuss is the music that you love, that you can't listen to right now. But I just wanted to let everyone know that Matis is coming back to the Bay Area in September; to Berkeley, to be exact. G-d willing, the show will be taking place on Sunday September 10, 2006 at 7:30 pm.

Otherwise, I don't know if anyone noticed, but it seems that after Matisyahu and Sting teamed up together in Israel, the pair seems to have worked well together. You can click here and then click on Message In A Bottle to watch a video of Matis performing the Sting classic, obviously with a Chassidic twist.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

17th of Tammuz and the Three Weeks

The 17th of Tammuz (this year the 13th of July) marks the day the walls of Jerusalem fell during the second Bais HaMikdash period, leading to the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash on the 9th of Av, and is the beginning of a period of mourning known as "The Three Weeks" or "Bain HaMetzarim" in Hebrew (lit. "between the straits"). It is a day of fasting (from dawn to nightfall) and is, most importantly, a day of teshuvah.

According to the Talmud (Taanis 26b), five tragedies befell the Jewish people on this day:
  1. The Jews worshipped the Golden Calf at Har Sinai.
  2. The daily sacrifices in the first Bais HaMikdash were stopped due to the Babylonian siege.
  3. Titus of Rome broke through the walls of Jerusalem.
  4. Apostomos, a Roman captain publicly burned a Torah scroll.
  5. An Idol was placed in the Kadosh HaKadoshim, the inner most part of the Bais HaMikdash.
In addition to fasting on the 17th of Tammuz, slichos, a series of special prayers, is said, as well as the long Aveinu Malkainu. The customs of mourning associated with the Three Weeks are:
  • Weddings are not held.
  • We don't listen to music.
  • We avoid public celebrations.
  • We avoid pleasure trips or other unusually fun activities.
  • No haircuts or shaving.
  • We do not say the shehechianu on a new fruit or new clothing, except on Shabbos. (Some refrain from this even on Shabbos.)
There are also additional restrictions that apply to the last part of the Three Weeks, as we get closer to the 9th of Av. Note that Sefardic customs can be different from what is mentioned above.

For more information visit:

Aish HaTorah


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Jewish Music in the News

Recently, a little piece of news caught my attention in the local paper. The LA Times reports:
Joshua Nelson doesn't want to hear the Sammy Davis Jr. jokes. He's heard them all.

"I actually used to get offended by them. People would say, 'Oh, you're a black Jew, just like Sammy Davis, right?' " Nelson said. "That fact is that I didn't convert to Judaism. I was born Jewish."

As a Hebrew schoolteacher, he wants to educate. As a singer, he wants to entertain.

Nelson did both at a recent performance at Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim in Cranford, N.J. With his band, the Kosher Gospel Singers, he belted out his distinctive combination of traditional Jewish and gospel music for a crowd of about 300.

The 30-year-old singer said he takes traditional Jewish lyrics, then adds soulful gospel backup singers and gospel-style bass, drums and piano. Sing the song as you would at any black Baptist church in America, and the formula is complete, Nelson said.

Full story
I'll be honest, I was a bit offended by this article. Now, you would probably think that I would be offended by this man's blatant comparison of his "temple" service to a "black Baptist church" service, and his questionable status as a Jew. Well, that bothers me, but not as much as the fact that there are other Black, Jewish musical artists performing right now that blow this guy out of the water. If the LA Times wants to report on East Coast Black Jewish musicians, there are much more talented ones out there.

Case in point: Y-Love, aka Yitz Jordan, the up-and-coming Black, chassidic MC who raps in English, Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic.

At the moment, I don't have time to go in depth, but I believe he's about to release a CD that's gonna blow up. He has the potential to be bigger than Matisyahu. Y-Love is real, too. On his myspace blog (entitled This is Babylon), he discusses the current state of galus in often harsh terms.

Ok, hopefully I'll be able to add more to this post later. In the meantime, check out Y-Love.

Shabbat in the Mission

For anyone in the Bay Area, the Mission Minyan is in full effect this coming Shabbos. Just as a reminder, it's an energetic, lively, "egal" minyan (i.e. mixed seating, women lead some parts of the davening) with Jews from all different backgrounds, but I would say it's a mostly Reform/Conservative crowd; however, they use Carlebach tunes and it has a ModOrth feeling, if you can say such a thing.

This Friday night join us for Big Shabbos. Somewhat bigger than your
average Shabbos, because lots of you get together for dinner afterwards
and make this awesome Shabbosy thing happen together!

Friday July 7, 7:00 PM
Kabbalat Shabbat At the Women's Building
3543 18th St. between Guerrero and Valencia.
We'll be in the Audre Lorde room on the second floor. Don’t be late or
you’ll miss it. Poof!

HOST a Dinner!
Can you host a dinner after davenning? It's an amazing way to meet new
people and check it – you don’t have to be some kind of big shot, or some
kind of gourmet chef or some kind of old school hipster or anything. You
just have to have an extra seat or two at your dinner! Help our community
grow stronger and tighter and consider having some folks over!

Please let Marissa know ASAP that you’re in. Her email is and she for sure needs to hear from you lickety
split, like by Wednesday AM at the latest.

Naturally we hope that the Minyan community is growing tight enough that
friends are inviting new friends and old ones over for dinner on their
own. But if you’re new to our community, or visiting from out of town,
etc, we’d love to connect you with a meal so that you can start making
connections. Drop Marissa, our wonderful volunteer meal matcher this
month, an email at so that she can do the figuring.

It's very important that you contact Marissa by Wednesday so that she has
time to make the matches…it’s harder work than you’d think! Please be sure
to include important details like:

I'm a vegetarian / I'm vegan
I'm kosher and need to eat it a home with hechshered products and separate
sets of utensils / I'm kosher but as long as any meat is kosher I'm fine
eating anywhere
I’m allergic to peanuts / I hate bean sprouts / etc etc. (Okay just
kidding, we don’t care what you hate.)

I need to eat somewhere walking distance from the Women’s Building
I’m flexible about location, don’t worry about it.
I am bringing my partner/friend/pet rhesus monkey with me.
You can contact me at this email and this phone number_______________

Please be as complete as possible and we'll do what we can to match you up!

* * *


Well well well things change. And we’ve decided that everyone’s life is
easier and more fun and spiritual if we have our Saturday morning services
on the 3rd Shabbos of each month from hereon out. So mark your calendar –
the next Shabbat morning service will be on July 22, NOT THIS WEEKEND.

Saturday July 22, 9:30 PM
In the apartment complex of Jen Naylor: 1839 15th Street b/w Dolores and
Walk into the circular driveway off 15th street. We will be in the rec
room in the front of the building, you can’t miss it!

If you are interested in participating in the service by leyning, leading
part of the service, hagba, etc, let David know ASAP at And likewise if you want to be part of the
lunch afterwards by contributing food or eating it, let us know at We’ll make sure to include you on the
Shabbat lunch evite.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

"Iranian Jews do not officially recognize Israel"

Skimming through my personalized Google homepage I came across this article, posted on two Iranian news sites:
The Iranian government and nation do not officially recognize Israel and Jews share the same position, according to an Iranian Jewish figure.

Head of the Committee of Tehrani Jews Haroun Yashai told Russian Gazetta daily, "We are citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran." He ruled out allegations that religious minorities are deprived of their rights in Iran, saying, "Foreign journalists usually think that our comments on good condition of religious minorities in Iran are false; foreign journalists wrongly believe that we express everything on the call and under pressure of Iranian officials."

He said Jews are free to react to some of the policies of government and even write to government officials on the issues.

He went on to say that Jews are free to perform their religious duties and say their prayers in the Jewish language.

He added that Jews follow their customs and have been living in Iran since 2,500 years ago, when Cyrus the Great ruled the country.

Currently, maintained the Jewish figure, there are 40 synagogues in Iran, 23 of which are active, and the Jewish population are mostly scattered in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan.

There are 25,000 Jews living in Iran.

Continue reading on
The whole thing really threw me off. First of all, I've never seen a news article that refers to Hebrew as the "Jewish language." Secondly, what on earth is this "Jewish figure" trying to say? (Or what are we supposed to think he is trying to say? Who knows what else he might have said... I won't make assumptions.)

I mean, I'm really glad that life is turning out to be super fantastic for all the Jews living in Iran right now, it's certainly good to hear! But I don't see how disconnecting the Iranian Jews from Israel will really help their social status in Iran all that much. Anyway, if things are oh so very great, why would Jews need to make statements like this anyway?

Is this an appeal to Iranians, telling them to be kinder to their fellow Israel-hating Jews? I just don't understand. And how many Jews out there really hate Israel...?

So when Haroun Yashai tells me that "Foreign journalists usually think that our comments on good condition of religious minorities in Iran are false; foreign journalists wrongly believe that we express everything on the call and under pressure of Iranian officials", I'm inclined to believe that these foreign journalists are absolutely right. Jews may be "free to react to some of the policies of government" (and reacting sure is a nice Jewish thing to do), but if he's saying that they can "even write to government officials on the issues," I naturally worry about the use of that word, even.

Either something is wrong with me or something is horribly wrong with this article.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Shavua tov!

Shavua tov, everyone! I hope it was an amazing Shabbos, wherever you were. So, my little sister is traveling around Israel right now for six weeks, and after Shabbos she sent her first Myspace bulletin from the Holy Land, and I wanted to present it here, to charge everyone's week with a little extra special Holy Land energy (and to let you know that, as Hillel's condoms will tell you, it's still safe to come):

i just got back from Jerusalem and it was CRAZY exciting
we stayed by Ben Yahuda and had shabbes at the Kotel
which was, by the way, INSANELY BEAUTIFUL!
the chassids and frummies dancing
the happiness and friendliness of them all
i feel sooo home
and my TIES group is dayyyuumm fine!
gotta love em
MISS YOU MOM and allllll
tell me whats up with you

PLANN NUFFF yeahhhhh

much ♥ kids
lilah tov
I love you Chaya Mushka! Shavua tov.