Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Shabbat with the Bochur Pad Minyan

Bochur Pad Minyan
Hey, it's almost better than Matisyahu. Jay kay, jay kay.
Yes, the Bochur Pad Minyan is once again in full effect! Join us for Carlebach home-style davening at 8:15pm and a (mostly) home-cooked (mostly) organic Shabbat feast afterwards! Come for either or both, or at least stop by and say l'chaim. All are welcome, but you must RSVP to by Friday morning at 10am. And obviously it's free.
When: Friday night, September 1st, 8:15pm
Where: the Bochur Pad

If you're chillin in Santa Cruz this Friday night, and you want to kick it with some Yidden, stop on by. I like to think that it's always intimate and sincere. Not to mention that the Bochur Pad is expanding this year, with two new housemates already and two more on the way.

We're located near Ocean and Barson, just to give you an idea. See you there.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Want to spend Shabbat with Matisyahu?

Did I stutter? I don't think so. If you want to spend Shabbat Chabad-style with Chassidic reggae superstar Matisyahu on Friday and Saturday, September 8-9, click here for details (and if spending Shabbat with Matisyahu isn't enough, the whole Chein family will be there as well!). The shabbaton is free for UCSC students; don't thank me, thank the Chabad Student Center. And don't forget to RSVP.

In other Matisyahu-related news, a new Matisyahu website ( was recently launched, but is not yet fully functional. So far, there is a nice d'var Torah from Matis and a new remix of Jerusalem.

This past Shabbos I think I met one of Matisyahu's biggest fans. He related how at Purimpalooza, he waited outside without a ticket because he heard that even though it was sold out, they were still going to sell a few tickets; but they didn't. So he just waited for like six hours. He also got a parking violation, and he said that he ended up losing about $500 throughout the night, which I hope was an exaggeration. But, it was maybe worth it, because "I actually saw The Man walk into the building; Matisyahu." Gevalt, gevalt! I told this guy to keep an eye on the JewniProj if he wants updates on The Man. Hopefully he took my advice.

Afghani Goes on Rampage in SF with SUV

And if you ask G-D SQUAD's father, it was an act of terrorism on par with the Seattle Jewish Federation shooting of one month ago; however, G-D SQUAD and his father don't always see eye to eye. San Francisco wouldn't exactly be the best place to hit America where it hurts (pun not necessarily intended)... unless they're trying to terrorize us into not riding bicycles...
(08-29) 20:13 PDT SAN FRANCISCO --A day of hit-and-run horror that started with the death of a Fremont pedestrian and culminated in a half-hour of chaos on the streets of San Francisco ended in the arrest of a 29-year-old driver described by some relatives as mentally disturbed, but by police as apparently rational and unrepentant.

At least 14 people were hospitalized Tuesday in San Francisco after the driver of a black 2004 Honda Pilot cut a path of destruction from the Tenderloin to Laurel Heights, striking pedestrians and a bicyclist in 13 locations starting about 12:45 p.m.

Most of the injured were run down along a corridor of roughly 15 blocks starting on the west end of Pacific Heights. Witnesses said the driver sped up one street and down another, sometimes the wrong way, picking off people in crosswalks and on sidewalks. At least one victim was in critical condition Tuesday night; several others were treated and released.


Police identified the SUV driver as Omeed Aziz Popal, 29, who had just gotten married in his native Afghanistan, was living with his parents in Fremont and had nothing on his criminal record. He was in custody Tuesday evening but had not yet been booked.


A source close to the investigation in San Francisco, however, said Popal showed no signs of mental illness or remorse in his initial interviews with authorities. Popal reportedly told police that he had run down pedestrians "because he just wanted to."

Witnesses in San Francisco described the same unreal, terrifying scene again and again: A black SUV whose driver would chase walkers and bicyclists up the street and across lawns and slammed on the accelerator to pick off his victims.

Full story.
I'll be interested to see what they find at his house.

Gregory says, "Yom Huledet Sameach, Squad!"

Today is the Gregorian birthday of our very own G-d Squad, ingenius creator of the JewniProj. I know the Hebrew birthday is the one that really counts, so I tried to look it up on I don't know if Squad was a pm or an am birth, however, so those results are inconclusive.

So for now, Happy 23rd! Lots of mazel.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Holidays are Approaching

And this just in from Santa Cruz COEJL:
Dear Chevra,

"On the first day (of Sukkot), you will take for yourselves a fruit of a beautiful tree, palm branches, twigs of a braided tree and brook willows, and you will rejoice before Hashem your G-d for seven days."
-Leviticus 23:40

Our sages teach that the four species are: the citron (etrog), the palm branch (lulav), three myrtle branches (hadassim), and two willow branches (aravot). The six branches are bound together and referred to collectively as the lulav (because the palm branch is the largest part). The etrog is held separately. With these four species in hand, every day during sukkot, we recite the blessing on the lulav and wave the species in all six directions (east, south, west, north, up and down), symbolizing that Hashem is everywhere.

Once again, I’m able to provide high quality lulav/etrog sets to our community at wholesale prices. The etrogim, from Israel, come in 3 price ranges, all certified kosher (under supervision of the Badatz). You pay what I pay; the profit comes in spreading the mitzvah. Here are the prices of the sets:

Regular - $27.50
Prime - $31.50
Deluxe - $35.50

As Sukkot is quickly approaching (starting Friday night, October 6), now is the time to order your Lulavim and Etrogim. Please reply to me at now if possible, but no later than 9/17. Be sure to specify whether you want Regular, Prime or Deluxe.

Interesting thoughts on the lulav: Why are these four plants used instead of other plants? There are two primary explanations of the symbolic significance of these plants: that they represent different parts of the body, or that they represent different kinds of Jews.

According to the first interpretation, the long straight palm branch represents the spine. The myrtle leaf, which is a small oval, represents the eye. The willow leaf, a long oval, represents the mouth, and the etrog fruit represents the heart. All of these parts have the potential to be used for good or evil, but when joined together, they remind us of their greatest potential for the performance of mitzvot.

According to the second interpretation, the etrog, which has both a pleasing taste and a pleasing scent, represents Jews who have achieved both knowledge of Torah and performance of mitzvot. The palm branch, which produces tasty fruit, but has no scent, represents Jews who have knowledge of Torah but are lacking in mitzvot. The myrtle leaf, which has a strong scent but no taste, represents Jews who perform mitzvot but have little knowledge of Torah. The willow, which has neither taste nor scent, represents Jews who have now knowledge of Torah and do not perform the mitzvot. We bring all four of these species together on Sukkot to remind us that every one of these four kinds of Jews is important, and that we must all be united.

Chodesh Tov,


חיים לייב Howie
I can't believe it's almost Tishrei already.

StandWithUs Comes to Santa Cruz

The listservs have been active lately. Here's one piece of news:
Hello Everyone,

I'm pleased to announce that Santa Cruz now has a chapter of StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy organization that will help us fight the anti-Israelism prevalent in our community and make sure Israel's side of the story is told. We will keep you informed of local events involving Israel, including speakers which we plan to bring to our community and to the UCSC campus. If you know people who support Israel and would also like to be invited to local events and kept informed, please have them email

We have shown that we can come together as a community when, earlier this summer, we published an advertisement for humanitarian aid to Israel in both the "Good Times" and the "Santa Cruz Sentinel", and at our rally downtown when seventy people came to demonstrate their support for Israel. Let us continue to stand with Israel throughout these difficult times.

Please visit to learn more about the organization, and email with any questions regarding our Santa Cruz chapter. MORE SOON!!

Thank you,

Gil Stein
StandWithUs,Santa Cruz
Hatzlacha rabah.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Santa Cruz Supports Israel, Despite Women in Black and Other Malcontents

Guest posting by Zach Miller, a UCSC student and Israel activist

In case you didn't know, on August 4 there was a pro-Israel demonstration in downtown Santa Cruz.

Actually, it was a counter-demonstration in response to an anti-Israel protest across the street from the clock tower. Both demonstrations were at the same time and nearly the same place. In front of the post office downtown was a small group of Israel-haters and anti-Americans. Directly across the street from them, by the clock tower, were around 70 Israel supporters, mostly Jews but an impressive number of gentiles. We had Israeli and American flags, dozens of large signs, and a lot of spirit.

a young woman stuck her ugly head out of a car and yelled, "No they don't!"
The turnout really amazed me - I had been expecting a few older Jews, but instead there were many children, teenagers and some (but not enough...) college students. In fact, there were so many people coming to our side that I had to quickly draw a bunch of Israeli flags and signs on notebook paper. Cars passing by honked and yelled, but it was hard to tell which demonstration they supported.

At one point, I was holding a sign which read "The Jewish State Has The Right To Defend Its People," and a young woman stuck her ugly head out of a car and yelled, "No they don't!". But overall, I was impressed by how many people driving buy gave us thumbs-up in approval. The demonstration only lasted an hour, but I think its impact on both the Jewish community and the city at large will last a lot longer.

Monday, August 21, 2006

LiveJournal feed for the JewniProj

Good news for all those slugs on LiveJournal, there is now a syndicated feed for the JewniProj!

Just go to and add it to your LJ friends list!

Thank you, and good luck!

ps. I recommend someone plug the JewniProj in either or, two popular UCSC communities on LiveJournal. We might be able to increase the readership of this blog now that there is a LJ feed.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fucking Jew

To give my wife some freedom to finish cooking for Shabbos, I took my two year old daughter to the local playground, located in a park less than a block from where I live. As my daughter joyfully headed for the slides, I noticed a group of eight or so teens, two or three girls and the rest boys, on average about 16 or 17 years old, gathered by the park clubhouse. There was nothing remarkable about them, as they stood there chatting and sharing cigarettes. They were dressed in sneakers, baggy jeans, sports team t-shirts, and hoodies, emulating the last “urban” fashions. I paid little attention to them as I watched my daughter trying to walk up the slide, enjoying the last hours of daylight before the beginning of the seventh day. Suddenly I heard one of the male teens say “He’s a fucking Jew!” while pointing at me. He seemed to have said it loud enough for me to hear intentionally. I heard some of the teens giggle.

I wouldn’t say that his statement was born from some brilliant flash of mental deduction. I was dressed in a white shirt, black pants, and black kippah. My tallit katan and its tzitzis flowed freely in the light breeze, as did my untrimmed beard. I would have been one of the unremarkable many, had I been at a playground in Tsfas or Meah Sharim, yet here I stood out, and stood out as a Jew. However, surprisingly, this isn’t obvious to many. I often have people mistake me for Amish, in which case I am often greeted with big smiles, or as Muslim (perhaps based on the beard), in which case I am usually ignored. In all fairness, people are often pleasantly surprised to see a traditional Jew in the middle of California. But “fucking Jew”?

I looked at him and the rest of the group for a few moments. Most of them averted their eyes, although he glared back. Studying the group, I noticed one of the young girls. She was my neighbor’s daughter. I am not close with my neighbors, I don’t even know their names, but the daughter had usually been friendly towards us, giving us a short “hello”, and an occasional smile when she saw us in front of the house. And here she was, not saying anything to the young man about his outburst, just blending in with the rest.

I turned away from the group, not wishing to spoil my daughter’s fun. I followed her as she ran to another section of the playground, oblivious to what had taken place. While I physically left the group of teens behind me, they stayed with me mentally. “Fucking Jew”? To an MTV generation that has been spoon-fed cultural sensitivity and understanding, and brought up singing multi-lingual versions of “Kumbayah”, I am just a fucking Jew? When the bearded, black hatted image of Matisyahu dancing to a groove flashes on their screens, do they even make the connection? When my neighbor smiles and says hello, is she really just thinking “fucking Jew”? I teach an English class, with students ranging from teens to people in their 50’s. I enjoy interacting with my students, who are from the same socioeconomic and cultural group as the teens in the park. We have a good time in class, filling it with fun and laughter. Yet now I wonder. When class is over, am I just a fucking Jew? When I have to give someone a D or even an F, do they take a moment to think about their performance, or do they just blame the fucking Jew?

My daughter and I return home to a home filled with the delightful smells of Shabbos. I shower, washing off the spirit the mundane, and dress in my Shabbos clothes. Candles are lit, angels are greeted and sent away, praises are sung to my wife and the Shechina. Testimony proclaiming that G-d created the world in six days, completed it in seven, and took the Jews out of Egypt is given over a cup of wine. As I savor the Shabbos meal, I ponder the events of the day, looking forward to the day were all will be Shabbos. A day where we no longer will be just fucking Jews.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Summer Beach Barbecue This Weekend

News for Jews:
Two rabbinical students from Brooklyn land on a beach in S. Cruz…

This is not a joke; this is an invitation to a wild Brooklyn Style Beach Barbecue!

Chabad by the Sea Young Adults Division and the Chabad Student Center are inviting Jewish students and young adults for a summer outing at Seabright beach.

The event will be hosted and entertained by two dynamic young student Rabbis visiting the Monterey Bay area from Brooklyn.

Cancel all previous plans – this is something you don’t want to miss. Bring your friends.
They didn't mention a time... I'll try to update it when I find out. Shabbat shalom.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Webbe rebbes...

Shalom Everyone,

The secret life of Rakdannit427 in the Big (organic) Apple... Well if there is any interest on that I will report more later. But first:

I will be writing an article on "ask the rabbi" web sites. Of course, some of you might be thinking - old news! This isn't a breaking story, but a somewhat comprehensive assessment of how these sites are effecting Jews (esp. the young and unaffiliated) in the ten years or so since they've existed.

If you have used an "ask the rabbi" site and would like to be interviewed for a JTA ( article please write back to: reporter at jta dot org or call (212) 643-1890 ext. 219 or call my cell if you have that. The sooner you call, the better since I will (hopefully) be finishing the article by Sunday night (Sunday is a work day for me).

(What an exorbitant usage of parentheses for someone who is so opposed to them otherwise.)



!שלום מירושלים


Entering my second week of life in the Holy City, I thought that I should take the time to sit down and let everyone in on some of the details of my trip so far, especially in light of the particularly important events that recently transpired in Israel.

I came to Jerusalem to learn. To learn Hebrew in Ulpan, to learn more about Israeli and Jewish history at Hebrew University and to learn Torah at a Yeshiva. So far, I have only been learning Hebrew in Ulpan, but the other two aren't very far away. Ulpan is nice; in only a week and a half my Hebrew has improved immensely. I now feel like I can hold a semi-normal conversation with an Israeli, as long as they speak s-l-o-w-l-y.

Whether or not to come to Israel was a very difficult decision for me to make when the country was in the midst of a war. If it was up to my parents, they probably wouldn't have allowed me to go, but alas it was a risk that only I was taking and a decision that only I could make. Actually, I was very close to canceling my entire trip because of all the discouragement I was hearing: from my co-workers, from my family and from my friends. Nevertheless, deep down I knew that I needed to make this journey to the country which so much of my family calls home. Also, the fact that my flight was coincidentally scheduled to leave on my Jewish birthday seemed like less of a coincidence to me than symbolic of a kind of personal rebirth.

So I decided to make the trek, and I am so glad I did. Jerusalem really is one of the most beautiful and most diverse cities in the world. Just in my Ulpan class, there is a person from Italy, one from England, one from France, one from Puerto Rico, one from Poland, two from Japan (they are having somewhat of a hard time with the language), several from America, and five Arabs (four Muslims and one Christian and all from Jerusalem). Now this is where it gets interesting. The Arabs, for some reason, have taken a real liking for me. We joke around together every day and they try to teach me words in Arabic, then they say something that I don't understand and all start laughing, and then I don't feel so comfortable. It's a very funny and unexpected relationship that has developed between us, one of them even said Shabbat Shalom to me after class today, but one that I really don't feel will go much farther than chatting during breaks. I don't think I want to get any deeper into the subject in such a public place though.

I have also become somewhat close with the two Japanese students in the class. They both know very little Hebrew and very little about Judaism, but I find myself having fun explaining things to them. I played some Hebrew music for one of them (Takeshi), and showed him where in the Siddur the lyrics came from. He was so interested in everything and was amazed when I told him about the Berachot that one says before eating different foods.

Interestingly enough, I also met up with Santa Cruz's own Ze'ev Hoffman here in Jerusalem, and he even stayed at my apartment for a couple nights. Me, Ze'ev, a bochur from Santa Cruz (a Russian one) who is studying at yeshiva, and another yeshiva bochur from Germany all wandered through the streets of the Old City in the middle of the night and ended up at the Kotel at about 2:00 am. It was filled with people even at that time, and I davened Ma'ariv there before the beautifully shining and glowing Wall in awe and disbelief that I was there. It was my favorite night.

I also have to reserve ample time to visit all of my family here. My Aunt Gracia came to Israel from Morocco about forty years ago with six kids, and then gave birth to seven more after moving. That's right, that makes 13 children, which in turn makes about 50 grandchildren, and now 5 great grandchildren. I also have family members from two other uncles here, so I actually don't know if I will even be able to see them all, but G-d willing I will. They are such amazing people and I really look forward to seeing them.

Well, all things must come to an end, and that includes this post, but hopefully not my stay in Israel. I hope people make comments on some of my remarks so I can respond to them when I am able to. I know I will be seeing a few of you here in a very short time, so thank G-d for that. בהצלחה ולהיתרות


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Shavua Tov!

And here's a little present to start your week.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Matisyahu is coming to the Bay Area, again

That's right, Matisyahu is coming back on September 9th and 10th, to San Jose and Berkeley, respectively. Tickets are currently $40 online (plus tax, which probably comes to over $50).

And, our homies over at Oy Bay! informed me that the Silicon Valley Young Adults Division is organizing a whole thing for Jewish young adults for the San Jose show, so if you want the opportunity to meet other 21 to 40 year old Bay Area Yidden, here's a great opportunity! (They're selling tickets for $50.)

If you're interested in attending either show, please either leave comments or call me so we can think about carpooling.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Online Revolution Continues

Well, ok, this isn't so much part of the revolution, but it's still hecka cool. The UCSC Chabad Student Center's website just got a major face-lift, and now features a more user-friendly interface and cool flash effects, and there is now a link to the ever-popular CSC year-end video.

Of course, the site still provides myriad links to a wellspring of Jewish articles and essays, and still has a nice photo section with pictures from past CSC events.

If you check out the Summer Schedule, you'll see that the Cheins will be hosting a fabulous Friday night Shabbat dinner this week for all the sluggies who are still in town, which, if you don't already have plans for Shabbat, is highly recommended.

Friday, August 04, 2006

If You Think Hitler Was a Good Leader, Maybe You Deserve Hate Mail

Here is a young woman whose Youtube username is "MissHitler," and in her second video blog (she deleted the first one, presumably for the ethnically offensive content) she expresses her support for Hitler, not because of what he "did to all those people," but because "he was a good leader, and stuff. Yeah." And, a little off-topic, but notice her thick accent.

UPDATE: Sweet, the Hitler supporter herself commented on the post:
Lookie here.
I'm up there.
Actually, Hitler helped Germany in many ways after the great depression.
I have nothing against jews.
But yeah.
And I myself deleted my first video.
:] I havent said anything offensive
Just to get that out on the table.
Take care.

[And,ftw I'm a twit?]

Thursday, August 03, 2006

In Santa Cruz??

For those interested in Israel Rally events, I just received this email:
There will be a pro-Israel demonstration (sponsored by Stand With Us) in downtown Santa Cruz on Friday 8/4 5:00 - 6:00 pm in response to a "Shame on Israel" rally being organized. Rick Zinman (Hillel's Executive Director) will be there and is willing to give any interested students a ride. Rick can be reached at or at 831-426-3332, ext 13.

This is an opportunity to show the local community that there are people who love Israel and this is also an opportunity to see what the anti-Israel community is up to.


Break your fast with the Grossmans

There will be a 7:30 PM Tisha B'Av Mincha service on West Cliff Drive. Bring your tefillin. Mincha will be followed with a discussion of How To Combat Baseless Hatred, the Root Cause of the Destruction of the Holy Temple on Tisha B'Av nearly 2000 years ago.

We will daven Maariv right afterwards and then enjoy a timely break-fast.

Call (562) 234-2666 for directions.

All are invited.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Putting Hezbollah in Their Place

An excellent report from inside Israel, from our own UCSC bochur:
I just wanted to clarify-Beit Shemesh is by far not the only place that's had to take in an influx of Jews from Haifa and the northern regions of Israel. Just last Shabbos I happened to be in Kfar Chabad (ironically enough-couldn't get to where I was originally planning to go and it was convenient and near the airport) and there they had taken in many Hassidim from Sfat as well as a whole camp or two of kids from there. The place was packed and I was lucky there was an 'away weekend' at the Baal Tshuvah Yeshiva there so I was able to stay for Shabbos in the dorms.

This further demonstrates the vast differences from both sides that you don't usually hear from most news sources. While Lebanese civilians in many southern towns are 1. being sent leaflets and other news messages by Israel urging them to leave places 2. reportedly being blockaded into some places by Hezbollah and unable to leave 3. (in some cases) intentionally assisting the Hezbollah, and 4. are incontrovertibly being used as human shields for Hezbollah and its good PR cause, most Israeli civilians in the north are either getting the hell out of danger zones or fleeing regularly to bomb shelters. So when one simply reads death counts on both sides of the conflict it's not well representative of what's really going on and definitely doesn't do justice to the real situation.

It should be clear to anyone of any common sense who actually looks into the situation (except maybe a true pacifist who will have a philosophical problem regardless of ethics-these type are, in reality, almost virtually nonexistent) that every bit of collateral and civilian casualties on both sides is the doing of Hezbollah and Hezbollah alone. Israel is simply doing what it has to do in response to a radical imperialist Islamic group that has preemptively waged war on it.

by the way have an easy fast for Tisha Baav,