Mad Russian, Where art thou?

Has anyone heard from or seen Abe?

Does anyone think he looks a bit like Ricky Hatton?

Does anyone want to watch the fight with me this Motsaei Shabbos?


Orthopraxy, Yom Tov Sheni Style

While spending the last days of Pesach at a hotel by the Dead Sea, I had a very interesting experience:

The hotel was packed, mostly with Israeli Jews. Consequently, the number of people keeping the second day of Yom Tov was quite small, considering many American Jews at the hotel were only keeping one day.

On leil Shmini shel Pesach, the diaspora Jews keeping the 8th day gathered with the hotel manager to discuss what time shacharis would be the following day. A number of heimishe Jews - full of righteous frumkeit, hats and the whole shibang - expressed a very strong desire to daven at a later hour - no earlier than 8:30! - but also wanted to be able to make it to the hotel's breakfast after davening, for kiddush.

The problem was, breakfast at the hotel was scheduled to officially end at 10am (since, for most guests, it was a regular weekday). When the manager told these guests that they would have to daven early if they wanted to make it to breakfast (or eat before davening), things got ugly. Some of the heimishe guests threatened to never return to the hotel. Others expressed horror at the thought of eating before davening. The hotel manager's conciliatory offer of a table of cake and coffee was summarily rejected. These Jews demanded a serious, kosher l'pesach hotel breakfast - nothing less!

In the end, we davened at 8:15am, and finished all of yom tov davening in under an hour and a half (!!!), so these yidden had no problem making it to breakfast. Baruch Hashem, everyone got their hot, chocolate covered macaroons.

And then something funny happened. At about 11am that morning, I saw this very same crew of Jews heading straight for the coed pool, in bathing suits.


Banana Republic, take 2

It seems Gilad Erdan, Israel's Environmental Protection Minister, has been reading the RRRR blog. I met this Jew when he came to Teaneck for Shabbos last winter - he certainly seemed to have his heart in the right place.

"Israel does not take orders from [US President Barack] Obama," Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said on Monday, responding to an earlier statement by the US president in which he reaffirmed his administration's commitment to all previous understandings between Israel and the Palestinians, including the process launched at Annapolis in 2007.

Erdan, who is also in charge of coordinating between the Knesset and the cabinet, also praised Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who only last week said that Israel was not bound by the Annapolis talks.

"Let me be clear," Obama had said, "the United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of good will around the world. That is a goal that the parties agreed to in the road map and at Annapolis. And that is a goal that I will actively pursue as president."

"In voting for [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu the citizens of Israel have decided that they will not become the US's fifty first state," said Erdan, who was representing the coalition in a Knesset deliberation of Lieberman's controversial statements. He added, however, that "Obama is a friend of Israel and the United States is an important ally and everything between us will be the result of communication."


The Struggle of Our Generation

“…[A]lmost anyone who is seriously involved in any church will recognize that churchgoing is not synonymous with personal spirituality… Having participated throughout my life in organized church and community service groups, I have found that attending church does not necessarily mean living the principles taught in those meetings. You can be active in church but inactive in its gospel.

In the church-centered life, image or appearance can become a person’s dominant consideration, leading to hypocrisy that undermines personal security and intrinsic worth.

Nor can the church give a person a constant sense of guidance. Church-centered people often tend to live in compartments, acting and thinking and feeling in certain ways on the Sabbath and in totally different ways on weekdays…"

From Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People