Aug 24, 2016

more observations from the USA (Chicago day 3)

more observations from the USA (Chicago):
* the Jewish community has grown tremendously. I can tell based on the tremendous increase in the number of shuls and kosher restaurants from when I grew up here.
* the parks have water fountains. and [at least some of them] work!
* I have no idea if the mayor is any good or not, but the streets are clean and it looks like at least the basics are done very well. A tree branch fell yesterday in front of the house. They called the city and within half an hour a truck was here to chop it up and remove it.
* no cars stopped on the side of the highway. not for davening mincha and not for bathroom breaks
* ran a recommended route today and saw a few runners and walkers, and a lot of bikers. the long red lights though can really kill your pace and rhythm.
* drove out of the city for some activities today. so many lakes. so much water.
* I left the Middle East and got a suntan in Chicago
* in Israel I am basically a news junkie Since I have been in the USA I have hardly checked the news at all. I have no idea what is going on, and dont really care. The little bit of news I have heard is all about Trump and Clinton

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Aug 22, 2016

more observations from the USA (Chicago)


more observations from the USA (Chicago):
* I don't see runners anywhere. In Israel no matter where I go (running or driving) I see runners and bikers. I did see a few people that looked like they were biking to work.
* in the 2 shuls I have been to so far, I have yet to see anybody pull out a cellphone to check their messages. I stopped myself from doing so thinking that the Israeli shouldn't do it if the locals aren't. I don't know that it added to my kavana at all, but that is what happened.
* walking briefly through a supermarket - food is cheap and plentiful (in quantity, quality and variety and package sizing)
* I think the above also sheds some light, in my mind, on why America suffers from an obesity problem.
* the topography is so flat. and so much grass.
* squirrels
* i find myself thinking of distance in miles again rather than kilometers

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Aug 21, 2016

Initial observations from the USA

Initial observations from the USA :
* the drinks are so big - cups,  bottles,  everything. 
* there is so much water in the toilet tank.  Floaters can only be an American thing.
* nobody uses soap anymore.  Now everyone uses body wash and body foam and whatever else they call it. 

Aug 19, 2016

Blogcation

this blog will be going on vacation starting Sunday morning for about 10 days. There might be the occasional post, but definitely nothing on any sort of regular schedule.


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Aug 18, 2016

Interesting Psak: bracha on Olympic athletes

Rav Eliezer Melamed has issued an interesting psak when questioned about the appropriateness in saying a bracha upon seeing an Olympic athlete, specifically one who won a medal. The bvracha would be the bracha one makes on seeing someone unusually beautiful, unsually successful and unusually strong - the bracha of "shekacha lo baolamo".

Rav Melamed responded that one should make the bracha and the purpose of this bracha is to remind us not idolize these people but we should remember that their special gifts and talents are from God. Rav Melamed says that one would have to actually see the athlete in person, rather than seeing a picture or video of the athlete, and one did not necessarily have to see the actual competition to make the bracha.

Rav Melamed added that one would not make the bracha for seeing just any Olympian athlete, but only for seeing one that actually won a gold medal - the real champions. Whiule that would mean Israelis would not make a bracha upon seeing Yarden Gerbi or Ori Sasson, Rav Melamed added that in each country one could make the bracha on his country's local champions.

Making the bracha on a female athlete would have to be done when she is appropriately dressed, meaning it is unlikely to be able to make it while she is competing, but more likely after the fact.

source: Walla News


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Legalizing professional sports on Shabbos

Minister of Economics Chaim Katz has decided that he is going to find a way to make it legal for professional sports to be played on Shabbos.

Until now, since the foundation of the State, it has technically been illegal to play on Shabbos. The Minister of Commerce and Trade has been able to give a temporary exemption, or pass, and the issue was basically ignored by all willing parties.
source: One Sport

Katz is making a dramatic statement with this, as it means the State of Israel will legalize chilul shabbos. the change in practice is not great, as it has been happening until now anyway, but at a social level it is a statement that many will find hard to swallow.

Personally i am less bothered by his coming attempt to legalize it. The fact that it has happened for the past 70 years makes this change one in semantics alone and therefore not that important to me. Semantics are for the politicians. the reality is that it has been happening and this is not a practical change of facts on the ground.

Behadrei also calls it the breaking of the status quo, which is also an argument I am less than impressed with. For the same reason - it might have been illegal, but for the past nearly 70 years the leagues have all played on Shabbos. The change in status quo is on paper alone. Facts on the ground will not have changed on iota.

What bothers me more, or surprises me more, is that recently there has been a trend to try to accommodate religious and traditional athletes, with teams moving games to weekdays from Shabbos. Ministers in recent years have spoken about the need to move games when possible, to be more inclusive of the religious and traditional communities, of fans and athletes alike. It seemed, to me at least, that we were heading on the path of the leagues moving away from Shabbos, and suddenly we are seeing an act that will likely solidify the league's hold on Shabbos for years to come.



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The Hassidic-designed bikini

About a year ago I posted about some frum women who had founded a company making modest swimwear for women. Frumqinis, as some might call them.

They made major press with interviews in the Wall Street Journal and Fox News and other major media. Some called it a kiddush hashem, and perhaps it was.

Today the media outlets (or at least one) is writing about some frum men who have started a unique swimwear company for women that makes regularly bikinis but more stylish with whimsical fringes in a variety of styles that snap on and off. (link to article is posted here with warning of not-tzanua images in article).

Excerpt:
Barry Glick is not your average bikini designer.
For starters, he has zero experience designing swimwear — or designing any wear for that matter. He’s not particularly involved in fashion either. Oh, he also is a Hasidic Jew living in Brooklyn.
None of this seemed to deter the 30-year-old father of five from starting a bikini company, Beach Gal, a year and a half ago.
"It isn’t a culture shock to me, I see it solely as a business opportunity and as a way to express my creativity," Glick says one recent summer afternoon. We’re sitting in his office in the Hasidic neighborhood of Boro Park. The newly renovated space is inside an inconspicuous concrete building, and is situated across the street from a funeral home wailing eulogies over an outdoor loudspeaker in Yiddish, and down the block from a plethora of kosher grocery stores and bakeries. It also doubles as home to the medical supply business of Saul Samet, Glick’s partner and investor, who is sitting with us as well.
[...]
Glick is tall and thin, and sports all the accoutrements of being Hasidic, with a big black yarmulke, long, curly sidelocks, and a bushy beard. Samet’s look is less obvious; he’s shorter, built, and has a clean, short beard and trimmed sidelocks. The duo hardly seems fit to be in the swimsuit market. But the story of how Glick and Samet are successfully building a swimsuit company from scratch — battling through all the complications of creating a business, only to be hit with more obstacles on the product end, like dealing with fabrics, sourcing, branding, and distributing — is as much about the power of the internet as it is about two Jewish guys from Brooklyn who believe so much in an idea that they’re willing to tiptoe around some of the rules that define their strict, religious lifestyle in order to pursue it.
That idea is a bikini, with a whimsical fringe that snaps on and off. Each Beach Gal bikini comes with an accessory, including bands of seashells, beads, sequins, and ruffles that attach to the top and bottom. The suits come in five colors and sell for $150 on the site (but are half off on Amazon right now, just FYI). They look like the sort of thing that would be trendy in places with a strong beach culture, like in Miami, or pretty much anywhere in the Caribbean.
[...]
"The Hasidic community is very tight-knit, and there’s a lot of business that gets done at synagogue because you meet each other three times a day," Glick explains.
Of course, the business proposals never went over too well: "It was pretty hard in the beginning. I would shop the idea around and say, ‘I wanted to speak to you about a business idea,’ and everyone would say, ‘Okay, what is it?’ and I would say ‘Bikinis!’ and they would go, ‘Huh?!’"
[...]
As with so many situations in life, sometimes it’s not just about what you know as it is about who you know. In a sheer spout of luck, Samet’s brother had a connection to Cyn & Luca, a swimwear brand found in stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. They were introduced to Cynthia Riccardi, the brand’s designer who’d worked for companies like Adrienne Vittadini and Liz Claiborne. She helped Glick perfect his swimsuit silhouette and interchangeable accessories. After her company was bought out last year, she agreed to share her sources for high quality production in South America.
From there, Beach Gal was officially born. A first batch of merchandise was created, Glick and Samet built a website, and photographers and models were hired out in Miami for a look book. Product was also listed on Amazon and Zulily at a discounted price (roughly 50 percent off). So far, the feedback has been positive, and Beach Gal has sold nearly all of the 2,500 pieces from its first collection.
Of course, being Hasidic and in the swimwear business is difficult. Last year, when the duo attended Miami Swim Week with the Cyn & Luca team, Glick — with his beard and sidelocks — was quite the spectacle. During a photoshoot a few months ago, a makeup artist working with the Beach Gal team took a photo of Glick helping a model with a swimsuit and leaked it to Instagram without fully explaining the scenario, leaving her followers to assume the scenario was scandalous. Overall, Glick and Samet are apprehensive people will get the wrong idea about them — the reason they requested Racked not take any photos of them.
On the other hand, though, why not? From Christian retailers to clothing boasting sadness to questionable tea products, internet shopping is peak eccentric. Today, truly anything is possible when it comes to people starting e-commerce businesses, and so trendy bikinis designed by people who put their fear in a power higher than Anna Wintour can certainly fit right in.
Glick and Samet maintain there is technically nothing wrong with what they are doing. While Hasidic lifestyle ascribes to that of seclusion and modesty — and not working with, or around, scantily clad women — the guys say they treat their jobs with respect, and are careful to not cross any boundaries or break any rules, like touching other women, for example. Is it uncharacteristic of Hasidic men to be designing bikinis and working in swimwear? Sure. Can they carry on with their business without violating Jewish laws? Certainly.
"I don’t look at it as a bad thing. It’s a piece of clothing and just because no one in our community [wears] it doesn’t mean we can’t bring something fun and funky to it," Glick says.
kiddush hashem? chilul hashem? I have no idea. I think these terms get thrown around a bit too loosely. I am not sure this is either. I wish them well and great success, and am happy they have found a way to express their creativity and turn it into a business.




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'I'm here to tell the world the truth' (video)

'I'm here to tell the world the truth' Fox News journalists visit Israel in effort to get to the 'ground truth' of the reality as it really is, not as presented in the media. Fox News contributors and hosts are visiting Israel in a trip organized by Dr. Joe Frager. The purpose of the visit is for the journalists to get a genuine picture of Israel through guided tours.





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Israeli President Honors NBN's 50,000th Immigrant (video)





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Amnon Levi expose on Yavniel's Breslav community Part 2 (video)

this is part 2 of Amnon Levi's expose on the Breslav community of Yavniel.. (part 1 can be found here)

such crazy drama!






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Yehuda Greibes on coercion to not learn core curriculum (video)

so when will they ban his videos for saying this? though he mostly blames the Misrad Hachinuch for not providing support for the schools that do want to teach it and to encourage other people to open more such schools...





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street survey - what do you do during bein hazmanim? (video)







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"Vhaarev Na" Featuring Baruch Levine & Simcha Leiner (video)







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Aug 17, 2016

if it looks like a duck, if it sounds like a duck, it is ketchup

About a year ago Osem successfully got Heinz ketchup declared in Israel as "tomato dressing" rather than ketchup, due to some ancient regulation of how much tomato content must be in the mixture to legally use the word ketchup.

Heinz had to relabel all their bottles in Hebrew to say "metabel agvaniot" - tomato dressing - instead of saying ketchup, as the Heinz recipe for ketchup includes less than the mandated 10% tomato content.

Tomato Dressing no more! Heinz can now call their flagship product ketchup once again! #ketchuplivesmatter

Ministers Moshe Kachlon and Yaakov Litzman signed a new directive today canceling the requirement of 10% tomato content in ketchup to qualify for use of that name. The justification for the change is that the requirement was ancient and nowhere else is 10% required - not in Europe and not in the USA. Removing this requirement will help the competitive market, allow new companies to be imported and to be sold  with that name.
sources: Ynet and Globes

I wonder if Osem will drop the level of tomato content in their ketchup now that they no longer need to stick to the previously-required 10%, or if they will keep it and use it in their marketing in some way such as more tomato = better ketchup.

Thank you Israel, for declaring Heinz Ketchup as real ketchup.



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if only we could all get our taxes covered by the government

If only. If only.

Minister of Sport (and Culture) Miri Regev decided that the honor brought to Israel by our Olympians has been so great that they must be justly rewarded, at a level that was previously not part of the arrangement.

Regev wanted to cancel the tax on their prize monies in order to allow them to keep the entire purse and not share any of it with the government. Realizing that this would entail a lengthy process, and probably one that she could not be sure of its final outcome, she came up with a different plan.

Regev's new plan is to basically give double the prize money. Basically she is saying the government will cover their taxes. We owe them a debt of gratitude, presumably for the glory they brought upon us, and they shouldn't need to pay this tax.
source: Srugim

I don't know who deserves what. These athletes put in years and years of hard work and training, giving up a lot to compete at this level. They brought international glory and pride to the State of Israel. On the other hand, the State of Israel put its gravitas behind these athletes. The State of Israel invested its money and resources into these athletes. Both parties - the athletes and the State of Israel - went into this with a certain agreement and full knowledge of what would happen to the prize money -  some would go to the athletes and some to the State coffers.

It is a very nice gesture on behalf of the State, to forgo its portion of the prize money. If only, if only, the State would allow all of us to bask in our accomplishments and in the pride we each bring to the State with our accomplishments that turn Israel into an international powerhouse. If only, if only, the State would decide to cover the taxes of each and every one of us to show its gratitude for what we each do for the State - teachers, educators, medical professionals, members of the security forces, entrepreneurs, members of the startup nation, and the list goes on and on...






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the seller of the illness died

Baruch Dayan HaEmes.

Sadly, and it is being reported much sooner than expected, the fellow who recently sold his illness to a non-Jew for 600nis has passed away from his illness.

interestingly, Walla mentions that selling an illness is not anything new. They quote Rav Cholek, the head of Ezer Miziyon, who says he asked Rav Kanievsky about selling one's illness to a non-Jew as part of the sale of chametz on Pesach. The probem with that might be that when you buy your chametz back after Pesach you would also be buying back your illness. It seems Rav Kanievsky responded that you can buy your chametz back and have no intention of buying back the illness and have no worries..
source: Kooker, Walla, Srugim





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