Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A reasoned explanation for the "burkini ban"

Paul Berman explains on Tablet Magazine here.

My standing-on-one-foot version is that the French, because of their history, are very concerned about religious coercion--they're concerned that they'll be pressured into following Islamic practice just as they were formerly forced, on pain of death, to follow Catholic practice.

Americans have a completely different perspective--since both freedom of religion and the separation of "church" and state are enshrined in U.S. law, I think that many Americans tend to consider religion-influenced clothing choice a freedom-of-religion issue, rather than a freedom-from-religion issue. I'd be curious to know where Israelis (especially Sabras [native-born Israelis]) and other non-American Jews stand on this.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

How did everyone fail to see Trump's campaign coming?

How to report on a political campaign, and why such reporting hasn't happened, explained by Paul Berman in Tablet Magazine:

"You attend political rallies, where you can talk to people in groups. You hang out in neighborhoods where people enjoy talking politics. You allow your chats to wander aimlessly. You strike up friendships. You learn to distinguish eccentric people from typical people. And you come away with a pretty good idea of what ordinary people are thinking and doing. I am certain that any reasonably clever reporter who had spent enough time hanging out with Trump’s supporters would have learned that enormous numbers of those people were doing something more than wearing hats. In America, people boast about their dollar contributions.

I conclude that no one, or hardly anyone, has been reporting on Trump’s campaign in that fashion. Now, why not? Every journalist knows the answer. Reporters have not been reporting because, in the United States, the newspaper industry has largely collapsed. A huge number of newspapers no longer exist. Even at the biggest and most prestigious of the surviving papers, the staffs have changed such that in place of the seasoned old hands, the reporting is being done by young people who once would have been considered “stringers.” [*] And even the stringers are overworked—pressed to turn in stories on a basis of insufficient reporting."


I recommend that you read the entire article.


Friday, August 19, 2016

An alarming lesson from Louisiana:

Every zone is a flood zone.

That includes places where there's never been a flood.  That's why we called our insurance agent this week and asked to have flood coverage added to our policy.

On a related subject, here's a cautionary tale from California--every zone is a fire zone.  You might want to check your insurance policy to make sure you're covered for fire damage.

Global climate change isn't coming--it's already here.  :(

Pray and pay--the good folks of the U.S. Gulf Coast could use some financial, and other, assistance.  Unfortunately, Noah's Ark is no longer available, so we humans will have to provide the help.  Contribute what you can.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Shabbat "picnic"

It's 96 degrees Fahrenheit (35.55 degrees Celsius) in New York City.  Instead of setting a timer for the hot tray, we're going to unplug it right before we light Shabbat/Sabbath candles, and eat our Shabbat dinner at whatever temperature it is after we've made kiddush and motzi.  Otherwise, the heat from the kitchen will be unbearable, even with the air conditioners going full blast.  And who needs to be hot just 24 hours before a 25-hour fast?  Besides, we were planning on eating a cold Seudah Shlishit anyway.

See When Tisha B'Av falls on Shabbat--yes, the fast gets moved to Sunday.

Have an easy fast.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Re-post: Pre-Nine-Days prep (slightly belated)

Sorry I didn't think to link to this post last Sunday--I've been way too busy in the office this week to sneak in any blogging time.

Since I'm posting the link too late for anyone to "pre-wear" their clothes for a few minutes before the beginning (today) of the Nine Days (so as to avoid wearing clean clothes), I'm copying a tip from former blogger Elie:

7) Clothing: Similarly, I do change my shirts every day, but place the new shirt on the ground for a few minutes first so it isn't totally "fresh".

Monday, August 01, 2016

If you haven't already heard Khizr Khan's speech, it's a must

Quick dikduk/Hebrew grammar question by baalat tefillah

[Or is this a question regarding Aramaic grammar?]

First, an explanation:  The Orthodox siddur/prayer book says one thing, the Conservative another in the Birkot HaShachar/Morning Blessings.

The Orthodox phrase three of the blessings this way:
Praised are You
~ who did not make me a non-Jew
~ who did not make a slave
~ who did not make me a woman/who made me according to His will

The Conservative siddur (and some other non-Orthodox siddurim) phrase those three blessings this way:
Praised are You
~ who made me in His image
~ who made me a free person
~ who made me a Jew

My problem, when I'm a shlichah tzibbur (representative of the congregation)/baalat tefillah (prayer leader) is with the Hebrew (Aramaic?) in the non-Orthodox version of the second b'rachah/blessing:  What am I supposed to do with "ben chorin?"  Theoretically, it means a free person.  But the literal meaning of "ben" is "son."  I'm no one's son.  But if I change the b'rachah to "bat chorin," ("bat" meaning "daughter"), I exclude the males of my congregation.

What's with this "ben chorin" business, anyway?  It also shows up in the Haggadah, and I have the same problem with it there, too.  Can't one say simply "chorin?"
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