Friday, July 29, 2005

Innovative Mediocrity

The Lions began camp today. I am excited about the upcoming season. They seem stacked offensively and capable defensively. Still, when I think about the Lions, one of a handful of teams never to play in a Super Bowl, I am reminded of their teams from the past.

Having watched the Lions for 25 years, I can say this. Like few other teams, they invent ways to lose. Like when you trail by five after scoring a touchdown with four minuts to play, and choose to kick the extra point instead of going for two. And then, on the ensuing drive, getting well within field goal range but well outside the end zone.

Watching the Lions means watching them blow double digit leads against Arizona, or having the ball in OT on the six yard line, and throwing an INT to LT who runs it back 100 yards for the win. It means winning the OT coin flip in Chicago, and taking the wind because you think your defense, which has just fallen apart in the closing minutes of the game to give up the tying score, should go back on the field and help the offense get good field position.

I means having your star Running Back, the player many consider to be the greatest running back to play the game, run for -1 yard in Green Bay in the playoffs. And it means beating Dallas on a Monday Night, or beating the unbeaten Falcons in a game they were supposed to lose.

Being a Lions fan means you know that they will give you hope, they will bring the team down the field and get in a position to win. And then getting kicked in the nuts. It is watching the Lions begin their season in Chicago, and score the go ahead touchdown with 1:21 left on the clock. And watching Soldier Field erupt in celebration 75 seconds later when Matt Suhey catches a game winning score.

Yes, the ref blew the coin flip against Pittsburgh, but wasn't that on Thanksgiving, the Lions special day?

It means watching as your coach prays on the sideline as your kicker lines up for a fieldgoal that will put the lions in the next round of the playoffs, and he misses a makeable FG.

It is about knowing history. How Tom Dempsey, a one-legged kicker playing on a team that would win exactly one game that season, won it with an NFL record 63-yarder against the Lions.

It is about remembering the Heisman Trophy winners, like Andre Ware and Chuck Long, who helped define first round QB busts long before Ryan Leaf was even a college player.

There was one day of glory, Eric Kramer's 384-yard performance against Dallas in the playoffs. Negated one week later by a 41-10 thrashing by the Redskins. Which was an improvement over the 45-0 drubbing Washington gave us in week 1 of that season.

Its about Barry Sanders retiring the night before training camp, ensuring another Lions season would be wasted.

And still, for sixteen sundays every winter, we watch. and we hope.

Friday Night Races - Part IX

Things started to change after David died. I missed him, and it surprised me. For the past four years, he had been one of my closest friends. For the past few months, we had been partners and roommates. In moments of weakness, or maybe moments of honesty, I felt bad for the way it ended between us. But I made a promise. A promise that was almost finished.

Three down. One to go.

I once asked a rebbi what God felt like when he killed the first born Egyptians. Was it power, control, dominance? My rebbi said it felt like nothing. To God, killing was the same as creating. God has no feelings.

But now I knew differently. Killing was God-like. It was all about power. When you choose to end someone’s life, and go through with it, it changes you. It makes you godly.

I didn’t know what I believed about god anymore. But I knew about Godlike power. I reveled in it. And feared it.

Three down, I thought. After today, it would be all over.

I felt a familiar rush go through me. The same rush I had when I switched Sruli’s medication at the hospital. The same rush I felt when I tampered with Chaim’s car. The same rush as setting up David and Vlady.

Today was payback day. Payback for eight years of torture. Of the four of them, Moshe was the worst offender. Every day, from fourth grade onward, he bullied me in his own unique way. Sometimes he would lock me in a locker. Sometimes he would lie about me and get me in trouble. Other times he would push me around and hit me.

Once, feeling particularly cruel, he rubbed my sandwich in mud, and forced me to eat it.

I had been waiting for this day ever since.

He had taken the most pleasure in torturing me. He was the ringleader of the four of them. And today he was going to die.

I looked across the room. Shanna was still there. There was no place else for her to go. Her parents weren’t talking to her, and her school had kicked her out after finding catching her sitting on a boys lap in a hotel lobby. She stayed after David disappeared. I thought about kicking her out, but I liked having another person around. I wasn’t sure what she did all day; I think she worked in a pizza shop or something. Some place where she didn’t need a work visa.

I never told her the truth about David. The police had been by in the weeks after he was killed, and asked questions. They searched his room, found some drug paraphernalia, and filed a report. I never heard anything from them again.

Moshe was still on a religious kick, but when I talked to him on the phone, I knew he was in pain, suffering from the loss of social network. He talked about how great he was feeling and doing, but when I told him David was involved in a drug deal gone bad and had to run away, I could hear the cracks in his voice.

We made plans to get together, and hike. To Har Arbel. Just the two of us. I convinced him that a day off would be good for him. Get some fresh air.

I picked him up in my car, and we drove north to past the Kinneret. We found a lot, and parked the car. We began to hike up the mountain.

Years of hard work to get myself into Moshe’s little clique were about to pay off. I started off by getting close to Sruli in ninth grade, and after he was dead, I worked my way into full group membership.

We reached the top, and looked out over the valley.

I lit a cigarette, and offered one to him. It was the least I could do. I stood up and started walking toward the edge of the cliff.

For our other three friends, I had set events in motion that would lead to their deaths. This one would be different. This one, I would have to be an active participant. No one else to do the dirty work.

“I’ve been thinking about what you said,” I began. “About that whole finding God and confession and feeling good about yourself. Is that stuff true?”

“Yeah,” he smiled, relaxing. He inhaled his cigarette, and put his backpack on the ground. “For weeks I couldn’t close my eyes without picturing Chaim in his car. Since I started learning, I’ve decided to trust that Hashem did what was right. It could have been any one of us. For some reason he chose Chaim.”

Moshe turned around, and pointed out to the valley. “See all this around us. Hashem created it. We owe it to him to learn his Torah and keep his Mitzvos.”

A part of me was glad he put his bag on the ground. He always kept two packs of cigarettes and some cash in his bag. No sense throwing that stuff off the cliff.

There was no one around. It was cold outside and there were no tourists to be found. As Moshe continued to talk about God and beauty, I looked behind me, to the left and right. It was all clear. And I pushed him over the edge.

I stood over the edge of the cliff, and watched as his body spun downward, hitting the side of the cliff and bouncing away from it. His downward flight felt like forever, and I could barely see his body as it crashed on the ground below.

Promises made. Promises kept.

I went through his bag, took out the cigarettes and the cash. He had a cell phone in his bag, and I called the police. And waited.


What next, I wondered, as I sat on the top of the cliff, feet dangling dangerously over the side. There were no more demons to exorcise. In killing off the enemies of my youth, I had sacrificed the friends of my adolescence.

I wanted to feel Godlike power; instead I felt waves of regret.

Could I ever have a normal life? Did I want one? For the first time, I thought maybe I would be better off in jail. As the police officer approached, I thought about what I would tell him.

For some reason, I pictured Shanna sitting in my apartment all alone.

And I chose freedom.

This is the final chapter in Friday Night Races. The preceding was a work of fiction. You can catch the story from the beginning by clicking on the The Race under Friday Night Races on the sidebar.


A classic little league double play which ended with my kid tagging the game tying run out at the plate in the bottom of the last inning.

We beat the Pirates 2-1, and move on to play the Reds in the next round of the playoffs. Tuesday night at 7:15. Tyler Field.


Krum as a Bagel, come on down. Your 6 PM visit yesterday was visit # 10,000 to Air Time since Site Meter was installed in April.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Friday Night Races - Part VIII

David and I moved to our own apartment the week after Succos. We were bringing in over $200 a night selling pot and hash to American kids, and were living the life. We were dealing for some Russian guy name Vlady. Selling was just a job, we told ourselves, just like any other job out there. And being on our own gave us more freedom to work on our own schedule.

Vlady was a scary looking man, with a scar on his arm partially covered by a dragon tattoo. One night, while drinking, he told us it was from a broken beer bottle in a bar fight. And how he had killed the man who cut him with the very same beer bottle. We didn’t know if he was telling the truth or lying, but we had no doubt that he was capable of doing what he claimed. And we had no doubt about the bulge beneath his jacket.

Our arrangement was simple. We paid him about three grand a week for protection and product. Then we turned around and sold the product at whatever price we set. We were independent contractors, making a living doing what we knew best.

Every Friday I would call Vlady and arrange the deal. He would tell me his price, and threaten to put a bullet in my head if I tried to cheat him. We laughed, but I had no doubt that he was telling the truth.

The police rarely bothered us. We stayed out of their way, only dealt to American kids, and didn’t leave any messes for them to clean up. So far, it had been ideal.

We each did our own thing during the day. David spent most days hanging out with Shanna, who had been kicked out of her seminary. She was spending a lot of nights at our place, sometimes sleeping in the living room, and lately, sleeping in David’s room.

I bought a used car, and spent most days working on it. The truth was, nothing blew my hair back the way a fast car did. She was ugly on the outside, but a thing of beauty under the hood.

Life was easy, girls seemed to come and go, and for the first time, I had money to spend.

I don’t know how long this Eden-like existence could have continued, but I had a promise to keep, and it was time.

On Friday I called Vlady to arrange the deal.

“Are we on,” the voice on the other end of the phone said.

“You know it, Vlad,” I said. “How much this week?”

“$3500, cops made a big bust in Haifa and supply is down,” he answered.

“I’ll give you $3100,” I answered.

“For $3,100, you can have a bullet through your head. Who is this? Sholom or David.”

“David,” I lied.

“David, $3500 you got it?

“Yeah, you got it. What time?”

“4:30. At the regular spot. Don’t be late.”

I hung up the phone. The clock said 11:44. I decided to wake David.


David and I went to lunch, and went over the day’s agenda.

“Listen,” I said, “Vlady wants o meet at 4:30. I can’t make it today. Can you do the pick up?”

“Yeah, sure,” David said, as he shoved another pancake bite in his mouth. “These guys make the best pancakes I ever had.”

“I’ll leave the money in an envelope for you on the table. Make sure that Shanna chick doesn’t steal it. I don’t like that she’s always hanging around us.”

“You don’t like her?”

“Not really.”

“Want to hear something funny. Remember that night she wanted to get together, a few months back. She thought that I killed Chaim.”

I was suddenly interested. “He died in an accident. Why would she think anything else?”

David drank his coke. “Some cop told her that back in Detroit. They said it might have been foul play. Who’da wanted to kill Chaim.”

“Why did she think you did it?”

“Remember when she had that abortion. She wrote in her journal that I said I would kill him for her. Maybe she wanted to thank me or something. I’m not sure, but I thought she was disappointed when I told her it was an accident.”

We went back to the apartment. I thought about what David said. I thought about Shanna. Did she suspect me? Would she suspect me tonight?

I counted out 31 one-hundred dollar bills, and put them in an envelope. I put it out on the kitchen table, and left David a note.

See you at 8. Regular spot. Sholom.

Then I left the apartment.

There was a restaurant across the street from our meeting place with Vlady. I got there at 4:15, and ordered a hamburger. Nothing to do now but wait.

I wished I had a closer view. I wished I could see David’s face as Vlady lifted his gun and pulled the trigger.

But I would see him get shot. And I would see him hit the ground.

At 4:30, Vlady’s black car pulled up to the spot. One minute later, David walked across the street, and leaned in the passenger window. I imagined what was being said. Vlady was calling David a funny boy, and asking for the rest of his money. David would be confused about what Vlady was talking about.

Vlady must have had a silencer on his gun, because I didn’t hear the shot ring out. But I heard the car peel away, and saw David’s lifeless body hit the floor. A bullet had ripped through the front of his head, and blood was pouring onto the sidewalk.

It could be weeks before he was traced back to this apartment, if ever.I knew David would have no ID on him. He had no distinguishing marks and no one would be looking for him. No one, except Shanna.

I found Shanna at the apartment, and told her a version of the truth. David had tried to screw a big time drug dealer, and almost been killed. Now he was on the run, and was going to try and escape into Egypt.

As her eyes turned glassy, I remembered one more thing.

"He said to tell you he loved you. And not to wait for him."

I knew my career as a drug dealer was over. After David tried to cheat Vlady, I knew I’d have a hard time finding a new supplier.

At least I know how to fix cars, I thought. I might need a job.

The preceding was a work of fiction. You can catch the story from the beginning by clicking on the The Race under Friday Night Races on the sidebar.

Part VIII - Rethought

I have reread part eight, and decided to pull it for now. It will return, modified in some way, but it is too early for that part. Some more needs to be done before we can get to that section of the story.

Weather or Not

In high school, while I was studying, and didn't want to be too distracted, I would turn the Home Shopping Network on in my room, on our old black and white 13" TV. The voices were somehow soothing and quiet. I could look up for a second, see what garbage they were hawking and continue on with my studying without too much hoopla. There was no storyline to follow, no new characters, and no plot twists. Just pure, unadulterated background noise. And I never actually bought anything from them.

While, occasionally, I still tune in to HSN for the amusement it provides me, mostly I'm a Weather Channel gal now. Like HSN, the Weather Channel is broadcast 24 hours a day. Every ten minutes they tell you the weather, the air quality, and the status of the barometer in your area. Every ten minutes! It's amazing.

The Gadlus of the Weather Channel was only made known to me in those shaky weeks following September 11, 2001. It was the only channel I could find that respected my "need to know basis" policy on the news. All the other channels, including the music stations, had news portions or "breaking news" updates. Only the Weather Channel provided comfort to me. I knew that if there were chemicals in the air somewhere, the Weather Channel would tell me. It was a very straightforward Network in a time of uncertainty.

Do I care enough about the weather to listen to the forecast on the radio or watch it on our local stations? No, I'm not that obsessed. To me, the only worthwhile weather is on the Weather Channel, anyway.

Revenge is Sweet

Winning is Optional was the first team we played when we joined Joe Dumars Fieldhouse Hockey League. We played hard, but we weren't used to the speed of the game or the rules or the puck, plus we ran out of gas at the end, and lost 6-5.

Last night was our first chance to exact some revenge, and we did fine, crushing them 9-1, in a game that was called midway through the third period with the eight goal third period mercy rule.

So now we move to 2-4, and have an off week coming up before we play the Beers, a team we have destroyed both times we have played them.

By the way, yesterday's hockey standings were off. Specifically, we only have ten games in the season, not 11, but if teams continue to play the way they have been playing, we will bne playing Outsiderz the last game of the season, and the winner will probably make the playoffs.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Weekly Hockey Update

OK. I ate the right food at the right time. I have been focused on the game since waking up this morning. There is no reason at all to lose tonight.

Tonight's game is critical. We are playing Winning is Optional, and need a win badly.

Standings (as best I can remember them) With our historical w-l record against those teams following their current record.

Crest 5-0 (0-2)
Slackjaws 5-1 (1-2)
Jack Attack 4-1 (0-3)
Outsiderz 2-3 (0-2
Jerusalem 1-4 --
Beers 1-4 (2-0)
Winning Op 0-5 (0-1)

Our next two games, tonight and next week, we play winning is optional and the beers. Win both, and we are 3-4, with our final four games against Crest, SlackJaws, Jack Attack and Outsiderz. Crest and Slackjaws are a doubleheader, with Crest first, which is unfortunate because our best chance of winning is against slackjaws.

We need to be in the top 4 to make the playoffs, which means if we are 3-4, we will probably need to split those last four games and sneak into the playoffs at 5-6.. We will have to beat ouitsiderz as one of those two wins though, and hope outsiderz loses to crest, jack attack, slackjaws and us, which would put them at 4-7.

But first we need to win tonight.

Is that the bell ringing

What would happen if all your favorite bloggers were in the same class. It might look something like this.

Friday Night Races - Part VII

David hung up the phone. He had been talking to his mother, and hoped he had seemed shocked at the news of his Chaim’s death. The story was flying all over the community, and rumors were rampant. His mother told him she heard a few versions, but the one that made the most sense was that he had been in a car accident and the girl he was with somehow managed to walk away without a scratch.

He talked to his sister, probing for more information. There was not a single rumor that came close to the truth. Nothing about drag racing, and most importantly, nothing about being there with friends.

When David got back to his dorm room, he told Moshe and me the latest from Detroit. It seemed unlikely, but we were not going to get found out. Collectively, we all breathed a little easier.

We hadn’t talked about Chaim since our airport vote; it was as if we were living through Sruli’s death all over again. If we didn’t talk about it, we didn’t feel it. And if we didn’t feel it, we didn’t need to try and cope. Or maybe not talking about it was our method of coping.

We had been in Yeshiva for less than a week, and already, I could see patterns developing. David and I were going out, showing up late, and putting God on the backburner. Moshe was the opposite. He was at every shuir, every minyan, and had mentioned he might start an extra Chavrusa.

Over the net few weeks, leading into Succos Bein Hazmanim, we saw less and less of Moshe. He was moved up to the next shuir, and was spending more and more of his free time in the Bais Medrash.

I was afraid we were going to lose him. He was one of us, and we were going to lose him as surely as we lost Chaim from our little gang. I wished there was a way we could knock him off his religious horse, and bring back the old Moshe, but I started to think maybe a lot more than just Chaim disappeared in that fiery wreck.

David and I hadn’t said more than good morning to Moshe in two weeks, and so we were surprised when he showed up in our room during second seder, and wanted to talk. It was light-hearted as first. We talked about what we had heard from home, and had a laugh over a story coming out of our old yeshiva about a guy getting in trouble for bringing Cholov Stam milk into the cafeteria and using it in the Yeshiva’s bowls for breakfast.

“Do you ever think about God,” Moshe asked, changing the subject. “I mean really think what he wants from us.”

No, we didn’t, David and I both admitted. In truth, neither of us really believed in him anymore. We didn’t see the point, but we still tried to keep up appearances.

“I’ve been thinking about God a lot lately,” Moshe continued. “The whole master plan and what he wants from us. I think he was sending us a message when Chaim died. It was a wake up call for me.”

“When I got here, I decided to throw myself in to this whole Torah learning thing. And you know what, it helps.”

We listened in silence. Nothing we hadn’t noticed from his behavior.

“And I’m thinking of telling Rabbi Meyers about that night.”

“You might have this new commitment to God,” David interjected, “But you have a deal with us. Remember? That night never happened.”

“Yeah,” I chimed in. “If you go tell him the story, the next thing you know he’s on our ass, thinking were the shkutzim in the yeshiva. You’ll be fine, the one the Yeshiva saved, but we’ll be kicked out in a heartbeat.”

“I just think admitting what I did would be good for me?” Moshe responded.

“Confession. That’s what you’re talking about. So not Jewish.” David said, his voice rising.

“What about Vidui,” Moshe yelled back.

“You are so freaking ignorant, you know that,” David yelled. “You think you learn for three weeks and suddenly you’re an expert on everything. Vidui is between you and God, not you trying to score some pity points with Meyers.”

“You know what, screw you,” Moshe said, his voice even but dripping with anger.

And with that, the screaming was over. And the friendship. The screaming, because someone came into the room to see what was going on. The friendship, because we had started the irreparable drifting that happens when people move in different directions. We would always be civil, always be more connected by our shared history than our present lives, but that history was littered with loss and pain and rebellion. And one of us no longer wished to be reminded of that history.

The next day Moshe told us he was changing rooms. He needed to be in a new s’viva, he told us, one that didn’t have daily reminders of things he was trying to put behind him.

We ignored him as he packed. I took out a deck of cards, and while Moshe packed, David and I sat on the Marpesset, playing poker for cigarettes and smoking.

The door was closed and no one seemed to be around. “You know, he’s wasting his time in there,” David said to me. “We’re going to be kicked out of this place pretty soon.”

I agreed with David. It had been weeks since we showed up to Shachris at all, and we were always late to shuir and seder. Even when we went, we didn’t stay very long. They had talked to us, but we weren’t really listening. We both figured it was a matter of time until we had to find a new place to stay.

“You wanna find a new yeshiva, maybe a BT place or the Mir,” I asked.

“We’re making some decent money. Maybe we can just get a place of our own. I’ve had enough of this yeshiva stuff to last a lifetime,” David answered.

It was ironic. A few weeks earlier we didn’t want to tell a friend’s parents that their son had been killed while driving on Shabbos, because we were worried about our reputations. Now, a month later, we didn’t care at all about that reputation. We were contemplating leaving yeshiva and living on our own.

We played a few more hands. David was right. We were making a lot of money. Our first night in Israel we went looking for some grass, and walked away with a part time job dealing for some guys who needed to disappear for a little while. We could afford to live on our own. No parents. No rabbis. No rules.

“Remember Shanna, Chaim’s ex,” David suddenly asked.


“She keeps calling me. She must have called about six times since she got here. I keep ignoring her messages. I don’t want to be her shoulder to cry on.” David said.

“She’s kinda hot,” I offered. “Maybe she wants to move on.”

“It didn’t sound like that from her message. She said she was going to be at the Kings Hotel at 9 tonight, and needed to talk to me. It’s the third time she left that message.” He paused. “I’m thinking of going. You wanna come.”

He knew I couldn’t come. He knew I was working. Why did he ask?

“No, I gotta work tonight. And I want to take care of some things here. Let me know what she wants though. I’m curious.”

The preceding was a work of fiction. You can catch the story from the beginning by clicking on the The Race under Friday Night Races on the sidebar.

The Chevra

A year and a half ago, the band The Chevra came to my kids school to put on a concert. I had never heard of them, and had no expectations of enjoying myself, but I was entertained. My kids had a blast, and they all knew the music and sang along.

During the concert, the band was working on some dance moves. It was abvious that they did not spend hours a day working with a choreographer, and had two basic moves. During one of their songs they would point down to the left, down to the right, up to the left and then up to the reight, and then back to the bottom left corner again. DUring another song they each took their left hand, pointing to the right, and rhythmically moevd it toward the left. And repeat.

There was some jumping around, but they were no Britany Spears.

Anyway, we made fun of their dancing for a while, whenever their music was on in the car, and we would do their hand motion dances. COme to think of it, I think there was a third move as well, with a hand making a circular motion.

Anyway, last week a few of their band members were at my shul. To those of you living in NY, you are used to having these jewish rock gods amongst you, but to us simple minded out of towners, it was like having elvis in shul. Or, it would have been, maybe, if anyone had recognized these guys.

Anyway, at the kiddush, Veev says to me do the Chevra dance, so I start moving my hand around (Yes, I am really well trained). Then she says these guys, who were sitting at our table, are from the Chevra.

And I don't think they were that amused.


Sure, you love sports, but are you a knowledgable sports fan. Take the quiz and find out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Veevs Believes...6

I believe that your greatest moment in parenting does not have to be giving birth to your oldest child. It can be when the same kid hits a ball, runs to first, and turns to smile at you.....nine years later.

Friday Night Races - Cliff Notes Edition

For those of you joining us late, here is what you have been missing.


Chapter 1 - Chaim is killed while racing on a Friday night with his friends, the narrator, David and Moshe

Chapter 2 - The boys make a pact not to tell anyone about Chaim's death. They believe the police will ID Chaim and tell his parents.

Chapter 3 - Chaim was unidentifiable. The boys reaffirm their pact not to tell anyone, and fly to Israel for their post-high-school year.

PART 2 - Shanna

Chapter 4 - Shanna recognizes her boyfriend's car in the picture in the newspaper, and realizes he has died.

Chapter 5 - Shanna calls the police, and finds out that they suspect foul play may have been involved.

Chapter 6 - Shanna flies to Israel, and reads a journal entry of hers where one of Chaim's friends threatens to kill Chaim.

The oddsmaker

Was Chaim killed? And if so, who did it.

Shanna thinks David did it.

Sports Psych Detroit thinks Shannas father did it.

Anon thinks if David did it because of the abortion, its really weak.

Heidi thinks he killed himself.

Odds -

David 3 to 1 - The notebook doesn't lie, but would he kill his friend over hitting a girl. He did race against Chaim, so he was closest when it happened. And he was the strongest voice against calling the police and telling the Greggs.

Shanna 8 to 1 - He abandoned her when she needed him most, but is she capable?

Moshe 11 to 1 - He was there on Friday night, but did the killer have to be?

Narrator 11 to 1 - He was there on Friday night, but did the killer have to be?

Suicide 18 to 1 - Feeling guilt over the abortion? Pressures from home? Maybe Chaim killed himself.

Shanna's Dad 25 to 1 - Did he know more than he let on about his daughter's love life?

Freak accident 38 to 1 - Accidents do happen

A new character 150 to 1 - I'm having hard enough time remembering everyone's name as it is.

Friday Night Races - Part VI

Shanna stayed at home for two more weeks, and then boarded her flight to Israel. To begin her year. It wasn't going to be the year she expected, but it was going to be her year to make whatever she could out of the next 10 months.

She spent most of the past two weeks alone. She couldn't face her father; the disapproval in his eyes spoke volumes more than the words he was saying, words she was sure her mother had coached him on. Her sisters were both busy, her younger sister starting 10th grade, her older sister passing the time studying at Wayne State University and teaching Navi at Bais Yaakov while she waited to get married.

Shanna just needed the time to compose herself, and get ready for the new year. She wanted to go to the funeral, but her father wouldn't allow it. Please, she had begged. She wanted so badly to be near Chaim one final time. But he refused to let her. Refused to let her pay a shiva call. Refused to let her ruin her sister's shidduch chances.

So Shanna stayed home. She tried to get some perspective on her relationship with Chaim, from a safe distance. And for two weeks, she thought about the notebook entry. She thought she knew what it said, but it couldn't be. It didn't make any sense. David was one of Chaim's best friends.

Just before leaving to the airport, Shanna ran back to her room. She grabbed the notebook, and put it in carry-on bag. She needed to read what she had written on that sad day. The saddest day in her life. Before this week.

She had a window seat, perfect for privacy, not so good if she needed to use the restroom. But for now she was happy. The flight attendants finished their instructions, and soon she was airborne, headed for Tel Aviv.

She tried to read a book, then a magazine, trying to push off the notebook that had acted as a diary for so long. But now it was time. She didn't want to read the words she had remembered since talking to the detective.

And she knew, that even though she put Chaim on a pedestal, even though she thought he was the greatest, there was another side to him. He was sweet and charming and adorable and pigheaded and violent and dangerous.

Shanna took out her old notebook. "My shrink would have a field day with this," she thought to herself. "If I had a shrink, that is." She chuckled. Her notebook was filled with poetry, and journal entries, but there was one that she needed to read.

She flipped it open to March. A poem.

tha-thump tha-thump tha-thump
i can hear it
can feel it

three of us
occupying one space
where only one belongs

to keep it
but suicide

what will they say
what will they say
what will they say

She heard the heartbeats that day. It was a sound that haunted her. The twin sound of beating hearts living inside her. Abortion. The word made her want to throw up. But there was no other way. No way at all she could go through with it and live in her house and show her face again. And so she terminated her twins. Their twins. But there was no their anymore.

She turned the pages, some suck together by tears. Chaim was so unreasonable then. He blamed her, and when she asked him to take her to the family planning center, he hit her. Slapped her across the face and left a mark. He was stunned, and ran away.

She had called David, Chaim's friend, and asked him for help. She needed a ride, and she needed some cash, and David was there with both.

She found the entry she was looking for. It was the first time she was looking at it since she wrote it, but she remembered it was there.

I did it today. Chaim is such an asshole and wouldn't take me, but his friend David did. He picked me up around the corner from school and took me to the clinic. He asked me what happened to my face but I wouldn't tell him. I told him the same thing I told everybody. I wasn't paying attention, and I bumped into a door.

He was smoking and I asked him to put it out cuz its not good for the baby. Like what we were doing was good for the babies. I shouldn't call them babies. it makes it all too real.

When it was over he hugged me and helped me to the car. He touched my face and asked me what happened, and I was so high on the drugs that i told him Chaim hit me and he’s such an asshole and David said he was gonna kill Chaim when he saw. First he was going to kill him for hitting me, and then he was going to kill him for not being there for me today. what a chicken shit.

Then David drove me back to school and I walked in and tried to pretend like nothing was wrong. But I was in too much pain, and went home.

There it was, in black and white. David had threatened to kill Chaim for her. He must have just been waiting for the right time, and when it happened, three months later, he did it.

What if she had carried the babies, she wondered. Would Chaim’s mother embrace her? The babies would have been born just about a month ago. She always wondered if his mother would have liked her, if they ever got the chance to meet each other. But the only people Chaim could ever introduce her to were his friends, the car guys.

Which was more than she could do. She never introduced Chaim to any of her friends. Did she even have any friends anymore?


Back at the Utica Police station, Detective Mitchel took one last look through the Gregg file. The evidence of foul play was tenuous at best. The damage to the car was too severe to know for certain, and the victim had no known enemies or anyone with a motive. Mitchel took out pen and wrote Accidental Death in the file.

Then he closed the file, and put it away.

The preceding was a work of fiction. You can catch the story from the beginning by clicking on the The Race under Friday Night Races on the sidebar.

Is it great if no one cares

Let me start with this. I think Lance Armstrong’s accomplishments are remarkable. Even without cancer. Throw in the cancer, and his seven straight Tour de France victories go from phenomenal to off the charts.

But does anyone really care?

Let me put it another way. I watched more poker on TV over the past two weeks than Tour De France coverage. And I get OLN, the network that broadcast the bike race.

This whole Armstrong thing reminds me of Gretzky playing Hockey in LA. A wondrous talent doing something no one really cared about.

you might be a NY jew...

If you think it makes sense to spend $750,000 on a two bedroom apartment in a brooklyn slum, you might be a New York Jew

If you think that by growing up in Brooklyn, moving to Cedarhurst, spending a shabbos in Teaneck and spending a week in Miami during Pesach means you have lived everywhere, you might be a New York Jew

If you think its normal to send your family away for two months in the summer and visit them on the weekends, you might be a New York Jew

If you call it UO instead of OU, you might be a New York Jew

If you've ever spent $40,000 renovating a kitchen that you will never use, you might be a New York Jew

If you've ever heard of Slifkin, you might be a New York Jew

If you can't understand how the Yankees can play on Shabbos when so many of their fans can't watch the games, you might be a New York Jew

If the question you live your life by is "how will this effect my daughter's shidduch," you might be a New York Jew

Monday, July 25, 2005

Friday Night Races - Part V

Shanna picked up the phone, and dialed the first nine numbers. She had actually dialed all ten one time, but panicked when Detective Mitchel answered the phone, and hung up right away. She wanted to leave an anonymous message, and let the police contact the Greggs, but she kept panicking, afraid they would track her down, and everyone would know about her and Chaim. Shanna hung up the phone.

She thought about Chaim, about his carefree laugh, and how he had been getting darker and moodier over the past months. It had been less than a week since he disappeared and the pain inside was unbearable. She missed his laugh and his smile, and of course, his touch. She heard about a classmate who used to cut herself with razor blades to cope, and Shanna wondered how it worked, and how deeply she would have to cut herself to make all her pain pour out.

She looked at the clock. 10:10. Only twenty minutes before her sister and mom would be getting home from the gym. If she was going to call, now was the time. She steeled herself, and dialed all ten numbers, listened to it ring twice.

“Detective Mitchel,” the voice on the other end of the line answered, “homicide.”

Shanna started to talk and cry at the same time. “I think I know who was killed in that car accident in Utica,” she said. “But I don’t want my name getting out at all.”

The voice on the other line stayed silent, waiting for her to continue. When it was clear she wasn’t going to talk any more, Mitchel broke the silence. “I can probably keep your name away from the family, ma’am,” he said, “but I do need to talk to you.”

Shanna listened, then continued. “His name is Chaim Gregg. He lives in Oak Park, at 25569 Raine street.”

Detective Mitchell tried to ask her something, but Shanna hung up the phone. She had done it. For the first time since Sunday, the knot that had been tightening in her stomach began to loosen.

She looked at her calendar. Two more days until she left this mess behind her. Two more days until she flew to Israel.

She was eating a late dinner in her room when it all went to hell. Shanna had thrown herself into packing, and had managed to go most of the day without thinking about Chaim. She focused on the year ahead, wondered what a year away from home would bring. When she heard the knock on the door downstairs, she assumed it was a Meshulach collecting money for some organization.

But the voice she heard when her father opened the door sent her straight back into the morning’s conversation. Detective Mitchel had somehow found her.

She listened from the top of the stairs as her Abba talked to Detective Mitchel. “Our daughter didn’t know that boy. You don’t understand, officer. The girls on our community don’t talk to boys.”

She listened for a few minutes longer while the detective explained to her Abba that they needed to talk to Shanna. Her Abba tried to get the Detective to go away, but he was adamant, and insisted on talking to her.

“Shanna,” her father called from the bottom of the stairs, “there is a police officer here to see you.”

Shanna slowly came downstairs. When she reached the bottom stair, her father introduced her. “Shanna, this is Detective Mitchel, he wants to talk to you about the Gregg boy. Such a shame, missing since Shabbos.” He shook his head.

The three of them walked to the dining room table, and sat down. Shanna sat down nervously; she knew what was going to happen next. She couldn’t lie to the police, but she didn’t want her Abba sitting there and discovering that she was not the good Bais Yaakov girl he had raised.

Detective Mitchel must have sensed her discomfort. “Mr. Wine, is it OK if I talk to your daughter alone,” he asked.

Her Abba tried to protest, but she nodded her approval.

“I’ll be in the kitchen if you need anything,” he said, and shuffled off.

“You weren’t easy to find,” the detective began. “We went through ever inch of his room before we found a box with your name and letters in it.” The officer whispered. “I guess he didn’t want anyone to find out about you, either.”

Shanna laughed. For the first time in days, she was finally able to talk about Chaim. She hoped her Abba was out of earshot.

“We met with the Greggs earlier today,” he continued. “They were able to positively identify the body, and we are running some DNA tests to confirm that it’s him.”

“Did Chaim have any enemies?” he asked suddenly.

The question caught her off guard. “No, everyone liked him. He got along great with everyone.”

“We know he stole the car, was he involved in any other criminal activity?”

“No, not really. He smoked some weed every once in a while, but he never bought it and it wasn’t that often.”

“Shanna, what I am going to tell you is between the two of us for right now. We have reason to believe that it might not have been an accident. There are some signs that someone tampered with Chaim’s car the night he died. So let me ask this to you again. Can you think of anyone who might have wanted to hurt or kill him?”

“No,” she screamed. “No one would hurt him.” She knew her family was listening now but she didn’t care. Her father was running to the dining room but she kept on going. “He was the sweetest, nicest boy I ever met. No one would ever hurt him. She slumped down, into her Abba’s arms.

And cried.

Chaim didn’t die in a car accident. He was killed.

The preceding was a work of fiction. You can catch the story from the beginning by clicking on the The Race under Friday Night Races on the sidebar.

Another Great Blog

Friday night I had a Sholom Zachor to attend. Two, actually. One of a friend, one of a close friend of the family, and since the people lived within a block of each other, I was able to go to both.

When we have a Sholom Zachor, we usually tend to walk in a group. One of the guys in our group, J. , lives a bit out of the way, so we pick him up, but usually end up staying there for some time to drink. We call it our Pre-sholom Zachor.

You may remember J. if you read Absolut Purim. He was a large part of the Wedding Tailgate party. If you haven't read it yet, wait until Labor Day, when we revisit that glorious day on the second anniversary of its happening.

Anyway, I'm telling you all this to pimp his blog, Psychology of the Detroit Sports Scene. It is well written, and looks at many different aspects of sports. And don't be fooled by his prediction of a Tigers World Series within five years. He really is a bright a guy.


It's 96 degrees today, and, since I stayed inside all day yesterday for the fast, I decided to go by myself to the mall. It's one of those nice ones with 4 departments stores on 2 floors and about 180 others stores also. I am tired today; fasting makes me sluggish for a couple of days afterwards. But I shlepped myself through the mall anyway.

In every store in which I ventured, there was at least one sales-girl or -boy greeting me with a perky, "Hi! How are you today?" The first time this happened, I was a little startled by the enthusiasm of the "Hello." But I managed a "Hi, I'm well. How are you?" anyway. By the time I entered my tenth store, all I could muster was a nod and a smile. I wondered if they thought I was being rude?

Here's my question: Do you have to be chatty, friendly, happy, awake to shop?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday Night Races - IV

Shanna sat her room, and looked at the picture in the paper. A white Chevy Cavalier, stolen two years ago. But it couldn’t be the same one, could it. She needed to talk to someone, but there was no one she could talk to. No one she trusted.

Shanna laid back down on her bed, next to a pile of nine neatly folded denim skirts, her head resting on a pile of folded shirts. She remembered the first day she met him. She was so naïve then.

It was January of 11th grade. Shabbos ended early, and Jerusalem Pizza was open. Chevie called her, and the two of them went to Jerusalem Pizza, just as they had done almost every Motzai Shabbos. They didn’t go for the scene. There was no scene at Jerusalem Pizza on a Saturday night. Or any night for that matter.

They were standing in line when four boys walked in. She recognized two of them from shul, but didn’t really know their names. She was a good Bais Yaakov girl, and would never talk to a boy. Too much was at stake. Her reputation. Shidduch chances. Enrollment in her school. And besides, what would she say to a boy. She hadn’t talked to boys since kindergarten, when the class was mixed. And having only two sisters, there were never boys around.

But one of the boys, one of the two that she didn’t recognize, kept looking at her. She shifted her weight uncomfortably, and tried to turn her back on the boys. She kept talking to Chevie, about their midterms, which had just ended. And about their new Hashkafa and Kallah class, which was supposed to start last week, but the Devorah Leah Stein, who was supposed to give the class, had just gotten engaged, and now the school needed to find someone else to teach them.

Chevie was talking, and Shanna tried to sneak a peak back at the boys. He was still looking at her, and for a moment, their eyes met.

They ordered their pizza, got it, and started walking out of the store, when he talked to her. “Hey, what’s your name?” the boy asked. Shanna was stunned, and tried to ignore him as she walked by. When they got out of the pizza shop, Shanna and Chevie laughed hysterically.

Who did he think he was, showing up the pizza shop in his white shirt and black pants, and trying to talk to her? Didn’t he know better?

She thought that was the end of it, and didn’t think about him. Or, didn’t admit to thinking about him. Who was he, and why did he want to know her name?

A week later, in shul on Shabbos morning, there he was again, this time with his black hat on and sitting with his two friends. He kept looking back, trying to see someone through the Mechitza. Was he trying to see her? Is that why he came to their shul?

He came to shul the next two weeks, and finally, after davening, he walked near her and said Good Shabbos before she could walk away.

Shanna thought about the mystery boy all the time. Why was he following her? Didn’t he realize they were not supposed to speak to each other? Hadn’t he read the same Mishna in Pirkei Avos that she read, about minimizing contact with women? Wouldn’t he get kicked out of Yeshiva just for talking to her? And, oh, he looked so adorable when he tried to talk to her.

Still, she couldn’t just go around talking to boys, could she? Even cute adorable mystery boys.

But destiny was going to play a role.

Chevie was sick, and Shanna was at the mall alone, when she saw him walking toward her. For a moment, she considered turning around, but then it was too late. He saw her, and walked over to her, a smile lighting up his face.

“Are you alone?” he asked.

“Why?” She answered tersely.

“Because I want to talk to you” he replied.

“What if I don’t want to talk to you,” she snapped back.

“I would be really disappointed. I’ve been wanting to talk to you for weeks.”

“Again, why?”

He smiled. “Because you’re the prettiest girl I have ever seen.”

And with one sentence, he had broken through her Bais Yaakov shell.

“I’m Chaim, by the way. Chaim Gregg.”

“I’m Shanna Wine,” she answered, and noticed her tone changing from attacking to interested. “And no one has ever called me pretty before.”

They walked around the mall for a little while, talking about people they knew in common. “Listen,” Chaim said. “I need to get out of here. But I’d like to see you again.”

And so it began.

At first, they would see each other in shul, and nod or smile, imperceptible to all but the most careful observer. Neither one of them wanted to get caught.
But as winter turned to spring, they got bolder, and soon were meeting in parks away from the community’s watchful eye. They started lying to their parents, and sneaking off to go see a movie or bowl or just hang out.

When they first met, they were careful about not touching one another, but as they got closer, she remembered the first time she held his hand in a movie theater, and how he wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

He kissed her goodnight once, and the next time they saw each other, they parked on a dark, unlit street and kissed until she had to go home.

She loved him. She knew that. They had fooled around a little, and even as she thought about it now, it made her blush.

She knew Chaim Gregg better than anyone. She knew about his religious struggles, and in times of self reflection, wondered if she was pulling him away from frumkeit, being pulled away from frumkeit, or running away from it with him.

She looked at the car, and thought about the rumors that had been flying. She wished there was someone she could talk to, but there was no one. Her friends had noticed she was distant and rarely available, but she had never told any of them about Chaim Gregg. He was her secret, her lie to live with in the Bais Yaakov world.

She knew he didn’t run away. She would have known. And she knew he wanted to race. And she looked at the picture in the paper, and felt hot tears streaming down her face.

The preceding story was fiction. You can read the beginning of the story by clicking on "The Race" in the Friday Night Races section on the sidebar.


Am I crazy? I love my mother-in-law (MIL). I refer to her as my "mom" and sometimes refer to my actual mother as my "biological mother." And I know my MIL feels the same way about me. She calls me "daughter" and loves me madly. And my mother is crazy about Air and treats him like a son. In fact, I'm pretty sure she likes him better that she likes me.

I had lunch with two of my friends yesterday, and I absolutely cannot believe what their MIL's do to them. They are not treated well at all! Their MIL's have very close relationships with their own daughters and don't believe their daughters-in-law (DIL) deserve the same treatment. Now, knowing these two ladies, if it were me, I wouldn't want to be best friends with them like their daughters are. But that's just me.

I think what I have that they don't have is the ability to speak up and tell my MIL what on my mind. I also don't leave the relationship to her son. I make myself part of her life and her love.

It doesn't hurt that my MIL is an absolute Tzadeket who is sensitive to others and is welcoming and open and friendly and very, very special.

Yahoo Mail - A post full of hate

I hate yahoo mail. I hate reading my email through their web site. I hate sending out mail through their site. I hate their address book and the ads that I am subjected to every time I want to check my email. But what I really hate about Yahoo mail, more than anything else, is sending attachments.

Because if you want to send an attachment, here is what you need to do.

Open netscape/explorer/safari, and go to Assume you are already signed in, otherwise, there is a sign-in screen. Click on compose. Wait a moment for email to come up. Type in email address, or have it autofill in, sometimes that saves time, sometimes it doesn't. Type in message and subject. Or not. That is optional, of course. Click on add attachment. Get to attachment screen. Click on add attachment again, and browse through your files (how many folders deep is this thing saved, hmm, lacie drive/work/current/clientname/client project/pictures/filename.jpg.
And if I want to send two pictures, or three or however many attachments I need, I must go through that process each time. Then click on attach attachments, and wait for all attachments to upload. Then get to next screen which says files attached, continue to message. The click on that screen and finally get to message, where I can finally hit send.

There is a better way, but the geniuses at yahoo and SBC Global are conspiring against me, and I am still at their mercy.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Another Game, Another Loss

This time, we were playing for revenge. Against a team theat blew us out twice last season. That knocked us out of the playoffs. That quite frankly, has always seemed unbeatable.

The script was different. 45 minutes of hard fought hockey, but the result, another loss, was the same. And now, we find ourselves at 1-4 after last night's 6-5 loss. We thoguht we were wearing them down as we headed into the final period trailing 6-5. Shaya drilled one of the crossbar with less than two minutes to play, and I just missed on the outside with our goalie pulled and seven seconds remaining off a face off.

Another game against a team that dominated us last season that had to play hard every minute to win last night. And with Slack Jaws playing as well as they are, we are going to need a great second half of the season to make the playoffs.

Great picture

I never steal other people's posts, but I saw this on Orthomom and felt really good about it.

So I guess I am stealing this one from her.

This picture is also on Mirty Place. IF anyone knows who took the picture I would love to find out so i can them proper credit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Was it Terror or Innocent

Late last night, after finishing up some work, I was flipping through random blogs. I kept hitting Next Blog on the top of the screen. I enjoy reading the exploits of strangers. Some are lonely, some are depressed, and once in a while, someone is actually enjoying their life. One of the blogs I came across was written in Arabic, and I stopped to look at it.

Was it a message from one terrorist to another? Or just some guy who had a crappy day at work plotting to blow up his office building, I mean venting about a crappy day. I know it isn’t fair to lump everything in Arabic into the terrorist column. I have worked with Arabs and gone to school with them and I know that not every Arab dreams of blowing themselves up.

Still, I see that writing on the screen and I wonder.

Breaking Tradition

7:30 hockey games always throw off my schedule. I can't have my regular pregame meal five hours before face off, because it is too early to eat dinner. I should have had a late lunhc, but I thought if I had an early lunch I could eat a 2 PM sandwich which would tide me over through game time.

Somewhere, I messed up. Because when it came time for the pregame meal, I was still full from lunch.

I have stopped shaving on Wednesday mornings.

Tonight we get our rematch with Jack Attack. The same team we played when Andre went nuts and pratically had a breakdown a few months ago. But we are a better team today, and I think we have a chance against these guys.

If only I had eaten the right meal at the right time...

Friday Night Races - Part III

This is the continuation of Friday Night Races and Friday Night Races - Part II

It was Tuesday morning. For the first time since early Sunday, Moshe, David and I were together. I hadn’t slept well since Friday night, and judging from the look on Moshe and David’s faces, they hadn’t slept well either. My parents attributed my haggard look to the stresses of leaving for Israel. And maybe it was true. I hadn’t stopped moving since Sunday. Between packing and buying last minute items, the past forty-eight hours had gone by in a blur. Plus, talking to the cops.

It took a while for the police to take the Gregg’s calls seriously. 17-year-old runaways aren’t high priorities, even in a quiet town like Oak Park. By Monday morning, though, the cops decided to do a little investigating. Being that we were the last three people to see Chaim, they came to ask questions. Standard cop stuff. What was he wearing? Did he ever talk about running away? What did I know about the girl he was planning on meeting? But I kept to the story we had agreed upon, and had nothing to offer the police. A call later that evening confirmed that my friends had upheld their end of the bargain as well.

We were past the security gate, and had two hours until our flight. We walked into the terminal bar, the only place in the airport where we could smoke indoors, and took a table. We ordered cokes and chain smoked cigarettes, not a word passing between us. We shared a secret now, one that bound us together but was also putting a wedge in our friendship.

It was Moshe who finally broke the silence.

“Remember Sruli,” he asked softly.

Sruli. If anyone was ever the life of the party, it was Sruli. Big and strong and smart and well-liked. He had the softest touch on the basketball court, and never missed a free throw. The fifth inseparable member of our group. Until he died of cancer in 10th grade. We hadn’t spoken his name since the Shiva. But it was the unspoken anger over his death that had led the four of us to choose the path we chose, that led us to find an outlet on a Friday night in Utica.

“I used to think about him all the time, whenever we were all together. And then he started getting dimmer and dimmer, and we moved on. If we don’t tell the Gregg’s, we’re never gong to move on. And they will never know what happened to Chaim.”

Moshe’s plain-spoken words hung over the table for a moment, suspended by the small cloud emanating from our cigarettes.

No one filled the silence, and Moshe continued. “I think we need to tell them. They have the right to know. I mean, if it was one of us, what would we want for our parents?”

This time, David answered. He spoke slowly and quietly, but the determination still glistened in his voice.

“Don’t you think I thought of that, Mosh? If there was a way to tell them, I would. But think about this. Monday’s paper reported that witnesses said the victim was with three friends. If they ever find out that it was Chaim in that car, it is not going to take long for anyone to figure out who the three guys were with him.”

David pointed his finger at me. “One,” he said, before pointing his finger toward Moshe. “Two,” he counted, before pointing his finger back at himself. “Three” he said, with a touch of finality.

“Look,” I said, “I don’t know what the right thing to do is, but we need to talk this out. What if everyone knew we were there? I don’t even know if I care.” I mashed my cigarette out, and took another Marlboro out from the pack. “Maybe I don’t give a shit if the whole world knows I was out on a Friday night, or that I ate at Wendy’s on the way out there. It’s such bullshit.”

“What are you going to Israel for, then?” Moshe asked.

“Maybe, I’m wrong. Maybe its peer pressure. I don’t know.” I took a deep drag of my cigarette, and exhaled slowly. “In the last two years, God killed Sruli, the top guy in our class, with cancer. Then he burnt a guy to a crisp on Friday night because he was out driving on Shabbos. It all seems pretty damn random if you ask me.”

“Maybe you don’t care,” Moshe answered, “but I do. It would kill my parents if they found out what we do.”

“So you’re willing to let the Greggs suffer so that your parents can live a lie?”

Moshe and I both looked at David. He hadn’t said a word in a while, and we were surprised to hear his stance.

“Listen, I’m just playing devil’s advocate here. I’m in the same boat as Mosh.”

“I don’t know what to do,” I said. I watched David and Moshe both light another cigarette. “This wasn’t the way this was supposed to happen. It was going to be the four of us all year.”

I looked over at the bank of pay phones located next to the bar. Moshe and David followed my gaze. All it would take is one phone call. To the police. Not the Greggs. That would be too hard.

A call which would destroy hope for the Greggs, and paint their son, our friend, in a whole new light. A call which would give the family closure and shame. Or shame and closure.

Not to mention, a call that would expose us. As frauds. Or liars. Or maybe just rebellious kids who got their hands caught in the cookie jar.
Over the intercom, we heard them call our flight. We put out our cigarettes, picked up our carrying bags, and ran to the gate.

As we walked to the plane, David grabbed both of our arms. “We have four hours in Kennedy before we fly to Israel. When we land, we vote. And then, we do what we decide.”

“If we vote to call, we call the cops. If we vote not to call, we never discuss this again. Majority wins. Agreed?”

Mosh and I both nodded in agreement.

I tried to sleep on the plane, but when I closed my eyes I pictured a car bursting into flames. I wanted this over. I couldn’t sleep. I could barely eat. I wanted to forget about this and never think of it again. As the plane circled over the Atlantic, and headed down toward Kennedy, I knew what I would vote.

We sat down on the table, each with a piece of paper and pen in front of us. We agreed to write down our vote, no one wanted to be the third vote in a one-to-one tie. We were deciding whether or not to call, and we were supposed to write “call” or “don’t call” on the paper in front of us.

The voting was done quickly, and as agreed, David was in charge of opening the votes. He opened all three pieces of folded paper, and laid them out on the table. In various degrees of readability, all three of us had written “don’t call.”

“That settles it,” David said. “Let’s go find someplace we can smoke at. Flying always makes me nervous.”

The preceding work was fiction. This is the continuation of Friday Night Races and Friday Night Races - Part II

Veevs Believes...5

I believe that waking up the person you love by pointing a remote control at her head, is weird.

Game Ball

There is something especially empowering about being a youth coach. I've coached a few seasons of youth roller hockey, and when you watch the kids listen to what you say, run plays, and fight every minute they are out there, it feels good inside.

In my four season as a youth coach, I made it to the championship game twice, and lost them both. And I think that in some way, the coaches take it harder than the kids do.

Last night I had my first chance to coach Little League. The regular coach needed a night off. He gave me a blank line-up sheet, told me who was eligible to pitch, and walked to his seat.

Baseball is a hard game for young kids. IF you're not pitching or catching, it is easy to lose focus when you're in the field. Especially when Avi pitches, as most of the kids he faces strike out.

So as coach, you are constantly trying to keep the kids from drifting off.

Going into the final inning, we were tied at 0-0. As the visitor's we batted at the top of the inning. Our leadoff hitter struck out, but the next batter walked. The third hitter of the inning hit a grounder to second, and Roland, the kid at first, outraced the second baseman, slid, and was safe. A bunt single loaded the bases, and base hit drove the only run of that game home.

In the bottom of the inning, Avi pitched great, and I had my first Little League win under my belt. And after the game, the regular coach gave me the game ball.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What the Hec

Last night we were playing Boggle. I am always amazed when my five year old finds words in this game, but he always seems to find something, and usually it is spelled correctly as well.

So last night, he found the word Hec.

Hec, Veev questions. Isn't that a swearword, my oldest pipes in.

My middlest laughs hysterically. Hec isn't a swearword. "What the Heck" is a swearword.

So I counted the point. Who the hec cares if it's spelled incorrectly.

Friday Night Races - Part II

This is the continuation of Friday Night Races

"Hey, he might not be dead." Moshe was the first one to speak. We had returned back to the hotel around 4:30. Driving separately, we took great care not to come in at the same time, not to let anyone see us leave or enter the hotel. "We heard sirens. Help was on"

"He's f**kin' toast," I heard myself interupt. "There's no way he got out of there." I wanted to throw up and cry and be strong and most of all, I wanted to go back to that moment six hours earlier when we snuck away. I wanted to shout out to that memory, to warn it of the impending disaster. But there was nothing that could be done. Nothing, but think about ourselves.

David must have been reading my mind. When the pressure was on, David always rose to the occasion. That night, in twelfth grade, when we were busted by Rabbi Moses coming back from a dance club reeking of cigarette smoke and pot, David proved himself. He looked the rabbi straight in the eye, took Rabbi Moses' hand, and told him we were at a shiva house where things were getting out of control.

David lived by three words. Deny all allegations. It was his mantra, and he had the composure and character makeup to pull it off. Regardless of the situation, David looked for ways out of tight situations.

"Boys, here's the situation," he began. "No one saw us leave here tonight. No one saw us come back. So as far as anyone at this shabbaton is concerned, we were here all night. The guys who race don't know our names, and they won't talk to cops anyways. So from this moment forward, tonight never happened."

His voice got stronger as he went on. I looked at him in awe. And revulsion. One of our best friends was killed, and he was able to block it all out and plan for our safety.

"What about the Gregg's," Moshe asked. "They are going to want to know what happened to their kid." Moshe was bordering on hysterical. Tears flew down his cheeks. Of all of us, he and Chaim were the closest. He would take this the hardest.

"What about the Gregg's," David answered. "What about us? Do you want the whole world to know where you were tonight? Do you want your parents to know that the $100,000 they spent on your education was a big f**king waste of money?"

"You need to think of yourself at a time like this. You need to trust me. And trust me, it's what Chaim would have wanted."

"We need a story," I said, interupting. "Everyone saw us go back to our room tonight. When we go out, there will only be three of us."

"OK," Moshe answered. "We tell everyone that when we got back to the room, Chaim said he was going out to meet some girl in the lobby, and we haven't seen him since."

We worked on the details of the cover up. By the time our story was set, it was almost 6 AM. In two and a half hours, someone would be knocking on our door to wake us for minyan.

We were still wearing our clothes from the night's adventure, smelled of smoke, and had motor oil all over our hands. "Boys, time to clean up," David said, and soon the shower was running and the evidence slowly went down the drain.

When David was in the shower, I looked over at Chaim's unmade bed. A tear was struggling to get out. A tear I wanted to set free. But a tear I was told I must never shed.

Moshe was having no trouble at all crying. he was breaking down, and I wondered who among us would be the first to crack.

"They probably already know," Moshe said. "The Greggs, they probably know that Chaim is dead. They must have got the call from the hospital and by now they know. Who knows, maybe they got him out."

We went through the rest of Shabbos in a daze. As high school graduates about to embark on a year-long journey to Israel, we were expected to speak, and so we did. But I have no idea what any of us actually said.

And we knew the worst was still to come. Tomorrow we would have to go to Chaim’s funeral. And then there would be real questions. Not the one’s we shrugged off throughout the Shabbaton.

The accident had happened too late on Friday night to make the Saturday morning paper, and we wondered if timing would keep the story out of the paper for good.

When I got home on Saturday night, I expected to be greeted with news of Chaim’s accident and death. I was prepared for any question. I was not prepared for nothing. Just my mom asking how the Shabbaton was. I made some small talk, and went to my room to call the guys.

We had a quick conference call, and decided that Chaim’s family was keeping it a secret for a day, so that they wouldn’t have to admit that their son was driving on Shabbos when he died. We reminded each other of our pact, hung up, and went to sleep.

I don’t think I slept more than five minutes in a row. All night, I kept having the recurring nightmare. I saw Chaim’s car burst into flame. And I pictured him looking straight at me, screaming and begging for help. Finally, at 6:00 am, I gave up and got out of bed.

I went outside, and grabbed the paper, wondering if there would be any mention of the drag racing accident. I didn’t have to flip through very far. Page A-6, right after the National news, on top of the local section. There was a picture of Chaim’s burnt out Chevy. Next to the picture, the headline read

Teen in Drag Racing Death Still Unidentified
I quickly read the article.

Utica police are turning to the community today, as they try to identify the victim of a horrific car accident. The driver, who was racing a Chevy Cavalier that had been reported stolen over two years ago, was burnt beyond recognition after a spark caught a leaky fuel line, causing the car to explode.

Police say that it looks like the teen was racing when the accident took place. Police are asking for anyone with information about the accident to come forward so that they can identify the victim.

“Oh F**k,” I whispered, and slammed my fist down on the table. This was the worst possible scenario. Worse than I could have imagined.

That morning, Chaim’s mother called all three of our mother’s. Duty-bound, we all stuck to the same story. We didn’t know where Chaim went on Friday night. We thought he was sneaking out to meet one of the girls at the Shabbaton but that he had been pretty vague about his plans.

Moshe, David and I got together at the baseball field in the park around the corner. The place where Chaim used to crush the ball in little league games. The place where the four of us often met to make plans and sneak away.

Chaim’s mom was starting to panic, and we needed to decide. Did we come clean? Or did we stick to the plan, hold out until Tuesday, get on our flight to Israel, and run.

The preceding story is a work of fiction. It is the continuation of Friday Night Races

Monday, July 18, 2005

The payoff is gone


The proceeding post is nonfiction.

We have always started Shabbos on time. That is, when the sun sets. In the summer, that occasionally means starting after 9 PM, and not sitting down to eat until 10.

There are several advantages to this. For one, there is much less of a last minute rush when you have an extra hour to get ready for shabbos. For another, it usually means watching a game for an extra hour. Finally, it means having a quiet meal with just the two of us.

But after the Pistons playoff run, when we let oldest stay up to watch the game, it seemed wrong to send him to bed the next night before Shabbos. Where were are priorities? So we let him stay up for dinner on Friday night. And since he was staying up, my middlest needed to stay up too.

So now our quiet dinner for two has turned into a boisterous meal of four followed by bed time. Usually at 11.

So maybe its time to rethink this whole on-time Shabbos thing.

Friday Night Races

The roar of engines fills the warm night. Exhaust fumes mix with cigarette smoke, blending together with the smell of alcohol and sweet scent of marijuana. The senses are on fire. It is one of those nights that you feel completely, with every part of your body.

The energy. The power. The ground almost feels like it is shaking beneath the testosterone and muscle cars that surround us.

It is a feeling of being more alive than ever before. A feeling described Thoreau, sucking the marrow of life and living deliberately. A feeling rarely felt in suburban America.

Four of us have come to this 7-11 in Utica. Four of us have come to test our cars on Mound road between 21 Mile and 19 Mile. It is a two mile stretch of wide roads. Every Friday night, drivers bring out their baby’s, cars they have lovingly tinkered with and modified. There is one goal on a night like tonight. To be the fastest car.

It is the last Friday night in August in the summer before we turn 18. The last Friday night before we go to Israel to study and develop into young Orthodox adults who will one day lead the community. The irony is not lost on us.

It is not the first Friday night we four have found ourselves at this 7-11 in Utica. For three years we have talked about and dreamed about and dared one another for this moment. For two years we have worked on our cars, learning about engines and wing tips and all the things you need to know to help a Ford Taurus hit 130 MPH on a straightaway.

We have grown up in Detroit our entire lives. Tinkering with cars is in our blood. It is part of our American heritage. The part that has difficulty reconciling an American life with an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle.

In the past we have come to this spot to talk with other drivers, learning secrets to draw the most speed out of our cars. We have all lied to our parents and teachers about our whereabouts, too many times to count, and tonight, of course, is no exception. There is gambling going on tonight, as there is every Friday night. The road is almost deserted, and the cops have been looking the other way on Friday night on Mound Road for decades.

Moshe and I are told to get ready. We will be racing in three races. We get in oru cars, and get in the race line. There is one set of racers in the parking lot ahead of us. One set of racers at the starting line. And one set of racers immediately behind the two cars at the starting line.

Each race lasts about 90 seconds, and once the cars at the end of the raceway are out of the way, the next race begins. After each race starts, the pairs of cars move forward one spot. As we move up to the parking lot exit, Chaim and David pull up behind us. They will be racing after us.

We have spent two years working on our cars, getting ready for this day. Two years of bragging and trash talking and learning everything we could about pushing a car to the limit. But now it is time for the trash talking to stop. Now is the time to prove automotive superiority.

Just me and my 1986 Ford Taurus. Against Moshe and his 1983 Toyota Camry.

I always wondered what it was like to wait in the car, gunning the engine, getting ready to race. I dreamt about the rush, but dreams don’t hold a candle to reality. There is no word to describe the thrill and adrenaline, as we pull our cars out onto the street, and then, 90 seconds later, pull up to the starting line.

The rules are simple. When the green flag is waved, you go. Whoever crosses 19 Mile road first wins. There are no turns. Bumping is frowned upon, but not against the rules. To the winner is glory and bragging rights.

It is our turn. Moshe and I pull up to the starting line. Shabbat is the farthest thing from our minds. Leaving for Israel and saying goodbye to friends and family don’t cross our minds. We are focused on one thing; the man with the green flag.

My heart is racing faster than I have ever felt it. It is a singular experience, this rush, never matched in the classroom or on a ball field. The engines our revving, and I know both Moshe I and are in Neutral.

The flags come down, and we shift into first. Five seconds later I shift into second, and moents later, I am in third, neck and neck with Moshe as we hit 40 MPH. I shift into fourth, and as I pass 65 MPH, I shift one last time into fifth. My shifts have gone smoothly, but so have Moshe’s and he has a slight lead as we fly through the intersection at 20 Mile road at 120 MPH. I push and plead with my Taurus, and as the gas pedal hits the floor, the speedometer is hitting 135. Faster than I have ever driven this car, but not faster than Moshe. He is pulling away, Japanese technology has beaten American ingenuity.

Moshe has earned bragging rights forever. We both pull to a stop, delirious with exhilaration and covered in sweat. We know the rules, and we pull our cars into the 7-11 parking lot located at 18 mile and Mound.

We want to get back to 19 Mile to catch see who wins in our friend’s race, but we know we will never get back to the finish line on time, so we sit in the parking lot and smoke cigarettes and give each other play by play of what was going on in our car.

We look up, and we can see Chaim and David’s headlights speeding down mound. We know what they are going through, and wonder who is winning the race. We are laughing and watching and catching our breath, but it isn’t until we hear a loud explosion that we realize something is wrong. The car on the left, Chaim’s car, has burst into flames just before the finish line.

The flames are intense by the time we get to his car. No one can get near his car, and no one has come out of the car yet. David’s car has stopped and swung back around, and he has a look of horror on his face. We all do. Siren’s start to fill the night air, and there are decisions to make. Stay or go. Face police questions and be found out by our parents and community. Or make a run for it and feign ignorance for the rest of our lives.

It is Friday night, and we are supposed to be somewhere else. Sleeping. Not in Utica, smoking and racing in jeans and t-shirts and baseball caps.

There are only seconds before our indecision will turn into a decision. Our friend is dying, or already dead. In a few hours his parents will get a call they will not understand, and will not believe, and will not find out until Saturday night that their son who they raised to be Shomer Shabbat was racing cars on a Friday night.

There is no reason to bring that anguish to our family, we decide. We don’t know if we are making the best decision of our lives or the worst, but we run for our cars and drive off into the night. Back to the Shabbaton we were claiming to be attending. Into our beds. Just like we planned. Except now, when the sun rose in the morning, there would be a made bed. And this would never be the night we had hoped for, but always remain the night we could never forget.

The police report, we were told, showed that there was a break in the fuel line, and the high speeds caused something to spark, which ignited the gasoline, and caused the car to blow up. No one ever connected us to that night, not to our face, but I’m sure there were some who had suspicions.

There were times when we tried to talk about that night. We wondered if this was God sending us a message. Or just a freak accident with a spark and leaky fuel line.

I guess we’ll never know for sure.

The preceding was a work of fiction.

Friday, July 15, 2005


My grandparents are not in their 80s. Both my mother and aunt have said they are in their 70s.

And if you missed it, you missed it.

Post It Notes

I have always believed that some products do not need instructions. A ball needs no directions; neither does a cup or mug.

Among the items I felt needed no instruction were Post It notes.

Sad to say, I am wrong.

I just finished a meeting, where the girl I was meeting with was trying to use Post It flags to point out information.

The flag, in case you've never seen one, is a bright-colored note. It has a pointed edge and a flat edge. One side of the flag, near the pointed edge, is sticky. It allows Post It note posters to point directly at an item, and have the edge of the flag fly off the page, alerting the person shuffling through the paper that there is something that needs to be looked at on the page.

After receiving flagged pages in the past from this woman, where the flag was taped on, I assumed that the woman was just really nervous that the Post It glue would not hold the Post It flag on the page.

I assumed she knew how to use the Post It.

She needed to put two flags on the page. She placed it on the correct spot, with the sticky pointy side out, and the flat unglued side next to the text. The flag, of course did not stick, something she is used to by the way she quickly snagged the tape, and taped the flag on.

But the kicker was this. After she taped her second flag on, she said...

"I don't know why they make these sticky flags if they don't stick to anything."

Actual conversation from yesterday

J - I don't like the word chronic

C - But chronic means ongoing. What word would you like.

J - I don't know, but chronic seems so negative.

Me - Rolling eyes, trying to stay awake. It is hour 3 of meeting,

CV - I agree. chronic doesn't make much sense if it is a negative word.

J - What word would you like, ongoing?

Me - stifling yawn, wondering why it is so hot in room

CV - No, ongoing is too pedestrian.

C - I think I like ongoing.

Me - Why didn't they get our food order. Why are we in this hot room for so long and no drinks.

CV - I like chronic more than ongoing

J - So you want to keep it as Chronic?

C - Yes, let's keep it.

CV - Isn't there a better word?

Me - It sure would be nice to have a break in a three hour meeting.

J, C and CV - OK, we'll keep chronic.

CV - And on the next page....

What can I say, its a living....

Thursday, July 14, 2005

301 days too late

I thought about blogging about the NHL this morning. After all, they did make a deal yesterday.


301 days after their collective bargaining agreement expired, the NHL finally brought the players union to its knees, and rammed a deal down the players throats.

301 days too late.

They may have acheived cost certainty, but what will they do about revenue certainty? A league that robs its fans of a season needs to do a lot more than just show up and tell everyone everything is OK. Season teickets are on sale now.

ESPN bowling gets better ratings than the NHL, and bowling is usually up against Sunday afternoon sports.

When you have a sport and no one is watching it, and national advertising shies away from it, and national viewership is down, and then you take a year off to bicker about money, not many people care.

So why bother blogging about a sport that exists on the periphery and has watered down its product so much that it barely resembles hockey.


I share another blog with two friends. One of those friends had never seen the Roshei Teivot, "ROTFL".

I almost told him what it meant, but I want him to guess. Can anyone think of any combination of words that would go nicely in that pattern? Of course, all of OUR readers know what it really means in cyberspace, right?

Have fun, but keep it clean... That means you, Air!

Taking Inventory

Even though we have been playing well, Jerusalem Pizza was 1-2 going into last night's ganme against Outsiderz. When we played them last time, we were badly outplayed, and lost 9-3. But this season we are playing better, and thought this was a game we could get.

They added a new player for this season, a guy who must be 6'6" and weighed about 300, maybe 325. He was huge, and he was in my zone, and being that it's a hockey game, it got a little physical. Nothing out fo the ordinary, just hard hitting hockey.

I thought we outplayed them in the first period, but a late goal gave them a 1-0 lead heading into the break. We kept pressing and pressing, but could not break through, and when the second period ended, we were trailing 3-0.

Goals 4 and 5 came quickly for them, and trailing 5-0, we called timeout.

After the timeout, we came out strong. I scored, to cut it to 5-1. We scored a few more, but when the final buzzer sounded, we had lost our third game in a row, this time 7-4.

When you win, you never feel the pain from the game. But when you lose, you take inventory. And complain.

Thumb - Black and blue under the nail from a slash - Should turn yellow and grow out within 6-8 weeks.

Ankle - Cut open, bruised and bloody - This one was a surprise. I didn't realize it until we were driving home.

Upper thigh - large bruise, probably from pushing and shoving around the boards.

Plus various puck marks which will turn black and blue and disappear after a few days.

But we do love this game.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Veevs Believes...4

I believe that it's OK to cry over a shirt you really like and just bought yesterday and ruined by spraying your counters (and, incidentally, your shirt) with Clorox cleanser. Especially if you hardly ever buy yourself any new clothes.

Talk Radio Sucks. Really. Really. Bad.

My commute is five minutes long, unless I hit traffic. Then it's eight minutes. But today was a five minute drive, just enough time to catch one segment of talk radio on WDFN, Sports 1130.

Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 was accused of being both a scientologist and homosexual. The highbrow conversation that WDFN is known for asked its listeners to call in and honestly tell the listening audience what offends them more, being accused of being gay or being accused of being a scientologist. There were four callers. Callers 1 and 2 both claimed that they would rather be accused of being gay than be accused of being a scientologist. Caller three would prefer to be called a scientologist than gay, because who wants to be gay. Caller four agreed with callers one and two, and found the scientolgy slight to be much more shameful than being called gay.

Without going to commercial, Stoney, the host, then mentioned the weather forecast, as in ...

Its supposed to by thunderstorming tonight, and Jersey, my dog, will be running into the bathroom to hide. But at least I know that while she is scared, she is also healthy, because she eats Purina One. I was amazed to learn that Purina One chooses only the finest of ingredients in their dog foods, and is recommended by veteranarians.

No pause for a commericial. Nothing to let the listener know that scientology vs homosexuality was finished. Just a smooth transition into pet food.

Pass the barf bag please.

More Batteries Please, Pass the screwdriver

Maybe it happened in a trailer park somewhere. On one of those days where the Tornado hadn’t run through the park. Maybe it was a nice day, and the trailer trash mom was screwing some sugar daddy in the back of the mobile home while her three kids from four dads sat out on the picnic table waiting for their home to stop rocking back and forth and their mom to stop screaming “yeah right there” from the back room of the mobile home. And maybe little Johnny was playing his brand new Mattel Electronic Football II, you know, the green one that had passing. The very game that Sugar Daddy had brought over to keep the kids busy while he “talked to Momma” for a few minutes.

And Johnny, being naturally curious, opened the battery compartment, to test the 9-V battery against his lips, the way he had seen momma check her batteries on her toys. And maybe Johnny didn’t quite know what he was doing, and he swallowed the battery. And an hour later, when Momma and Sugar Daddy finished their “Conversation,” they came out to find little Johnny as dead as dead can be.

And Momma decided to do the right thing, and sue Mattel for having an unsafe product; one that little Johnny was able to open and take the battery out and die. So Momma sued, and Mattel had to pay her Millions of dollars, which she promptly invested in a new motor home (The deluxe model), the Indian casino on the riverboat, cigarettes and Wild Turkey.

And Mattel and all the other toy manufacturers decided to put a little screw in the back of every one of their battery-operated products.

And now, every time one of my kids leaves their toys on overnight, or gets a new battery-operated toy, I have to rummage through draws to find the screwdriver, which turns out to be too thick to open the battery compartment on the toy anyway half the time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


I want to take this opportunity to mention that I have, more times than I'd like to admit, been the "rejectee." And now for my short stories.

Summer of '87, I was turning 13 then, and I was in sleepaway camp for the first (actually one) time to a co-ed B'nei Akiva camp. My second Shabbos there, I was sitting in the dining room at lunch, and some boy from my age-group came up to me and asked me if I'd take a Shabbos walk with his friend. I had heard him ask about 7 other girls before me, and I replied, "How desparate do you think I am?" His whole table laughed (at me, probably) and he continued on to 9th choice. Thinking back, eighth out of 35 girls? Not bad.

When I was a kid, my parents let me hang out with boys and be friends with them, but I wasn't allowed to "officially date" a boy until I was 16. When I was about 17, a friend set me up on a blind date with a 20 year old guy. I don't know why, but we ended up going to a movie, and it was New Year's Eve. Halfway through the movie Josh asked if he could hold my hand. I turned to him and said, "No! We haven't even spoken 2 words to each other this entire date! We hardly know each other!" And I didn't let him touch me. After that, I went out with him one more time, where he didn't try anything, by the way. After the second date, he called again, and I told him I didn't think it was going to work out. And I didn't want to be friends. And don't call me.

Good Luck and Never Come Back

Tomorrow, over 500 people are making Aliyah through Nefesh B'Nefesh. It is the largest number of North American Olim for a single day, at least according to Arutz Sheva.

Which means that right now, they are getting ready to board a flight that is taking them, where?

To the unknown, to a new land with a different language and different customs. They will find jobs and learn the language and send their kids to school and to the army adjust to their new life there.

And I'm sure it will be hard, but I'm confident they'll make it.

Because they are doing more than merely emigrating to another country.

They're going home.

Can your city top this?

And does it want to?

2006 - Super Bowl
2005 - MLB All Star Game, NBA finals
2004 - NBA Finals
2002 - Stanley Cup Finals
1998 - Stanley Cup Finals
1997 - Stanley Cup Finals
1995 - Stanley Cup Finals
1991 - NBA Finals
1990 - NBA Finals
1989 - NBA Finals
1984 - World Series

All that, two new stadiums, three casinos, high unemployment, high crime and kids suffering from poverty at levels worse than in rural Mississippi.

Swift Thinker

In the Fall of 1993, I attended Yeshiva University. My time spent there was not successful or long-lasting; I survived exactly one semester there.

One day, my friend Gil came up from Detroit. He had a Mustang convertible, and invited me for a ride. I was with Gila, who refused to go in the car. Gil already had a girl in the car, a girl named Michelle who I had heard about but never met.

Michelle and I ended up becoming good friends. We would hang out all the time, and later, when I was in Torah Mitzion in Great Neck, whenever I would miss the 1:19 train, she would hang out with me either in the Brookdale Hall doorway (guys couldn't enter the building after midnight) or at Penn Station until the next train came at 3:19.

Anyway, there is a reason why I’m telling you all this. Michelle has a new blog called Randomthoughts, and is desperate for visitors and comments. She has some great stories, has dated several readers of this blog, and will always be known for peeing in the sink at the Lev Yerushalayim one crazy drunk night.

Back to the Rabbi

We have a rabbi in our shul. He is probably better than some, certainly worse than others.

This past Shabbos, he spoke about women covering their hair. It seems that he has noticed a lot of women in our shul are no longer covering their hair, and he wanted to tell them that covering one's hair is just as important as keeping Shabbos and Kashrut. And I have no problem with his message.

But I question the forum.

Is anyone going to change their behavior because the rabbi made a ten minute speech one Shabbat morning in the middle of July? If this is an important issue in our community, and if he says it is I will take him at his word for it, there has to be a better way to get the message out to the people that need to hear it. Such as a class, with sources, and a give and take as to what it means to cover one's hair. Is it all of one's hair, some of one's hair, in one's home, or when one is getting the mail or newspaper?

And he has classes for women, so he has an appropriate forum.

He's using a blunt tool to pound his message in when what he needs is a more sensitive instrument to get his message across to the right people.

Which means this speech wasn't about affecting change; it was about sending a public message to the community. It was about saying we have had a nice run in Detroit, but now it is time to move on. It is about throwing a controversial issue out there, without the sources to back it up, and stirring the pot so that when he leaves before his contract is over, no one will try to hold him to it. Everyone will be able to say we each wanted to go in a different direction, and we are moving on.

Or he has no idea how to affect change in people, and thinks sending out a diluted cover your hair message will get people to say hey, I need to cover my hair now.

Either way, it may be time to bring the search committee out of retirement.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Reading for Idiots

As previously mentioned, I spent several hours at the mall today. One of the stores I love to spend time in when I am alone is the bookstore; in this case it was Borders Express.

I walked in to find many sale books and browsed right through. I was pleased to find the sequel to a teen-age book I read over Shabbos, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and I picked it up for purchase. Air and I like some light reading from time to time, and some of his previous roommates might remember the Sweet Valley High bathroom reading he used to do.

As I turned the corner, I notice the sign for Women's Literature. I sauntered on up, since I am a woman and was curious to see what was there. There they were: colorful books, all paperback, with stupid cartoonish pictures on the covers, and "interesting" fonts. I recognized some of these authors from grocery stores and the library, where I often peruse book titles.

The problem to me is, why are these books offered up as "women's literature"? Every one of them has completely useless dialogue, idiotic plots and even more inane subplots! Are we still living in the age where the perception is that women are the weaker and less intelligent sex? Why do these publishers print their bookcovers in hot pink and call them "The Shopaholics Guide to ......"? Is that how the world perceives women today? The worst part of it is that the publishers, editors, and writers are women themselves.

Ironically, there was no section for Men's Literature. Wonder what those book would look like... At least they would be hardcover...