Sunday, October 30, 2005

Where Have You Gone David Cohen

To my knowledge, there have been three religious Jews born in Morgantown, West Virginia over the past fifty years. My younger brother, who currently lives in Maalot, is one. I am the second. The third is a guy named David Cohen.

David Cohen met my dad while my dad was attending medical school at West Virginia University. He is the only person my dad gives himself credit as turning frum. After leaving West Virginia to become frum, David Cohen moved to Guelph, Ontario, where he was the town rabbi.

Then, he moved to Israel, and my dad completely lost touch with him.

We are on the third day of the pilot trip segment to our visit to Israel, looking for a place to live. Today, we spent time at Zichron Yaakov, and got a good feel for the community. Over Shabbat, we were in Hoshaya, a small Yishiv in the Galil, and we really enjoyed the Yishuv lifestyle that we were exposed to. We decided to add Mitzpe Netofa to our itinerary, a similar Yishuv that is looking to grow from 110 families to 220 families by the end of next year. They are offering a lot of benefits to Olim moving to small yishuvim in the galil, and are trying specifically to build up Mitzpe Netofa, and after our experience in Hoshaya, we talked to the coordinator of our trip to set us up with a meeting in Mitzpe Netofa.

The Tehila coordinator told us to call Sharon Cohen to set up a time for us to get together.

Is your uncle or dad a dentist, she asked me. No, I said. She was hard to understand over the cel phone, but I heard her say Morgantown over the static. My dad went to school in Morgantown, I told her. I was born there, I added.

The static died down, as I found out more. Her husband is David Cohen, the third Morgantown native to live a shomer shabbat lifestyle. He moved to Mitzpe Netofa years ago, and has often wondered what happened to my dad.

She sent the warmest regards to my dad, and when I called my father to tell him, he was amazed that of all the yishuvim in all the world be bumped into this guy...


Friday, October 21, 2005


You'll have to get by the next two weeks without me. We're going to be in Israel for the next two weeks.

See you on my return.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Great Yom Tov

The first two days of Succos were fantastic. The weather was perfect fall weather, and the bees stayed away. The rain which threatened to fall on the first night fell briefly, but by the time we were ready to eat, it was all clear.

The food was excellent, and the davening did not seem to drag.

But here is the thing. For some reason, our rabbi does not like to wait for yom tov to start before starting maariv at night. Usually, he has someone speak for ten minutes, and then we daven, causing us to get home minutes before candlelighting.

It seems perfect, doesn't it. You walk in, Yom Tov starts, your wife lights and you eat. Here's the flaw. First, how it should be.

Forty minute break between mincha and maariv, where someone gives an interesting d'var torah or we go into the hall for some shmoozing. We daven at candlelighting time, and by the time we get home, the dishes are washed, the soup is warmed, the table is set and it is time for Kiddush.

Here is how it is though.

We hear some kid speak for ten minutes. We daven maariv. We get home right before candlelighting. Then we have to help with the dishes, setting the table heating the food and waiting until everything is ready before we eat.

Why do I think the Rabbi's wife is very involved in setting the davening schedule?

Monday, October 17, 2005


This morning's clear blue sky has given way to dark clouds, just like the weatherman said. I hope this rolls through quickly and doesn't screw up dinner.

Anyway, Chag Sameach. And may no one freeze to death in the Succah.

Back where we started

When we first got married we had one car, a white used Lincoln Town Car. We traded that car in for a 91 Ford Taurus. While we had only one car, I would commute to school by bus, and Veev would take the car to work.

Shortly before our odlest was born, we leased our first car, a Nissan Sentra. When the lease expired we turned it in for a Nissan Ultima. We had two Ultimas before moving Veev up to a Chrysler Town and Country. On my side, I eventually had to trade the Taurus in, and got a small Saturn. Three years later, I traded it for a Chrylser Pacifica.

The Pacifica had plenty of mileage available on it, and the Town and Country was out of miles, so I used the Town and Country since I have a shorter commute, and Veev drove the Pacifica to work. At night, when possible, we shared the Pacifica, to keep the miles off the Town and Country.

But this morning I had to turn the Town and Country in, and since they don't have a six month lease, and Huntington National Banmk totally SUCKS and does not offer lease extension programs, we are back where we started from.

Two adults. One car.

My turn

Shifra tagged me for the 7 meme. I don't know what a meme is, but I seem to be in a blog slump, so I may as well do this.

7 things I can do
Clear the intermediate level of Minesweeper in under 40 seconds without cheating
Tell jokes at a funeral (but I do get kicked by my wife)
Make up songs that get kids to laugh, mostly by either singing about throwing up, farting, or other good clean fun
Sit and listen to my kids all talking and not hear a single word they say
Answer any question you have about the first two seasons of the OC (Except the last five episodes of season two, I haven't seen them yet)and the first two seasons of Gilmore girls
Use computer programs without using a mouse
Drink a large glass of water and chew through an entire ice tray on a typical friday night

7 things I can't do
Type without looking at the keyboard ocasionally
Stop crying when I watch the Rookie or Miracle
Sing on tune
Understand women
Understand how my daughter can be standing next to the toilet and peeing on herself instead of just sitting on the toilet and peeing in the bowl
Take a subway to work
Hold a pen without putting it in my mouth

7 things I want to do before I die
Write a screenplay
BBQ something huge that takes 8 hours to cook
Fry a turkey
Hunt down all sports talk radio hosts and lock them away on an island that the military uses for target practice
Attend a Superbowl Championship parade on Woodward
Learn how to do flash animation and create something that the whole world forwards to one another
Send a bill to a credit card company for my time spent reading and trashing all the junk mail I get from them

7 Things I Say Often
Good morning
Do you wanna
Whats for dinner

I'm supposed to tag seven people, but all the blogs I read have been infected with this meme, so you are all off the hook. Feel free to leave a list of your things here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Center of it All IX

Is now being served on the deuce.

Easy fast

I hope all of you have an easy fast, and I'll see you here on Friday

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Succah Building

I built my Succah on Sunday. It is about 10 feet by 16 feet, with wooden panels, and has served us well the past three years.

But there are a lot of curiosities about the succah. For one thing, the Succah has three sets of numkbers written along the top, to make it easier to build. Last year, when I saw the number system didn't work, I added a 2004 in front of the numbers, so that when Succos 2005 rolled along, I would know exactly how the Succah was supposed to go.

And of course, when I put the panel up next to the house, there was not a single hole that lined up with the holes in the panel next to the house.

My kids wanted to help, and they really tried, but I think they mostly slowed things down. They were good at holding things up, but they couldn't control the power tools. So soon my middlest was on the swingset and my oldest was watching the Lions.

It has rained twice since the Succah went up, and I am pleased that the succah is still standing tall. I wonder if it could have withstood the 20 inches of snow that fell in Denver over the past few days.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Crimes of Omission

Its been a while since I wrote about our hockey, Jerusalem Pizza. And its not because we stopped playing. Rather, its because we stopped playing well.

Losing is a bitch, and reliving it again and again is overly counter productive. But when every agonizng step I take reminds me of last nights games, well, maybe its time to blog about it.

In "My Losing Season," Pat Conroy writes that even though more people write about winners and winning, you learn more about yourself and your team from the losing seasons.

I usually take Conrack at his word, although the lessons we are learning aren't all that life changing. Sure, we find out who the character guys are, who the guys are who are out there giving 100% even when the game is out of hand, and we see who decides to skip a game for some bizarre personal reason.

We switched leagues for the fall, because our old league played on Wednesday nights and that had too much Yom Tov conflict. Last night we played a team that looked like an all star team from Joe Dumars league. They had top players from Joe Ds playing on one team, and the bottom line was, we played with them strong for two periods.

After two, we trailed 5-2, and then the wheels came off. We gave up 5 goals in the first four minutues of the third periodand they mercied us, 10-2.

Lesson 1: Ten overweight, over thirty, out of shape jewish guys are going to have a hard time competing with ten in shape twenty and thirty somethings every day of the week.

Lesson 2: Losing blows.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Calling all Artscroll Machzor users

I need your help.

While davening on Rosh Hashana, we were saying the t'fillah that we say before Brich Shmei, which is right before torah reading. I think it starts off Ribbono Shel Olem, but I am not sure. Right before this t'filla we sing Hashem Hashem three times, and right after it we sing something else three times. SO I am going to assume you know which T'fillah I am talking about.

If you are using an Ashkenaz standard Rish Hashana machzor, both regular size and pocket size, if you look about halfway through the paragraph there are two lines that have a slightly smaller font, and then there is a small gap as well. It looks like the text is curved as well, but I have a feeling it is an optical illusion.

I am trying to figure out why the text is like that. I have a feeling that they made a mistake, and just printed up those two lines on a different piece of paper, and pasted it in to make the correction rather than actually correct the file. Remember, the first edition printed almost 20 years ago, and technology, especially for laying out a hebrew siddur, is nowhere near as advanced as it is today.

Our shul just bought all new Artscroll Machzorim, and so all the shul-supplied machzorim were printed recently, in the twentieth impression of the printing. Obviously, the mistake happened years ago. I went to people in shul who had their own Artscroll siddur, and went back as far as the ninth impression (I forget the year) and the smaller, curved text appears in that edition as well.

Does anyone have a really old siddur, or know what happened to those two lines?

Wheels in Motion

We have been talking about making Aliyah for a few months, but we were dragging our feet in filling out our application to move. We finally sent it out last week, and today we got our Tik Aliyah number, which means now we can apply to Nefesh B'Nefesh for their summer flights.

We are very excited about getting the number, which is the first official step toward making Aliyah.

Rosh HaShana customs

Some people eat the head of a lamb, others the head of a fish, and make the Yehi Ratzon to be like the head and not the tail. We like the Yehi Ratzon, but we do not like want a lambs head or a fish head on our table, so we have modified the custom, and normally make the Yehi Ratzon over the gummy fish candy, where we cut off the tail, and only eat the head.

This year, though, we forgot to buy fish head candy. So there we were, on Rosh HaShana eve without any fish heads. We looked through our candy supply, and found gummy worms, and decided to make the Yehi Ratzon over the gummy worm heads.

There was an added bonus to using Gummy worms. They are manufactured with a head on both ends, so we did not have to waste any part of the precious gummy worm, and could make the Yehi Ratzon over both ends.

As a side point to this story, a year ago my brother brought his Israeli girlfriend (or Kallah, I don't remember if they were engaged) to my parent's home for Rosh HaShana. When they served the Fish Head candy, she thought it was a joke, and kept waiting for the real fish head to make an appearance.

Now married, they came back for a Rosh HaShana visit, and this time my new sister in law insisted that my mom serve a real fish head instead of candy.

What's wrong with her?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sitting in Meetings

It is pretty rare that I have to go to a meeting. I meet with clients pretty frequently, but I rarely have to go to a department meeting. In fact, its been a little over two years since I had to sit in a meeting with a bunch of peopel to talk about some work-related issue.

But this morning was the exception, and so I found myself sitting in a two-hour meeting almost bored to tears. But there is a saving grace. At my last job that had meetings, I got into the habit of drawing dirty drawings. The degree of smut in the drawing is limited by my inability to draw, but the habit always kept me looking like I was paying attention as someone droned on and on about things that had no bearing on my job.

But like I said, it had been a few years since I sat in a meeting. And all of the sudden, I was drawing again. At first, it was just a little comic strip, which I will share with you, before I moved on to more adult themes.

It struck me as ironic that i don't do these drawings for two years, and then, boom, the morning after Rosh HaShana, I end up in a meeting and start drawing. But that's the way it goes. Its just the awy I'm wired.

Anyway, I'm not just telling this to you to waste your time. I am explaining why there is a hand-drawn comic strip on this post.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Why I don't read the paper

This is from today's paper. This is the worst interview I have ever read in my life. I don't know why they printed it, and I can't imagine how low Jim Schaefer is on the totem pole in the newsroom. He has to be an intern.

A FEW MINUTES WITH ...: A Pistons fan and his faulty tattoo

October 3, 2005

In front of a poster of Pistons star Ben Wallace, Richard Hanley, 37, of Eastpointe displays the "Pistons: 2005 NBA champs" tattoo he got before the final game. The team lost, but Hanley won't change the body art.

Look in this space each Monday for conversations with people who are interesting but unheralded.

Richard Hanley, superfan, had an idea last June, just hours before the Detroit Pistons played Game 7 of the NBA finals.

Hanley, 37, of Eastpointe decided to show his love by getting a permanent tattoo on his upper right arm, boasting before the game was even played that the Pistons were 2005 world champions.

It felt so right. But it was so wrong, as he discovered later that night while the ink was still drying on his arm.

The Pistons lost, and the rest is history -- except for Hanley's colorful red, white and blue memorial to wishful thinking. Three months later, as his team readies itself for a new season and another shot at the title, Hanley still has the lofty and inaccurate proclamation on his arm.

QUESTION: Did the tattoo guy warn you ... "This thing's permanent, pal"?
ANSWER: No. I knew. And everyone said, "What are you going to do?" when they lost. ... I just said, "You know what? In my heart, they won."

Q: Yeah. OK. In your heart they won.
A: They didn't technically win, but they're still my team and I'll wear it proudly.

Q: You could have it removed with a laser, right?
A: Not me. It's staying there.

Q: The night you did it, were you introducing any foreign substances into your body?
A: No.

Q: No offense, but has anybody called you an idiot?
A: No. They know me. And if there's one thing I'm passionate about, it's the Pistons.

Q: You ever think about getting tattoo on your face, then?
A: No.

Q: That would really show you're a fan.
A: I'm sure it would.

Q: Tell me what it felt like when the clock was ticking down and you realized your tattoo was going to be inaccurate.
A: A little disappointed. When the game was over, I got in my truck and drove to my brother's house in Missouri.

Q: Did you begin drinking heavily?
A: I don't drink.

Q: All right. One more time: What were you thinking?
A: When I did it? Uh, just that, it's me; that's what I'm all about.

Q: Any plans for a Lions Super Bowl tattoo?
A: No.

Q: You're proud of it, you're sticking with it, it's staying on your body.
A: Not changing it, not adding nothing.

Q: Till you're 90 years old?
A: It'll be there.

Rosh HaShana rambling

A full year has passed since we last sat in our assigned seats, and began Rosh HaShana davening. We asked HaShem to watch over us, and take care of our needs. To watch our families and keep them safe from harm. To provide us with financial well-being, and allow us to find a way to come closer to him while pursuing our day-to-day lives.

Probably more so than in any other year since I got married, I met new people, and felt preconceived ideas challenge my belief system. Through blogging, both on this blog and visiting the blogs of others, I have been exposed to the very best and worst that Judaism has to offer. (Interestingly, I probably found them both at DovBear.)

We always talk about T'Shuva, and the Rambam defines four specific steps toward acheiving T'Shuva. Recognizing a sin, deciding not to do the sin again, not doing the sin when faced with similar circumstances, and confession. Of all these four steps, though, confession, or Vidui, is the one we are most comfortable with. It is part of the Nusach of Davening, and over the course of Erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur, we say it ten times.

But isn't there another part of T'Shuva, the part of personal growth. Of taking on more of the Torah, of strengthening our committment to God through doing his Mitzvot. I wonder if that is T'Shuva too. Or is that just growing closer to God, since we are not folowing the Rambam's four step T'shuva process.

The past year has been a blessed year for me and my family. No one got sick. No one died. One of my brothers got married, while another bought a house in Israel. I changed jobs, and added a few more clients to my own freelance business.

But it had not been a great year for Klal Yisroel. Say what you want about the political benefits of Disengagement. Giving up Gaza was the low point. Whenever God takes away part of our land, we have to wonder what else he has in store for us, and what we did wrong to deserve losing a piece of our land.

Shuls have burnt to the ground and antisemitism is flaring again in Europe. Attempted terrorist attacks are being thwarted, but rockets continue to rain down on Israel on a regular basis.

We learn that every tragedy is a message to the Jewish people. And while we don't always understand or know what that message is, there have been a number of messages sent. A Tsunami, two major hurricanes, terror attacks in London, Bali and Madrid, they are all a message to us. They were all written one Rosh HaShana ago, and given Gods signature of approval one week later.

This year promises to be one of challenges for my family. In three weeks we are going to Israel on a Pilot trip; this summer we are planning on making Aliyah and saying goodbye to the life we have carved out for ourselves over the past ten years. And sometime over the next ten days, we will ask God to write it in his book, and sign it on Yom Kippur.

Shana Tova

Thank you to everyone who has come to Air Time over the past few months. I appreciate your readership, your comments, and your participation.

May you and your family have a year filled with Bracha, Mazal and Hatzlacha.