Monday, January 30, 2006

More from Elementary School

This past weekend was the 20th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

When I think back to elementary school, there were not very many newsworthy events that found their way into the classroom. The Challenger, of course, was one of them, as was Baby Fae, a kid who had a baboon heart transplant.

Every week we were assigned to bring in an article from the newspaper, and read it as part of our current events section. One kid in the class, Chaim Blitz, followed the story from the beginning, bringing in articles leading up to the transplant, through the transplant, and up until her death three weeks after she had the heart transplant.

Baby Jessica was another baby celebrity who found her way into our classroom. For those who don't remember, Baby Jessica had somehow fallen into an eighteen inch pipe deep below the ground. It took a few days, but she was rescued.

Baby Jessica, now a young adult at age 19, was in the news this week, when she got married.

It's nice to find out that someone who you worried about and wondered about as a school child survived into adulthood. I wonder how her life changed as a result of the incident.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Do you know what tomorrow is?

I heard my brother ask my wife during one of our friday afternoon calls. January 26, she said. 28th day of Tevet, was her second guess.

January 26. I thought for a second. Veev, I whispered, hoping my brother wouldn't hear on the other and of the phone. It's the 20th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

And perhaps this is a fitting topic for some serious discussion about where I was when it happened, blah blah blah. But the thing I remember most are the jokes. yes, i remember my dad yelling at me, telling me that they were insensitive. And then i remember him coming home form the hospital a few days later, telling me that another surgeon walked over to him and started telling space shuttle jokes.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite, that have stuck with me all these years. Feel free to add more in the comments section.

What was the last thing that went through Christa McAuliff's head? The Engine (Clean Answer) Her Ass (Less Clean Answer)

What kind of shampoo do they use on the space shuttle? They found head and shoulders all over the beach.

What was the last thing they said on the space shuttle? No, Bud Light.

What does NASA stand for? Needs another Seven Astronauts

How were the Patriots better than the space shuttle crew? Because they got past Miami.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Who wants peace?

I don't follow politics. I rarely write about it, and when I do, it is with a definite lay perspective.

I have been keeping an eye on the Palestinian elections. While I have read other bloggers who believe that the average Palestinian wants peace with Israel, a job, economic stability, and a future for their children, I have always felt that the average Palestinian wants to destroy Israel, and live out their lives with whatever consequences that creates.

Yesterday, we finally found out what the average Palestinian voter wants.

78% of the 1.3 million eligible voters took part in the elections. They are estimating that Hamas has won between 70 and 75 of the 132 available parliament seats, somewhere between 53% and 56% of the vote. Which means if you do the math, somewhere over half a million Palestinians voted for suicide bombers and the destruction of Israel.

Yes, there were other issues. Corruption, poor services and an inability to lead took away whatever credibility Fatah had. But there were other, lesser known choices available to Palestinians. Instead, behind the veil of a voting booth, over half of their population shouted out loud and clear, that they are for suicide bombers and they are in favor of the destruction of Israel.

They voted for war over peace.

Sad, really. And somewhat enlightening. They could have made a bold statement renouncing terror, and instead, show us their true hand.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Looking to kill 40 seconds at work?

I don't accept it

Remember the Seinfeld when George tried to break up with his girlfriend, and she wouldn't accept his break up? He had to continue seeing her, until finally, she broke up with him.

Our oldest has decided he needs time off from his piano lessons. We told him it was fine, all he ahd to do was call his teacher and tell him that he did not want to take lessons anymore.

So he called her, and told her that he was really busy with school, and could not continue taking lessons any more. He needed, he told her, a break.

It should have been easy enough, but she didn't accept it. She told him that he should continue taknig lessons with her, and that she would see him next Monday. Just practice a little less, she told him, and you will be able to fit it all in.

Which left my oldest confused as to why she wasn't allowing him to stop going to lessons, and upset that he told her he ju8st wanted a break instead of wanting a break up.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Haller Plan

Some of you questioned the diet I wrote about a few weeks ago. Well, the early results are in. I went to the doctor this morning, and I have lost 16 pounds in the last six weeks.

Blood Pressure is where it is supposed to be now.

Cheese Man

Part Three of Cheese Man is hanging out on the deuce.

And for those of you keeping score at home, Lisa's last name is Berger, not Winer. Sorry for the confusion.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Is she eating him

We are fairly controlling over the movies and TV shows that our kids watch. When we saw Spiderman a while back, though,w e thought it would be ok for our oldest to watch it. While there is a lot of violence in the movie, we thought it would be something he could handle.

Somehow, permission for him to watch the movie got extended to all three of our kids.

And so, on Saturday night, all five of us sat down to watch the movie. My littlest was scared at times, but did not want to stop watching. My middlest loved it. And my oldest enjoyed it.

But there is the scene when Spiderman is hanging upside down, and Mary Jane rolls his mask down, and gives Spiderman a very intense kiss.

At which point my kid said "Is she eating him?"

Friday, January 20, 2006

Is it just me...

Or is Rob Parker really just pissed of that a black guy didn't get the Lions job. Compare that to Mitch's column today.


If the Pistons go 35-5 after forty games, is that more impressive or less impressive than the Tigers 35-5 start in 1984.

Cheese Man

Part 2 of Cheese Man is now available on Air Time II.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thank you

I just wanted to thank everyone who voted for Air Time in the Jewish and Israeli Blogging Awards. It doesn't look like Air Time is going to make it into the next round in any of the categories, but I do appreciate everyone who came by here who had never visitied Air Time before, and especially thanks to the people who sat and read through the entire Center of It All series, which got over 30 votes.

Where Does the Buck Stop?

No word yet from those Lego freaks. Only an instant, automated reply.

Are you Kidding Me?

There was a suicide bomber today in Tel Aviv, in the midrachov near the old Tel Aviv central bus station. It's been a long time since I was surprised by any terrorist act perpetrated by Palistinian terrorists. This is no exception. But reading Javier Solana's quote made me absolutely sick.

Solana is the European Union's foreign policy chief, and has been critical of Israel in the past, condemning the country for taking out terrorist leaders.

Solana said the attack occurred at a moment of great importance "for the future of Palestine, because of elections." He appealed "to everybody to forget terrorist acts and to give political life a chance. Elections are the only way civilized countries can express themselves."

Excuse me, Javier, but have you been following anything that has been going on is Palestinian areas since last summer, when Israel left Gaza, and allowed Palestinians to self rule. Since then, Gaza has become a lawless region of the world. It is an area where polls indicate 30% of the population will vote for Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

What, exactly, do you expect the political process to accomplish. The Palestinian people will show, with their votes, that they have no interest in peace. They have shown, since receiving the gift of autonomy, that they cannot be trusted to rule themselves.

I don't understand what political life can accomplish when the people who are expected to do well in the elections are the very terrorists who threaten Israel with terrorist attacks every day.

Cheese Man

Part one of the new Air Time comedy fiction, Cheese Man, is now available on Air Time II.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


My oldest is in fourth grade. There are about 15 kids in the class, six girls and nine boys. From my observation, the girls are better students. The boys tend to clown around more, and seem to be a lot more hyper than the girls.

Tonight was the Battle of the Books, hosted by the Southfield Library, where teams of kids read books, and answer questions based on those stories. My oldest asked me to be the team captain, and I agreed, but i may have been the world's worst captain. We met three times in total, and didn't seem to accomplish very much at our meetings.

Still we met, and the kids seemed like they were reading the books like they were supposed to.

My oldest got together with his friends, five of the boys in his class, to form the team. The class had a second team in the event, with the top girls in the class.

Our team meetings consisted of me reminding the kids that when I said to get comfortable, it didn't mean they were supposed to put their feet on the table.

I did not have very high hopes for this group.

But children surprise you. Even when you think you now them, know what they are all about, and can't believe that they would ever even pick up a book, they read the books, and remember everything about them.

There were 35 questions in the battle, chosen from all seven books. The team had to write down the answer and the author's name. The author was worth 1 point; the correct answer 4. There was a total of 175 points available.

Our team, Akiva Book Bros, knew we had done well when they started reading out the scores, and skipped over our team.

Five teams were called up to the podium. Our team, the other Akiva fourth grade team, and three other teams. In third place, the MC dramatically called out, there were two teams tied. The fourth grade girls had done well, claiming third place.

There were now three teams standing at the front of the room. In second place, with 159 points, Akiva Book Bros. We beat the girls. We may not have won it all, but at least our team was the best in the class.

We got 31 of the 35 questions correct, and the four that we missed, we got the one point for the author. A very immpressive showing by a group of boys who are not known for their academic prowess.

I don't know how other teams divided up the books, but each member of our team chose one book, to be the expert on that book, and a second book to read as a backup. And somehow, they read the books they were supposed to, remembered the answers, and did really well.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

29,000 people and a million butterflies

The weather was crappy yesterday. The kind of shleppy day that makes you wish Summer had returned. There is one sound that can bring me back to summer, at least for a few minutes. Its the voice of baseball. Baseball has magical properties, and yesterday, the gravelly voice of Vin Scully took me back to September 9, 1965.

Its the ninth inning in the City of Angels, and Sandy Koufax has retired 24 batters in a row. He has already thrown three no hitters in his career, but this is his first shot at a perfect game.

Koufax struck out 11 coming into the ninth, including striking out the side in the eighth.

With any broadcaster this would be a legendary broadcast, but with Scully, it is elevated to another level that few baseball broadcasts can ever reach. A lot of people in the ball park are starting to see the picthes with their hearts, Scully tells us as the crowd boos an outside pitch caleed for a ball, then they erupt when Koufax strikes out Chris Krug to begin the ninth.

Joe Amalfatono pinch hits, a Dodger killer, but on this day, he would not be able to catch up with Koufax's pitches. A fastball, a curve ball tapped foul, and Scully says the mound at Dodger stadium is the lonliest place in the world right now.

A fastball comes in, Amalfatono swings and misses, and Koufax is one out away from perfection.

At 9:44, Harvey Kuehn steps to the plate. He starts off Keuhn with a fastball for strike one. Two high pitches, and Scully says you can't blame a man for trying too hard now.

Koufax gets Kuehn to swing and miss, bringing up a 2-2 count. At 9:46 PM, Koufax gets Kuehn to swing and miss for a perfect game.

If you want to listen to Scully calling the ninth inning, click here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

If you think your football team is bad

Then you've never been a Lions fan. Yes, there are some long suffering football fans out there, but consider this when you think about how miserable your football team. lists the 25 most miserable moments in football over the past 25 years.

The Lions are listed three times.

Once, for taking the wind in overtime against Chicago, once for every quarterback they have had since 1979, and once for Barry Sanders quitting on the team.

And on ESPN's NFL misery index, Lions fans ranked fourth in Misery.

25 Most miserable moments in football

The Misery Index

The two most important words

I began taking a Hebrew Ulpan this week. My hebrew language skills are dismal. Conjugation, masculine and feminine, and the order of words in hebrew sentences have always been lost on me. My yeshiva education, which prepared me with the legal information on who is responsible in case I ever had a cow trip and fall into a pit that is located in a public square, did not provide me with any hebrew speaking skills.

I had to miss the first class because I was hosting Monday Night Football BBQ club last week, so this past Monday was my first class.

We were learning how to order food in a restaurant, which may be the most important of all language skills, but it wasn't until the very end that I learned the two words that are going to accompany me every time I walk into a restaurant.

Al ha'aish. - On the grill.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Deliquescophobia - Fear of Melting

My littlest is three years old. She likes to fight with her brothers, play on the computer and wear dresses to look pretty.

Oh, and she thinks she is going to melt.

It all started with her snow girl. You might remember, she started screaming a pain cry when she saw it had fallen over, the result of a few unseasonably warm days.

Later that evening, noticing the car was not on the driveway, she started to cry that the car, too, had melted.

In case you are wondering, the car did not melt, it was Friday night and the car was spending the weekend at shul, but I digress.

We explained that snow melts, chanukah candles melt, ice melts, but little girls do not melt.

My littlest did not believe us. She screamed every night at bed time that she did not want to be alone in her room. She was afraid she was going to melt.

So we ignored her, threatened her, talked to her, held her hand, but no matter what we did, every night was spent with my littlest in tears, terrified that she was going to melt.

On Friday night we let her sleep in a sleeping bag in her brothers' room. It made her happy, but it was time for a different strategy.

I went to our YudiJay, a former classmate who davens in our shul and is thisclose to being a real head doctor. I forget what kind, but it is the kind that you stay in school almost forever in order to become. He is nearing forever, and seems to know what he is talking about.

As a side point, I am certain YudiJay could go toe-to-toe with The Schwab. His mind is like a steel trap, and his sports knowledge is made even more remarkable by the fact that he does not have a TV, and has not had one for the last number of years. Even more remarkable, especially considering the lack of a TV in his house, is his son's sports knowledge. But once again, I digress.

Anyway, YudiJay is such a great therapist that even without having my littlest sit on the couch and tell him how her parents have wrecked her life, he knew that she was not really afraid of melting, but afraid of being alone, although it is "cute," according to YudiJay, that she is afraid of melting.

Although at first he felt that she needed four days a week of therapy at $150 a pop, he revised his initial recommendation. In his expert therapist advice, he recommended that we stay in her room when she goes to bed, at first waiting until she goes to sleep and then gradually leaving earlier and earlier so that soon, hopefully, we could send her up to bed and not even have to say goodnight to her.

So we tried it. Or actually, Veev tried it. She stayed in my littlest's room with her on Saturday night and Sunday night, and my littlest fell asleep relatively quickly. Last night, Veev was out at bed time, and I had to sit in her room. It wasn't terrible, and my littlest did fall asleep eventually. I think she is on the path to recovery.

Monday, January 09, 2006

My Idea!

I'm a teacher and one in awhile I have 4th Grade students who are inappropriate and disruptive and completely full of themselves. If I draw any kind of attention to the offfending student, I can pretty much guarantee that the rotten behavior will continue. In essence, I would be egging him on.

I think I'll just ignore immature, horrible behavior, as if it never happened. A silent protest, if you will.

Let's try it.

Say it ain't so

According to the AP, the NFL and Levitra are parting ways, and Levitra will no longer be the erectile dysfunction drug of the NFL.

Now how am I supposed to throw a football through a tire?

What you should know about anonymous

The truth is, we do know who Anonymous is. And although I don't feel like outing him here, there are some things you should know about him.

He was born and raised in Brooklyn.

He has four children, many of whom attended a modern orthodox mixed day school while he lived in Detroit. He blamed that on the lack of a decent right wing school in Detroit for his children to attend.

He currently lives in Israel, in Yerushalayim. I have heard him talking in front of his kids about buses going kaboom. Those children do take the bus every day.

He is a nationally recognized "smart person" by people who recognize those things. He is in Israel on some kind of prestigious fellowship.

Both he and his wife are very nice, very sincere people. He may be blunt with everything he says, but he is actually writing the things he believes.

He is definitely missed at the Sholosh Shudas table on Shabbos afternoon.

Get out and vote

The Jerusalem Post has opened up the voting on the Blog Awards. According to their rules, you can vote once every three days for any blog you like.

They have split up the categories into two pools, and you can vote for one blog in each pool.

Air Time has nominations in Best Post, Best Series and Best Personal Blog. Be sure to go here and vote.

Not as outraged

But I am disappointed with the Tigers. Pitchers and Catchers should be reporting in February, and not a single mention of their reporting date on their web site.

But that isn't really the disturbing thing. The Tigers haven't had a competitive team in well over ten years, and as a penalty for their lack of competitiveness, have not been able to gouge the fans at the gate with obscenely high ticket prices.

This spring, though, because they only have a few games that are worth attending, they are charging a $2 premium on tickets when the Braves and Yankees come to Joker Marchant Stadium, the Tigers Lakeland facility.

Excuse me, but when did being a sucky team give you the right to charge more because a decent team is finally coming to your building. And what gives you the right to charge extra to see the Yankees or Braves. If the team wants to charge more, they need to put a better team on the field, not rely on George Steinbrenner or Turner Broadcasting to put a good team on the field and then gouge Tiger customers.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Air and I went to the movies last night to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (finally). Our 9-year-old has been after us to see it and decide whether he may watch it as well. He has read all 6 books, by the way, several times each, and eagerly looks forward to the movies as they come out. But since this one was rated PG-13, we were a little more cautious and told him we would preview it first.

It took us some time (and a gift-card) to get around to it, and found it very entertaining and incredibly inappropriate for the demographic for which the books are written. The themes were very mature and very dark. As opposed the the third movie, though, there were some light moments with some humor. Although I believe the humor would have been lost on any nine-year-old, as it was targeted to a teenage audience. The third time my hand flew up to cover my eyes out of fear or revulsion, I leaned in towards Air (whose hand I held the entire time) and whispered, "He will not see this movie for a very long time." Air agreed and we went home knowing heavy disappointment would follow.

(As a side point, when I was 13, my parents went to see Dirty Dancing so they could determine whether my older sister and I could watch it too. Guess what they decided?)

Today, after carefully separating their Tzedaka money, (IDF and their school won) Air and I took the kids to Toys R Us to cash in their Chanukah Gelt. Searching through the toys in the running, we happened upon the Lego sets. There were a couple of sets from Harry Potter movies, but one caught my eye. It was the scene where Harry is doing his second task, the underwater Merpeople one. And I was disgusted. You have to see it. Two children are being drowned underwater by having their necks, hands, and feet tied down by a weight. If you zoom in on the images you won't believe it. Also, on the explanation it says they are asleep, but they are dead.

Are you as outraged as I am? Don't worry, I wrote to Lego, calling for a complete national recall of this product.

Friday, January 06, 2006


I grew up in a house with lots of pets. They all lived in the aquarium, and swam around, not bothering anyone. Some of them lasted a few months, others lived for years in our 20 gallon tank.

Fish are nice pets because they don't make any noise, don't climb on you, and are very low maintenance. If a fish dies, no one cares; you toss it in the toilet, and when you are low on fish, you just go out and buy a few more fish.

But there was one week, when I was probably about 12, when we had a cat. My dad had his medical practice out in the sticks. As he was driving home one day, he passed a farmhouse with a sign that offered free kittens. To everyone's surprise, he came home one day with the cat.

The cat was pure white, and we named it Snowball. I don't know if anyone ever checked whether it was male or female.

Anyway, Snowball was a cat, and we had been having a problem with mice in our house, and my dad thought if he brought a cat home, the mouse problem would take care of itself.

I should start with this. My mother never liked snowball. Neither did anyone else. And no one really knew anything about taking care of a cat. Every night, at bed time, the cat would suddenly get very active, and start running all over the house, turning bed time into a circus.

Also, I should add, if you put this cat in a box with a mouse, I'm not sure the cat would win. I think Snowball would have just gone to sleep.

Anyway, one day I was nice to the cat. I held her and petted her. She repaid my kindness by walking on me in the middle of the night, and waking me up. It is frightening to wake up in the middle of the night looking at a cat, and I was never nice to the cat again.

This all happened the week before Succos. On erev Succos, Snowball disappeared. We looked all over the house for Snowball, but the cat was nowhere to be found. We searched outside for a short time, but it was freezing cold that year, and we gave up. We were quite certain that Snowball had gone outside, got lost, and froze to death.

That night, while we were all sitting in the Succah, my mom went into the house to get the soup. When she went inside, she heard and eerie sound coming from the dining room. Snowball had somehow gotten wedged between the china cabinet and the wall, and had been stuck there all day long.

My dad moved the China cabinet enough so that Snowball could get out, and on the first day of Chol HaMoed, he returned Snowball to the farmhouse where he found her.

I don't have a good reason for telling you this story. I was reading another blog which talked about how sad that were that their cat died, and it reminded me of Snowball, the cat I hated.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Lion, the Longhorn and Rod Stewart

The truth is, I rarely watch the news. But last night, for the second night in a row, I was flipping back and forth between football and news coverage of Sharon's latest stroke.

The Lion of the Desert was fighting for his life, while the Longhorns battled the Trojans for College Football's mythical championship.

I hate politics. I hate college football.

But I couldn't turn either one off.

And so I watched as medical experts pronounced Sharon's prognosis as grim, and as Longhorn's Quarterback Vince Young carried his team to an unlikely upset over the #1 Trojans.

Did I mention my third option? VH-1's 40 worst dirty songs.

We compartmentalize so many things in our lives, that when the leader of Israel is in the middle of life-threatening surgery, it is easy to get involved in a football game. And when everyone else is on a commercial break, to flip and see that the Rod Stewart's Do You Think I'm Sexy is the 21st worst dirty song of all time.

I don't know if its right to be able to switch back and forth the way we do. I don't think we give the important things in our lives enough attention, because there is always something easier that draws our attention. But it is the way we are.

JIB awards

For those of you who don't know, Air Time was nominated for three JIB awards. The JIB awards, which recognizes the best in Jewish and Israeli Blogging, was conceived by Dave at, and promoted by the Jerusalem Post.

There are 16 categories in total. Air Time was nominated for Best Personal Blog, Best Post (Friday Night Races) and Best Series (Center of it All). You can go to the Jerusalem Post site now, and look at all the nominees for the different awards.

From January 9 through January 19th, readers can vote for their favorite blogs. The top vote getters during that time period in each category are then put up to a second round of viting, which will take place between January 24 through February 2.

Winners of the awards are announced on February 7, 2006.

There are some blogs who have summarized the Best Post blogs. Ez from Serandez is the most comprehensive that I have seen. He breaks it down into good, better and best, offering why he thinks some blogs havea better chance than otehrs to win.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

So disappointing

The news. The game. Last night, after climbing into bed, I turned on the TV, flipping back and forth between the Sugar Bowl and the coal mining news coverage. The news was bleak, no one was expecting any survivors after forty hours trapped in the mine. The game was a defensive struggle, no one could move the ball, and when the Florida State quarterback was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety, Penn State went up 16-13.

Flipping back to news coverage, we learned that one of the miners had been found dead. Most likely, they reported, it was Terry Helms, whose son we had watched being interviewed earlier in the day, still holding out hope but letting the grim reality sink in that his father was probably not going to come out of that mine.

In the Orange Bowl, Penn State missed a game winning field goal with 30 seconds left, a miss which sent the game to overtime.

Meanwhile, MSNBC was reporting that all 12 of the remaining miners had been found alive. FOX and CNN were reporting that as well, and family members who had gathered at the church for the past two days were jubilant after hearing the news.

I woke Veev up, and we watched the news and the joy on the faces of family members as they talked about waiting and praying and miracles.

Florida State missed a field goal. So did Penn State, and back on the news, they were waiting for a press conference to announce that twelve of the miners were alive.

It was late, I didn't care who won the Orange Bowl, and didn't need to keep on watching coverage from West Virginia. The miracle had happened. Somehow, through the initial explosion and the carbon monoxide, these guys had made it.

Except for one thing. The miners didn't make it. While we slept, family members were told that 11 of the 12 miners were dead, and the one who had survived, Randall McCloy, was in critical condition. A miracle had happened deep beneath the surface of a West Virginia coal mine, but it wasn't the miracle we had all hoped for. It was only large enough for one.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Worst. Movie. Ever.

Sad to say, it is the straight-to-video American Pie Band Camp.

The 4 Meme

Krum tagged me with this one, so here goes.

Four jobs I've had in my life - Bagel guy, grill master, wing man, shipping guy

Four movies I could watch over and over - Old School, American Pie, Almost Famous, Road Trip

Four places I've lived - Here, there, everywhere, and under there. (hahahhahahaha, you just said underwear)

Four TV Shows I Love to watch - Monday Night Football, Outside the Lines, The O.C., Gilmore Girls

Four places I've been on vacation - Jerusalem, Detroit to Grand Canyon RV Trip, Detroit to Miami to Tampa Bay to NJ to Detroit Road Trip (To watch the Lions last playoff game), Traverse City

Four websites I visit daily - Arutz Sheva, Nefesh B'Nefesh, yahoo games, Air Time

Four of my favorite foods - Oranges, clementines, grape fruits, apples

Four places I'd rather be - Ken's Diner, Dougies in Manhattan, the Zoo, on a canoe with a grill packed away for dinner

Four books I'll read over and over again - Green Eggs and Ham, Goodnight Moon, The Scrabble Players Dictionary (New fourth edition contains over 4,000 new words), Programming your VCR for dummies

I tag Pearl, Still Wondering, Olah Chadasha, and my wonderful anonymous friend who is very concerned that i will meet an untimely end on a bus (Anonymous, feel free to use the comments section for your list).

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Chanukah Lit

Purim has its own mesechta in the mishna, as does shabbos, succos, and pesach. Chanukah, however, does not. In fact, except for a few pages in gemara Shabbos, there is almost no mention of Chanukah at all in the mishna or gemara.

When Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi was writing the Mishna, he intentionally left Chanukah out of the loop. He was disappointed in the way the Maccabees handled the Judaic Kingdom after taking control from the Greeks. The held on to the ruling branch of government, rather than appointing someone from the house of David to be king.

And here we are, 2,000 years later, still lighting Chanukah candles, still celebrating the military victory of the maccabees along with the discovery and subsequent miracle of the oil.

Has history proved that Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi was wrong to penalize the Maccabees by taking them out of the Mishna? Will future generations of Jews look back at modern-day chareidi rabbis, and realize that they too are wrong for their criticism of the modern-day IDF?

Presents one more time

When we started this Chanukah as the no present Chanukah, we never really considered how a no presents policy would affect our overall enjoyment of the holiday. To my surprise, not allowing the kids to get presents actually enhanced our Chanukah.

The primary focus of Chanukah is the lighting of the candles. In years past, we would get ready to light candles amid questions about presents and fights about previous nights' toys echoing through the room. We never realized how much presents had taken away from the actual lighting of the candles.

Over the past week, candle lighting has been a completely different experience. No one tried to run away from Chanukah candles to see the night's prsents. Everyone sang the Brochot together, followed by HaNerot HaLalu and Moaz Tzur. The younger kids danced around the room as my oldest played the songs on Piano.

All in all, it was a much richer, much better candle lighting experience.