Thursday, April 30, 2009

Least Tern Duet

Monday, at the beach in Gulfport Mississippi I was fortunate to stumble upon this courting ritual of least terns. I sat down about 200 feet from them and watched and photographed for about 10-15 minutes. I felt thankful and full of wonder as I watched their duet.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Am Yisrael Chai!

The Jewish nation of Israel is 61! Our hope has continued to sustain us. Am Yisrael Chai!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mississippi Lost and Can't Get Over It

I know Mississippi wasn't the only state that closed offices for Confederate Memorial Day on Monday. Like St Casserole, I feel it is time to stop doing stuff like this that keeps holding us back. Like her, I've had ancestors who fought in the Civil War, one killed and another who lost an arm.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Haveil Havalim 214: Radiant-Ziv Edition is up.

Speaking of radiance, Israel should be a beacon of light. Instead, the very name Israel is met with virulent hatred and no body seems to care about the facts of Israel. Gail linked to a post by Mort Zuckerman called the The Story You Aren't Hearing. It is in support of Israel but the commenters show a hatred of Israel that borders on the insane.

Have people lost their common sense? We need Israel more than ever. The growing anti-Semitism guised as anti-Zionism is reaching depths not seen since the 1930's. The choice is the same as then: Do you appease the haters or do you stand for what is right? The terrorists of Hamas and Fatah are not freedom fighters. They are cold-blooded terrorists whose mantra has been to wipe Israel of the face of the map. These terrorists are the haters and they are supported by Iran.

We have a chance to let radiance shine. Quit supporting terrorists. Quit making excuses for them. Their cause is not noble nor just. For 61 years, they could and should have formed their own state.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

Traditional Yemenite song for havdalah.

From the youtube site: Translation from hebrew: : My soul longs for the candle and the spices. If only you would pour me a cup of wine for Havdalah. O angels high, pave a way for me, clear the path for the bewildered and open the gates that I may enter, My heart yearning, I shall lift up my eyes to g-d, who provides for my needs day and night.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Louisiana Brown Pelican

I took this shot the other day. It is a young pelican and they are a little darker than the full-grown adults.

The adult has lighter colored feathers as well as a lighter beak. I took this shot the same day:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lazman Hazeh!

Sunday, we put mezzuzas on the doors in our new shul in Gulfport Mississippi. Our shul was in Biloxi but Hurricane Katrina damaged it heavily and we made the decision to rebuild further inland. May 28-31 is when we will be dedicated our new shul. Below are some pictures I took Sunday:

Rabbi Ira and Brad, Congregation Beth Israel's president, place one mezzuza on the door leading into the social hall:

Cicely, who had her bat mitzvah two weeks ago along with Rabbi Ira places one mezzuza on the rabbi's office:

Our new home from the front!

Lazman hazeh!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


A few years ago I made a statement to someone that I could comprehend the Shoah. It was a crass statement. As former areas of Ukraine are opened and more is learned about the Shoah there, the more and more I cannot comprehend. My grandfather left the town of Nemirov in 1914. He came with with his father, mother, and brothers and sisters. to this day, I do not know if any of grandfather's uncles, aunts, and cousins were murdered in the Shoah. My grandfather would not speak of the Shoah.

The town of Nemirov was used by the Nazis as a work camp. I have learned that close to 5,000 Jews were shot in cold blood by Nazi soldiers, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Polish, and other guards. Nemirov was just a small part of the heinous slaughter of Jews in Ukraine. In less than 18 months, 1 and 1/2 million Jews were murdered. The Germans, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Polish, and other guards faced each victim and then shot them mercilessly.

This is the Shoah my family faced:

The small town my grandfather left at the age of 10 no longer exists. It was once a vibrant Jewish town and all that is left is the memories of those who came from there. My grandfather died over 20 years ago and father died 5 years ago. I feel it is my duty to find out what happened to those who didn't have the chance to come to the US.

Perhaps one day, like in Uman seders will once again be held.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Walking Out

Durban II is going to have fewer attendees this year. More countries are making the same choice as the US, Canada, and Israel and not attending. The Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia are opting out this year. The first Durban conference on racism turned out to be a hate campaign against Israel. Durban II is on the same track.

Yom HaShoah begins tomorrow and Durban II chose to let Ahmadinejad speak:

Israeli leaders reacted with deep dismay to the presence of Mr. Ahmadinejad, who has called the Holocaust a myth and advocated the destruction of the Jewish state. In remarks at a cabinet meeting on Monday, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Six million of our brethren were massacred during the Holocaust. Sadly, not everyone learned the lesson.”

“While we gather to honor their memory, in Switzerland there will assemble a conference allegedly aimed against racism,” he said. “Its guest of honor is a racist Holocaust-denier who does not hide his intentions to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.”

Referring to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s role at the conference, Mr. Peres said Monday: “There must be a limit, even to the neutrality of Switzerland. Today is the day? This is the man to speak? This is the outlook for the future?”

Many delegates walked out. Is this enough? Why was he even allowed to speak to begin with? Why was he made a guest of honor?

While people are being hacked to death in the Congo, while the military dictatorship in Burma suppresses its people, while people are starving under the Communist dictatorship in North Korea, while those in the Darfur refugee camps are still being raped and murdered, the UN Human Rights Commission can seem only to censure one country: Israel.

Tomorrow, wear a blue Star of David in support of Israel.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

Jazz Musician: The Horror!

Glenn Beck is a dangerous nut and one that happens to have his own television show. Why so many people give him any credence is beyond me. He sort of reminds me of this fellow:

A great deal of the Fuhrer's appeal lay in his inflammatory speeches attacking Jews, social democrats, capitalists and communists. His comments often evoked a sense of wounded national pride caused by the losses imposed on Germany by the allies at the end of World War I.

Hitler also had a dislike for jazz musicians.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs drew Beck's displeasure.

I like the jazz musicians response:

Notice how Beck sneers out the words “jazz musician,” as if they were some kind of mortal insult — as if being an alcoholic, weeping, ranting, creationist talk show host who idolizes John Birchers and Ron Paul is a real accomplishment, but practicing diligently for years, earning several gold records, and touring and recording with some of the world’s top musicians is worthy of derision and scorn.

Since last year's presidential race, I've noticed a rabid growth of populism. Back in February, Beck held up Henry Ford's opposition to the New Deal in glowing terms.

Perhaps Beck never saw this photo of Henry Ford from 1938 when he received the German's highest medal to non-Germans :

Speaking of Hitler, here's what he had to say about the speculation in 1923 that Ford might run for president:

I wish I could send some of my shock troops to Chicago and other big American cities to help in the elections ... We look to Heinrich Ford as the leader of the growing fascist movement in America ... We have just had his anti-Jewish articles translated and published. The book is being circulated in millions throughout Germany."

And his view of the New Deal was decidedly wrapped up in all this. As Neil Baldwin's Henry Ford and the Jews describes, his "private jottings reflected [Ford's] dislike of bankers, Jews, the New Deal and labor unions, and his major competitors, General Motors and Chrysler."

Occasionally, Ford merged these components together into an imagined conspiracy against the Ford Motor Company, losing ground in a competitive consumer marketplace. "Our competitors are behind all tax and N.R.A. plans, with the bankers' international, and they are running all the governments in the world," Ford free-associated. "Unions are created by finance and industry." In another place, he scrawled, as if reminding himself, "The Jew is out to enslave you."

So Glenn Beck wants us to heed the wise words of the Nazis' best friend in America? But isn't that heading us down the path of ... ?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Got Your Tea Bags?


What are you protesting
The contributor to the Letter to the Editor page who advocates participating in a “Tea Party” in Jackson on April 15 in order to “send a message” to the government should ask himself/herself exactly what that message is. As far as I can tell, the message is that people who make the most money are unhappy paying taxes at a rate that is 10 percent lower than the tax rate established by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. If that is not the message they believe it to be, then the people participating in the Tea Party should ask themselves why they are taking off from work to attend a fake grass roots event orchestrated by an organization supported by right-wing billionaires.

The original Boston Tea Party was caffeinated by a very simple injustice: American Colonists refused to be taxed by a government that lacked any popular representation. That was remedied a few years later in a heroic struggle that stretched from Concord to Yorktown.

So, if you'll excuse the mixed metaphor, what's the beef behind today's protests? The Obama administration is cutting taxes for all except the very richest of Americans. Reduced withholding is already showing up in millions of paychecks.

Then again, this rash of tea parties is being organized not only by the pseudo-journalists at Fox News (with Glenn Beck, Neil Cavuto and Sean Hannity actively stoking the flames) but also by FreedomWorks, a conservative lobbying outfit headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. I suppose it was Armey's constitutional if morally dubious privilege to have built an entire political career out of defending the wealthy.

But are common folks actually going to dump Earl Grey into Santa Monica Bay because they are outraged, simply infuriated, by the marginal tax rate rising 3% for millionaires?

Or maybe they'll do it for some other reason. The FreedomWorks site says the Tea Party movement began in reaction to President Obama's corporate bailouts and ensuing yawning budget deficits. These same conservatives, however, were mum when George W. Bush erased our budget surplus and put us deep in the red by drunken spending on a pointless war in Iraq and by, yes, granting massive tax rollbacks for the loaded country clubbers who fund the GOP (and Armey's FreedomWorks). Another bothersome detail: The bailouts were also initiated by Bush.

Nobody I know is very pleased with the billions ladled out to teetering banks and corporations. Yet a clear majority of Americans are sophisticated enough to know that these bailouts are a necessary evil and are intended -- unlike the lollipop Bush tax cuts -- not for personal profit but rather as a radical, emergency measure to help Americans keep their jobs, their homes and their retirement.

And while way too many otherwise sane Republicans are actively pandering to the tea-bag battalions, some old-fashioned conservatives are calling out the Teabaggers for their silliness. Writing in Fortune magazine, conservative policy analyst Bruce Bartlett, who has a long anti-tax history, says: "The irony of these protests is that federal revenues as a share of the gross domestic product will be lower this year than any year since 1950. ... The truth is that the U.S. is a relatively low-tax country no matter how you slice the data."

Our country's Founders had this very unique proposal which has led to the peaceful transfer of power for the past 233 years. When those stalwarts dumped tea into Boston those years ago, they were protesting a very real injustice. It was an act of rebellion against unfair taxes and tariffs in which the population had no say in the matter.

Since Obama's election, there has been a great deal of fear in this country. A lot of people were worried about their guns being taken away. This concern about 2nd Amendment rights being violated surprises me a bit. Since the 1980's to 2007, when the War on Drugs began, legislation has been passed that has violated more of our precious rights. These acts violate our 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendment rights. A lot of people aren't too concerned about those rights being taken away, after all, most are to protect those accused of committing crimes.

But see, our Founders were not merely protesting unfair taxes and tariffs. They were also protesting those colonialist who were arrested without charges being named. They were protesting those who languished in prisons and jails for days, months, and years without a trial. They were also protesting the unfair policy of the British government of taking over homes and confiscating property so that soldiers could be quartered.

If you do go to a tea party, why not go further than just than some lame protest against taxes. Why not protest for our other rights to be reestablished? The War on Drugs and other fears have truly fettered our rights. Why not protest against these real threats to our liberty?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Only Four Days Left!

During my seder, I was honored to host a doctor who had been back from Iraq for just a few days. He was homesick for his wife and children. He talked of the Pesach customs handed down by his family. He would hide the afikomen and then give his children hints as to where it was.

I talked about my earliest Jewish memory, which was when my grandfather made matza brie. When I would visit him in Chicago, he would make it for me and then we would play yatzhee or work on a puzzle.

I love matzo! You can make matzo toffee, matzo brie, or matzo pizza!

Cook something to read along with this week's Haveil Havalim 212: How Many Days til We Can Eat Bread.

Maybe next year I'll be one of those Ashkenazim Rebels and add corn to the brie or pizza.

Update: I just had to add Pesach Doritos and other yummies.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

"If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither."

L’shana ha’ba-ah b’Yerushalayim.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Search Goes On!

Why do we do this every year? We do we rid our homes of leavened bread and go to such extremes? Perhaps the answer is in this post. I like this answer as well. For me, the act of sweeping away the unleavened bread is an act of freedom. How can the seeming drudgery of cleaning be an act of freedom?

Each year, millions of Jews prepare for Passover and at some point their kitchen is turned over. The old way of things is out and everything is prepared for the new. It holds us together as a family and as Am Yisrael.

Haveil Havalim 211: Preparing for Pesach indicates the frenetic pace of preparations is picking up.

David has A Friendly Request.

Miriam shows a new way of parting the seas.

And huge footprints have been discovered which attest to the long Jewish presence in Israel.

After work, I'll continue the search(cleaning), and G-d willing, my kitchen will be turned so I can start preparing the feast!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

Passover is just around the corner. On Shabbat, I will not be thinking of all that is left to do. And I'll be chuckling when I remember these two videos.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thank You Winn-Dixie

Since last week, Winn-Dixie has been having a sell on Passover items. The items range from potato starch to matzo. They have been making an effort over the past few years to offer more kosher items. Keeping kosher in Mississippi can be difficult but doable.

I wanted to thank Winn-Dixie for having the sell and for expanding the number of kosher items available. One store did make a mistake in its display. It only had not kosher for Passover matzo meal. I did contact the store manager to let him know.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

House Update

When my brother started working on my house, I was very worried that there would be a lot of other damage. The front part of the house, which lost no soffit and fascia, ended up being the side that had a lot of wood that needed to be replaced. It was like that before I bought the house. Everything looks great.

I also bought new storm doors. The storm door on the side had been damaged by Hurricane Georges in 1997. My brother and son did a great job!

Side door. I planted one little bitty rosemary plant about 9 years ago. It has grown to over 5 feet wide and is about 3 feet tall.

Front door. The rose bush I planted has been suffering from the drought Mississippi has been going through. The rain this year has helped.

Soffit and fascia look great! It makes the house look bigger!