The blessing and the curse

Moshe places before the Jewish people a choice.  If we choose one way, we will be blessed and if we choose another way we will be cursed.

This choice is both on the individual level and on the communal level. The choices that each of us make and the choices that the community as a whole makes affects the entirety of the Jewish people. The choices that we make as a community or as individuals — those are the choices that Moshe spoke about, there on the banks of the Jordan, before we entered the land.

If we choose paths consistent with Jewish ideals and values —commitment to helping the needy, solving disputes amicably, education, and continuity – then the Jewish people will reap the fruits of their labors. Our communities will be blessed, and our offspring will be devoted to the Jewish people.  Our children and children’s children will not worship other gods, our land will be blessed with peace, rain, civic innovation.

If we choose paths that are in conflict with Jewish ideals and values – ignoring the needy, fomenting discord and disunity, ignoring the educational needs o

f our children and grandchildren, ignoring our commitments to the land of Israel, then the Jewish people will be cursed.  Our offspring will be devoted to other gods, our children will loose touch with the ideals and values of the Jewish people. We will not reap what we sow, the land will not be blessed with peace, nor rain, and will be mired in political divide.

It’s all there in the parsha.

Argue with Moshe if you don’t like it.

iPhone Apps for the Jews

As seen on Jewschool – thanks for the helpful and funny post!

Not sure which blessing to say over what foods? No need to live with the shame any more. Just download the new iBlessing application (above left) onto your iPhone and with the touch of a finger you’ll know exactly which bracha to utter over fish, meat, bread, fruit, etc. While you’re at it you might as well download the nifty Parve-O-Meter (above right): a timer app that calculates exactly how long you need to wait to eat dairy after you’ve eaten meat (or vice versa).

What’s next, the iSefirah app for those who lose track of the Omer? (I shouldn’t laugh – I’m sure the Apple folks are working on it as we speak…)

If you’ve got iTunes, you can find the iBlessing and Parve-O-Meter here. If you’re blessing-challenged and don’t own an iPhone, don’t fear: check out the Say-a-Blessing Keychain (now offered with the handy LED flashlight feature!)

Politics of Slime

Listening as I do to POTUS 08 nearly all time, I had the distinct displeasure of listening to the McCain camp conference call. Yesterday, former NY Mayor Guiliani, who ran a disastrous race for President, spent considerable time flinging slime.

Every single comment he made was full of heinous insinuations – literally claiming that his rival democrats are endangering the country recklessly by negotiating back door deals with Syria and other regimes around the world hostile to the USA. That Obama’s staff are working with foreign governments that complete with the US. And on and on.

We all know that Rudy has a tough time telling the truth. He cheated on his wife and lied about it. He made claims about 9-11 that were unsubstantiated. And during the q&a afterwards was asked by a reporter for JPA about his ties to Citgo, and Saudi Arabia. He denied doing anything for Hugo Chavez’s Citgo, but said his firm worked for Citgo. He denied anything with Saudis, but he was name in a court case in Texas as being involved with them.

Within a minute, the phone line of the reporter asking the questions went dead in the middle of his rebuttal, and they said – oh we lost him.

The way the republicans seem intent on winning this election is throwing buckets and buckets of slime at their opponents, knowing that they only need some of it to stick for them to succeed in destroying their opponents.

It’s a travesty.


From UCI to Jerusalem

mahlerThis week, one of our great couples, Larry and Liat Mahler, left Southern California for the Promised Land.  On the wings of a 747 Eagle, they flew to Israel making aliyah with hundreds of other idealist and talented North American olim.  Larry and Liat were part of every step of our work in Southern California.  From my very first Parsha and Pizza course at UCI in 2004, until the day they left, they were active in the community that we are building of young Jews in Long Beach and Socal.

While they look a little bit as if they walked off the Fiddler on the Roof set, these two are no shtetle yids. Larry completed his Masters in Planning at USC, and Liat has an Masters in Non Profit management from American Jewish University.

Both are studying at Darche Noam Yeshiva this year, where they will spend some well earned time with Torah and Jewish learning.  After their year learning, they look forward to making a meaninful contribution to Israeli society and raising a family in Israel.

We wish them the best of luck, mazal and bracha, – May Hashem help you in your journey and your path, may Hashem guard you and protect, and may we meet up soon in the Holy City Jerusalem, this year!