Sunday, March 28, 2010

10 Things Heard While Switching the Kitchen Over

A special thanks to Erachet for help on this one.

10) "Will these last for 10 days without being refrigerated?"

9) "No. That one is chametz. The blue one is for Pesach."

8) "There is no way we have to clean that! Chametz could never get in there!"

7) "We have a cheese grater for Pesach? We don't have one for all year round! This is becoming chametz next week."

6) "No. That one is fleishig. The gray one is milchig."

5) "How did this all fit last year? Did we buy any new things?"

4) "Have you ever made Pesach before? All the shopping is NEVER done!"

3) "What were you DOING in the bathroom for the last half hour?"

2) "Well, if there's nothing left for me to do, why do I have to stay?"

1) "Are you EATING!? We're all cleaning in here!"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Harmonizer

Every Young Israel has to have their own Harmonizer. The Harmonizer is the guy who generally does nothing else. He doesn't lain. He doesn't daven for the amud. He rarely gets an aliyah. He doesn't really have much to do with the shul's day-to-day running.

But boy can he harmonize. Or at least he thinks so. Sometimes he can be good at the harmonies; sometimes he is quite poor. But the key thing is that HE thinks he is good, so he keeps on going.

The parts that he generally portrays his skills are:
1) While the Torah is being taken out and put back (especially Etz Chaim)
2) The Kaddish before Musaf
3) If the Chazan sings Michalkel Chaim
4) If the Chazan used the Carlebach Mimkomcha
5) Lecha Dodi
6) Yedid Nefesh

The harmonizer will generally sit somewhere near the bimah so that he could take his position on the side of the bimah when the time calls for it. If you join him in the harmonies, he may give you a weird look and try to sing higher than you. After all, that's HIS job; not yours. Only one Harmonizer per Young Israel.

One of his key traits is being louder than the rest of the congregants. Often the women sitting upstairs or the youth leaders downstairs or the passerbys outside may comment something along the lines of "wow, that guy is trying to do harmony." His goal is to make sure he is known. For what reason? Your guess is as good as mine.

The Harmonizer may tend to assist the Ba'al K'riyah at the end of each aliyah. This may often hurt the congregants in being yotzei the leining, but that generally does not matter to the Harmonizer (not that I'm bitter). Of course, this may not be the fault of the Harmonizer, but does tend to be.

The Harmonizer in my shul knows that he is not very good at the harmonies, and often invites me (who is also not so great) to join him in the harmonies and together we successfully get drowned out by the rest of the congregants. (We are not so loud.) But we like it that way. Once we figure out what it is we are supposed to be doing, we may try some louder harmonies.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On the Education Front

For those of you who don't know, I am entering into the education field. Being someone who has taught both in a Jewish High School setting and in a New York City public school setting, I want to dispel some of the classic thinking that is associated with both institutions.

Assumption Number One:
Public school students are not as smart as Jewish high school students.

This is not true. There are just as many smart students in the public school system as there are in the a Jewish high school. The difference is the amount of work put in. Often, the publicly educated student will not have as many hours, classes and subjects as a Jewish high school student. This gives the NYC public school student less time on their plate and more time for leisure (not necessarily a bad thing).

Additionally, students found in the Jewish high school are generally more motivated to perform than a NYC public schooler. On average, the Jewish student will come from a more classically complete home, whereas Inner City students may often come from broken homes. This can effect their motivation by not having someone one their backs all the time. I had one public school student who was particularly bright and always participated in classroom discussions despite never doing any of the work for the class. She ended up failing (or at least coming close to it) because she never studied for tests, did her homework or write her term paper.

Assumption Number Two:
Public School kids have more respect for their teachers than Yeshiva high school students.

Again, this is definitely false. Public school kids do not have any more respect for their teachers than do Yeshiva students. It is true that public school kids are easier to control. However, it's not a respect thing. I believe that when people bring this up, they forget one basic idea.

Yeshiva students are difficult to control because they can talk to anyone in class. If Moishe is on one side of the room and Josh is on the other side, Moishe has no reason to feel ashamed of talking to Josh. They both know each other and Moishe has something to tell him, so he will. In a public school, a student will likely not know his or her classmate on the other side of the room. There is no reason to talk to that person. In fact, it is not unheard of to not know anyone in your class. If a student is friends with another student, they are often sitting next to them and a conversation between those two students is much easier to quash than is a cross-room conversation.

In other words, the sense of comfort between classmates is what keeps Yeshiva students more susceptible to trouble-making and is what keeps public school kids in check.

Public School teachers get paid more so they care more than teachers in a Jewish high school.

While the pay scale is true, it's not as high as you think. Remember, teachers in a Jewish school are often not working full time. Full time in the teaching profession is five classes. Even if magically a teacher is giving five classes, he or she is not working five days a week. So even though they are getting paid less, they aren't getting less by much.

Having said that, this is not what translates into caring. A teacher who cares, cares. I've seen public school teachers who don't care. I've seen Jewish high teachers who are some of the best I've seen. It's all in the teacher. The pay scale has nothing to do with it.

The only thing that might have something to with it is the attitude of the school and its administration. If the administration believes secular subjects to be far inferior (and that influences the student's perception) then the teachers will tend to lose interest in teaching. Not because they don't care, but because they will have the mentality of any employee who works for a boss who doesn't care about their employees performance, and that is "why should I bother?"

There are many more assumptions that I would like to deal with, but I believe that these three are good starting points. All of these actual problems are fixable, but they can't be done overnight and the my solutions to them will come in other posts.

Monday, March 22, 2010

And Another One's Gone and Another One's Gone

Yesterday, I posted about my gchat status being "Another one bites the dust." In case you didn't figure it out, it meant that another one of my friends got engaged. Last night, I showed up to an appointment 10 minutes early. For whatever reason, I didn't want to go in early, but I had absolutely nothing to do. As I pulled into a parking spot, I received a call from a close friend I had in high school who I haven't had the chance to speak to recently. It was great to hear from him and I was anticipating the call being

"Guess what?"

"You're engaged?"

"Yeah, how did you know?"

But wasn't like that. He asked how I was doing, what I was up to, where I was working, how school is, what about grad school, dating life, the upcoming baseball season, etc. I was truly shocked. He just wanted to call to say 'hi.' I exchanged the questions and we had a nice conversation.

He was off from Yeshiva and wanted to know if we would be able to get together some time. I said "sure." He then asked me what I was doing that night. I told him I was busy, but I'd be available later on in the week.

"Oh. Because I got engaged like an hour ago and I wanted to know if you could come to the l'chaim."

Curses! Foiled again!

I have to hand it to him. He had me completely fooled. I was busy so I couldn't go, but I was touched that he took the time to have a conversation with me before letting me know the good news. That's someone who cares. That's someone who realizes that a situation that should be completely about him isn't about him. It's about sharing the simcha with others. It's about recognizing that although I'm the man of he hour, you're important, too.

Just another one of my amazing friends.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why Don't you Call?

"Why don't you call?" is a question everyone hears from their parents or grandparents at some point after they haven't called for about four hours.* My grandparents are no exception. I am always hearing things like "we never hear from you." Or "What? You don't like us anymore? Or my personal favorite, "is that what you think of us?"

For the record, no. That's not what I think of you. Additionally, I think that if I had to calculate the amount of times I've called you in the last year and stacked them against the amount of times you called me, I'd say that I win going away. I'm not complaining, but they did invent the two-way communication device. You can call me, too.

Now, you readers may be saying something along the lines of "but they are your grandparents. It would be the respectful thing to do to call them." True. However, I feel that I call them enough, and if they want to speak more often than that they should call me sometimes instead of complaining about it all the time.

Having said that, my grandfather called me today. He was on line and he saw my gchat status** and wanted to know what it meant. I then realized that my grandfather had the ability to communicate via gchat but didn't know how to do it. The rest of the conversation was me talking to him via instant messenger and him responding through the phone. I have never heard him laugh so hard. He called my grandmother in to see what he was seeing., She was just as amazed. I love old people.

I tried to explain to them how to respond via instant messenger but they were just not getting it. Oh well. If that were the case, I wouldn't have to call them so often. But then I might hear the complaint of "why don't you ever I.M.? rotfl" (because they wouldn't know what that actually means).

**Another one bites the dust

Friday, March 19, 2010

The System

So I've had the following post in the works for a while, and once I read this post by BJG combined with the comments on a certain quiz of mine, I decided that it was time to take more action.

We all know that the basis people have for setting up their friends can be a little shall we say moronic? But I have a friend who has to take the cake. He has a system (don't we all?) where he rates guys and girls. He has five basic categories (in no particular order):

Down to Earthness

Not a bad starting point, although they are all a bit stale. But a genuinely solid place to start. However, here is where the "system" goes downhill. He rates you in each category and you receive one point for every category in which he deems you have a positive outlook. For instance, if you are solid in your own hashkafa, have a great personality, down to earth and are fairly bright, but you look like Voldermort when he was attached to the back of Professor Quirrell's head,* you get a four. He then pairs fives with fives, fours with fours, etc.

Now I don't have to tell you the endless amount of problems I have with this. I don't really have the time or the patients to go through all of the idiotic issues this "system" presents. I will just tell you that I have been a victim of this system. In fact, it was this guy (and his "system")who had set me up on my first ever date. Let's just say that the only similarities that we possessed
were our numbers.**

Surprisingly, this guy has a success rate of 0 for life (and guys just keep on going out with the girls he suggests), and I don't see this trend ever stopping. I am curious if anyone else has any worse examples of a person with a "system" because this one is the worst that I have seen.

*only with less sex appeal
** I am assuming a five

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tie Guy

There is always one guy in every Young Israel who comes in every week with a different tie. These could be Loony-Toons-style ties (my father in the late 90s), Disney Character ties, sports teams, or any other random type of neck-wear that basically said the same thing: LOOK AT ME!!!

My favorite all-time Tie Guy was not from any shul in which I had grown up. I had visited a friend of mine in another town and his shul's Tie Guy went all out. He had a custom made tie for each week's parsha. He had them imported from from England. The ties either had some relevance to the parsha, haftora, or some obscure midrash that the guy found (because not all parshiyos are tieable).

I would like to give honorable mention to my shul's Tie Guy who had many a different ties. My favorites included the one shaped like a pizza (worn on Pesach) and the Mets and Yankees ties that were worn on the weekends of the Subway Series (based on the home team of that particular weekend).

In my experience, Tie Guys have the ability to add a more colorful experience to shul going that would exist otherwise. Among a minyan of mostly dark suits (post coming later), it was always nice to see Tweety Bird, Moses or Batman staring straight at you.

On a related note, here is a link to the Tie Guys' web site. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


For the last week or so, my posts have been a little bitter or depressing, so I thought I'd have something a little more upbeat today.

For those of you who don't know me (and even some who do), my favorite show of all time is Whose Line is it Anyway? I watch this show incredibly often adn I know just about all of the youtube clips by heart. I just wanted to share one of the games that no matter how many times I watch, is still funny.

A few things to point out:

1) Wayne Brady is very tallented and may have the best voice on the show, but Brad Sherwood (singing above) and Chip Esten are both better improvisational lyricists.

2) At about 1:15, brad figures out what to do.

3) Reactions in the back are amazing, especially Ryan (the tall one) when Brad shouts "WHY!?"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Keep Your Friends Closer

One of the strongest beliefs that my mother has is that the best thing a person can have in life is family. Despite how much you anger another member of your family, there is always the possibility of making up. It's not like that with any other group of people. Bridges are constantly being burned, whether its friendship, business or otherwise.

In principle, I agree with this idea. Family is a great thing to have to fall back on. There is always someone to be there for you. I am blessed in this area. There is always someone there for me. However, I am also blessed in another area.


I know that at any point I can ask my friends for something and one of them will be there to lend a hand. If I ever need to talk to someone outside my family, I have a plethora of people that I can bother. So in this regard, I don't agree with my mother, and I hope I never will.

One of my close friends relayed a piece of information about his father and his two closest friends. There is a mutual understanding between the three of them that has never been spoken, but is known. If there is a point when any of them needs one another, regardless of availability, they will stop whatever it is they are doing and simply be with the other one. Just to be with him.

Oh, did I mention that the three friends live in different time zones?

That's the kind of relationship I strive for. I have close friends now, but I want the kind where no matter what; no matter when; no matter why I can depend on that friend. I may have this now and not even know it. I don't know. I really hope I never have to find out.

This is not a post to disagree with my mom. I don't need a blog for that. I will eventually have an appreciation post for my parents. This one is for my friends.

Thank you.

Thank you for putting up with me. My idiosyncrasies. My Rabbi-like sense of humor. My immaturity. My moments of depression. My instances of mania. My insensitivity. My senselessness. My self-deprecation. My constant need for attention (yes, I think I have that). All of the other moronic things I do.

It's because of the way that you act towards me that I am able to deal with the real jerks in the world. Just knowing that there are nice people out there gives me a little reassurance.

I hope that I am as close a friend to you as you are to me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Frumness Measurement Scale for Girls

How frum are you?

Well, If you're a guy and you've been reading this blog, you already know. Girls, now it's finally your turn.

So again, if you have ever been asked this question, or even asked yourself this question, now is the time to figure out the answer. Just answer the following questions, refer to the score sheet and PRESTO you will know how frum you are.

Please note: This is the test for girls; for the guy's quiz, click here.

1) Where do/did you go to college?
a. College is a place not befitting a good, frum, Jewish girl
b. Touro
c. State/City College
d. Stern
e. Ivy League

2) Which of the following best describes your Tefilah habits?
a. three times a day, at set times
b. three times a day, when I find the time
c. I daven most of the time
d. I daven sometimes
e. I'm a girl. I don't have to daven.

3) Which of the following best describes your shirt collar?
a. collars. period.
b. Collars aren't necessary, by everything is covered way up to my neck.
c. I cover the collar bone.
d. I don't go too far, but covering the collar is not a priority.
e. whatever won't get me arrested

4) How long is your shemona esrei?
a. over 7 minutes
b. 5-7 minutes
c. 3-5 minutes
d. 1-3 minutes
e. Stop asking davening questions. I'm a girl. Get that through your head.

5) Who makes up you friend list?
a. only girls
b. girls and their husbands
c. mostly girls, but a few guys now and then
d. guys and girls mixed together
e. only guys

6) With which of the following footwear do you most associate yourself?
a. black flats
b. any flats
c. anything cute, but not too flashy
d. Uggs
e. flip-flops

7) Who sets/set you up on dates?
a. shadchan only
b. shadchan/friends
c. friends/jdate
d. I wait for a guy to find me/find one for myself.
e. Hang out by a bar and wait.

8) Which of the following best describes your tv/movie watching?
a. No TV. No movies. Period.
b. I watch a little here and there (mostly on hulu), but never in the theaters.
c. I don't watch much because I don't like the time wasting. It's not a religious thing.
d. I'll watch whenever I want to. I don't restrict myself.
e. I try to watch the most inappropriate shows possible; the dirtier the better.

9) Which of the following best describes a first date?
a. airport/hotel lounge
b. Barnes and Noble/Starbucks
c. dinner at a nice restaurant
d. a movie
a. a bar/wake up the next morning remembering nothing

10) Which of the following best describes your musical tastes?
a. Shwekey and Lipa
b. mostly Jewish music, but I do have my 2 or 3 bands in the secular world
c. I listen to what sounds good; religion plays no part in it.
e. whatever the club is playing at 2:00 am

OK, now that you've answered these questions, here's how the scoring works:
take 5 points for every time you answered "a."
4 points for every "b"
3 points for every "c"
2 for "d"
1 for "e"

Add them up. This is your Frumness Quotient (or FQ). Post your total below. Since this all has to be done subjectively, I will place the results of the research on a later date. Once enough people have taken this quiz, I will know what the scale is. So send this quiz to as many people as possible to make the research more accurate.

I hope this has answered every question you have ever wanted to know about a girl's "frumness."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Carl Erskine

If you are reading this blog, chances are you don't know who Carl Erskine is. Carl Erskine is a Hall of Fame pitcher who played his entire twelve-year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now before you turn away from this post thinking that its about sports, let me assure you that it is. However, although the story I am about to relay is a baseball story, the reason I am bringing up is not only in relation to sports.

In the 1951 season, the New York Giants were trailing the Brooklyn Dodgers for first place in the National League by 13.5 games with only 44 games left (a very difficult obstacle to overcome). In those days there were no standard playoffs; the first-place teams from the two leagues played in the World Series. Well, the Giants caught and tied the Dodgers for first place on the last day of the season. Because they were tied, the teams by rule had to play a best-out-of-three playoff series to determine who would eventually lose to the Yankees in the World Series.

The teams split the first two games of the series and had to go to a winner-take-all third game. Of course, the game came down to the final at-bat. The manager of the Dodgers, Leo Durocher, decided to send in a relief pitcher. In the bullpen, there were two pitchers warming up. One was Erksine and the other was Ralph Branca. When Durocher made the call to his bullpen coach, he asked which one looked better. The response was that they were both throwing quite well.

However, Erksine's best pitch was a sinker ball and it tended to dive down into the ground to fool the batter. On that day, Erksine was bouncing this pitch a little earlier than usual. In addition to this slight problem, the Dodger's primary catcher, Roy Campanella, was injured, and the two backups the Dodgers lacked the athletic prowess necessary to block that pitch. The Dodgers decided to put Branca into the game. Here is the result:

Carl Erksine is a Hall of fame Pitcher. He retired with the record for the most strikeouts ina World Series game. He pitched two no-hitters in his career. Whenever faced with the question of 'what was the most important pitch you have ever thrown?' his response is always the same. "The one in the bullpen that I bounced in the dirt during the 1951 playoff game."

Carl Erksine can't get that one pitch out of his head. It will haunt him for the rest of his life despite all of his his accomplishments. Why?

Because Carl Erksine is no different than any of us. He looks at the things that he has no control over and feels helpless against them. I don't know for a fact that this is true about every person in the world, but I am pretty sure that this is true of most people. You sit up late at night, thinking about that job that you don't understand why you didn't get. You wonder why someone broke up with you because you thought it was going fine, but never got a full answer from the other person and now you're just confused. You fear for your friend because he/she is going through something serious and there is just nothing that you can do about it. You're just as helpless as he/she is. It's the same old story. Despite all that is going right for you, you seem stuck on that one thing.

I have news for you. There is not much that you can do to change it. If you dwell too much in it, you will wake up when you're 78 years old, wondering where your life went. I'll tell you where it went. It passed you by while you were worrying things that happened in the past. Things that you had no control over. Things that had no effect on the life you ended up leading. They were just small things that seemed big at the time, but really had no effect on your life as a whole.

If you go through life thinking only about what happened in the past, it will pass you by. If something is bothering you, grab life by the horns and do something about it. If not, get on with it. Forget about things you can't control because if you don't, you will lose control of the things you can.

Friday, March 12, 2010


While watching the latest episode of The Office, a commercial came up for camp. Not a specific camp, just camp.

As someone who has been heavily entrenched in camp for a long time, I can tell you that just about all that you see on this commercial is true. Kids look forward to camp. It is their escape from the city life that they are so used to. Kids learn self-esteem; they learn what they are good at; they make friends for life. Some of my absolute closest friends I met in camp, including one who lives down my block (no New York jokes, please). As one of the actors said on the commercial, it was an incentive for him to do well in school, just so he could go back.

All I'm saying is that when it comes time for you to decide whether or not to send your own children to camp, here are a few very strong reasons to send them. And when you do send them, please take as much time in choosing a camp as you would for a school. Maybe more. Because to some extent, a camp molds a child even more than a school might. Remember, when sending a child away for a month, he or she doesn't have mommy and daddy to come home to at night so it is mostly self-discovery.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Scary Man

Today's PITYI is the Scary Man. You might remember this guy from your younger years, as he generally terrorizes the younger members of the congragation. This is the guy that basically hates kids. No matter what a child does, he is met with a disgusted face from the Scary Man. The expression is usually the same regardless of the transgression committed. He is generally a large and intimidating force that no child wants to mess with. No adult, either.

For instance, a child could be yelled at for eating his or her kiddush chullent on the staircase, preventing others from using the staircase. Or, that same child can be yelled at for taking three steps back during Shemonah Esrei into another person. Although the second example can happen to anyone, when a child does it, the Scary Man seems to be more sensitive to it.

I would like to share a story about the Scary Man from the shul I used to attend as a child. The boys in our shul had the minhag of of going upstairs during the Rabbi's speech on Friday Night and playing "bottle cap soccer." Bottle Cap Soccer was played by having the 25 or so boys divide into two teams and attempt to kick a bottle cap accross a long hallway into the opponents "goal." The goals were the two doorways on either side of the hallway. Seeing as the hall was directly above where the Rabbi was speaking, we tended to create much noise from our game.

One such Shabbos, the Scary Man came to pay us a visit to politely request that we stop. Of course, his way of asking politely included him punching one of our goals and seeing the dust from the aforementioned goals rise out of it not unlike the dust from Nagasaki. We all ran in terror. (duh)

This is just one of the many stories about the Scary Man from my shul. Maybe more another time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


There are many phrases people have used to describe a girl to me. Most of them tell me nothing and the rest no longer have any meaning. Here is a list of the most unuseful and annoying phrases I have seen:

down to earth
friendly and outgoing
wants/doesn't want a TV

Here are a bunch of ideas that would be more helpful. Granted, some of these are better off beingdiscovered through actually dating, but all are definitely morevaluable than the stuff on the previous list.

has goals
-and what they might be (optional)
honest (with herself and others)
can joke around
sarcasm level (jk-or am I?)

Please let me know if I am leaving anything out.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Have you ever done something that you wish you haden't done? It seemed like the best thing to do at the time, but there were certain consequences that you didn't predict would happen that just mannaged to manifest itself later. You even thought about all of the possibilities. You tried to take everything, everyone, every detail into account. Except the result you find yourself in.

You consulted everyone. Parents, friends, Rabbis, friends, faily, friends, family friends. They all understood. They all gave advice. They all agreed. They all wished you luck. They were all wrong. They were all wrong.

And now you're in a sittuation that you don't want to be in. Don't get yourself wrong, there are certainly things that you don't want to go back on, but there are certain things that worry you. And it's those things that weigh down in your mind, like a trash compactor to a junked car. It just keeps pushing. And pushing. And no matter how hard you try to resolve the issue, it just keeps pushing harder. You know eventually it will be resolved, but for now, nothing else occupies your mind. Not your school, not your job, not the aforementioned people in your life. None of it matters until you figure out how to fix it.

Know what I'm talking about?

Chain Mail

Like many of you, I despise chain email. However, i found it humorous that my grandmother who sends just about every chain email there is, sent me one recently that i now know is going around. It is a very emotional and inspirational video of the story of a Rabbi in the Holocaust. No. This is not the humor part. The humor part is the link that my not-frum grandparents are ogling over, especially the song.

Is anyone else getting this email? I would assume that it is only being passed around outside the frum world.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

At a Bar Mitzvah

While at a Bar Mitzvah over Shabbos, the father of the simcha relayed the following story about my parents (From now on, I will be referring to my parents as Mr and Mrs. Jones):

Most of you know that for the first 13 years of our marriage, we could not have children. Finally, approximately 14 years ago we were blessed to find out that we could. I had to wait three months before I could let anyone know. In August I called our long time friends, the Jonses, to inform them of the news.

When Mrs. Jones answered the phone, I asked her if she had any plans for March 8th. She was confused and asked me to repeat the question.

"Do you have any plans for March 8th?"

About three seconds go by when all of a sudden Mrs. Jones lets out a screech that was so loud that I dropped the phone. She ran away from the phone for a second to fetch her husband.

"Mr. Jones! Mr. Jones! Pickupthephonenow! Pickituppickituppickitup!!!"

"What's the problem?"


So Mr. Jones picks the phone up and I go through my whole shpiel again. He didn't get it. I had to come out and say it.

"We're expecting."

"Expecting what?"

I love my parents.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Looks Can Kill

Is asking for a picture right? Moralistic? Fair?

Sefardi Gal left the following comment on one of my posts, so I decided to turn it into a post of its own:

Jug, I've been thinking of doing it-
but I'm not sure how.
1) Does the shadchan send him my picture and then send me the guy's picture?
2) What if he's just not photogenic? I know that I'm not; I either look GREAT in pictures (to the point that I'm barely recognizable) or ugly/fatter/weird. There's a certain "chein"/charm that many people have in real life, but they lack it in photos.
3) Looks can grow. Someone can be just OK and turn into ridiculously handsome in my eyes if he has great middot and personality. Also, quite the oppositve can happen if he's ridiculously attractive but has a bland or obnoxious personality.
4) People can have expectations based on photos -- for better or for worse.
5) It's hurtful to reject someone solely based on looks. Understandable, but still hurtful.

My Answers:

1) It's up to you how the picture is obtained. I've asked shadchanim straight out. I've been offered a picture. There were a few times when i met the girl prior to going out. Also, it doesn't need to be reciprocated. It's possible that only one side needs a picture. The other side may not ask for one.

2) Unless there was some sort of incredibly obvious problem in the looks department, I never rejected a girl outright because of a picture. I was once handed a picture that was taken in a very professionally posed position with a ton of make-up and the girl was still quite unattractive. There, i said "no."

3) That's true. I had two instances (actually back to back) where looks grew. However, it is not a guarantee and it is not a common to happen as you think.

4) The photo is not for expectation purposes. It is to see if it is worth pursuing. If you go into a date expecting a girl (or in your case a guy) to look like he or she does in a picture, you missed what the picture is all about. Do not judge based on the picture. Use it to get a basic understanding of whether or not there's a chance of going out.

5) This question is the main point I would like to make and I am going to break it into two parts.
a. Nobody is owed an explanation of not wanting to go out anymore until at least the third date. Until the end of the third date, nobody has a right to ask for a reason. Nobody should be expected to give a reason. If you don't want to go out with someone because of their looks, that's your prerogative and that reasoning should remain unknown to anyone but you. This is done to avoid hurting someone. If they hear "he/she is not interested" without an explanation, they can't be hurt.
b. Having said that, it is straight out dumb to believe that you will go through a dating career (let's face it, that's what it is) without hurting people. It will happen. When I first started dating, a friend's wife told me that I better be prepared "to hurt and be hurt" because that's going to happen. Dating is a selfish concept in our world. You are in it for yourself. You need to do what you think is best for you. You can't worry about other people's feelings.

Hypothetically, if you go out with someone who you are just not attracted to, but that person has a great personality and that person is exactly what you are looking for except that you're not attracted to him/her, you may end up in a situation that you can't get out of. You will keep dating this person, hoping that you can look past this fact, but you just can't. You will start questioning yourself as to whether or not you are a good person because you can't seem to get this idea out of your head. You will continue to date this person, growing in your relationship and all the while wishing that you weren't in it. Eventually, you will come to the realization that all along you were hoping that this wouldn't be the person you will be marrying and you will have no choice but to hrt someone. That's what emotions can do to a person.

I'm not saying that asking for a picture is mandatory. As a matter of fact, I would discourage it. It's not for everyone. I didn't begin it until after speaking with my Rebbe about it and we came to the conclusion that it was the best thing for me (for reasons which I will not disclose at this time- maybe later). Asking for a picture is not as simple as it sounds and it could really damage a relationship from the beginning if you're not careful how you go about doing it. Make sure that you know exactly what you are looking for when looking at a picture. Don't just look for whether or not this person is simply attractive. Use it only to weed out blatantly obvious nos.

Here's the bottom line: It took me while to learn that it's not a bad thing to ask for a picture. Most people take it as a normal request. Some even take it as a sign that your honest with yourself. Do not be embarrassed about requesting a picture. Do not try to qualify it or explain why you have to see one. Ask for it as a normal request, as if there is nothing wrong with it - because there isn't.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Candymen

That's right, today's "Person in the Young Israel" is actually more than one person. It is two. They are our friends, the Candymen. Now, in most Young Israels, there are two Candymen.

The first one has probably been in the shul since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, but is still visited by free-candy-seeking children. He usually will give out something small like a lollipop or a stick of gum. It's nothing special and children seem to go to him just to keep him happy. They do this in hopes that one day, one glorious day, this Candyman will change his his ways and get with the program set up by the second Candyman.

Candyman number two is a mother's wost nightmare. He will send children home with lemonheadeds, jaw breakers, licorice, now 'n laters, candy corn, gummy bears, hard candy, soft candy, candy that melts, candy that sticks to the sofas until Pesach. This Candyman is THE man. There was one such Candyman in the shul in which I grew up. He used to give out his candy portions based on how many alliyas you followed on Shabbos. Every kid would come up to him after davening and tell him what they followed inside. You would get one helping for every alliya, one for maftir, one for haftorah, one for Mussaf and two if you magically stayed in for the Rabbi's speech. I never did that, but Bar Mitzvahs were awesome because of the extra alliyas. This Candyman was so good that he put all others out of business. No one else dared to mess with him. I don't daven there anymore, but I still visit him when I go back to that shul.

By the way, the original version is much better and slightly less creepy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Aaaah, the Things We Learn

I have picked up quite a few things from girls I've dated. I'm not talking about habits like knuckle-cracking or nail-biting, but there were a few things that girls have pointed out to me that I have adapted and even use as my own.

There is one main reason for this to happen. I believe that I take these things on to have one more thing in common with the girl. However, it ends up turning out that I like the thing(s) that I picked up. So I keep it going. It turns out that there is a reason that people like these things.

Here is a brief but complete list of ideas and hobbies that I have undertook thanks to girls with whom I have gone out:

Flight of the Conchords- A girl introduced me to this comedy group and I was hooked for about six months. Then I got bored.

Hilarious vs. Hysterical- A girl introduced me to the idea that people tend to only say one or the other when referring to a humorous story. It is quite rare if you use both.

Guitar Hero- As I've mentioned before in a post that I didn't care to go find, I girl kicked my rear in Guitar Hero, so I learned how to play the game. On a more recent date, I played it again. And lost again, but by less.

Pandora Internet Radio
- I did not know about this until a girl introduced me to it. Now, I can't function without it.

List Keeping- Every night before bed, I make a list of things I need to do the next day. They don't always all get done, but just having a list to keep my mind heading in the right direction helps a lot.

Blogging- Yup, I blog because of a girl. While there are a number of girls I've dated who blog (no, it's not you), the one who actually got me into it was one who only read blogs (and commented here and there). I dated her for a little while and thought that it would be interesting if in the future I could get her to unknowingly read my blog. Even after we broke up, I kept it going.

Phone Call Laundry- A girl once told me that while talking to a guy on the phone, she folds laundry to have something mindless to do while having a conversation. I started doing this and it really helped with the phone talk (something I otherwise find quite difficult).

This is everything I am aware of. There may be more. I'll add them in if I figure any more out. Am I in the minority? Do other people pick anything up from their dates (with or without realizing)?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In Case You Don't Hate Me Yet

I like dating. There I said it. I enjoy every aspect of it. I like meeting new people.

I like talking. I like talking about things that are important to me; things my friends and I have discussed at length that i am now hearing a fresh opinion on. I like hearing other people's interests (even if I'm not necessarily interested in those things). There is nothing worse than a girl with no interests (I've dated them). I like discussing my interests and why I am interested in them. I like finding out about people's goals and explaining why some of mine might be difficult to reach. I like talking about hashkafa and eager to find someone with one similar to my own.

I like doing things. I like doing things that I wouldn't normally do on my own (or even with my friends). I like spending time in Dave and Busters. I like going to basketball or baseball games. I enjoy walking around Barnes and Noble with no intention of buying anything. I like going to museums. I like going to zoos. I hate going to lounges so I never go. I like walking around Manhattan. I like doing these things with people who are or may be important to me.

I like learning. I like learning things about myself. I like understanding myself a little bit better when I get home after a date. I like learning things about myself when I dump a girl. I like learning things when a girl dumps me. I like learning new routs to take (both actual and metaphorical).

I like meeting new people. I like meeting new girls. I like meeting parents. I like meeting friends. Brothers. Sisters. Cousins. Roommates. Acquaintances. Bubbies. Zaidies. I like talking to these people. I like getting to know them.

I like the awkward moments. Let me say that again. I like the awkward moments. I like knowing what makes them awkward so I know not to repeat them. I now know to try to be sure of yourself. To think about what you say before saying it. To come with a backup plan. I like finding out that i have dated the friend of the girl and better understanding the people she hangs out with (this happened more than twice).

I like everything else that I have yet to mention. I like the drive. I like it when she's in the car. I like it when I'm by myself. I like the long ones to Baltimore. I like the short ones to down the block. I like the walking. I like the prep. I like the anticipation. The waiting to hear back. The uncertainty. The implications. I like it all (except for the phone calls; I hate those).

Am I weird?


OK, In case you haven't had a chance to check these kids out, here's your opportunity. They are amazing. I first heard their rendition of Matisyahu's "One Day" thanks to A Negative Benefit, and from then on I was hooked. They were invited to perform for the President at the annual tree lighting in the White House. There, they met Celtic Woman, a multi-platinum Irish folk group. The group decided to surprise them and invited the children to perform with them in a concert in Carnegie Hall. This is the video of one of their practices.

The school is located in Staten Island, New York.