Monday, December 28, 2009

Death of Brittany Murphy

Do you see anything wrong with this?

One of the first things Brittany Murphy did when she showed up on the Oregon set of her indie thriller "Something Wicked" last June was acknowledge -- and apologize for -- her weight.

"I met her on the first day she arrived [on set] in Eugene with her husband," said Scott Chambers, a principal at Chambers Productions and an executive producer on the picture. "She looked ill, as much as 10 pounds underweight, and she's a small person to begin with. She easily could have made an excuse not to come to work, but she didn't. She said, 'I've got to get better, but I want to do this part.' "

A day after the death of the 32-year-old actress, people in the film business on Monday described a woman who continued to work tirelessly even as her star-wattage dimmed somewhat and health issues began to take their toll.

Murphy spent about three weeks shooting her role as a psychiatrist in "Something Wicked," a mystery thriller about a teenage couple experiencing eerie supernatural phenomena. Chambers noted that though the part was not physically demanding -- most of the scenes took place in an office setting -- he was nonetheless struck by Murphy's commitment to her part given her fragile state.

Mr. Chambers, your admiration is unwarranted and inappropriate.

It wasn't admirable that Brittany worked when she was both or either mentally or physically ill. What would have been admirable would have been if the people she worked for made an addendum to her contract that she demonstrate improvement in her condition by some criteria as perscribed by a mental health professional or medical doctor.

Mr. Chambers was sensitive to note Brittany's distress. However, he, and many of the other people in her life, were too cowardly to hold her hand on the path to wellness.

It's so easy to say, "not my problem." I just wonder why as individuals we feel that we have no responsibility to help those crying out for help.

Not to mention in Hollywood and popular culture Anorexia it is still an acceptable vice because being thin is so hypervalued.

And this trickels down to some men and women who view this look as an ideal In fact, I saw it written almost in the same breath that Murphy was hot and anorexic.

I've given up on most media embracing healthy women. But I do hope the next time an underweight actress walks into Mr. Chambers office he shows her the door to the nearest medical doctor.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mount of Olives

A foreign camel noisly stands atop the Mount of Olives
entertaining tourists
tracing Abraham's path
to sacrafice his son
before God commanded "psyche".

There Herod built a holy Temple where nearby
Jesus was crucified.
Would his cross have had the view of the
Dome of the Rock?
Big and Shiny
in contrast to the endless matted Jerusalem stone.
For every religious icon sits millions of graves.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Interview with producer and writer of hit t.v. show

Here's an article I wrote for OyChicago after interviewing the writer and producer of "Being Erica."

Check it out:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2010 Resolution

I learned this today.

From whom doesn’t really matter. Actually, no one said this to me, but brought it up tangentially, and now it’s going through my head.

The key to happiness and success, however you define them, is based on the balance between non ritual behavior and ritualized behavior. There is also balance between what we ritualize and how much weight we give to each ritual. A positive ritual could turn negative if hyperritualized.

When I speak of rituals, religion is not my focus, although it is a huge source of both positive and negative rituals. I haven’t done a study, but I’m guessing the more ritualized someone’s life is, specifically with positive rituals, the happier they are. However when rituals, such as religious ones, become a spiritual or economic burden, they no longer are positive. Why are some even fanatically religious people very happy? They are not burdened by their religion. It enhances and defines their lives. However, if your lifestyle conflicts with any of the rituals or communal rituals (sometimes homosexuals, singles, women, politics, divorce) then the rituals are burdensome rather than positive.

I know a lot of people with kids. Most of my friends and relatives are really good parents. However, despite the mommy wars, it seems to make no difference if one parent works and one stays at home or both parents work or if the kids are raised by nannies. What matters most is that their lives are ritualized positively (and this doesn’t mean overprogrammed with lessons in this and that, just daily continuity). Some families can only accomplish that if they have a parent at home. And that’s fine. But some families can accomplish a ritualized household through a balance of child care and parental involvement.

It’s why it’s so hard to fix the education system. Although 180 days a year kids’ lives are ritualized in school, if the other 185 days their lives are in chaos because of their home life, crime in their neighborhood and/or financial and nutritional stressers, school doesn't matter enough. Add to that that some of their time is spent with problematic teachers and classmates, success becomes too steep a hill to climb.

What constitutes a ritual? Anything can be a ritual depending on how and when you do it. Whether or not it’s positive or not depends on the ritual’s execution. The most basic ritual that almost everyone does is brush their teeth in the morning. This would turn into a negative ritual if someone brushes their teeth 100 times a day or not at all. The ritual isn’t maximized if you don’t brush your teeth before bed, because you don’t make time or prioritize the ritual.

Eating, working, exercising, watching media or sports, drinking, cleaning, praying, shopping, sex are all possible actions that can be and if ritualized can make for a wonderful life. However they are all also probably the most likely activities to become out of balance and their ritualization becomes detrimental and injurious.

So instead of losing weight, or cleaning more, or pledging to do this or that, perhaps my New Years’ Resolution for 2010 will be to incorporate more positive rituals into my life and phase out the negative ones. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Do you know someone with a cough, cold, H1N1, or flu? "Cure" them with this!

Eva Cohn Schulman's Chicken Soup
The kind of chicken soup that cures everything.

Serves: Many
Difficulty Medium - some experience needed
Prep Time: an hour
Cooking Time: Many hours
Ingredients: See below. Take notes.
This is only for cooks who can handle not needing a recipe. Giving exact measurements would mess the entire thing up.

Until I was 14 years old, I would eat my Bubbie's chicken soup at least once a week. After the first taste everyone would say, "Good soup, Bub"& On December 24 I find myself nostalgic for my grandparents. Every winter vacation we would make the 23-hour trip to Hollywood, Florida. The journey would begin with a trip to the Donut Shop. We would eat our other meals at the Waffle House or other southern eateries. Once we arrived in Florida, we ate at only two different restaurants for the entire two weeks. When I was little, I thought Southern Florida only had two restaurants, both with pickles on the table. Below is my Bubbie's chicken soup recipe in an im chat between my dad and me. You may notice there are no exact quantities, there is no need to measure or quantify the ingredients. You just need to make it with a lot of love.

sharna: dad do you have bubbie's chicken soup recipe on you?
Abe says: no, I can approximate it.
Abe says: who wants it?
sharna: gabi is very sick and i wanted to make it for her
Abe says: Take a large pot and fill the bottom with chicken pieces or halves, skin and all.
Abe says: Cover the chicken with water, but just cover not too much water
sharna: ok
Abe says: bring to a boil and skim until no more scum accumulates on the top.
sharna: before you add the veggies?
Abe says: yes
Abe says: after removing the scum turn the temperature down to medium - low and add vegtables, 2 boulion cubes, and seasoning salt. Vegtables should include one onion, parsnips, carrots, celery and dill.
sharna: ok
sharna: now, didn't bubbie use beef
Abe says: do not add any water. the boulion can be beef or you can add some beef to the chicken before the veggies.
sharna says: ok
sharna: what kind of beef?
Abe says: chuck
Abe says: you have to skim it also so put in with chicken
sharna says: ok
Abe says: good luck
sharna: gracias
Abe says: let me know how you make out
sharna: ok
sharna: i will
Abe says: be sure to use a low flame and cover the pot
sharna: ok
Abe says: after it starts to cook you can crack the lid.
Abe says: do you know what to do after its done?
sharna: no
Abe says: take out the veggies (I forgot parsley), save the carrots, celery, and parsnips in a bowl
Abe says: drain all the liquid into another bowl and put in refrigerator.
sharna : ok
Abe says: Wash off the chicken and beef, removing the skin from the chicken and put into a large pot or even the same pot if you rinse it out
sharna: why do you seperate it?
Abe says: about a half hour later remove the liquid from the fridge and skim off the fat. that's why you separate it.
sharna : that's a lot of work
Abe says: If you don't care about the fat just remove the skin and add back the carrots, celery and parsnips
sharna: ok
Abe says: if you want to make matza balls just follow the instructions and make in the soup
sharna says: ok
Abe says: good luck, you'll love it and Bubbie will be proud.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Favorite Quotes

I haven't been so inspired to write lately. Work is busy. I'm a little self involved. But I was reading some of my favorite quotes and thought I would put them here for your enjoyment. They are from my FB profile, but I don't think so many people read favorite quotes on a Facebook profile:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' ... There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.-Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love.

I still have cinder -- the stuff they use to surface the track -- littered under my skin like constellations across the night sky.

Some people get tattoos; I wrecked out. It’s all good.
-Zachary Osterman, IDS, May 27, 2009

Even now, all possible feelings do not yet exist. There are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination. From time to time, when a piece of music no one has ever written, or a painting no one has ever painted, or something else impossible to predict, fathom, or yet describe takes place, a new feeling enters the world. And then, for the millionth time in the history of feeling, the heart surges, and absorbs the impact. - The History of Love

But who is set up for the impossible that's going to happen? Who is set up for tragedy and the incomprehensibility of suffering? Nobody. The tragedy of the man not set up for tragedy-that is every man's tragedy. -American Pastoral

The spiritual journey can be a very valuable and enriching thing. It is very easy to fall into gullibility and superstition…it’s true on the spiritual path you are by definition embracing irrationality. Irrationality is part of the human mind, part of the human psyche. We can’t get rid of it. It’s there. So is critical reason. So is rationality. So is skepticism. If you abandon those things just because you are on a spiritual path, you are giving up a good part of what it means to be a human being.-author Geoff Gilpin, author of "The Maharishi Effect," in a segment broadcast December 30 ,2007 on “To the Best of Our Knowledge.”

Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. - George Carlin

To live in indecision, to waver between defeat and a new life offered as much pleasure as pain. - Snow

Soul and body, body and soul--how mysterious they were! There was animalism in the soul, and the body had its moments of spirituality. The senses could refine, and the intellect could degrade. Who could say where the fleshly impulse ceased, or the psychical impulse began? -The Picture of Dorian Gray

I'm not political anymore. I mean, equal rights is one thing, equal pay is one thing, but blaming everything on being a woman is just passe. -The Heidi Chronicles

I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential...i have been a victim of my own optimism. -Eat, Pray, Love

Friday, December 4, 2009

Katie's Story: You may be the one to save her life

By Lori Rosen

My sister desperately needs your help. Please read her story and consider registering by attending one of the upcoming drives (listed at the end of this story) or going to

My sister, Katie, is 26 years old and has been through more in the past year and a half than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime. In spring of 2008, one week after her 25th birthday, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Our lives were turned upside down. Unresponsive to chemotherapy, she and my mother, Nancy Meacham, moved to Houston, TX in order for Katie to receive treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She underwent an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant, which put her in remission. Upon returning to New York, she became heavily involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She has become a friend and resource to countless others battling cancer.

Just after celebrating a year cancer-free, Katie received the devastating news this past September that she has relapsed. My heart broke. Yet, she met this news with the same courage, determination and hope that she held throughout her initial diagnosis and treatment. I wished, as I have many times, that I could make this illness just disappear. Her strength of spirit inspires me everyday.

Doctors have said her best chance at long term recovery and survival is for her to undergo an Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant, meaning now she needs blood stem cells from a matching donor since her own blood stem cells didn’t keep the cancer away. I am begging for your help. You may be the one to save my sister, or one of the other 6,000 people searching for a life-saving match each day.

Right now, of the 14 million people currently registered to donate, not a single one is a match for Katie. This is due in part to her unique genetic make-up which includes the Jewish A69 gene (from her mother, of Middle Eastern European Jewish descent) as well as genes from her non-Jewish father who is of German and English ancestry. Although it is more likely that her match will have a similar background, it is certainly not compulsory.

Registering involves answering a brief set of medical history questions, then swabbing your cheek with special Q-tips, which are provided to you by the testing service. It is free and painless. If a donor is called upon to donate, 70% of the time the procedure involves removing blood from one arm through a needle, collecting the stem cells from the blood, and returning the blood to the donor through a needle in the other arm. It only takes the donor a short time to replenish their stem cell supply.

Additionally, we are trying to spread the word amongst families with babies on the way, that the blood from the umbilical cord of a newborn, which is typically discarded, can also be given to a public cord bank, where it could potentially reach a patient in need. Learn more about cord blood donation.

Both of these procedures require so little of the donor, and mean absolutely everything to the recipient. We are desperate to find a match for our Katie, and hope that you will consider registering to become a donor by attending one of the donor drives or registering online. If you aren’t a match for my sister, you could be a match for one of the thousands of others in need, who are holding out hope that the next new donor will be the one who saves their life.

Over the next couple weeks, donor drives are being held throughout Chicago in which the entire registry process can be completed on-site. Details are below. It takes six weeks to get in the database and sadly cancer does not wait for paperwork to be filed, so please do it now.


Friday, December 4, 2009 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Chicago, IL
UIC Hillel
Levine Hillel Center
924 S. Morgan St.
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 357-6922

Saturday, December 5, 2009 10 a.m-12 p.m.
Elmhurst, IL
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Kickoff Event
York Community H.S.
355 W St Charles Rd
Elmhurst, IL 60126
CONTACT: Danielle Vickers (LifeSource):

Sunday, December 6, 2009 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Chicago, IL
Emanuel Congregation
5959 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660-3643
(773) 561-5173

Sunday, December 6, 2009 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Chicago, IL
Anshe Emet Synagogue (during Hannukah party)
3751 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613-4104
(773) 281-1423

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 10 a.m-5 p.m.
Chicago, IL
Spertus Institute
610 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605-1901
(312) 322-1700
Lobby and 2nd level

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lessons learned from Rabin assassination 14 years later

Check out my article on Oy Chicago about why Rabin's assassination is relevant 14 years later.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Israel took over the Gaza strip during the 1967 Six Day War. In 2005, Israel withdrew from the area. In 2006, the Palestinians living in Gaza elected Hamas leaders to lead the country. Hamas does not recognize the state of Israel and is considered to be a terrorist organization by most of the Western world.
Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas has launched rocket attacks against Southern Israel. For years, Israel response to the attacks was extremely limited, to the anger of Israelis in the South who asked what would the government do if Quassam rockets were being fired into Tel Aviv. In December 2008, after the Hamas attacks increased, Israel began a brutal bombing campaign on Gaza.

Less than a year later, the Goldstone Report has emerged accusing Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN Council on Human Rights (which is comprised of countries like Saudi Arabia, China and Russia) has condemned Israel’s war on Gaza?

How do you defend your country against a terrorist government that rules over a densely populated people, uses them as shields, hides in mosques and schools without inflicting disproportionate damage, as Israel has been accused of? What was Israel supposed to do?

Today in Gaza, the humanitarian state is not as bad as it was in January, but the people are still suffering. In Southern Israel, rockets are still being fired from Hamas, although not nearly at the rate before the war.

Israel leaves Gaza 2005

Hamas wins elections in Gaza

Daily Show View of Hamas Election

Rocket attacks in Israel

Map of attacks

Rocket attacks in Southern Israel

Massive Israeli raids in Gaza

Hamas and Israel response during the war

Final Death Toll

Today on the border of Gaza

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Health care reform will help our economy

I wish there was a stastistic for how many people have stayed at jobs longer than they wanted to because they needed health insurance.

If health insurance becomes a non factor in someone’s decision to stay at a job, think of what this could do to our economy. Jobs could open up to people who really want them, and Americans could start taking the risks that our grandparents felt that they could take and what I think made this country so great: start a new business, invent an incredible device that will change the world, go back to school part time to earn a higher degree to change careers, or work at a small not for profit because that’s what you are good at.

Health insurance based on employer coverage is essentially anti-American. We are under the tyranny of a dictator and therefore unable to achieve the American dream.

I currently pay for my own health care. My employer subsidizes it but I pay an insane amount of money for insurance. Why? Because when I left my last job, I was denied health insurance. So now, I pay for COBRA. Go ahead, say it. “You are on COBRA, that’s so expensive!”

Yep, I do. And do you know what I don’t do much of anymore, buy stuff. I don’t really buy clothes because something looks cute, or go to a concert because I like the band, or buy my friends’ babies little outfits. My non essential spending has decreased significantly. Oh and I have a t.v. from 1994.

Almost all of my extra money is going towards health insurance. I’m not poor. I'm not suffering. I just try not to live in (much) debt, therefore I limit my spending. But I'm part of that statistic as to why our economy isn't growing: people aren't buying enough of anything.

I’m not complaining. It’s a personal choice. I could live without it, I guess. Play Russian Roulette. But I’ve chosen not to. I have other friends who don’t have health insurance or friends who do, but won’t go to a doctor for fear of being diagnosed with something that will prevent them from receiving coverage in the future.

Sadly, my COBRA expires on December 31. So I will apply to the state for insurance (which I will pay for), if, and only if, the state is still running the program. Or I guess I could leave my job that I love and start doing something I’m not as good at so that I can have insurance.

(For my friends in Israel and Canada who are reading this, I KNOW! Can you believe this? I KNOW. You totally don’t have to waste any of your energy on this. I KNOW! It’s insane. No, no, I’m not coming to live with you. Thanks for the offer.)

Or Congress could pass that health care reform bill before December 31 and then I don’t have to risk being a statistic that no one cares about.

And you can quit your crappy job and go to culinary school or work on that invention that you know will make you a million dollars.

My friends can go to the doctor to get a physical.

And then maybe, we can get this economy going again. Not on the backs of big firms on wall street that end up needing government bail outs, but on the backs of Americans who, if they don’t have to worry about going bankrupt over healthcare costs, are some of the most creative and innovative people in the world.

Or we can maintain the status quo.

I guess it’s up to the boys and girls with great health insurance coverage in Congress.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A response to a forward I received this morning about the supremacy of Conservatives

An anonymous relative with more conservative viewpoints than myself sent this to me today. The items in itals are what he sent me. The items in bold are my responses.

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn`t buy one.
If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a conservative sees people getting killed by guns, he doesn't care and hopes his stocks in GunsRUs improves.
If a liberal sees people getting killed by guns, he wants to develop policy to protect the innocent.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn`t eat meat.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for

So stupid not worth a response.

If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat
his enemy.
A liberal wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good.

If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to make up evidence to make the threat seem more iminent and dangerous than it is.

If a liberal sees a foreign threat, he seeks out truth and acts based on fact, not fiction or God's word.

If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a conservative is homosexual, he gets married to a woman only to embarass her and his kids by having affairs with men.

If a liberal is a homosexual, he wishes his sexuality wasn't politicized and that he could have equal rights protected under the law.


If a black man or Hispanic are conservative, they see themselves as
independently successful.
Their liberal counterparts see themselves as victims in need of government

I don't think all successful black and Hispanic men are conservatives. But maybe I voted for the wrong president.


If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his
A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.

So the unemployed conservatives aren't cashing their unemployment checks? Really? Somehow I doubt it.

If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.

If a conservative talk show host lies and has no substance to his arguments he is considered heroic.

If a liberal talk show host lies and has no substance to his arguments, he doesn't have a talk show.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church.
A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.
(Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)

If a conservative is a non-believer, he better not run for political office, because he will be shunned for having common sense.

If a liberal non-believer runs for office, he will be respected for his point of view towards religion.

If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for
it, or may choose a job that provides it.

A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes shopping for it, can't find it because he's been denied due to preexisting medical conditions, looks for a job that provides it, isn't hired, and suddenly becomes an advocate of health care reform.

A liberal wants to help even this hypocrite because health care is a basic human right.

If a conservative slips and falls in a store, he gets up, laughs and is

If a liberal slips and falls, he grabs his neck, moans like he's in labor
and then sues.

If a conservative sees someone slip and falls, and it is someone of a different color, he'll hesistate to help him up.

If a liberal slips and falls, he'll get up and clean the spill that caused him to become hurt in the first place.

If a conservative reads this, he'll forward it so his friends can have a
good laugh.

A liberal will delete it because he's "offended".


Monday, October 5, 2009

Top 10 reactions to Letterman’s affairs

10. Female intern applications for Late Night With David Letterman way, way down.

9. Cialis and Viagra execs fighting to sponsor Late Night With David Letterman without commercial interruption.

8. Sarah Palin’s middle finger is amputated after frostbite. She is still smiling.

7. Letterman Scholarship at Ball State awarded to C students majoring in marriage counseling.

6. Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Elliot Spitzer, etc doing shots together, charging them to World Wide Pants.

5. People under 30 now know who David Letterman is.

4. “That couch” at CBS has been thrown away.

3. Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon are thinking of cheating on their wives to improve ratings.

2. Next 48 Hours episode writes itself

And the number 1 reaction to Letterman’s affairs is

1. Most frequent google search in Montana from the same IP address: “Divorce settlement”

Monday, September 28, 2009

Friend with ALS seeking drug in Italy.

So, my very, very, very close friend since I was 3 years old, Jeff Berebitsky got married a few years ago. He is the friend I would go to every dance with in high school because I was too awkward to actually date someone. His was the first phone number I memorized. We pranked called each other. When three way calling was invented we prank called everyone. Jeff and I share many things including being tortured by our older brothers, being small, wearing glasses from the age of 6, teaching the other kids in elementary school about sex and curse words. During that time there has been a lot of loss as well but also a lot of fun.

I met Jeff's wife for the first time the weekend of their wedding and I had to really hold it together. It's not often that you really see your friend meet the one, and Jeff had clearly met his one. The wedding was beautiful with a touch of granola.

So last April when I found out Jeff's wife had ALS I couldn't believe it. I thought my friend was lying to me. ALS is the same disease that become famous by Lou Gherig as well as the book Tuesdays With Morrie. It is the same disease Stephen Hawking has.

Jenni's prognosis is 2-6 years. She is a little younger than I am. They have a toddler Philip David.

Full email from Jeff:

As many of you know, my wife was diagnosed with ALS. And though right now she is healthy and vital, the disease does appear to be progressing at a pace we are unable to gage. With so few stricken with this disease there are not many resources dedicated to research and development. Right now there appears to be a single drug on the market that carriers legitimate hope of slowing and possibly reversing the affects. Unfortunately there is only one country, Italy, that has access. Due to patent infringement the drug, Iplex, is not allowed to be sold anywhere in the world except Italy. Please see this the following link on the background of this drug:

My interest in contacting you is not to change the law in this country, though it would be greatly appreciated:), but to find out if you know people/doctors in Italy or the US that might be able to help. We are interested in accessing the drug, if nothing else to slow the disease.

Please forward this request on to anyone that may be able to help along with any of your own thoughts.

Thank you!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A few good commercials

As part of my professional development, I have been attending seminars. The seminars are hosted by an organization that is employing SIT to train us to think innovatively.

A microscopic portion of their presentations involves showing us commercials and talking about them. I'm listing the commercials because they are funny, however I'm not going to contextualize them for you because it would be plagarism of ideas from the SIT people.

Who wants context anyways? Watch and pretend it's the Super Bowl.


Snow on Car



Friday, July 31, 2009

Aps I would make

That is the subject of my blog for this month's Oy Chicago:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


When I was about 23, I went out with on a blind lunch date with a guy who was finishing law school at Northwestern who already had a medical degree. I was a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism when the campus was in the 680 N. Lake Shore Drive building, so we decided to meet at Corner Bakery.

We sat down and after asking me if I was a liar because I was in journalism school or “do they teach you to be liars” I knew the date was awash, and tried to eat my turkey sandwich as fast as possible without choking.

However, I am not rude, and didn’t leave abruptly. Also, I can talk to anyone, so we started talking about medicine, and I said, “yeah, my mom takes a lot of pills.”

And his response was, “Shocking! A Jewish woman who takes a lot of pills.” (followed by a roll of the eyes)

Although this guy was clearly an ass, this tale (and let me tell you, I have many like this one) came to mind when the autopsy report of Jay Bennett, former band member of Wilco, was released on June 23 concluding he had died of a pain killer overdose. In the last couple of years, other, celebrities have died of accidental overdoses specifically Heath Ledger and Anna Nicole Smith.

Many people are taking prescription medicines, and while I make no judgment about this fact, I do worry (Shocking! A Jewish woman who worries.) the medications are not being taken properly and that many are at risk of accidental overdose or permanent damage to major organs. Call it self medicating, call it drug abuse, call it illiteracy, this is a huge problem that seems to be under addressed.

According to a 2008 article from, 24,000 people died in the U.S. from accidental drug overdoses in 2006, a 100 percent increase from the year 2000.

The biggest rise in these accidental poisonings is among men and women of working age, 20 to 64, and is mainly due to abusing prescription pain medicines such as oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and buprenorphine. source: Webmd

In our culture, the first instinct would be to blame physicians for allegedly overprescribing medications or the drug companies for glamorizing medical products on commercials. Whether this is true or false, consumers of medications must take personal responsibility for prevention of dangerous drug interactions. How can you do so?

First of all, I need a disclaimer. I have no medical degree or experience. These are just some suggestions based on my own experience as a consumer and the experience of friends. If you are a medical professional and have something to add or dispute, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

1. Keep all of your prescriptions at one pharmacy. That way if your orthopedic surgeon prescribes something that interacts with something your internist prescribes, your pharmacist will hopefully catch it in case you forgot to tell one doctor about a medication you are on or your doctor made a mistake. (it happens) Also (this happened to me once with sulfa) if a doctor doesn’t know that a minor ingredient in a medication contains something you are allergic to, if your pharmacy records are accurate, the pharmacist won’t fill the prescription.
2. Update your pharmacy with any drug allergies.
3. Keep a personal record of drugs you have taken and any negative reactions. Even if they aren’t allergies, it’s good to record sensitivities.
4. If your heart starts racing, call a doctor or 911 immediately. If you lose any kind of sensation of anything, can’t breathe well, or have any other unusual symptom after taking a medication, call your doctor immediately.
5. Ask your doctor and research the effects of alcohol in conjunction with any medication that you are being prescribed.
6. Know if you need to take a medication with or without food or at a certain time of day.
7. Don’t take more or less than you are prescribed of a medication.
8. Don’t take Tylenol or acetaminophen after a night of drinking. It can cause liver damage. Don’t take more acetaminophen than recommended. It can also cause liver damage.
9. Don’t just stop taking a medication (unless you are instructed to do so). Call your doctor and plan a way to wean off of it if necessary.
10. If you are in emotional or physical pain, don’t take a little extra of whatever you are taking to dull the hurt. Call a friend. Call your doctor. Call 911. Get help. Be aware that self medicating may kill you.

I Must Be High

You always wanted more time,
To do what you always wanted to do
Now you got it

And I, I must be high,
To say goodbye
Bye bye bye

You never said you needed this
And you're pissed that you missed the very last kiss,
From my lips

And I, I must be high,
To say goodbye
Bye bye bye

And you never looked in my eyes,
Long enough to find any piece of mind
But now you got it

And I, I must be high,
To let you say goodbye
Bye bye bye

Condom study worth the money

People, mostly men, are up in arms about the $423,500 grant the NIH has awarded to the Kinsey Institute to study: why men don’t like using condoms. The guys laughing at the study say, “Duh. Just ask me. I can tell you. It doesn’t feel as good, it’s awkward, and ruins the mood.”

The issue though is less about why men don’t like using condoms as why they don’t like them enough to risk their own health and the health of the person with whom they are having sex when they often knowingly carry an STD or at the very least know they were exposed to one (and leaving out that information from their sexual partner).

Also, why do some men willingly use condoms? The answer involves ethics and psychology more than anything else. Or perhaps a perfectly good, ethical man will whine about condom usage, and pressure his sexual partner into not using one, when his testosterone reaches a certain level.

In addition, according to the article, some men cannot maintain an erection with a condom. If you asked those men, I bet they wouldn’t mind tax payer money being used to find out why.

If your answer to this problem is monogamy, that’s great, but what about pregnancy prevention. Why should a woman be forced to swallow hormones 21 days out of the month when condom usage can prevent pregnancy just as well if used correctly?

Perhaps the outcome of the study could be a better condom? Maybe a spray on one that doesn’t spoil the mood. Ok, too much. Sorry.

It’s just funny how people are so opposed to sex studies when most everyone has sex, and with sex comes such great risks from fatal illness to unwanted pregnancy. Also if condom usage increased, that could decrease the cost to the government on monies needed to treat the uninsured who suffer from STDs include AIDS and receive their treatment via Medicaid or in emergency rooms.

David Williams, the vice president for policy at Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-profit watchdog group that tracks mismanagement and wasteful spending by the government, said that he is "frustrated" by the grant.
"It's hard to see this kind of research going on when we have such bigger problems as a country that we need to face," Williams said. "The NIH is studying things that on the face of it sounds like it isn't really needed right now or that the answers are pretty obvious at times."
Williams concedes that while the amount of money given to this project is a "drop in the bucket" compared to the total amount of monetary support the NIH doles out each year, he says that cutting back on several projects like this one could go a long way.

"There needs to be more scrutiny over what is and is not funded," he said.

Mr. Williams is being very myopic in his view. According to the Centers for Disease Control “approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur annually, almost half of those affected are between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four.”

Mr. Williams, isn’t that a big enough problem for you? Or perhaps it’s not because while many of those diseases have major repercussions for women’s health and fertility, for men, many STDs are just viruses that they carry around and transmit to woman after woman without physical impact to themselves. A man can carry HPV with no knowledge while a woman infected with it can develop cervical cancer.

I wish the Kinsey Institute the best of luck with this study and I think so should every dude I know.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Best thank you note ever!

This post is dedicated to all of my friends who work in schools. Congratulations on finishing another school year. You are amazing professionals who give so much energy to so many kids. We are lucky to have you educating and caring for our children.

For the past three years I have had the honor to participate in the “Flat Stanley” project thanks to my friend Leah Harley Schwartz. Leah is a teacher at public elementary school in San Leandro, California.

Flat Stanley is a running character in a series of children books written in the 1960s. Stanley, is a child suddenly flattened by a freak accident, however he turns the trauma into a positive by slipping into envelopes and visiting friends around the world.

A teacher in Canada took the story and turned it into a project to teach elementary school students letter writing and about other parts of the world.

Leah adapted the project a bit and because she knows people from all over the United States, she has had her students write her friends. The student learns about Flat Stanley, colors in a cut out of him (which Leah laminates), and then writes a letter to one of Leah’s friends. Each student puts his Flat Stanley in an envelope with a personal letter, seals it and then goes to the Post Office to learn about the U.S. mail where they then mail the letter.

When we receive it, we have to answer the letter and write about our adventure with Flat Stanley. If we want, we send souvenirs from where we live.

The first year I participated, I sent Flat Stanley to South Bend and asked (begged) my dad to drive around the University of Notre Dame with him and take pictures next to the Golden Dome and the football field with a view of Touchdown Jesus.

Last year I walked around the North Side of Chicago taking pictures with Flat Stanley by the lake, Wrigley Field, the El, etc, developed the pictures and sent the photo album to Leah’s student with a letter.

This year I received a letter from J.M., a Somali immigrant from a large family. With the crappy weather we’ve had this year and because I’ve been really busy, I decided to just pick up a Cubs baseball cap, a Cubs teddy bear, and some post cards and send them with the letter.

In the letter, I told J.M. the story of the Cubs’ curse.

The Cubs have not the World Series in over 100 years. Some people say it’s because a man, many years ago, brought his goat into the stadium and when they refused to let him stay, he cursed the Cubs and said they would no longer win games.

The package was mailed and although I didn’t hear immediately from J.M, I heard from Leah via email.

Thank you so much for sending the Cubs hat and bear to J.M. I truly appreciate your kindness and generosity!! J.M. was thrilled to receive it and has been wearing the hat to school. J.M.’s father just passed away two weeks ago so I think he enjoyed knowing that someone was thinking about him. Thank you also for participating in Flat Stanley once again!!
Take care,

Today, I received a thank you note from J.M., and I can honestly say it’s the best thank you note I’ve ever received. It was handwritten. I guess I should scan it in for full effect, but I hope you enjoy my typed version.

June 5, 2009

Dear Sharna,

I love the bear and I love the hat. Even though I’m an A’s fan. I wonder if you feel good in Chicago. I hope you have a good time there. I don’t know why a person holding a goat is that powerful to curse a whole baseball team. Have a good time in Chicago. Thank you again for the bear and the hat.

J.M. is wise beyond his years. Maybe the Cubs will win the World Series this year. Or there’s always next year.

Related Links:

Cubs Curse

Cubs Coverage from the Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Will burning my bra make me happy?

A study by University of Pennsylvania researchers for the National Bureau of Economic Research entitled “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness” declares that women are “less happy after 40 years of feminism.”

I have so many problems with this study. First of all, whoever said the goal of feminism was happiness. I can’t think of another ideology in which the ideal is determined as such. Is the goal of liberalism or socialism, “happiness?” Are there smiley faces in the U.S. Constitution that I’ve missed all of these years?

Feminism, although not a monolithic ideology, at the very least espouses equal rights in the public and private sectors, public being the workplace, health care, government and private being rights relating to human sexuality and the home. What does that have to do with being happy?

Also, and maybe I’m depressed, but the notion of happiness seems to be a modern one that is based on unrealistic expectations promoted by popular and consumer culture. I never look as happy as the people in the commercials when I brush my teeth, put on deodorant, and I’ve definitely never had an orgasm shampooing my hair.

I find joy when I’m with my family and friends. An intimate relationship evokes happy feelings for as long as it lasts or is healthy. I find “flow” when I am doing something interesting at work or am in front of a classroom or writing. The point of feminism is to allow women the access to any prospect. The goal of access is not happiness, it is opportunity.

And I can’t imagine being happier with less opportunity. I don’t think the decline of happiness correlates with the rise of feminism. Rather, the expectations of what exactly makes a person happy have been increasingly fictionalized during the past 40 years, and therefore the brutal reality of what is life causes us to find less joy in what is good and what is beautiful. We take those gifts for granted and throw them to the side of the road until it’s the “right time” or the “perfect” situation. The lack of appreciation for the ordinary and the need to forget the past and move on to the next thing, is what dehappifies, not feminism.

Check out Buddhism. According to their tenets, life is suffering and the goal of life should be to end suffering. Perhaps that’s too extreme for our culture, but even if you go to Western Religion, you will see that God was never happy, nor were his patriarchs. They were “good,” “righteous,” and “blessed.” Happiness and joy are reserved for special occasions like life cycle events and holidays.

This study should not be an indictment on feminism but rather one on the concept of happiness and its exaggerated definition and role in our imbalanced culture.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Will the FB generation teach the Holocaust?

My article for Oy Chicago. I won't forever write about the Holocaust, it's just I'm studying it a lot and taking a group there in July.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Serious advice for the Pope on Jewish-Catholic relations

It seems like the Pope just can't get favorable coverage in the Holy Land, no matter what he does.

For example, Pope Benedict XVI’s speech at Yad Vashem was described in an Israeli newspaper today as lukewarm. He disappointed the staff of Yad Vashem and Holocaust survivors by his use of mild terminology and not apologizing for German atrocities. (He is German born and had to join the Hitler Youth and the German Air Force)

However, the Pope’s personal history with Nazism or his almost reinstatement of a Holocaust denying priest is really not what’s at issue here. Nor is his speech that probably needed a better editor or two.

The issue is in order to have complete reconciliation, you need to have truth.

And Jews simply do not have that yet from the Vatican.

Pope Benedict must authorize the release of Vatican archives from the time of Pope Pius XII, no matter what their contents or how unflattering they are. Those documents then need to be put into context of the Vatican’s power or lack of power during WWII and the antisemitism that led to the Church’s probable complicity during the war. Just as priests, nuns and other Catholics who saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust have been recognized as “Righteous Gentiles” by the state of Israel, in order to heal, the negative parts of the story must be known.

Considering the scales of the atrocities, German-Jewish relations are good. Why? The Nazi documentation as it pertained to the so called “Final Solution” has been accessible to historians since shortly after the war. Although the relationship isn’t perfect, when a German leader visits Israel, he/she is not criticized about the Holocaust as the Pope has been during his visit.

Until the archive is open, a full and robust relationship between Jews and the Church just won’t happen - no matter how much time passes. And if there is a desire to reconcile, the entire truth must be uncovered.

When it is, and after it is digested, and the apologies are made, anything the Pope says at Yad Vashem will be praised.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Top 10 things the Pope shouldn’t do when he is in the Holy Land

10. Remember the good old days of the Crusades.
9. When bored during meetings, doodle pictures of the prophet Muhammed.
8. Have an on-camera lunch with Bill Maher.
7. Eat too much falafel, fries, and hummus - that stuff packs on the pounds.
6. Take water from the Jordan River as a souvenir. He should have prayed harder for rain in the winter.
5. Visit the Temple Mount.
4. Wear a button with Pope Pius the XII's picture.
3. Hang out with any Hamas leader, unless the Pope Mobile is missile proof.
2. Bring up the year 1054 while in the Armenian Quarter. Can you say AWKWARD?
1. Mess with El Al during the security interview and say he didn’t pack his own bags.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Journalists post on Justin-Junich's wall

The definition of “what is news?” has changed. Everyone’s story can be a story; everyone’s death can be remembered and marked publicly; everyone’s disease can be empathized. The way in which we grieve and lament (and in turn console and comfort) has been remarkably altered in the past five years.

Social networking has also changed the way journalists do their reporting, but maybe it has gone too far.

Less than 24 hours (May 6) after Johanna Justin-Jinich was murdered, a Facebook group was established in her memory. Simultaneously, her story was being told on the news, because of her alleged on the loose killer with homicidal (some anti-Semitic) notes left in his hotel room. The publication led to the greater public joining the Facebook group to express their condolences, some inappropriate, so her Facebook friends shut the wall down at the request of her family.

Here is where the “new journalism” enters.

In addition to the strangers’ postings, reporters from three news organizations posted on the wall offering their condolences and numbers and emails in case someone wanted to talk to them about Johanna and her death.

For all of you who knew Johanna, I'm very sorry for your loss. My name is Rich Schapiro, and I'm a reporter for the NY Daily News. I'm working on a story about Johanna, and am hoping to speak to people who knew her. If you're feeling up to talk, please give me a call: 212-210-2147. Or, you can send along your number. I'd be happy to call you. Thanks very much.

An awful tragedy. The Associated Press has been covering the events in Middletown and is looking for more information about Johanna so we can tell her story to the world. Please e-mail or call 860-246-6876.

My colleague at the New York Times, Serge Kovaleski, is working on a story about Johanna and welcomes any information her friends may want to share. He can be reached at 212 556 1652 or at

What an interesting 21st century maneuver in reporting! Follow this: a tragedy happens, it is covered by the media, and simultaneously friends want to mourn publically, as the friends mourn publically, the media coverage draws strangers to the site of the public memorial (the Facebook wall) which is then used as a vehicle for reporters to further cover the story.

And now I’m writing about the journalists on my blog. All within 24 hours!

One might argue that the journalists are only doing their job; the Facebook group wall is just like interviewing one of Johanna’s classmates in the Wesleyan student union.

I disagree.

The Facebook group wall is too public for good sourcing and hence the reporting too lazy, not to mention too distasteful (but that might not matter anymore, I guess).

I only hope that her family members, if they want to, are allowed to mourn in private with the support of their community. There will be plenty of people who will want celebrity, and hopefully they will paint an accurate enough [for the journalist wall posters] picture of Johanna.

And that her murderer will be caught before he kills again.

update: they caught him.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lost language

Like you, I assume, holidays make me nostalgic for loved ones who are no longer with us. I have written countless times about my grandmother, whose house I was at every Friday night until I was 15 years old, when she became too sick to cook. I was the youngest, so my brothers and cousins and parents and aunt were with her much more than I was for many more Sabbath and holiday dinners. Still the memory of her is so vivid in my mind. Specifically the the smell of her house (matzah ball soup – even when it wasn’t cooking) and her language of choice – Yiddish.

I have learned to recreate her matza ball soup, each batch more authentic than the last. I made it for my second seder (passover meal) on Thursday and it tasted almost exactly like hers except cooked probably with a little less heart and soul.

What I can’t recreate is Yiddish as the lexicon of expression within my family and my surroundings. Remnants of this Hebraic-European-Germanic language can be found on Seinfeld, Woody Allen movies and even on the Daily Show. But as a language goes, it’s not spoken much anymore except in very small ultra-religious circles.

In college, I had the opportunity to study it, but instead minored in Modern Hebrew, a language which after studying since the age of 6, I have still failed to somehow master. Perhaps, even though I travel to Israel all of the time, perhaps even though I love the country and her people, the Hebrew language doesn’t grab me emotionally like Yiddish. Or maybe they are just different: like comparing hummus to cholent.

So, I thought this fifth night of Passover I would write down some Yiddish phrases that I used to hear a lot as a kid and do not hear much anymore. Yiddish was written using Hebrew letters, so pardon my transliteration. Also, I do not actually speak Yiddish, so there may be some inaccuracies due to phrases being out of context. Feel free to add your own in the comments section, or add phrases in the tongue of your grandparents’ native tongue that have been lost in the amalgamation of language.

[so I tried to do this and I couldn’t. I had to cheat. I knew there were so many words that I just couldn’t retrieve. And then I went to and it blew my mind. All of the sudden, all of these words from my childhood came back to me. Not everything was there, but I copied and pasted from this web site what I remembered. What a trip! Now I understand why my friends would come over and say, "I have no idea what your family is saying half the time." Full credit goes to Rabbi Dan S. Wiko, PhD, and his glossary. I only included the words that I remembered hearing during my childhood. His web site has many more. Also note, all the words used in American popular culture. One more thing: I left out some of the more offensive phrases my grandparents used to say.]

A brocheh - A blessing
A chazer – a pig
Meshugeneh - Mad, crazy, insane female.
Meshugener - Mad, crazy, insane man
A langer lucksh- a tall, skinny guy
A volf farlirt zayne hor, ober nit zayn natur - A wolf loses his hair but not his nature. "A leopard cannot change his spots."
Alef-bais - Alphabet; the first two letters of the Jewish alphabet
Alevei! - It should happen to me (to you)!
Alter Kocker - An old man or old woman.
Az och un vai! - Tough luck! Too bad! Misfortune!
Bashert - Fated or predestined
Bentsh - To bless, to recite a blessing
Bentshen lecht - Recite prayer over lit candles on Sabbath eve or Holy Day candles
Boychik - Young boy (term of endearment)
Bupkis - Nothing. Something totally worthless (Lit., Beans)
Chazzer - A pig (one who eats like a pig)
Chochem - A wise man (Slang: A wise guy)
Derech erets – Respect
Drai mir nit kain kop! - Don't bother me!
Drek - Human dung, feces, manure or excrement; inferior merchandise or work; insincere talk or excessive flattery
Emes - The truth
Shpilkes – The condition of not being able to sit still
Faigelah - Bird (also used as a derogatory reference to a gay person)
Farklempt - Too emotional to talk. Ready to cry.
Farkakte (taboo) - Dungy, shitty
Farshtaist? - You understand?
Feh! - Fooey, It stinks, It's no good
Fressing – Making something almost too good, going crazy over something.
Gai gezunterhait! - Go in good health
Gevalt! - Heaven Forbid!
Gut Shabbos - Good Sabbath
Gut Yontif - Happy Holiday
Ich darf es vi a loch in kop! - I need it like a hole in the head!
Ich hob dir lieb - I love you!
Kaporeh, (kapores) - Atonement sacrifice;
Kaynahorah - the evil eye
Ketzele – Kitten
(To) Kibbitz - To offer unsolicited advice as a spectator
Kibbitzer - Meddlesome spectator
Knish (taboo) – Vagina
Kurveh - Whore, prostitute
Lantsman - Countryman, neighbour, fellow townsman from "old country".
Lig in drerd! - Get lost! Drop dead! (Lit., Bury yourself!)
Lokshen – Noodles
Macher - big shot, person with access to authorities, man with contacts.
Mameleh - Mother dear
K'vetsh - Whine, complain; whiner, a complainer
Mashugga – Crazy
Mechutonim - In-Laws (The parents of your child's spouse)
Mentsh - A special man or person. One who can be respected.
Meshpokha - Extended family
Meshugass - Madness, insanity, craze
Meshugeh - Crazy
Mieskeit - Ugly thing or person.
Nebach - It's a pity. Unlucky, pitiable person.
Nebbish - A nobody, simpleton, weakling, awkward person
Neshomeh - Soul, spirit
Nosh – Snack
Nudnik - Pesty nagger, nuisance, a bore, obnoxious person
Oi vai iz mir! - Woe is me!
Oysgeputst - Dressed up, overdressed; over decorated
Patsh - Slap, smack on the cheek
Pipek - Navel, belly button
Ponem - Face
Poo, poo, poo - Simulate spitting three times to avoid the evil eye
Potchke - Fool around or "mess" with
Pulke - The upper thigh
Rachmones - Compassions, mercy, pity
Saykhel - Common sense
Shaineh maidel - pretty girl
Shandeh - Shame or disgrace
Shlemiel - Clumsy bungler, an inept person, butter-fingered; dopey person
Shlep - Drag, carry or haul, particularly unnecessary things, parcels or baggage; to go somewhere unwillingly or where you may be unwanted
Shlub - A jerk; a foolish, stupid or unknowing person, second rate, inferior.
Shlump - Careless dresser, untidy person; as a verb, to idle or lounge around
Shmaltz - Grease or fat; (slang) flattery; to sweet talk, overly praise, dramatic
Shmaltzy - Sentimental, corny
Shmatteh - Rag, anything worthless
Shmendrik - nincompoop; an inept or indifferent person; same as shlemiel
Shmo(e) - Naive person, easy to deceive; a goof (Americanism)
Shmuck (tabboo) - Self-made fool; obscene for penis: derisive term for a man
Shtik drek (taboo) - Piece of shit; shit-head
Tachlis - Practical purpose, result
Tateh, tatteh, tatteh, tatteleh, tatinka, tatteniu - Father, papa, daddy, pop
Tateh-mameh, papa-mama – Parents
Tsores - Troubles, misery
Um-be-shrien - God forbid! It shouldn't happen!
Utz - To goad, to needle
Ver vaist? - Who knows?
Vos hob ich dos gedarft? - What did I need it for?
Zaftik - Pleasantly plump and pretty. Sensuous looking (Lit., juicy)
Zoineh – Prostitute
Kutz- something little
Zei gezunt en laben longiyurn and sheyn vaksen (what my Bubbie used to say after we sneezed)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Letter to Muslims and Arabs about Holocaust

Dear Muslims and Arabs from around the world who are enraged about the situation in Gaza,

Whether I agree or disagree is not the point. The point is STOP COMPARING THE SITUATION IN GAZA TO THE NAZI HOLOCAUST. They are not comparable or similar. When you do so, you sound like a bunch of crazies with no legitimate claims.

Worse, when your leaders and professors make up lies about the Holocaust, or even when you publish lies about the Holocaust, you are doing a disservice to your own people as well as those who perished at the hands of their Nazi persecutors. How can anyone trust anything you say when you begin your argument with fictitious accusations?

Holocaust denial has caused more harm to the Muslim world than good. Your causes are viewed with little sympathy because you sound unreasonable and irrational.

Let’s start with the truth. Demand it from your leaders. Demand it for your teachers. Demand it from yourselves and then the conversation can go from there.

Until then, I don’t know how you can expect to get anything accomplished for the Palestinians from human rights to statehood.

I would tell you the article that I read that led to this posting, but the web site doesn't deserve the publicity and neither does the author.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Porkless Donuts

I started a petition in support of an Arab American who was told he had to give up his Dunkin’ Donuts franchise license because he wouldn’t serve pork in his stores. According to a Chicago Tribune article, he was able to have the store sans pork from 1979-2002 until Dunkin’ Donuts “would not renew his franchise agreement if he did not sell its full line of products.”

After a seven year court battle, higher courts found that Dunkin’ Donuts could refuse to renew his franchise license.

I don’t necessarily disagree with the court ruling. I’m not a legal scholar. Their interpretation of law and the constitution is probably correct.

My issue is with Dunkin’ Donuts the company acting without a moral compass.

So you might be asking, why do I care?

There is something about this that has struck a nerve. Maybe it’s because I know there is a kosher Dunkin’ Donuts on Devon. Maybe because I know there are porkless Dunkin’ Donuts in Arab and Muslim countries.

Maybe it’s because, according to the Tribune, he bought the license back in the 70s, instead of a lets say, McDonald’s, because then Dunkin’ Donuts didn’t serve pork products.

Or maybe because I’ve recently become obsessed with genealogy and am simply amazed that my 8 great grandparents emigrated from Eastern Europe, survived the Great Depression, and have descendants all of whom have realized the American Dream, mostly to a great degree.

I don’t know where Walid Elkhatib is from and I don’t really care, to be honest. All I know, is that he is a first generation American and he deserves to run his business within the confines of his religious beliefs, just as he has done since I was just a little girl.

He’s not asking to close during Ramadan. He’s just asking not to serve pork. It’s not like he’s running a ham shop and asking not to serve pork. He wants to sell doughnuts, muffins and coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts.

My message to Dunkin’ Donuts is as follows: just let him and stop being such corporate jerks.

Sign the petition

Read the Tribune article

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moon; step off, it's the sun's turn to be blessed

So, in case you missed it, I’m Jewish. I affiliate with Conservative Judaism, although I would define myself (admitted very dorkily that I would even define myself) as a post-denominational American Zionist. Like so many Jews of my generation, I feel that I transcend categorization, mostly because I don’t like to be told that I’m wrong. Heck. I don’t even know that I like to be told that I’m right, because I distrust anything and everything.

I guess that would make me a post denominational American Jewish Zionist skeptic.
Maybe I should start raising money for the PDAJZS. A dinner perhaps downtown? Any donors?

My theology is as follows:

Egalitarianism – (but if you don’t believe in it, fine, don’t believe in it. Whatever works for you, but don’t expect me to join your synagogue because there are good looking guys looking for wives, because I’m not going to unless you let me have an aliyah to the Torah).

Pilgrimage Every Jew should go to Israel at least once in their lives, similar to the Muslim Hajj.

Intelligent support of Israel
Supporting Israel is a critical, but that support doesn’t mean blindly endorsing Israeli policies be it from lack of some civil rights for minorities to Ultra Orthodox women sitting in the back of the buses (What is up with that?)

Life long study Jewish continuity depends on knowledge of basic traditions, life cycle events, liturgy as prayer or poetry, the Jewish Narrative (Tanak), Jewish history, Jewish culture, an understanding of Jewish practice in its realities and Judaism as it fits into the spectrum of world religions.

Hebrew The ability to access Hebrew in the text as well as in its modern usage.

What inspired me to put this on paper? Two things actually:

This satirical promotional video on Jewish ignorance

And a Jewish ritual that happens every 28 years that I just learned about called the blessing over the creation of the sun.

Every month Jews bless the new month. The sun only gets its due every 28 years. Why the sun is celebrated in this cycle is explained in the link above (although probably a learned Rabbi would explain it even better.)

The blessing goes like this:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who makes the Work of Creation.

Tradition declares that a week from Wednesday, the sun will be in the same exact place as it was during creation.

So here is my dilemma. Do I say the blessing? The sun being created on the fourth day doesn’t jibe with science. With that said, all the time I see value in religious beliefs that don’t coincide with science. It’s why I keep Passover. There’s no scientific proof of the exodus from Egypt or even the narrative, but I still scrub (or pay someone to scrub) my house and celebrate the holiday by eating two dinners and not eating certain kinds of food for a week which inevitably leads me to have one of the year’s worst stomach aches a couple of days before I binge on non Kosher pizza (vegetarian) with my brother at Pequods.

Will I say the blessing over the sun or more accurately the creation of the sun? Why not? I mean if anything deserves props from Jews or anyone else, it’s the sun, the source of life for all living things. (Plus I had a physical, and I’m in perfect health except I’m Vitamin D deficient. Why? I don’t hang out with the sun enough!)

So April 8, everybody get out of bed, stand outside and bless the fact that we are lucky enough to live on a planet that is at the perfect distance from the sun so that we can benefit from its gifts (let’s give the sun a reprieve from skin cancer next week).

And however the sun was created and however the Earth was created, we should be thankful for what we receive each day from nature and all we have to do is wake up and open the presents that are abundant in this world.

If not see you in 28 years. I wonder if I’ll have a blog when I’m 60?

Aliyah to the Torah - an honor to say the blessing over a Torah reading
Conservative Judaism - a movement in Judaism started in response to enlightenment and Jewish emancipation in Europe to modernize Judaism while keeping it in line with Jewish law.
Egalitarianism - men and women have equal opportunities to perform rituals and adhere to commandments in Judaism. Some would say equal obligation.
Passover - a holiday where you can't eat most carbs (bread, pasta, legumes) except potatoes) to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. This can mess with your digestive system because you end up eating too much Matza. Can be combated by eating many fruits and vegetables and eating Matza in Matzeration. Haha. It's also a holiday where you spring clean.

Here are some more links on this event.

My favorite is this one:

The rest of these links, I don't agree with what they are saying, but I like to listen and learn.

Orthodox Rabbi explaining it

Another Orthodox Jewish Scholar explaining it

A view on the event from people living in the holy, mystical city of Tsfat

Celebration of the Birkat Hachama 28 years ago

And here is a picture of my niece seeing her first sunrise over Lake Michigan.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

See this play in Chicago or when it comes to your town

Last night I saw the production of The Arab-Israeli Cookbook by Robin Soans at the Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St.

It was a unique look at the Arab-Israeli conflict from multiple perspectives. While a criticism of the play that I read was that it works so hard at being balanced that it enters the realm of banality and fosters detachment. I strongly disagree. Or if that is so, it’s an appositive and allows the audience to gain a better understanding of the complexities of the conflict as well as Arab and Israelis own masks of aloofness when dealing about wars, assassinations, conscription, incursions and suicide bombings.

There is also a cooking element, which I enjoyed as a amateur chef, and am a fan of the food of the region. Also, each actor’s ability to play many different characters is impressive.

The play is in Chicago until April 4. Shows are Thurs-Sat at 7:30 p.m. & Sunday 3:30 p.m. For more information go to:

You can also buy the play.

Make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch

I’m trying not to make this blog too personal, but this is just too precious to not share.

Dear Sharna,

I wanted to let you know that you are the recipient of a free 6 month GOLD membership with Jretromatch a new and from what I can tell better Jewish matching service then other more familiar programs such as

You receive this membership as a result of an offer I made the congregation a couple of months ago: Anyone who made the commitment to come to daily minyan at least once a week I would offer a 6 month membership in this old-new matchmaking service - anyone single that is OR a single relative of theirs. Your dad fit that qualification and asked that you be given this opportunity.

You can find out more about Jretromatch, which is a combination on line dating and traditional matchmaking service with live match makers by going to its web page --

They have various membership levels. Yours is the GOLD level in which you will be able to talk to a professional matchmaker who will assist you in going through the profiles they have listed.

This is the first time we have tried this so please let me know : A) if or when someone from jretromatch has contacted you, they are supposed to inform you about the gift subscription and how to sign up for an account and B) if you find this service worthwhile or helpful.

I hope you don't think this is too intrusive. But for many marriage and the companionship and family life that comes with it is a desired goal and it is harder in many ways today to meet fellow Jews for this purpose then in the past. I hope this service is useful to you. If it is worthwhile you can continue on your own the service after the 6 month subscription is up, if it is not, then you can let the subscription slide. I would be very interested in hearing your impressions about the program. If it is worthwhile I will offer it to others.

Hope all is well with you. And an early Hag Pesah Sameah v'kasher.


This was the first email I received when I awoke on Thursday morning. The first thing I did was call my dad (who sort of pretended not to know about it, without saying he didn't know, to save himself from the fact that I do indeed think he knew about it). Since then I’ve been thinking about this email non stop and the fact that I have absolutely no emotional reaction to it. I’m not happy, that’s for certain, but I’m not angry getting ready to write my Rabbi an angry email about how he’s violating something or other of mine and how inappropriate it is, and the next time he sees me he better duck.

I understand his perspective. In Judaism the very first commandment is to be fruitful and multiply. I have not fulfilled, nor am I super close to fulfilling, that commandment. In Judaism, the family unit is what much of the tradition is based off of.

He also probably likes me, and thinks it’s a shanda that I’m not married.

Therefore he is proactive in supporting me in being the best Jew that I can be and also correcting the shanda that is my experience with dating, men, etc.

I’ve spoken to some friends about this, and their responses are:

“It’s free. Why not? What do you have to lose?"
"You'll at least get some good stories out of it."
“WTF???? That’s so wrong.”

I don’t know what to think. I know I’m not thrilled but I can’t exactly figure out why. Perhaps it just underscores that no matter what I do with my life the fact that I’m not married is viewed as a disability. And no matter what I do to change my own perspectives on that notion, I am constantly reminded of my failure to complete life’s mission of marriage and children.

Will I join this dating service? I don’t know. I mean besides it being irritating, I date a lot as it is. I also find that dating is like dieting. If I took the time and money I’ve spent trying to lose weight combine that with the amount of time I’ve spent looking for my bashert, I could have found both a cure and a vaccine for Cancer.

What do you think?

Daily Minyan - group of 10 people (in the Conservative movement; in the Orthodox movement it’s 10 men) to make a quorum so that a complete prayer service can be held.
JDate- Jewish online dating service
Hag Pesah Sameah v'kasher Happy and Kosher Passover
bashert- the person you are destined to be with.
shanda- a shame, a travesty

POSTSCRIPT: My dad said that although the Rabbi mentioned something about this to him, he told the Rabbi to do what he wanted but not to get him (my dad) involved. That's what I sort of figured.

AIG's Bonus Round

What I think is most amusing about this mess with AIG and bonuses is the stunning negligence by both the current and previous President and our lawmakers in making provisions in the stimulus packages that would override a company’s contractual obligation to secure its executives bonuses.

Are our representative in the House and Senate working for us or are they signing bills based on partisanship or pressure?

It’s not really that shocking, I guess. No one really reads anything they agree to anymore. Hence, the mortgage crisis.

Congress: you are not there to be yes people for President Obama. You are there to represent your constituents. Even if you don’t represent our opinions, you owe it to us to read the fine print.

And to the handful of smirking Republicans who voted against the bill. You didn’t read the fine print either, so you have some explaining to do as well. You just voted against it to vote against it. Had you really wanted to look out for your constituents, you would have discovered the bonuses problem too and pointed that out to your fellow legislators and the president.

No one is immune from criticism because let’s face it, you didn’t do your job.

Ironic when unemployment is over 8 percent.

A tiny response to the Facebook Crisis of 2009

I don't really care how you change Facebook. I use it for fun. It's free. I feel like Facebook can do whatever they want.

But here is something that is really bothering me that I wanted to bring your attention to.

It's the highlights section.

You need to add a feature where I can remove a highlight.

For example, right now there is a group on my section called: “LIFE- Let's see how many pro-life people are on Facebook.”

The reason it is there is because three of my friends have joined that group.

I should be able to see that and then close it so I never have to see it again.

1. because it's aggravating
2. the picture on it (fetus) is even more aggravating.

Just another thing, imagine if I have had an abortion or miscarried (which I haven't - but speaking hypothetically), I would have to see that fetus every day.

It's really distasteful.

Thank you for your time.


Help support 42 HIV positive Orphans in Ethiopia

A woman who cared for these orphans died suddenly this week, and their plight was taken over by the Worldwide Orphans Foundation. Dollars are needed for their care and well being

Click here for more information and/or to donate.

Click here to read about Haregewoin Teferra, the woman who cared for the orphans and passed away this week.

A lovely thank you note

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Let her be...

Give Bristol Palin a break.

As a teenager, she fell for a guy, had unprotected sex which resulted in a pregnancy, decided to keep the baby and try for marriage with said guy.

I’ve seen more understanding in the media for murderers and girlfriend beaters.

Here are some of the headlines I've seen about the break up:
Bristol Palin splits with ‘white trash’ Levi Johnston (Boston Herald)
OMG! Bristol and Levi are dunzo! (Christian Science Monitor - yeah I know)
Bristol Palin, fiance Levi Johnston split. Surprised? (LA Times)
Bristol Palin and Her Baby Daddy Break Up (E Online)
Bristol Palin Dumps Sex on Skates! (New York Magazine)

Put yourself in her shoes. Her mom, out of left field, ran for vice president while she, a pregnant teen, was shoved into the international spotlight wearing maternity clothes and then shoved back to the family compound to avoid embarrassing the campaign.

Governor Sarah Palin, sadly, used her own daughter to promote her flawed so called family values agenda. The abstinence only education that Governor Palin touts is totally ridiculous, but it’s unfair that Bristol Palin will be lampooned for the governor’s inadequacies both as a reasonable thinker and as a mother.

You can choose your Vice President, but you can’t choose your mother.

And hopefully Bristol will be a better mother to her son and empower him with sex education so that he will have his first child when he is ready.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chris Brown's side of the story doesn't matter. Here's why.

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a bazaaro version of reality when I listen to the news. I felt that way when President Bush would talk about WMDs in Iraq or how stem cell transplants were immoral.

This alternative universe seems to continue as the Chris Brown and Rihanna saga continues with the couple reportedly spotted together.

Who knows what's true in these reports? They could be halfway around the world from each other. However, what's most disturbing is the lack of absolute condemnation of the violence.

It is appropriate, usually, to look at situations analytically. To understand both sides. To see different points of views.

However, this methodology does not work universally and can lead to moral and ethical paralysis as it has in the response to Chris Brown alleged violence against Rihanna.

The music community and the entertainment industry must emphatically condemn domestic violence, and condemn it now.

"Everyone makes mistakes" just doesn't cut it in this situation. His act was intolerable and although every effort should be made to get him psychological help and keep her safe from him (and herself), excuses are meaningless. They are basically two young people barely in their 20s (with a lot of money) enmeshed in a dysfunctional relationship. There are people in the music community who have much power and resources to help motivate these two to move forward with their lives without each other and without the abuse while inspiring others in their situation to do the same.

How can this situation and the lack of outrage (think about it has there been outrage or curiosity) not affect young people and their views on violence in relationships?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "Females ages 20 to 24 were at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence."

Instead of focusing on learning Chris Brown's side of the story, why not use this as a chance to empower young men and women to understand that violence in relationships is never an answer and offer them resources to prevent attacks.

Such resources can be found at

Monday, March 2, 2009

10 compelling news pieces for your enjoyment

I don’t know if you get overwhelmed by the number of articles and news segments on the internet and end up reading less than you would like. Here are some news articles (and video/audio) from this week that I found compelling. Please feel free to post your own.

1. My favorite columnist Thomas Friedman explains why Hillary Clinton is demonstrating strength rather than weakness by appointing super undersecretaries of state.

2. Question: Has a new eating disorder has evolved from the health food craze or is just a new manifestation of OCD.

3. and anti anorexia web sites emerging to fight the pro anorexia ones.

4. Jeff Bezos, founder of CEO, explains why Amazon is thriving in the failing economy. His upbeat message made me hopeful.

5. Paul Harvey's voice will be forever embedded in my audio memory. He died this week at age 90. Good Day, Mr. Harvey.

6. Father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl comments on the rise of anti-Semitism on campuses

7. A new Multiple Sclerosis Drug may help some sufferers of the disease walk.

8. Remember Kosovo? Convictions were issued (and not) last week in war crimes trials.

9. You know it’s bad when Mr. Wiesel hates you.

10. Stop trying to be so damn happy, and you’ll be happy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rage against Rod

I did not become furious with ex-governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich until I heard his post conviction speech outside his Ravenswood home tonight.

However, this evening his final (yeah right!) press conference put me over the edge.

Sure, I was embarrassed by his tapes discussing the sale of a U.S. Senate seat. But then again, politicians sell their souls all of the time, and not just in Chicago. He just got caught.

Nor was I super angry when he refused to admit wrongdoing, even though his words were broadcast internationally. It just made him look like more of a jerk. Whatever.

I also wasn't that upset when he ran around New York City to be on every stupid morning show that exists only to have the ladies of The View touch his strange hair. He just wants facial recognition so he can sell a book after the impeachment. Understandable, I guess.

Even the self-comparisons to Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Gandhi didn't bug me. Instead, I just thought that Blagojevich was mentally ill. You can't fault a guy if he's insane.

What finally infuriated me enough to want to throw something at the television was when Rod had the chutzpah to compare himself to the thousands of people in Illinois who have lost their jobs. He looked straight into the camera outside his home and said it.

Rod, I just don't think that the people whose jobs were cut at Sprint, Home Depot, Caterpillar, All State and countless other businesses have anything in common with you.

You squandered an incredible opportunity that people can only dream of through political lies that eventually suffocated you. You didn't get a pink slip. You were impeached. The men and women who have families they now can't support because of being laid off have done nothing to deserve their situation. Your loss of a job is reminiscent of a Greek tragedy, and by that I mean a parody of a Greek tragedy. Sadly the thousands of Illinoisans without jobs reads more like an Arthur Miller production.

Rod, compare yourself to Moses or Jesus. I don't care. But don't compare your hardship to the sufferings of the unemployed of Illinois who have to figure out which bill not to pay this month so they can feed their children.


(Glad I wrote this instead of breaking my 15-year-old television.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

In a parallel universe....

September 10, 2010

East Jerusalem, Palestine

Palestine celebrated its 10th anniversary of statehood today. Fireworks and red and black balloons filled the streets of every major city celebrating what some said was an impossibility.

"Everyone assumed that Palestinians and Israelis could not make peace and resolve the conflict. This 10 year celebration proves otherwise," said U.S. President Barack Obama.

In attendance at the celebration were former U.S. presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton and Al Gore, the three were instrumental in the Oslo Accords. The newly elected leaders of Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon were also in attendance.

The world has marveled over Palestine's resurgence onto the world stage. After accepting the financial and political agreements confirmed in 2000 with Israel, Palestinians used the money funded by the EU, U.S. and Israel in return for land lost during the 1948 and 1967 wars to invest in science universities where the affordable electronic car was invented as well as, in corporation with Israel and Jordan, a new technique to purify salt water to provide freshwater for the desert region.

The Jewish settlements that were so controversial in 2000, were voluntarily dismantled (settlements that were heavily populated were annexed by Israel in agreement with the Palestinians), and settlers have now built houses in the northern and southern parts of Israel - accepting the land for peace agenda. The city of Sderot has grown to 500,000 people who are also pioneers in the new alternative energies from fuels. Other booming cities are Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva.

The elected leaders of the Palestine announced today to the cheers of thousands that the Gaza West Back underground tunnel is being expanded to six lanes due to heavy traffic to and from Ramala to Gaza City.

Today also marks the fifth anniversary of the closing of the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees. The last refugee camp in Lebanon was closed on September 1, 2005.

Israel's Prime Minister Tzipi Livni was not in attendance at the anniversary celebration, but sent 10 dozen red roses as a good will gesture. Leaders of the Jewish State could not attend the celebration because the anniversary happens to fall on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. However in honor of the New Year, Livni announced that Israelis no longer have a mandatory draft, rather a choice of national service (before limited mostly to religious young women) which can be served in Israel or abroad or regular army service. The move should save Israel almost a billion dollars per year which it will invest in public schools to reduce class size.

As for the militant group Hamas, known for suicide bombings during the mid 1990s, their members have been mostly arrested or have joined other more moderate political parties in Palestine.

Anonymous reports from a Federal Prison official were that Osama Bin Laden was watching the celebrations from in jail cell in Arlington, Virginia where he has been since 2002.