Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Exclusive Interview

An exclusive interview with the founder and executive director of BaDerech

Tell us about your organization...

Founder and Executive Director:
I first noticed this tremendous opportunity 3 years ago. I was leaving center of town with 3 bags in each hand, when I saw an elderly woman struggling with shopping bags while crossing the street. Aside for the obvious safety concern my heart went out for her and I ran to help her carry her packages to her car. It suddenly dawned on me. How many times a day this must be happening all over town. I decided right then and there to start an organization that would tackle this urgent, often overlooked need. I called a meeting the next day with noted askonim and hired someone to help us get started. We bought 2 old cars..and started patrolling the streets around shopping areas and baruch hashem were able to help 2 people that first day. Within a few weeks we rented an office and added 2 more cars. You know people ask me..is it worth it?..

I was just about to...

Founder and Executive Director:
But you know when I see the look of gratitude and relief on an elderly persons face when we pull up..yes it makes it all worth it. What a Zechus!
After a few months it became obvious I’d be needing serious funds to keep us going. We hired an advertising agency to create the kind of tear jerker advertisements that get people to part with their hard earned money. I quit my job and added myself to the payroll as well as the two yungerleit that were now full time employed.
Look out the window, see that fleet of souped up cars? It’s hard to believe we started with only 2 jalopies. We also hired a dispatcher and a toll free number for people to call when they spot someone in need. We can be at any point in town within 3 minutes. That’s something we’re very proud of.


Founder and Executive Director:
I see you looking around at my beautiful office...Can you believe we started out in a basement..without air conditioning?
Iy’h in 2 months we’re making a grand dinner in Lake Terrace. We’re preparing for a huge turnout as we’ve been advertising heavily and we’ve hired the best speakers. We also put together a video that we guarantee will not leave a dry eye in the hall. We’re counting on the oilam to help out. We have a huge budget to cover. Our advertising budget as well as day to day expenses is tremendous.

Do you ever look back and..

Founder and Executive Director:
No not for a minute do I regret making this my lifes work. I was barely making money before anyway..
It makes you really proud. Mi keAmcha Yisroel!

Well thanks for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule...and Good Luck.


Thursday, June 19, 2008


I see you emerging...
..with that sneer....
I shiver..
The end is near..
I quiver
In despair..
your weaponry..
chemical sights on me..
I cannot run..or flee..
my legs..buried under me..
Not sure of my crime..
but..there was a time
When I ruled..this land..
I spread and spanned..
yellow and white..Naturally...
my seeds floated happily..
The natives had to die..
But we will not go away...
We will fight and stay..
And annoy the hell out of you..
As I ruin your manicured view..
As I quietly infiltrate..these pampered..Kentucky newcomers..who need their sun and water..and need to be so lovingly and perfectly cut and colored and and...ughhh..to hell with this rhyme..YOU’LL NEVER GET RID OF MEEEE!!


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Capitalist Chinuch

The frum community generally is firmly embedded in the gung ho right wing Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, hardcore capitalist camp.
Basically anyone who even mentions anything about corporate responsibility or the like is labeled a Marxist at best.
When Oil Companies are taken to task for not being more responsible in finding alternate energy sources they’re called Communists.

So why is it that when private schools refuse to open their doors to the masses they’re lambasted?
A school is a private money making enterprise and they can refuse or accept whomever they want...can't they?
It’s the bed we made...the line we blindly worship....

Ahhh you’re beginning to understand now....you Commie....


Thursday, June 12, 2008

on Voices...and other random things...

Voices say so much about personality, I find.

For instance liberals and conservatives have such distinctly different voices.
On one side you have the quintessential NPR voice. The voice of nuance and Ivy League. A voice that just begs to be socked in the face, glasses mangled.
Think Bert on Sesame Street.
Yea, Bert is definitely a liberal..feeding the pigeons and all..

On the other side you have the self assured tele-marketer type voice. Think smooth and cocky. Or else you have that in your face voice.
Think Oscar the Grouch...
You just cannot mix them up.
There are some exceptions to the rule.
For instance Michael Moore has a conservative voice. Not sure how that happened.

The video above has in it a great liberal voice in Brian Lehrer as well as Michael Moore and some great conservative voices from down south.

Another interesting observation. I’ve noticed..people tend to have 2 voices.
One voice is reserved for the Hello..when you answer a cell phone.
I don’t know if this is true for everyone but I know so many people like this.
I have one friend, a young fellow and yet he answers his cell phone a full octave below his normal voice in a drawn out Helllooooo..he sounds like an old man. And then, right after that first hello..its back normal..”oh..how are ya..”.
My aunt who has a bit of a deepish voice for a woman answer her phone like a sweet little girl...hello..before reverting back to her natural voice..

One more thing. I'm getting tired of seeing movies with extras running terrified through Times Square as some monster wreaks havoc. What is it about Times Square that makes it soo tempting to destroy and terrorize?

alright..enough rambling for now...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Chassidus Today

In honor of the Yartzeit of The Baal Shem Tov

The Baal Shem Tov was one of those mythical larger than life figures in our history. He is probably the single most influential figure in the past 500 years and the ripples of his teachings are very much alive today. And yet so little is known of him. He didn’t leave any writings, we only have what his students quote from him. And the tales told about him are so fantastical, they’re almost impossible to believe. This adds to his mystique.
Already 2 generations after The Baal Shem Chassidus was beginning to splinter into different groups. And while they can be as divergant as fierce and demanding Kotzk to laid back Breslov, there is a strain that runs through it all.
Chassidus simultaneously appeals to the peasantry thirsting for a taste of spirituality and joy and the elite searching for spiritual perfection.
That is the miracle of Chassidus.
That one philosophy can be so populist and at the same time so elitist.

The basics in Chassidus are

1. Putting an emphasis on the pnimius. The inner and deeper understandings of things we do. 2 examples of this is learning Torah L’shma and studying some form of Kabbala and Chassidus to understand the depth of the things we do and say.

2. Joy. Being far removed from deperession and stress. Finding an inner sense of peace by forging a “personal” connection to Hashem. Instead of an awe-inspiring connection. Chassidim tended to highlight the approachability of Hashem and the ability to connect with and communicate on a more personal level thus finding peace and joy.

3. Having a Rebbe. Attaching yourself to a Tzadik who you are entirely machnia yourself to. It is through the Tzaddik that one finds guidance and pathways to perfection.

4. Ahavas Yisroel. Loving each and every Jew in a profoud way. Love and respect for all humans and for all of nature in general.

So how is Chassidus doing today..300 years since it’s founding?

I’d say it’s alive and well in many corners of the world. One will find people clinging to these ideals and living it to the best of their ability.
I do find it ironic though that the one group that is so often the face of Chassidism is the most far removed from Chassidus. The modern Chassidic areas in New York for instance...while containing in its confines many true Chassidim are also inhabited by many that call themselves Chassidish or Heimish and are soooooo far removed.
You have this whole group of freeloaders that have no Rebbe that they truly follow and live a life of empty excess and stress...all the while looking condescedingly on others that may be different.
They took the joy in Chassidus and turned into a horrible caricature of laissez faire attitudes and spiritual laziness.
The Baal Shem looked to uplift the existing peasantry.
They look to create a new peasantry where there need not be one.

Please call yourselves something else...Heimish is fine... But don’t sully the name of the Holy Baal Shem Tov.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bound to live...

Live child..free..
Spread your wings..
To wherever it brings...
For as you grow..
...as you slow....
The ropes...will begin to
Bind and surround you..
every day..
every thought
every habit
Another string...
The you
you once knew..
Forcing you to SUBMIT
your Liliputian HABITat..
ConstrictinG...your no longer..
struggling form..stronger..
..than that guy
Remember him?

Its at that very..
Tightest moment....
When you can’t move..
You wish you could..
That....you can...
Grow wings...
That let you break free
And fly...
Remember him?

..you wish you could
But alas...
..you’re not a catterpillar..
And poems are just that...



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