Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Nice to Meet You, I'm______

From time to time, I've considered writing that typical piece about shaking hands with members of the opposite sex to prevent Chillul Hashem, and the usual. But that just seemed too typical-too "been there, done that."

Well, recently, I was in the caf, sitting alone at a table minding my own business, when a few frum guys came to join me. What was I gonna do? Walk away? Ignore them? So I chatted.

A few minutes into the conversation, one guy introduced himself and held out his hand. I almost put down my pen. Then jerked my hand back. "I'm not shaking your hand!" I told him. "Ah, Shomer Negiah!" he poked fun. "Yes, I am. I won't shake your hand precisely for the reason that you know why I can't."

Another guy at the table piped up, "You know, I have the same double standard. Like, if you'd hold out your hand, no way, i wouldn't think about shaking it, but if a non-frum woman would, I would shake her hand."

"Well, you know exactly why I can't shake your hand. It's not like I'm risking Chillul Hashem, or I have to explain it to you or anything," I repeated myself.

"Yeah, yeah. That's cool" the hand-happy guy agreed.

There have been times that I've pretended not to see hands, and others where I couldn't leave the guy hangin'. I think in general because it's not assur in the goyish world, a handshake has little meaning if any. It's nothing sexual. If you think about it, even sex is meaningless a lot of the time in that world.

My question is, how wrong is it to have that so-called double standard? Is it a double standard at all?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ambivalence Re: Cell Phones

It seems the Jewish media have painted cell phones evil.
"The Gedoylim don't use cell phones!"

"What did people do before cell phones?" People ask.

Sometimes I see a whole line of people walking down Avenue J talking on cell phones. And yes, they look funny. But who cares?

Some dorks still get a kick out of the fact that someone talking on a BlueTooth headset looks like he's talking to himself. Why do I not find this amusing?

I find it ironic that Goyish magazines, like Good Housekeeping and the like write articles about cell phone ettiquette, which are valuable. Jewish ones tell you how they ruined society.

I've come to the conclusion that they're both good and evil.
I guess, for the Bais Yaakov kool-aid (Oy, vey, that's the Goyish brand) still in my system, I'll start with the evils:

Now, these "evils" exist because people are rude. They were rude/irresponsible before cell phones, and they are rude now. So, technically, most "evils" are just more manifestations of people's rudeness, not bad aspects of cell phones.
1) They've made people more demanding: If the bagel store didn't have sesame bagels, you;re expected to CALL your friend and tell him/her, rather than just buying him/her plain, and s/he'll deal.
2) In social settings, people text others, and constantly check their phones for new text messages. Umm, is the person you're with BAD COMPANY?
3) People are even less respectful to salespeople by talking to two people at once. When I worked in a store, it was one of my pet peeves. If your friend calls, you'll call her back. Now is not the time for, "So what's up? Yeah, nothing, I'm just shopping. Yeah, there's nothing here. Oh yeah? Did you hear about that? It was sooo cute, hello."
Why can't people use discretion? Answer calls from a parent, or an expected important call. That's it.
4) Drivers don't focus on their driving

As for personal calls on a bus or train: Who cares? They're not in a library. If they want everyone to know that their boyfriend slept with their best friends, that's THEIR problem. If Shprintzy wants the whole Q train to hear about what she's planning to serve her kids, or that Shloimy should make Malkie toast...well, that's her problem. Do I care? Hell, to the N-O. But, hey, what am I doing better on the train anyway? Reading Woman's Day? It's fine. Really.
Same for on the streets. Sometimes I hear such juicy stuff when they pass by, I'm tempted to follow them.

The good:
1) The obvious--emergency situations G-d forbid
2) Keep you entertained when you're waiting for someone, walking somewhere, etc.
3) If you're running late: When my friends will be late, they can call me. When they don't, I can yell at them that they could have.
4) When you meet up with someone, and aren't sure where you are...or if you want to change plans...
5) Free Nights and Weekends
6) Accessible--you try finding a working payphone, and carry Purell everywhere you go in case you do use a payphone
7) If someone's out shopping, and someone at home realizes they need something else, they can call and have him/her pick it up instead of sending people out a million times
8) A built-in watch, calculator, alarm clock, address book and calendar everywhere you go
If you have a camera phone: Serves as a camera and photo album, too.
9) Erev Yom Tov. (can go both ways---too hectic, but convenient all the same)

And, of course, porn. (good for some, evil for others) Which is why cell phones should be assur. Because apparently Lakewood Bachurim don't have access to real porn, ANYWHERE, so they have to resort to 3"x2" images?!! Don't START me on that deal. I've said it before, I'll say it again: If a guy wants porn, he'll get it. He ain't resorting to no miniscule image on a phone that can be found easily by his wife. Puh-leez, people.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

You're Not Lost!!

You've come to the right place. Just a little revamping in honor of my 21st birthday. Enjoy.
Please read the post below, "Um, 'cuz it's freakin' illegal?"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Um, 'cuz it's freakin' illegal?

In the Jewish Press, on their Teens and Twenties page, there was a letter from a HS student chronicling the unfortunate events in the car on the way to school.

She described how she and her friends illegally fill a car with too many passengers every day and had managed to dogde the police through a few minor accidents. She said that because of these accidents that Thank G-d nobody was hurt, they realized G-d was sending them a message. Therfore, they began to study the laws of Lashon Hora in the car on the way to school, and the situation has improved. Apparently it "worked", so technically, I should stop here. But I won't. I don't know WHAT kind of juicy gossip was going on in there for them to have interpreted the message in that way.

Now, neither of us really is in a position to decide what G-d's reason was for sending these messages,but tell me this:

Did it not dawn on her that perhaps she and her friends should not violate city/state laws daily???

I mean, the kid described the scene of a passanger sprawled out on the dashboard-due to the overloaded car-where she obviously could have ended up dead. ("Ay, but she didn't....?")

Besides our obligation to follow the laws of the land that we are in, we are also obligated to protect our lives. "V'Nishmartem Me'od L'Nafshoseichem" ( or is it "es Nafshoseichem"?)
Don't give me a whole shpiel how they're going to get a Jewish education, or that it would cost more money another way, or that they'd have to sacrifice 15 minutes of sleep or primping everyday. This is safety we're talking about. It's important. And this kid just highlighted why, without knowing it. Why should you be anal about not overstuffing your car? Because of situations like this. Because you don't want yourself/your daughter/your sister/your friend on a dashboard C"V.

What makes this okay?

Riding an overloaded car over highways on a regular basis is by no means safe, legal, or halachically acceptible. And how about Chillul Hashem--what if they are caught one day?

That is just not for my nerves, I tell ya.

Monday, October 09, 2006


As you might recall, I wrote about a call I received from a Kiruv organization inviting me to join them on a shabbaton, befriend a college student I meet over the weekend, and commit to forming a friendship with her, and invite her for Shabbos, etc. After much thought, I said no.

I met a girl working in a local store who had been in my class in Brooklyn College. We got to talking, and discovered that we have the same birthday--same day, same year. And that she's Jewish, too, although I could never tell. When I went to deliver the gift I purchased there, I told her the story ( for some reason, I get excited about someone having the same birthday as mine.) The woman told me to try to be mekareiv her. She suggested I go back to the store on Friday and give her Challah, as a gesture of thanks for her help, and slowly befriend her. I rolled my eyes. This kid, one of the many Jewish Russians in Brooklyn [College], doesn't seem to have any interest in becoming more observant. So I laughed it off. This was a long while ago, and it'd enter my mind when I saw her on campus and waved. Then I'd distract myself. Should I have felt guilty? Is it my responsibility to make this unsuspecting girl frum, because she sold me something?

That's me approaching them. What about if they approach me? Just within the month of Elul, two other Russian Jews approached me in school, asking for guidance. "Michelle," one young woman started, "I just get this feeling that you're the right one person to ask..." and we talked for about an hour, about Judaism, spirituality, and the process of Kiruv. She said that some of her friends became religious, (so technically, I can send her to them for guidance) but I felt like, maybe, just maybe, G-d sent her to me to do something.

Maybe this is my calling. I've been told many times that I'm not what they expect in an Orthodox Jew here. They say I'm more open. I mean, some Jewish girls avoid the topic of Judaism altogether.

In another class, I have two other Russian Jewish friends. One is more interested than the other. Actually, one has shown minimal interest, and the other none. But as Yom Kippur approached, one asked me about a Temple in her area. I didn't know of any. I told her to Google it. I realize now that ideally, I should have googled it for her, and called her with the info, or emailed her- she asked me the class before Yom Kippur.

When we returned, I asked if she had gone to Temple on Yom Kippur, and she told me she hadn't. And I feel guilty. I mean, even if I would have gotten her the info, would she have gone? I don't know.

Do they have to be "pulled in" by someone, or must we wait for their approach? Once they approach us, how far must we go to try to get them to be frum?

(It is too difficult to discuss the issue of how they know for sure that they are Jewish, since many have misconceptions of it going by the mother and not the father...)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Yom Kippur 5767

Wishing all my readers a meaningful fast, and a hearty Tefillah.

May all our Tefillot be answered L'Tovah.

Next Year in Yerushalayim IY"H

~Michelle :-)