Jews' Next Dor

Congregation Beth David's Young Adult Group for Jewish 20 & 30 Somethings

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Israeli Interior Minister: Get Rid of Automatic Citizenship

Posted by ishtov on November 8, 2007

In a recent article in the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit has proposed that Jews should no longer get automatic citizenship when making Aliyah to Israel. Although some of his arguments sound reasonable, not wanting to grant citizenship to criminals, wanting to see immigrants learn Hebrew; his real target appears to be Ethiopian Jews and Jews of other minority backgrounds. He apparently even called out NACOEJ, the North American Conference For Ethiopian Jewry, by name.

This is really awful. I’m not an expert in Israeli politics, so I don’t know what party he is from; but I think he should lose his position as Interior Minister over this. Jews come in all colors. To make a proposal that suggests otherwise is not befitting of the government of Israel.


Posted in Israel | 3 Comments »

Suggestions on How To Observe Tisha B’Av

Posted by ishtov on July 22, 2007

Disclaimer: I’m not a rabbi and I have no business giving people religious advice.

With that said, allow me to dish out some unsolicited thoughts on Tisha B’av. The Ninth of Av is the most sorrowful day of the year for us. On this day, both the first Temple and the Second Temple were destroyed.

According to the Talmud, the first Temple was destroyed because the people were committing the transgressions of idolatry, adultery, and murder. The second Temple was destroyed because of the transgression of hatred without cause. From this we learn that hatred without cause is as bad as idolatry, adultery, and murder combined.

In any case, on this day God allowed the Temple to be destroyed twice, and from what I understand the Spanish Inquisition started on this day as well. Because of the destruction of the Temple, we mourn on this day. Traditionally this is done by fasting.

But we should also have in mind that God is not with us during this time of the year. I don’t mean that God completely removes His presence from our lives. I just mean that we don’t enjoy the same level of Divine protection that we usually do. This is just my opinion of course, and I could be wrong. But I would advise people not to take any unnecessary risks on Tisha B’Av.

For example, if you were thinking about taking up bungee jumping, wait a few days. That risky new business venture you’re about to kick off, hold off for now. In fact from what I understand, there are people who don’t go swimming for the three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av.

I’ll go a step further and suggest that part of the reason that Israel’s war against Hezbo went so bad last year may have been because they undertook it during this time of year.

Lastly, don’t forget to stop by Beth David for their community wide Tisha B’Av services.

Posted in Community, Congregation Beth David, Events, Holidays, Israel, Young Adults | 2 Comments »

The People of Darfur Need Our Help

Posted by ishtov on July 19, 2007

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has adopted a resolution addressing the terrible humanitarian situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. The Janjaweed militia, with the support of the Sudanese government have killed over 400,000 people and driven millions from their homes. As Jews we have an obligation to try to bring this to the end. The USCJ resolution calls for targeted divestment of Sudan. In short this means divesting from companies that help the government promote its policy of genocide, without divesting from companies that help the Sudanese economy.

The Save Darfur Coalition is one of the groups leading the effort to bring the genocide to an end. They lobby the White House, Congress, the U.N., and even China to do their part. This weeks action item is to send a letter to the Chinese Embassy. It’s very easy, you basically fill out your name and address and click send. You can put down jibberish in the street address field if you’re sensitive about giving that out online. You can also sign up for weekly action item alerts. They even have a television commercial [watch below] that they recently put out.

It’s really important that we each do our part to bring this genocide to an end. Please sign the petition to the Chinese Embassy. You can also call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 and leave a message with an operator. Ask President Bush to support the deployment of U.N. peace-keepers to Darfur.

Posted in Community, Social Action, USCJ | 1 Comment »

My Favorite and Least Favorite Jewish Athletes

Posted by ishtov on June 28, 2007

Per Squeedle’s and Oyster’s request to add some Jewish flavor to my NBA post, here we go. The only Jewish NBA player I can think of was Danny Schayes, a third string center for the Phoenix Suns back in the day. He wasn’t that remarkable though, so he’s not my favorite. I guess I would have to say that my favorite Jewish basketball player is Tamir Goodman (a.k.a. the Jewish Jordan). This article doesn’t sync up with my memory, but I recall him leaving Maryland because they didn’t accept him not playing on Shabbat.

My least favorite Jewish athlete is Gabe Kapler of the Boston Red Sox for playing ball on Yom Kippur. I seem to recall him tearing up his knee rounding second base in a game the following season, putting him out of commission for the rest of the season. I don’t mean to sound mean-spirited, but he had it coming. You don’t blow off the Day of Atonement.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Ish Tov’s 2007 NBA Mock Draft

Posted by ishtov on June 27, 2007

I don’t know how many people in the community are NBA fans. But I know there are at least a few. With the NBA Draft just around the corner (Thursday at 4:30PM on ESPN), I thought I’d share my mock draft here. I do this each year, but I usually just send it out to a few friends. The only caveat I have is that there could be quite a few trades between now and the draft that might shake things up.

Okay here goes:

1. Portland – Greg Oden

2. Seattle – Kevin Durant

3. Atlanta – Al Horford – He can help right away. And Atlanta already has a bunch of thin, athetic types.

4. Memphis – Joakim Noah – He can provide some interior defense, length, and championship experience.

5. Boston – Jeff Green – If we don’t get a big name in a trade, we’ll probably have to trade Pierce. Jeff Green is a pretty good replacement, an offensive player with a unselfish, passing mentality.

6. Milwaukee – Mike Conley – With Mo Williams looking for a big contract, Conley makes sense as a cheap replacement.

7. Minnesota – Brandan Wright – It seems like KG will be traded. So getting a KG type player in Brandan Wright could work. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Community, Young Adults | 4 Comments »

Beth David Shelters Homeless People

Posted by ishtov on June 27, 2007

Last Thursday evening the young adult gang spent some time hanging out with homeless people as part of Beth David’s participation in the Cupertino rotating shelter program. It’s difficult to use the term “homeless people” now because after spending some time with them, you realize that they’re not homeless people. They’re real human beings. For different reasons they are in situations where they can’t afford the rents and mortgages in the pricey Bay Area, but they didn’t come across as people just looking for a hand out.

For example, I spent some time talking with a man named Dale about sports. He’s a Yankees fan, but I didn’t hold that against him. When we started talking NBA, we discovered that we both are disappointed that Lebron James won’t sign the petition to stop the genocide in Darfur. Dale used to work delivering packages until his delivery truck got rear ended. Now he is trying to get back on track, starting up his own package delivery business (DeWitt Courier & Transportation Services).

I also want to give major props to the Beth David community as a whole, for sheltering these good people for a month in the synagogue. I’ve been to several synagogues on the east coast and quite a few in the Bay Area, and I’ve never seen this before. Many communities volunteer at homeless shelters, but to actually open up your synagogue as a shelter for people is a really beautiful thing. According to the Help The Homeless post below, Beth David has been doing this for 14 years now.

I’m not sure how to express how wonderful this is. But it really shows that the Torah values of loving your neighbor as yourself are alive and well at Beth David. In the prophet Isaiah’s first recorded prophecy (Isaiah 1:1-18), he warns of the danger of only focusing on Jewish ritual. If we ignore the plight of the less fortunate, our prayers and ritual observance become meaningless. Beth David does a great job of focusing on both Jewish observance and community service. Everyone who has helped out with this great effort over the last 14 years should be very proud.

Posted in Community, Congregation Beth David, Social Action, Young Adults | 2 Comments »

Ultimately Successful

Posted by ishtov on June 12, 2007

CBDYAG Ultimate FrisbeeThank you to everyone who came out to Sunnyvale for some hardcore ultimate frisbee on Sunday. We had about 16 people, which gave us enough for some solid 5 on 5 with substitutions. Props go out to Squad Leader and Foxhole for taking pictures. The game was pretty competitive with one guy getting knocked to the ground by a girl half his size. There were some smooth passes, great catches, and stealthy fast breaks. It just goes to show that here on the west coast people take their ultimate frisbee pretty seriously.

After the game we went to Izzy’s Brookly Deli for dinner. Speaking of which, don’t forget about Kosher Meat and Greet Tuesday at 1PM.

Posted in CBDYAG, Events, Young Adults | 1 Comment »

Are You Ready For Some Frisbee?

Posted by ishtov on May 24, 2007

Ultimate FrisbeeMark your calendars and stock up on Powerade and sunscreen. Sunday June 10th at 4PM we’ll be playing ultimate Frisbee at the Sunnyvale Middle School Park. We might play some basketball too if there is enough interest.

For people that are unfamiliar with the sport, Ultimate Frisbee is a lot like football, except you play it with a frisbee, and instead of tackling and downs, possession changes when a team throws an incomplete pass. You can’t run with the frisbee. (I think you’re limited to two steps after catching a pass, sort of like basketball.) And I believe the defensive team can intercept or knock down passes to cause a change of possession. You score a point when your team catches a pass in the end zone.

In any case, this is shaping up to be the premiere Jewish young adult sporting of event of the summer of 2007 in the Silicon Valley / Bay Area border region area. So don’t miss it.

Sunnyvale Middle School Park is located between Knickerbocker, Mary, and Remington. Look for us between the track and the baseball field.

Posted in CBDYAG, Events, Young Adults | 3 Comments »

Alan Dershowitz: Enemy of Israel?

Posted by ishtov on May 20, 2007

Last Sunday Alan Dershowitz spoke at Stanford on the Arab / Israeli conflict. He opened his talk by stating, “I’m pro-Palestinian. And I’m pro-Israel.” Well he got the first part right at least.

While he does a great job of exposing the inaccuracy of anti-Israel propaganda, for example he points out that Human Rights Watch blames Palestinian honor killings (where a Palestinian woman is raped and then killed by her own family to protect the family’s honor) on Israeli occupation instead of on Palestinian culture as an example of the anti-Israel agenda of many so called human rights organizations; his idea for Israel to give in on virtually every issue in a future peace settlement and his failure in his role in United Nations resolution 242 make his reputation as strong advocate for Israel to be very disputable.

Alan Dershowitz’s plan for peace is for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders (with some minor land Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Community, Events, Israel | 2 Comments »

Amorah Torah: Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21:1- 24:23) – What is a harlot?

Posted by ishtov on May 3, 2007

This parashat has some themes that are difficult to deal with. For example a Kohen with certain physical imperfections is not allowed to bring an offering. I’m not going to get into this, but feel free to look it up (Leviticus 21:16-24).

What I want to delve into is another verse, Leviticus 21:7. “They (the Kohanim) shall not marry a woman who is a harlot or has been desecrated, and they shall not marry a woman who has been divorced by her husband; for each one is holy to his God.”

According to Rashi (according to the Stone Edition Chumash):

A harlot is “a woman who has lived with any man who is not permitted to her because of a negative commandment. This includes not only relationships punishable by death or karet, but also living with a mamzer or a non-Jew.”

A little side note: It’s important to keep in mind that when we translate from Torah Hebrew to English something is always lost. The Hebrew word that is used here for harlot is zonah. I’m going to come back to this, so keep this in the back of your mind. Or just scroll back up later, whatever works for you.

What bothers me about Rashi’s definition is including a woman who has been with a non-Jew in the definition of a harlot. Having sex with a gentile does not make a woman a harlot. The definition that comes to my mind is a woman on a street corner selling her body for money often with a man providing the management services.

In fact if we go back to the previous Parashat Kedoshim, specifically Leviticus 19:29, the Torah states:

“Do not profane your daughter to make her a harlot, lest the Land become lewd, and the land become filled with depravity.”

The Hebrew word for harlot here uses the same root as the above passage from Emor. Furthermore, this verse talks about making your daughter a harlot, implying that a woman does not become a harlot on her own but is made into one by the actions of someone else. This brings to mind the modern definition of pimps, money, and street corners.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that in my humble opinion, Rashi got it wrong. A harlot is a woman who has sex for money, not a woman who has sex with a gentile.

To paraphrase that Queen of England from way back in the day:

Let them (Kohanim) have women who have been with gentiles.

Posted in Holidays, Torah | 7 Comments »

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