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My Old Schoolmates From Elementary School

I attended sixth through eighth grade at the Seventh Day Adventist Pacific Union College in the Napa Valley.

I just heard from a classmate's mother about some of my schoolmates:

Denise B (love of my life then) – I understand she is married and may be living in Germany
Donette H – Of course you know she is married and has a baby about 1 year old called Katie Paul F – Lives in Portland and has something to do with exercise and running marathons.
Craig H - Lives in Florida and is a guard for Disney World
Holly K – Lives here at PUC, just down the street from us. She just recently got divorced from Rick, she is a nurse
Merri M – Lives in Portland and has her Ph.D in Biology and works Tetra-Tech. She is also married
Lonnie S – Lives in Everett, Washington and works at Boeing. He has a serious relationship with a very nice girl
Kim M – Lives in Pope Valley and is married and has two children. She is a nurse "
Carrie M – Lives in Tenn.and is married to an SDA pastor
Kenneth J – Lives in Vale, OR and, even though he is an engineer, he is managing his wife’s family farm.
Valerie H – His married to Nick R, my maid-of-honor’s son, and lives in New Jersey. She works for an accounting firm
Cary T – Is married and lives in Napa. I’m not sure what he does but he finally finished a degree in business
Joyce A – Is married and lives in Neveda City, CA. I think she is a dental hygienist
Sherrie W – Is married and lives in Pacific Grove, CA
Scott W (my best friend in sixth grade) – Married and lives in Auburn, WA
Andy M – Married at last but no children and still working at Boeing
Jodi R – Has 2 children and is divorced but I don’t know what she is doing. Last I knew she hadn’t settled down with maturity yet.

I got a letter from Seventh Day Adventist friends of my family when we all lived in Australia:

We are...attending our granddaughter's high school graduation. They make such a fuss of each oassasion in this country. Everything is a party and a celebration. In Australia, we had a Speech Day on the last day and I've never seen a single person from school since.

This is my all-time favorite picture [of Jesus Christ]. I know that you've adopted a new belief as an escape, but somewhere in your past I suspect there is a deep belief in the Savior, the Son of God.

It puzzled me that [the artist] Nathan Greene dared to use a black lamb - until I realized that it was the independent, rebellious, problem lamb that ran away.

So when you are hurting, sad, lonely, or anxious, just "become" this little lamb and feel the arms of the Good Shepherd holding you tight and you will feel much better.

Bad Joke

Jesus and Satan were having an ongoing argument about who was better on his computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly God was tired of hearing all the bickering. Finally fed up, God said, "THAT'S IT! I have had enough. I am going to set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job."

So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away. They moused. They faxed. They E-mailed. They E-mailed with attachments. They downloaded. They did spreadsheets. They wrote reports. They created labels and cards. They created charts and graphs. They did some genealogy reports. They did every job known to man. Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell.

Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured, and, of course, the power went off. Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld. Jesus just sighed.

Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them restarted their computers. Satan started searching frantically, screaming "It's gone! It's all GONE! "I lost everything when the power went out!"

Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours of work. Satan observed this and became irate. "Wait!" he screamed, "That's not fair! He cheated! How come he has all his work and I don't have any?" God just shrugged and said, "Jesus saves."

The Making Of A Gadol

Making of a Godol: A Study of Episodes in the Lives of Great Torah Personalities. Author: Rabbi Nathan Kamenetzky. Price: $2000 each. "Rabbi Nathan Kamenetzky" is my pen name.

Dr. Samuel C. Heilman on the death of Modern Orthodoxy. Link thanks to FailedMessiah.com.

'Do You Want To Steal Me?'

Wearing my black kipa, I was walking through an African-American community Monday afternoon, seeking converts, passing out Torah tracts. Two black boys played on the sidewalk. I smiled at them as I strode on, absorbed in my Torah studies (Bee Season by Myla Goldberg). They kicked something my way. I walked on. They chased after me yelling. I removed my headphones. I couldn't understand what the boy was saying. Then, when I thought I understood what he was saying, I couldn't believe it. Finally, I believed my ears.

"Do you want to steal me?"

Has he had bad experiences with Orthodox Jews?

I said no. They ran off.

Kids love me.

Vote Luke Off Protocols

Marc writes: "These bloggers [in the latest New Yorker] can brag--but have any of them ever been voted off a blog? I think not."

Elder of Protocols, Sam Singer (medical student at YU) writes: "There's been a lot of anger directed toward Luke in the comments of his (and others' posts). There's been a lot of ridicule thrown the way of protocols due to his continued membership. We've lost long-standing members of our community, who've fled in disgust. Why should we let the voice of one man dictate our e-polity's future? I say, lets vote to see whether Luke gets to (over)stay on the island. I'll cast the first stone: Luke - You're fired! Anyone second the motion?"

Der Nister writes Protocols: "I would say his time is over here. Again, it's not just the often inappropriate nature of his posts, but their numbing length and frequency. He is a guest who will not observe the rules of the summer rental, the dinner table, the time share -- name your metaphor."

Chaim Amalek writes: "The Bnai AMALEK say Luke should be banned from every group that does not want him. Less Luke means more room for AMALEK to spread his ancient message of universal tolerance and love."

A writes:

Sam, I agree. It was a mistake to invite Luke to guest here and his continued presence merely compounds the error. His posts have frequently been inappropriate for the readership Protocols primarily appeals to. Protocols has been delinked from numerous “frum” blogs due to Luke’s posts, as I’m sure you’re well aware.

Frankly, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for one of the Protocols regulars to acknowledge that there is a serious issue here. And, I’m not sure why you’re putting it to a vote. Why not just acknowledge the error and end this lunacy?

Shmarya writes: "Inappropriate posts? Sure. But not nearly as inappropriate as many of the comments left here by 'frum' people. It's amazing how fast Halakha goes out the window when someone becomes the other. Look at it this way: You had a marvelous opportunity to have a positive effect on Luke, and you blew it."

J.J. Belrose writes: "I'm not a born Jew. I want to say that I find Luke Ford to be an embarrassment to both my Jewishness and my non-Jewishness. I don't understand why he's being given a platform here and I'm hoping he'll be asked to leave until he has worked out some of his problems. I agree he needs counselling and guidance, but I don't think that Protocol readers should be expected to provide him with the professional help he needs. Anyone who wants to try to help him should surely do so privately. I used to love Protocols, but I won't be staying if Luke Ford's posting continues."

The Losangelesher Rebbiwrites: "Keep him. Let he who is without sin throw the first stone."

Tough Jewish Chick writes: "What WIMPS you hebes have become! Luke publishes a few things that granted, are a bit off-kilter, and all of you have your tzitzis in a knot. No wonder many great women are having such a tough time finding decent Jewish MEN to marry."

The Los Angeles Times Swerves Off the ‘High Road’ In Its Israel Coverage.

Bloggers Writing Books

Jack writes:

Most of those nyc bloggers with alleged book deals have nothing to say, no experiences to tell of, i'm not sure why you'd be left in the lurch if that's the 'hot' thing ... elizabeth spiers in particular has proven herself to be a sham artiste, at least in the category of dishing the dirt online--given how she got a job where a blog was supposedly part of it and they never pursued it past a couple wan months at NY mag.

What type of repentant sinners do Jews love?

Repentance is much more demanding in Judaism than Christianity (in the Jewish way, you have to make reparations to those you've wronged before you can approach God). Therefore, Jews tend to kvell less about big sinners finding their way back than do Christians. We don't rejoice over murderers and rapists finding God as much as Christians do. But certain types of sinners are embraced by Jews. Those sinners whose sin was hating Jews.

Tuesday afternoon, UCLA Hillel hosts "Wallid Shoebat, former PLO Terrorist whom was once a PLO Fatah Terrorist that backed out of his suicide mission at the last moment. Come hear the testimony of how he once only wanted to become a martyr. He now spends his time confronting the culture of hate, jihad, and martyrdom which he sees as the major source of conflict in the Middle East."

I'm listening now to Wallid on Dennis Prager's radio show. I know Orthodox Jews like to hear the stories of sincere converts and baalei teshuvot, particularly former Reform rabbis. Jews like to hear from Christian clergy who used to hate Jews. Who else?

Anyone read that great I.B. Singer book, The Penitent? The more we reward behaviors such as penitence, the more we will get of them. Still, we only have limited love to give. I like the New Testament parable of the prodigal son, and I must confess my sentiments lie more with the upright son who never strayed (though my life more resembles the prodigal).

I say unto you, go and sin no more.

Orthodox Spinsters

Miriam writes about the large number of successful but single women in Orthodoxy: "...[M]any of our men don’t know how to relate to, or just plain don’t like the idea of, women who are more educated, more ambitious and more successful in their careers than ever before in history."

I hear this point all the time. As someone who has frequently dated women who are above him in social status, I think the issue lies elsewhere: Women, overwhelmingly, will not marry someone who is below her in social status. I don't blame them for this, as I don't blame men who do not want to woo women that do not attract them physically. This is just how God made us.

It's amusing how often men and women want to blame the opposite sex for their singlehood. In this Haaretz article, one woman claims that single women "are warned not to be too successful." Well, I hate to be harsh, but look at her picture.

Cathy writes:

I was expecting a really homely girl, but she's prettier than some of the girls I've heard you describe as "so-o-o-o cute," who strike me (and probably many other people) as rather plain. The only difference is that this girl has red hair and you don't like redheads. I think it's kind of sweet you have a thing for mousy brunettes, and that you think blonde Julia Stiles is "not hot at all," but let's be honest -- this is just your taste, not the whole world's.

Jackie writes:

That woman from the Haaretz article isn't unattractive -- she's just not making the most (or indeed anything) of what she's got. Give me five minutes with her and a bit of makeup and you'd be begging her to touch your Torah. Be that as it may, you went from deriding her for saying that women are warned not to be too successful to agreeing that women should put the pursuit of marriage before the pursuit of professional success ("Professional and educational accomplishments don't make a woman attractive to a man. Frequently, the opposite.")

Frankly, I find conversations about why women can't get a man to be boring and cringeworthy in the extreme, but I thought it worth pointing out that you and she are on the same page -- you just wouldn't want to make her your bride.

Also, did you notice that the article gives her age as "28 and a half"? No one's afraid of hitting the big 3-0 without a man, then, eh?

I also find it interesting that in these discussions that it never seems to occur to women that they may be doing something wrong, such as pursuing career rather than marriage when they are at their most eligible (their 20s). Professional and educational accomplishments don't make a woman attractive to a man. Frequently, the opposite.

What a man most wants is a woman who cares to make herself look sexy for him and to make him the most important thing in her life, more important than work (from Dennis Prager). What women seek in a man is much more complicated, which is why women file for two-thirds of divorces.

Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies

Dave Robb has published his first book (Prometheus, the publisher of my first book). It's a shame nobody is buying it (based on the Amazon sales ranking of 1,065,572).

The notion that the Pentagon censors movies by not cooperating with ones it deems unfriendly to its aims is ludicrous. That is not censorship. It is simply a refusal to cooperate.

A friend writes me:

Not that I want to inspire anything that might get your pretty face threatened again, but (and you didn't hear this from me) some people (NOT me) think it's a bit dicey (and for the record, I don't) that Dave Robb's good friend, the ethically holier than thou Anita Busch, wrote a postive review on Amazon for Robb's new book. The way I see it, Amazon is just a store, not a journalistic enterprise, and it's no different than if Anita were in a store and told passersby that the book was a good one.

Anita Busch writes:

Operation Hollywood has come out at a time when the Pentagon's relationship with the American public is being evaluated -- at the height of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. Operation Hollywood gives us all a rare glimpse at the Pentagon's stealth tactics in shaping the content of television shows and films. Using the Pentagon's own documents, Robb expertly delves into the behind-the-scenes machinations of Hollywood producers kowtowing to Pentagon censors. The result is suprising and disturbing changes to a slew of films that include the box office blockbusters "Independence Day," "Top Gun," and the Harrison Ford-starrer "Clear and Present Danger." Robb also reveals how the Pentagon wanted to change history in the Nicolas Cage-starrer "Windtalkers" to the detriment of the Navajo Indians whose unbreakable codes saved this country in World War II. But, as Robb points out, it doesn't stop there. Who knew that even "The Mickey Mouse Club" and "Lassie" were not immune from military tinkering? Or that the Pentagon objected to a military man taking shots at a target that looked too much like Osama Bin Laden in the popular television show "JAG?" Or that, in our recent history, the military objected to exposing racial and religious prejudices against Hispanics and Jews? It's no wonder, as Robb writes, that his "heroes" Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner and Oliver Stone have rebuffed the Pentagon's requests to change the content of their scripts. Robb is not only my friend, but he is also a great investigative journalist. This book serves as a wake-up call to anyone who loves the very backbone of this country: The First Amendment.

LT writes: "I would say that since Anita Busch clearly states that she is a friend of Robb's in her comments on Amazon, there is nothing whatsoever unethical about her writing what she did on his book. It would have been unethical if she DID NOT reveal that she was his friend."

Dave Robb's friend Dan Moldea writes:

With his new book, Operation Hollywood, Dave Robb demonstrates why he continues to be Hollywood's best investigative journalist. Taking a subject that has never been addressed, Robb unveils the film industry's dirtiest secret--that movie producers have been allowing the Pentagon to censor movies while placing propaganda into films and television shows for more than fifty years. Congress needs to take a hard look at Robb's outstanding book and his overwhelming evidence.

Interrupting Cecile du Bois's Dance Recital

My friend Cecile, 15, invited me to her dance recital motzi Shabbos (after the Sabbath). Little did I know that it would be a mixed dance recital. As soon as I saw boys and girls dancing together, I ran out into the middle of the obscenity and screamed, "The Torah does not permit this." I kept screaming until the police came to take me away to a room where I couldn't hurt myself.

Matt Welch was later heard to say: "Teenage dancing and Luke Ford do not mix well."

A Torah Jew does not seek popularity. He stands up for what he knows to be right.

Emma writes: "Hey Luke, You missed a flurry of teenage girls dancing on stage on very inapropriate songs, such as "dirty" from Christina Aguilera. Matt and I were outraged. Cecile was very cute, as usual. And Jerry {C's father] is really charming when he does his card tricks."

More Evidence For Why Orthodox Judaism As Lived Today Is Intellectually Dead

What was the last novel you read about Orthodox life that was intellectually challenging? I can't think of any since Chaim Potok's.

I just finished "The Outside World" by Tova Mirvis (Knopf, $24). Sandee Brawarsky, of The Jewish Week, gives it a gushing review.

"The Outside World" is a quick, easy, shallow read. Nothing in it surprised or delighted me. It never once caused me to laugh. I think girls might like it but there's nothing in here to please a man.

I'm thinking the problem here goes deeper than just another shallow novel about Orthodoxy. What's really going on is that since Rabbi Hertz (he died around 1942), Orthodoxy has ceased taking modern scholarship seriously, and the greater world.

Orthodox rabbis don't struggle with Biblical criticism or historical scholarship that shows that the Exodus did not occur as portrayed in the Torah.

Orthodox Judaism is now lived without reference to the wider world (beyond making a living and adapting to social trends and mores). It's insular. It doesn't struggle with questions that come from without. The only reason to interact with goyim is to make money from them.

The reason that the best spokesmen for Orthodoxy come from the diaspora is that diaspora Orthodoxy is less insular than Israeli Orthodoxy. There's a reason we study the Babylonian Talmud today and the Jerusalem Talmud little. The Bavli was produced in the diaspora, in a more intellectually challenging environment.

I can't think of a character in novels about Orthodoxy since Chaim Potok who has struggled with reconciling his faith with the learning of the wider world.

Outside of its own boundaries, outside of political and social trends, Orthodox Judaism as lived today is largely intellectually dead. Just look at the trivial concerns of Protocols before I came along.

Please provide me with examples of where I am wrong.

The person who asks the most interesting questions about Orthodoxy is not Orthodox -- Dennis Prager.

PS. I only post here because of popular demand. I'd much rather spend my time with gemara.

Sam writes: "Listen, I don’t have issues with most provocation, and I understand that you are trying for a parodic/absurd style. But while you might think your “schvartze” posts are exposing orthodox attitudes towards race, I find that most people are oblivious to the satire, and see them as blatant racism. Remember that protocols is a group endeavor, and we all stand to be tarred by the same brush as you do – I have plenty of non-Jewish hits to our site who have been appalled by some of your stuff. You are entitled to do what you want on your own blog, but please exercise at lease a modicum of restraint and judgment on ours."

Out of Step Jew, Ira Slomowitz, writes:

You are missing a lot of what goes on in the modern-Orthodox world, especially, but not exclusively here in Israel.

First - regarding dealing with Biblical scholarship, the Da'at Mikra commentary on the Tanach confronts (not always succesfully, but it doesn't back away from the issues) and includes much of contemporary Biblical scholarship. This includes, not only historical criticism, but philological and literary scholarship - as well as geography, geology adn botony. Unfortunately, only the commentary on the Psalms has to date been translated into English.

Here in Israel where we have our share of shallow, backward rabbis we also have the likes of Aaron Lichtenstein (Gush Etzion), Yuval Sherlow (Petach Tikva), David Bigman (Ma'aleh Gilboah) and others who have written and are still writing and teaching. We have many historians and philosphers at the various univesrities whose scholarship is unsurpassed and who belong to the religious-Zionist/modern-Orthodox camp.

As for novels - I don't think Potok is on a level with Bellow anyway, but in this - and with poetry, you are right - we have neglected these forms.

There is a lot to complain about in modern-Orthodoxy, but there is also a lot going on. I would agree with you that Protocols mainly deals with silly issues - I would like to think that some of my posts in my own blog deal with more serious issues in a more intellectually demanding way.

Levi, Get Your Gun

I sat at home Friday night reading a novel on Vietnam, Fields of Fire. I heard strange noises outside. I felt nervous. I tried to ignore them.

Then I heard my landlady screaming from the main house that there was a stranger in the backyard. A motion-sensor light flicked on.

I poked my head out of my door and saw nobody. The lady said he was hiding behind a tree. She screamed she was calling the police.

I saw a young black man stand up and run away across the neighbor's roof. He appeared about 6' tall, about 18, wearing a black backpack, white t-shirt, and black pants.

My landlady screamed for me to dial 9-1-1.

I dove inside my hovel, locked my door, and reached for my gun. I loaded it on lap, then dialed. The police arrived 20 minutes later. We never saw the intruder again.

I'm sure that if George Bush only spent more money on social welfare programs like midnight basketball, the black man wouldn't have danced on my roof. It was his lonely protest against white racism.

About two years ago, several black men trashed the main house. Many of my Orthodox friends in the community have been robbed, or held up at knife point or gun point by young black men.

XX writes: "Well... based on your very thorough, scientific, survey results, I suggest that everyone go out and buy a gun and then photograph themselves handling it in an unsafe, improper manner."

Happy Minyan Review

M. writes:

The quips about Meir Kahane/ Baruch Goldstein country may have resonated correctly to you "once upon a time", however, you are doing a disservice to this minyan by saying it now. Not ONCE have I heard anything that would make me consider this accurate about the Happy Minyan since I started attending weekly nearly two years ago. Yes, I have heard Kahane mentioned once or twice but not from the bimah. And, never Goldstein. There is almost an absence of getting directly into political rhetoric, especially on the bimah. Diversity in politics is certainly my experience (and I'm considered particulary astute in recognizing "what's going on" by most people in the Minyan"). Over all, the review is accurate (as are most that I have read.....and, I have shul shopped for years and been to many mentioned). Thanks for your work. But, PLEASE get rid of the allusion to right wing fanaticism. It just isn't accurate about 90% of those davening! Torah and davening is "where it's at."

In Memory Of Ariel Avrech

The father of the late Ner Israel yeshiva bocher Ariel Avrech, Robert, has started a blog in his son's memory. He's also starting a publishing house for Jewish teenagers, Seraphic Press.

Judaism Should Seek Converts

Dennis Prager says we should seek the convert. Beware, some Luke Fords out there might heed the call. At one point, I wanted to be the poster child for converts.

Josh writes Protocols: "Judaism doesn't need covnerts. We only need the non-Jews to follow seven simple laws. That's a lot easier than taking on 613. Dennis Prager is hardly the one to speak on this issue. He is certainly no halachic authority. Perhaps he should increase in his own observance first before telling people to go out and find "New Jews"."

Mark writes: "I would say Luke is the poster-child for NOT seeking converts."

Shmarya writes: "Judaism sought converts until the penalty for doing so became too great after Churban Bayit Sheini and even more so after the Bar Kokhba Revolt failed. Beit Shammai seems to have opposed this (see, for example, Talmud Yerushalmi Shabbat 1:4) while Beit Hillel encouraged it. It seems that after Churban Bayit Sheini under the leadership of Rabban Gamliel, for the sake of unity Beit Hillel changed its position on seeking converts to be closer to the position of Beit Shammai, to create a 'compromise position'. In short, history supports Prager, even if our now-common practice does not."

Rabbi Gadol writes:

Had Judaism aggressively sought out new members from among the ranks of the pagans during the time of Rome, the victories that ultimately were won by Christianity and, later, by Islam, would have been ours, and the world today would contain several billion Jews. That we instead turned inwardly on ourselves was a grevious blunder. As a consequence, Judaism has spent most of the last 1900 years as a marginal, threatened faith and is likely to continue its existence on the edge of a knife.

Face it, my fellow Jews, our ancestors screwed this one up big-time. Relative to what the Pagan faiths offered the Romans - nothing at all - we had a package that would have been very appealing, but we didn't bother making the effort, we chose NOT to be a light unto other nations, and here we are, an ever shrinking percentage of the world's population.

Button writes:

My local synagogue congregation became so exclusive that they ran out of members, the membership was dying out, and they finally disaffiliated with the Conservative Movement and then, eventually, dismantled the congregation. They were not the first to do this, even though there are lots of Jewish people in the area. I see this same pattern repeat itself over and over again. Synagogues in the US have become very exclusive private country clubs who make themselves feel good by perversely rejecting others.

All About Eve

Cathy Seipp has been educating me on classic films. Tonight we watched All About Eve. Cathy knew someone who reminded her of Eve. I knew someone who reminded me of the Bette Davis character.

I'm on edge because I need to proof two books (340,000 words total) in two weeks. Cathy's on edge because of the inability of the world to recognize that she's always right.

"This is the time when you're supposed to chip in with a supportive comment," she told me at the end of a passionate tirade.

We got intense and discordant over our dinner of beans and cheese (yummy).

I rarely choose to watch old black and white films. They remind me of my wholesome childhood when they and Disney movies were about the only movies I was allowed to watch. I'm noticing that these old films, compared to modern films, have more talk, more speeches, and more theatricality than current films.

I drive home behind an electric car with the license plate, "Pass Gas."

Black TV Reporter Warren Wilson, Lucky To Have A Job, Whines About Discrimination

Kevin Roderick at LA Observed.com reports:

Veteran Channel 5 reporter Warren Wilson has hired civil rights attorney Melanie Lomax to press claims that the station is discriminating against him in salary and assignments, the Wave newspapers report today. Wilson, 69, has been with KTLA for 20 years without a promotion and has worked the last six months without a contract, the story says. Lomax told the Wave papers that the station added a special clause to his contract last year saying that he could be fired if he "complains or voices any displeasure with his assignments."

I worked at KTLA for several months in the fall of 1997. Warren Wilson was known around the station as a horrible man. Rude, nasty, and unethical. He'd been reprimanded several times by station management, who were exceedingly tolerant of their employees. I remember the receptionist was a frequently rude woman, with a severe limp, who'd yell at callers and hang up on them.

Warren Wilson did a story about some guy, set him up with a particular lawyer, then went after either the lawyer/or guy in question for a payoff.

If you read RonFineman.com, you know Wilson is a shoddy reporter who's lucky to have a job. There are a lot of people working at KTLA who would never last at any other major TV station.

KTLA is an awesome place to work. I so wanted to get taken on permanently there in 1997. They paid me well as a temp and treated me well. Management bends over backwards to be fair and kind. Employee morale is high. Most people at KTLA are super. I remember this black female TV reporter who was just adorable and made everybody relax and laugh, cutting across color lines. I am known to utter non-PC sentiments but this woman just made all my crap go away.

Blogger Without A Clue

Author of the Luke Ford Fan Blog writes:

I've just finished reading your memoir, all 67,000+ words. I would like to take back what I said about the postscript. It's fine. The prologue is fine, too. It's the rest of the book that I have a problem with. Rather than "XXX-Communicated: a rebel without a shul," I've taken to calling it "Mis-Communicated: a blogger without a clue (as to how to write a book, essay, or even a coherent paragraph that's more than two sentences in length)."

Are you sure that you think it's ready for publication? It reads like a rough draft to me. I think I will give it a longish review on my fan blog.

The Luke Ford Fan Blog is looking rather forlorn these days. I'm sorry but I can't seem to get motivated. I guess I'm like your ex-girlfriend, Cathy Seipp: unless someone is paying me good money, I don't feel much like putting out. Would you be willing to pay me to maintain your fan site? I was thinking of charging $40 per nice, kind, considerate blog entry, and $20 per mean, vicious, cruel blog entry. Quite understandably, I find the latter much easier and more enjoyable to write.

When I'm finished writing my in-depth review of "XXX-Communicated" I'm thinking of posting it on Amazon.com. Of course, this will probably depress sales of your book since my review will be mixed at best. After all, if your #1 fan can't recommend your memoir, what will this say to other less kindly disposed readers? Perhaps you would be willing to give me $1000 not to widely circulate my review? Think about it. It might be in your self-interest to keep me quiet.

A couple of other things. I visited your mommy's [Gillian Ford] website. I didn't read the text but I did look at the pictures. Wow! Ms Gillian Ford is hot! Sexily hot! I love women with short hair. Your mommy has short hair. I love dark haired women. Your mommy has darkish hair. I love women who wear glasses. Your mommy wears glasses. I love intellectual women. Your mommy is an intellectual. I love older women. Your mommy is hot! I made your mommy's picture my desktop wallpaper, but it was so distracting that I couldn't get any work done so I had to change back to my Cathy Seipp wallpaper -- only a mild disappointment.

I also checked out your daddy's [Dr. Desmond Ford] website. I listened to one of his sermons and found it very interesting. Your daddy is obviously a very curious, well read, and thoughtful man. However, I did have a hard time dealing with his absurd, over-the-top Australian accent. I had to keep re-starting my MP3 player because I was laughing so hard. Just think: there is a country far, far away where 20 million people sound just like him. Oh my. Take care, Your #1 Fan

PS: Does your mommy have a ridiculous Australian accent, too? I hope not because that would ruin the whole fantasy. When I found out that Cathy Seipp sounds like a little girl, I had to stop thinking about her in a certain way because it was too disturbing. Is there any place on the Internet where I can download audio files of your mommy's lectures so I can hear her voice? Any help in this matter would be most appreciated.

In Loving Memory Of Ariel Avrech

When I was reading this profile of the late Ner Israel yeshiva bocher Ariel Avrech, I was especially struck how this person tried to provoke Ariel and connect to him in ways that were foreign to Ariel but Ariel stayed completely true to himself as a Ben Torah.

Then tonight, I went to my usual Monday night shiur and amazingly this personality trait came up in our learning. Gemorah Chagigah 13 A, discussing who can be taught the mysteries of the 'chariot,' you know from Ezekiel. So 20 lines from the bottom, there's an opinion that this knowledge can only be taught to someone 'shelibo doeg b'kirbo' (what does this mean?). The interesting part of this phrase is what the word 'doeg' means in this context (what does it mean?). If you look at Rashi on this (9 lines from the top) he in explaining these lines, seemed to me to be describing the traits that Luke thought he found in Ariel.

I had to stop the shiur and tell the group about Ariel and this incredible trait that I had just read about today that the Gemerah and rashi held in such high esteem that it made the person worthy of understanding the highest mysteries.

Luke Interrogatory With Young Publicist

I tend towards the obsessive compulsive. This evening, I met a 23 year old female publicist. In the course of a two hour interrogation that makes what happened in Abu Ghraib look like an Oprah Winfrey interview, I asked her about 100 questions. I just couldn't stop. I am truly a sick man. Emmanuelle Richard and Cathy Seipp (who were saddened by my "She" moan below) had long since fled by the time Tracy and I closed the bar.

The last time I had this much social intercourse with a woman this young was when I was half my age.

I took a LACMA official to task over the lack of humor in museum plaques and brochures. The utter solemnity of these arty organizations make Orthodox Judaism sound like Richard Pryor.

Emmanuelle Richard writes: "Luke's colourful fantasies, delicious Cosmopolitans, entertaining conversions with an editrix about lawyers eager to be dominated when they come home, the tale of a cross-dressing director buying green plants... What a fun party!"

Cathy Seipp writes:

Last night Emmanuelle and I checked out the new  Hollywood and Vine bar and restaurant at a small Media Bistro party there, and think we've found a good locale for our June 17 L.A. Press Club party (guest of honor: legendary Miami crime reporter Edna Buchanan.) Luke Ford was there, fresh from finishing up his guest blogging stint on Protocols, and although I'm very happy for him that he's regained his boyish figure, I wonder if he hasn't maybe reduced the lithium a bit too much?

I started to tell someone about the great scrambled eggs you can get Sunday mornings at Cafe Brazil (on Venice near Overland) when Luke interrupted: "Yes, Cathy and I go there all the time on Sunday morning, after we've peeled ourselves off the floor Saturday night. It's a great pick-me-up!"

As usual, you've got to imagine a booming Australian accent to get the full effect here. Then someone mentioned that the HIV outbreak in the p--n industry must be really affecting the business, and Luke nodded knowingly, "Yes, it really has, and it's very inconvenient for Cathy and me. When we go to rent a p---- now there's much less of a selection..."

Oh, who am I kidding; he acts like this no matter how much lithium he's taking. But no wonder no one new ever talks to me at these things.

My Final Post On Protocols

Dear friends, our time together has been far too short. Your generosity and kindness has been untold. Perhaps only a picture can give you an idea of the way I've experienced this past week (from the documentary GIVE ME YOUR SOUL).

The most surprising thing about this past week has been how nuts I went. The least surprising was the hostile reaction. Where do we go from here? Lukeford.net.

Fellow Torah Jews, our time together has inspired me to undertake a mammoth project. I am in the process of gathering together all ethical Jewish laws to publish in a slim pocket-sized book. To do this, I will need time to digest the Tanach, Talmud, and law codes of our sacred faith. I must therefore set aside more lucrative and pleasurable pursuits for my focused journey into Torah. You can send your Paypal donations to this paypal account.

I want to create a single dramatic unity to my varied posts. I can do this in only two words: Andy Kaufman.

Cathy Seipp writes Protocols:

The insane macho man poses here are rather undercut by the hypochondriacal line up of vitamins in the background. "Go ahead, make my day -- just let me take my Super C first, 'cause I feel a cold coming on." Right. We're all scared now.

Luke, not only have you violated every basic law of gun safety in these pix -- Eugene would be appalled -- but you've made yourself seem even weirder than you actually are. Maybe I will make your day...by posting a link to the pic of you in your tighty whities in this comments section.

X writes: "Luke, considering the anger of many bloggers towards you, and their comments on this site, are you sure want ALL Jews owning guns?"

Kin the Gun Owning Jew writes: "Didn't anyone ever teach you gun saftey 101? Never put your finger on the trigger unless you're gonna pull it. Sheesh..."

Prickish writes Steven I. Weiss, owner of Protocols:

Steven I, You truly deserve public and private ridicule and disgrace for the disgusting, cheap and pathetic way you have made your transition to real journalism. Everything you have accomplished with protocols has been trampled and shat upon by a sick F&(# whom you sanctioned and invited to be a part of this formerly sacred community.

You bear ultimate responsibility for the sinat chinam (senseless hatred) that went on here over the past seven days, and I hope you are ready for your reckoning. I really think you owe the entire audience of protocols a huge favor, but I don't think (in fact, I'm 10000% sure) that your ego cannot handle it. But here goes:

1) post an apology on protocols. A large one. Explain your actions as best you can. then...

2) announce the closure of protocols, and close it 24 hours later.

You have effectively killed off protocols because in essence, it was your virtual resume and plaything, and now you don't need it anymore. You've undoubtedly burned all of the 'hot' posts which showcase your own talent onto CD-Roms for future interviews with Forward-esque Jewish shit-rags.

F--- you, you selfish pr--k, and may you learn to be less selfish. I very much doubt that this will happen in the near future, as you rise among the pathetic, creepy milieu of Jewish journalists. On the contrary, you'll probably get more egotistical. So be it. At least now I am informed enough to skip over your crap in the Forward. You animal. I now have only pity for you and the others who helped build this blog.

My only consolation is that less bitul will take place as a result of Luke Ford's having killed your trash of a blog. Yehuda and Pinchas and Sam, If you had any pride, you would immediately remove your name from this piece of trash. I really don't think its a good idea for people who search for you to come up with some of the things posted here. Seriously. Think this one through. Its time to pull the plug, boys. If you had the guts, you would make like Seinfeld. But I doubt that you do.

Reb Yudel writes: "Which raises the question: What would the Rav had blogged?"

Clogger writes:

I'm an outsider, but I've really enjoyed this week reading Protocols. Isn't one purpose of a blog to attract new readers? And I've learned a lot. For instance, I think it was Miriam who said goyim is bad. So I'll just say I am another religion. But I was fascinated and impressed to read about certain rules, outlooks on behavior, ways of thinking about G-d. I felt so unwelcome by most of the posters in the comments section, though - and that seemed to be their sole purpose, to limit the readers, narrow the focus, and eliminate anything new.

Luke has definitely been outrageous at times, especially about 14 year old women. But a good part of what he wrote about was meant to provoke, of course, maybe to re-examine. And I think he's a comic genius. That's a holy gift. The hatred directed towards him came the very first day, when his main sin, according to the comments, seemed to be that he posted too much. I would call that generosity. And he never preached or posted about tolerance, but what a great spirit of forgiveness and humility he's given us by his own example of continuing to post (when I would have given up in tears!) acting good-natured about it, and adding humor to a site that has apparently never seen much before. Did you notice that the humor was directed mostly at himself? He was posting serious news with a sense of irony. Gee, that's so rare in a blog. Yet most of the commenters never seemed to get it, ever! I feel so bad that all you saw was a drastic change, and didn't notice that there was a lot of good in it, and that Luke is a serious student of Judaism.

He doesn't need this defense from me, of course, so I guess I'm writing this on my own behalf. I will try to forget the vulgar words, the spitting and tantrums. I am very angry that someone changed all his photos and made them ----o, however, because I looked at one by mistake, and wished I hadn't. That was poisonous. And once again, it never came from Luke. So thanks for the good parts, and bye, Protocols.

Luke says: "I was a little over the top this past week and a tad out of control and a bit of a source of semantic pollution. I apologize. I like to laugh but most of the things I laugh at are cruel. As Malcom Muggeridge (?) said, tasteful humor is like a chaste whore."

Ex writes:

I am Jewish by birth, but witnessing the terrible treatment Luke received at the tongues of other Jews has helped crystalize in my mind something that I've been considering for a long time: the fact that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I'm married to a Jewish woman who is totally secular but wants our kids to have some sort of religion, so it falls to me to pick that religion, and it is Christianity. Again, I thank you, in as perverse and unintended a way as this was, for bringing me to Christ and closer to God. May you someday find his love in your hearts, and God Bless you all.

Sandy Hedrin writes: "Phillip Roth made it respectable for Jewish men in certain circles to ditch the Jewess in favor of the shiksa. He is thus guilty of the non-birth of countless Jewish children who might otherwise have been sired by these men. It is no accident that the years following his books were years in which Jewish women were forced into the sin of feminism (and its mistress, lesbianism) and self-selected infecundity. Phillip Roth helped cut the branches of countless Jewish families off the Jewish tree of life."


She was everything he was not. She had the big job at the big newspaper. He wrote for his own website. She was cute and he was ugly. She was sophisticated and he was clumsy. She smiled and he grimaced. She earned several times what he did. She was probably married and he'd probably never marry. He wanted to ask her out. He wanted to tickle her. He wanted to sleep with her. He wanted her love and respect. He wanted to protect her. He wanted to inform her. He wanted to point her in the right direction. He wanted her.


My Mom Will Soothe Your Rage

I've finally had a chance to read the comments on the Protocols blog. I detect, however subtly disguised, a certain rage.

It came as a shock as my Messianic synagogue has a more Christlike tone.

I have a solution I'd like to offer those of you lacking peace of mind -- my mother. Yes, my mom will be glad to soothe your raging hormones.

"Gillian Ford is a physician-trained hormonal health educator with over 20 years' experience in counseling individuals."

Her books include: What's Wrong With My Hormones, Listening To Your Hormones, Managing Terminal Illness.

My sister, Ele--- Ford, a barrister in Brisbane, will sell you soothing mangoes.

My brother, Paul Ford, will sell you a shrubbery. Tannum Garden Centre. "Not just a nursery, but an experience."

My father, Dr. Desmond Ford, has a message for you: "The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let those who hear say, “Come!” Let those who are thirsty come; and let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life."

A voluminous reader from childhood, Dr. Ford's interests include religion, history, current affairs, biography, science, and health. Ford was a bright student but left high school early because Australia was at war. At age 14, he started working at Associated Newspapers in Sydney, Australia. It was at this time that he developed a life-long interest in the subject of evolution versus creationism.

Ford excels at expository preaching and practical admonition on how to live a sanctified, Christ-filled life. He is, as mentioned, an expert on eschatology. This subject looms in importance as we have enter the second millenium. While many groups are focused on setting dates for the return of the Messiah, Ford reminds us that Scripture clearly forbids all attempts at date-setting, including the year ushering in the new millennium.

Ask the Pastor here.

"Seven Trumpets of Revelation" is one of my dad's best sermons. My dad's books include: Physicians of the soul: God's prophets through the ages. It ranks right up there with Abraham Joshua Heschel's work but with a different, more Christlike, tone.

Scroll to bottom of this page to see pictures of the happy Ford family.

Remember, all my family are goyim and they are not used to rude Jews. They never met one until I became one.

Colin Powell's A Moron

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has joined international criticism of the demolition plan, saying on a weekend visit to Jordan that Washington opposed ``wholesale bulldozing of houses'' in Rafah.

I loathe this man. He's now apologizing to the Arab world for the abuse of a few Iraqi prisoners by Americans in the Abu Ghraib prison.

"I understand apologies to all Iraqis, but not to all Arabs," says Dennis Prager. "This [reflects] the contempt that many in the West feel for the Arab. They are children. We don't have the same moral demands of them than we do of Americans. I respect the Arab world. Therefore, I make the same moral demands on them that I do on us."

If the Arab world is a collective that needs to be apologized to, then the Arab world is a collective that has much to apologize for, notes Dennis Prager on his radio show today.

The Arab world has far more to apologize to the West for than vice versa. Except for the US, Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak would be strung up in Cairo like Mussolini. It was the US that rescued Kuwait in 1991 from Saddam Hussein. Powell opposed both wars against Iraq (1991, 2003).

Powell's an appeaser of evil. Is the Arab world embarrassed about what Saudis did to America on 9/11? Where are the Islamic protests against terrorism? We should stop cowering before the Arab Islamic world. They are our enemy. Where are the honorable Muslims? Why aren't they demonstrating against the slaughter of Nick Berg? If Christians or Jews did anything similar, Christians and Jews would fall all over themselves to say this is not authentic religion.

Author Karen Armstrong and her ilk expect nothing of Muslims. Only of Christians and Jews.

To scream "God is great," while slowly severing the head of a man who came to Iraq to help Iraqis... Why is there no Islamic protest? Why is the liberal news media more obsessed with the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by Americans than the beheading of an American by Islamic terrorists?

What Makes For A Ben Torah?

I've received numerous discrete inquiries for my thoughts on what makes a talmid chacham (Talmud scholar) and gadol (great man). In no particular order:

* Constantly reviews shas, learns many blatt per day, and knows how to quote it.

* Constantly reviews Tanach and Misnayot

* Versatility, all-round (bikuyus, lomdus, psak).

* Devotes time each day to Shulchan Aruch.

* Knows limudei chol reasonably

* Is not comformist in personality and knows the difference between frum, charedi and Torah. He fights constantly against his nature. Doesn't equate yeshivish with correct. Knows that today's yeshivos are for the masses.

* Is not afraid to stand up for the honor of the Torah and give mussar. Feels a responsibility to teach others. Lives with passion.

* Gets things done fast. Doesn't waste time explaining.

* Correct emphasis. Knows that ehrilich is more important than frum.

* Admits the truth, even when he goes against his earlier opinion.

* Follows my example.

I want to thank Rabbi Gadol for the excellent points above. Please add your own thoughts via Email.

Tales of the Gedolim

I've devoted my life to studying Rav Rabbi Dr Yosef B. Soloveitchik.

I hate to say this about a Torah scholar, but I am troubled.

I look around me today and I see that in co-ed purportedly Orthodox day schools, drug use and sexual immorality are rife. The Rav was a champion of co-ed schools (though, thank G-d, not of drug use and sexual immorality).

Many "talmidim" of Rabbi S. say that he approved of mixed boys and girls education! An obvious abomination which even many goyim are strongly against (see Even Haezer 21:1). It's know that Rabbi S. gave regular lectures at the co-ed Maimonidies school in Boston, which remains defiantly and even proudly co-ed to this day!!!

It seems that the masses of the Modern Orthodox go to movies (see Mishnah Berurah 307:59) and that the Rav himself went to movies (see Yoreah Deah 246:8).

Many "talmidim" of Rabbi Soloveitchik, and almost all Modern Orthodox, see no problem at all with reading any kind of sifrei minut and apikorsut. They say that "The Rav" expected that we know "Rudolf Otto and Immanuel Kant as well as (lehavdil) Nachmanidies and Maimonidies! (Haskel Lookstein in Jewish Action, Spring 2003). This despite the severity of the Rambam AZ 2:2-3!

A few weeks ago, I was given a book called "Five Drashot" by Rabbi S. and to this day I had been unable to look at it because of many pressing concerns. Just today, through Protocols, I was asked to look at it by students who learned in Eretz Yisrael and they are surprised to discover an entire bold hashkafah which is at odds with all of the Gedolei Yisrael (such as the holy Chofetz Chaim, R. Chaim Ozer, the Chazon Ish) and especially at odds with his entire family (the Bais Halevi, Rav Chaim Brisker, and the Brisker Rav at"l).

This hashkafa differs as regards to the entire existence of Am Yisrael as guided by Hasehm, as well as the life of the individual, and you have asked what one should think of this.

I must say that after I have had the opportunity to read this book, I am sorry that I had not read these things earlier (because much harm and weakening of Am Yisrael would have thereby been avoided). I am astonished at those who saw these ideas and did not protest, and thereby gave many people room to err. Silence implies consent. (Gitten 56A)

Rabbi S.'s shittah and psak are an utter distortion of Da'as Torah. Moreover, he simply invented from his heart a bizarre idea of drush about Yosef HaTzaddik who represented the Mizrachi or Modern Orthodox, and the shevatim who represented Agudas Yisrael were wrong, adn what would the entire Olam Hatorah and all the holy Gedolei Yisrael have done after the war without the Mizrachi who are famous for their desecration of Torah.

Although it is difficult for me to write this, it is even more difficult for me to be silent in the face of the desecration of Torah rampant on this very website.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Rav Shach's lecture True Ahavat Yisrael from Michtavim U'Maamarim (vol. 4, #320) for giving me the strength to persevere in these trying times.

The Best Of Lukeford.net

In loving memory of yeshiva bocher Ariel Avrech of Baltimore's Ner Israel

Straight Talk: My Dilemma As an Orthodox Jewish Woman. An interview with Sally Berkovic.

Israelis (Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus) and Russian Jews in Hollywood

Jewish journalist Ivor Davis The Rebbe's Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch. An interview with author Sue Fishkoff. Jews vs Jew. An interview with author Samuel Freedman. What The New York Times Tells Us About Ourselves. Chats with Ari L. Goldman. The Ultimate Mickey Kaus Interview. A peak at the secret life of a tzaddik.

Amy Klein, managing editor of the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald. My best interview ever.

Douglas Rushkoff, Nothing Sacred. Catherine Seipp, Jewish journalist. Israel Shahak, critic of Orthodox Judaism.

Journalist Sheldon Teitelbaum reflects on working for Virtual Jerusalem. Jonathan Tobin, editor of Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Jewish author, screenwriter, essayist Michael Tolkin.

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic. Paul Wilkes, author of the 1994 book, And They Shall Be My People: An American Rabbi and His Congregation. Author Lauren Winner - convert to Orthodox Judaism who moved on to Christianity. Jews in Hollywood.

A Blessedly Sheltered Life

One Shabbos in the summer of 2001, I was at the Happy Minyan at Beth Jacob. The head rabbi, newcomer Steven Weil, came down and gave a talk on that week's Torah portion (where the elders of a community, after a stranger has been murdered in their midst, slaughter a heifer to atone for not having insured the sanctity of their community).

Rabbi Weil gave a convincing talk on how shul has to be a safe place. Those who endanger the community must be drummed out. I believe he is absolutely right. Predators must be drummed out.

Rabbi Weil detailed the extensive work his shul goes to investigate those who might pose a danger. Private detectives and psychologists are sometimes employed. The board fasts before decreeing that someone is to be banned from the shul.

At the time, about two dozen persons had been banned during Rabbi Weil's few months at the shul. His predecessor, Abner Weiss, did not ban people at anything like this rate. Ironically, after Rabbi Weiss (now looking after an Orthodox shul in Westwood) divorced his longtime wife and returned to Los Angeles, he too was banned from Beth Jacob by Rabbi Weil.

Rabbi Weil happens to be among my favorite teachers of Torah. He grew up on a cow farm and his father is Conservative.

If you go in Rabbi Weil's office, you will see pictures of him covering two walls. I've never seen a rabbi with so many pictures of himself in his office. He has two pictures of himself with Al Gore, one with Joseph Lieberman, one with President and Laura Bush.

Rabbi Weil (Republican) has an MBA, six kids and a wife (Democrat) who wears such a long sheitel that she looks charedi (she published a superb essay in a new book about Orthodox women covering their hair).

The most shocking thing in Rabbi Weil's office is a picture of his father's marriage where the two bridesmaids are totally sleaveless. I've never seen such a thing, but then I've led a blessedly sheltered life.

It's Time To Beat People Up For The Glory Of God

In many parts of Israel, Jews won't violate the Torah publicly for fear of being beaten up. This has a wonderful ability to concentrate the mind.

I'm starting up a gang of Torah-observant Jews who will beat up other Jews who violate the Torah. Up with Torah vigilantism. Thus Torah observance and fear of God will flourish.

I'm not sure yet what our outfits will be and who else will be in it.

Most charedim won't commit violence against Torah desecrators these days because they are too apathetic, just like most Christians won't go out of their way to save the souls of non-Christians. Even though they go around in long coats and beards, they don't truly care about Torah.

The late Rabbi Meir Kahane was a great Torah scholar. He studied at Mir Yeshiva in Israel, one of the country's top three. I've learned to think better of the man.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller said publicly that Rabbi Meir Kahane was killed by the Reform. It was a put-up job to make it look like an Arab. The Reform were his sworn enemies. I dunno if it was the Jewish Federation or some radical left wing advocates of assimilation.

I'm wondering if the Jewish Federations are buying off the Orthodox rabbis to go out on a limb for gay marriage. I found this shocking in the Jewish Journal cover story:

And some who might never have considered civil unions are now open to it. [Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, rabbi of the Orthodox Kehillat Yavneh], the Orthodox rabbi from Hancock Park who is firmly against gay marriage, not only believes the Orthodox community should be more tolerant and sensitive to gays, but he is open to the idea of giving loving partners legal status other than marriage to afford them rights and protections.

"If two people have committed themselves to each other as partners, they should have a right to designate another person of whatever gender as the primary caregiver or life partner, and I think that person should have special privileges," he said. "I think it would be a callous society that would deny a homosexual the comfort and consolation of his life partner."

Wow, for an Orthodox rabbi to be even quoted in such a story is an enormous risk for an Orthodox rabbi's reputation.

No Orthodox synagogues can allow members to live together out of wedlock or to publicly practice homosexuality.

Knives Out For Dennis Prager At UJ

Many faculty and staff at the left-leaning University of Judaism hold a special animus for Dennis Prager. He gets under their skin in a way Orthodox rabbis do not.

Over the past few days, I heard several folks connected with UJ pour scorn on Prager's performance at the same sex debate last week. One asserted that Prager should not argue Torah with Rabbi Elliott Dorff who's "a great Bible scholar." Never mind that nobody on the panel, including R. Dorff, was a Bible scholar. Never mind that Rabbi Dorff is an ethicist and has never published an original work of Bible scholarship. Never mind that neither R. Dorff nor anyone on the panel was literate in the dozen essential languages of the ancient Near East.

Tales of the Gedolim

In Memory Of R. Elchonon Wasserman zt"l (1875-1941), the Rosh Yeshivah in Baranovich and the foremost talmid of the Chofetz Chaim zt"l

The following letter was written by R. Wasserman from Toledo, Ohio, in 1938, to a young student (R. Elchonon Hertzman, from Mir and later of New York) requesting his help in escaping the Nazis. It's a famous letter written shortly before WWII:

1. "I received your letter, but unfortunately there is nothing I can do. The yeshivos in America which can bring talmidim from overseas are the yeshivah of Dr. Revel (YU) and HTC in Skokie... However, both are places of spiritual danger because they are run in a spirit of disloyalty to the Torah. Therefore, of what benefit would it be to escape [Europe] from physical danger to spiritual danger."

The letter is quoted in Hebrew in the Art Scroll history series book: Reb Elchonon: The Life and Ideals of Rabbi Elchonon Bunim Wasserman of Baranovich by Aharon Sorski.

I do not want to give the impression that R. Wasserman was being heartless. Later on in the letter, he refers the talmid to Rabbi Shlomo Hymen at Torah Va Das (where Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky was Rosh Yeshiva) in Brooklyn, who helped.

Another good book: Silver Era in American Jewish Orthodoxy: Rabbi Eliezer and His Generation by Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff.

There were only two Torah sages willing to stand up to YU before WWII. R. Wasserman and R. Aharon Kotler. YU sent one of their most pious students (R. Henkin (good friend of R. Moshe Feinstein), grandfather of the R. Henkin (Nishmat feminist leader) training these putatively Orthodox women rabbis) to R. Wasserman to bring him to YU.

Torah scholar Amitai Bin-Nun writes: "I'm ashamed to admit reading this blog, especially in its current state, but I recall this letter (not to escape Europe to go to YU) being quoted in Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff's book "Bernard Revel: Builder of American Orthodoxy", so it should be easily verifiable. The other Yeshiva, if I recall correctly, was HTC in Skokie.

"Rabbi Wasserman could well be considered the individual who most contributed to the perception of YU as "separate" from the Yeshiva world. He was the first to refuse to walk into the building on principle (this occurred during his 1937 visit to America). This is now the accepted modus operandi in yeshivishe circles."

Around 1960, R. M. Feinstein and other Torah sages decreed that you should not let your kids go to college because of the rampant atheism and naked women. Until then, all the American yeshivas allowed the kids to go to college at night.

R. Wasserman's son Simcha lived in Los Angeles for many years. Two of his sons were killed in the Holocaust. One broke his leg, which stopped R. Wasserman from fleeing Lithuania to go to America. So he resigned himself. He was killed by the Lithuanians in 1941.

More teachings from R. Wasserman:

2. "My great rebbe (R. Chaim Soloveitchik zt"l) permitted chillul Shabbos (in a consulate) to avoid the army in wartime, but refused to permit another person to go to a university, and said it was preferable to risk being killed because of the severity of minut (atheism). [AZ 27b, YD 155:1] (Berkat Shmuel Kiddushin 27, citing R. Chaim Ozer zt"l)

3. "Regarding implying legitimacy or respect for Torah violaters (let alone Conservative "rabbis" who are not just apikorsim, but defiant and aggressive meitim u'medichim, which is far, far worse), I heard from the holy mouth of the Chofetz Chaim z"l as follows: 'I was once at a gathering in Vilna with all the Gedolim, including R. Yisrael Salanter z"l. I asked a question, and all of them had no answer. I said, 'Perhaps we don't have the power to openly wage war against the evildoers who oppose Torah, but where did we get the hetter (permit) to give them respect?' This I asked, and they were all quiet. He (the Chofezt Chaim) told me this with a rare severity which astonished me.'

4. "Due to a fire in Radin, the Chofetz Chaim had to write a letter to a newspaper editor asking him to print a request to help the townspeople. The editor was a Shabbos transgresser, and the kadosh put all his thought into how he could address him in the most minimal fashion without a single unneccesary word. This deliberation took him a few days until he reached a decision. Even so, after he sent the letter he was in distress and fear for a few more days, out of worry he had transgressed the severe prohibition of giving undue respect to a rasha. (YD 151:14, Rambam Edut 11:10).

5. "One who says it is necessary to be 'National Religious' (Mizrachi or Modern Orthodox) because religion is not enough show that they believe the Torah needs additions. We know that whoever adds unnecessarily ultimately subtracts (Sanhedrin29A). The famous one said 2000 years ago that he didn't come to subtract even a jot or tittle from the Torah, but just to add (more 'love of mankind'), and look what happened to him and his followers." (Yoma 38b) Thanks to Rabbi Gadol for the above. May we merit a speedy redemption.

Boosters For Self Esteem

A southern soldier in Sudan believes George W. Bush is an "architect of peace," and asks that "God grant him many fertile women with firm bodies and an election victory without problems in Florida." Don't we all.

"When a University of Judaism (UJ) male administrator and a female student fell together from the second-story window of a Pico-Robertson apartment, hitting the concrete below and landing in the hospital, the story made the news and set community tongues wagging." (Jewish Journal)

The administrator was the swaggeringly macho Israeli Dean of admissions.

Reb writes: "Luke: Did you ever hear anything about a Dean at UJ in Bel Air sleeping with one of his female students, and not being penalized? Even after she was put into a coma by their frolicking? Anything?"

Look, he who has not knocked a chick into a coma during rough sex, let him throw the first stone.

Why this bloodthirsty quest for vengeance? So he had sex with a student and put her into a coma. Isn't it time for us to forgive and forget? It sounds like this Dean really fell for the girl in a big way.

Those who have never been a fool for love, let them throw the first stone.

I know there have been fleeting moments in my life when I fell off the derech, and, frankly, it was only the inspiration of this blog, that brought me back.

This is not the first time I've heard about inappropriate relations between UJ leaders and female students. One woman told me she was in UJ's rabbinics program. She told me was abused by a leader in that program and consequently dropped out.

In its article, the Jewish Journal does not investigate inappropriate relationships between UJ faculty/staff and students. Instead it concentrates on how good institutions like UJ can survive scandal. I believe that is a much healthier focus and I would like to see our discussion shift in that direction.

So you have a sex scandal at your school or shul? You have students who make and distribute a porn video starring a freshman girl and two of her male friends, and your administrators don't find out until a year after the movie began distribution. Let's not point fingers. Let us rather try to improve the self esteem of our Jewish youth and our Jewish leaders so they will be less susceptible to the sins of the flesh.

Let's concentrate on the lessons in self esteem the Milken High scandal teaches.

Every day, in every way, we are getting better and better.

If we booted all these rabbis who sexually preyed on the vulnerable, we might not have many rabbis left. Perhaps we should consider these tawdry escapes as a just compensation for low rabbinic salaries?

If I were cynical, I would allege that in non-Orthodox institutions of higher learning, sexual access to the female students is one of the perqs of faculty and administration, along with a parking space and a faculty cafeteria. It's a compensation for the lack of salary and the lack of serious religious community. Hey, if you don't believe the Torah comes from God, why not? All is permitted.

But I'm not cynical. And I don't believe that cynicism has any place on this website.

Email: "What's the deal with R' Daniel Lapin. I have some relatives who adore him, but I've seen some posts hinting to some scandal involving him years ago in California. Is there basis to these claims?"

About 14 years ago while he lived in Venice, CA, Rabbi Daniel Lapin of the Pacific Jewish Center (started with Michael Medved) started a real estate trust. It went broke a couple of years later. Rabbi Lapin did nothing legally wrong. It was economic failure, not economic fraud.

Remember how the (Paul) Reichmans went bankrupt with Canary Wharf in London? That was failure, not fraud.

People tend to either love or hate Rabbi Daniel Lapin. He's a polarizer. I'm in the camp of those who adore him.

Author David Klinghoffer writes admiringly about Daniel Lapin in his book, Lord Will Gather Me in: My Journey to Jewish Orthodoxy.

Some of the anger at Rabbi Lapin is because he marches to the beat of his own drummer and heartily criticizes liberal Jews and their organizations. You can count me among those who adore the Rabbi Lapins (there are three rabbi brothers including David who heads a yeshiva in Washington DC and a brother who leads San Jose's Orthodox shul).

Rabbi Daniel tends to attract an intense following that many would describe as a cult (charismatic leader who exerts unusual control over his followers based on his religious and personal powers). For those who've moved out of it, it has been painful and many are bitter. I've heard a similar sort of bitterness from those who've moved out of Aish HaTorah (usually not by their choice).

Rabbi Daniel Lapin never took a salary while working for Pacific Jewish Center. He never told people to go sell flowers on the Venice Boardwalk to raise money. R. Lapin clashed with many rabbis because of his unique views and approach. He was beholden to nobody as he never took a salary from the Jewish community. He was friends with Jerry Falwell. He supported much of the Christian right. Obviously that is going to rub many rabbis the wrong way.

LL writes: "About the allegations against [R. Daniel] Lapin, check the LA Times, Bnei Brith Messenger (now defunct), and the Valley News and Greensheets from those years 1973-80."

Rabbi Lapin had ties to slum lord and Holocaust survivor Alexander Spitzer (LAT 3/29/89, 7/13/89, 7/22/89).

R. Lapin now runs Towardtradition.org.

A poster claiming to be an ex-member of Rabbi Lapin's Pacific Jewish Center writes to Protocols:

Daniel Lapin was a cult leader at the Pacific Jewish Center (Venice Shul) You couldn't join the shul unless you "tithed a certain percentage of your income to the shul." Not a problem, BUT you had to attend AT LEAST 4 evenings of classes a week to retain membership (a true problem if you have a job with long hours to bring in those bucks).

What about family time? Oh thats right! Lapin believes that you leave your children to him and he will "teach them the true path of Torah." After all, he taught, he knows better. He is "the rabbi" and you are a seeking non-learned B'aal Tshuvah. Lapin must do the raising of the congregation's kids. All of these programming sessions, er a classes in torah were taught ONLY by Lapin. There was more Lapin torah going on than real torah.

If your donations OOPS TITHES went down, you had to be "reexamined" at length by Lapin - privately to see why you weren't on the right level spiritually. This took many days and hours.

The Young Israel of Santa Monica split with the Pacific Jewish center NOT because of the money issues, although there were money issues regarding the tithing, but because rational people with professional jobs and not stringing along lost souls realized that this was not true torah Judaism and Lapin scared the hell out of them.

Shall we now start talking about those from "his" community who spoke out against him - as it happenes in every shul? [A string of breathtaking allegations of illegality and gross immorality.]

Do some journalistic research. Contact the Beth Din of Los Angeles and find out why Lapin is banned from EVERY synagogue pulpit in California, actually the west coast but when scandal gets old, unless someone stays on top of it people get lax. Lapin was run out of town a step before the tar and feathers up to Seattle. The Seattle community will have nothing to do with him and he is exiled to Mercer Island with his top partner in crime Michael Medved. Where is the Awareness Center when you truly need them?

Heartwarming Stories For The Whole Family About Movie Producer Lynda Obst

Sarah Grossman Lewis, now a book indexer in Maine, writes:

I am just writing to say I just finished reading your Lynda Obst "Bio." It made me very happy.

I rented the Rosanna Arquette documentary, Searching For Debra Winger this weekend, and I noticed a credit thanking Obst, and calling her a mentor. This morning I googled Obst, and there was your very wonderful overview.

The year Lynda and her husband moved to LA, I was David's assistant. I had worked for Frank Yablans in the late Seventies (another bully) and he and David O. were golfing friends. David had a S&S imprint and was going to Hollywood to find talent. It was the year Cameron Crowe wrote Fast Times At Ridgemont High.

I was at the Obst residence one morning early on, and while Lynda was cooking scrambled eggs for her portly husband, she corners me and tells me that I have to "take care of him, cause he is disorganized, blah, blah, blah." It wasn't the content so much as the intrusiveness and the tone she always conveyed. Just, as all the comments in your piece confirm: total asshole.

I went to their house for Thanksgiving that year, and her mother said to me: "Sarah, you are just like Lynda, only nice." That always made me laugh. Thanks again.

I quit after a few months and did script reading and met some great writers who have gone onto have careers. But I left the biz, and never understood anyone putting up with Obst.

American Judaism

Insult-happy Web guns fall quiet. Charles Johnson at LittleGreenFootballs.com responds.

A yeshiva student writes Luke:

I'm really shocked by the tone of many of the comments on Protocols. It's one thing to disagree with someone's ideas; it's quite another to hurl insults. I know of members in good standing of Orthodox shuls who publicly trade in non-kosher meat, who have known affairs with non-Jewish women, even some who publicly violate Shabbat. Baruch Lanner's abusive, predatory behavior was known and tolerated by the OU for decades. How a 'sinner' is treated seems to be centered on how his personality liked (or disliked) by community members and by his 'rank' in Orthodox society. The rich, the famous and the powerful get a free pass far more often than the poor, the average or the weak. And if the less fortunate members of Orthodox society are also not well liked for other, non-Halakhic reasons -- the knives come out faster and sharper than one would think possible. But thank G-d you have a shul to go to, friends who accept you and rabbis who teach you. Don't let the purveyors of insults get you down.

A new generation is using pop culture to reinvent Judaism. Will t-shirts, think-tanks and 'tude reinvigorate a restless religion?

Christian Cool and the New Generation Gap (NYT)

I went to Friday Night Live to win converts to Orthodoxy. I met a beautiful Russian wearing a pink cast on her arm that matched her pink outfit. I did not talk to her too long because I noticed an acquaintance of mine had made a previous move on her and I thought it would be rude of me to come between them.

Saturday morning, my rabbi preached that it is wrong to make Iraqi prisoners unwitting stars of American p-rn videos. "I hate sermons on politics," said a friend.

Over Shabbos, I breezed through the last 300 pages of Professor Johnathan D. Sarna's new book, American Judaism, and read its best lines off to my friends in shul:

* "Ritual consumption" of wine on the part of Jews skyrocketed during these years as Prohibition created, in the words of one cynical inspector, "a remarkable increase in the thirst for religion." Judging from official records, in fact, "blessing the fruit of the vine" became during Prohibition the most widely and scrupulously observed of all Jewish religious practices. (Pg. 218)

* A prominent Birmingham rabbi, who later modified his views, told a meeting of the southeast region of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in 1956 that he "wouldn't risk one hair on the head of one of my members for the life of every shvartzeh [black] in this state." (Pg. 309)

Author Stephen Bloom writes: "Luke, another interesting take on the evolving story of Postville, journalism, writers' perceptions. I enjoyed Jennie Rothenberg's comments. She really presented herself in a strong and (to me) fascinating manner. You got at the difference between her mission as a journalist and mine."

Thrilling Yeshiva University vs Chovevei Torah Cricket Match Comes Down To Final Ball

Yeshiva University (YU) and Chovevei Torah (CT) clashed in a thrilling one day cricket match Sunday broadcast around the world on Fox Sports.

Playing on YU’s home turf, Rabbi Hershel Schacter (who says that plastic utensils can be kashered in boiling water) won the toss and sent R. Avi Weiss’s team in to bat.

As the match began, the temperature was a muggy 85 degrees.

R. Shachter led a blistering pace attack that included R. Yosef Blau, R. J. David Bleich, and R. Daniel Z. Feldman. He arrayed his team in an attacking mode with four slips and a silly mid-off.

Thundering in from the West End with the new ball, R. Shachter had batsmen R. Dovid Weiss and rabbinical student Sam Feinsmith on the defensive from the first over. Playing off the back foot, they did not manage a single run until the third ball of the second over.

Bowling a strict line and length, R. Blau, with his Rosh Yeshivah, kept CT to just four runs after four overs.

The fifth over will not be forgotten by any member of the 15,000 strong Orthodox crowd.

Sprinting in, pouring it on with more exertion than he’s show since his bachelor days of dating several women in one day, R. Schachter bowled at over 100 miles per hour. On his first ball, a full toss, he beat the bat of R. Dovid and tore the middle wicket out of the ground before being mobbed by his tzitzit wearing teammates.

R. Nathaniel Helfgot strode to the wicket. With the crowd on its feet, R. Shachter bowled short. Instinctively, R. Helfot hooked the ball and sent it flying to the boundary where an energetic R. Meir Goldwicht circled under it for the big catch and CT was reeling.

Bending his back for a hat trick, R. Shachter bowled short to the next batsman R. Saul Berman, who ducked to get out of the way. Unfortunately for him, the ball flew off his hand and right to the keeper R. Norman Lamm. CT was in shambles at 3-5.

R. Avi Weiss strode to the wicket and the crowd became quiet. R. Shachter stared at him for a few seconds and then turned away. Adjusting his field for the kill, R. Shachter carried on with his deadly bodyline approach, bowling short.

With the ball rising off the turf and racing on to his head at 100mph, R. Weiss did not flinch before flicking the ball with his wrist over the boundary for six. CT supporters went wild.

After 20 overs, bruised and weary, R. Weiss was on 35 and CT was four wickets down for 55.

In a productive partnership of 163, R. Weiss and R. Dov Linzer took CT to a total of 227 runs for fifty overs.

R. Weiss was greeted by standing applause when he made his century, finishing with 113 runs.

With the wicket starting to turn, R. Weiss employed his spin bowlers to devastating effect, bowling out the first five YU batsmen for just 34 runs.

Then all-rounder R. Shachter strode in and the battle was joined. With just one ball left, YU trailed by three runs. R. Shachter, at 105, was on strike. R. Weiss jogged up to the wicket and bowled under hand. Throwing his bat away in disgust, R. Shacter marched angrily off the field, saying it “was just not cricket.”