I Was Racist, And I Was Wrong
Eve Kessler kindly pointed out that I used some racist language below. That was not my intention and I am very sorry. It's just that I've walked the mean big city streets for too many years now and the language of those I've associated with has rubbed off on me.
In many ways, I regard the black, brown and yellow man as my superior. The Oriental for his inscrutable dedication to science. The black man for his easy masculinity and athletic prowess. The brown man for his work ethic. They make me want to be more than I am.
Shul today was a deeply moving religious experience which makes me want to be more than I am. I read and finished Nathan Englander's FOR THE RELIEF OF UNBEARABLE URGES (nothing in it to make me think a second time) and still had time left over for Barchu, shma, repetition of the Amidah, the rabbi's drasha, catching up with friends, and an hour-long conversation with the shiksa security guard.
Cathy Seipp writes: "The mean big city streets...of Pico/Robertson. Gosh, that sure does sound mean and scary! What happened -- did a yeshiva boy shove you on his way to shul?"
Frum Sex For Four Years
The best posters on Frum Sex: Oy_it's_so_humid, and maybe heimish25 for frum stuff, aronteitelbaumrules for dirty stuff. one900s likes to argue semantics and science. The group is four years old, and gets up to 60 posts a day.
Do I Want to Have a Blog?
I keep hearing that I should ditch this blog in favor of my old website format, and that blogging is for losers. What say you, dear readers - is blogging for losers? Am I not a winner?
In Luke's Favor
Cathy Seipp writes about me to A Fly on the Wall:
In Luke's favor:
1. Cleans up nice.
2. Picks up the check, at least when he's working.
3. Always on time.
4. Good interrogation techniques.
5. Rarely gets angry.
On the other hand:
1. Serial killer van.
2. Sleeps on floor.
3. Annoying Protestant dietary habits.
4. Doesn't drink.
5. Expects me to go on all his dates.
Mike Alb0 writes: You say you like live shows, but can't find any good ones in the Greater Los Angeles area that you can afford?
Well, I've got the perfect solution for you.
I went up to Griffith Park yesterday and visited the Los Angeles Zoo. Okay, the zoo's undergoing some construction and there are some animals like gorillas that have been shipped off to other zoos until their habitats can be finished, but the zoo still has chimps a-plenty.
As a friend pointed out, "Things just go better with chimps."
I suppose so. Those suckers have no inhibitions and provide hours of entertainment for those of us with juvenile mindsets.
I just wonder why the zoo, which plasters the exhibits with signs like "Did You Know...?" and "Why Does This Animal...?" Doesn't put up a plaque at the chimp enclosure that reads "Daddy? What Is That Monkey Doing to The Other Monkey?" and then offer possible explanations. I think it would help parents handle what was, for most that I observed, a very uncomfortable experience.
Once a Cheater, Always A Cheater?
Captain Carmen writes on Frumsex: This is a question that was posed on Nerve.com's "Sex Advice From..." series yesterday.
"Once a cheater, always a cheater: True or false."
Almost all the people interviewed said it was true.
But could you be a little more specific when you say, "It wasn't the same?" What do you mean? Do you not trust one another as much? Or do you have better sex as a result? Or less-frequent sex? Or what?
I know of one woman who left her husband after she found out he'd been cheating. She used to let him go out to strip clubs and go out with his buddies and travel around for business whenever, and she never questioned his activities - she was the cool wife.
But now, she's got a long-term boyfriend, and she keeps him on a much tighter leash. She's not as permissive, because she knows the dangers lurking out there that can tempt a man away from his happy home.
So even relationships that occur *after* one of the parties cheated can be different.
Luke Ford Exposed
By Dave Deutsch
He’s been said to have “calm of the Dalai Lama, and the charm of David Niven,” but lately, Luke Ford’s apple has definitely lost its blush. Whispers following recent appearances by the former male model manqué once known as the “glossy Aussie” hint that his increasingly erratic behavior and physical deterioration are signs of some sort of severe mental and/or physical condition—most likely syphilis. A phone call from a close personal friend of Ford’s, however, suggested a different reason. “Luke is distraught,” revealed my source, one of the coterie of distaff journalists who flock around the handsome expat, “It’s all because of David Deutsch. Deutsch is a funny guy, but sometimes, he goes too far. And his comments regarding Luke and Mexican immigrants are just way off base. He cares so much for legal Mexican immigrants, and Deutsch’s comments really hurt him, but he’s too much of a tsaddik to talk about all that he does for them.”
This reporter, for one, was dubious. Luke Ford, caring about Mexican immigrants? Luke Ford, who, after one wag dubbed him “the kosher Pat Buchanan,” quipped “No, he’s the treyfe Luke Ford?”
“I know it seems hard to believe,” I was told. “But don’t take my word for it. Go to Boyle Heights and ask around.”
Still waiting for the punchline, I did just that. Hungry, and hoping to kill two birds with one stone, I stopped by the unassuming Gonzalez Taqueria, and found myself eating the best burrito I ever had. I informed the gentleman behind the counter who I assumed to be Mr. Gonzalez of that fact, and was stunned by his answer.
“Gracias, but don’t thank me. I owe it all to my friend, Senor Luke.”
“Not Luke Ford?” I inquired.
When he heard the name, his face lit up. “Si, si, you know Senor Luke? He’s an amazing Mexican chef, and he not only showed me how to make this burrito, he got me to switch from lard to vegetable oil.” He turned to show me his profile. “I’ve lost 50 pounds. And he provides the kosher certification.” He pointed to the wall, and sure enough, there was a certificate bearing Luke’s own kosher symbol, the “Porn K,” a silhouette of a well-endowed young woman with a “K” in the middle. I asked the gentleman if Luke’s position on illegal aliens bothered him.
“Bother me?” he exploded. “It’s because Luke cares so much about us legals that he feels that way. Look, there used to be this woman who sold food from a cart down the block from my tacqueria. She paid no taxes, she paid no rent—she was killing my business. Luke called a contact of his in La Migra, and the next day, she was gone. He’s a savior, and I’m not the only one who says so. Go over to Gonzalez Garage and ask them about Luke.”
I did just that. As I entered, the crowd of vatos working on the low-riders started to size me up, and it was clear that they found me wanting. It was an uncomfortable moment, until I mentioned Luke’s name.
“Ese, you asking about El Jefe? Why didn’t you say so,” said the group’s apparent leader, a young man named Chino who, unlike his peers, had no tattoos. “El Jefe is our man. When I was in prison, Luke came around to counsel us—he’s the one who convinced me that it was wrong to make marks in my flesh, and paid for my tattoo remova. And when I got out, and I couldn’t get a job because employers would rather higher a damn illegal than an ex-con, Luke talked to his peeps in the industry and got me a job as a key grip, and now I’m learning to be a best boy, so I’ll be an’ effin’ double-threat. You wanna know how we feel about El Jefe? Look around this garage. What kind of cars we drive?” I looked around, took it in, and he smiled, proudly. “That’s right…all Fords. But hey, you really wanna get the 411 on him, check out the Gonzalez School for Children of Legal Immigrants. El Jefe is probably there right now.”
And indeed, he was, but by the time I got there, he was absent. Fulsome praise for Mr. Ford, however, was definitely in attendance. The school’s headmaster, Jorge Ochocoa told me that without Luke, the school wouldn’t even exist. “These are children who weren’t being served by the public schools. Not only were those schools understaffed and ungodly, but the children of illegal aliens were taking all the good education. By the time it came around to these kids, all that was left were gerunds and antonyms. How are they going to succeed with that? But El Angel—that’s what we call Luke here—arranged with somebody in his synagogue to donate this old building as a tax write off—he was going to burn it for the insurance money, anyway, and, until we could raise the money, Luke taught the kids.”
Luke Ford, teacher? Even after all I’d heard, I was skeptical…until Mr. Ochocoa showed me the pictures, and the awards Mr. Ford had won.
“But you know, when Presidente Bush gave Mr. Ford this “Points of Light” award, Luke said to him. “Mr. President, you have it wrong. I’m not teaching them, they’re teaching me.”
As I drove away from Boyle Heights, I couldn’t help but thinking that all of us—and especially David Deutsch, whose support for illegal aliens may have something to do with allegations that he employs low-wage Dominicans in Washington Heights to grade papers for him—have a lot to learn from El Angel…Luke Ford.
E. J. Kessler Accuses Me Of Racist Language
Forward assistant managing editor E.J. Kessler (who used to work the paper's religion beat) writes Protocols: "[A]m I the only one who thinks all that stuff in Luke's post about 'Muslims, blacks and Hispanics pouring out babies' and 'using their vaginas as cannons' sounds racist? Luke, dear, if women are procreating, it is part of God's plan. God does not care what religion or color they are. Nor should you. I defy any rabbi to tell you differently, and if he does we should expose him."
I reply: Eve, dear, is it part of God's plan to have women outside of marriage give birth to children who will disproportionately commit crimes and other social pathologies? Is it part of God's plan for women who want to destroy the Jewish state and for their children to blow themselves up killing innocent Jews to have more kids?
Eve, dear, do you think illegal Mexican immigrants and their children will be as friendly to Jewish interests as those legally here and raised with American values?
Sometimes things can be racist and right. Even Jesse Jackson says he would be more scared to run into a group of young black men at night than a group of young white men.
Eve Kessler responds: "The answer to your questions are, yes, yes and yes, bc we can't know God's providence. The point was about your language, dear. I didn't say your utterance WAS racist or makes you a racist. I said it SOUNDS racist. By the way, you could have gotten 10 awards for your work with Mexicans and still SOUND racist. Your utterance is also pointless, bc there's not a damn thing you can do to stop the phenomena against which you rail. So what's the point? To denigrate people? To get Jews to scowl every time they see a pregnant black or Muslim? Such language will not motivate anyone to create a single new Jewish child. To quote Stevie Wonder, 'Love's in need of love today. So don't delay. Send yours in right away.' PS, I would never have bothered to write the comment if I thought you were an irredeemable racist. It was a product of my affection."
I marched with Martin Luther King in Selmba Alabama so that blacks could have the right to vote. I was arm-in-arm with Abraham Joshua Heschel. After King was shot, I cradled him.
When I wanted to give tours of scenic Los Angeles, legal Mexican immigrants volunteered to help me out to repay my kindness to their people (I often buy fruit from their street vendors).
Kaspar Gomez writes Luke: Halo! My cousin Hector wants to know if you would be interested in providing your guests with food. We could follow you around LA with our taco wagon to serve your guests authentic Mexican cooking and sodas. Also, we can provide you with janitorial services, in case someone on your tour bus has any sort of an accident.
Fischel Teitelbaum writes Luke: Shalom Chaver! How was your Shavouos? Normally, this is a very happy time in Brooklyn, but not this year, not in Crown Heights. The grandaughter of the Satmar Rebbe and her baby were killed in a fire started by some candles. Then, yesterday, four Bobover yeshiva buchers were stabbed by a gang of 15 peurtoricans. Maybe connected to their big parade on sunday. Lots of peurtoricans. Lots. Oy, these people are even worse than the colored. And the emes is that lots of them are colored!
What do you think Luke, do you have peurto ricans in Los Angeles? I hope not! I still want to move to Los Angeles and meet your hot and sexy porno girlfriends! Mazel tov on your new tourism business. Could you use a tour leader to tell the tourists what they are seeing? Fischel could do that! I could go on a few tours and then i would pick up all they say and see. Then you could sleep late, daven late, study torah while I work as employee nomber one!
DISCLAIMER: Mr. Ford is a 38 year old Australian immigrant. He has never been married, lives in a hovel, has been expelled from half a dozen synagogues and an uncountable number of women's lives, drives a vehicle which by itself is estimated to account for close to 30% of the hole in the ozone layer, was formerly the porn industry's lead gossip columnist, currently has no discernible income, his most lasting work seems to be his quest for morbid obesity, and by almost any objective standard, contributes far less to American society on any given day than your average Mexican migrant farm-hand or slaughter-house worker.
Schvartz Like Me?
I recently finished John Howard Griffin's 1964 expose on racism, Black Like Me. As my learned readers know, Mr. Griffin, a white man, describes his experiences during his travels through the American South all the while disguised as a Negro. Interestingly enough, he did not score with any white chicks during his entire charade. How the times have changed.
His book gives me a possible idea for a new book. Maybe I should update Griffin's premise and live as an urban Negro? My insights could help finally build a bridge between the Orthodox and Black communities.
I am intrigued, but a nagging question remains .... Could I even pass as a schvartze?
Anon writes: Luke? Pass as a black? Let me see ... He has a gun. He loves white p*ssy. He has no job. Hell, he qualifies as a NAACP member already.
JimmyD writes: I think you're sort of on to something, but you're missing the obvious. You should write a book called, "Jew Like Me." After all, you've already
spent considerable time passing yourself off as a Jew. Now you can publish those experiences from a Gentile's perspective.
An Orthodox Response To Alana Newhouse
Steve Brizell writes: "I saw Ms. Newhouse's response in the Forward. I believe that the following comments are warranted. There was no discussion of the widely circulated pamphlet circulated by two MO graduate students at MIT and Harvard that expressed many of my sentiments and opinions. RYBS pioneered the teaching of Talmud to woment at SCW. However, in two shiurim delivered to the RCA and the RIETS alumni, RYBS firmely rejected the feminist critique of halacha . I also stand by my critique on Ms. Newhouse's philosophy of Tznius as beyond the boundaries set forth within Halacha and the Mesorah in the many works of this subject that have written by both men and women."
Blowing My Didgeridoo
Many of you have seen the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) about half-caste Aboriginee children who were kidnapped from their Abo parents and educated to act like whites.
My story is similar but opposite. Before I was nine months old, Aboriginees stole me from my Christian family and raised me in captivity in the outback where I learned to play the didgeridoo.
This afternoon I will be blowing my didgeridoo on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica to raise money so I can afford a wife, kids and the full Torah lifestyle. Please drop a quarter in my yarmulke and God bless you.
If you'd like, you can blow my didgeridoo too.
Where's the Aboriginee ----?
My new friend Peter told me this week that Aboriginees are the ugliest people on the planet. I could not disagree. But when he argued there was no "Aboriginee ----" or "Aboriginal ----" on the Internet, I knew he was wrong. Today I Googled both terms and Peter is right. There is no such thing on the Net. Must be racism.
Fletch writes: Aborigines do not have sex that is why. They unlike most humans on the planet, spawn from holes in the ground.
Ene writes: On the plus side you could pay the content girls in glue and/or white out.
Shelly Crash writes: Content producers dropped the niche when national geographic ruined the market.
Ben writes: We've often thought of it. There are plenty around on the north coast.... There are a number of things that turn you off the idea tho...
First there really aren't that many good looking girls. Most have diabetes and are quite large (traditional diet includes lots of nuts and not the same fats), very few look after their skin or blow their nose for that matter. There are some very hot girls tho... Quite rare...
Second it's a really close knit community and you would expect it to get back to their cousins, uncles, brothers, sisters, pops, grans, etc etc. Some of which would in a drunken rage drive a car full of cousins from the reserves anywhere they thought there would be a fight. If you live somewhere where aboriginals live
then chances are it's too small a place to go messing with it.
Third there is no market for it.... Unlike the US where black girls are considered to be sex machines.... here.... well apart from the cultural divide there is a lot of angst on both sides still and it will be many years before intermarriage becomes more common.
In Australia we have a lot of different issues compared to the US situation. Here there were a lot of massacres and the government policy all through the years has been designed to f--- them over.... The law fights against the government and so
you end up with whites losing land and such... So there are plenty of pissed off people on all sides.
I Find Theresa Heinz Attractive
Am I so wrong? I want her to be my mommy and more. I bet that she could really shape up my life (not to mention my bottom line). That she told a reporter to "shove it" just increases her allure in my eyes.
Rabbi Parrots Anti-Feminist Line
By Alana Newhouse for the 7/30/04 Forward:
Last week, I caused a bit of a storm with an interview I gave to a journalist named Luke Ford, who is writing a book on Jewish journalism. During the interview, Ford asked me professional questions about arts coverage in Jewish publications, as well as my personal views on religion. Since I was raised in a Modern Orthodox home, most of these questions centered on whether study and interest in the arts are properly cultivated in Orthodox communities.
Curiously, Ford took a detour to ask about my observance of the laws of tzniut, or modesty, which in many Orthodox circles are interpreted as requiring women to wear skirts that cover their knees and shirts that do not reveal their collarbones or elbows. I’m still not sure how or why the interview went in this direction, but it did. I was quoted as saying:
“If I go into a shul, I’m going to be dressed appropriately. But I walk around in pants and shorts. I feel like modesty is more about your character than about what you wear.... There are ways that you can cheapen yourself, and make people feel that you are usable in any number of ways — professionally, emotionally, psychologically, sexually. That is what I mean by immodest.”
The remark provoked a flurry of responses on Ford’s Web site, including this particularly pugilistic post:
“I would submit that someone who [substitutes] their own definition of modesty and tznius in place of and instead of the definition offered by Chazal (ancient rabbinic sages) presumes that they know [m]ore than Chazal. Moreover, the fact that Ms. Newhouse supposedly developed her mind at Barnard illustrates the danger in allowing the average child to attend and dorm in an environment shaped by post Modernism, MTV and multiculturalism. The average [Modern Orthodox high school] grad can’t handle the shock to their values.”
Original Alana Newhouse Interview.
Hafter Princess writes: "Luke is this Alanas answer to my question whethher her definition of modesty allows premarital sex? It seems that she opposes the fact that the rabbis speak out against premarital sex. Does this mean in her liberal view of MO it is OK? And no one should mention that the halacha forbids it?"
I think that is her answer. That society, and the Jewish community, should not worry about protecting feminine virginity -- intellectual and sexual. I must disagree.
First, I will set aside the question of Jewish Law in answering. Everybody knows that Jewish Law holds that men and women are fundamentally different, with different responsibilities, that they should be given different educations, and that the glory of the woman lies within (in the home she creates with her husband and children). I agree with Jewish Law but I won't invoke it in my response to Alana's column.
Second. Civilization must hold women to a different sexual standard than it holds men if it is to survive. Men must know who their biological children are or most men won't stick around to help raise them and support them and their mother. This is also why civilization must stigmatize, if not, in some instances, criminalize, all forms of sexual expression outside of heterosexual marriage, including masturbation, hookers, pre-marital sex, homosexuality and pornography.
Third. The most important question for any civilization is what do you do with them. Men are the instable part of the equation. As far as religion goes, you must reserve certain rituals for men only or men will drop out of the religion. For society, you must allow men to gather alone with other men (such as was the case in service clubs). Once you start allowing women in, men will drop out. Men do not like to compete with women. Once women pour into a field, it loses its appeal to men.
Fourth. Look at the disaster created by women, particularly Jewish women, pursuing higher education. They are not getting pregnant and having babies. While Muslims and and blacks and Hispanics are pouring out babies (using their vaginas as cannons while many Jewish women use their's as toys, in the words of Chaim Amalek), many of them out of wedlock, whites and Jews are not reproducing at a replacement rate. Europe is doomed and America is threatened. If you think an America that is increasingly Hispanic and increasingly populated by out-of-wedlock children will be an America friendly to Israel and the Jews, you are naive.
If you think the world is going to be a better place because Europe is dying (not reproducing) and must import Muslim immigrant laborers from Second and Third World countries, you are naive.
These problems are largely caused by modern feminism and this suicidal push for "equality" in the workplace and university, so that women get graduade degrees instead of children within marriage and men, who don't like to compete with women, get alienated from polite society, and have to go to stripclubs to bond with other men.
Does this mean that I think it is automatically wrong for women to take leadership roles in society and politics and religion? No way. Women of merit should succeed according to the level of their abilities. See Margaret Thatcher and the prophetesses in the Bible. I just think we should stop propagandizing women that what really counts is graduate degrees and professional success rather than marriage and children.
I also think that we should end all anti-discrimination laws so that Jews and blacks and men can choose to live with and associate with and hire and fire who they want.
As for education, I do not think it is a good idea to give boys and girls the identical curriculum as is done in some Modern Orthodox day schools such as Shalhevet in Los Angeles. I don't think most females are suited by nature to studying Talmud. Generally speaking, they would be better off in home economics classes and learning how to please and appear to defer to a man (boss him around at home all you like discretely, but don't cut off his balls in public). Jewish women would do well to learn from the examples of their asian sisters who rarely contradict and demean their men in public, and let their man feel like he is in charge. They still control him, but they exercise this control discretely. Also, many Asian women, as well as many Persian women I know, seem to genuinely enjoy cooking and cleaning, and these are loves that we should be cultivating in Jewish girls.
Hot! Sex! Live! Frum!
Visitors trolling for casual sex on Craigslist.org last week were left scratching their heads over an unfamiliar reference that has surfaced in a flurry of recent postings.
"I keep seeing this term ‘Frum.’ Can somebody please clue me into what the hell that is?" wrote Jeff, a 30-year-old regular on the site.
How come none of the Jewish papers were clued-in enough to write this story? Do you see the qualitative difference between these New York Observer pieces and the crap filling Jewish weeklies?
I Need Help of the Yeshivish Sort
As the shabbos queen approaches, I continue to have some questions for her. But she never answers back, so maybe some smart yeshiva boy (I cannot accept the idea of a yeshiva girl) could help me out here:
1.Why is there a rabbinical prohibition against summoning an elevator or turning on a flourescent light on the Sabbath?
2.Why is it forbidden to turn on a simple radio, particularly one that does not generate a spark when switched on? Once switched on, is a torah jew like me permitted to adjust the volume? (I'm thinking of patenting radios for religious jews that are technically "on" all the time, but with the volume turned down. When the shabbos queen makes her entrance and you want to listen to a ballgame or the news, you just adjust the volume control without creating or terminating a circuit.)
3.Why is a Jew permitted to own a carpet, when walking on a carpet on a dry day will generate a static electical potential that discharges with spark, sound, light, and heat when the Jew touches a door knob? (I'm thinking of selling a line of plastic doorknows and bathroom fixtures for those who tremble before electricity.)
Also, whatever you do, do NOT fail to real my wedding planner blog. It is never too soon to start planning for that glorious day beneath the Chupa. Who should I get as caterer?
Joe writes: While I'm not sure if you're sincere in your question - especially since it doesn't appear on Protocols where people who might have an answe would read it - my understanding is that the most comprehensive guide to the laws of electricity on shabbos is found in: "Shabbat and Electricity", by Rabbi LY Halperin. It may be out of print, but probably could be found. And while I'm not an expert in halacha or in electricity, I think the prohibition is not of creating a fire, but of boneh, which is building.
Check Out My Marital Blog
You can't know the real Luke Ford without knowing all about my quest for a wife. You can read all about it at Luke Ford Seeks a Wife Blog, including many important things not available elsewhere.
A Wife for Luke Ford
Hollywood screenwriter and novelist A Fly on the Wall writes:
Cybercelebrity Luke Ford needs a lot of things, but most of all he needs a wife.
Luke also has written a just-published book about a species of bottom-feeders known as Hollywood producers, a creature with which yours-truly often must break bread.
My friend Rob saw a hot woman at the bank. He followed her as she drove off. At a stop light, he drove up next to her and got her phone number. I admire that. I could never do it.
Now, she's a Lefty and Rob's conservative, but through force of will and charm, he's made her his girlfriend. She was to be his date tonight to the Hollywood Bowl to hear the music of Brahms and Beethoven. Awesome seats, 30 feet from the stage.
Rob said we should meet at the bowl at 6:30 p.m. for a picnic. The concert started at 8 p.m.
I know Rob has a tendency to be late, so my date and I showed up at 7:15 p.m. No Rob. I call him on his cell. His date has cancelled. He's bringing "Canonical Ken," a lawyer in the Roman Catholic legal system (he's not a member of the CA bar nor does he have a secular law degree).
Date and I hang out in the Japanese Gardens with the Japanese. Along with the Chinese, they are my favorite type of ethnic Americans (because they get good educations, devote themselves to family and rarely have kids out of wedlock, unlike some other groups).
Rob and Ken show up at 8:20p.m. It would be fine to be mad at Rob, and frankly I was, but he bought me this apple pie health bar and I was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of our seats.
Canonical Ken's family used to design cross-bows. That's nothing. I was Hustler magazine's A--hole of the Month.
After the concert, Ken, who makes frequent visits to the Gregorian University in Rome, gets on his cell phone.
"Are you calling the Holy Father?" I ask. "Hey, Holy Father, rockin' Essa Pecker Solomon show tonight. Good enough to raise Jesus from the dead."
I was told to knock it off with the Holy Father routine. Tough crowd.
Rob can't find his car or his valet. I told him to just give his ticket to the nearest Mexican and all would be fine. Five minutes later, Rob finally takes my advice and we're on the road.
Canonical Ken drives with a maniacal jerkiness that would make the rack seem like a massage.
"Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!" I find myself screaming over and over again. I know I should be reciting the shma, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." But it is Jesus who keeps coming to my lips as Canonical Ken careens down Hollywood Blvd at 40 mph weaving in and out of traffic.
That I cry out the wrong name for the divinity makes me fear that my conversion has not been genuine and that my soul remains untamed. Whenever I screamed "Holy Moses," it did not feel authentic.
My girlfriends, even during my atheistic years, noted my extreme religiosity during moments of high passion.
You can take the boy out of the Church but you can't take the Church out of the boy.
Rob says I'm a drama queen, needy for attention.
Rob and I resolve to learn Latin together so we can study Canon Law and Virgil in the original. We'll make firm appointments on a regular basis. That way I will know that no matter how frantic my life gets, I will be sure of having plenty of time to myself.
Rob rushes off. His GF is looking after a dying person in the hospital and will be staying the night. He wants to bring her an air mattress. I think that is sick.
John Forbes Kerry: Good for the Jews?
While Kerry failed to address some of the issues that most concern me (gay marriage, transgendered rights, and the war on drugs), he did do a credible job of articulating a set of values and aspirations that I, Luke Ford, can get behind. Plus, it turns out that his father was really Jewish. I would endorse him outright right here and now, but that might anger some of my friends, and I value friendships more than I do politicians.
Still, I have one question about this man that haunts me: is he good for the Jews? Is George W. Bush?
Oh yeah - I almost forgot. Is he good for the United States of America?
Shomer Negiya By Default
I sit and ponder my recent dearth of female contact and cannot help but wonder if this is all just part of G*d's divine plan for me.
Am I being forced into the lifestyle of Shomer Negiya (the traditional Jewish custom of not touching a member of the opposite sex before marriage)as part of a divine plan that will lead to my hotly anticipated marriage?
I think, yes!
Is My Race Doomed?
As I watch the convention on CSPAN and look out over this sea of brown and black faces, I cannot help but wonder: is my race doomed? They flood into my country unimpeded by any sense of racial consciousness on the part of the people who build this civilization. The breed prodigiously, and here I sit, alone in my hovel, begging white women to mate with me. The future looks bleak for our kind.
If I Were Black, I'd Be Rich
What John Kerry Can Teach Luke Ford
John Kerry has married twice; Luke Ford, not even once. And each time, John Kerry has hooked up with a staggeringly rich women. Luke Ford lives in a hovel. I want you, John Kerry (and I know for a fact that you read this blog), to teach me how to find a rich broad and get her to marry me.
Why Am I So Chubby?
It is not a rare moment when Cathy will look at me and say, "Why are you so chubby?"
"I can't help it," I respond. "It's my hormones. It's my genes. It's my physiological response to this fallen world."
"Well," she'll harumph, "that's not logical." And she'll proceed to spell out in detail why it is not logical for me to be chubby and why I should take better care of myself and exercise greater care with my choices.
I can't tell you how many times I've been chubby and then Cathy has argued me out of it.
I've been somewhat remiss in blogging about this convention and its highlights. I would have to say that for me, the highlight thus far has been watching the darkies dance with the white folks. I look forward to watching them sway together, arm-in-arm, before the evening is over.
Have I a Mobster Book In Me?
I always plan ahead with my writing - far ahead. So even though I am still working on a book on Jewish Journalism, I'm thinking ahead to the next book in the series. Right now, I'm leaning to writing a book on Jewish criminals: mafia money men, Russian mobsters, etc. If you know of any Jewish criminals (say from shul, or Federation events), please drop me a note.
Luke is an Isotope of Himself
I've figured myself out. I think that there are several of me, combined in a mixture much like isotopes of Uranium. I need to figure out a way to separate myself out into Luke-235 (distinct from the more plentiful Luke-238), so as to make a bigger bang in this crazy world of ours.
Luke Condemns Murray Rothstein's MTV
MTV is to be condemned for encouraging an atmosphere of easy promiscuity on television (and thus in our culture) with hardly ever mentioning the more probable consequences, like STDs. MTV is the plaything creation of Murray Rothstein, better known to you goyim as Sumner Redstone.
Who Wants To Sleep With Myron Magnet?
This guy wrote the book: Modern Sex: Liberation and Its Discontents. It just seems wrong. What does he know about sexual liberation and its discontents?
Pretty good...but Cathy's World is better!
From a review on Alexa.com: Luke Ford is a tasteful and thoughtful site. Each day the author shares his gentle musings and tentative "dating" adventures with his dozens of readers, each of whom surely must be the better for it. One complaint: More pictures please!
Dinner With Peter Stuart, Cathy Seipp, Emmanuelle Richard
After 30 times eating at trafe restaurants, I finally got Cathy Seipp into a kosher restaurant Wednesday night. She was dressed sluttily as usual, with a sleeveless top and a dress that flounced a few inches above the knee.
Peter Stuart (who knows Cathy from their UCLA days in the late '70s) is a volatile Beverly Hills Jew who's turned conservative in his old age and doesn't mind saying what he thinks.
He was playing basketball with this 11yo Orthodox boy the other day. The older brother came out in a big black hat.
"Is that a Muslim hat?" Peter asked.
(Peter spent years in France and learned to hate Muslims.)
The kid said no. "We don't hate Muslims," said the kid. "We hate terrorists. We only hate those Muslims who hate us."
"Do you think Muslims in Muslim schools are taught to only hate Jews who hate them and want to murder them?" asked Peter.
"Mom!" cried the kids when faced with this troubling point.
Peter took off.
Cathy Seipp writes: "For the record, while it's true that my skirt (formerly Cecile's skirt, but she's at camp) is above the knee, only in the bizarre mind of a porn expert/converted Orthodox Jew/Seventh Day Adventist preacher's son would it possibly be considered slutty."
My Argument With Andrew Silow-Carroll Over Yossi Klein Halevi
I've been feeling surly lately, going off of people right and left. I went off on Yossi Klein Halevi earlier this week when he ran away from my questions.
Andrew Silow-Carroll, of New Jersey Jewish News, writes: "Luke's unhinged response to Yossi Klein Halevi proves why YKH was right to be wary of Luke's views on Lashon hara. (Full disclosure: I've met Yossi a few times, but otherwise I don't know him well.) YKH may not approve of Lashon hara, but at least when he engages in it he puts it through the rigors of journalism, which demand that a writer carefully research his case, assemble his research as accurately as possible, and allow the subject of his research to respond to charges and characterizations. That may not fly with the rabbis, but it would with a good editor, and journalism is not the beit midrash. If you want to see the difference between loshon hara and journalism, compare Luke's unsubstantiated allegations that Yossi is in the tank with Sasha Weinberg's rigorous takedown of David Brooks in Philadelphia magazine."
I respond: "Andy, apples and oranges. What I am doing so far about Jewish journalism and what that Philly mag piece did on David Brooks is like comparing talk radio to NYT journalism. We're working in different mediums. I have not attempted to write a comprehensive fact-check on Yossi, so your comparison is not valid. I gave impressions, which is what bloggers do, and I gave the raw material of emails."
Andrew Silow-Carroll responds: "If that's what bloggers do, then that's what's wrong with blogging. If my "impression" of a certain cop is that he is taking bribes, do I just go ahead and post it on my blog? If I suspect a rabbi is diddling his students, do I just throw his name out there as apederast? Maybe, per LSAT, I don't know what Loshon hara is. but do any of these apply: Rechilut? Tale-bearing? Motzi shem ra? Even my lowly Reform upbringing taught me that to destroy someone's good name is to commit a kind of murder. Does that mean a Jew can't be a journalist? Perhaps, if this was a rabbinically run theocracy, or if every Jew accepted the teachings of Chazal as binding. But it isn't and they don't. But at least journalism has an implicit (and yes, too often breached) ethical code that demand its practitioners seek both sides, weigh the evidence fairly, reveal the evidence accurately, and hesitate before reporting a damaging "impression."
I reply: Andy, step up to the plate and list the ethical violations I supposedly accused Yossi of. Please list where I trafficked in lashon hara with regard to him.
I said I had an impression from our emails that he was deferential to people in power who could help him.
Outside of our emails, I know Yossi Klein Halevi never breaks stories. To break stories, you have to risk damaging cozy relationships with sources.
I did not accuse him of anything like the ethical breaches you name in your post.
To take up your points specifically:
* Blogging is different from newspaper journalism as newspaper journalism is different from talk radio which is different from poetry. They are different mediums, which is why your comparison of my instantaneous post on Yossi to some piece in Philadelphia magazine where the author spent, probably, hundreds of hours, was wrong.
Blogging can be like newspaper journalism as can talk radio but the mediums inherently veer in different directions. That is ok. A camel is not bad because it is not a donkey. A blog is not bad because it is not as thought-through as a New Yorker essay.
* Can one ethically post an "impression" that a cop is taking bribes (without any evidence)? No.
* A rabbi diddling a student (with no evidence)? No.
* Did I destroy Yossi's good name? Of course not. I gave our email exchange in full (except for bits I edited out for the sake of Yossi and his precious sources). I linked to his books. I quoted supportive statements by admirers (which take up far more space than my criticisms). If that is destroying someone's good name, I hope it is done to me a hundred times a day.
* I did seek both sides. I got Yossi to respond via email. I reported his side. I reported the side of his admirers. I linked to his work. And I offered up some tentative criticisms.
* You wrote: "Luke's unhinged response to Yossi Klein Halevi proves why YKH was right to be wary of Luke's views on Lashon hara."
There's no lashon hara (referring to unnecessary gossip about someone's personal life) in my report on Yossi. I don't delve into his personal life. I offer tentative critiques of his professional life. So no, he had no reason to run away from my questions of him and you have no reason for supporting (on the basis of lashon hara concerns) his running away from tough questions. Transparency and accountability are good for Yossi Klein Halevi as well as the Jewish Federation.
Donnis Shacks - Killer, Friend To Movie Producer Steve Bing
From ABC News:
B O S T O N — As Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards arrived in Boston today for the Democratic National Convention, so did the California man who is their single biggest contributor. He is Stephen Bing, a wealthy film producer who, with little fanfare, has managed to steer a total of more than $16 million of his money to Democratic candidates and the supposedly independent groups that support them.
Democratic Party officials said they knew nothing about the man who law enforcement officials tell ABC News is Bing's friend and business partner — Dominic Montemarano, a New York Mafia figure currently in federal prison on racketeering charges. Montemarano has a long criminal record and is known to organized crime investigators by his street name, Donnie Shacks.
"Donnie Shacks' main activity was murder. No question about it. That was his main function for the Colombo family and for organized crime in general. He was one of the top hit men in the New York area," said Joe Coffey, a former NYPD investigator.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Bing paid Montemarano's legal fees after his most recent scrape with the law. Montemerano's lawyer said his client was an employee of Bing's.
After a recent private lunch with Democratic vice-presidential candidate Edwards, Bing also declined to answer questions about his relationship with Montemarano. "The American people have a right to know who's funding their presidential candidates and their parties," Lewis said. "The Bing situation shows us how little we really know."
As I reported in February:
A Mafia soldier writes:
"I met with an official and I told him about a meeting I had in a Manhattan Cafe. I was with some high ranking wiseguys, who are into bid-rigging construction projects. They were talking about getting a breather from the assault by the Feds on the Families. They were hoping that the War on Terror would help them. They said they would need another five to seven years to put everything back on track. The official told me they would get it. He told me that more and more resources are devoted to terror cases and less to major crimes.
"I was hanging out in a bar last night and my friends and I were discussing the presidential race. Clinton came up. We all laughed, because a friend of ours who is made and now [the Los Angeles] underboss [Tommy Gambino] gave Roger Clinton a 50,000 dollar check and a Rolex to help his father get a parole. His father who I know as Sal was a major player in the Pizza Connection and dumped tons of heroin on the streets of the US. It was all swept under the table."
This is Dominic (Donnie Shacks) Montemarano [convicted Mafia killer] and Elizabeth Hurley. Donnie is bald with glasses. Moments after this they went into the theater and watched A Night at The Golden Eagle. This was on the Paramount Lot.
Steve Bing was also there, Tommy Gambino and sister, Donnie, Uncle Artie and Vinnie A. This is right before the Roger Clinton scandal.
A Fly on the Wall writes
It's curious ABC made no mention of where Bing got his money. They make it sound like his film producing made him wealthy.
Not so. He received a whopping inheritance from his grandaddy, who also had quite a few shady business partners of his own. Bing has lost a lot more money than he has made producing in Hollywood.
Bing's bodyguards -- and why does he need bodyguards? -- are big thuggy-looking goombas who look like they walked out of The Godfather.
Bing is a bored little rich boy who likes to play writer/producer and also likes to hang around with moviestars and mobsters. He's the proverbial poor little rich boy who has to buy flashy friends because he's otherwise far too dull.
An Email Exchange With Teresa Watanabe Of The LA Times
Teresa Watanabe wrote the most discussed American Jewish journalism story of the past five years for the front page of The Los Angeles Times -- that scholars say the Exodus did not take place as the Bible describes it.
I emailed her an interview request July 27 for my book on Jewish journalism: "I'd like your views on what are the primary obstacles to producing compelling journalism on American religious life. It is often said around newsrooms that the religion beat does not go to the best and brightest."
Teresa replied: "I don't feel really qualified to comment on Jewish journalism, other than to say that I enjoy both the Jewish Journal and the Forward and find American Jewish journalism to be the highest quality of all American ethnic media I monitor. I'd like to pass on your interview request, but would certainly love to see your book when it's out.
"If you'd like to interview someone about religious journalism, my colleague Larry Stammer and former Times religion writer John Dart would be excellent choices."
I appreciate your suggested alternatives though I am sure you know as well as I do that Larry Stammer is a crappy reporter.
You also know that you are perfectly qualifed to talk about the difficulties of reporting on American religion, if not specifically Jewish religion, and that if your subjects refused your interview requests with "I don't feel qualified," you'd feel fully qualified to be annoyed with them.
Journalists ask other institutions to be transparent and accountable but you obviously don't hold yourself up to the same standard. I've read a lot of your reporting on Jewish topics and I know you have many interesting things to say.
When LA Times reporters (there have been a dozen over the years) have turned to me for help, I have always given it to them. I've never refused an interview request (but once). I consider it a professional courtesy. And so should you.
An impressive attempt at guilt-tripping me but so far I'm several weeks late on a promised interview with a master's degree student who has been patiently waiting for me to help him with his thesis on reportage about Muslims and 9/11, including questions about many of my stories. As you can see, I am more than happy to be "transparent and accountable," time permitting. You specifically started your email off by saying you're writing about Jewish JOURNALISM -- a subject I do not, in fact, feel qualified to talk about since I only read the JJ and Forward sporadically.
But now I am annoyed at your annoyance, your presumption to tell me what I'm qualified to talk about when you don't even know me, your insinuations that I refuse to be "transparent and accountable," along with your slam on my trusted and most-valued colleague, Larry Stammer. He is not a "crappy reporter," as you put it -- among other things, he has broken national stories over the sex scandal this past year and is a perennial finalist in the RNA's national journalism awards.
He has covered the Jewish world far more than I have during the past several years, which is why I referred you to him.
I wanted something that you could've provided if you had cared to give 20 minutes of your time.
My only remark about your qualifications was to protest your protest at your lack of them for my book.
You wrote: "I don't feel really qualified to comment on Jewish journalism..."
I replied: "You also know that you are perfectly qualifed to talk about the difficulties of reporting on American religion..."
That's no slam on you or presumption on my part.
I am sure there have been times in your journalism career when you were annoyed with people you wanted to interview who protested that they were not qualified to speak to you. You probably thought, if not said, let me be the judge of who to speak to for my story and I won't tell you how to run your business/affairs.
You may be right that I have missed the boat with Larry Stammer. I've read him for years. You also know that my view of him is widely shared in the LAT newsroom (though we may all be wrong).
You also know that you wrote the most talked about piece of journalism on American Jewish life (Wolpe, Exodus) of the past five or ten years.
I do not know your level of transparency and accountability. I do not know how many interview requests you have given. I do know that I never recall reading anything more than a cursory quote of yours and I'm pretty well read on these topics. So if you have been giving interviews, they've been pretty well hidden.
I do know that as a rule, at the LAT and other major papers, journalists such as yourself widely refuse interview requests. I think that is wrong. About half the time when I am interviewed, and that has happened hundreds of times in the past six years, the interviewer has asked me not to write on him, which is amusing and sad.
I gave interviews to whoever asked for them when the Exodus story broke, including Rob Eshman of the JJ, the Jerusalem Post and the now-defunct Jewish newspaper in the valley whose name escapes me. I am asked several times a year for interviews by college students, usually journalism or religious studies majors, and usually grant them depending on how frenetic my life happens to be at the time.
When people tell me they're not qualified to speak, they always provide an alternative, which I follow up with gratefully and graciously. Perhaps a few times I sweet-talked them into speaking to me anyway, an art you might work on honing.
In any case, I officially left the religion beat a year ago, let my RNA membership lapse, do not follow religion news so closely anymore except for American Muslim affairs. I'm supposed to be moving into ethnic community stories, and that's where I've been putting much of my psychic energy of late, even though I have some leftover religion stories that are set to run in the next few weeks and still help occasionally on the religion page. The paper's two official religion reporters are Larry and Bill Lobdell, another wonderful writer, in Orange County. Part of the reason I passed on your interview is that much of this stuff is fading very quickly from my aging memory.
People have been terribly unfair to Larry, including the New Times and L.A. Weekly and people in my own newsroom who have slammed him in those pages and not had the guts to own up to their sentiments. He's the most knowledgeable religion writer in Southern Cal, and a wonderful, kind, collegial and decent person as well.
Yehupitzer writes: "I think you were unfairly harsh to Teresa. She politely declined and then politely offered some suggestions. You then threw a hissy-fit. If I was her, I would have been tempted to write back "f*** off". She might have
been tempted as well, and then held herself back when she realized you would
post it all."
I Need A Makeover
Everyone says I need a makeover. Cathy wants me to makeover my housing and transportation; Chaim wants me to makeover my blogg; and the rabbis want me to makeover my soul. I'm going to start with the simple matters first: this blog.
First off, the name "Your Moral Leader." Too "in your face", as others have commented. What else might this be called? I am calling forth for proposals for naming this blog. The winner (if female and hot) gets to spend a night at the hovel.
2004 YML Coupon Drive - Give Until It Hurts
Gentle Readers, I look upon my ever dwindling pile of shekels and I wonder how I might impress any potential marriage candidates? My straits are dire indeed. The simple facts are that marriage requires courtship, courtship requires dates, and dates require money.
Begging, like working, is certainly beneath me so I am initiating Your Moral Leader's first annual coupon drive. The coupons that you donate to me will multiply the effectivity of my severely limited funds. Simply put, your 2-for-1 dining coupons will double my number of dates, thereby doubling my potential for a blessed love match.
Remember, only coupons for eating establishment with suitable kosher and vegetarian menu items will be accepted. I would also appreciate any free samples that my readers might have laying around of Grecian Formula, Japanese slim fit condoms, and pharmaceutical samples of Levitra.
Do I have 'patsy' plastered on me?
Lewis Perdue and The DaVinci Legacy
Dan Brown's hit book The DaVinci Code was plagiarized from the work of Lewis Perdue.
"Signed letter of engagement Friday with law firm Alschuler, Grossman, Stein & Kahan, Santa Monica," writes Lewis. "Michael Plonsker is my attorney."
Lewis, who was Cathy Seipp's journalism advisor for one year at UCLA, has started a blog. And another one.
He's also published the book EroticaBiz: How Sex Shaped the Internet.
Lewis also has a movie coming out.
Luke Ford Fan Blog Update
Am I an Emo Boy?
(thanks to Amalek - may his name be eternal - for this one)
From the New York Observer:
Women who have dated emo boys report being turned off by unsolicited, uncomfortable disclosures.
When the banker called Ms. Hackemann after their ill-fated third date, he said, "You know, I’m a communicator, and I bring things up."
"It was too much relationship talk too early about nothing," she told The Observer. "It had a feel of him being a little controlling in a way: From now on, if I’m a little bit late, he’ll be really hurt. It puts this huge pressure on you. And you want to feel relaxed when you’re on a date. That was the worst feeling of it. It made him look so weak and unattractive in my eyes, and maybe a little bit messed up."
Victoria, a spangly-topped bartender at the Village Idiot, rolled her eyes as she recalled her last date with an emo boy: "Before we even went out he said to me, ‘I’m really great in relationships, but I have a small penis.’"
"A guy told me during our first date that he had a small penis!" echoed Lorrie, a 35-year-old editor. "Why would you do that? It’s bad enough finding out the natural way, but for the love of God!
For the record ladies, I would never say such a thing about myself, for as Rabbi Hillel once said, "If I am not for myself then who will be for me?"
Historian Deborah Dash Moore
Luke In Latest Jerusalem Report
Protocols is mentioned in the latest Jerusalem Report. The cover story is Jew vs Jew. On page 45, a piece in In and Around column says, "...Luke Ford, a convert to Judaism and son of a Christian evangelical, maintains the site's (protocols.blogspot.com) quirky flavor on topics including his conversion and the insularity of Orthodoxy, as this "group of Jews endeavors towards total domination of the blogosphere.""
Heather Mac Donald On Immigrant Gang Plague
Judaism Hates (Selectively)
'It Ain't Me Babe'
Chaim Amalek writes: "Time spent in a classroom is time not spend fornicating and making babies."
Khunrum writes: Come now Chaim. Who is going to support these babies? Let's take the Advisory Committee and Luke as a control group. Robert seems to be the only responsible marriage minded family man among us.
I can't speak for all but my disposable income is going to EVA Airlines, The Nana Hotel and Annie's Massage and Bath~House, not on some yenta harpy and two brat kids.
That leaves you, Luke, The Counselor and Master W.. Slim pickings for a needy gal in search of a husband I'd say. Ha! ......Would a Nice Jewish Girl want to bring up her brood at Luke's hovel? They'd have a better life and more opulent surroundings at a homeless shelter.
The problem for these women is the same~same whether it be Australia, the USA or the world. Someone has to pick up the tab for this alleged domestic bliss and more and more guys are saying, to quote the prophet Dylan, "It Ain't Me Babe"
No Bloggers I'd Want To Date
I was checking out this WSJ article on bloggers at the Democratic convention and looking at their pictures and there are none that I'd want to date.
Cathy Seipp On The Radio
I heard Cathy Sunday night on the His Side radio show with host Glenn Sacks. The other guest was humorist Bruce Stockler, a former joke writer for Jay Leno and the author of I Sleep at Red Lights: A True Story of Life After Triplets.
The show was billed as revolving around Cathy's National Review article on Silver Lake dads who want to be congratulated for doing the stuff mothers take for granted.
The show did not play out as it was billed and little of directly concerned Cathy's article. She was largely left with little to say. Bruce Stockler was hilarious and stole the show.
Cathy showed admirable taste in not getting into the details of why her husband left and why they divorced. She was discrete. She was witty. She was Cathy. She's the Queen of All Media with her MSNBC appearances.
I get an enormous amount of traffic from her blog and the number of her Internet references equal mine (and I've been blogging since 1997 and she's been blogging 14 months). I'm sure her website is getting more than the 2200 hits a day I'm bringing in.
It was good show tonight. The discussion was civil and funny. It was billed as more confrontational than it was. But as Cathy Seipp would say, to know me is to love me.
Cathy said, in effect, that if she had fallen for Glenn while he was looking after his kid (Cathy says a man who only looks after his kids and does not provide materially for the home is not attractive) that he would've left his wife for her. Glenn called her arrogant. He wasn't the first.
"Yids Gone Wild" - The DVD
I feel that it is fair to say that the Orthodox Jewish culture is greatly misunderstood by the general public. Our conservative style of dress and modest public demeanor is often misconstrued as dour and stodgy. Mainstream America is completely unaware of the many thrills and joys that fill our daily lives. This must be rectified!
My remedy is a new compilation video of scenes from Orthodox Jewish life that I call "Yids Gone Wild." I am soliciting all of my Orthodox readers to submit home videos of your Orthodox Jewish experience that you would like included in my educational DVD.
I must remind all contributors that only Orthodox activities will be considered. No secular behaviors, male/female dancing, or videos containing immodest styles of dress will be accepted.
So what are you waiting for? Bust out your 1987 Bar Mitzvah tape, your son's briss, Uncle Morty's wedding. The world is waiting.
(All submissions become the intellectual property of lukeford.net and cannot be returned.)
Bush v. Kerry: Which is Better for the Jews?
On the one hand, Kerry is the son of a Jewish man. On the other hand, Bush has lots of fully Jewish men working for him, and has done everything asked of him by the Jewish establishment. Why so many Hollywood Jews seem to detest Bush is something of a mystery to me.
Does American Judaism Traffic in Indulgences?
I find myself wondering if perhaps this might be the case. After all, it would seem from the recent (and not so recent) scandals to rock the Jewish world here that all one need do to win acceptance within the Jewish establishment is throw a lot of money around, and then all sins are forgiven (or at least hushed up, which is almost as good). On the other hand, for poor, working class Jews like me, no sin is ever totally forgiven or forgotten. I think we could learn a thing or two from other faiths in this regard.
'When Are You Coming Back?'
Those are the sweetest words you can hear when you leave a house. Particularly when they come from kids, because you know then that they are genuine.
I visited a mom and her two kids Shabbos afternoon. The four-year-old girl and the eight-year-old boy wrestled with me on the couch. Then the girl wanted me to put her on my shoulders and walk her around the neighborhood with her mom and brother and two dogs. I got all tangled up.
I left after an hour. As I was walking away, the little girl ran out and asked, "When are you coming back?"
Most every time I leave the home, one of the two kids runs out and asks that.
I remember my father drilled into me an opposite message from the book of Proverbs: "Remove your step from your neighbor's door lest he grow to hate you."
Thus, I try to be sparing in visiting people, or even sending unsolicited email. Most of my social occasions are suggested by my friends rather than by me because I desperately don't want to come across as emotionally needy as I truly am.
The Rise of Something on the Internet
Chaim Potok - Jewish Novelist Unparalleled
The most important works of fiction about the American Jewish experience in the past 100 years have been written by Chaim Potok. He tackled the serious questions, such as the ones about Judaism vs art in My Name Is Asher Lev. I think Potok makes later Jewish movelists look like dilettantes with their focus on the personal and their lack of tackling of the big issues, such as Biblical Criticism, Archeology and its challenge to traditional faith.
Smharya writes: "You've made a very important point. Why do you think things are this way?"
Luke replies: "Because of the growing narcissism of the post '60s world. Post '60s Jewish fiction deals principally with what makes the protagonists of their stories feel good (whether it is through secular or religious means, it still boils down to stories about individuals seeking their own happiness rather wider truths and a concern for how their behavior and choices affect the world). I converted to Judaism because I thought it was the best vehicle to making a better world."
When Good Stories Fall Into The Laps Of Bad Newspapers
In the 7/11/03 edition of the Jewish Journal, came a cover story about "When Bad Things Happen to Good Institutions."
Here's the lead paragraph: "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."
But there were no further details. The Journal never named names. But I will. The administrator concerned still works at the University of Judaism. His name is Dr. Amnon Finkelstein (an Israeli and a notorious womanizer). Why would UJ employ such a sexual predator?
If I had been the editor of the Journal, I would not have told my reporter to come back with a story about how good institutions deal with scandal. I would've asked her to investigate, among other things, why there have been so many inappropriate relationships between faculty, staff and students at UJ.
I heard from a woman Amnon dated. He was putting the full court press on her. She Googled him. I was the only site that named his involvement in this scandal. She decided to keep her distance from him.
An informed Jewry is a stronger Jewry. Do not place a stumbling block before the blind, Jewish Journal, by refusing to name names when the story calls for it.
From my conversation with Jewish Journal editor Rob Eshman:
"You ran a story about the male administrator [Dr. Amnon Finkelstein, dean of admissions] at the UJ who fell out of the window with a naked female student. Why didn't you name names?"
Long pause. "We've since found out all the sordid details, the names, everything, but at the end of the day, was this a Jewish community story or a story of three people who are Jewish having wild sex? We don't do stories on every Jew booked down at the County jail, or every Jew who commits adultery.
"We just moved on to other things. Gaby Wenig's story reflected the larger implications of the story -- when big institutions that promote Torah values have to deal with scandals that oppose Torah values. The police blotter... It was certainly salacious and would've gotten a lot of people to read the paper but at the end of the day, it was not the story. Now, if it were a UJ rabbi..."
Tom Tugend - Fighter, Father, Friend
Hilda Silverman Peace Activist
I heard that Hilda Silverman, a peace activist who has taught at Harvard, was persona non grata at the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. Editor Jonathan Tobin says he has never heard of her.
Hilda writes me: Jan Hayden of Visions of Peace with Justice in Israel/Palestine forwarded your request to me.
I have no particular recollection of having been singled out by the Jewish Exponent. What I remember from the 1980's (possibly going into the early 90's) is that in general, Jews with progressive positions on Israel/Palestine were effectively blacklisted from the paper. One person I know who was directly affected by this was Rabbi Brian Walt, at the time the Rabbi of Congregation Mishkan Shalom. He is now living in Martha's Vineyard, MA, and heads up Rabbis for Human Rights, North America. I believe that Arthur Waskow was also affected by this blacklist. Arthur is the head of The Shalom Center in Philadelphia.
In mid-1987 I was one of a small group of US Jews who traveled to Tunis to meet with Yassir Arafat and the rest of the leadership of the PLO. As I recall, the Philadelphia Exponent even published an article about the trip that wasn't particularly condemning of me for having done that. And I definitely remember that at the end of 1986 The Exponent published a quite favorable article about Sara Roy, a Jew who was knowledgeable about and committed to Palestinians living under occupation, particularly in Gaza, whom I had invited to Philadelphia to give a talk. So I think the more serious problems probably occurred after that. But again, I have no particular recollection that I, personally, was singled out. I wasn't important enough in the Jewish community for that, and I was living out of Philadelphia much of the time from mid-1987 through mid-1991, at which time I moved away permanently.
Is Bush Smart Enough, Tough Enough To Win This War?
Chaim has been having his doubts. The following story passed the Luke Ford news desk recently. Dear readers, what do you make of it?
Scouting jetliners for new attacks
Flight crews and air marshals say Middle Eastern men are staking out airports, probing security measures and conducting test runs aboard airplanes for a terrorist attack.
At least two midflight incidents have involved numerous men of Middle Eastern descent behaving in what one pilot called "stereotypical" behavior of an organized attempt to attack a plane.
Jewish Dogs Live Well
This comes to us thanks to roving reporter Chaim Amalek from the New York Bureau:
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
A rite of paws-age
BY AMY SACKS
DAILY NEWS WRITER
Friday, July 23rd, 2004
He didn't get to read from the Torah.
But Simon, donning a prayer shawl and yarmulke, was surrounded by family, furry friends and platters of bagels as the Coton de Tulear recently celebrated his "bark" mitzvah.
"It's just another one of those things New York City dog owners do," said Simon's owner Beth Aronson, 27, a Manhattan sales executive. "He's a very socialized dog, and for him it was a happy occasion."
Religious-themed pooch celebrations are becoming increasingly popular around the city, even though they're not accepted in traditional circles.
"This is shtick," said Rabbi Andy Bachman of New York University's Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life.
It's not that Bachman, an animal lover himself, doubts that pets are God's creatures. "I'm just not quite sure they need or want a bar mitzvah," he said.
The ceremony doesn't quite match the real thing.
The dog of honor usually feasts on bone-shaped, all-natural cake and plays with stuffed toy dreidels and menorahs, while the humans light candles or share stories.
Gregarious Women, Loser Men
Jane Wallace from Syndey, Australia, writes to the Bangkok Post: "Almost half the adult population in Australia is single and the birth rate is declining to zero.
We seem to have a huge surplus of extroverted, professional, social, party-loving females with huge amounts of money and a huge surplus of shy, introverted anti-social, unemployed males without any money. How can anyone pair off extroverted social females with introverted shy males? Is Australia creating it's own death?"
Fred writes: This is a testament to the great truth that women everywhere whine about the local males. Every Australian male I ever met seemed like a fairly
entertaining fellow. Who the hell would marry the harpie who wrote this letter?
Chaim Amalek writes: The same situation holds for Japan, Italy, and (with respect to its shrinking white, Christian population) France and, I suspect, the rest of western europe. I blame lots of things, but let's start with higher education. It is a well known demographic fact that the better educated a woman, the fewer the children she is apt to have in her lifetime. Time spent in a classroom is time not spend fornicating and making babies. Women are at their peak of fertility the very
years we pack them off to school to read Chomsky. Perhaps smart women should be granted tuition free university education - to begin after they have had three children.
That, and the state should act decisively to make television a less appealing form of entertainment. No more than three channels of entertainment, all to end broadcasting at 11 PM with the message "It is eleven o'clock; time for all patriotic people of european descent to begin reproductive fornication." Then there need to be ad slogans: "Ask your neighbor - What were YOU doing last night?" People should be encouraged to wear buttons boasting "I fornicated last night, and didn't use birth control. How about you?"
Those of you who know me know that I could go on and on and on about this.
(By the way, all of these problems will vanish along with our numbers once the muslim population gets the upper hand and the code of Sharia is established over
Great Jewish Fiction
Alana Newhouse writes with a list of hot new Jewish authors: Myla Goldberg
Rebecca Goldstein ("The Mind-Body Complex"!! Please read!!!)
Also, look out for Nicole Krauss. She's unbelievably good.
OK, here's my Jewish Lit syllabus. The list is a combination of work that I
personally love -- Grade, Yezierska, P. Roth, Goldstein -- and work that I
think is important Jewish fiction.
I.L. Peretz, "Between Two Mountains"
S.Y. Abramovitsch, "Fishke the Lame"
Sholem Aleichem, "Hodel" and "Chava"
Henry Roth, "Call It Sleep"
Abraham Cahan, "The Rise of David Levinsky" ***
Anzia Yezierska, "Hungry Hearts" (TOTALLY UNDERRATED!)
Michael Gold, "Jews Without Money"
Chaim Grade, "Rabbis & Wives" or "The Yeshiva"
I.B. Singer, "Satan in Goray"
Bernard Malamud, "The Assistant"
Saul Bellow, "Augie March"
Philip Roth -- "Goodbye, Columbus," "The Counterlife," "Sabbath's Theater"
Cynthia Ozick, "Envy; or Yiddish in America"
Mordecai Richler, "Barney's Version"
Michael Chabon, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay"
Jonathan Rosen, "Eve's Apple"
Rebecca Goldstein, "The Mind-Body Complex"
Nathan Englander, "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges"
Gary Shteyngart, "The Russian Debutante's Handbook" (for a great essay)
David Bezmozgis, "Minyan" from his short-story collection "Natasha"
Dr. Edward Alexander - The Jewish Idea
Dr. Edward Alexander, English professor at the University of Washington, and Orthodox Jew, and former contributor to Commentary, writes:
Here are a few very fragmentary jottings. I am, by the way, reluctantly,
against publicizing private problems of Jewish leaders.
TIKKUN: came into existence as a kind of anti-Commentary, a journal whose motto might be "nothing antisemitic is alien to us." It also affords a relatively harmless outlet for the untidy passions of its founder and editor, the buffoonish Michael (of Meaning) Lerner.
FORWARD: I ceased subscribing to this shortly after Lipsky was dumped for his deviations from orthodox Jewish liberalism and replaced by Goldberg. There is something outrageous about a Jewish newspaper that employs as a regular columnist someone (Leonard Fein) whose great moment in life was being fed breakfast by Yasser Arafat. People do sometimes send me good things in the paper--the occasional piece by Cynthia Ozick or Ruth Wisse or Alan Nadler--but for the most part the Forward seems a Jewish-accented version of NYTimes fundamentalism, evident in its assumption that homosexuality and abortion are the great Jewish desiderata and that Judaism follows an arrow-straight course from Sinai to the left wing of the Democr. Party.
Another irritating feature of the Forward is its beggar-like gratitude for any public demonstration of, or even allusion to, Jewishness by celebrities, especially Hollywood airheads.
COMMENTARY remains indispensable, though I preferred it before I had become persona non grata there. It is the most potent and articulate voice for Israel, which certainly can use such voices, and for Jewish tradition.
JEWISH VOICE AND OPINION (of Englewood, New Jersey): Although graphically hideous, this paper provides a remarkable amount of useful material in nearly every issue, and its editor also has a winning sense of humor.
Hugh Hefner's "Little Black Book" tells his own heroic epic and shows us the world he has wrought.
by Matt Labash
His co-writer is Bill Zehme who has, in the past, proven himself a formidable talent, this year picking up a National Magazine Award for an impressive Esquire story he wrote on disgraced columnist Bob Greene. But as a longtime celebrity chronicler, Zehme has fellated more stars than most of the denizens of Hef's bunny hutch. Thus the Hefner/Zehme collaboration is a love story of sorts: Zehme's love for Hef, Hef's love for himself.
Bill Zehme, who possesses the trait any celebrity hagiographer needs in abundance--credulity. With pen, purple, and panties, damp, Zehme depicts Hefner in an annoying argot that is half fanzine, half overripe liner-notes from some moldy bebop album. At every turn, he polishes the legacy. Hefner, we learn on the first page, is less pervy old lecher, more silly girl. Like some dreamy, unicorn-drawing teenybopper, Hefner--indiscriminate mounter of thousands of women--it turns out, is in love with being in love. It says so right on the opening page: "The one he loved first did not love him back."
But if the prose is icky, it pales next to the man it intends to service. Despite Zehme's strenuous efforts to turn Hefner into something admirable, something approximating flesh-and-blood, the latter comes off as a 24-carat eccentric, completely unable to harness his own appetites.
Hefner is a gentle lover, Zehme tells us, presumably not from personal experience, though one can't be sure with sentences like: "Feelings intensified, as they are wont to, and walls changed to portals, as his gentleness would impress each woman he ever knew." How Hefner had a chance to survey each woman, when he was pinned at the bottom of a Sealy Posturepedic dogpile, Zehme doesn't specify.
However, it is not so much the softer side of Hef we are struck by. It is the utter banality of his observations. Though the man has spent most of his existence getting an up-close look at gender relations, he offers nothing but a series of no-duh epiphanies. With his wealth of experience, one might think he'd say something insightful, even if by accident. But he doesn't, unless you weren't clued in to the following: "The female body is aroused in more than one place." Or how about, "Some relationships improve with marriage, but a lot of them don't."
Dear Alana, I have a final theological question for you. How many inches above the knee would a dress have to be before you would consider the wearing of such in the Forward office to be a sin?
Alana Newhouse (pictured on top of the Forward office) replies: "A skirt more than four inches above my knee might make the people I work with uncomfortable and, as such, I'd avoid it. Not because I believe it's a sin against God -- I don't think God is scandalized by my thighs -- but because it's a sin against fellow human beings."
Alana Newhouse at a reunion of her yeshiva.
Alana and her favorite lipliner enjoy a Shabbos kiddish.
At work at the Forward.
TV Viagra Update
I spoke to the TV producer this morning. When she wrote me about hearing that I had used Viagra "recreationally," she had a different understanding of the word than. I thought she referred to using Viagra outside of a committed marital relationship aimed at having kids and perpetuating the Jewish people.
No, she meant people who pop the pill and then go to bars and parties. They just take it for fun, not for the purpose intended.
I found that too weird and I had to tell her I did not know anyone who did such a thing.
Helpful writes: Insist that the interview be done in shadow ala 60 Minutes 1978 or better yet, dress up like Gene Ross and talk about how you bust a tab before answering the door for cookie selling Girl Scoutts. That's entertainment!
A) I cannot see Luke going to a bar.
B) I cannot imagine Luke squandering a $10 Viagra tab as a preemptive strike before entering the bar. What if he got a boner during a friendly game of darts? How gay is that? I see Luke only taking the if and when the panties hit the floor.
Chaim writes: NO! Do it wearing a silk, red robe AND a tallit gadol (that's a kind of large prayer shawl) and teffilim. And serve cookies to the reporters and crew, to make them feel comfortable.
Have you ever had a nightmare in which you accidentally turn on a radio on the Sabbath? I know I have.
My other nightmare is that I am having sex with my wife and it turns out she is having her period. Then I race to the mikvah to purify myself and there's a pig swimming in it, wearing slutty clothes. The pig then talks to me, and tells me it will all be okay. What does it mean? What does it mean?
Alana Newhouse - JAP, Journalist, Judge
One Loose Thread
One loose thread, if plucked at, is all it takes to unravel the most beautiful of garments. I fear that the cloak of my torah-itude is in danger of unraveling, all due to one loose thread inadvertantly pointed out by Amalek.
A few weeks ago, Chaim suggested that I broaden my intellectual horizons by reading up on physics, chemistry, and some engineering. Nothing fancy, just enough to lead me to consider the Rabbinincal prohibitions on electricity in the light of my new-found understanding of these disciplines. Unfortunately, a little bit of goyishe learning can go a long way in making the gedolim of old seem foolish and ignorant, even though I, as a Jew, know they could not have been, since all they were doing was revealing bits or oral law spoken by HaShem (God) to Moses on Mount Sinai. (And who else can say that about the things they utter?) So there must be some scientifically literate Jewish person out there who can answer me the following questions:
1.Why is there a rabbinical prohibition against summoning an elevator or turning on an electric light on the Sabbath?
2.Why is it forbidden to turn on a simple radio, particularly one that does not generate a spark when switched on?
3.Why is a Jew permitted to own a carpet, when walking on a carpet on a dry day will generate a static electical potential that discharges with spark, sound, light, and heat when the Jew touches a door knob?
I fear that if I cannot get a proper answer to these questions soon, I will be tempted to switch on and then listen to a radio tomorrow (during the sabbath), and once I've crossed that Rubicon, there is no telling what other sins I will rationalize my way to committing. Please, chaverim (friends), rabbis, Torah Jews of all yeshivas, HELP ME!
Good vs Evil People
I just finished the biography "Sam Spiegel."
Sam produced the movies The African Queen, On The Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. I could not get enthused about the book because the lead character was so despicable (liar, cheat, manipulator, selfish, extreme womanizer (more than 80 women in your life is just wrong), lousy parent and friend).
I don't like to read (or watch movies or plays) about bad people unless they are terrific writers.
Yet, I find my adrenalin running highest when I'm writing on bad behavior. I get the most excited when I capture the human condition as its most despicable.
I think that more than, say 80, women in your life is sleazy and just plain wrong. Where do you draw the line?
I'm disciplining myself to have no more than 35 women over the rest of my life. That's the kind of sacrifice I will make for my religion. I do plan to be monogamous when I marry.
Khunrum writes: By the time you marry you'll be so old, even with viagra, infidelity will not be an issue.
There are never too many lovers because as we all know there are long stretches when there are none at all. Always "stock up" when you can.
Kabbalah, Blah, Blah, Blah ...
I note that more and more prominent Hollywood power brokers are gravitating toward the study of Kabbalah. Perhaps I should forsake my more Orthodox appearance (yarmulke, black suit and stooped posture) for a trendy red string around my wrist?
Would this get me more dates? Would this jeopardize my Fairfax Street cred? I am torn ...
Helpful writes: Never mind the viagra. A red string tightly tied around your ----- will do wonders for your --- life.
Politicians With Higher Standards Than Jewish Charities
Do Jewish institutions have lower moral standards for accepting money than politicians? Apparently according to this Jewish Week article: "New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine wasted no time returning more than $80,000 of the billionaire developer’s campaign contributions. His New York colleague, Charles Schumer, gave some $4,000 of Kushner cash to charity, according to press reports.
"Kushner, who is known to write seven-figure checks to charity as easily as most people pay their phone bills, is unlikely to see one returned or uncashed in the near future, said Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, which provides support services for grant makers."
Rodger Jacobs writes: Jeez, Luke, you're going to bankrupt yourself with all this I-Universe self-publishing. Why don't you wait to see how the "market" welcomes all this Luke Ford scribbling. You should take Amalek's advice and expand the Jewish Journalism book, First: who the hell is going to read that? Second, the problem with journalism today -- your thesis is that JJ is "lousy" -- is not limited to "Jewish" journalism. The interviews you have been posting on the blog have been tear-inducing boring. No one is going to be interested in this subject except the participants involved. Using your premise, if you were assigned to write an article on the plight of pets in county animal shelters would you choose to focus solely on cats? (Or Katz as the case may be)
Anonymous writes: Many of Luke's current problems in life would be ameliorated were he to take Amalek's advice. A book on Jewish ethnic journalism sounds like one of those vanity books gathering dust on the back shelves of every Jewish book store. (You know the kind - "The Happiest Gabbai on Long Island.") I think he is fond of this style of writing because it does not require much additional input beyond the interview. You ask some questions, you get some answers, you edit the answers down a bit, you publish the stuff and presto, you got a new book. Bob Greene of the Chicago Tribune had this down to a science. Column after column, 90% filled with quotes. At a minimum, he ought to broaden the topic to include ethnic journalism in general (which would be a real stretch for him - can you picture Luke interviewing NEGROES?) or something else entirely. How about a book about how gentiles view Jewish journalists? You could get a lot of interesting comments for that one, so long as you don't bother interviewing goyishe Americans.
Viagra vs Torah
A reporter at a network affiliate TV station in Los Angeles read something I wrote about my first-hand experience with the recreational use of viagra and wanted to interview me. As I have never been married, I fear that if I give such an interview, it will desecrate the name of G-d in front of the goyim. On the other hand, it could be funny as hell, increase my dating prospects, and help me peddle some books. How does one weigh up an averah vs some shekels and shiksas? I need your guidance.
BTW, I used the viagra all alone and in a manner that transgressed no Torah laws. I was just scientifically curious.
Madonna writes: Luke, my opinion as a (married) woman is that you are intelligent, funny, and wasting as much of your talent as possible, and that if you ever stopped trying to draw atttention to yourself with foolishness, you'd attract attention from those you seek.
Helpful writes: Only an attention-starved moron would go on television to discuss his lack of starch in the trousers!
Be sure to wear a nice suit and a snazzy yarmulke.
If you want dates do not discuss your use of male impotency drugs on TV instead start up a phoney dating service for women who seek only large endowed men like yourself. That will get you on Howard Stern.
Khunrum writes: Since this is a discussion on "blue buddies" I'd suggest your usual black suit and a viagra blue yarmulke.....dress for success.
Can it get you dates? The dates cost extra depending on what country you are in.
Even as I do the research for one book, I always have my eye on the project to follow. Right now I'm considering the following ideas:
a. Shabbos goys: who they are, what it is like being one of them.
b. "Mister Director" - The inside story of the men who run America's shuls.
c. Blisters - a book about people who are known for being known, and how they got that way.
d. Surfing (you didn't know that about me!)
e. Industrial design in Hollywood (ditto)
I count so much on the input I receive from you, dear readers. Which of these book ideas intrigues you the most?
I found this on an obit (presumably written by son David) of Herb Brin, the cantankerous publisher of Heritage, a Jewish paper in Southern California:
"The leaders of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation-Council who were sometimes derided by Brin as machers or big shots responded by converting its monthly house organ, the Jewish Community Bulletin, into a subsidized weekly newspaper in competition with the independently-owned Jewish press of Los Angeles. The Bulletin's successor, the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, still requires an annual subsidy of more than $2 million in charity money."
I email Rob Eshman, editor of the Jewish Journal, about this. He replies: "We don't receive a subsidy from the Federation, not for two dollars, and not for two million.
"The Federation buys a dwindling number of subscriptions from us -- about 5K next year. The rest of our circulation (50-65 K) is distributed through other subs (including shuls and other orgs that also buy subs for donors or members) and free distribution."
Luke emails: "Has the JJ ever had its staff take something like this: "Train and sensitize Jewish Week reporters and editors to UJA-Federation as a resource and seek out its perspective on important stories."
Rob replies: "Do we expect writers and editors to familiarize themselves with Jewish institutions and sources, including the Federation, and use them to inform particular stories when appropriate? Uh, yes. Do we have some training agreement or understanding with the Federation? No. Do we train writers to be skeptical and verify and balance information any Jewish institution or source offers, and supplement their interviews with independent research and analysis, rather than just parrot every accusation or statement? Yes."
Guys from 60 Minutes - Contact Me ASAP
Luke Takes a Poll
My Irish friend Yetzer O'Hara bet me a pint of my favorite brew that I would not post the following question here. Given my financial circumstances, guess what?
Jewish people, without thinking too long about it, do you see yourself as part of white America?
Torah Jews Have Some Explaining to Do
I've been reading up on electricity and chemistry of late and the attitude of the rabbenim towards electicity has me perplexed. David Deutsch below explains the operation of the rule, but he does not explain the basis for it. Here's what I need to know.
Consider the elevator. Every elevator does work in raising a mass m a distance h. The amount of that work, the energy spent, necessarily varies as a function of the weight of the passengers getting on no matter what the rabbenim had to say about it. (There are other factors as well, such as the frictional forces encountered.) So, given that the amount of energy an elevator must use - the amount of WORK it must do - is dependent upon the weight of the person using it, why is this permitted, but summoning the elevator by touching a switch is not? Why can't you summon it? Why can't you switch on a radio? Why can't you switch on other appliances, even when there is no spark involved? And speaking of sparks, why is a Jew permitted to have carpeting in his home, when it is known that on a dry winter day he will generate substantial static charges by walking across it, charges that discharge with a spark that produces both heat and light when he touches a metal door knob? Just what is the physical basis for these relatively recent rules? And while you are at it, why are orthodox jewish women trading in their natural hair for wigs made of other women's natural hair that often looks better than the stuff they started out with? Dave, every day Christians and Muslims write to me to tell me that my adopted faith is full of idiocy (pointing to these very examples), and that the One True God hates this idiocy. Please use your yeshiva education to help me prove them wrong.
Electricity on Shabbos
Dave Deutsch writes: Luke, your question about the elevators on shabbos reminds me of my army days, when after explaining the whole split hooves/cud chewing rule to my fellow Screaming Eagles (I wasn't keeping kosher, but I did not eat the flesh of the swine), they would sometimes ponder it for a moment, then exclaim triumphantly "Wait a minute, chickens don't have split hooves!" thinking that they'd figured out the flaw in the system that would bring the whole thing crashing down. Just as there was an explanation for that (different rules for poultry), there is one for your elevator conundrum.
There is a different between "using" and "making use." You may not turn on a light on shabbos, but you may enjoy the benefits of a light that is already turned on. Similarly, you may not push an elevator button, but if there is a shabbos elevator, which, prior to shabbos, is automatically set to stop on every floor, you may use it. Not all elevators, incidentally, are the same. Some elevators apply different levels of energy depending on the weight that they are carrying, in which case they can't serve as shabbos elevators because you're actually causing the energy to be expended (same principle with walking through an electronically opened automatic door on shabbos, you're not flipping a switch, but your presence is working it). From what I hear of your fluctuating weight problems, at any rate, you should probably just take the stairs.
As always, I'm happy to supplement your moral authority with the halachic authority afforded me by my Orthodox Day School education. Gut Shabbos, and if I don't communicate to you before Tuesday, have an easy fast.
I'm Not Sleeping Well
I haven't been sleeping well of late. First, I've got money troubles. Second, I've got female problems (in the same sense in which I have money trouble). If I had more money, I'd have a wife. If I had a good wife, I'm sure I'd be more motivated to get off my but and make some bread. It isn't as though I don't know how - Chaim Amalek has instructed me on how I might take this to the next level, but I'm too lazy to obey him. So here I sit with neither, a vessel into which I pour the wisdom of the Oral Law, but that vessel has holes that only money and women can plug, so even that is not working out.
My sack of rice is now only about half full. I need to supplement the carbs with some protein, but my vegetarianism (born of a 7th Day Adventist upbringing that I did not choose for myself) makes that very hard. Nuts (my usual source of protein) are expensive, and beans give me gas (not good to have on a date). I need to change my diet, but this too will require of me money that I do not have. Maybe Islam is the answer after all.
Instead of XXX-Communicated
From the page for my memoir on Amazon.com: 1 person recommended Radically Gay : Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder instead of XXX-Communicated : A Rebel Without A Shul
Dating David Poland
I was at the Grove Wednesday evening to see Fahrenheit 9/11. It was a paid work assignment for me to help a guy make an entertaining documentary. It was not something for me to enjoy (thus I am not breaking any prohibitions relating to the nine days of mourning leading up to the big mourning of the destruction of the temple and my choosing to sell Lukeford.com on that day three years ago).
I run into David Poland on a date. I wish I could go on dates. He bought me a lemonade. We all sat together. I have this annoying loud laugh that makes people look at me. I took off as soon as the movie was over so Davey could get in some serious hand-holding et al.
I hate Michael Moore's politics but I love his films as entertainment. I saw my first two this week, Columbine and Fahrenheit and I found them alternately gripping, entertaining and funny.
"Oysters or Snails?"
Imagine that it is the end of the day. You have just returned from a hard day of screwing over writers and Republicans at the movie studio you run, and you've got a kink in your back in need of fixing. What sweeter sight could there be than me, Luke Ford, standing before you as your body servant, and what sweeter sound than to hear me utter the line "would you like some oysters, or will master be having snails this evening?"
I promise you a happy ending, if you hire me.
"No Man Ever Got Laid Via Blogging"
That's the grim news Chaim Amalek presented me with today: "Dude, no guy ever blogged his way into a woman's panties. All you bloggers are just a bunch of wankers showing off your verbal skill to a bunch of other sissified wankers. Real men are out there making deals, spreading their seed."
I simply do not choose to believe this, although likely I should, given Chaim's track record. (And for the record, he predicts both a terrorist attack between now and election day, and the defeat of George W. Bush and his neo-conservaJuden at the polls this November.)
Lord I'm 9,000 Miles Away from Home
Once Again The Rabbis Ban Me
Money, Torah, Money
Due to the sacrifices I've made to live a life of Torah, I have no money for frivolous goyisha activities such as dating. I need a maidele who is willing to either pay my way, or to participate in activities that exact no monetary price, such as going to shul, studying Torah and sporting ourselves while we may.
'The Work Continues'
Dennis Prager calls this the darkest Charles Krauthammer column ever: "Israel will rightly ignore the decision. The United States, acting honorably in a world of utter dishonor regarding Israel, will support that position. It must be noted that one of the signatories of this attempt to force Israel to tear down its most effective means of preventing the slaughter of innocent Jews was the judge from Germany. The work continues."
What's Harder? Journalism on Jews or Gays?
Is it time for me to go Asian?
Lots of my close white friends who (like me) have struck out with white women have found happiness by going Asian. It seems that Asian women regard white guys as something of a catch, and are willing to overlook such imperfections as an unimpressive vehicle and a small apartment. They think that they are trading up by snagging one of us. True, most Asiatics are not Jewish, but to my thinking, many Asians are fully compatible with Jews, and some are worthy of being converted to the Jewish race. Moreover, there are lots of Asians here in LA, and lots more over in Asia too. Should I go for some yellow cake? Is it time for Luke to Go Asian?
Anonymous writes: "Luke: I strongly recommend going Asian. After three white wives, I finally was the grand prize winner at Matrimonial Wheel of Fortune. Asian women: (1) have very strong family values; (2) are very good at managing money; (3) are very, very honest; (4) tend to be quiet when angry (you can get used to that); (5) do not have the cellulite gene; (5) are enthusiastic intimate partners; (6) have high moral standards; (7) pay close attention to personal appearance and hygiene; (8) are very good parents; (9) believe they have to duty to be a good daughter in law. (I name but a few examples)."
Is going yellow a sin? If it is wrong, then I don't want to be right.
Chaim Amalek Spies a New Odd Couple in Formation
Chaim Amalek writes: "Reading the newly friendly manly banter between you and your former nemesis Mike Alb0 suggests a way forward for the both of you. You two need to find some housing that is suitable for you both, and move in together, Odd-Couple style. Just think about it: you each have your own individual strengths that the other lacks, and correponding weaknesses that the other could help you overcome. If you lived together for say, nine months, there might be real synergistic effects that would propel each of you to a better place in life than you currently occupy (and occupy with no prospect for material improvement in sight)."
Anonymous writes: "Not a bad idea. Albo, one suspects, would benefit from some of the dietary discipline you acquired from your Seventh Day Adventist elders during your youth, and you would benefit by learning how to kick some ass. But I think you would do even better to add Jimmy D, Kendra J and Marc W to the mix, with Cathy S a frequent visitor. Then you need to add some cameras, turn it into a reality TV show, and just sit back and watch the shekels roll in."
'You, sir, sound like a FAG!'
In his kind, compassionate and caring way, Mike Alb0 writes me:
Man, do you have any idea how gay you sound?
"I rode him for years, constantly grabbing great stuff, until I screwed him one too many times."
You "rode" Bowen? You were constantly "grabbing great stuff?" You "screwed" him? Jeez. No wonder you're having trouble finding a girl. Just trying to be helpful here. You're coming off like a real, uh, fancy boy...which isn't too far removed from a nancy boy, if you catch my drift. Butch up, dude!
"It was entirely inadvertent."
Luke, it's not even subtle! I guess it's true what they say: Better blatant than latent. Go ahead and quote if you want. It's your image, not mine.
"Mike, does this mean you would not like me to set up a mikealboseeksawife.blogspot.com for you? I could write it. I know you well enough. I want us to find our soulmates together. It would be bonding."
I think I'll pass on your kind offer. I meet enough insane, fucked-up chicks on my own. Oh, and as a side note, you only wish you knew me as well as you think you do.
I Need to Get Blown Out of My Rut
Yes, I know that I am in a rut of ever lengthening duration. This got my doppel in New York to thinking about how I might mix things up in life, and he suggests that one way forward would be for me to share housing with a room mate or mates. But with whom, how many, of which gender and race, and where should we live? (And yes, Cathy Seipp has already turned me down.)
Clothes Make The Man
I had a chat with my friend Cathy Seipp about the meaning of clothing. I said that a person's clothing sets the tone for his behavior. Someone who dresses like a gangster is more likely to act that way than someone who dresses in a suit and tie.
The way someone keeps their house, office and car, as far as organization and neatness, reflects their psyche, their state of mind.
Anonymous writes: If true, then what does it likely say about you that you drive what you drive and that you live in the place you live? "Here is a man who is poor?" "Here's a guy who does not care?" "Here is a man who does not plan on ever supporting a family?"
So how about it Luke, is it true that living the way you choose to live is your way of telling women you really are not interested in the things that women REALLY want? How long will this straight gay-boy act play before you realize you are too old to continue playing it?
A Chat With Jewish Week Journalist Debra Nussbaum Cohen
Could somebody please translate?
Deux chroniqueurs du Monde XXX, l'un mythique, l'autre trés talentueux, l'un américain, l'autre français. LUKE FORD aura un jour droit à son film hollywoodien, il faut ça pour retracer son parcours de malade. Luke, fervent religieux, Juif Orthodoxe, a triomphé dans l'underground de 1995 à 2000 sur son blog www.lukeford.com , décrivant avec détail le Grand Roman du Porno Californien. C'était le Stéphane Bern de ce Gotha Torve, à la fois agaçant et incontournable. Ce fut lui qui livra en premier la liste des stars U.S HIV Positive, dont l'immense Randy Wallace, aujourd'hui clochard à Santa Monica (vous savez, le grand avec une queue de cheval en haut et en bas). Luke sortit deux livres, toujours imparfaits, mais touchants par leur grande ambition : "An American History of X" (à ne pas confondre avec American History X !), ou le garçon esquisse une histoire exhaustive de l'industrie Américaine du Porno, avec ses lots de mafias, de sida et de drogue. Son deuxième et dernier livre, "XXX-Communicated : A Rebel Without A Shul" , explique pourquoi je ne communique pas l'adresse de son blog de reviews porno : en 2003, son rabbin orthodoxe lui fait choisir entre son blog pornard ou l'exclusion de la communauté. Luke Ford ferme son bouge sur internet et se convertit dans le blog religieux portant le nom cynique Your Moral Leader . Histoire Dingue, non ?
J'ai eu la chance de communiquer via quelques mails avec Luke à sa grande époque, le gars était un 1er de la classe pour qui le porno était une énigme mystique.
Presbyterian church defames Christianity
Interview With The Editor Of The Forward, America's National Independent Jewish Paper
Jewish Exponent Editor Jonathan Tobin's Email Interview
From an email exchange with Jonathan Tobin, editor of the Jewish Exponent weekly in Philadelphia, one of the top five Jewish papers in America.
Luke: "I keep hearing about you dropping JJ Goldberg's column years ago because he criticized Mort Klein. Is that true? Was that the reason?"
Actually I was still at the Connecticut Jewish Ledger at the time of the big dustup between the Exponent and JJ. I ran the column there. As far as JJ being a victim of a political purge, you should remember that he has his current job specifically because another independent journalist -- Seth Lipsky -- lost that post because of his politics.
LF: "I also hear from those left of center that you read people in your community out of your paper if they are Peace Now types, such as Hilda Silverman (now at Harvard?)"
Actually, there was a blacklist of people who were considered personna non gratta by the Federation before I got here. One of the policy changes I instituted was to get rid of the black list. All those on it -- Arthur Waskow, Ted Mann, Ian Lustig were mentioned -- have since been published in our paper as well as having articles written about them. In the five years I've been editor, no one is out of bounds. I don't know Hilda Silverman and never heard of her being mentioned as someone who was banned in the old days.
As for your writing a book about Jewish journalism, good luck. But, unlike many of the people who comment on it, I would hope you would thoroughly research your topic and read the newspapers rather than generalize about them.
AMALEK Asks a Question
"Luke, you have been delivering some apparently well deserved body-blows to the Jewish media establishment of late, but how much of your criticism is unique to the Jewish press? Couldn't the same criticisms be made of the muslim press, the Negro press, and any other ethnic press in America? What do your muslim, black, and Catholic readers think of their newspapers?"
Negro, Muslim and other ethnic friends of Luke Ford - what do you think?
Electricity and Judaism
I wish to know more about why I cannot switch on and listen to the radio on shabbos, or use a condensor to turn on a florescent light bulb. On the other hand, it appears that I am permitted to use an elevator, but not to touch the sensor that summons it. This makes no sense to me. If you can recommend a good book - in English (my Spanish is rusty) that explains this, please let me know. Otherwise, I feel the pull of a thread that could well unravel the entire moral edifice I have adopted for myself. (Darn you apostate Jew Richard Feynman!)
Love Big Brother Federation
To further the cause of good Jewish journalism, I suggest that all those who write on anything remotely Jewish (including bloggers and novelists) be forced to take Khmer Rouge-style Federation bootcamps to sensitize themselves to "use Federation as a resource and seek out its perspective on important stories." Only then can we hope to follow in the footsteps of that Pulitzer-Prize winning paper, The Jewish Week of New York.
Writers who fail to become sufficiently sensitive to taking direction from Big Brother Federation, writers who fail to love Big Brother Federation as they should, should be kept in said bootcamps until the correst result is attained. Those who refuse to act with proper deference to the Federation must be placed in North Korean-style concentration camps until they love or die.
A Big Desmond Ford Fan
Bill Cork writes:
In the comments at Protocols, I did a little reminiscing with Luke Ford about his dad, Desmond (see Luke's autobiography for his account of their relationship--and Luke's journey in life from SDA preacher's kid to porn journalist and J-blogger).
It was rather ironic, I told him, that a couple of posts mentioning him (one of which he linked to) were just inches from one in which I mentioned Des.
As I said to Luke,
I was a big Des Ford fan in college--Glacier View was the summer before my freshman year. What can I say? He helped turn me from a Seventh-day Adventist into a Roman Catholic. :-)
I read everything he wrote (I even read Gill's booklet, "The Soteriological Implications of the Human Nature of Christ" [Gillian Ford is Luke's stepmother, whom Des married after Luke's mom died of cancer--see Luke's autobiography]). I got all the way through "Daniel 8:14 the Day of Atonement and the Investigative Judgment." I had all his tapes and argued with students and professors about imputed justification and the apotelesmatic principle.
I wrote a couple articles about him for my college paper (and once did a cartoon of Neal Wilson, President of the SDA General Conference (and Ford nemesis) standing on the deck of the Titanic saying, "God himself couldn't sink this ship.")
I can't believe how after all the SDA church did to him he insisted on staying at its fringe, preaching his own mix of vegetarianism, Sabbatarianism, and Evangelicalism.
I remember one talk he gave where he said you could tell whether your diet was right by looking in the toilet and asking, "Sinkers or Floaters?"
Yes, Luke, you have an interesting family. :-)
(Chuckle--I just imagined Darth Vader cooing in an Australian accent, "Luke, I am your father. Do you have some Marmite?")
I was first introduced to Desmond Ford through reading Geoffrey J. Paxton, The Shaking of Adventism
, which chronicled the efforts of Australians Desmond Ford and Robert D. Brinsmead to introduce the Reformation understanding of forensic justification into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
After Paxton's book (1978), Brinsmead and Ford related this teaching to the critical Adventist doctrine of "The Cleansing of the Sanctuary." Brinsmead started the controversy with 1844 Re-Examined, which rejected SDA doctrine on the point entirely as incompatible with the Christian gospel. On October 27, 1979, Ford responded to the book in a lecture to the Adventist Forum at Pacific Union College--like Brinsmead, he acknowledged the problems with the teaching; unlike him, he thought he could still retain some significance for 1844.
But Ford's reinterpretation did not satisfy The Brethren at SDA HQ in Takoma Park, MD. He reduced the 1844 doctrine to this: "In 1844, God raised up a people to preach the everlasting gospel." It was an "apotelesmatic" fulfillment of Daniel 8:14 (by which he meant that though Daniel 8 in context refers initially to the desecration of the temple by Antiochus, Matthew 24 reapplies it to the desecration by the Romans, and we can apply it to other similar situations in later history).
Ford was relieved of his teaching position at Pacific Union College in Angwin, CA, and given a six month period to fully explain his views. He wrote a "991-page manuscript," "Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment" (which he summarized in a November 1980 article in the liberal Adventist magazine, Spectrum).
In August 1980 Ford was made to appear before 115 Adventist scholars and administrators at Glacier View Ranch in Colorado. Not surprisingly, they weren't persuaded (see The Sanctuary Review Committee and its New Consensus, also from that November 1980 issue of Spectrum).
This criticism of the 1844 doctrine also had implications for how to understand the writings of the SDA prophetess, Ellen G. White. But Ford's theological insinuations about her inspiration did not rattle the church as much as the blistering attack on her by SDA pastor Walter Rea, in his 1982 book, The White Lie, which exposed, as never before (and with acidic prose) the extent to which she saw her visions not in dreams but in the pages of existing books. The true believers dismissed both Rea and Ford. This article, typical of the conservative SDA response, even quotes (without mentioning my name) from an article I wrote for my college newspaper in February 1982 about a debate between Walter Rea and Adventist theologian John Wood in Lancaster, MA.
The SDA denomination went on as it always had. Theologians and scripture scholars often admit that Ford had some good points, but I daresay most SDA evangelists and pastors and the staff of the Ellen G. White Estate still preach the traditional message. Ellen White's The Great Controversy is still published and read by all SDA's--this chapter gives the full traditional Adventist understanding of 1844.
Desmond Ford stayed at the fringes of Adventism, working through Good News Unlimited, an independent ministry.
Robert Brinsmead followed a curious course, rejecting the Sabbath (Sabbatarianism Re-Examined, 1981), then the traditional Christian understanding of Law and atonement (The Scandal of God's Justice, 1983), then he started writing stuff about "Christian atheism." And to think he started out in the 1950s as a radical conservative who believed in the attainment of sinless perfection before the return of Christ! (See the 1999 article, Where Is Brinsmead? for an overview). He now focuses his energy on his secular passion, Tropical Fruit World.
I couldn't stay on the fringes of Adventism like Ford; I couldn't "live in tents" like Brinsmead, always searching for the Promised Land. My criticism of Adventism, though it began with their influence, touched another point--ecclesiology. Brinsmead figured he didn't need the church; Ford thought he only needed a congregation. My experience of other Christians led me to seek out the fullest expression of the Church, first in terms of ecumenism, and then in a search for that Church which most fully realizes the promise of Jesus that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Influenced by Ford and Brinsmead's 1970s emphasis on justification by faith, the first stage of my journey out of Adventism took me to Lutheranism, which I saw as an evangelical form of catholicism; my continued reflection on the Church--the community which preaches the Gospel--led me in 1992 to be received into the Catholic Church.
I just stopped to do some calculation and realized it was 25 years ago this summer that I first read Geoffrey Paxton and learned of Ford and Brinsmead. That was the start. That was when, like the title character in "Pilgrim's Progress,"
I set forth on pilgrimage.
UJA and The Jewish Week
August 31, 1995
Draft Letter To All Jewish Week Board Members
[From Richard L. Hirsch, president, cc'd to Gary Rosenblatt, Richard Waloff]
As part of my responsibilities as president of the Board, I wanted to bring you up to date on some important matters.
By now, most of the Board members are probably aware of the controversy that erupted following publication of Gary's column "Where There's Smoke" in our August 18th issue. The Tisch family and Lester Pollack took umbrage at the criticism leveled therein and, not surprisingly, UJA took up the cause in defnese of their honor as major philanthropists. On August 24th, a meeting between representatives of The Jewish Week and UJA was held, yielding two outcomes:
1. An oversight had occured and the Board expressed regret along with unwavering support of The Jewish Week staff. Gary on the one hand, and MOrt and I on the other, would send the Tisch family and Lester Pollack conciliatory letters to smooth over any offense that might have been taken.
2. This relatively small controversy -- which for the most part has been resolved -- has further galvanized UJA's desire to dissolve its formal association and financial ties with The Jewish Week over a shorter time period than previously agreed upon.
The second point above is the larger issue which we at The Jewish Week need to focus on. The Board has courted this matter over the years but the time has come to address it proactively.
With that in mind, The Jewish Week and UJA have agreed to form a joint ad hoc committee to study options and opportunities, and to recommend a path for accelerating the amicable and mutually-beneficial separation of the two organizations. I suggest that The Jewish Week delegation comprise Stuart Himmelfarb, Larry Kobrin, Gary Rosenblatt, Rich Waloff and myself.
I believe that we must tread cautiously in these discussions, but at the same time be sensitive to the position of UJA. The Jewish Week has a terrific staff and an excellent product and we must protect not only our financial investment but, most importantly, the Week's raision d'etre.
August 26, 1995
From: Lawrence A. Kobrin
To: Gary, Richard
I sent this after the lunch meeting. While it may state the obvious, we seem to be drifting into an "assumption" that the communal "Nirvana" would be no payment of any kind from UJA-Federation to the Week. From their point of view, this would be simply crazy and they should not go around hinting to us or anyone else in the discussion that this is the real goal.
From: Lawrence A. Kobrin
To: Ms. Louise Greilsheimer; Dr. Stephen Solender
Re: Communications, community, and continuity
At our meeting earlier this week concerning Jewish Week, there was some discussion of the long term financial plan for the relationship of UJA-Federation to the publication. In fact, a "blue ribbon" committee is now scheduled to explore the matter, although there seems to be an expectation or assumption that its final conclusion will be elimination of financial "subsidy" from UJA-Federation to the Week. From the point of view of the Week, that may be an acceptable long range conclusion about which the principal concern is one of timing or schedule. From the point of view of UJA-Federation, however, it wouldbe a terrible mistake which would undermine the very things we are mandated to do under our strategic plan and ultimately create a financial disaster for UJA-Federation. Several of us around the table were both directors of the Week and of UJA-Federation. It is from the latter perspective that I write a caution.
If one were to fantasize that the Week had suddenly achieved a large paid subscription base outside of the mailing list of UJA-Federation and was thus able to eliminate any financial relationship with UJA-Federation, the theory under which we appear to proceed would be that the best next steps would be for UJA-FEderation to eliminate any financial payment, to advise its donors that there was no further subscriptions although they were free to subscribe on their own. Based on our experience with the Long Island survey, in which the majority of those surveyed did not bother to respond and a substantial portion of those who simply did not [want] any Jewish publication sent to them, I would venture the guess that the vast majority of our donors, at all levels, would simply stop the Week and not receive any substitute (unless you consider The New York Times a source of Jewish news information).
As I said at the lunch meeting, our greatest problem is indifference and inattention to any Jewish information (beyond that contained in the Times or the Journal). If we do not force our way into the mailbox, for most of our donor population, and certainly the segment that is unaffiliated with synagogue life, there will be no contact or communication.
It is not clear to me how the opponents of the relationship of UJA-Federation to the Week propose to deal with this problem. Are we to rely on voluntary subscriptions to reach our prospective donor base, the Jewish community at large? Why will the marginally interested subscribe to anything? The Forward has been unable to attract a large reader base in New York. The World is similarly unable to do so. The Sentinel has become a joke with most of its "distribution boxes" abandoned or used for other publications. The Jerusalem Report, a slick and well written publication, has yet to hit big numbers in the New York area. The various national magazines have had similar difficulty. The Hebrew language HaDoar is in desperate condition and the scholarly journals have a limited subscription base which reach the scholars and few beyond.
Thus, once "independence" of the two institutions is achieved, UJA-Federation would have to proceed to consider what means to use to reach its donor base and hopefully beyond. The only means avaialble to do would be through the kind of publication that the Week now is. Anything more limited in scope or content would be viewed by most recipients as a house organ "throw away" and treated accordingly. Presumably, there would then be a negoations over the "discount rate" subscription price to be imposed for large direct mailings. I suspect that we would then be exactly back where we started except that the payment involved would be listed in a different way on the UJA-Federation administrative budget.
Perhaps I have missed something, but I fail to understand, from the point of view of a director of UJA-Federation, how all the rhetoric about "freedom of the press" and "playing fields" changes any of this analysis or projection. What the exploration of the strategic plan process, the several successive continuity studies, and our own experience at UJA-Federation should have taught us is that the greatest enemy is a complete indifference (particularly in the younger generation of non-traditional Jews) to all things that conern our organization. If we do not communicate with that group, we will ultimately have no Jewish agencies to which to allocate any budget or funds. That would be a disaster of unimaginable proportions.
I would hope that the study now to be made would keep this need in focus as the real goal and not simply the current pressures from specific communities or individuals or the need to find some extra savings in the administrative budget.
To: Jewish Week Board of Directors
From: Louise Greilsheimer, Stephen D. Solender
Date: April 7, 1997
Re: Strengthening the UJA Federation/Jewish Week Relationship
While we recognize and take great pride in our longstanding and generally positive relationship with Jewish Week, we also acknowledge that there is a need to improve it. Indeed, at times, the relationship between UJA-Federation and Jewish Week has been a difficult and ambiguous one. We wish to clarify and strengthen it by each of us committing to our shared long-term goal of providing the Jewish community with news about it and the work of UJA-Federation, its campaigns and agencies.
To that end, UJA-Federation will continue to make its donor list available to Jewish Week for subscriptions so long as Jewish Week provides UJA-Federation with the regular "presence" it needs.
While we recognize Jewish Week as a quality paper in which we can all take pride, we believe it can maintain its quality while also fulfilling UJA-Federation's need for presence.
We are suggesting that a joint group of UJA-Federation and Jewish Week leadership be formed to regularly monitor the agreed upon goals and execute the plan as detailed in this memorandum.
As was stated in the UJA-Federation Board of Directors resolution of February, 1994:
"WHEREAS, a fundamental principle governing UJA-Federation's consideration is that it remains committed to having a Jewish newspaper reach all of our donors so that issues concerning the Jewish community, including the message of UJA-Federation's campaign and the story of our agencies, is told and a sense of commitment and community is developed among our donors at the lowest possible cost..."
We are committed to assuring that this resolution be realized through our strengthened relationship.
RECOMMENDATION: To clarify UJA-Federation's realtionship with Jewish Week, we recommend that the following statement be included in the paper's staff box: "Jewish Week is an independent community newspaper. UJA-Federation buys subscriptions for its donors to assure that they are informed of news of the Jewish community. UJA-Federation bears no responsibility for the news or editorial material contained herein. Any positions reflected are solely those of the Jewish Week."
The Executive Committee of UJA-Federation recommends the following changes to increase coverage and give UJA-Federation presence both graphically and editorially.
* Priority changes proposed by UJA-Federation's executive committee.
* EDITORIAL: Train and sensitize Jewish Week reporters and editors to UJA-Federation as a resource and seek out its perspective on important stories. (EXAMPLE: The December 27th issue, UP CLOSE section, "Target Practice." We would have preferred more opportunity to help shape the piece, as well as provide more balance through either a sidebar or column.
* UJA-Federation's role should be integrated into any featured story concerning one of its agencies. Encourage reporters to use UJA-Federation professional staff as key resources to help shape agency-based stories from our perspective, with our insights.
* Develop one UJA-Federation cover story per month in all editions (12 a year).
* LEADERSHIP COLUMN: Arrange for a monthly column by a broad representation of UJA-Federation leadership. Columbs would be assigned to appropriate leadership and scheduled to address timely and important organizational efforts/issues.
* ADVERTISING: UJA-Federation should be the first full-page ad; UJA-Federation should develop an ad to conform with the space of the inside front cover page.
* Greater sensitivity of all UJA-Federation ad placements that should emphasize not only which page the ad appears but what sections its appears in (i.e. Israel Experience ad should have appeared opposite Israel page).
* OTHER PROPOSED CHANGES: In addition to the above stated priorities we recommend the following changes be made to assure UJA-Federation's presence in the Jewish Week.
* EDITORIAL: Use the first 15 to 20 pages in the general N.Y. section (in all editions)to find ways to feature UJA-Federation programs and events (as done in the Dec. 20th issue). Also, in those pages, provide greater UJA-Federation presence in headlines or kickers - including our name whenever possible.
* Use cover-page teasers to UJA-Federation stories, including the UJA-Federation name whenever possible.
* Wherever possible or appropriate, augment Jewish Week human-interest stories with a UJA-Federation perspective (via box or sidebar of our programs). Encourage Jewish Week to share with UJA-Federation professional staff on a weekly basis stories that they are working on. This weekly story development list would provide UJA-Federation the opportunity to assure that its perspective be included in more stories.
* Seek ways to incorporate UJA-Federation role in the first three to five pages of the paper, "In the Beginning" section (see Dec. 20th issue, page four -- New World Symphony photo, NYANA, with no mention of UJA-Federation).
* Create special UJA-Federation mission calendar in travel section, update quarterly.
* Major post-event UJA-Federation stories should be covered, whether through a story or photo, in all editions, not limited to the calendar pages of one edition (Lawyers Division dinner photo in Dec. 20th issue deserved better placement, and its relevancy transcended the borders or the Manhattan edition where it appeared).
Dear Mr and Mrs Lawrence Tisch
From Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher of The Jewish Week:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. [Lawrence] Tisch [of Rye, NY 10580]:
I have been told that you were hurt by my column in last week's issue of The Jewish Week and for this I sincerely apologize.
My intention was not to cause you embarrassment but to highlight some of the complex issues involved regarding Jewish views on smoking.
This unfortunate incident reminds me of the moral of a story my late father, who was a rabbi in Annapolis, MD, for 40 years, used to tell. [Man, Hasidic rabbi, gathering feathers for lashon hara.]
I am particularly mindful of that lesson now, and if I had it do over again, I would have tried to express my views in the column without bringing specific names into it.
In writing columns and editorials in Jewish community newspapers for more than 20 years, I have always tried to be sensitive to those I write about. But in these last few days I have come to appreciate that I can never be too attuned to people's feelings and I will strive to be more diligent in the future.
Perhaps I had come to think of your family as an institution rather than consisting of real people with real feelings. In any case, please know that I have the greatest respect for you and your good works and hope that in that spirit you will understand, if not forgive, my words from last week.
August 31, 1995
To Mr and Mrs Lawrence Tisch
[From, Richard L. Hirsch, president of The Jewish Week, Morton A. Kornreich, Chairman]
Dear Billie and Larry:
We understand that Gary Rosenblatt has contacted you in an effort to resolve any misunderstandings that may have been created in the wake of the publication of his column titled "Where There's Smoke" in the August 18th issue of The Jewish Week. We would liek to add emphatically that the mention of the Tisch family name in this editorial context was not meant to detract from the magnitude of your philanthropic acts, which are legendary. Rather, its purpose was to sound a plea on behalf of the younger generation for the help which certain of the most powerful members of the Jewish community are uniquely positioned to provide. Unfortunately, the tone of the column was perceived as more critical than intended, and Gary and we regret that.
The Jewish Week strives to achieve journalistic balance in its coverage of the New York-area Jewish community. However, insofar as concerns the Tisch family, striking this balance would require that every paragraph of criticism be followed by pages of praise for your many acts of generosity. We are all mindful of your leading and multi-facted philanthropic role and for that you have earned the gratitude and respect of many, including us.
Are The Goyim Interested?
Here's one test I have for if Jewish journalism is any good. If a non-Jew can pick it up and read it with interest. If you are telling a good story, it's a good story, even if it is about Jews.
Few Jews who don't have to pick up a Jewish paper (because of their commitment to Jewish life or their employment therein) do pick up a Jewish paper. Ergo, Jewish journalism, in the immortal words of Benyamin Cohen of Jewsweek, "sucks."
Luke Explains His Position on Oral Sex
A former girlfriend (the only kind I have, alas) writes: "Luke, why don't you tell these women the truth, that you are not willing to go down on them..." That's true, but it isn't really true as well. You see, I am eager to do all that the torah does not prohibit, and the torah does not prohibit oral sex. So I am down with going down. BUT I am saving myself for my bride, too. On my wedding night, I want her to have a clean, disease free man at her disposal, which I currently am. I have been able to maintain myself in this pristine state by adhering rigorously to CDC guidelines for safe sex, which means I always wear a condom. And it also means that I do not do oral sex on a woman, because that is not in any way, shape or form safe(r) sex. Were I to engage in that activity, I'd be running the risk of contracting herpes, chalmydia, HPV (which causes warts and cervical cancer), and lots of other pathogens that once caught, are there for life. So it is out of concern for the health of the woman I wish to marry that I choose not to engage in any of this before I stand with her beneath the chupah. (Now, don't lecture me about using dental dams - those things are really gross, and I don't think anyone really uses them anyway.) Now - what's for dinner?
Gary Rosenblatt, You Are Not Doing What We Ordered
April 21, 1997
Gail J. Hyman
Group Vice President
Marketing & Communications
To: Mr. Gary Rosenblatt
New York, NY 10036
I wanted to put in writing our growing concern over the continuing lack of presence for UJA-Federation we feel in the page of Jewish Week.
Despite several regional pieces that ran last week on agency activities and the Joint Passover story on page 44, it is still difficult to locate UJA-Federation's name or communal role in the paper. Only a thorough read of all editions of the paper uncovers our identity; there remains no visible presence for us organizationally.
I bring this perspective to your attention because our leadership's increasing frustration and dissatisfaction with Jewish Week is at an all time high. Coverage of UJA-Federation, even as we engage in dialogue with you to change the situation, remains inconsistent. It is no longer sufficient to tell our leadership we are making progress when the newspaper demonstrates otherwise. It would seem that unless improvement in coverage of UJA-Federation is immediately forthcoming, meetings with the new subcommittee will not be of any use.
Gary, it would seem that based on the paper's track record in recent weeks, your commitment to assuring a consistent presence for UJA-Federation is in question.
I know that you are out of twon over the Passover holiday. I do hope that you will call me as soon as you return so that STteve, you and I can meet to discuss the seriousness of this situation and try to help avoid continuing on a course that could ultimately be very detrimental to Jewish Week.
CC Stephen D. Solender
Expanding My Mind - Part 2
(If any of the following offends you, my yetzer hora, Chaim Amalek, wrote it against my wishes. I mean it.)
So I was thinking that I need to use my ample leisure time to expand my mind, and that one way of doing this would be to learn a new language, but which one? I thought of going for yiddish, but that seems to be to be the language of people who are pretty ignorant about such things as fire and electricity. Besides, the women who speak that dead tongue have shaved heads. (And it just occurs to me that Hitler shaved the heads of Jewish women, so was he acting out of concern for their modesty? Maybe the rabbinate that supports the sheitel industry can chew this one over.) I was going to study spanish, but my friend Cathy has convinced me that it is the language of my social inferiors, to the extent that I have any. I don't need to learn to communicate with a guy holding a leaf blower any better than I already can. French? That's not me. The French are going Arab on us, so if I wanted to communicate with these people, I'd study Arabic. Which is a possibility. German? Lots of smart people speak it, and their women are well, not that hot. Maybe Swedish or Norwegian? My friend Chaim tells me that Norwegian women are the hottest women on the planet, and who can disagree with Chaim? Chinese, perhaps? I don't know - don't they eat dogs, cats, and rats? Dear gentle readers, please counsel me as to which foreign language I ought to learn to read.
Expanding My Mind
This shabbos, instead of reading the usual self-help book during sabbath prayers, I decided to make a study of 20th century chemistry (this book by Linus Pauling) and physics (Feyman Lectures on Physics, Vol. 2), and guess what I discovered! Electricity is NOT fire! Yes, as incredible as this would appear to be, the rabbenim of 19th century Poland who held otherwise were wrong! Whether this was because their knowledge of Faraday was lacking, or because the theory of combustion and the chemical bond had not yet been perfected I cannot say. But what is certain today is that combustion (the general term for fire, which the torah forbids) and electricity are no more related than are fire and water. And yet today orthodox jews do not "use" electricity, unless some goy can be found to use it for them. I ask you, where's the sense in that? Almost as stupid as telling a woman she needs to cut off her hair since having the stuff that God gave her is immodest, and then encouraging her to replace it with a sexy wig made of human hair. But that does not mean I'm giving up on orthodoxy, oh no - in your prayers Rabbis, in your prayers.
The Yupitzer Rav writes: Don't get all apikores-ish on me with that electricity blog.
Everyone knows that electricity is different from old-fashioned combustion. The (20th century) rabbis who declared its operation by a Jew on Shabbos to be forbidden concluded that in its effects it is similar enough to combustion to warrant halachic comparison. Actually, it was some 19th century rabbis who permitted it, based on unclear explanations as to what it was.
When electricity produces neither heat nor light, the prohibition becomes far more tenuous.
My Father and I make same religion blog for different stories
Roman Catholic Bill Cork writes to the Forward: I'm disappointed to hear that you have fired Steven Weiss. I had read "The Forward" from time to time (usually when friends referred me to specific articles), but Steven's blog made my visits to your webpage much more frequent. Blogging is here to stay, and Steven is one of the best. Your decision to add his blog was forward-thinking – your firing of him is a step backwards.
The Higher Criticism
I'm exchanging email with Winston Pickett, a PhD in Bible who's worked extensively as a Jewish journalist. He now works at a thinktank in London.
My dad left journalism at age 16 when he became religious. He thought journalists to be an immoral bunch. My dad went on to get two PhDs, one in Bible at Manchester University.
Are there any other Jewish journalists with PhDs in Bible? Did your knowledge of Higher Criticism help you with your journalism?
I'm serious. As an amateur student of the HC, I find it helps me greatly in my journalism in life.
I'm skeptical of things people tell me unless they go against the tendenz (the propaganda and vision of themselves they push). As George Orwell put it, the only parts of an autobiography you should believe are the the shameful.
I constantly ask: Who said this? When was it said? Who was the primary audience?
I love the work of popularizer Hyam Maccoby (who wrote books giving a Jewish view of the origins of Christianity in Hellenic paganism).
How can I believe in Higher Criticism and in Orthodox Judaism? I acknowledge they are mutually exclusive.
I study Higher Criticism without giving veto power to the tenets of my religion. I practice my religion as though there was no secular scholarship that challenged its truths.
This is not so radical. A famous 19th Century rebbe said you should be an atheist when it comes to helping the needy. You should help as if there were no God to help.
A Yeshive Love Story
From FrumSex: My friend Chaim Oizer wasn't the first of my friends to get married. I had a brocha under the chupah at Yisroel Meir's chassunah and Boruch Ber's chassunah before I was asked to say a brocha under Chaim Oizer's wedding too. People say it's a segulah for a shidduch
to participate in a chasunah so lets hope I'm zoicha to meet my bashert, bezras hashem.
Well, the chasuhan went off without a hitch and the seudas mitzvah was going fine. I had already danced with the chosson, who was having a rakida with the Rosh Hayeshiva. Now, it was time to do the horah, and it wasn't what it's all about for me, so I sat it out. I was strolling amongst the yungerleit and I noticed Chaim Oizer's cousin Gitty, who was trying to keep her eight kids, all under the age of
10, from tripping people while running around like mishugoyim.
Gitty's husband, Zev Laib, was across the room talking with the mashgiach, not paying any attention to them. As is the custom in Lakewood, it's not pahst for a kollel yungerman to be oisek in vaibisha zachin, so he ignored the whole thing.I walked over to shmooze with her because she seemed like she needed an adult to talk
"Nu, Gitty, vus hertach?" I asked politely.
"Well, I'm mamesh tzefloigen with the kinderluch. Kindurluch, go to Tatty and Geb Sholom to the mashigiach." They ran across the room and played tag running around and through their tatty's legs. Annoyed he shot a glance at Gitty. How dare she cause him to be bitul toirah? Couldn't she see the mashgiach was saying over a gevaldika vort?
She smiled and waved at him, then continued to talk with me.
"They need to spend more time with him anyway, He spends all day in Kollel then comes home at night and chazzers over the sugia, then he leaves for shachris to daven with the neitz, so they never see him, nebuch" she confided.
"I hear" I said, glancing at Zev Laib.
"And I don't think he even wants to spend time with them either, he holds its bitul zman. Kindurluch are great, wait till you get married."
I laughed, "I've been on a thousand shidduch dates and I can't find my bashert, I mamesh farshtered."
"Really? A ben toirah with yichus like you can't find a shidduch,? That's mamesh not shiach," she said.
"Well, I guess I haven't met the right girl yet." We walked together to a less noisy place where there were only a few people having conversations.
"Yeah, the last girl I went out with told the shadchun she thought I wanted to work. The next girl wanted to go to college, rachmunah l'tzlun and the girl before that's father didn't have money to support me in kollel." I explained.
"Zev Laib and I haven't had biah since Tovah was born. She's six months now, that's a long time. It's not that I don't want it, I just gave it up when he didn't ask me about going to the mikvah for three months straight. He's too busy in kollel and I guess I just got fat and ugly," We continued walking. I was shocked. How could a bas yisroel talk like this? She was an ohr ainikle of a well known Godol! But, given the fact that the only biah I'd had in life had been with another bochur in Telz-Cleveland, I got a hirhur avairah just from her speaking with such a prustkeit.
"Well, maybe with all those kinderluch you just remind him of his mother. That would dampen his chaishik a lot. You don't remind me of my mother, you're look shtotty," I laughed.
XXX writes: "Bad enough so many people here speak spanish, but now this? Luke, kindly translate this for the benefit of those of your readers who do not speak Esperanto, or whatever they are jabbering in."
Luke says: "No way! I don't want the goyim to find out."
Marc sighs: "Ah, if only the stories in Penthouse Forum were this lively."
Anonymous said: "But, given the fact that the only biah I'd had in life had been with another bochur in Telz-Cleveland," So after all this, the bottom line is that this guy is a fag?
Chaim Amalek Gives Me a Talking To
Chaim says that I am going about this all wrong, that what I need to do to find a life partner is to use indirection instead of direct action. "What do you mean, Chaim?"
Chaim feels that I should either establish a mikvah on the grounds of my home and offer it to all women for their ritual purification, or start a salon of my own. The former course would put me into contact with numerous Jewish women who likely know many many more Jewish women, and would enable me to show them all what a good catch I am. (After all, how many Jewish men are so thoughtful that they would build a mikvah on their land? I'll bet Michael Eisner and Steven Speilberg haven't done this.) The other route, that I emulate Cathy Seipp and start up a salon of my own, would require less contractor work. But I'm not sure what such a salon should be about. Chaim suggests folk music, as that seems to attract lots of young, impressionable girls mewling about love and such, and that if I don't do this for them, likely they will fall into the hands of some less moral fellow instead.
"Time for you to start thinking like a Jew, Luke." What can I say - Chaim is usually right about these matters of the heart.
How Can One Man Publish So Much?
One summer, two published books, and three active blogs (this, wife-search, and Protocols). How can one man do so much? When he has faith in himself and in the Lord above. I make my friends look like welfare queens. And they know it.
Music that I Like
I seldom discuss popular culture on this site. It isn't that things like music mean nothing to me, rather, they mean so much to me that I fear revealing too much of myself by sharing with you my personal musical treasures. Well, I now know that you have to be open with others if you want them to be open with you, so today I'm going to share with you the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by Freddie Blassie "Pencil Neck Geek"
Upon reviewing these lyrics, my alte-ego, Chaim Amalek, decided that they were inappropriate for this site and its stated purpose of healing the world, and asked that I remove them, and I have. Still, if there is interest, I may reconsider.
Instead let me just say that you cannot go wrong with the music of Debbie Friedman.
I also enjoy the music of the Beatles, Barbara Streisand, and Al Jolson.
'I'm still trying to figure out why I feel so open with you'
I heard that from an acquaintance today. It's a great honor. I love to go deep with people.
Matt Welch told me last week he thought I was among the best interviewers in town.
I was too scared to share my memoir with a close friend while I was working on it. In fact, I was trying to get in all of our friendship I could before the inevitable day XXX read it. I thought the odds were 50% that it would end our friendship. (I do not mention the person in the book).
I found out my friend read it over Shabbos and liked it. Whew.
Dating Advice For Luke's Women
This is from Alexandra. I knew her when she was 12 years old. It was early 1994 in Orlando. I dated her mother Paula (pic with me, and my brother Paul and Paula in January 1994).
She writes today: "Well, I can picture you perfectly. You have a very intense and passionate look about you, your face. To every woman's doom, you're eyes are very seductive. This could be good, or bad. Dependent upon your intentions. One woman might get her heart broken, one might break yours (doubtful), and one would probably have the time of her life...if she is strong willed, open minded and intellectual like you."
Partying Hearty With Rabbi Schuldenfrei
I went to an ATID 20's and 30s singles dinner at Temple Sinai Friday night to hand out "We want Moshiach now" fliers and give divrei Torah.
We met before the onset of Shabbos. We each had to write down a favorite saying to pin to our clothing as a conversation starter. I chose, "You shall burn the evil out of your midst." Most other comments were pop culture references, which flew past the mind of this Torah sage.
Half the group were cool but there were a lot of clueless nerds. One guy kept touching girls inappropriately. This was the first event where that guy was not me.
I got to sit by new hire Rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei who's headed for Las Vegas and Yosemite for his vacation. I let him know which activities and shows in Sin City were kosher (few) and advised him to carry a gemara with him at all times.
If only all of Israel were as strong as me, the Moshiach would come!
It was a long lonely walk home as I followed the path of the righteous.
I Make Kids Cry
I keep telling this one seven year old girl in shul that I am her kindly Uncle Levi. It makes her cry. Perhaps I should stop. But it is so funny to me.
Win a Date with Luke Ford!
Rabbi Gadol tells me that I might be putting some women off with some of my non-negotiable demands, so I hope to augment my prior approach with this one, which is open to every non-married woman, without conditions. Just tell RabbiGadol@yahoo.com why you think you and I should go out and why you think you would be a fun date. (No hanky panky, this will be chaperoned by Ms. Cathy Seipp, if she agrees.) The winner gets an all-expense paid date with me, including flowers, transportation (if you are local), movie or other entertainment, a fine kosher meal and, time permitting, a visit to the Museum of Tolerance.
My Non-Negotiable Demands For What I Must Have In A Woman
These are the things I require, and if you don't like them, keep your comments to yourself unless you have something useful to say that will provide me with babies of my own.
1. A hip-to-waist ratio of about 3:2.
2. Natural breasts. At least a solid B, but gentleman's C's preferred.
3. Long, silky hair. (Okay, this is more of a preference than a demand.)
4. Facial symmetry.
5. Clear skin and eyes. No boils.
6. No VD.
7. Long arms and legs.
8. If available, an intact hymen.
9. An IQ above 115 (above 130 preferred).
10. A cheerful disposition (one parent on antidepressants is quite enough, thank you).
12. Good physical and mental health.
13. Under 30, but I'll consider women under 35 as well. (I'm not being a pig here - I know I need a gal with young eggs in order to maximize my reproductive potential.)
14. A woman who likes children and wants to have mine.
15. A woman who has not been poisoned with the toxins of feminism. But if you meet conditions 1 - 14 above, I will work with you on this.
16. non-smoking, no more than a light drinker, no illegal drugs.
17. Politics. I am a man, so I couldn't care less whatyour politics are so long as you can tolerate mine, which include actively campaigning for conservative republicans.
18. You like your friends and family, and they like you.
19. You have a non-irritating voice.
20. You dig me.
I am willing to pay a finders fee to whoever provides me with leads leading a meeting of the minds with such a woman. Forward all leads to RABBIGADOL@yahoo.com, who will forward them on to me.
Have I Fairly Priced Myself in the Market for Love?
That voice of doubt in my head (otherwise known as Chaim Amalek) wants to know. Am I being too picky in my demands on http://lukefordseeksawife.blogspot.com
? Am I pricing myself out of the market? Should I go down-market, and perhaps target the immigrant population for love? I want your opinion, if you are the sort of woman whom I desire. (The opinions of bitter women who don't like men are of no interest to me.)
JTA.org reporter JOE BERKOFSKY has moved to UJA New York.
From his JTA bio: "A JTA staff writer based in New York, covers education, Jewish identity issues, philanthropy and the religious movements. He has been a reporter for the technology network TechTV in San Francisco, daily newspapers in the greater Boston area, and a contributing writer to The Jerusalem Report, The San Jose Mercury News, B'nai B'rith's International Jewish Monthly and other publications. He was also an editor at the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California and at other weekly newspapers."
How many reporters for Jewish papers have gone to work for the people they used to cover? David Twersky (now at United Jewish Congress), Matt Dorff (formerly with JTA, now a lobbyist), Brian Mono (from Jewish Exponent to the Federation in Philadelphia)...
Should someone comb over Berkofsky's work on the Federation over the past year to see if he has been smooching someone who's going to give him a job?
Unless one absolutely has to move from journalism to such work, I just can't respect leaving the craft of journalism to become a publicist (paid liar), hack, etc... To go from purporting to cover people journalistically, to taking their money in some cushy job rubs me the wrong way.
The Forward coulda been a contenda!
Let's face it -- the editorials are consistently the worst part of the Forward each week. Remember that howler about the Forward telling Roman Catholics how they should operate their religion with respect to abortion and to not giving communion to Catholics such as John Kerry who publicly oppose the teachings of the Church?
Why does the Forward run a front page story each week critical of the Bush administration when it has nothing to do with the Jewish community?
Original reporting makes the Forward great. Predictable liberal editorializing makes it suck.
Under editor JJ Goldberg and national editor Ami Eden, much of the paper each week reads like it is being made safe for their liberal friends and board.
Rebecca Schoenkopf writes: Luke, you don't know jack about Catholicism, so you shouldn't be smacking the Forward for its "howler."
In fact, under Vatican II, Catholics are supposed to follow their conscience--and if John Kerry's conscience tells him to vote for abortion rights, so be it.
I am in fact pro-life, but there's no way I'm going to find a politician to vote for who follows ALL the teachings of the Church . . . i.e., pro-life, antiwar, and AGAINST the death penalty. For bishops to pick and choose which politicians to deny their rites is horrid, and if they didn't deny Communion to Pinochet, they shouldn't be denying it to Kerry. Even 77 percent of pro-life Catholics agree with that.
How To Succeed With Women
How to Meet Women on the Street
by Ron Louis & David Copeland on www.howtosucceedwithwomen.com
Question: I often see a woman on the street, and I feel like, "I wish I could go talk to her." What is the answer? How can I go talk to her and seduce her?
Answer: If you are thinking "I wish I could go talk to her" when you see a hot woman in a public place, it's a sign that you are not taking advantage of the easy places to meet women in your life.
The thought "I wish I could go talk to her" is the result of a life where you have eliminated all reasonable opportunities to meet women. Therefore the unreasonable,
most-difficult opportunities--while on the street, while she's running for a cab--are the only ones that pop up. You end up thinking that the solution is to get good at handling the only opportunities you see--the near-impossible ones. It's not.
You only moan about not being able to meet women "on the street" when you are NOT meeting women in all the places that you should meet them--social networks, niches,
classes, and by being generally involved in your life. Moaning about wanting to meet women on the street is a SYMPTOM of needing to do the basic work of meeting women.
Because you are not doing what you should do to meet women, but you still desire women, you start fantasizing about seducing women you see on the street. This leads you either 1) to beat up on yourself for not being able to miraculously seduce those least-available of all women, or 2) to start falling for miraculous quick fix claims that say they can teach you to get those women in twenty minutes or less.
We've said it a million times, but it's still true: if you don't have your life set up so that meeting women is automatic and easy, all the quick-fix claims in the world
won't do anything but separate you from the money in your wallet.
- If you aren't joining and visiting clubs and teams, you are going to end up longing for women you can't get, who are the most difficult to talk to and seduce.
- If you aren't saying "yes" to social invitations and developing social groups, you are going to end up alone and horny, wishing you could have sex with the hot barista at the coffee shop you frequent.
- If you aren't participating in activities and classes, you are going to start moaning about how you wish you could talk to some woman you see on the street somewhere.
- If you are not doing online dating, then you'll spend your life staring at a woman on the bus and dreaming about how great it would be to be able to walk up to her and
Unless you are willing to have balls of absolute, inhuman steel (which you aren't) and unless you are willing to develop a set of scams and routines (which you also
probably aren't), then stop thinking the answer is to learn to approach a supermodel who is running for a cab! It's not!
Thinking "I wish I could talk to her" is NOT a sign that you need to learn how to approach strangers in public, where every hot woman is angered by or terrified of new men talking to her.
Thinking "I wish I could talk to her" IS a sign you need to GET A LIFE.
There is no magic phrase or perfect opening line that can take the place of getting a life!
Actually, though, this is good news. "Getting a life" will make you increasingly happy and effective and connected with women in a meaningful way.
This year, consider making this New Year's resolution: Let go of trying to learn scams that don't work, and which make you feel bad about yourself. Stop wanting to be a manipulative jerk, and learn how to make real connections with women--even if those connections are just for short-term sexual relationships.
We've had many students whose lives have become significantly happier in every respect by taking on getting a life, rather than wishing they could instantly seduce hot women on the street. One man says "Since I took up Salsa dancing, and really got into the community, it's been natural for me to meet, flirt around with, and even bed
really hot women. That has made it much easier to talk with women everywhere else, too." This could be you.
Oh, and here's a bonus: When you have a life that puts lots of women in front of you, and gives you reason to talk to them, approaching women in public becomes significantly easier.
When you have a connected, active social life, you will find yourself becoming the kind of person who naturally talks to strangers, and to whom strangers naturally talk. You won't have to work on it happening--you'll simply find that it happens, when you have a life with women that juices you up.
Put another way, the ability to "approach any woman" is a result of having developed a life that is rich in social opportunities that put you in front of women already. Once you have that, approaching women in public will just be part of what you naturally do.
Try this right now: Just for this moment, get off your own back about needing to learn how to approach and seduce "any woman, any time, any place." Allow it to be okay that you might never be good at approaching supermodels who are running for a cab, for instance.
At the same time, allow it to be possible that you might have more sexual abundance with hot women than you ever thought possible. Allow yourself to relax into the idea
that you can have what you want with women, even if you aren't the Perfect Seducer in every situation.
Then take some steps, today, to develop more social connections with people.
Luke Ford Needs A Wife
Someone writes: While I wouldn't deny anyone happiness, I always find these internet-meet-a-wife things, especially one like this, extremely melancholy. They all say the same thing, only using different euphemisms.
From Luke's "laundry list:"
1. She should be sufficiently young to provide me with children of our own.
TRANSLATION: Since I'm in my forties, she should be young enough to be my daughter.
2. Good physical condition. I'm not looking for a woman who is too ill disciplined to
watch her diet.
TRANSLATION: No fatties.
3. A woman who places home before career.
TRANSLATION: Your life should revolve around me.
4. No substance abusers. This means no cigarettes or illegal drugs. Alcohol is okay, but
no heavy drinkers.
TRANSLATION: I disapprove of all vices in which I do not partake (a la William Bennett.)
5. She should be religious enough...
TRANSLATION: Virgins preferred, but will consider a "slightly used" model.
6. I like brains. Big, thick, juicy brains.
TRANSLATION: I'm looking for someone who will laugh at my intellectual jokes.
7. And speaking of likes, I like strong women.
TRANSLATION: My refrigerator needs to be moved.
8. Converts to the faith are welcome! Let's share the journey!
TRANSLATION: Your life should revolve around me.
9. I don't care what you earn or what you do for a living, so long as it is legal and
generally viewed as ethical.
TRANSLATION: A low-paying menial job is acceptable so long as I don't find it threatening
10. Good mental and physical health.
TRANSLATION: No fatties
11. Location: I live in LA, and while I would move to be with the right woman, as a
TRANSLATION: Your life should revolve around me, and I don't want to find a new AA
Someone Else writes on FrumSex: Why isn't he married? Gee, could it be because he's too in love with himself to love another person? I looked through his qualifications for a wife and it seems that he's basically looking for a young, gorgeous baby machine, not a thinking and feeling actual person person. And his boast that his "sturdy Protestant genes" (or some such tripe) would benefit the Jewish gene pool borders on racism. He's going to be sleeping alone for a long time.
Take Back the Night
Inspired by Cathy's post, I'm offering my skills, my body and my virtue at a one-time only low price for hot young women who want to practice fighting off rapists.
Great Jewish Writing
Jewish Journal article on Jewish writing.
My selections for Great Jewish Writers of the past century:
Sholem Aleichem, Chaim Bialik, Philip Roth, I.B. Singer
I.L. Peretz, Bernard Malamud, Allegra Goodman,
Below Average But Over-Hyped
Elie Weisel, Cynthia Ozick, Jonathan Safran Foer, Anita Diamant
Forward Fires Steven I. Weiss
Jewry's greatest Judaic blogger, Steven I. Weiss, has been fired from the Forward. My understanding from communicating with those at the paper is that they gave up converting him from a blogger into a journalist.
A blogger friend says: "It was inevitable. He was biting the hand that was feeding him, in a sense refusing to be a reporter and insisting on the primacy of the blogosphere. It's the best thing that's ever happened to him. Now he can really do some good work. Wish him a mazal tov from me."
This excerpt from Weiss's blog earlier in the week:
AriGoesDown: i suppose i can call my friend sam norich and chat with him
AriGoesDown: can't wait
Steven responds: Threatening to complain to the publisher of the Forward because I won't respond to demands that I consider an impingement on long-standing ethical practice will not receive a response.
I don't respond to threats.
Smile When You Say That
Cathy Seipp is guestblogging for Eugene Volokh:
Eugene's observation the other day that, contrary to current conventional p.c. wisdom, rape is a crime of sex as well as violence, reminded me of the last time I got into an argument about this. As Eugene pointed out, statistics show that rape is highest among girls and women in their late teens and early '20s — e.g., their years of prime sexual attractiveness. But for some reason, it's not considered polite to acknowledge this common sense reality. "Eight-month-old babies and 80-year-old women get raped," is the approved feminist line, which is true, they do; but these situations are freakishly horrible rather than horribly common.
An Inscription For Cathy Seipp
I already know how I will autograph my memoir for Reason editor Nick Gillespie. "Nick, keep it ---- for me."
But what do I write for my friend Cathy Seipp, who's miffed that was she lumped in with five other friends in the dedication of my producers book. She writes me: "Yes I am sure Nick would be charmed. Now please think long and hard -- no pun intended --about the deeply personal and sincere inscription you're going to put in mine."
Dear reader, I need your help coming up with something deeply personal and sincere for Cathy. Won't you help this Torah Jew do a mighty mitzvah?
Rob writes: "Cathy - You make me feel like a natural woman. Hugs - Luke"
Chaim suggests: "But for you, nobody decent would want to break bread with me. But for you, I would be a freak among men, a loser among women, and a stranger among the Jews. But for you, I would be eating pork by now."
Robert suggests: "Without you, I'd be nothing."
The Gift of Fear
A friend of mine has become famous. Yet he sends out his home address with every email. I told him that was stupid.
As someone who has walked on the dark side and dealt with many dangerous people who threatened my life, I recommend this book: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.
Are YOU an Agent? Maybe a Hollywood Type?
I believe that we Jews need to stick together, especially in these perilous times of rising antisemitism. That's why I am offering any Jews who may be working in Hollywood first dibs on the creative output of someone I know (not in the biblical sense mind you). His work is just amazing. In fact, few people here or elsewhere are even capable of appreciating his prodigious output. So, as a favor to you Hollywood Jews and to him (he is as Jewish as they come, as he is willing to prove if you are of the comely sort), contact him at the following address: RABBIGADOL@YAHOO.COM.
Think of it as a "double mitzvah".
Don't You Wish You Had Invested in Microsoft in '90?
The http://LukeFordSeeksAWife.blogspot.com blog has not been going like gangbusters. I suspect that this is because word has not gotten out yet as to its existence, people who know forget, and pure envy of me. That's why I am mentioning this here again today. I need a wife, and who knows, maybe you need a husband. Surely if you are a woman of fertile years and heterosexual, you need a husband and since I could be that husband, perhaps you need me. Whatever. What I want you to do is provide a summary of your physical, psychological, social and moral traits to my advisor on this matter, RABBI GADOL, who received his smicha (ordination) from one of the finest yeshivas in the world. His email address is RABBIGADOL@YAHOO.COM, and he promises to handle all inquiries with sensitivity. Which brings me to the teaser - don't you wish you had invested in Microsoft in 1990, or CISCO or even AMAZON? All these stocks are very expensive today, but they could have been had for a song fifteen years ago. That's where I'm at right now - I can be had for a song. But I tell you ladies, my stock is destined to rise enormously in the next few years, by which time likely you won't be able to win the love of me. But if you make the effort now, that love will be with you even long after I become a prosperous and revered member of the community. So DON'T WAIT! I'm Microsoft, circa late 1980's.
Is it Wrong to Ape the Appearance of Other Groups?
This question arose in the context of a Jewish friend of mine who has adopted the cool crisp blonde look of a shiksa goddess even though she happens to be Jewish. But it comes up in other contexts as well, such as the Negro Raperess who dyes her hair blonde to look white, or the white boy who tries acting black. Is it a sign of racial/tribal/ethnic treason to engage in such conduct? Is it a moral crime for someone to undergo plastic surgery or for her to have herself made up to look like the members of other genetically distinct populations? Discuss amongst yourselves. As for me, with my fine goyishe good looks, that just isn't an issue.
Steve Rabinowitz, Political Consultant
People Who Bought My Memoir On Barnes and Noble
People who bought this book also bought:
Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul Tony Hendra
The Spiral Staircase: My Climb out of Darkness Karen Armstrong
All the Women of the Bible Edith Deen, Book Sales
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith Anne Lamott, Ann Lamott
Confessions St. Augustine of Hippo, Henry Chadwick (Translator)
Customers who shopped bought my memoir on Amazon.com also shopped for these items:
Great Companies, Great Charts by andy dunn (Rate it)
This Is Burning Man by Brian Doherty (Rate it)
Lights, Camera, Sex! by Christy Canyon (Why?)
Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man by David T. Hardy, Jason Clarke (Rate it)
My Life by Bill Clinton (Rate it)
Rebel Without A Clue
Nick Roven writes on Amazon.com about XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul:
So, Mr. Ford is ousted from one temple after another for his refusal to give up his porn gossip website. As it should be. Ford wants to be an Orthodox Jew (probably because in the religion he finds reinforcement for his misogyny and bigotry)and the religious code he embraces forbids this. Where's the drama in that? It's not as if Ford is challenging the religious code. He simply wants to have it both ways, like a petulant child.
If Ford were half the writer/journalist he thinks he is he could easily have turned his back on porn gossip and started writing on any number of subjects and the rabbis would have smiled upon him. But he found a niche for his monosyllabic style of writing on the Internet, where the demand for stylized, intelligent writing is very low indeed.
This is the story of a stubborn, untalented, vainglorious man and it's a self-published book to boot. Doesn't that say it all?
Al writes on Barnesandnoble.com: An honest, candid, often touching and moving story of a deeply thoughtful man caught between two worlds while searching for an identity.
Warner Brothers Party
I show Cathy my new book The Producers: Profiles in Frustration, including its dedication to her and five other women who've been good to me.
"There should be a separate section just for me," said Cathy. "You know I deserve it."
Holding my new books.
Photos by Emmanuelle Richard.
Those Who Are Not With Me On This Are Against Me
Thus far "Rabbi Gadol" (oh long have I wished to be called that) has not received any suitable responses to my quest for a life-mate. But I am not discouraged; it is still early in the game, and for me the game has been going on for a very long time. I am patient.
Still, I am disappointed in the response of those few close friends of mine who have chosen to respond - journalist Mike Alb0 and a woman friend of mine whom I often squire about town. Would it be rude of me to note that neither of these generators of negativity has a mate? Why is it that singletons are so hostile to the idea of harnessing the power of the internet to achieve happiness in life? Does it cost them anything that I might be happy? Rest assured, dear friends, that no matter how wonderful the woman out there whom I meet and fall in love with thanks to this effort, I will still make time for all of you. That means I will still go to free parties sponsored by the LA Press Club, and that I will always be free to pal around East Los Angeles with Mike Alb0. But please guys, instead of mocking my efforts, how about instead supplementing them with efforts of your own?
PS Yeah, I have been told that the blogger thing does not work for me, and that I should ditch protocols (on the theory that it is stretching me too thin), but there is a reason I dismissed such talk out of hand
when I first heard it. It came from someone my rabbis have always warned me against. But maybe he was right after all. Because you know, Chaim is always right.
Rob Eshman, editor of the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, writes: "I just read Gene’s [previous editor] interview with you. Really interesting. I can’t imagine that outside of me, you and Gene anyone would be interested, but I appreciate your doing it. Gene is thoughtful and independent, and much of what is good about the paper was his doing. BTW, he was wrong on most, if not all, the facts concerning my family and its Rothschildean wealth. But as we sat around the 17th century Carerra marble mantle piece in the family library on the ancestral Eshman manse next door to the Heinz’s little place, we all had a good, rich laugh."
Am I Husband Material?
My sperm have been posting on Cathy Seipp's blog: "Luke thinks the world of you and would never utter any criticism of you in public or in private. (I know, as I am privy to his every thought.) Would that he could say the same thing about you."
Cathy replies: "I love Luke, but until he stops sleeping on the floor (among other things -- like having his "sperm" leave messages here) he is not husband material."
My sperm reply: "Yes, Luke is a man of many seasons, and yes, he has a style that is all his own, but so what? Look at the worst men out there who have married. Would not their wives have been better off if one of their lady friends had offered to fix them up with a man who maybe was a little "different", but still good at heart? That is all we are asking of you, that you look beyong the social convention of your peer group and see the goodness that is in our nuclei."
An anonymous poster writes: "I used to date this guy, and I cannot believe he is still available. Ladies, he is amazing, both in and out of temple, if you know what I mean. So long as you are willing to go to the mikvah (a requirement that only applies to Jewish women anyway), he is up for everything you might want."
Fear not, your efforts on my behalf will not, like the seed of Onan, go to waste. Any good woman you might pass my way who is not Jewish will be passed along to my other bachelor friends to pick over. My friend Chaim Amalek, in particular, is not at all picky about matters theological.
Girly replies: Oh, wow, really? Why didn't you say so? In that case, I have no hesitation but to send you the particulars of every hot single shiksa I know. I laud your non-discriminatory ways.
Luke Ford is an equal opportunity employer. That should be your strapline - use that, sit back, and let the women swarm over you like flies on ships.
If You Are My Friend, Here Is What You Must Do
I am a bit disappointed in the reaction of some of my friends to this venture. They sniffle at me for trying to be more than I am, as though this were a bad thing. I know I am not perfect, but with a good woman backing me up, I would be a whole lot better than I am, and I ask that you respect my quest.
"What Can I Do Today to Help Luke?"
These are the words that I want to flash in your mind as you consider your role as my friend, when you wake up, when you floss your teeth, and when you push a button on an elevator. I sincerely desire your help in finding a woman who will make of me more than someone whom you find entertaining. I want not to be known merely as "Luke Ford, that character" but "Luke - that guy who married way up." We will still be friends, but I want to be more than the class clown, the oddity you show off to your friends to convince them of the breadth of your social circle and your tolerance for others.
Here is a partial list of people whom I expect to sift through their rolodexes to help me find a wife:
1. Steve Croft of 60 Minutes (and he knows why).
2. ALL the producers I interviewed and whom I helped make a bit more famous in my new book.
3. Everyone I ever interviewed for other purposes who likes me.
4. Cathy Seipp.
Cathy Seipp Before Her Reduction
Go Home Luke
Cathy Seipp writes: Can you please do us all a favor and get OFF THIS HIDEOUS BLOGGER format, which is affecting your writing (and not for the better) and GET BACK to your pristinely clean, easy-to-read LukeFord.net? PLEASE????
I mean, that Luke Ford Seeks a Wife thing, that didn't even sound like you. It sounded like some blandly boring person trying to imitate you. The generic blogger template is getting into your style.
I'm trying to think of subtitles for my book JEWISH JOURNALISM. How about:
* When EJ Met JJ
* Is it Good for the Jews?
* The Big Snore
* Profiles in Courage
* On Bended Knee
* 'I lost my courage with my foreskin'
* Jews for Journalism (Me)
Hold Jews to a Higher Standard
Joe Schick writes Luke: "Does it bother you that the USY scandal and the [Sheldon] Zimmerman scandal were ignored by the Jewish media?"
I thought they were covered extensively. It was made clear that the indiscretions were not on minors and that Sheldon did not "prey" on people. Yes, I would've liked more details, but it seemed obvious that it was consensual activity between adults, and hence not a big deal.
What is most important in matters such as these is that they be covered accurately and in good taste. I think this is the best article I've seen on Sheldon Zimmerman and HUC.
I think it is philo-Semitism when the news media hold Israel and Jews accountable to a higher moral standard. I had no quarrel with Gregg Easterbrook's remarks (except that they were clumsy and poorly argued) about Hollywood Jews such as Michael Eisner and Harvey Weinstein should know better than to traffic in violent filth such as Kill Bill.
Laugh or Cry?
Mike Alb0 writes: Man, sometimes we don't know whether to laugh or cry about some of the stuff that goes on in this crazy business. Case in point? The latest stunt by Aussie mental case Luke Ford.
It seems Luke wants to settle down and marry...a woman.
His plea can be viewed at www.LukeFordSeeksaWife.blogspot.com/ .
Filled with all of the usual Ford hallmarks—the preening narcissism, the overweening ego and his bizarre tendency to be judgmental—it's a pretty fun thing to read.
It's been our observation that most women aren't actively seeking insane partners for the possibility of marriage, but you never know. Maybe Luke will get lucky. We certainly wish him all the best in his search. And we offer our sympathies to any woman loony enough to answer his cry for help.
Spotlight On New Jersey Jewish News In Orthodox Prostitute Tampering Scandal
How will New Jersey Jewish News and editor Andy Silow-Carroll handle this story?
The Federation, which owns the paper, will say, don't cover it. Charles Kushner and his Orthodox family are good for about $200,000 in donations each year.
Journalistic instincts say you must cover it.
Former editor David Twersky must be thrilled to no longer be at his post at the paper and in the safe arms of the American Jewish Congress.
New Jersey's Gov. James E. McGreevey's top fund-raiser, Charles Kushner, has been charged with hampering a federal investigation.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that Kushner wanted the prostitute videotaped with a witness in the investigation. The U.S. attorney's office did not elaborate.
U.S. Attorney Chris Christie said Kushner hired a New York City call girl and two other individuals for $25,000. Christie said Kushner sent the witness' wife a videotape of the witness and the call girl having sex.
Kushner is charged with conspiracy, obstructing a federal investigation and promoting interstate prostitution.
Here are two previous stories the New Jersey Jewish News have done on Charles Kushner:
New Jersey Nets story
Builder may bid on Israel bank
Google "Charles Kushner" and "orthodox" and you get 19 results, some interesting.
Charles Kushner founded a yeshiva:
Charles Kushner, who founded the Academy in honor of his parents, ensured that this 225,000 square-foot structure leaves visitors in awe. The interior glass ceilings and walls in many classrooms, labs, common spaces and the library provide an aesthetic and cheerful home to its students.
“He [Charles Kushner] built a facility that people just marvel at,” said Rabbi Scot A. Berman, the principal of the Kushner Yeshiva High School, one of the two divisions of the school—the other being the Kushner Academy serving the elementary and middle school grades. “Many institutions come visit us to gain new ideas.”
Joe Schick writes: How do you know Kushner is Orthodox? Because he founded an Orthodox yeshiva in memory of his parents? That doesn't mean anything.
In any event, what does Kushner's religious affiliation have to do with the allegations? What does this story have to do with Jews generally or Orthodox Jews particularly? If Kushner were involved in the day-to-day activities of a Jewish school or shul, it would be one thing, but all indications are that he serves as a donor, board member, etc.
Luke says: When an Orthodox Jew commits a legal and sexual sin, it is more newsworthy than when a secular person does it. An Orthodox Jew, by definition, is expected to live up to certain standards. It's a bigger deal when an Israeli soldier beats a Palestinian than when Arabs murder 10,000 Palestinians. Because people have higher moral expectations for Jews than for non-Jews, and for Orthodox Jews more than non-Orthodox Jews. This is elementary, my dear Watson.
I know Charles Kushner is Orthodox. The biggest Jewish day school in this part of New Jersey is named for Charles Kushner's father. The biggest Modern Orthodox synagogue is named for his father. Charles Kushner and his brother and his sister and her husband form a powerful philanthropic network. They're all liberal Modern Orthodox.
Charles Kushner is extremely political. Jewish journalists are careful not to cross him. He's a major player in New Jersey Jewish life and in New Jersey political life.
His particular method of political fundraising is an undetermined part of the law having to do with partnerships. He claims he has written permission from partners to give on their behalf political contributions. He bundles all the contributions from all the partnerships he general-partners in. They don't even know what he's doing but he claims he has it in writing.
Charles Kushner paid an $508,900 federal elections fine last week. This could devastate the governor of the state.
Kushner and his family and relations are pillars of the community. When pillars of the Orthodox community are charged with hiring a hooker to have sex with someone and tape the interaction, it's particularly juicy.
A good Jewish paper would cover these stories about Charles Kushner.
Me writes: Kushner is a Member of Board of Trustees Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy. Whether he is actually involved in the "in the day-to-day activities of a Jewish school", I do not know.
But as a legal trustee, I believe he has a legal responsibility for the "day-to-day activities" at this institution.
Did the NJ Jewish News ever do a story about Kushner's illegal campaign contributions settlement earlier this month?
The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California
The More Modest The Better
Eishetish1 writes on FrumSex: This, was in yeshiva (so was I) is what is referred to as a fetish. Some people are into feet. And some people are totally turned on by the idea of whats broadcast on the outside being so different than on the inside. The more tznius the better. Probably the more chassidishe the better. Am I right guys?
Goyim Jump On Jews Over Jewish Journal Cover Story
A bunch of dumb goyim jumped on us here in the comments for the excellent Jewish Journal cover story on traffic as a Jewish issue. A kiddish HaShem, I told them the Chosen Ones did not care for their opinions as we don't tell them they were all fooled by a nebish from Nazareth.
However bad you believe Jewish papers to be, they are leagues above their Catholic and Protestant newspaper counterparts (those are really newsletters).
The Video Cameron Diaz and Luke Ford Don't Want You To See
JTA's Former Washington Bureau Chief
Robert writes: I'm thinking that you should be more proactive in your moral leadership. LF.net needs a celebrity outreach program to help celebs get right with God.
Courtney Love is half Jewish by birth. Reach out, Luke. Counsel her.
Is Bush A Goner?
Chaim Amalek writes: It is looking more and more like Bush is a goner after one term, just like his father. Poetic justice, no? Had Papa Bush finished what he started, Saddam would have been disposed of by a truly international force in the early 90's that included hundreds of thousands of Arabs, and the president of today would not have been saddled with any "what do we do about Saddam" debate. Like father, like son.
If Bush falls, the neo-ConservaJuden are finished. This is the sort of thing you ought to be discussing on your blog. As things stand, your efforts are too unfocused, too diffuse. You lack the punch of the old days, when you freely combined all your musings on politics, ----, religion, and yourself in one place for the world to look at. Now, you are but a capon. And you aren't even getting a Federation grant to do this to yourself. (Please do not post this on Protocols - that blog leaves a bad taste in my mouth.)
Trading tomorrow to eat today
In the shriveled Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, the search for food is constant. Scraping together one meal often comes at the expense of providing for the next, let alone reporting the depth and passion of the American Jewish experience.
Machete in hand, managing editor Amy Klein steps out of her mud hut in Venice before dinnertime and begins whacking at the base of a struggling young tree.
A cornfield lies nearby, every stalk stunted and barren. A coffee bush wilts in a patch of earth so dry that each footstep kicks up a puff of gray dust.
Roots and stems from the false banana tree — so named because it never bears fruit — are all there is for dinner today. Klein will pound them into a pulpy mush that offers little real nutrition but at least will quiet the hunger of her J-Date husband and seven children. When those parts of the tree are gone, she will boil the bark. When the bark is gone, she will search for something else, say, a book contract.
"This place is cursed," Klein says of the Jewish Journal's half-acre plot.
Life on less than a dollar a day, as most Jewish journalists live it, is the unending pursuit of sustenance. In the Horn of Los Angeles, it is a search rarely satisfied.
The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles is one of the five lousiest newspapers in the world and the largest per-capita recipient of humanitarian aid. Nearly half the population of 37 is malnourished. Every year, several reporters face starvation. For the very young, life often ends in a sad, blue death.
One day last year, during a slowdown in Federation advertising, staff members were reduced to eating each other in the lunch room.
Five entered. Two came out alive.
Behind the statistics lies a harsh reality that helps explain why hunger is such an intractable problem in Jewish journalism. When life is so consumed with survival, tomorrow is routinely traded away to fill stomachs and column inches today.
The causes of Jewish journalist hunger — Malcolm Hoenlein, war between Jewish agencies, intermarriage, gay marriage, corruption, boredom — never go away. They fade during the relatively good times, only to return.
Under the dictatorship of Rob Eshman, hunger has been particularly acute. To pay for his 78 wives and 412 children, President Eshman has had to tighten the belts of his staff members, denying them any share in his thriving "men seeking men" personals.
"If the deadlines don't kill us, the drought in classifieds is coming behind to finish the job," Klein says.
Amy, who is about 35, wipes the sweat from her face with the ends of a blue head wrap as she bustles around the Journal's plot on an endless round of assignments. The soles of her feet are cracked and stained with dirt.
Teresa Strasser has yet to turn in her latest singles column. There are no men under the chuppah pictures to round out the latest issue. Perhaps she'll need to do another story about the closing of the JCCs.
Aid agencies say that much of the Jewish Journal's hunger is self-inflicted — the result of Eshman's armed conflict with conservatives, a stifling editorial policy against riveting stories, poor hiring and too many second-rate JTS stories. The Journal spent millions on a lengthy civil war and a border war with the Jewish Heritage paper.
'I Finished Your Book'
A young Persian woman writes me: Hi Luke;
I finished your book. I really don't know what to say! I never could see such a dangerous person within you. Anyway I like it that you criticize yourself like that. You know your problems and that's a big step.
I never forget first time I saw you.I was looking for a space to park. I saw you with your Kippa on your head and I said to myself "shit it must be lots of Orthodox people there!" I can't tolerate lots of Orthodox together! Now I kind of know the story of one of these Orthodox people. I always know they are really dangerous but not in the sense you are!
YML's Unkind Jew of the Month Award Goes To...
Andy Carrol Responds
From Fiddish: Editor Andrew Silow-Carrol responds to Benyamin Cohen of Jewsweek on the AJPA listserv:
A number of us have been interviewed by Ford. He is a character, but I found that, after posting a transcript of our interview on his web site, he was open to my corrections and amendations and quickly changed the transript to reflect them. And because he posts the full transcript, there's no defense that any of us were quoted "out of context." Ford clearly has his point of view -- he thinks Jewish journalism is lousy and wants those in the profession to explain why. But so far, the interviews -- with Larry Cohler-Esses, Rob Eshman, Jonathan Sarna, Michael Berennbaum, and others -- make for fascinating and sometimes sobering reading about the state of the profession. I also think it is never a bad idea for journalists to experience what it feels to be on the other end of an interview. So I'll have to disagree with Binyamin -- take Ford's call, weigh your words carefully, and enjoy the debate that he is engendering with his project.
Andrew Silow-Carroll Editor in Chief New Jersey Jewish News
Avi writes: Luke, I am so happy for you, you crushed this mighty s.o.b. Jewsweek guy who so full of his own crap.
You have exposed him for the world to see.
The late Rabbi Avigdor Miller Zt"l explains the Parsha about Pinchas revenging the evil doers, that contrary to liberal belief, revenge is justice, unlike those fake misplaced lefty lovers who say "the court room is not a place of revenge." The Torah teaches us differently, a world without revenge is a place without justice, if Hitler got away without punishment there is no justice in life.
This freaking jewsweek editor tried to mull you down with his ugly egoistic aroused ambition to rape your so pure beautiful heart. And yet you lived to to see him handcuffed through Steven I. Weiss and all other silent blog readers who watched with painful amusement how such criminal conduct can be done to such a great Zadik, not only to stab you but to throw your dead corpse hanging out in public with shameful dirty lies about what happened.
Don't get me wrong, I still firmly believe journalism at large is a rude vocation where you get to pimp or screw whomever you wish, and for Steven Wies to play moral babysitter, and lecture you with salt on your open wounds, makes this saga ever more so painful. Wise is in denial which makes him more guilty then Ben Cohen who did not hide his bullish self impotence. Wise tries to paint an image of transparency, when his alter ego is so blatantly in display in every word of his silly put down of you as if he is the only pious man left standing in this sinful world, why did not he ask Benyamin's side of the story because he doesn't care. Hello some grave injustice was done buy one of his buddies and he wouldn't care less, what an holy ass.
Speaking of self impotent "Benumin's" who control their own narrow worlds here you have another editor who will no-doubt give you a beating, Yuri Yanover has mentioned Benyamin Jolkovsky, this guy is a black hat journalist, who splashed in the adult waves when Drudge picked up his Coke on Tishe BeAv story about Joe Lieberman, he used to write for the Wall Street Journal, now edits his daily collection of right wing and Charedi brainwashing, and toils with a self impotent agenda that Chabad Lubawitch is far more removed from Judaism then Christianity, definitely a more interesting bully then Benyamin Cohen. Go ahead take him on, and let the egos pleasure itself... BTW ask Dennis Pragger about him, he had a major fallout with him, because Dennis is too close to the Evangelical world.
UleLevy umer yedid Hashem... our hearts are with you, don't let yourself fall to all this minor stumbling blocks, you have chosen to clean up the house and show for the world what rubbish fills this supposedly pious institution of of Jewish journalism. Like why did Yury Yanover fired Benyamin Jolkovsky because he burned his Democratic hope Joe Lieberman, and why did Yediot fire Yury because he burned down their lefty beacon of hope Rabin as God. This is pretty much a job nobody will take on only our poor friend Luke Ford, pity on your guts. I only hope you will survive this gruesome battle field.
Chazak VeYamets Libechu.
Profiles in Courage
Here's the email Benyamin Cohen of Jewsweek.com sent out about me to all editors of Jewish publications in the AJPA (American Jewish Press Association). He did not have the courage to share it with me. I found it on the Forward blog of Steven I. Weiss, who owns Protocols and brought me on months ago as a guest blogger. Steven has written for Jewsweek.
To all editors,
If you have not already, you will probably be contacted soon by a guy named Luke Ford, a writer from Los Angeles. He is currently writing a book about Jewish journalism and is asking for interviews with several AJPA members.
Like some of you, I agreed to be interviewed by him. In a transcript he showed me of our conversation, he ended up taking my words out of context and later started acting very discourteous and unprofessional.
Besides this Jewish journalism project, he's been involved in some shady projects in the past (some pornographic, some evenagelical, etc.)
I would highly reccomend to anyone who has yet to speak with him to NOT DO SO. You may come, like I have, to regret it later.
All the best,
Editor, Jewsweek Magazine
Luke writes Steven Weiss: Steven, I could not have put it any better myself. I am happy to share with you any of the email in question to establish their veracity, as well as the tape of the interview with Benyamin to show that nothing was taken out of context and I was courteous (contrary to Benyamin's allegations).
Cathy Seipp writes Luke: Er...uh...er...uh...
Well, let's see.
He sounds pissy. But so do you, as the email exchange goes on. I would not have asked you to change the word sucks to stinks. But since he did, and it was evidently a big thing to him, and I guess we'll take his word for it that it's not normally how he speaks, and he's not a celebrity or even a public figure, I would probably have gone along with it.
If I didn't know you as I do, I would be more on your side here. But since I do know that sometimes you will dig your heels in and be stubborn for no good reason when it comes to making these sorts of changes -- or actually, changes that are far more serious and really should be made -- I'm inclined to understand why the guy feels pissed off.
Jonathan Friendly, Formerly Of The New York Times
Jonathan Friendly worked at The New York Times from 1969-87. He moved to the Detroit Jewish News in 1996 and Renaissance Jewish Media (serving for a year at the Atlanta Jewish Times).
He writes me: "In the early 30's Ferdinand F. Wachenheimer, wanting a job in journalism and fearing that his Jewish name would be a hindrance in finding work, took his mother's maiden name and became Fred W. Friendly. At the same time and for exactly the same reason, my father, Alfred Rosenbaum, took his mother's maiden name and became Alfred Friendly. The Wachenheimers, Rosenbaums and Friendlys were not in that generation observant Jews. I went to an Episcopal prep school from 4th grade through 12th."
Jonathan tells me he's "far more worried about American journalism than about Jewish journalism because we get so much wrong. Remember who was supposed to win Iowa? Howard Dean. John Kerry was supposed to finish fourth.
"We got weapons of mass destruction wrong.
"I worry more about the loss of curiosity in American journalism generally."
"What do you think about the phrase, is it good for the Jews?"
Jonathan laughs. "I think a better question is, is it good to be Jewish? Is it good to maintain that particular identity in America? I am an American first and a Jew second."
"Is it a reflex of yours to look at the world through the prism of is it good for the Jews?"
"Probably more now."
Yori Yanover - The Man, The Myth, The Interview
Luke Ford In Negative Chatroom Scandal
'I Want You To Marry Me'
Amalek writes: Here is my thinking: you need a new direction, which I of course am happy to provide. I want to compose something along the lines of "I Want You to Marry Me." To that end, kindly as the following people (obviously which) to compose a few paragraphs towards that topic:
1. Why you should marry my son. (your father)
2. -----------------------son (step mom)
4. -----------------------friend (Cathy Seipp)
'Sucks' vs 'Stinks'
The most interesting part of my interaction with Benyamin Cohen of Jewsweek.com came after our interview. We exchanged a contentious series of emails on Sunday, July 11, 2004.
Only after Benyamin decided to take this public (he emailed all Jewish newspaper editors and told them to not speak to me), did I decide to take this dispute public.
First, some background.
One. I've read Jewsweek.com on and off since it launched in 2001. I may go a couple of months without reading it or I may check it every week. I think it has some good articles and is a positive contribution to Jewish journalism, the Jewish people, and Judaism.
Two. I've found that a large number of people I interview suffer from the misapprehension that I seek their good graces, approval and friendship. I am not. I am seeking to do my job. Any friendships I develop while working on something will not come at the expense of my project.
In general, I've found that a large number of people, within or without the world of writing, feel obliged to tell me, without my soliciting their opinion, what I should do with my writing. When this comes from people who are more accomplished than me, I usually welcome the advice. Otherwise, I usually don't.
An example. Hollywood producer Jeff Wald.
This brings up to Benyamin Cohen. Who do you think has been the most difficult person for me to talk to in Jewish journalism? Gary Rosenblatt, editor of The Jewish Week? Rob Eshman, the editor of the Jewish Journal? Nope. Benyamin Cohen. He's a busy man. Once we had to reschedule an interview because he was overwhelmed with other obligations. Another time, we had to reschedule because I forgot to call when I said I would.
Benyamin and I did our interview Friday morning. Saturday night I sent him a transcript.
I am under no journalistic obligation to give Ben or anyone a transcript of our interview. Not only is this not journalistic practice, it is the opposite of journalistic practice. Occasionally, to get an interview, I will promise a subject that he can see and improve any quotes I use from him. I do this only when I have to and I did not give any such assurance to Ben before our interview. Instead, before saying goodbye, I said I'd send him a transcript before I published it.
I did that. He replied with this document of changes.
Almost everyone I interview welcomes the opportunity to amend things they've said. I usually go along with their changes, but not always. In fact, I can't think of anybody where I've accepted every change he's requested. Until Benyamin Cohen, everybody I've interviewed has understood that it is up to me in the final analysis to accept or reject his requested changes.
I started to run into problem with Ben before 8 a.m. Sunday, July 11. I asked him for contact info for his friend Vincent Coppola. He replied, "Why?"
Because I want to ask him out on a date.
Why? Obviously because I want to interview him for my book on Jewish journalism.
Ben replied: "yeah ... but he's not a Jewish journalist. And he only worked at a Jewish paper for a year."
Ben, I don't tell you how to run Jewsweek. Don't tell me who I should or should not interview for my book.
I get this all the time and I'm sick of it. If you don't want to give me his email, why don't you email him and ask if he'd be willing to talk to me. He could be a black lesbian Buddhist for all I care, so long as he has worked in journalism on jewish topics. That he is not Jewish makes him all the more interesting to me, sheesh, why do I have to explain something so elementary.
Luke, Relax, man. I just wasn't sure you if you knew that he wasn't Jewish. that's all. truth be told, in my opinion, he knows more about Jewish journalism than most Jews do. his email address is ------. Just tell him you interviewed me and I gave you his name.
Ben sent me about a dozen more emails when I did not go along with every one of his requested changes to his transcript. I agreed to most of them but I wouldn't change the word "sucks" to "stinks."
Ben had said on Friday: "My philosophy on Jewish journalism is that most Jewish journalism sucks."
I emailed Ben that I preferred "sucks." It was more pungent.
He replied: "I would prefer it to the other way please."
I replied: "Nope."
He replied: "huh?"
I replied: "I am not making the change you requested."
He replied: "Luke, I don't think that's appropriate. I'm asking you again to make that change. If you do not, I will have to ask you to delete my interview completely."
When was the last time you sent a subject a transcript of an interview before you published their quotes? That is a rare privilege that I extended to you. It does not mean that I am going to accept every single change you wanted. I went along with 90% of what you requested.
That is the way I've always done it. People frequently want to soften the pungent things they say. Sometimes I accept their requests and sometimes I do not. It is my choice as publisher as it is your choice when you publish.
You said the word "sucks." I prefer it to "stinks." That word and the interview stands, whether you like it or not. You can ask all you want. It is staying up. If there are other changes you want, I will consider them.
Because we are going to fight over this matter, does not mean that I am not happy to help you in any way I can now or in the future. But I am not always going to do what you ask. I am not your servant.
This is elementary journalism. It is not the right of an interview subject to demand changes to words he said on the record in an interview. Before we did the interview, I did not say, "I guarantee you that you can make all the changes to the transcript of this interview before it sees print and that you can completely shape whatever coverage I give to you in my writing" or any such thing. That is absurd. Why on earth would you think I'd give you such a thing? Do you give that to people you write about? Do you always let your subjects vet their words before they appear in your publication?
This is an interesting journalism discussion. I'd be curious what your friends in the field feel on this matter, if you cared to discuss it with them.
I appreciated your forthright interview. I like your publication and will be glad to help you where I can. I appreciated your referral to Vincent. We will speak later today.
That I appreciate your help does not mean I will accede to your every request. Why would you expect that? Do people always do what you ask?
Before I agreed to the interview with you, I asked Andrew Silow-Caroll if he thought it was a good idea. he said it's fine since Luke will let you read the transcript and change things if you want.
I guess I was under that false impression.
As you know, friday morning was not the best time for me to conduct an interview -- my computer had crashed, my car wouldn't start, and my air conditioning was broken. I raraely, if ever, use words lie "suck" (ask my friends, it's not in my character).
You caught me at an extremely perturbed time and I think now you're taking advantage of it.
Look, it's your site and you can post whatever you want. I just think that ...
a) you're doing a terrible disservice to your readers by showing them a Benyamin Cohen that doesn't really exist
b) as such, you're losing credibility in my eyes
If the wording doesn't change, I will not be able to help you any further with any project you may be working on and I will dissuade my colleagues from helping either.
I give you complete freedom to share this dispute with anyone. I'd be curious for the reactions of disinterested parties.
I admire your work and from what I know of it, I admire the life you lead. You're a good guy.
That said, with every good quality comes a mirrored bad quality. I don't think we're really fighting over the word "sucks." Along with your courage and independence and vision and self-made thing comes this unpleasant bullying and control-freak quality. If I am the first person to point this out to you, then disregard it. If I am not, then maybe it is something for you to think about.
I am open to being wrong about this and changing the word down the line if people I respect such as Andy tell me to, but I really think this is all about you needing to have 100% control over this interview, and your needing to boss others around.
That you would throw a fit over this one word (want your interview taken down if you are not accommodated, you will do other things to discourage people from talking to me etc) reveals something very disturbing about you. But ask your wife or people you respect. Let us leave our egos out of this dispute and, if you want, get feedback from others.
I'd be happy to publish an open letter from you to readers of your interview (at the bottom of your interview). You can say you did the interview under false assumptions, that the image of you presented in the interview is false, you don't use the word sucks normally, and that you discourage anybody else in the field from talking to me because I am...whatever you want to say. I won't edit it one word.
Calling me a control freak is way out of line. You don't know me and you've never met me. We've only spoke for 30 minutes. To pass such psychological judgments is irresponsible and rude on your part.
Unfortunately, I don't think we can reach an amicable conclusion about this. I will now be forced to tell others not to talk with you -- including Vince later today.
I am the moderator of the AJPA listserv and I will be sending out an e-mail to all the editors later today to tell them of my unprofessional and discourteous experience with you.
I replied: "Go for it."
He replied: "FYI, I have told Vince not to speak with you. As well, I have sent out an e-mail to all the Jewish newspaper editors advising them not to talk with you."
I replied: " May I have a copy of the letter you sent out about me?"
He replied: "Nope."
I replied: "You're such a brave man."
He replied: "C'mon... why would I give you that kind of professional courtesy when you treat me the way you did?"
And that's where we left it.
RJA writes: Poor Benyamin; he assumed that Luke, aka Levi Abraham, was a journalistic push-over. He figured, how tough can an interview be with a man (a convert no less) who spent six years interviewing porn sluts about Kierkegaard and bukakke. Mistake number one. Then he figures that using bully-boy tactics will get the blog world to turn against Luke. That was mistake number 2. Little does Bennie know but that Luke is the master of the blogosphere; Luke eats guys like Bennie for breakfast. There is no way for Bennie to come out of this looking other than a neb. As they say in the hood: this is Luke's playground.
The New Jewish Journalism
An interview with Benyamin Cohen of Jewsweek.com.
A chat with Larry Yudelson. He posts on Protocols frequently as "Reb Yudel" and writes this superb blog. Here's one of his latest posts:
You mean anyone can be a nudnik now?
What struck me in the Jewish Week's article The New Diarists: Inside the expanding universe of Jewish blogs was the question posed by the subhead:
"Are they a challenge to the establishment or the rantings of eccentrics?"
Anyone who has covered the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations knows that "establishment" and "rantings of eccentrics" are not an either/or pair. Someone at the Jewish Week needs to get out more.
'Do You Find That It's Healing For You?'
From Robert Avrech's blog:
A few hours later, I receive a phone call from an old friend who is going through a terrible time in his life. He has read Seraphic Secret for the first time and he asks me:
"Why are you doing this?"
"What do you mean?"
"It's so...so...intimate. It's not like you."
"Well, I'm not me, anymore."
"It's so, so, so horribly revealing, and painful."
"Do you find that it's healing for you?"
Luke says: People frequently feel uncomfortable when you change. I remember how uncomfortable many of my friends were when I converted to Judaism. Later friends became very uncomfortable about some of the subject matter I wrote about and how that changed me.
Writers, particularly screenwriters, are more sensitive to the turning points in a human life, experiences such as the death of a loved one, that forever change you.
Those who write hoping that their friends and family will read them are usually going to be disappointed.
I remember when I'd worked for a year on my autobiography. I offered it to my sister to read. "Why would I want to read that?" she responded. "I already know your life."
Friends and family tend to believe that they know you so well that you are not particularly interesting.
It's a foolish notion to believe that you already know someone's life unless that person is dull or is someone that you sleep with every night.
The people you pray with in shul are usually very different from the people you most want to talk about life with.
Forward Washington Correspondent Ori Nir
My New Support Group
As the sun begins its descent over Los Angeles, I wish to announce that I've been inspired by the documentary Trembling Before G-d to start a support group for all those who consider themselves Orthodox Jews but wish to live publicly in violation of the tenets of their religion.
I am forming sub-groups for practicioners of homosexuality, adultery, swinging, man-boy love, bestiality, pornography, R-rated movies, and those who believe themselves to be ordained female rabbis according to the laws of Moses. The subgroup dearest to my heart will be for all those Orthodox Jews who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, Messiah and God. This is big-tent Judaism that puts Edah and Chovevei Torah to shame. Get in on the ground floor.
This afternoon, I drove my messianic Chabad friend Shmuel Nersky around Hancock Park. He was strapped to a cross on top of my van. You should've seen the abuse he suffered at the hands of fanatical Orthodox Jews. They called him all sorts of names, such as meshugannah.
Seriously, I regard female clergy as one of the disasters of the Modern Age. For all their contributions, they have weakened standards, replacing law with compassion (Dennis Prager).
While I rarely give reproof in my personal life (one, because I'm obviously a big sinner and two, because it rarely does any good) and I don't nag people about their sins, I don't believe in rewriting a religion because it makes some people, such as active homosexuals and women who wish to do all the things a man can do, uncomfortable.
Shayne Shiksa writes: In my community I belong to another deviant group, the Shabbath desecrators!, we drive to shul on Shabbat!, we do it because we got no choice, we live too far from shul and if we would not drive to shul we would not have any Yiddishkite. We cannot move close to shul because (a) we cannot afford it (b) we do not like city (c) we like that ocean view from our current residence.
The rabbi knows who we are and he sometimes admonish us with rachmana litzlan, they do not have compassion to our situation! To add an insult to injury there is a sign by the shul entrance “Please turn off your cell phone on Shabbat and Festivals.”
Conservative and Reform rabbis understand our situation. Why don’t the Orthodox rabbis have the same compassion?
Trembling Before My Rabbi
I had a meeting with my rabbi today. My rabbi was very upset with my memoir. I tried to drown out the reproving words by listening to a Torah tape. (Do not click if you are religious.)
Mike Alb0 writes: "Just saw some photos of you. Let's see, you've already admitted a penchant for wearing Daisy Dukes, and now we see pictures of you wearing tighty-whitey, Peter North-style briefs while some skank spanks you. If that weren't enough, you have your hair styled in a Billy Ray Cyrus/Steve Irwin mullet. One, two, three strikes; you're out! You expect me to be seen in public with you? Granted, I'm no pretty boy, but my reputation has been damaged enough. I'd like to try to maintain what's left of it. You need to make some changes."
Trembling Before God
While eating dinner, I watched this famous documentary. It moved me deeply and I dissolved in tears, all over my Cheerios with soy milk. It reminded me so keenly of my own story.
My partner and I used to live in Jerusalem. We were peace-loving folks who simply wanted to practice the Torah and love each other. The ugly Haredim, the religious zealots, drove us out to Los Angeles.
My partner and I liked to go to shul every Shabbos, if not every day, and hold hands during the Torah reading. As a result, we were driven out of every Orthodox shul in town.
My partner's name is Spot. He is an Australian sheep dog.
Many people say I am sick for loving a dog but God made me this way.
I want people to know that it is perfectly acceptable to practice bestiality and be frum.
Why do you bigots think that bestiality takes you away from the Almighty? Even when you sin, according to this documentary, you are cradled in the bosom of the Almighty.
OK, I must go feed Spot.
I run a support group for Orthodox Jews who like to lie with dogs as most men lie with their wives. If you'd like a place to turn, email me. There's no reason for you to believe that bestiality takes you away from God. Those passages in the Torah forbidding doggie love need to be reinterpreted in the light of modern science.
I particularly liked the fat dyke Malki who talks about the pain of keeping it bottled inside while she wears an ugly ring in her nose and her whole body screams "Dyke."
How come dykes in movies are hot but dykes in documentaries and real life are not?
When I first came out as a doggie lover at age 14, I felt very insecure. I was on tranquilizers. My parents sent me to a yeshiva in Israel, because they thought there were no practicers of bestiality in the Holy Land. Big mistake. That's where I came out completely.
I really miss being with people who fear HaShem. I miss being with people who love to do mitzvos. My partner Spot and I have been away from Torah learning for seven years.
If I only had stayed on the Torah path, I wouldn't have rabies today.
Yankel writes: Aleph. When/where will you be online? What efforts are your publisher making to sell your book? Do you have a tour lined up?
Bet. The "Your Moral Leader" bit is over. This isn't 1999 any more.
Gimmel. Cathy Seipp now receives all the buzz that you once had. She has drained you without your even knowing it.
I Make Page Two of LA Independent
Honoring Mothers Who Make Change Happen
Theodor Herzl's Sad Love For 13yo Girl
XXX writes: There is a shocking revelation in Hebrew Ynet news portal (the Yediot Acharonot web site) about Theodor Herzl's sad personality, now is one hundred Yorziet to the passing of the Zionist dreamer, they researched his letters nd found some disturbing graphic love for young thirteen year old kid, nd has written bout atracking some grave sexual illness after having sex with hooker in brothel which hey coused his early death o his desis... http://www.hydepark.co.il/hydepark/topic.asp?topic_id=1011468 (this is copy of the article since the Hebrew site requires registration)
When talking to Jonathan Mark, ask him if his own spiritual quest in life doesn't corrupt his journalistic quest. The guy has virtually only positive articles about jewish institutions, since his crusade a few years ago with concubine (pilegesh) story, he has become a Baal Teshuva devoting his spirited pen to beautifying Judaism, perhaps his talent can be best used for Aish.com
Also please interview the editor of left-wing haaretz newspaper (David Landau). The guy is frum yid, shomer shabbes. It's interesting to see how he is juggling his fundamental religious practice with left liberal ideas and editorials.
The One Thing
On the Dennis Prager show, people called up with the one thing they would most want to change about their spouse to increase their marital happiness. Women called about finances. Men called about looks.
Reb Yudel writes: Imagine if only enlightened people called into talks shows....
Host: Caller, what's on your minde?
Caller: Well, I'm just grateful for God for all the wonderful things in my life...
Why is Hollywood so weird?
Producer Mark Frost provides an answer in Luke Ford's new book:
"A lot of the people in this business are godless and corrupt. That’s without dispute ... Creativity often creates unbalanced people. When you take an unstable personality and add fame and wealth and freedom of movement, you’re going to get amorality ... It’s what Martin Amis called, "the moronic inferno side of show business.""
My Memoir is for sale on Amazon.com
XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul.
People are already selling it used for $31-$43 each when it sells new for $17-$27 (hardcover). There must be a great rush on it so the publisher can barely keep up. Get a copy while you can.
Hymen Clitorsky writes: The initial run was exhausted as soon as Luke bought a few copies for his family.
SERIOUS suggestion: the publisher should heavily advertise this book in the gay press, as it has all those themes that homosexuals fret about: acceptance, rejection, mortality, religion, family and lack thereof, and, of course, non-procreative sex. And that smart photograph of a sensitive looking Luke won't hurt any.
From a review on Amazon.com: This is not a lurid tale about the ----industry, which really is more of the backdrop here. It's an honest, candid story of a man facing many issues of faith that are ignored by most people today. Mr. Ford presents his story honestly and candidly. My only fault with the book is that the writer of autobiography should involve the reader more; here, however, Mr. Ford writes about himself with considerable detachment, so we don't get a sense of what he was feeling or thinking at some pivotal moments. He often uses dry reportage about private moments when a more personal recollection seemed necessary. I look forward to more of Mr. Ford's writing.
It's available on BarnesandNoble.com here.
My Relentless Pursuit Of Quality
Forthcoming interviews: Marc Klein, Benyamin Cohen, Matt Dorff, Ori Nir, Jonathan Mark, Steve Rabinowitz.
A friend from The NY Times advises me: "Focus the next project on quality, as opposed to banging out book after book. The world now knows you can do a book. Time to let it know that you can do a big book or a small high quality book, not to diminish your work."
James David Besser Interview
Kosher Meat and the bodies in the Harlem River
I heard about muders in the 1950s-1970s over the certifying of kosher meat. Soon after, the kosher meat industry moved out of New York and the reach of organized crime.
XXX writes: According to the NYTimes (Mar 11, 1979): “Martin Paretzky, a 71-year-old diamond dealer, who has been missing since last Wednesday and was believed to be carrying up to $500,000 worth of precious stones when he disappeared.” On March 12, 1979, the NYTimes reported: “A 27-year-old gem dealer carrying as much as $250,000 in precious stones to a customer was reported to have disappeared on Friday, just two days after another New York City dealer was reported missing with up to $500,000 in diamonds.”
In the initial days after the kidnappings, the police did not link the two cases. However, on March 13, 1979, the NYTimes reported that Satya Narian Gupta’s body was identified in the poconos where he was found dead bound and gagged in a sleeping bag along a road in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. However, the police did find a link (NYTimes, April 6, 1979) between the murder of Miriam Drelich and the kidnapping of Martin Paretzky – Drelich’s husband, Philip Drelich was a suspect in both cases.
Finally, on May 26, 1979, the NYTimes reported that “the body of a man tentatively identified as Martin Paretzky, a 71-year-old diamond dealer who disappeared nearly four months ago when he was believed to have been carrying as much as $500,000 in diamonds, was found floating in the Hudson River yesterday afternoon, the police said… With the rising temperatures in the last month, a dozen bodies have been floating in the rivers flanking Manhattan.”
An autopsy conducted showed that Martin Paretzky was strangled. Still, no connection between the Paretzky and Gupta kidnappings (NYTimes May 27, 1979).
On May 19, 1980, a State Supreme Court in Brooklyn found Philip Drelich guilty of fatally stabbing his pregnant wife. The NYTimes (May 20, 1980) reported that Drelich was “recently convicted of murdering an elderly diamond dealer in March 1979, was convicted yesterday of slaying his own wife one month later.”
Final note: the NYTimes (December 20, 1982) reported that Raymond Paretzky, son of Martin Paretzky, became the first student from the City University of New York to be named a recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship. Raymond spent two years studying at Oxford University in England.
JJ Managing Editor Amy Klein Gets Book Deal
Celebrating Fourth of July On Hermosa Beach
I was sitting at home at my computer at 2:26 Sunday afternoon when my shaygetz friend Robert (a PhD student in political philosophy) phoned, inviting me to a party with hot chicks in the South Bay.
We have to park a mile away and finally find the party at 222 Strand around 5PM. It is jam-packed. There's a $10 charge for admittance.
I see an entirely new side of Robert when he makes a beeline for the margarita wrestling. Hot chicks in flimsy see-through white T-shirts and bikini bottoms wresting in a tub of greasy margaritas.
The poster proclaims: "Tacos for Tatas. Help us fight breast cancer."
Not for me. I studied my biography of Joseph Conrad by Jeffrey Meyers.
I only went inside the party when I needed to use the bathroom. I felt claustrophobic. Yes, there were hot chicks, but it just wasn't my scene. The average age was about 28. I'm too old for this stuff.
Robert boasts about this girl Sheila who started talking to him. When she walks by, he calls out to her. She waves and trudges on. Blew him off!
When the next round of margarita wrestling starts up, I reluctantly take a look. That these were real chicks, not professionals, who were degrading themselves added an unexpected frisson to the festivities.
I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I felt rooted to the sand by the vulgar spectacle.
Robert writes Moxie:
So, you missed out on hot chicks in bikinis wrestling the fuck out of each other -- in quaint setting of an immense pool of Margarita liquid. Now, Mox, I'm intensely disappointed in you. I so deeply repined your presence. Imagine what lustre and edification you could have brought to these, such heady happenings! Undoubtedly we ought have succeeded in enlisting you to don bikini; to go at it; to go for the gold; to pop some moxie cans of female-on-female whup-ass. (A few body-dops, body slams, face-plants, ass-plants to boot as well).
No joke -- Luke can attest to the veracity of it -- I spotted an Ann Coulter look-alike. She was walking nearby on the strand. With the right proposition, I'm sure she coulda' been a contenda'. The crowd, however, wasn't pleased with Luke. As if a mad leopard, he lurches then leaps -- right into the middle of said mosh-pit -- and [verbally] ejaculates, top-o'-lungs: "Repent you heathen bastards! You feeders of the bottom!! Get behind me Satan!! You ALL -- all of you!! You are going to HELL!! REPENT!!!" Poor Luke was projectiled -- through the air -- over 100 feet out from that weltering cauldron of Dionysus (tits, ass, ass-cracks, reeling priapic Satyrs and all) like a divine, blazing comet.
"I had to connect with my Neanderthal brothers," excuses Robert.
I feel disappointed that out of the hundreds of attractive young women streaming by, I did not know one. I did not recognize anybody all day. I thought I was a man about Los Angeles.
Margarita wrestling is what happens when moral norms begin to break down.
"We're reverted to a state of nature of all against all. You have unleashed amoral freedom."
"I'm concerned that the imbibing of alcohol diminishes the observance of natural law," I say.
"Public drunkenness and nudeness is a source," says Robert.
"I saw this man take his willy out and go for a leak on the beach," I say.
"Public nudity is a scourge on man's dignity," says Robert, reliving the margarita wrestling in his mind.
"I wonder if Moxie would've wanted to join in the margarita wrestling. She's often said she wanted to engage in jello wrestling with Ann Coulter."
"We're with a drunken barely-post-adolescent crowd."
"Without a liberal education in the great books," says Robert, who had exactly such but nevertheless acts like a nihilistic pig, "you end up with the victory of the gutter."
There's a fight. "You stole my pot, you bloody wanker," is Robert's explanation.
How quickly the imbibing of alcohol leads to nudity leads to pot smoking leads to fighting and moral anarchy.
"This is a journey into the heart of darkness," I conclude. "We're denying the whole idea of progress, upon which our lives have been built. Western Civilization has gained sustenance from the idea of progress for the past 500 years."
"There are no core shared moral virtues," says Robert. "Especially here."
"Margarita wrestling shows the antagonistic clash of civilization and decadence, the disastrous clash of the white man and the African, and suggests the humane values that are needed to survive this conflict.
"I am Marlowe. I represent the European conscience that you have abandoned in this Hermosa Beach moral jungle." (pg. 191)
"It represents the unleashing of the most primitive bestial passions."
"If only our visit here had been nasty, brutish and SHORT!"
"The state of nature is red in tooth and claw."
"I'm being held captive here against my will."
"In the state of nature, man is only absolutely free to defend his own life and kill his fellow man."
"And rape his fellow woman."
"The social contract has been broken," says Robert. "It is a folly to think that it is still today doable.
"We're in a precipitous decline of female beauty in the past 30 minutes. I feel demoralized and weakened."
"Our physical weakness has accompanied our moral decline."
"The woman in the cowboy hat with her nipples exposed is giving me the eye," says Robert.
"This place has turned into Sodom and Gomorra with the setting sun. Let us retreat now and save our last vestige of human dignity."
"Flags waving and guns blazing."
8:30PM. Luke and Rob take a romantic stroll down the Strand towards dinner as the sun sets over the ocean.
After dark, Robert and I surround a white woman walking topless down the Strand. She has large drooping breasts. She's not that hot. We weren't sure if those were really her breasts hanging out. They are.
"This is normal in France and Tahiti," she says to the men.
Robert's just completed a class in Immanuel Kant and I hope that he wants to discuss the moral imperative with her that one should act in such a way that if everybody followed your example, the world would be a better place.
"If this is middle America," says Rob, "this country will not survive.
"Venereal disease is so thick down here you could cut it with a knife."
10PM. Robert's convinced a woman is staring at him. I say he's delusional.
I see the woman. It is my Jewish friend Karen. "I didn't expect to see you here," she says.
How low I have fallen from my pedestal as a moral leader.
Two Blog Luke
B writes: WHY HAVE TWO BLOGS LUKE? TWO BLOG LUKE INSTEAD OF TWO HAND LUKE??
WHY ARE THERE NOW FEWER COMMENTS THEN EVER BEFORE DO YOU READERS THINK? ARE THERE LESS READERS OR JUST MORE POSTS?
Luke replies: I use Protocols for a serious discussion of Jewish issues, with a focus on Orthodoxy. YourMoralLeader blog is for other matters, such as myself.
The reason for fewer posts on Protocols these days is because of the Jews. It's a conspiracy against me because I'm a shaygetz.
Rabbi Avi Shafran Interview
The Producers: Profiles in Frustration
Serious Shortage of -------- in Jewish Journal
I searched JewishJournal.com for "---- ---" and alternate spelling "-------" and the plural "--------" and I could not find one example. Why such discrimination? Rob Eshman, why do you insist on criminalizing love?
Please search the websites of your esteemed Jewish publications for this word.
The Plot Against America
Philip Roth has written a great new book, The Plot Against America:
When the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeated Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invaded every Jewish household in America. Not only had Lindbergh, in a nationwide radio address, publicly blamed the Jews for selfishly pushing America toward a pointless war with Nazi Germany, but upon taking office as the thirty-third president of the United States, he negotiated a cordial “understanding” with Adolf Hitler, whose conquest of Europe and virulent anti-Semitic policies he appeared to accept without difficulty. What then followed in America is the historical setting for this startling new book by Pulitzer Prize–winner Philip Roth, who recounts what it was like for his Newark family — and for a million such families all over the country — during the menacing years of the Lindbergh presidency, when American citizens who happened to be Jews had every reason to expect the worst.
Gene Lichtenstein Interview
Luke Gets Married
In Cecile's imagination:
Luke appeared unnatural in his tuxedo. His bride was about to walk down the aisle to meet him below the chupah--only she was supposed to be here five minutes ago. No one could ever stand up Luke Ford! He was supposed to be irrestibly charming--so that any gal would say yes if he proposed--even half jokingly.
Suddenly she appeared but her eyes were swollen red. She was nervous. He was not surprised. Any girl would be scared out of their wits to spend the rest of their lives with him. Here was a guy who drove in a bashed up vehicle, slept on the floor and whose hovel looked like someone was murdered--a good place for Mystery Theatre, as acclaimed cartoonist Donna Barstow once said.
His bride was not accustomed to such roguish living. She would never sleep on a floor. She spent most of her life tucked away in the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills and her transportation was always provided by a top-of-the-rate chauffer in a brand new nice-smelling limousine. She could not turn back now--no because her rabbinical father promised her in marriage in condition that Luke stop writing dirt about him. He was a former flesh business tycoon.
At nineteen, she had no boyfriends because, well, her father would have them wrongly accused and thrown into the prisons at Guatanamo Bay. This lady was so pure she was never kissed if not shooken hands with. Her waif-like eyes fluttered behind her clear tears as she slowly walked down the aisle as if to the slaughter. Her husband-to-be was almost twice her age, slightly overweight, and was promiscious in his youth. She was petite, skinnier than an anorexic, and purer than the Virgin Mary.
The 'rabbi' (former mafioso) began chanting his trope. Luke was disgusted with this false Hebrew, but tried to hide it so at least his bride could think it pure. Luke's bride was not a Torah Jew--she was moral and well kept, but because of her sheltered upbringing, her knew nothing about Judaism.
Luke's bride forced a smile as he started muttering foreign words at her face. Suddenly, his sweaty hand cupped hers and a clammy ring engulfed her finger.
She realized she had to do the same thing to him. She took his tanned waxed finger and carefully placed an identical ring on his finger. Suddenly, she had to chant Hebrew. Luke whispered the phrases in her ear. She repeated somewhat less than accurately. After loudly breaking the wineglass, the festivities began.
Loud rambunctious Klezmer music began to play off the stereo. Many of Luke's distant friends (flesh industry tycoons), and rabbitizim began to dance. Of course, both social groups were estranged from each other. One 'friend' got far more than drunk and started muttering unseemly phrases. He was arrested by Luke's in-laws guards and kept in a back room. Luke, downing three Foster beers, started leaping from one table to another. His bride looked helplessly on. With her Mormon/Jewish upbringing, she would never touch the unkosher fluids. She smiled and helped her new husband down. His bloodshot eyes peered into hers profoundly. She smilked meekly. His eyebrows furrowed. She puckered her lips. His mouth opened. She advanced towards him. Vomit spewed forth.
Luke's bride started screaming and demanded help. Her parents came and escorted him to the back right by the drunk 'friend'. Her mother tried to console as she sobbed. Meanwhile as her maids were cleaning up her bridal dress, two 'friends' were playing Strip Chess in which each piece lost equals a garment to be tossed aside. And worse--people began to copy their game as well. By the time the maids cleaned up the dress and helped Luke's bride into a simple frock, half of the wedding guests were dancing naked to a fast-paced version of 'Chava Nagila'. The rabbitizim were beginning to leave politely saying the party was not for them.
After the wild reception, all guests calmed down while eating cake. Long speeches soon followed. Cathy Seipp read a humorous speech on Luke's bachelor days and how she reformed him. As a gift, she presented him many house-keeping books as well as a gift certificate to Crate and Barrel. Luke's humbled family exclaimed how happy they were to hear of his settling down. Of course, they were oblivious to the fact that this was an arranged marriage.
Luke's bride, recovered from Luke's ill moment, shyly said how happy she was to marry Luke. She started weeping, while simultaneously saying she was happy. Her brother thankfully escorted her off the podium.
The next day, Luke and his new bride left for Barbados.
Jewish Journal's Idea of a Role Model
Dodger slugger Shawnn Green. Cover headline: "Shawn Green Bats 1.000 as Role Model."
Story reveals Shawn married a shiksa, has never batted the Dodgers into the playoffs, is secular, and plans to expose his daughter to "everything."
According to a search of JewishJournal.com, this is the 36th article in the paper mentioning Shawn in a positive light. Folks, give it a break. You're beating the poor man into the ground worse than you did to the Jewish Community Centers issue.
The only newspaper that may be worse is the amateurish monthly Los Angeles Jewish News.
No apology for behaviour during confirmation--why?
Cecile du Bois wants to know.
Young Cecile, I will not apologize for my diligent study of Torah during your confirmation. Now, if I had gone around ------ your young friends, then yes, you would've been one of the first persons I would've gone to, on hands and knees (virtually speaking) saying, Cecile, I was wrong. I got carried away with the festivities.
EJ Kessler of the Forward
An interview with Rob Eshman, editor of the Jewish Journal
The Jewish Journal of LA
Ari writes: The frum Jews I hang with loathe The Journal. They want to know and they are correct in this: who the hell does Eshman speak for when he puts two men on the cover? Why does the paper run men seeking men ads? Money, certainlky. But do they run ads for escort services? Is it a Jewish paper just because they run stories about actrresses who have questionable conversions? While the paper claims to be Jewish, it does everything in it spower toi undermine Judaism.
I tell them that they do not have to read the paper, they counter, properly, that it send the larger message, to Jewish children, to the outside world, that we are just hunky-dory with things that are obviously a chilul-Ha-shem.
If someone like Rob Eshman or Amy Klein spills a great deal of ink over say, homosexual marriage, how seriously should the Jewish community take it? And then comes the central question: who does Rob or Amy speak for. If they speak for themselves, do we as readers not have the right of full disclosure about their private lives? In other words, if Rob hammers away at the moral and social necessity of homosexual marriage, I think we have a right to know if he's doing this because he's well, swinging for the other team?
We all know the dirty little secret of the conservative and reform movements: that over fifty-percent of their female rabbis are gay. Or is it because Editor Eshman is just a hack for the Democrats and in the great tradition of Pravda, expounds the part line. Or is it because he's ignorant of Torah, or because he knows Torah, but rejects it? This all sounds small, but it's what journalists do all day long. Why does no one demand an accounting from the writers? Journalists think nothing of exposing others, it's time for them to be exposed. If Amy Klein seems to be angry at frum Jews, well, how come? Was she treated badly by a beautiful Yeshiva boy and now she's bitter and having her revenge? And if the Journal gives space to Arab propaganda writers, one must ask, does Rob Eshman also get space in the American Arab newspapers? It's up to you, Levi, to straighten out this awful mess.
Sheldon Teitelbaum Interview
Can anyone tell me why my formatting is all screwed up? My profile is on the bottom right instead of the upper right. I just changed the format of my blog. If you hate it, suggest one.
All I want from my Jewish newspaper
All I want from my Jewish paper, to adapt a saying on a a t-shirt, is peace in the Middle East and a ---- ---. Is that too much to ask?
When I read an article in the Jewish Journal, I want to feel my whole body convulsed by tension, climaxed by a satisfying conclusion that makes me scream, "Oh my God. Oh my God. That was the best ever." Is that too much to ask?
I want to leave my tawdry life while reading the paper and float in an ethereal world. Is that too much to ask?
Each time I open up the pages of the Journal, I expect my experience to usher in a messianic age. Each time I'm disappointed. It makes me very very angry.
Anonymous writes: I hate to say this, but ever since you left your other ventures and settled onto protocols and this blog, you've become very tedious. You keep bringing your shtick to the same few topics over and over again - Jews, Jews writing about Jews, Jews writing about Jews who write about Jews etc. - and it just isn't working. It does not help you cause that in going this route, you have selected a form that graphically looks like any of 4,000,000+ other blogs out there. Even when you were merely writing about producer has-beens and never-weres, you at least were hitting a broader range of topics in your interviews. And trying to borrow (textual sampling, I call it) from your "other" days isn't working either because you go to that well far too often. You've gone stale.
Interview With Gene Lichtenstein, Former Jewish Journal Editor
I spent two hours with Gene at the Farmer's Market on Fairfax Thursday morning. Then we exchanged some email.
Gene writes me: I'm curious about [Rob Eshman's] views of Jewish journalism. Incidentally, thank you for not asking me "what do you think of his editorship of the Journal," which is not an infrequent question. For the record, I think he's a terrific editor and is doing a great job.
Good writing was the central focus of the Journal when I started it. My judgments may have been faulty, but the concern was paramount.
Steve Weinstein, for example, was a writer, not a journalist. He was lured away from The Journal within a year by the LA Times to write features about popular culture; Joe Domanick had no reporting experience either, but turned out to be an exceptionally good reporter and magazine writer. He was pulled away by the LA Weekly and the LA Times. Columnists were seen by me as writers who would serve as the spine of the paper. I started with Yehuda Lev, who was a wonderful writer. By the time he moved to Rhode Island, he was old and tired and spent, though occasionally produced something wonderful.
Marlene Marks, who had wanted to be the editor of the paper, came by about a year after we had been publishing. Her husband had jusr died. She wrote two rather boring, sophmoric pieces about Judaism and the community, which I turned down. I told her to write about being in the hospital when she heard that her husband had died, and her anger at the doctors and rabbi, etc. She did, and was off and running. Her columns were about herself and women and being a single mother in LA, and in the first few years they were pretty terrific. Later she became a celebrity and her columns were a bit ponderous and full of herself.
During the last year that I was at the paper, I couldn't bear to read them and asked Rob to take over the responsibility (this was before she developed cancer).
Anyway, I could cite many other writers---Steve Leder, David Margolis, Dov Aharoni, JJ Goldberg, Teresa Strasser, Rob Eshman, Eric Silver, Helen Davis--all of whom I brought to the paper because of their writing. Stephen Leder, who is rabbi at Wilshire Blvd. Temple, was then an assistant rabbi who wrote the Torah Portion, which had been guarded by the Board of Rabbis, who zealously made sure every rabbi who wanted got a shot at it. Most of the writing was dreadful until Leder came along; at which point I dispensed with the Board and signed him on. Read some of his columns; they were very good. The Federation, the Board, the publisher of the newspaper all pressured me to rotate, but I stayed with Steve until he had to bow out because of time.
The same thing applied to Dov Aharoni, an extreme right wing Orthodox rabbi. I don't think he and I agreed on a single issue; but he was a wonderful writer. The Federation in the person of Stanley Hirsh, who was also a member of the newspaper's board of directors, pressed me not to run him: He was too extreme, too divisive. We kept publishing him until he withdrew to attend law school. Even when it came to hiring reporters, such as Naomi Pfefferman and Julie Fax, good writing was a central factor.
I approached JJ Goldberg and asked if he'd write for us if I could put together a consortium of Jewish newspapers to pay him a decent salary. He agreed and I called David Twersky, who then edited the NJ newspaper, and asked him to help line up some papers. That's how JJ came to write a column.
On the other hand, [a right-winger], who has a large following in LA, asked if he could write a column for us. I had published a few pieces by him, but found his writing pompous, overblown and boring. I turned him down because of the writing, though he was convinced it was because I disagreed with him about policy. What he didn't understand was that I was desperate for good writers on the right (Aharoni was a case in point), but unwilling to publish bad writing.
Who's the Jewish Journal staff-woman that then-Jewish Journal publisher Stanley Hirsh was infatuated with (though Stanley was married), leading to his erratic behavior that led to the firing of Gene Lichtenstein as the JJ editor and his replacement by Rob Eshman?
Who was the woman poet at University of Judaism who was popular with the students but denied tenure because outgoing president David Lieber and the staff found her obnoxious (circa 1991)?