Monday, December 6, 2006
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Amalek Comments on Emily the Blogger
Once again, we see a Jewish singles world that is characterized by too much dating and not enough procreative mating. By her age, the average Palestinian woman - busily using her vagina as a demographic cannon while the average Jewess is using hers as a mere toy - has already had four children. Meanwhile, the Jewess impresses the world with her cleverness at wordplay. But the Jewish world, its numbers still depleted by the Holocaust, does not need more oh - so - clever Jewesses, impressing the goyishe world with their fancy college degrees and emasculating jobs. What it needs from them are babies, Jewish babies.
These need not come from the sperm of Jewish men, and, I think, should not. One reason Jewish women have so few Jewish children is that Jewish men are not man enough to grab them by the ovaries and instruct them in the Will of the Lord God of Israel. No, today's J-Dating Jewish man is too much a Larry David stereotype, well educated and well paid, but deaf to the hoof-beats of history fast approaching his soft and inviting rear. Jews need fresh blood, as the pitiful birthrates of their community well attest. (Obviously, I am not speaking about the orthodox here.)
For that reason, I urge Emily the Blogger to follow in the fertile footsteps of Amy Sohn and focus her attention on finding a strapping young shagetz to marry. I especially favor matings between Jewish women and Irish cops or firemen (although in a pinch a Pole will do), as they seem to offer exactly what the Jewess needs, and it isn't a graduate degree from Harvard.
As for you, Luke Ford, I note that while you cannot contribute numbers to the Jewish race because of the rule regarding matrilineal descent, you can make a contribution to the White Race - a race now tasked with defending the Jews against dusky Islam - by impregnating the hitherto barren wombs of the "actresses" you socialize with. Help preserve the dominance of the European Races by adding to their progeny, and you will be protecting the Jews, and there is your calling. Given the urgency of the hour, don't let Western social custom limit your activities in this regard. Remember, monogamy for men is a goyishe invention.
Spook Turned Publicist Turned Blogger
I spent many a Friday Night Live (I stopped going once I turned 40 5/28/06) chasing around two young ladies and trying to get them to talk to me.
It was a betrayal of my dignity (I don't like to chase chicks, they should chase me) and my values (these girls were publicists and in my worldview, publicist equals paid liar).
On Nov. 30, I was scanning Jewcy.com and the only interesting article was a dating blog by my FNL friend (in the L.A. sense) Emily, "a former government spook, moved to L.A. (from D.C.) almost 2 years ago and believes she's already dated half of the Jewish male population in the city (i.e. the J-Date meal plan.) She's just out of a long-term relationship and is ready to dive back into the murky dating abyss, courtesy of Jewcy."
Emily is cute, confident, and competent. She's smart, sex and sassy. She's formidable, fearless, and frank.
Aside from that, she's no big deal.
Here are my two previous posts on Emily and her friend Melanie:
Friday Night Live Adventures Of Emily And Melanie
I met these publicists (crisis management consultants) at Friday Night Live (Temple Sinai) a few months ago.
My not so secret belief is that publicist equals paid liar.
I don't think they were impressed with me.
Anyway, time heals such wounds, and we're now happy as Larry via the internet (in person there's that icky sexual tension).
Melanie writes me June 17, 2005:
I don't know if you noticed, but when Emily and I called out your name with our "I love you Luke" expressions -- we immediately had stares from everyone around us wanting to know who you were. So you can thank us for your celebrity status that night.
Some interesting guys that come through that rapid networking--more commonly known as speed dating--event. Emily and I usually get bored and start talking to eachother during the program, or I will hear something her guy says and jump in the conversation or vice versa. Not sure why the guys we always get sat with have less than nothing to say...
I got one guy who I recognized from jdate, actually this kid that I thought I might enjoy talking to. We emailed on jdate quite a few months ago a few times on our personal accounts and when I saw him in temple for the first time a few months ago I recognized him, looking vaguely like his picture, but the picture was definitely a one that made him much much more attractive.
I am not trying to be mean, but in person he was a totally different person! Observing him in the kiddush room, I realized he was for sure not the one I was expecting...
So we had stopped talking on jdate and not until last Friday did I see him again (this was months after the jdate thing) and lucky for me he sat down during the rapid networking...ugh i thought..so i told him my name was Emily (nudging Emily to tell her not to say anything) had next to nothing to talk to him about, I mean he was nice, just didnt grab me at all, and that's important nowadays.
So at the end of the few minutes I guess he thought we hit it off and asked for my card. I told him I didn't have one and so he gave me his. He asked for my phone number and I said, well, ummm....I guess, hoping that he would take that as a hint of I am not interested.
The networking was over and I was looking for a way out so I wouldn't have to give him my number and he just stood there. I actually started walking away and he followed me. I stood next to some other guy and he waited behind me! And when I turned around to leave again he was there and asked for my number again. He said, do you have a pen?
I told him you werent allowed to write on Shabbat. I was trying to help the kid out! He wasnt getting it! So he took out his cell phone and I gave him my home number which I never ever answer -- I know I probably should have said no, but I felt bad. and I told him my name was emily again. Well long story short (sorry this is dragging) he called my home number, which says "you have reached Melanie," so I guess he figured out I was really Melanie, left me a message, found my old email correspondence and emailed me there, and emailed me on jdate. Persistent guy..still not interested.
March 23, 2005 update:
I met this blonde bird at shul Friday Night. I asked her what she did for a living. She said, "Crisis Management Consultant."
I exploded at her, years of rage finally crystallizing: "Oh come on. You're a publicist. Crisis management consultant [my donkey]. You're a publicist."
"Ok," she said, walking away. "You know better than I do. I'm a publicist."
She walked back and forth in front of me several times in the next five minutes repeating those same phrases. I apologized profusely for my outburst and tried to explain it with a story about the time I called [former Buzz magazine editor, author, and Newsweek journalist] Allen Mayer a "publicist," and was subsequently notified that he was a "crisis management consultant."
Turns out the girl worked for Mayer for over two years.
So then I tried to mollify her with the anecdote that Allen had once called me the "Andy Kaufman of bloggers."
I kept trying to talk my way out of the hole for the rest of the night.
Around the time the sun rose, the blonde's brunette friend told me that I was exhausting. I offered to switch out performance mode and to be genuine, but I could only stand that for a couple of minutes before I had to fall back to my "kidnapped by Aborigines when I was a child" routine. Chicks normally dig that. It conjures up primordial notions of the noble savage who needs to be civilized and makes them want me even more than when they are drinking from the wellsprings of my Torah knowledge.
A Letter From 'X'
The deeply mysterious " X" (a member of the Eastern establishment whom I have promised not to identify) writes to Luke:
As concerns Iran, the facts are these:
1. The United States has a poor record at doing regime change. We just don't have the technical skill to subvert in a way that works for us.
2. Our anorexic military (George Bush to Donald Rumsfeld: "Do you think I'm fat?" "I'm afraid I do, George. Let's try to cut a few more divisions of excess flab from the army") is not up to taking on a regional power like Iran, which is defended by fanatical Revolutionary Guards who will fight.
3. Iran has dispersed its nuclear program and hardened key elements of it against the sort of decapitating attack that Israel was able to pull off against Iraq.
4. Consequently, Iran will soon enough have the industrial base with which to manufacture fission-type nuclear weapons.
5. Once it has them, Iran will regard its military position as essentially invulnerable to American attack.
6. Iran will then further boost pressure on Israel through Hezbollah.
Israel shows every sign of starting to cave to the pressure of fanatical Muslim opposition to her existence. By alternatively waging intifada, firing missiles into her heartland, and making occasional noises promising toleration of Israel, Islam's fighters sense that they have a winning strategy for getting the Zionists to withdraw into ever weaker positions from which they will be even less able to stand their ground. Add to that the existence of a nuclear arsenal in Iran, held by a government that has repeatedly called for Israel's obliteration, and the psychological pressure on the Zionists may be too much for them to bear. I suspect that in the end, they will crack just like the Whites of Rhodesia and South Africa cracked, making an accomodation that they think means peace but which in fact means their end.
The bottom line is that the Jewish communities of New York, Los Angeles, and Miami may be set to explode in size over the next few decades. - X
Dear readers, I would prefer that this space be dedicated to discussions of what I had for lunch whilst chatting with my chatty friends, but these are serious times and they call for the trenchant analysis of the very serious Mr. X.
Buzz Patterson - Dereliction of Duty: How Bill Clinton Compromised America's National Security, Reckless Disregard: How Liberal Democrats Undercut Our Military, Endanger Our Soldiers, and Jeopardize Our Security, War Crimes: The Left's Campaign to Eliminate the Military and Lose the War on Terror
Dear Penthouse Forum:
I can't believe this happened to me!
First, let me tell you about myself. I stand 6' tall. I weigh 160 pounds. I have short brown hair. In 1998, the Weekly Standard said I looked like an "acid-washed Brad Pitt."
Tuesday morning, Nov. 28, I dress in my gnatty black undertaker suit with my striped green shirt that was such a hit with the ladies eight years ago, catch up with my psychiatrist, renew my meds, and then roar off to Beverly Hills for the Wednesday Morning Club.
I park on Beverwill near Pico Blvd and walk a mile to the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on 9500 Wilshire Blvd.
Robert Spencer has been scratched as speaker because he's sick. Robert "Buzz" Patterson is sick too but he speaks anyway.
I sit at a table with six ladies (collective age about 320) and three gents.
Horowitz Freedom Center's outreach to community college girls is still coming up short.
The ladies won't want to shake hands with me. They fear getting sick.
I want to scream "You can't catch HIV from shaking hands!"
I was feeling hurt until Mrs. Michael Weiner walked over and the ladies wouldn't shake hands with her either. In fact, they told her to go away because she was sick last week.
There's much concern at my table from the StandWithUs.org contingent about the James Baker/Brent Scowcroft commission pushing Israel to make more concessions to the Arabs.
According to BuzzPatterson.com:
Welcome to the official homepage for Robert "Buzz" Patterson, two-time New York Times best selling author, radio show host, popular speaker and retired United States Air Force pilot.
Since his military retirement in 2001, Buzz has emerged as a vitally important voice for the American military and national security.
As a career Air Force pilot seeing combat duty in far flung locales such as Grenada, Bosnia, the Persian Gulf, Somalia and Rwanda, and serving as military aide at the right hand of President Bill Clinton, he has impeccable military bona fides. As the Air Force Aide to Clinton, he carried the "Nuclear Football."
He is the Chief Operating Officer for the Center for the Study of Popular Culture in Los Angeles, California.
Wednesday Morning Club executive director Michael Finch sits at my table. I suggest that he book Borat as a speaker.
Janet Levy is sick but she still manages a stirring introduction for Buzz. "Every woman here wants to know how drunk they have to get Buzz before he spills all the dirt on Bill Clinton... In comparison to Bill Clinton, Buzz is an altar boy. In comparison to Bill Clinton, most people are altar boys. Compared to Bill Clinton, Larry Flynt is a moral figure."
"That's a bit much," I murmur, eager to maintain my anti-porn credentials.
During lunch, a knife flies into my lap and I loudly yell "F---!"
Buzz says (audio):
The U.S. military won the war in Iraq but it is getting undercut by the media and the Left.
Put more troops on the ground and we'll crush them.
We are so concerned with winning hearts and minds that we've most Iraqi's hearts and minds. That was not true two years ago.
Harvard lost 700 students in WWII. They haven't had ROTC in 35 years. You can't teach ROTC at Columbia since 1969 but you can be a part of a transsexual multi-sexual club.
Sixteen of the 18 provinces in Iraq are as safe as Los Angeles. Ninety five percent of the country is fine.
Short of more 9/11s, there is no way of turning around public perception of the war in Iraq. We've lost the PR war.
The Pentagon has plans to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. They could be implemented in two days but they won't because of world opinion. It will be up to the Israelis.
It will take a dirty bomb or nuclear explosion in L.A. or Phoenix for people to get it.
War correspondents in Baghdad sit around the bar at one of two hotels and drink beer. They send Iraqi stringers off to get stories. They'll pay a lot more for stories of bad news than good news.
NBC News Middle East correspondent Richard Engel boasts he's the only correspondent who's been in Iraq since day one. I bet he hasn't been out of the Green Zone in three years.
During the invasion, over 300 reporters were embedded with the troops. Last month, only three.
The only thing these people... And I'm not being racist here. I mean Arabs. The only thing they understand is an eye for an eye.
We've built 5,000 hospitals and immunized eight million Iraqis.
I went last year to a meeting of conservative Vietnam POWs. They hate John McCain. If John McCain gets the Republican nomination, you might as well vote for Hillary.
A blackberry goes off during the Q&A and an old lady at our table answers it.
You'd think Republicans would have better manners.
On my way out, I slide down the stairs and fall on my bum.
I can't believe this happened to me!
Mysterious 'Luke Ford' Poster In Las Vegas
Can anyone explain what is going on here?
Borat looks in the wrong place for anti-Semitism
Charles Krauthammer writes:
Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of Borat, revealed his purpose for doing that in a rare out-of-character interview he granted Rolling Stone in part to counter charges that he was promoting anti-Semitism. On the face of it, this would be odd, given that Cohen is himself a Sabbath-observing Jew. His defense is that he is using Borat's anti-Semitism as a ``tool'' to expose it in others. And that his Arizona bar stunt revealed, if not anti-Semitism, then ``indifference'' to anti-Semitism. And that, he maintains, was the path to the Holocaust.
Whoaaaa. Does he really believe such rubbish? Can a man that smart (Cambridge, investment banker and now brilliant filmmaker) really believe that indifference to anti-Semitism and the road to the Holocaust are to be found in a country and western bar in Tucson?
... Baron Cohen could easily have found what he seeks closer to home. He is, after all, from Europe where synagogues are torched and cemeteries desecrated in a revival of anti-Semitism -- not ``indifference'' to but active -- unseen since the Holocaust. Where a Jew is singled out for torture and death by French-African thugs. Where a leading Norwegian intellectual -- et tu, Norway? -- mocks ``God's Chosen People'' (``We laugh at this people's capriciousness and weep at its misdeeds'') and calls for the destruction of Israel, the ``state founded ... on the ruins of an archaic national and warlike religion.''
I don't believe Cohen really believes that. He did something that was instinctively funny. Later he came up with a rationale for it.
David Pryce-Jones on France, Arabs and Jews
"Dennis Prager talks to David Pryce-Jones, senior editor of the National Review, and one of the most incisive analysts of the Middle East scene. His new book is Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews."
I Tried To Pray
But I felt like the liturgy was taking personal potshots at me:
For those deserving extinction, let there be no hope; All heretical sectarians and traitors (individuals who inform our enemies to our demise) like an istant be extinct; And the dominion of premeditated sin may You uproot and smash speedily in our days. Blessed are You ALL-TRANSCENDENT One, who breaks enemies and humbles high-handed sinners.
Is There A Reason We Can't Use The Word 'Nigger' In A News Report On A 'Nigger' Spewing Racial Tirade?
Michael Richards uses the word "nigger" numerous times in a stand-up comedy bit and the media keeps referring to it as the "n-word." Why can't they spell it out? In analoguous situations, we use kike, spic, pollock, mick, dago, wop, Christ-killer, etc.
I understand that "nigger" is the worst word you can say in the United States due to its history of slavery, but is it worthy of this media frenzy? Why is Richards' racial tirade any more newsworthy than all sorts of racial and religious tirades that take place in comedy? Many blacks say "nigger." I agree it is different when someone outside the group uses the offensive word, but different to the degree that Richards is getting raked over the coals?
Why is racist the worst thing you can be in America today? Why is the use of the word "nigger" worse than pro basketball players creating dozens of children out of wedlock? In my value system creating a child out of wedlock is 10,000 times worse than using the word "nigger" in a comedy routine.
I Invite Comic Michael Richards To Join Me In Converting To Judaism
Publicist Howard Rubenstein tells Radar. "Here's what he told me: He's not blood Jewish. He was born, basically, without a religion. But he had some very potent and important mentors in his life that were Jewish. He studied some of the other religions, but he believes now in the Jewish faith. He didn't convert, but he believes in Judaism."
The Torah helped me overcome my racist tendencies and it can do the same for Michael Richards.
My Finest Hour
Have you caught all the color and excitement of my coverage of the school board minutes of Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy?
If Luke Ford can't save our children, nobody can.
Khunrum emails: "I would be more interested in reportage of a smutty nature...school board? Hebrew School Board? Is the school board snorting crystal meth and having homo sex like that Evangelical guy?"
Chaim Amalek writes:
You are too old to be doing this. You need to get people like the top-shelf sorts who contribute to the comments section of Cathy Seipp's blog to start writing for your web site.
You need to retire Luke Ford, [wanker].
You need dental insurance.
You need a job.
Helpful writes: ""Hillel Harkham Hebrew Academy" -- is this a new spoof?"
Khunrum emails: "I'm just now watching the Pope arrive in Turkey. Dressed all in white, he's quite the rakish dude. Do any of you know why the Pope wears a Yarmulke? He's sporting a white satin model with a little button which looks quite spiffy."
PARK AVENUE RABBI BROKE LEGAL AGREEMENT WITH MISTRESS
From New York Post:
November 27, 2006 -- A prominent Park Avenue rabbi had a mistress nearly half his age sign a bizarre cohabitation contract - promising she'd get liposuction, become better educated and continue their already hot-and-heavy sexual relationship in exchange for half his house, the woman claims in a bombshell lawsuit.
Janet Pizzo says she had a seven-year affair with the married Metropolitan Synagogue Rabbi Joel Goor - which included recurring steamy sex in his rabbinical office while he lied to his wife about his whereabouts.
Is Rabbi Boruch Sufrin Good For The Jews?
He's the head of religious studies at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy.
A source writes:
He is Lubavitch, but he regularly davens at BDJ, Beth Jacob, and YICC because that is where his students and their families are.
There has definitely been a lot of housecleaning, because there was a desire to reform the school and that meant getting rid of people who either were not responsive to the agenda. For example, it was not clear that the teachers who were there were even willing to teach girls mishna and gemara, even assuming that they were decent teachers, which some of them were not. There were other teachers who felt the school was moving away from religious objectives (i.e. inculcating a sense of emunah) too much and were openly critical of Rabbi Sufrin and the school and I know they were asked to leave. There has been an attempt to bring in more young teachers and also to require them to get Masters degrees in Education through a program at the UJ Ed School.
So far, I am impressed with him, and I would say the other 4-5 Hillel families we talk to about these things generally like him and find him responsive. Which is much more than you can say for Rabbi Kupfer at Maimonides or Rabbi Deer at Yavneh, which are institutions far less responsive to their parents. Families routinely leave Yavneh as soon as they discover their kids have any behavioral issue because the school administration makes it clear they will do nothing to help them.
Rabbi Sufrin was brought in to Hillel in 2003. He got a big raise to circa $150,000 per annum when Morey Levovitz took over as president of the school board in 2004.
Why do Modern Orthodox schools choose leaders from Charedi Judaism? Because there are few Modern Orthodox qualified and willing to take such roles.
"Charedi" means those who tremble before God. In other words, they are the separatist Orthodox Jews as opposed to the Modern Orthodox who try to blend in with the larger society (at least to make money and find entertainment, if not to influence the wider world for good).
Modern Orthodox schools are filled with Charedi teachers because Charedi Jews, in general, are far more devoted to Judaism than Modern Orthodox Jews. The Charedim know more Torah and are willing to sacrifice more for Torah. They are willing to accept low incomes in exchange for the privilege of teaching Judaism to children while the Modern Orthodox prefer higher-paid professions.
A reader writes:
I don’t know about the “devotion” business, nor do I think most of who you label “charedi” would actually be considered “charedi” in most circles, and same for “Modern Orthodox.” But the important economic argument needs to be viewed in terms of the denominator. If one has a university background, whether Jewish or not, you are more likely to opt for a career in the professional world, or go into the Rabbinate. This is true if you are yeshivish, modern or Lubavitch (I have equal numbers of friends from all those backgrounds who went to Medical School, or Law school. In fact, if you are from the better yeshivas, such as Mir, Chaim Berlin, or Lakewood, you have a good chance of getting into top notch Law programs. This same issue has been well described in the African-American community. If you are a college grad, why go into education when you can easily get into Law school, etc and make top dollar?).
Also, many of the “Modern Orthodox” people who are interested in Chinuch will move to Israel, where the lower wages are compensated for by more spiritual communities, higher general level of knowledge, better work satisfaction, etc. (this is actually also true of the yeshiva world, many of the best mechanchim, even, for example, from the Chofetz Chaim world, such as Baruch Chait, are in Israeli schools).
On the other hand, if you come from a weaker yeshiva background, and your option is to go into “business” after yeshiva, then chinuch is frequently something to do for a few years in between kollel and “business” (I recall an elementary school “rebbe” of mine, long beard, who left chinuch to become an air conditioner repairman). The problem is the ultra-low salary. In other communities, they would often import teachers from Israel, who could be paid cheaply and even “off the books” and get a quality instructor for a few years. And why stop with the “Jewish” part of the job? In many private schools the secular studies are taught by part-timers from the public school system working a “second job” to make some more money.
Today, one probably can make more money as a blogger than teaching elementary school at a yeshiva (or public school, or any school, for that matter).
Special-needs children are a problem for most private schools because they lack the government-funded resources of public schools. Thus many Orthodox Jews who send all their normal kids to Jewish schools will send their special-needs children to public schools so they can get the help they need.
Out of all of L.A.'s Orthodox day schools, Hillel is reputed to be the most friendly to special needs kids. Etta Israel, a program for kids with special needs, started out of Hillel.
One Orthodox couple, however, alleges that one teacher at Hillel was not amenable to working with their son who had trouble writing. The couple emailed Hillel's dean last fall:
We were therefore astonished when, at our meeting on September 8 of this year, without a hint of any notice, you told us in no uncertain terms that you had concluded solely because of graphomotor delays affecting his writing, and despite his advanced academic performance in a number of other areas including reading, [the lad] would not be able to perform at the level expected of students at Hillel, and you instructed us to send him to public school.
...When we informed you of our own feelings regarding the importance of [a Jewish education], you suggested that [the lad] might attend Yeshiva for an hour a day so he could "hear the shofar" and be in a Jewish atmosphere for a little while...
The boy has since transferred to another Orthodox school in Los Angeles where he is reportedly thriving.
An observer writes: "Since Rabbi Gottesman's departure major changes occurred at Hillel Academy. Some bold acts were taken with a positive outcome to the school. Is it pleasing everyone? Surely not. However, this is a known practice. When an institution gets new people at the helm it is acceptable and quiet logical, to hire people to implement the new vision. It is not a vendetta or an attempt to get someone. Bottom line: Is the administration acting on behalf of the students and the betterment of the Yeshivah Day School? I don't see any reason to doubt it."
Controversy At Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy
It's an Orthodox elementary school in Beverly Hills.
Longtime Educational Director Nancy Fields, who was let go from Harkham earlier this year and is now at Etz Jacob, writes Morey Levovitz, the president of Harkham's board of directors, on August 9, 2005:
You told me many times that I need to yell and scream at you when I believe in something. Not my style, but let me give it a go.
I sat in the meeting yesterday, and took it while you "lectured" me and treated me with disrespect. But it is time for me to tell you how I feel.
I feel that I need to share with you how disappointed and dismayed I am with you and your constant negativism. In the meeting, you set the tone of hostility and had an antagonistic air. Maybe, as you have readily admitted many times, it truly is your lack of knowledge of the educational process and the whole field of child development, but I can say unequivocally, that your comparison of children to machine parts with serial numbers that you may manufacture in your factory, teaching professionals to factory line workers, and manufacturing processes to the craft of teaching is so far from reality that I hardly know where to start other than to say that even making such an analogy is offensive to me as an educator and parent.
Let me see if I can help you with your total misunderstanding of the last 2 years at Hillel, where we are today, and how we got there and the educational process including the quality of just about all of our General Studies teachers.
As I told you in our meeting, we have many great teachers operating at the highest professional standards and because of their training and positive attitude they are already inherently doing probably 85-90% of what I outlined for you yesterday in the Grade:1-8 Curriculum Guide. Until now it just hasn't been formalized or written. In your e-mail to Annie, you said that we are in a predicament. The only "predicament" that we face is figuring out how to help you understand that your analogy of a school to a factory just doesn't work. Children are people and unlike machine parts, children come to us with family and cultural baggage, with a variety/level of skills, illnesses, sensitivities, problems, likes, dislikes, good days and bad. We must take them as they are, be sensitive, and nurturing, to their daily changing needs and their issues, and teach them with compassion using our skills as educators to find how to make each child successful on any particular day. Dare I say that a machine part never had a bad day?
About 2 ½ years ago, Hillel hired me to come into our school and to co-lead it with a new Head Master. While Rabbi Gottesman had spent 43 years at the school doing wonderful things, general studies and organizational skills were not his strength, so when I started in July of 2003 there was a lot of work that needed to be done at Hillel.
Hillel hired Rabbi Sufrin and we formed what appeared to be a strong team. He was fixing the Judaic side of the school and the finances. I was fixing the GS side of the house, the teaching instruction and the organizational processes and general administration (including support staff, facilities, teacher supervision, lunch programming, discipline etc.), preparing handbooks for teachers, parents and students, desegregating the classrooms and doing whatever else was necessary to get Hillel running in a fashion appropriate for the 21st century.
At that time, we had, and have today many children with widely different capabilities some coming from different cultures and speaking languages other than English at home. It was the school philosophy to try and give Jewish children a Jewish education. The then Board of Directors and both Rabbi Sufrin and I recognized that organizing, transitioning and moving forward with our educational staff to the next level was an evolutionary multi-year task.
In or about August of 2004, you became President of the Board and decided to set a new course. You decided that Hillel was to become the "LA's Jewish Harvard Westlake." You also unilaterally decided to change the scope of my responsibilities as delineated in my two year contract, in the middle, stating that the prior Board didn't know what they were doing when they hired me or what they wanted and that you were going to fix it.
As you set the new course for the school, I tried to be accommodating and work with you. It was clear that you had no understanding of education and the fact that changing an educational program is evolutionary and not an over night process. It was not and could never be revolutionary. It was clear that you didn't understand why you just couldn't dictate that a change be made and that it would happen. It is because we deal with people not manufactured parts. As a result, one must lead and work with a team and encourage them to join in and I believe that we need to provide them with an understanding of why and what the benefit will be. Each team member must be vested in the outcome and must take personal responsibility for the success of the operation.
Unfortunately this philosophy flies directly in the face of your demand, the in-your-face style, and it must have been very frustrating for you to find that your orders were not bringing the immediate results that you demanded.
Despite your misunderstanding of education, I felt that with time you might begin to realize that changing Hillel will take time and that by working together with you as part of a team would bring about the desired change.
We spent many difficult weeks negotiating my new school contract and you made it very plain to me that I was to be in charge of the GS staff and the curriculum and as a result the student. You were supposed to, in good faith support my endeavors to make the changes needed to continue to reinvigorate the General Studies Curriculum, staff and programs.
However, rather that working with me and giving me your good faith support, you have challenged and undermined my every effort. Just one example is Rita W. I started telling you and Rabbi Sufrin in January that we should not rehire her, but both of you slow rolled the situation. No matter how many times I advised you and Rabbi Sufrin that we should not rehire Rita W. you refused to take any action and wouldn't allow me to do so.
Finally Rabbi Sufrin told me that it was so late in the school year that we had to offer her a new contract. Rita is not the kind of teacher that we need and your failure and refusal to act on my recommendations has resulted in a weak staff member returning for yet another year. While I intend to work with her to help her be the best that she can be, do not try and blame me for your unwillingness to act.
Unfortunately, last year, your demanding, in-your-face style caused me to have numerous Vertigo attacks brought on by extreme stress. In addition, I found that I spent too much time trying to justify and defend my every action to you and to Rabbi Sufrin. This constant harassment and your constant demands unfortunately took away a significant amount of the time that I would have otherwise spent working with our staff and students. Your constant complaint was that I was too top level, all I gave was the big global leadership picture and you wanted details, details, details. I can only assume that your need for more details, then the details that I have already provided, was driven by your educational inexperience.
Now, let me turn to yesterday and our meeting regarding the Curriculum that I was specifically requested to compile as well as your e-mail to Anna Baum Novack and Maria Himmelman.
First, I was expressly asked to prepare the provided curriculum and I did it in extreme detail so that you might get a better understanding as to the scope of the job that the teaching profession imposes on and expects from our teachers. Rather than seeking to understand what we were trying to accomplish and notwithstanding the comprehensive nature of the Curriculum Guide, you nit picked everything that you could while not ever being able to get out of the minutia.
You came to the conclusion that the roughly 500 pages of curriculum was all new and that the teachers would be overwhelmed. Truthfully, very little of it is new, rather it has been complied as a guide for our teachers. By way of example, we are currently using Open Court in grades pre-1 through 3. The program is extremely comprehensive and all the teachers have to do is to continue to follow the course of study that they have already been using for a year, and the program will hit on all of the language arts segments necessary for the foundation to move forward to the next level. In grades 4 and 5 we are using the Houghton Mifflin Reading Program and a core literature program. While in 6th -8th grade, English/language arts skills all being taught through literature and writing. While this gives the teachers more flexibility, the continually advancing skills are still being taught and now we have a written curriculum guide for a teacher to reference if he or she feels the need to do something new or different or is uncertain or if there is some skill that they need to really hit upon. You must realize that for the past two years I have familiarized the teachers with the state standards and that they have been working on teaching them and more.
Well I am sure that you are asking if all these skills already exist, and are already being taught, why aren't our children the best in LA? To answer that, you must look at how we got to where we are. For 43 years Hillel had a culture of trying to meet the needs of all Jewish children. By necessity, that meant that we had a very diverse cross section of the community. Children came to us with all skill levels and we took them in. Under Rabbi Gottesman, teachers were allowed to teach the program that they individually felt appropriate. Language arts programs, by way of example, were not used consistently and if we had not made the change to Open Court our ERB results would continue to have been disappointing and be the same as in previous years. Changing the teaching culture has got to be evolutionary where you weed out those that can't get with the program, keep the ones that are trying as well as the good ones, and hire the best and brightest to fill the openings. That is the path that we were on.
Similarly, changing the kind of student and student performance is evolutionary. Of course you could refuse to take back all but the best and brightest students and make a step function change, but where would that leave those average Jewish children. Instead, we have formed a concentrated program to reach each child at the level where they are and maximize their learning by using differentiated instruction. How does one do this? With great teachers, great programs, a lot of time and true educational leadership. To reach our objective we are changing a culture and that can only be done with time and with a comprehensive TEAM effort. The schools that you alluded to back East, in our meeting, that might have the reputation that you want Hillel to have, had such a culture embedded in them for years or even decades, only the brightest apply and they only take the best and the brightest. We do not have such a culture or reputation at this point in time, and truthfully, while we can work towards it and while I have no question that we will achieve greatness in our community, whether we will ever be the Jewish Harvard Westlake or even if we should be-- is not a decision that you alone can make for the school.
Now let's talk about "buy-in" and "partnerships." Let's be very clear about what you said yesterday. You told me that I was to micro manage curriculum through the teachers, that I was to be on the teacher's backs constantly, that I was never to let up, because they should never get a chance to breath and say, "oh good she is leaving me alone." You need to understand that you need to treat people with respect and as professionals. You treated me yesterday without any respect, dignity or "menchlichite." You "lectured" at me for 45 minutes like I was a child, and in a tone of anger/force, repeating over and over and over again about my focus. Well, I am not a child, I am an extraordinary educator, and children aren't products, - and learning is a process, not a product that can be churned out.
Micro-managing curriculum/teachers is not getting buy-in and commitment and that is certainly not partnering with the staff. That kind of demeanor creates a hostile work environment and one that I do not condone. In your e-mail to Anna and Maria you said that you didn't see any evidence, on my part, of partnering or interaction with the teachers regarding curriculum planning. I told you many times in the meeting that this curriculum was a DRAFT, because I wrote it alone, and it needed input, revising, changing and modification by the teachers. A curriculum guide can't be written without teacher input. Further, your e-mail was attempting to say that you were asking me to "work with them on a "micro level" showing a true sign of partnering and sharing of responsibility." Nothing could be further from the truth. In a true educational leadership role, one provides the framework. Then it is the teachers using their diverse style, creativity and communication skills that add meat to the bare bones of the curriculum guide. You stated anything less than such complete and total involvement "will continue our current policy of not having a curriculum for teachers to follow and having a final product that we are not proud of".
Let's review, our teachers are and have, since I am here, been following a comprehensive teaching curriculum that will provide the kind of results that you/we are all looking for. However, calling our children a product and suggesting that we will not be proud of them unless they are straight A students is just wrong. You have the "chutzpa" to say, "So far, I personally have not seen this focus on partnering or interaction with the teachers regarding curriculum planning and I'm sure that without specific, plans of action, with follow through on Nancy's part the end results will be disappointing."
It is clear that you have no clarity or insight into our staff or into educational leadership, and are totally negative in your thinking. Certainly one will always find those that whine and complain and you can listen to those individuals forever and they will never change. Nothing you do for them will ever be good enough and they will never be happy even if you leave them alone, because then they will complain that you are leaving them alone. Unfortunately, that is not much different than what I have heard from you; give me detail, detail, detail and when I gave you detail yesterday, you complained that 500 pages of curriculum was still not enough and you nit picked for 3 hours. You even questioned where the computer section was and I told you, it was already in Rabbi Sufrin's hands.
You also said that we revisited the question of class grouping, true, but let me tell you that I will not track children in elementary school. What I will do is "group" children and work non stop to give the best services to children, whether gifted or challenged, and meet them where they are with differentiated instruction.
Your type of management, rather dictatorship, makes for a very unpleasant, working environment. We should be working together for the good of the children and Hillel. You said to me that "you were my biggest asset, and that I should be glad/thankful that you are the "boss" and have taken on Hillel as your project, and this is how you want things done. Leadership models today are not a dictatorships, but rather collaborative partnerships. You need to realize that the "administrative team" and the teachers, are this schools biggest asset, and you need to invest in this asset.
So, what is new in the curriculum? The Language Arts through History Program is new and yes we have a new basic curriculum that will need to evolve throughout the year ahead. I plan to spend a significant part of my time working this so that we can greatly enhance our students' language arts skills now, before they go on to high school. I will not neglect any other aspect of the GS team or their needs. However this years focus throughout the grades is on language arts. If the students ask, yes it always counts and it always will.
So where does this leave us, you, I and Rabbi Sufrin? We have a new year ahead of us and I plan to work with the staff to build teams, to build relationships and to build skill sets. I will address attitude issues and identify staff individual areas for growth and global GS program needs. I will advise you and Rabbi Sufrin of our GS needs and you can get with the program and work with me or you can work against me - Your choice. I understand what my job is, and I may not do it the way that you want me to operate, but it will get done with class and professionalism. I am the ultimate professional, and no one needs to tell me how to be a professional. After 34 years of being in education, and only receiving the highest of accolades, the type of treatment that you have dished out over the past year is not acceptable or warranted.
What I need now is the reading teacher that we discussed and the additional Language Arts teacher that we discussed. By the end of the month, I will have reviewed how to get teachers their planning and collaboration time and advise you as to what other staff I feel the program could use. What I will not do for the rest of this school year is worry about Morey and spend a lot of time justifying myself to you. If this means that you choose not to re-up my contract for next year, so be it, but such will be Hillel's loss.
You said you wanted me to scream and yell in your face. Now you have it, and I hope that you will now decide to support our school wide program rather than continuing to tear it and me down at every opportunity. I am not your scapegoat for anything and everything that may go wrong during this school year, but I do hope that you choose to join in our collaborative effort to bring success to our school.
Morey wants Hillel to raise its academic standards. Those who agree with his outlook say that kids who went to Hillel got socialized into the Orthodox lifestyle but didn't pick up many skills (Hebrew, Judaica, anything). They claim Hillel graduates rarely blow you away with their learning in either secular or Jewish subjects.
Morey is a love him or hate him type of guy. Even those who love him will recognize the truth of Nancy's portrait of him in this letter. Levovitz is blunt and he has a mission and he doesn't care about niceties as much as results.
Here's a taste of Morey's inimitable style:
The recording secretary (Helene) emails nine people (the Hillel board?) Nov. 8, 2005:
Since the copy of the final motion made at the board meeting on November 2nd, 2005 has not been provided for the record as of this moment, please note the following:
1. The text of the motion is not to be enforced in any way.
2. The motion should be reconsidered after all members are provided a copy in advance for review.
3. In the future, all motions should be provided to all members in advance for review, which can be included in the mailing with the prior meeting's minutes and proposed agenda.
With respect I think your conclusion is ridiculous. A motion was made, seconded and voted on and for the 1st time that I'm aware, was actually written down and presented to the secretary so that there would be no misunderstanding or mistakes and you're suggesting that since you misplaced the motion, the vote should be nullified.
I have no idea what your agenda is but with each email I receive from you I'm getting more and more concerned about your frame of mind and concept of truth and fairness. I also don't know how you decide who gets copied on theese emails that in itself concerns me.
I believe Rabbi Sufrin and/or Yossi have the wording of the motion (as do I but I'm presently out of the country) and I'm sure they would be happy to get it to you.
On another note I'm still waiting for the minutes from the meeting two years ago when rabbi Sufrin was voted in.
Delusions Of Grandeur
Out of my many mental illnesses and character flaws, few bedevil me more than delusions of grandeur.
On a regular basis, I get swept away by this view of myself as a hero.
Now, an objective view of my life would reveal me to be, at best, a mixed bag. Yet I constantly get caught up in these visions of my standing bravely for truth and right, telling unpopular truths to power, and sounding a clarion call for God's moral law.
It's possible to view things from dozens of different perspectives, but it is the ones that portray me heroically that I find most intoxicating.
For instance, I once heard an Orthodox rabbi say "All the Beit Dins in this town are corrupt."
I loved that! It instantly made me feel heroic. I dreamed of tracking down all the corrupt rulings by Los Angeles Jewish law courts and then proving myself a hero.
There are but a few obstacles to my quest:
* I don't know enough about Judaism
* I'm a lazy journalist
* I'm way too predisposed to believe that the powers that be (anyone leading a more successful life than me) are corrupt and I am an innocent, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Aish HaTorah Has A Humor Site
"I didn't know that David Mamet could be the main story on a humor site either," says a friend.
When I Get Blocked...
I lock myself naked in my hovel with just my computer so I have no distractions between me and my blogging.
The Desperate Poverty Of Bloggers
The Jewish Journal's Marc Ballon reports in the Nov. 24 edition:
Despite prodigious efforts on behalf of oppressed sex workers that earned him the coveted Rabbinical Council of California's "Good Guy" award, Luke Ford, 40, lives in a space barely large enough to park a Prius.
"I regret that I only have one life to give for my blogging," says Mr. Ford, an inspiration to the Bais Yaakov set according to frum sources who prefer to remain anonymous.
A survivor of self-abuse, "Mr. Ford has pioneered fair and balanced reporting on the internet," says Gary Rosenblatt, Editor of The Jewish Week. "He's a beacon of journalistic integrity. I keep his autographed picture on my office wall. It just means so much to me. 'Yours in Him.'"
According to the latest U.S. Census, 53% of bloggers live poverty, 59% do not graduate highschool, 43% have been incarcerated, 49% have out of wedlock births, and 35% are registered sex offenders. The children of bloggers are likely to act out emotionally and have bad acne. Yet there are no government programs for bloggers and their children and the Jewish Federations are likewise doing nothing.
Help at risk bloggers by buying an ad on lukeford.net. Ninety percent of the proceeds go to a good cause.
How Many Jewish Leaders Do We Need?
One of the last remaining bastions of civil rational discussion is the Jewish Journal forums, where Henry Gregory posts about the General Assembly:
4000 Jewish leaders? How many leaders do we need? I'll bet 1.5 billion Chinese have fewer leaders than 15 million Jews. There is a conference of "Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations." That sentence is funny! With so many leaders how come we still have the age old problems? Don't we maybe need fewer leaders?
A few years back, I was in Israel visiting with my wife and I noticed a lot of teenage girls walking around in Tel Aviv and in other places with their heads shaved. I asked my wife's brother about it. He informed me that it's being done as an act of rebellion to freak out their folks. They called it the "Holocaust Look".
She Better Be Hot
Debra L. Eckerling writes in the Jewish Journal:
I say a deal breaker is a deal breaker, and the fact that you have turned 28 for several years in a row doesn't mean you should dismiss core things you want in a guy.
Let's start with the no-brainers: A suitable suitor should have the following qualities: intelligence, sense of humor, financial stability, emotional stability and passion. I also require my mate be heterosexual. He also should not be hygienically challenged, an addict or a felon.
The other thing that is near the top of my list is height. I like guys who are tall, but, more importantly, I prefer guys who tell the truth about their height.
I was reading this to a female friend who responded: "Well, what does she look like?"
Abashed by this display of lookism, I did not know what to say.
Debra finishes her column by lamenting that a guy blew her off on their first phone call because she wanted kids.
Her point was that her deal breakers were reasonable and rational, but someone enticing who had dealbreakers that excluded her, well, then he was hasty.
Erin Aubry Kaplan: The O.J.-Kramer discrepancy
Recent PR disasters reveal greater tolerance for a white man's unsavory behavior than a black man's.
Of course, the O.J. indignation is driven in large part by racial indignation: the idea that a black man may have killed a white woman and gotten away with it.
London Review Of Books Personals
“Tell me I’m pretty, then watch me cling,” one woman warns, cheerfully.
This being Britain, there is also a fair percentage of men seeking women who suggest that, actually, they may well be seeking other men. One man in the current issue describes himself as “camp as custard.” Another ad reads, in its entirety: “I wrote this ad to prove I’m not gay. Man, 29. Not gay. Absolutely not.”
Open Source Legal Motion: How Collective Knowledge Is Influencing Legal Practice
Bess Kargman writes:
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that I am the most sued blogger out there,” Ford said. “Overall I think it’s terrific that there are libel laws, because the alternative to a lawsuit is that someone would come and break my legs—or kill me.”
The writer has been sued five times in seven years, mainly for libel, resulting from stories plaintiffs deem false and reputation-damaging.
Since 2005, Ford has benefited from the legal assistance of Justin Levine, his pro-bono attorney.
Unfortunately the article makes no mention of my prodigious efforts on behalf of legal Mexican immigrants.
The Price Of Fame
I receive some disturbing emails that make me question the exact nature of my message to the world.
How much more obvious can it be that this guy has some kind of obsessive homoerotic longing for you, and keeps trying to suppress it by sending you these "you're a fag, Ford!" e-mails every three days? Be careful, at some point you're going to find him crawling around outside your house in a ski mask and OJ-gloves, with duct tape, chloroform, a flaregun, and a well thumbed-through copy of Blueboy in his back-pack.
Dwight Howard - On A Mission From God
Next to the wooden cross and framed copy of The Ten Commandments, Dwight Howard posted his personal commandments as a reminder to stay true to his faith and his vision.
...His favorite song is a gospel hymn, "Praise is What I Do." And when someone asks for his autograph, Howard writes "God bless" alongside his signature, so that he can "let people know that everything that they've gotten is because of God."
My friend Mary Carey ran twice for governor of California. She told me Nov. 16:
"When Dwight [Howard, Orlando Magic basketball player] showed up, I didn't know what to do because I thought he was a very good Christian.
"When we went in the bathroom, he wasn't acting Christian-like. I was like, 'I thought you were really religious.' He started laughing and pulled his pants down. I was like, 'I can't do this here. I'm with Chris [Kirkpatrick of the band N'Sync] here.'
"He's like, 'My dad's at my house.'"
American Jewish Blogging Idol's Shock Confession - I was a victim of self-abuse!
Only now can my story be told.
For years I thought that what was happening to me was normal.
Then I read the Zohar and realized I was responsible for a holocaust.
My shame was deep. It was the kind of shame that trapped me in silence and despair.
For the past few years I've been working through my issues with The Awareness Center and now I am coming forward so that I can be an inspiration for others less fortunate.
Jewish Press Editor Jason Maoz Has Never Been To The General Assembly
He replies 11/20/06 to my inquiries:
Always thought of it as a convocation of self-important drones boring each other to death with their fatuous presentations. A living nightmare of Jewish Establishment worthies descending on one location in numbers far too great to bear for anyone possessed of a sensitive and discerning constitution. Establishment worthies who've never had an original thought, who worship at the shrine of consensus, who think they're bravely flouting liberal pieties in the rare instance they disagree ever so slightly with a New York Times editorial, who think the sun of Judaism rises and sets on Manhattan, who believe with all their hearts that Gary Rosenblatt is a gifted and compelling prose stylist and Abraham Foxman a Lion of Judah. I guess I'll have to reconsider.
Relations between the Orthodox and the Fed here in NY are somewhat better than they were 10 or 20 years ago, but nowhere near ideal.
I've Lost My Mojo
There comes a time in a journalist's life when his phone calls no longer get returned and his email requests for interviews are refused. Fresh from my humiliation at the GA (Gary Rosenblatt sat next to me for two hours and didn't even realize he was in the presence of Luke Ford!), I now get turned down by author Blake Eskin.
And I thought that Luke Ford was the most powerful name in news.
Like A Whore In A Church
That's how I feel when I step into a shul.
Your Moral Leader
If I were asked to share the wisdom I've gained as a convert to Judaism with those considering conversion to Judaism, I'd talk about community.
Dennis Prager says Judaism has three principal components -- God, Torah and Israel.
I don't understand what it means to have a relationship with God. And I've known few religious Jews who claimed to have a personal relationship with God.
I've known few Jews who have a more vibrant relationship to Torah than they do to fellow Jews. Most Jews who study Torah do much of their studying with fellow Jews and it is that communal aspect of study that is the most meaningful part of study for most Torah-studying Jews I know.
Therefore, the most likely part of Judaism that will touch your life is community. And your ability to function in a community is likely already formed by your previous experiences. Those who've learned to live in community will thrive in Jewish community, and those who are like me (socially retarded and personally obsessed) will have trouble.
Until 2001, I thought I could construct a moral life through the power of my own reason (guided by Torah) and enforced by my own will.
If you know my life, then you will know I utterly failed.
Over the past five years, I've learned that for me, and I believe for most people, leading a moral life is principally dependent on surrounding yourself with people who will hold you to a certain moral level. Without community, good people will slide into the gutter. The conscience and individual readings are not strong enough to constrain most of us from doing what we want. Rather, the most effective moral leash is the fear of "What will they say?"
Hadassah Magazine's Jewish Bloggers Article
Freelancer Sara Eisen in Israel pitched this article.
She emailed me in January 2006 with a few questions and I replied promptly.
She did months of work.
Then her laptop with all her research was stolen at a hotel. And she decided to give up on the story.
The Jewish Journal has talked for years about profiling Jewish bloggers but has yet to do it. I was profiled by the Journal's Sheldon Teitelbaum in the summer of 2001 for my online exploits and various shul expulsions but, thank God, the story was never published.
I often whine that the Journal isn't hard-hitting enough, but when it came time for me to be in its cross-hairs, I squirmed.
There's something exquisitely frightening about being profiled warts-and-all for a paper that is distributed in all the synagogues one attends.
Not that I have anything to hide.
In my personal life, all I want is peace. I don't like conflict. I don't like arguments. I just want safety. But when I blog, all I want to do is cause trouble. It makes me feel important.
Without it, I feel impotent.
I am sure the Torah has something to say about this, such as: "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16).
Rabbi Yaakov Menken Reaches Out
Vicki Polin emails her Awareness Center Yahoo group:
It is not often The Awareness Center puts out a warning regarding an individual who is also rabbi. Due to the seriousness of the allegations, the time has come for action to be taken regarding the case of Rabbi Yaakov Menken. The Awareness Center has recently learned that Rabbi Menken has created two new organizations associated with "Project Genisis". He has began a Kiruv organization called 'e-Kiruv". He is also involved with an organization called Oz Nidberu. There are also rumors floating around that he may be involved in the development of a new counter-missionary organization.
We all have to be aware that it is not uncommon for Kiruv workers and counter-missionaries to be involved with individuals who are experiencing a personal crisis in their lives. These crisis's includes a death in the family, illness of a loved one, trying to sort out unresolved issues, and even individuals who have been traumatized (victim or witness to a violent crime, survivors of childhood abuse, survivors of sexual assault, etc.). Individuals who are experiencing a life crisis are often in a vulnerable state, and are more susceptible to being manipulated by sexual predator.
Over the last few years Rabbi Yaakov Menkin was accused of both sexual harassment and professional sexual misconduct. At one point Rabbi Menken had a discussion with Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky regarding the allegations made by one of the women he counseled. The conversation included a confession by Yaakov Menken of having sexual contact with the woman. Rabbi Menken basically blamed the survivor stating "she manipulated him."
Rabbi Menken was nearly forty at the time. The young, haredi woman was hardly out of her teens. Because of the serious and complicated allegations made, the word needs to get out that young, single adult, women could be at risk of harm if they share information about their personal lives with Rabbi Yaakov Menkin, especially if the woman is experiencing any sort of life crisis. Due to the sensitivity of the situation and for reasons of confidentiality we are limited in what we can share with you about the case. What we can share is on The Awareness Center's site on Rabbi Yaakov Menken.
If you need more information regarding Rabbi Menken's confession please contact Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzki.
Rabbi Menken operates the Orthodox blog www.cross-currents.com with the following contributors: * Avi Shafran * Dovid Gottlieb * Emanuel Feldman * Eytan Kobre * Gedalia Litke * Jonathan Rosenblum * Mark Bane * Shira Schmidt * Toby Katz * Yaakov Yosef Reinman * Yitzchok Adlerstein.
A Chabadnik friend of mine was dating a secular woman. He wanted to bring her to shul. He said it would be better if she wore a skirt.
She wore pants. Then she heard a little boy say to his mom, "Look at that woman! She's wearing pants."
She never wore pants to an Orthodox shul again (on Shabbos and holidays).
The more religious Orthodox women never wear pants outside of the house.
A rabbi in England was asked if women were allowed to wear pants while skiing. "Why would an Orthodox woman want to go skiing?" he replied (cited in Louis Jacobs autobiography).
The right-wing dominates the Orthodox rabbinate in Los Angeles. As a result, Orthodox-non-Orthodox relations are worse here than in any major city in the U.S. Women's prayer groups only came to Orthodox shuls in L.A. in the past ten years.
Time For Agudah To Widen The Tent
Rabbi Harry Maryles writes:
It is really too bad that Agudah has chosen to address Orthodox blogs and bloggers in such an indirect way. Don’t they realize that most of us are on the same team? Most of us want to do what is right and just in the eyes of God. And if we sometimes err, we are only human.
Most of the respectable blogs, like Hirhurim and Cross-Currents, are interested in promoting kavod haTorah, not denigrating it. The only question is how to do it properly, and there is room to differ about what is proper.
As I’ve acknowledged, some bloggers do cross a line – sometimes egregiously so. The denigration of Torah and its scholars in the Orthodox blogosphere was first noted in an essay written over a year ago and widely circulated by the Ner Israel rosh hayeshiva, Rav Aharon Feldman. He saw a dismayingly high level of this denigration and blamed it on the so-called Slifkin affair and the bloggers.
Yes, the Slifkin controversy generated a tremendous amount of hostility to great Torah figures and therefore to kavod HaTorah. But the blame cannot be placed on one side. A lot of the negative talk was a reaction to the vociferous condemnations, issuing from certain rabbinical figures, of what until then had been considered mainstream thought regarding science and Torah on the part of educated Orthodox Jews.
Luke Ford: A Life In Pieces
I like to lie (but rarely do).
I know it's wrong, but when faced with a humiliating truth (even when it is trivial), my first instinct is to lie.
This is an instinct I've increasingly repressed as I've aged, fearing for my credibility.
In my early years, I developed the habit of lying to avoid a thrashing. My parents hit me and spanked me when I did wrong.
Lying was a hard habit to break.
When I was young, I lied about sex I was not having. When I was old, I lied about sex I was having.
My playing around wasn't cheating. I wasn't in a relationship when I screwed around.
I lied to spare spare the feelings of the woman and to make my life easier.
One evening in February , I had just finished fornicating with H.
I had just gotten back together with her after three months apart.
As soon as we finished hooking up, H. rolled over, looked at me and asked if I'd had sex with a friend of mine (M.) in January.
I lied and told her that I had not.
"You're such a f---ing liar," H. told me a few months later when she found out the truth (not from me). "You did f--- her."
This tawdry episode made me feel that I had not been a good witness to the divine truths of Torah (which I adopted and disposed of at my convenience).
Another time I was embarrassed about the tiny sliver of time between my hooking up with one woman and then meeting and pursuing another. So I denied to the second having sex with the first.
I got found out pretty quick.
"Be sure your sins will find you out," my parents repeatedly told me. They were right.
I don't feel terrible about some of these lies. Frankly, they amuse me.
I draw a distinction between lies in your personal life that don't hurt anyone, may even save feelings, and lies on the record for public distribution. I try very hard not to lie for public distribution.
Since my earliest years, I've wanted to be an important person. Since about age eight, I've wanted to be the president of the United States (even though I knew that could not happen because I was not born in America).
Sometimes as a kid I told stories about myself that were not true. I made them up to make myself look more important.
In eighth grade, I told my best friend late one Friday night that in fifth grade in Australia, a girl in my class allowed me to fondle her breasts.
Throughout highschool, I denied I was a virgin. At the virginal Pacific Union College (a conservative Seventh-Day Adventist school in the Napa Valley), I mentioned to get the nickname "Hans Ford" and "Romeo" for my touchy-feely ways with the ladies.
I was quite proud of these names even though I never got to rub a woman's chest until the night after Valentine's Day, 1989, when I lost my virginity at age 22 in the Reiber Hall dormitory "Quiet Floor" for serious students (second floor).
Because of my narcissism, I find the pleasure of talking to an attentive audience sometimes surpasses any other sensation.
When others won't interview me, I interview myself.
Thus, I spend most of my days talking to myself.
I imagine the most grandiose interpretation of my accomplishments and then do interviews with myself about my great deeeds. "Tell me, Luke, why are you so wonderful? Why are you so brave? Did anyone ever tell you how handsome/charismatic you are?"
I fantasize that these interviews take place with some attractive female journalist at the LA Times or NY Times or that they go out live on network TV.
I find it much more exciting to be interviewed by attractive young women.
I like to impress such women. Frankly, that's the reason for almost everything I do -- to try to impress and attract women.
When I'm on TV and in newspapers, it makes me feel like an important person.
Frankly, if I could get away with telling lies (or maybe I have and will one day pay the price?) about how important I am, I probably would, but I don't because I fear public humiliation and private torment.
I will not lie in my blogging or journalism because that would be career suicide (not to mention a violation of my inner code).
Which brings me to Blake Eskin's book, A Life in Pieces: The Making and Unmaking of Binjamin Wilkomirski.
From Publishers Weekly:
When Binjamin Wilkomirski published his childhood Holocaust memoir, Fragments, in 1996, it was met with both popular and critical praise. Soon, however, people began to voice concern over its authenticity , which ended in a full-fledged debunking on 60 Minutes in 1999. While much has been written about Wilkomirski, this stunning analysis by journalist Eskin is not only the best and most compelling account of the case, but places it in a broader social, political and cultural context that raises vital issues about history, identity, as well as personal and political responsibility. While the frame of the book is a fascinating personal memoir/journalistic investigation (Eskin's family, immigrant Jews from Latvia, contact Wilkomirski thinking they might be related to him), the power of the work comes from the author's ability to marshal the central arguments over Wilkomirski's life and work in order to illuminate the more important and interesting question of how humans deal with trauma. Moving from the specific, Eskin touches on such broader and controversial topics as what happens when Holocaust memoirs are exposed as fiction, thus giving fuel to Holocaust deniers; how Wilkomirski's book helped assuage Swiss guilt over Switzerland's actions during WWII; how Holocaust literature has become emblematic of human suffering, allowing even non-Holocaust survivors to identify with and take on the metaphors of "the survivor." This is brought home in Eskin's discussion of Lauren Grabowski, a Christian woman posing as a Jewish survivor who, under the name of Lauren Stratford, wrote an enormously popular, and discredited, memoir of child sexual abuse, Satan's Underground.
While reading this book, I kept thinking about Vicki Polin, who appeared with Lauren Stratford on Oprah on May 1, 1989 to talk about ritual abuse.
The stories Vicki and Lauren told on the show are hard to believe. Yet I am not aware of Vicki ever fabricating material for her project The Awareness Center.
Lauren Stratford: From Satanic Ritual Abuse to Jewish Holocaust Survivor
The Story Before the Story: Ten years ago a shocking story of pornography, satanic ritual abuse, torture, rape, and infanticide was a best-selling book that brought its author to the stages, pulpits, and broadcast booths of Americas television shows, churches, and radio programs. Lauren Stratford's story, Satan's Underground, became one of the key sources for promoting, perpetuating, and validating the satanic ritual abuse (SRA), "adult survivor," and "repressed memories" hysteria that peaked in the early 1990s.
Many who said they were adult survivors of SRA, and who had recovered their repressed memories in a therapeutic setting, pointed to Satan's Underground as external support for their subjective, directed counseling experiences. The book was promoted by its author, publisher, and major Christian personalities such as Johanna Michaelsen, Hal Lindsey, Mike Warnke, and Bob Larson as documented, factual, and corroborated by a wealth of evidence.
From Laurel Willson to Lauren Stratford, Christian Satanic Ritual Abuse Survivor: As it turned out, none of it was true. There was no documentation, corroboration, or evidence. Careful research, by us and Cornerstone editor Jon Trott, revealed that author Lauren Stratford was actually Laurel Rose Willson 1, a troubled woman from Washington State who spent most of her teen and adult life fabricating horrendous stories of victimization by a variety of people in a variety of settings.
Joanna Angel's Mom
Joanna’s Mom: When she was in college, Joanna was out of control. I first realized how bad it was when I was in her apartment during Passover and I saw all these pictures and they made me sick. I’m not sure why she is so proud of what she is doing. She was profiled by The New York Times and she was so proud of it. I don’t know why.
...Once is enough to make you slide down to the bottom. She kept on doing it because she told us that she was making a lot of money. She was out of control at this point. And all the psychologists and therapists that we invested in were helpless. I tried everything. All those people with their degrees are garbage. They couldn’t do anything. It just got worse and worse and no one could help.
Baltimore Is Beautiful In The Fall
And there's lots of Torah.
Tiferes Yisroel Bais Dovid Congregation
Rabbi Menachem Goldberger
6201 Park Heights Avenue Baltimore, MD 21215
Agudath Israel of Baltimore
Rabbi Moshe Heinemann
6202 Park Heights Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21215
Shearith Israel Congregation (AKA: Glen Ave. Shul)
Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer
5835 Park Heights Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21215
'I Lost My Husband At Brandeis Bardin'
A female penpal emails me:
Brandeis Bardin is a great camp. My ex went there as a kid and never stopped going. Naturally I would join him each summer whenever I was off from work. I loved the place until I found out that [a BBI employee] came on each summer to any man she can get a hold off. That summer was my turn to be devastated, humiliated and heart broken. When I found out, I immediately went to ask for help from the high powers there. I did not want to breakup my marriage as we had three kids younger than six. NO ONE INTERVENED.
She continued to chase him during the year and come to meet him in her van at his workplace parking lot. I was not aware of it because he promised not to... She did not keep it a secret and boasted to everyone about it.
When I returned the following summer I felt that I was the butt of many jokes and thought it must be my imagination. The camps cabins have adjoining doors...when I discovered who is my neighbor (nice arrangement) I thought I would die from rage, shame and betrayal. I left and got a divorce. No one helped me. No one apologized. THEY HATED ME FOR MAKING WAVE.
Since then, (over a decade) she is back every year, so is my EX. They broke up. She is still initiating lots of young counselors. My case is not unusual there. They call it 'Slip.'
General Assembly Tuesday
Videos of speeches at the GA.
There's massive security because Israel's prime minister is speaking. On the other side of Figuroa from the Staples Center, a large anti-Israel demonstration builds. Speakers obsess about bloodshed and predict the demise of the Jewish state.
Inside Hall B, I find it a challenge to get nuggets for my salacious column from a crowd of 5,000 Jews wanting to do good.
I'm more used to dealing with scum.
For all three days of the convention, my primary thoughts are: "Don't these people know how important I am?
"When I write my column, they are really going to regret not talking to me.
"Why do I always have to do the approaching? Nobody seeks me out.
"I'm tired of running like a spurned lover after Jeffrey Goldbergs.
"Because of my pride, I'm going to stick to myself, even if it means my column will suck."
The Koreh LA literacy booth is manned by stunning blondes. By pure accident, I sit next to them (Talia and Ruth) during Ehud Olmert's speech in the afternoon. I want to ask them how often they got hit on by the Jews but I fear that might sound like I am hitting on them, so I keep my peace and meditate on this week's Torah portion, a particular favorite of mine.
Chaye Sarah. It's like that Camus novel The Stranger, which begins: "Mother died today."
If the speech reflects the man, Olmert is a nothing for he said nothing Tuesday but cliches, just like his Foreign Minister Tzipi Lipni did on Sunday. No wonder Israelis are depressed about their political leaders.
Howard M. Rieger, President and CEO of the UJC, is another repeater of cliches. He supports "collectivity" vs. "localism." He says "we must rise to the challenge."
Who thought this guy would be an inspiring speaker? If you give enough money, you can bore an audience of 2,000 for 15 minutes?
"I am proud to be Jewish."
People who say such things tend to be the least observant. Those Jews who lead a Jewish life filled with mitzvot don't need to say, "I'm proud to be Jewish." It's like saying, "I'm proud to be heterosexual."
Noon. Dennis Prager lectures Tuesday, Nov. 14, on answering the hardest questions in the Torah. (.wav file.)
He mentions a Columbia professor who recently published a book on male vs. female brains. This prof had a friend who was determined to give her children non-sexist upbringings. This naive mom gave her daughter trucks. The daughter disappeared for a couple of hours. When the mom went to check on her, the daughter said, 'Shh. I just put trucks to sleep.'
Dennis: "Has a boy ever put a truck to sleep? You know what boys do with trucks? They run them into each other."
"The Jews are the most religious people in the world. The problem is that their religion is rarely Judaism."
Prager's first question from the audience: "If you believe the Torah is divine, why are you not Orthodox?"
DP: "Three words. Yom Tov Sheni."
2:30 - 4 p.m. Implications of 2006 election.
E.J. Kessler says: "We've seen the limits of the internet as an organizing tool. Moveon.org and the leftist activist websites have yet to elect a candidate."
Walking to my car, I hear a pro-Palestinian speaker say to loud cheers from about 300 demonstrators: "No matter how much blood has to be spilled, no matter how many children have to die, [the Palestinians will triumph over Israel]."
A friend emails: "The feedback I got was that the GA was well executed this year, but I am still struck by how many people I know who are very engaged in Jewish communal life in LA who had pretty much nothing to do with the GA while it was here."
A friend asks: "Do you only write online? Why don't you write for the Jewish Journal?"
Luke: "Have you read my stuff? I'm the opposite of that lame paper."
Friend: "Lame? The Jewish Journal is my favorite newspaper. I read it from cover to cover every week."
Luke: "I'm hard-hitting."
Friend: "Because you write about ----?"
It seems that a majority of the G.A. attendees are secular.
I walk past the National Council of Jewish Women booth.
"I want to join your club," I say.
They invite me over.
I ask them what they are about. The publicist Vanessa Schnaidt, who has a degree in gender studies, says they fight against religion persecution and for religious freedom.
"In America?" I ask.
"What's an example of religious persecution in America?"
"A lot of abstinence education in highschools is motived by religious beliefs."
"There's a conception that feminists don't have a sense of humor."
"Oh no. I have a very good sense of humor. I have to to do my job."
Most of the people who man booths are so professional that they are not nearly as interesting as gay cowboys.
I'm told by L.A. people that the L.A. Jewish Federation got screwed in this G.A. That the national board shook up the agenda to focus on Israel and its last war.
A couple of lefties say Tzipi Livni is the most popular member of the current Israeli government and the only woman likely to become prime minister.
Contrary to my expectations, Tuesday morning's program on the Israeli economy is not a thrill.
Prof. Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel, does get a big laugh when he notes that Israeli kids to be rowdier than their Japanese counterparts.
On my drive home, I hear talkshow host Michael Savage say that Netanyahu, Ohlmert and Israel should stop whining about Iran's nuclear program and do something about it with the billions of dollars the U.S. gives Israel every year.
General Assembly Monday
Pics: Karaite University spokesman Shawn Lichaa talks with a religious Jew Fareed Zakaria movie of Fareek Zakaria and Bernard-Henri Levy signing autographs Fareek Zakaria and Bernard-Henri Levy signing autographs Fareek Zakaria and Bernard-Henri Levy signing autographs Ruth Messenger, Richard Joel (president of YU), some geezer movie Ruth Messenger, Richard Joel (president of YU), some geezer play Jewpardy at the YU booth Ruth Messenger, Richard Joel (president of YU), some geezer Rabbi Emannuel, Richard Joel Aviv Shir-On, Michael Parks (L-R) Irit Atsmon, Jeffrey Goldberg, Aviv Shir-On, Michael Parks movie of media panel
Audio of Ruth Messenger snagging the prayer you say after going to the bathroom to win Jewpardy against Richard Joel and company.
I like to begin my day by saying my prayers or singing a song or reading a chapter from the Bible or watching Fox News.
Today I watch Fox News.
Then I snag $5 parking and hit the G.A.
Dr. Beryl Gerber moderates a discussion with the three seminary heads -- Rabbi Norman J. Cohen (Provost, HUC-JIR), Dr. Arnold M. Eisen (Chancellor-Elect, JTS) and Richard Joel (President of Yeshiva University).
She ruins things by asking long awkward questions that invite cliche answers.
Richard Joel is the star of the panel because he's funny and real. He says he was present at the beginning of the Birthright Israel program (which gives those Jews 18-25 who have never been to Israel a free trip) and that many Jews took advantage of it for the most Jewish of reasons -- it was free.
Joel says that "dialogue" is not the preeminent value in the Orthodox community.
One of the biggest blocks to Jewish dialogue is that most Jews don't know what they're talking about (when it comes to Judaism).
Joel says he wants Reform kids to have a first-class Reform day school.
"It's hard to have fun dancing around the Shabbos table by yourself."
Beryl asks how the three seminary heads can "adapt" to the new individualistic next generation. Maybe the individualistic next generation will have to adapt to joining institutions as they have children and age and recognize the importance of community?
This is why I am opposed to all government welfare. Without it, people would have to join together for health insurance, welfare and protection. If there was no government safety net, people would have to join communities with safety nets.
Eisen says he's commanded by Torah. If that was true, he would not support ordaining gay rabbis. I say his institution JTS should ordain sodomites till the cows come home, but don't then claim you're commanded by Torah. Say you know better than Torah (Dennis Prager).
Birthright Israel booth manned by babes.
A cheap Jew asks a volunteer: "Do you know where they're giving away water?"
I interview karaite activist Shawn Lichaa (.wav).
He says there is one Karaite synagogue in the United States and it is in the San Francisco Bay Area.
He says that intermarriage between Karaite and non-Karaite Jews is minimal. Shawn would be willing to marry a non-Karaite woman but would want her to become a Karaite.
Lichaa grew up in San Diego in a non-Karaite shul and he taught at a non-Karaite shul.
He says Karaites are strong Zionists. "My mom's family was put in prison in Egypt after the 1967 war just for being Jews."
Shawn does not hold by the documentary hypothesis. He believes the Bible comes from God.
Karaites have the same Torah reading each week. Their prayer book is about as long as the Orthodox Jew's but it is very different. "We take off our shoes when we pray and we fully prostrate."
Karaites don't have any binding post-Biblical commandments. They hold by patrilineal descent (while traditional Jews hold by matrilineal descent).
Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek speaks. And again. Again.
Fareed won't name Fox News when he slams it.
I don't understand why until Rob Eshman explains to me that it ruins the joke to name Fox.
Zakaria says he wants to "decatastrophize" our thinking about Islam. That we are not at war with Islam. We're only at war with radical Islam, which occupies the allegiance of few Muslims.
Lefties say yeah. Fareed's in da hood! He da man! Yo my nigga! Screw Bush. ---- dat bitch!
I would never use such language. I wouldn't even write it on my website except that secular culture has desensitized me.
Whenever the Forward is labeled a leftist paper, I hear this stock response from inside the Forward: "J.J. [Goldberg] supported the fence [in Israel]."
There's no Alana Newhouse at the conference.
So what's the freakin' point of having a conference?
2:15 p.m. MEDIA LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE WAR.
Jeffrey Goldberg walks in with moderator Martin Raffel and Israeli Foreign Affairs spokesman Aviv Shir-On.
Jeffrey's built like a brick. But a brick turning to fat.
I listen in on their conversation.
Jeffrey's quick and funny.
He's a freakin' journalism star.
During a break in his conversations, I inquire if I can ask him a question (I wanted him to elaborate on a sentence in his book where he describes Jewish leaders in America as puny compared to Israel's leaders).
He says sure.
I pull out my tape recorder. He freaks out. "Who are you? Who are you with?"
I say my name and the name of my website and show him my press pass.
"No," he says. "No interviews."
Damn. I shouldn't have pulled out my tape recorder.
In the past, I've mailed him a letter and emailed him to request an interview. No luck.
Panel discussion on media bias in coverage of the Israel vs. Hezballah war in Lebanon this summer (.wav file).
Moderator Martin Raffel gives a tiresome 10-minute introduction, full of such cliches as "most journalists I know do their best."
Most terrorists do their best. So what?
It reminds me of Ira Stoll, managing editor of the New York Sun, who wrote in a review of my Jewish journalism book: "Most journalists I know are drawn to the work because they are interested in good stories."
Yeah, but so what?
Former Los Angeles Times Editor Michael Parks has lips that curl up to his right when he sets them.
Irit Atsmon (IDF spokesperson) on the recent Israel vs. Hezballah war in Lebanon: "The internet is almost a lethal weapon in this war."
Jeffrey Goldberg says he's often a "self-hating reporter."
"There's an American bias that the underdog is right. That someone who lives in refugee camps is right."
About criticism of Israel: "Sometimes Israel does bad things."
"The performance of [the IDF spokespeople during this summer's conflict in Lebanon] was Israel's worst ever. This was Israel's worst war [in explaining itself]."
CNN's John Roberts: "You would think this was [Israel's] first war."
Michael Parks says journalists should be compassionate.
Jeffrey: "There are plenty of Jewish groups working on Israel's image. It would be nice if Israel worked on Israel's image."
During questions, I ask the first one. It's for my man Jeffrey: "Is their something in the Israeli psyche that makes them suck at telling their story?"
Goldberg agrees with me. He says Israelis tend to lecture and reporter don't like to be lectured. That American-Israelis pick up cultural cues [of non-Israelis] better than Israelis do.
Michael Parks says that some of the LA Times reporters covering Israel have made aliyah (moved permanently to Israel). "I've been to forums where Linda Gradstein, who leads a devout life, has been pilloried [by a Jewish audience]."
Calev Ben David gives a long lecture praising CNN's Anderson cooper.
While Jeffrey waits to sign books, I inquire about asking him a couple of questions about his book.
"I'm running out," he says.
"How about another day?"
"How do I reach you?"
"Knopf handles all my interviews."
Benyamin Netanyahu's speech. Haaretz report on Bibi's speech.
Because of the spiritual influence of this G.A., I no longer find secular chicks hot. Bais Yaakov girls (after they graduate and attain majority) is where it's at.
Sarah Schenirer is da man!
In My Head There Is Problem
And the problem is the meds.
Throw the lithium down the well
So my moods can be free
Dear Penthouse Forum:
I can't believe this happened to me!
I haven't been this excited since I got my first blowjob.
Thank you Kimberly Kummings for making January 23, 1995 a day that will live in Jewish history, along with May 14, 1948 (the founding of the modern state of Israel).
I drove to the General Assembly (GA) early Sunday afternoon.
I wanted to give my readers the most fascinating display of mental illness they will read all week. I knew that come Monday, photocopies of this report will be circulated around all 4,000 delegates (that is 4,000, Rob Eshman, not the 3,000 you reported and bemoaned and finally climaxed with a paen to fuel efficiency).
I feared that I would not be granted a press pass. I emailed Glenn Rosenkrantz several times to let him know my importance. He replied Sept. 5: "Media registration information will be distributed mid month. I'll be sure you get it."
It was not enough to calm my insecurity.
I was so excited about the GA that I got no sleep Saturday night. Instead I spent about ten hours doing necessary busy work on my computer to keep myself in the style to which I have become accustomed.
I developed a painful dent in my right thumb.
I fled out of the house at 12:40 p.m., forgetting my trusty black yarmulke.
I make do with a white Modern Orthodox one I keep in my van.
I drove a couple of blocks past the convention center and found free parking.
Then I walked back along Pico Blvd, crossed to the south side and met up with this plump young woman pulling a big bag of stuff. It appeared that her anxiety level matched mine.
"Do you know where the GA is?" she asked.
"I'm looking for it myself. Maybe over here."
I run after two security guards who point me towards two other guards who have the barest grasp of English.
My young friend powers ahead into the empty convention center.
The guards point me back across Pico to the entrance with the flags.
"The Jews better give me a press pass or I'm going to become seriously anti-Semitic," I thought. "Maybe I'll put the Talmud on trial for hate crimes or I'll move to Lebanon and join Hezballah."
I found the press booth staffed by two women. They'd never heard of Luke Ford.
What empty lives they must lead.
They wanted proper media credentials. I can only give them my cheapo business card I made at Staples.
"Who are you with?" the white woman asked.
She was not impressed. "I'll have to call my boss."
"Is Matt [Dorff] around? I know him."
Yeah, I interviewed him once two years ago. It's not the strongest connection but it will have to do.
The woman said my name to Matt. He was not impressed. He said he'd walk over.
I stood awkwardly and pretended to peruse the press releases. Luke Ford is not nearly as great as I thought he was.
The young woman I'd abandoned across Pico Blvd now walked over. She said her name was Esther Kustanowitz. They asked her for proper media credentials and she was as bereft as me.
She's lugged a lot of stuff with her and she goes through it looking for the magical documents.
I didn't introduce myself, figuring she was going through all the tsures she could handle.
Avi, an actor and stand-up comic who I know from Young Israel of Century City, walked up for his press pass. He did not have the proper credentials either.
If these two upstanding Jews with the prodigious power of The Jewish Week and the Jewish Journal behind them had trouble, what hope was there for a rascal such as myself?
Then came my ultimate shame -- Gary Rosenblatt.
I tried to disappear into the corner. I was sure the staff would fawn over him. He was Mr. Jewish Journalism after all.
"My 3,000 readers a day don't count for much anymore," I fretted. "Yet according to that University of Chicago double-blind study, my ability to rise to the occasion is in direct proportion to the number of hits I receive.
"The last time I received this sort of rejection was when that lady pushed me off her complaining that she was too dry.
"I can't arouse a woman. I can't keep my hair dark. I can't get a press pass. I've lost my mojo."
Then salvation came from an unlikely source -- Steve Rabbinowitz (Matt Dorff's business partner).
Good thing that back in 2004 I didn't treat him like I did Gary Rosenblatt.
"So what are your plans?" Steve asked.
"I want to pick up my press pass so I can cover the GA for my blog."
I hoped I didn't sound too needy.
"Are you planning to trash us?"
I was but figured this would not be the right answer to secure a press pass.
I was kicking myself for loading the top part of my site with a bunch of naughty photos mocking the GA attendees.
Why must I always try to put something over on people?
"I plan to be fair and balanced like Fox News," I told Steve. I figured that would get in his leftist claw.
"Do you have any pull here?" I asked. "Can you get me a press pass?"
He said he could. He nods to the young woman to take care of my press pass needs.
Steve introduced me to Gary Rosenblatt.
"I'm not sure I want the credit for this shidduch," muttered Steve.
"Oh, you're Luke Ford," Gary said. "I did not recognize you when I sat next to you in shul yesterday."
A stream of people came over to pay homage to Rosenblatt Saturday morning.
For the past 26 hours, I had been sure that Gary dissed me in shul yesterday, saying no more than the necessary "Gut shabbos" greeting and refusing my gentle attempt at conversation.
How could Gary not recognize me? I was Hustler magazine's Asshole of the Month for the 1999 Holiday issue.
I decided Gary was one of those hoity toity New York Orthodox intellectuals who pretended to not read Hustler.
"Oh, you're Luke Ford," said Esther.
I gave a shy wave. My self-esteem had taken a tumble the past few minutes and I was not my abusive self.
"Where did you get the lid?" asked Steve.
"I don't understand."
"The lid. Your yarmulke. You're wearing it especially for the GA."
I wanted to explain to Steve about the depth and breadth of my commitment to Yiddishkeit but instead muttered something about my Orthodox community.
I paced the show floor and David, the assistant publisher of the Forward, restores my self-importance. He's heard of Luke Ford. The reknown of my mitzvos has traveled across the country to the office of Editor J.J. Goldberg.
I had porcelain put on a few holes in my teeth last week and ever since the tooth third from the end on the top row, left side of my face, has been agony whenever I've chewed or swallowed water.
I had been trying to fix the problem by chewing gum but that had only burned off the tip of my tongue.
I plugged in an earphone and tried to get the Dallas Cowboys score. None of the AM stations pick up in the South Hall but FM 97.1 broadcasted the Seattle - St. Louis game.
I wished that I had scheduled things better over the previous two weeks so that I could've soaked my dying curls in Grecian Formula and returned to my twink look.
For the opening session, I sat in the Los Angeles senior citizen section of a big hall filled with 3,000 people.
2:10 p.m. Singer Debbie Friedman exchanged a tearful hug with a GA speaker named Beryl Geber.
A woman behind me complained that Rob Eshman's latest column was smug.
Screenwriter Dan Gordon was introduced. I decided I would introduce him as the author of three bad movies. Then I got caught up in his anecdotes and resolved to reduce the number of cheap shots I took at people.
The conference co-chair was the female head of Bank Leumi. She had a thick accent and bored the crowd.
Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni walked to the lectern. Most everybody stood up and cheered. The crowd wanted to like her but the applause died out quickly as Tzipi had little to say beyond cliches.
She was hotter in person than on TV. She looked as healthy as a horse. I would have liked her to be my big sister but she did not strike me as Foreign Minister material. She struck me as a lightweight, like Ehud Ohlmert, the Prime Minister.
Tzipi proclaimed "there is no room for terrorism."
Yeah, that will solve the problem.
I heard the mood in Israel was depressed (in large part over the country's political leadership). Most of Israel's political leaders were at the GA.
There's more singing. I thought I saw Gary Rosenblatt, renaissance man, at the piano.
I was so invigorated by my time Sunday at the GA that on my drive home down Pico Blvd, I was neither scared nor angered by the many dusky ones with their fecund ways.