blog stuff, Judaism, life, school

New Feautures in Town

The Mayor of TevyTown has decided to introduce a few new features to town. They could come around here or there, one a week, when I feel like it; they’re just a few things I wanna get out in the open. Fun stuff, check em’ out.

Life and What Life Shoud be
An on going entry about Judaism vs. the world around me. How I’m dealing with things around me, current things going on etc. “A little bit of Torah amongst the craziness.”

Flashback Freeze

Let’s go back in time and talk about something that happened to myself that’s worth talking about around, include why it’s relevant (duh).

This Day in Yeshiva History

Citing journal entries, we go back to the greatest year of my life and find out what I was doing @ that time. A space for nostalgia, inspiration… something to feel good about.

Week/Month in Review

What the title says. I’ll do my best to post these on either Fridays, Sundays
or Mondays. If I miss those dates then I’ll make it up on Tuesday or Thursday. If it isn’t something substantial to give it its own own post, it’ll wind up here.

Now enjoy the next two entries…

And a very happy birthday to my dad, Zev who turned 50 last week!!


Sympathy for York Students (a 1st for me)

Thursday night for some people means the weekend is soon to begin and it’s time for a small break before getting back to work again (not for me this year). However, for students at York University, that break began a little more than two weeks ago and may not end for a long time… The union representing the faculty, teacher’s assistants, and a bunch of other groups decided to go on strike.

Yep, Canada’s 4th biggest University is on strike. YU North is out for business.

Two reactions came to mind when I heard about this. At first I was actually happy. No, its not because I’m a U of T student, which by default requires me to dislike York, I simply don’t like York. It’s not a vendetta either. Something bothers me about that school. Now, I’ve never spent a great amount of time there, so I may be biased but hear me out. I’ve got quite a few friends who go to York – according to Facebook it’s actually 89 – but who’s counting? For the most part, York is usually the primary option for those who’ve gone to yeshiva or seminary for a year or two in Israel once they come back to Toronto (that’s a relative “once” because you never know what a year in Israel can do to you). I find that most people take a very passive approach towards deciding what they’ll be doing @ York (not university) but rather it’s expected that they’ll be at York. It’s viewed as the quickest option to get a university education, for the pure sake of making a living, so that you can get out of there quickly and start doing something else like making a living, or get married or anything else someone finds intriguing (like going back to Israel).

I have no problem how people choose to make use of their time and mo
ney when it comes to university. There’s nothing wrong with what I mentioned above

But doing that wasn’t my primary option, it was actually my last. I chose going to U of T (Scarborough nonetheless) because I was enticed by the program as well as the challenge. That being the case, it kind of upsets me when I hear about all the things that make York so accessible. These are things like:

*Closeness to home
*Cheaper tuition and transit rates and travel times/ways to get to and from school (not having to take more than one transit system)
*An active Jewish student community + atmosphere Better class times (especially when it comes to setting up a learning schedule elsewhere)
*No school because of Holidays (not anymore though)
*Credits from Israel (you just had the easiest year of your university life, and didn’t miss a beat!)

Hey York people, correct me if I’ve made a mistake!?

Back in the day, I would’ve settled for less because it was more convenient (See Westmount>CHAT for high school, though I don’t regret it.) But being in Israel taught me the values of learning things the hard way and where to benefit from it. I appreciate what I get out of traveling 45 minutes in the morning and an 1hour or so at night to and from Scarberia. So even though York students are off school now and have a lot of free time to what they please and here I am swimming in a sea of work, for the long run it’ll work out for me. I wouldn’t want to lose my winter break or summer. Or worse, lose out on the value of a good education. (especially when it’s tearing a hole in your wallet.) There’s my sympathy…. have fun making up the time you’ve lost So I wish the best to York students. And even though your not in school now, appreciate what you have – what I’ve mentioned above. It could be worse. You could be going to school in Scarborough 😉

I googled “york university strike” and this is what came up. Ha! And it was from the YRT!! (York Region Transit- the worst transit system in the world – a post for another time)

** I’ll save the university/yeshiva story for another time

Judaism, Politics

The Obama Email

I’ll admit that all I was only going to do was give my take on the candidates and what I though about the whole election hullabaloo. On Thursday however, an old friend of mine sent me a very eye catching email that appealed to me on many levels. It was written by Rabbi Lazer Brody, (profile).
Take a look:

“Those who don’t come to Israel while they still can may be lucky to escape from the USA with a plastic bag and a pair of pajamas.” Rabbi Shalom Arush made this devastating statement in his public lecture in Hebrew several hours ago. Rabbi Shalom is neither partisan nor does he care about politics, whether in Israel or overseas. Yet, he said, “The near eighty percent of America’s Jews who voted for Obama will soon be called upon to suffer the consequence of their choice.” What consequence? The American economy is so bad, and so much new money with no backing is being printed, that the gross national product soon won’t be enough to pay for the mere interest that America owes its creditors. Suddenly, the young people of the USA will wake up from their slumber of fun and games to realize that the country has not only mortgaged their future, but the future of their great grand children and the unborn generations for years to come. With mounting unemployment and rioting in the streets, who’ll take the blame? The Jews, of course! Don’t be fooled by a few Uncle-Tom Jews in the Obama crew. The Judenrat – entrusted of filling the daily cattle-car quotas destined for the death camps – was also staffed by Jews.
I don’t like messianic speculation, but more and more of this generation’s spiritual leaders are saying that Moshiach is fast on the way. Don’t miss the train.
If you’re smart, you’ll start phasing out your assets in the USA and buying property in Israel. And if you’re even smarter, you’ll start thinking really seriously about coming home. Soon, the choice won’t be yours. It’s not too nice to escape as a refugee in the middle of the night with nothing more than your pajamas and a plastic bag.

First of all, I want to make it clear that I’m not in support of what’s said in this passage. It’s really hard for me to say that because even though I respect the opinion of the quoted Rabbis and the material has substance (I’ll explain later in the post), a lot of it is speculation, so its really hard to attach any tangible evidence to believe what’s being said. Than there’s me trying to hone the mindset of a journalist: trying to say as neutral, objective, realistic as possible in the face all the point of views (no matter how attractive and appealing it is…).

Nonetheless, I wouldn’t be posting this passage here unless I found it had value and opportunities existed to grow from it. I respect the people who took the time get this message out in the open.

My grandmother told me something very interesting a few weeks ago. She told me that back in Europe before the war, the first major sign that things were going wrong was the economy. I don’t know exact circumstances, but I’ve done my research and its true.

She was however, actually talking about the Jews.

When the economy went bad in Europe, it was the first of many things the Jews began to get blamed for and you know the rest. She then told me to keep this mind with what’s going on in the world right now. I don’t know what to think of this kind of message that I posted above. It may just be speculation, who knows? I usually don’t pay attention to something that appears like something speculation. But I thought twice after remembering what grandmother told me. Let’s hope G-d willing, that the times ahead are prosperous and filled with opportunity. And if not, than its for the best.

Just something to think about.

Judaism, Politics

Obama: Soon to be the most powerful man in the world

Its been a little week or so since Barack Obama won the election and although dust from the election coverage has settled, there’s still much to to talk about.

Like most people, the US election was on my mind for the past “I can’t even recall how long the coverage of the election has been going on for times” (that was supposed to be a substitute for an amount of time I couldn’t put together). To be an honest even I have an interest in politics, because I’m an avid fan of Saturday Night Live, it was their spoofs that really turned me (and my family) on to the election.

But besides that, I began to notice a few things from my peers. One was that many of my religious friends (both American and Canadian) were heavily in favourite of McCain. No surprise there since George W. Bush has been one of those most supportive Presidents of Israel in history. To many people who are devoted to the Holy Land, foreign policy with Israel is without question the most important issue of any election campaign. You want proof? Take a look @ this past Canadian election: Prior to Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party taking office in 2006, most ridings with a significant Jewish population voted Liberal, such as my riding of Thornhill, which is home to one of the largest observant Jewish populations in Canada. Yet after Paul Martin’s government broke down and Harper came into power, his party began to display a staunch supporting of Israel and the Jewish community certainly took notice. During this past election, Peter Kent of the Conservative Party convincingly defeated Liberal incumbent Susan Kadis – who is Jewish herself.

However… with the exception of support for Israel, Bush didn’t do so well in anywhere else (that’s an understatement).

Enter Obama: Personally I can’t really find much not to like about him. He’s definitely got great appeal (dancing on the Ellen DeGeneres show, playing 3-on-3 with Indiana high school students). Things like that are good for brownie points but running against the person succeeding George W. Bush, he’d be hard-pressed to lose.

So my question is, would it be hypocritical to say I’m Conservative in Canada, yet Liberal in America?

I’m not sure really. Guess I should brush up on my American politics.

And my appreciation of Obama, well let’s just say I’ve had to ask myself a few questions after reading a very interesting email my friend sent me. (I was going to include it here, but Shabbat is coming so there’s no time for that…). On Sunday, maybe Saturday night I’ll post my thoughts on this email in relation to the election…

But for now, Have a good shabbos y’all (or as I like to say: Sabbatical Salutations and Benedictions!!)

Also!! Stay tuned for some announcement on some new features I’ll be adding to the blog in the near future.


The values of hard work – journalism style!

Life can get pretty hectic. Nowadays I’m trying to find time that isn’t. But I like hectic. It means you’re actually getting off your tuchus and doing something (or should I say many things). It’s certainly a lot better than sitting around and doing nothing.

So far I’ve gotten a nice taste of life = hectic with the journalism program. I don’t really realize until after I’ve done the work that I’ve just exhausted myself and that the robot in me needs to recharge. The work is tough but I enjoy it. The Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) teach us that one should build an appreciation for work – a strong work ethic – no matter what the toil may be. So I do my best to weather the storm…

A lot has happened recently:

Last Thursday (October 30th), our class got to visit Toronto headquarters of the Canadian Press, or as my prof calls them : “Canadian media royalty.” Two words come to mind from this trip:
Fascinating & Overwhelming.

Why fascinating? Whatever your occupation/niche/favourite hobby may be, imagine getting the chance to go visit the top producer/performer/institution of that field. Or just picture how excited the class nerd might feel when told his class was going on a field trip to the science centre/observatory (he’ll need two big puffs of his inhaler just to regain normal breathing). That’s kind of how it was for me. I was pretty psyched to go. Well maybe I’m over-exaggerating but as a wannabe journlalist, it was very cool to go see an all-out, top of the line newsroom. Next time I’ll make sure I go to the washroom before the tour begins so I can actually give 100%, 100% of the time 😉

Overwhelming? Try this: While walking around the newsroom, my imaging professor pointed out the shower to us. That’s right, the shower. These people work so hard that sometimes so much time flies by that you gotta freshen up @ some point. I wonder where they keep the cots? Beds would take up too much space and money.
I guess my point is that it seems like work is life to the people who work there. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was afraid of that notion. Then again, asides from putting money on the table (which I will soon make very clear in a later post IS NOT the ends to the work I do, its just another means to a greater goal), here’s a setting where people have honed their skills to the point where they are capable of handling the over-bearing levels of work. And certainly they wouldn’t be working there unless they didn’t enjoy it (another important life lesson). Seeing those kind of qualities is something I can look at, admire and aspire to be able to maintain that kind of work ethic one day, G-d willing.

Speaking of working because they like it, that’s exactly what award-winning reporter Dave Seglins said when he visited our class this past tuesday (November 4). Seglins is currently the anchor of the CBC Radio 1 national news program entitled, The World this Weekend, which airs every saturday and sunday night between 6-7pm. In the midst of our unit on covering crime and police, Seglins took the time to talk to us about some of the characteristics of that field and shared some of his own endeavours as well. I really got a lot of when he talked about some of the methods he used to get stories, such as word of mouth and following trends, which could eventually lead to massive stories. Take this one for example, he notices a recent trend that a certain type of car has been stolen frequentley over a certain type of time. Upon further investigation, the trend leads them to a huge scoop about a massive auto theft ring (front page material!!). It was of great benefit to hear from a pro and get an idea of how he gathers info and puts stories together.
That’s Dave Seglins speaking to our class. See that head in the bottom right corner? C’est moi!

In the upcoming posts, I’ll be talking about:
– a university I don’t like, yet can’t help but feel bad for (we’ll see about that after tonight…)
– my first crime report – the actual report, and the cool story of how it landed in my lap
– everyone’s new favourite person (or at least america’s): Barack Obama (and some election editorial)

Class dismissed, time for recess!