blog stuff, Judaism, media, Random, school

Tevy @ Centennial Journalism’s Weblog (and some shout outs)

One of our professors made a blog for our journalism class @ Centennial college. As “Centennial Journalism’s Weblog,” it’s got a ton of articles written by myself and my fellow classmates. It also has pictures 🙂

Check out a feature I wrote on kosher food @ the Royal Winter Fair back in October:

Also, check out a profile that was done on yours truly by a fellow journalism student at Centennial College. It’s a work of art! I had tears… tears of joy

Enjoy reading! And while I’m at it (it being publicizing myself, something I don’t like doing), I’ll shift the focus off myself to others with a few shout outs.

One…. (he gets first dibs cause he just told me he’s reading the blog) to Ed Abramovitz on his recent engagement to Michelle Rosen, and for simply being an awesome person

Two…. To Aaron Samole and Sarah Shainhouse on their marriage that took place a few hours ago! What a great night! Mazel Tov! (And let me make a quick note on something, when you say on faceboook you’re attending an event, ATTEND IT!! No one likes a no show) Regardless, t’was a great night for all who attended

Three… To Celeste De Muelenaere. Not only because she’s a fellow Centennial Journalism student, but it was her birthday yesterday too (and I probably missed a party:(

Four… To Heshy Freid and his website. When I found this, I was so happy to see that someone made a blog or some sort of collection of thoughts and writings of this calibre and particular topic of interest. I’ve always wanted to do something like that since leaving yeshiva but didn’t feel like the right person to do so. Glad to see that someone took advantage of a great opportunity and did it well so successfully (I even plugged it to a guy I met at the wedding I went to last night, thinking he’d get a kick out of it). And a belated happy birthday as well! And… If I may suggest for a new topic (if you end up reading this), I know you’ve done several wedding posts but how bout a list of all the dances you see @ frum weddings. we’re talking line dances, putting the chasan and kalla on top of a table and pray to G-d the group of guys don’t let go and drop the table. Oh, and to answer your survey: Mamma Leah’s (I’ve got old Ner connections)

Five… To Talia Shmuel who recentely wrote this fantastic piece: OR here (it’s my profile, but there’s a link there too)

Hanukkah, holidays, Judaism, media

Holiday Happenings- Radio Hanukkah and so much more…

Happy holidays ye old townspeople… I took a small sabbatical from writing (and pretty much everything else) over the holidays just to recuperate a little more from school (like I really need that much support 😉 but more importantly to kick back and enjoy the holidays. And that includes everyone no matter what you celebrate- even if you celebrate simply having time off from whatever you do on a normal basis.

So as the Festival of Lights begins to flicker away – no pun intended, it just sounded nice when I thought it out, here’s a few things that were apparent over this year’s edition of the holiday season:

For me personally, Hanukkah shares a special significance: My Hebrew birth date -aka the date I was born on in the Hebrew calender – is the 25th of the month of Kislev – the first day Hanukkah. I was actually born on the day (not the preceding night) and literally just made it before sunset, thus making it the 26th. I like to remind my parents that I was their ‘miracle baby’ and ‘the light of their lives’ or any other useful Hanukkah metaphor that could be fit with birth 🙂

So when the first candle was lit – that was the moment I finally felt 21. To honour the times, everyday @ morning services, there’s an additional reading from the Torah, which I usually try to read for the congregation every year. It’s a challenge, but I love it. So I spend a little time practicing, even though a lot of it is the same words over and over again. Look it up and you’ll know what I mean.

Anyways about the holidays…

I’m sitting in my Dad’s car Sunday morning (on the 21st) waiting for my dad to return after picking up a Toronto Star at the local Shopper’s Drug Mart after morning services. Unfortunately, there’s no National Post on Sunday, which is really too bad, if you ask me…

So as I’m waiting I begin playing with one of the car’s coolest features: XM Satellite Radio
We’ve only had the car since July but we can’t get enough of it. It actually provides us with what we want without any tassels or what not. Everyone gets to listen to what they like and variety is at a premium (Note- this is not a plug for satellite radio, rather a kudos for its services).

One of my favourite stations is the all Led Zeppelin station on channel 39. It happens to be the first of the rock stations on the dial. As I’m listening I go to turn up the volume and accidentally hit the channel changing nob instead, to channel 38. What I hear next is quite astounding.

For the next 8 days and nights, tune into Radio Hanukkah, channel 38 on XM Satellite Radio for all your holiday favourites and classics, as well as live footage of the lighting of the White House National Menorah in Washington…

Interesting. After all the years of having to listen to the same Christmas songs, I can now go into the car and hear all my favourite Hanukkah songs!

Okay that wasn’t my real initial reaction, but I was surprised to hear something remotely Jewish on the radio, let alone a national station (satellite nonetheless) completely devoted to something of a Jewish nature, the holiday of Hanukkah! I ended up getting my family hooked to the station. Of course you had your usual songs like Hanerot Halalu, Maoz Tzur, and Oy Hanukkah (“Oy Hanukkah, Oy Hanukkah, come light the menorah, lets have a party, we’ll all dance the hora..”) but there was so much more. You could even hear those songs in several different languages, (Yiddish!) and in different musical forms (Klezmer!). Yeah I’m being sarcastic but just like your typical Christmas music that’s played over and over again, unfortunately it’s not too different from the Hanukkah music, so what gives? you ask…

Like bands like Zeppelin, AC/DC, Elvis, Springsteen and the Grateful Dead, who all have their own stations on satellite radio, you have to have a pretty large catalogue of material to demand that kind of air play. Not to mention the demand (yay!!) The station, which is in its 3rd year, is only available for the 8 days if the holiday (so ends tonight 😦

The station features all sorts of music such as the usual classics, Klezmer bands, Israeli folk and traditional music, kids music, contemporary Jewish music, music from Jewish themed and inspired movies and Broadway plays, as well as hourly live features from Jewish bands such as Soulfarm, Blue Fringe, Rebbie Soul and others. Not only is there music, but there’s also a variety of classes given by some of the most reknown speakers such as Rabbi Shmuley (who had an hourly slot at noon), Janis Ian. There’s Jewish comedy too! And you can’t forget Carlebach… a Jewish music essential!

Not bad for a group of people who only make up about 1% of the world’s population.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday, whatever you were celebrating!

Click here if you want to know more about the station:

I’m not purely responsible for this work of art. My friend put it together in yeshiva and I took a picture of it. But yes, it’s a menorah made of beer bottles, entirely kosher. (no need for Manishevitz)

Judaism, life, Politics, Random

December 16- This Day in History

Besides from the most important thing that happened on this day, a lot of other cool things happened on this day as well. People born, people died… famous events etc.
I already knew of a lot of these things but there were a few cool ones I hadn’t seen before. So after doing some research, here’s a brief list of cool things that happened on the day I share my birthday with:
Notable events:
1998 Operation Desert Fox begins– The US and UK bomb Iraq because of an alleged failure to comply with UN Security Council resolutions. You can look as this day as a monumental day in how things began developing towards present day Iraq.
1991- Independence Day for The Republic of Kazahkstan. Very nice! I knew I was connected in more than one way to Kazahkstan asides from my infamous Borat costume. Let’s celebrate with a song!

One of my favourites:
1991- UN General Assembly Resolution 4686 is passed, which revokes UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 after Israel makes revocation of resolution 3379 a condition of its participation in the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991
Why is this a big deal? Pretty much the UN reversed a ruling that Zionism is considered racism. Like there was ever any question of that concept in the first place boggles me. The final vote was 111-25 (13 abstained). President Bush told the General Assembly:

“…to equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history and forget the terrible plight of Jews in World War II and indeed throughout history.”

Let this be a lesson for everyone…I encourage everyone to look up information about this historic event.

1973- O.J. Simpson becomes the first NFLer to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. And now rots in prison.
1971- “National Day” for State of Bahrain AND Victory Day in Bangladesh this day marks the surrender of the Pakistani army in the Bangladesh War of Independence and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, paving the way for independence in Bangladesh.
1966- Jimi Hendrix Experience releases its first single “Hey Joe,” in the UK. And a legend is born.
1969- MP’s in English Commons vote to abolish hanging
. 2 days later the House of Lords voted in favour of abolishing the death penalty completely.
1960- 1960 New York air disaster– While approaching New York’s Idlewild Airport, a United Airlines Douglas DC-8 collides with a TWA Lockheed Super Constellation in a blinding snowstorm over Staten Island, killing 134.
1944- The Battle of the Bulge begins. This was the last major offensive by the Germans in WWII before eventually losing the war. Thank G-d for that.

1773- The Boston Tea Party. That’s right, today was the day that members of the Sons of Liberty disguised as Natives and dumped several crates of tea into Boston harbour as a protest against the Tea Act.
1689- English Parliament adopts Bill of Rights after Glorious Revolution.
1497- Vasco da Gama goes where no man has gone before- around the Cape of Good Hope, the point where Bartolomeu Dias had made it to, but turned back.
1770Ludwig von Beethoven, the musician who gave us Fur Elise, Symphony No. 9, Moonlight Sonata,  and my favourite: his 5th Symphony.
1775Jane Austen, novelist, Pride and Prejudice.
1883Max Linder, French pioneer of silent film, it’s said he created what was probably the first identifiable motion-picture character who appeared in successive situation comedies. Jewish too.
1901- Margaret Mead, American anthropologist.
1913George Ignatieff, He was a Russian-born Canadian diplomat, but today he’s relevant because he’s the father of Michael Ignatieff, the soon-to-be next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
1934- Elgin Baylor, NBA Hall-of-Famer.
1938Frank Deford, American Sportswriter.
1941Lesley Stahl, American journalist, 60 minutes.
1946Benny Andersson, singer and songwriter for ABBA – OR, the reason I almost my mind this summer while working because of having to listen to ABBA over and over again…
1949Billy Gibbons, ZZ Top guitarist. A real musician, and what facial hair! >
1962William “The Refrigerator” Perry, American football player, awesome nickname- at his peak weight he was 382 lbs!
1963-Benjamin Bratt, American actor, Law & Order, Traffic
1966- Clifford Robinson, American basketball player
1967Donovan Bailey, Canadian sprinter, 2-time Olympic gold medalist, held the world record for the 100 metre dash at 9.84 seconds. He’s also from Oakville, Ontario, my previous hometown. One of my favourites :
1975Ben Kowalewicz, Canadian musician, Billy Talent. Solid, solid band.
1977Eric Belanger, Canadian hockey player, Winnipeg Jets.

1859Wilhelm Grimm, One of the Brothers Grimm, fairy tale writer
1916 (old style calender, so for us its actually on December 29)- Rasputin, powerful Russian monk. legend has it that on this day he was poisoned by Romanov family members who believed his influence on the Tsaritsa became too dangerous. He didn’t die right away but this event is known as the catalyst for his downfall.
1922Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the man who revived the Hebrew language. Read his bio. What a fascinating story he has. He lived a tough life – after his wife died of tuberculosis and three of his five children died within a span of 10 days – but managed to revive a seemingly dead language. Many orthodox authorities rejected his teachings because of the sanctity of the Hebrew language, which is regarded as “Lashon HaKodesh” or holy language/tongue, and should only be used for the discussion of holy/torah matters, not everyday conversational use (they consider it a misuse of the language, thus explaining the prevalence of Yiddish as a conversational language.) Personally, I agree with the orthodox point of view, but what Ben-Yehuda did was extremely vital to the well-being of Jewish identity. One of the first things any Jew learns is the Aleph-Beis (the alphabet), and without it, it’s extremely difficult to grasp much. Also, when defining a nation, better yet an organized group of similar people – language is usually one of those dominating characteristics. Thank G-d for bringing a man like Elizer Ben Yehuda into this world.
1922Gabriel Narutowic,1st President of Poland, assassinated a week after his election.
1976George, a goose that lived to 49 years, 8 months. I read this and thought wow.
1980Colonel Sanders, Mr. Kentucky Fried Chicken

You can also find more interesting stuff about December 16 by taking this quiz on Sporcle. I surprisingly didn’t do all that well, which I honestly can’t explain.

Hope you enjoyed that!


It’s my 21st Birthday!! A time to celebrate, but also to look back… and reflect

It’s 1:15 AM, I’m sitting on the couch of my basement room floor in my house. I’ve got an open beer to my left, my bongo to my right, and metallica blasting from my laptop speakers (someone just closed the door from the main floor leading to the basement – too loud I presume 🙂

I don’t really feel like sleeping tonight, because why would I want to waste such a day like this?
(I actually have to finish up an overdue essay.. guess I can’t have it all my way..)

Today is December 16 and 21 years ago today I was born. No matter what country, I’m considered an adult. It’s a little something worth contemplating amidst my happy state of mind.

To be honest, up until the clock actually struck 12, I wasn’t all that excited. I had just finished up a very long week and clearly I was still feeling its effects. But it felt more than just that…

I was waiting in line today with my mother at the local WalMart. She had just finished placing a bunch of random things on the checkout table. One of those things was a birthday card, which she specifically told me to go away and keep busy while she looked for one. After carefully placing it on the checkout table away from my what my eyes could see, she turned to me and said:

“You’re gonna be 21 by this time tomorrow, that’s amazing. You know, some people are married and having kids by now.”

I knew it. I was tired but I knew it. As much as I don’t like to compare myself to others and how they were raised to be brought up a certain way and be ready for certain responsibilities and stages of life at certain ages, I felt a little urge of discomfort after hearing this remark. She quickly made a small joke to ease the tension but thoughts had already begun to resonate inside me.

Fine, marriage and kids are one thing, but at an age like 21, it’s safe enough to say that this is the beginning of adulthoood. Responsibilities. Privileges. Capabilities. Sometimes I’ve thought to myself that time and time again, I’ve been unable to live up to the potential I’m truly capable of. Call it a lack of deisre, laziness, the feeling of comfort based on my surroundings, a lack of urgency or maybe just an unwilling mentality to conform to how everyone else presents themselves, simply for the sake of standing out. In the end, there are several things I can improve upon in my life with trying to become the best human being I can be.

But when I start feeling depressed about how much I could’ve been, I try to recall where I was not too long ago. I being to ask myself, “have I made progress since X date?” and most of the time, and on an overall level…. yes, I have grown since then. I can also take confort in the fact that thank G-d I ‘ve been given all that I have today, and even more so, thank G-d I have a state of mind that relaizes that I can’t be content with the status quo or with whatever level I may be holding at.

Sometimes life can seem like a reverse escalator (or one of those conveyor belts at the airport that you can use when walking through the bording area’s long hallways – except backwards). No matter how hard you try to walk up those flight of stairs, the current’s going in the opposite direction.

As happy and thankful as I am for reaching this milestone in my life, I need to also take into consideration where am I going and how am I getting there. Though its emphasized now, with G-d’s help I can have this concept in my mind everyday or more often than not.

Thanks for all the warm wishes and may we all take the time to properly examine where we are in our lives and guide ourselves on the right path meant for us.

I declare this day a national holiday in Tevytown. Now lets party!