Sunday, May 31, 2009

From Jamaican Hip-Hopper to Orthodox Jew

I really dislike the racism that seems to permeate the orthodox Jewish community. Where does this nasty bigotry come from? I sat down at a shabbos table Friday night at which an African-American Jewish woman was also a guest. If there were dozens of young men and women like her in our community, would their presence change attitudes? I hope they would. And it's sad that a sea change of that caliber would be required. A young black man joined my morning shiur (class) a few times earlier this year. I've heard some pretty nasty racist comments from rabbis, and I wonder how they would react if this young man--not someone I know, but he seemed nice enough--started davening at their shuls or attending their classes. I suspect they'd be pretty put off. And they shouldn't be. There is no room for racism in halacha, and by that token Judaism is pretty unique. I feel like I need to remind people: racism is not a Jewish value.

Just one comment, Yoseph: I hope you didn't stop rapping! Because that's hardly a halacha violation.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fun at Blackhawks Road Watch Party

Moment in the sun: my first time on tv since 1988! #Blackhawks The presence of Ice Crew women nearby was a coincidence. At 0:09, center of screen.

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Steve Wynn and his new girlfriend

Steve Wynn is a Big Jew, whether he likes it or not.
In fact, he is one of the Top Three Big Jews of Las Vegas, along with Mayor Oscar Goodman and billionaire/casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Wynn helped remake the Las Vegas Strip and revitalize Las Vegas by building new hotel casino resorts. His Mirage opened in 1989, and Treasure Island opened next door four years later. He blew up The Dunes and built Bellagio, one of the world’s premier hotels, on the Dunes’ site. It opened in 1998. He merged his company with MGM and then sold his share. More recently he opened his eponymous resort in 2005 (?—I’m not looking it up) and its sister resort next door, Encore, last year.
So Wynn does pretty well. He recently filed for divorce from his wife, Elaine. That’s a little unusual considering his age. Since he’s 67, the Wynns have probably been married for 40 years or so. I just saw a photograph of Wynn with his new girlfriend. She appears to be under 40 and not Jewish. And this is where I have a problem.
Wynn’s life is not very private. Part of that is not his fault, but part of it is. He used his image to market his casinos. Someone who shies from the spotlight does not name a hotel after himself or plaster the logo, with surname therein, all over the property. Nor would he feature himself in tv ads for the hotel, standing on the 40-story hotel roof and joking about the helicopter circling overhead. He is frequently seen in public, either walking around or having lunch at his two properties or at charitable events in Las Vegas. He has a public persona. Las Vegas named a side street for him years before his Wynn and Encore hotels were built.
So he has an image to uphold, and that includes the image of a Big Jew. He doesn’t do that image any good by dating a non-Jew under 40. We sigh and say, “Yeah, another shikse for the rich guy.” It doesn’t need to be that way. For all his hundreds and likely thousands of business contacts, Wynn couldn’t find a beautiful, successful divorcĂ©e closer to his age who isn’t after his money? I find that hard to believe.

Blackhawks vs. Red Wings Game 3 Conf Finals


1. If a Red Wings player so much as thinks about camping out in front of the net: do whatever it takes to move him away. These players screen Nikolai Khabibulin and dramatically increase scoring chances as a result.
2. Create scoring chances for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The Blackhawks cannot win unless they score. Attack the net and outshoot the Red Wings by at least 15 percent.
3. Cut down on costly turnovers. Odd-man rushes made the difference in Game 2 and cost the Blackhawks a possible win and momentum-turning game.
4. Keep hitting the Red Wings and make them pay for every trip into the offensive zone. Remind them who their opponent is.
5. Feed off the crowd and show pride in the Indian Head jersey. Remember the One Goal.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Vancouver 1, Chicago 2 (OT) - Series tied at 2

Vancouver 1, Chicago 2 (OT) - Series tied at 2 - I watched the Blackhawks' goals (two in 5:36) twice and I still can't believe it. They were both spectaular. Martin Havlat saved the series for the Hawks, and Andrew Ladd sent the fans home at a decent hour. Why stop now?

This highlight reel is definitely worth watching!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

One of my Facebook Friends had an extended discussion about the new Museum. I opposed its creation and construction because I felt that $45 million of Jewish money could have been better spent. There are two outstanding Holocaust museums in Washington and Jerusalem. There is another at Auschwitz. I don't think we needed to spend all that money so schoolchildren could have a field trip--to a Holocaust museum. Not something to look forward to! I don't think we need another monument that shows Jews to be victims. That's not my idea of the Jewish model to emulate and aspire to. And no, I don't think the neo-Nazis' attempt to march in Skokie in 1977 is a good enough reason to justify spending $45 mil to build a Holocaust museum. Duly noted: I'm not a survivor. None of my ascendants are survivors or martyrs. I just don't think it would have been such a big deal if they had marched. I attended the museum's grand opening ceremony on April 19. Guess what? A mile away, there were Nazi protestors. (All seven of them.) They had the right to stand in the freezing rain, do their stupid salute, and look ridiculous. And they could have done it in 1977. We shouldn't need a new museum to answer them. The answer to neo-Nazis is more Jews standing proud and tall--like at Walk with Israel today.

My friend decried three significant details of the new museum that seem to detract from the uniquely Jewish character of the Nazi Holocaust: no mezuzahs, open on the Jewish Sabbath (but closed Mondays May-June '09), and a non-kosher cafeteria. Furthermore, the museum (from what I understand) goes to great lengths to compare the Holocaust to other attempts at genocide.

How absurd. Interestingly, I just read this is in direct conflict with the message of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, a Holocaust museum that insists the Jewish character of the Nazi Holocaust is unique. Unfortunately, some museums and some educators attempt to de-Judaize the Holocaust in two ways. They compare the Holocaust to other attempts of genocide. It really doesn't compare, and a justification is "beyond the scope of this post," if I may say so. Another way is to point out that Holocaust victims included Communists, homosexuals and others. Yes, but. As far as the Nazi oppressors were concerned, non-Jews were a "while we're at it" secondary goal. The whole point of the construction of the work camps and death camps was to murder Jews and make the European continent Judenrein, free of Jews. The Germans could have won the Second World War, or at least a conditional surrender, without the Holocaust. When they were clearly losing the war, they could have held on to power if they had stopped committing massive amounts of war-related resources to finishing their Final Solution. Contrary to common teaching, the Nazis did not campaign against the Jews in an effort to seize power. The Nazis seized power in an effort to murder Jews. God, would people please stop twisting history? And I'm not going into how gay the German High Command was, starting with the Fearless Leader himself. An organized campaign against homosexuals within the Reich would have decimated the German military.

So maybe the Illinois Holocaust museum doesn't want people to think of Jews when they think of the Holocaust. That sounds like a terrible thing to say, but maybe that's the whole point.

SXM - St. Maarten airport

SXM is the code for Princess Julianna International Airport on the island of St. Maarten. The island is jointly owned by the Netherlands and France so enjoys daily widebody nonstop service on KLM to Amsterdam and Air France to Paris. The jets approach SXM very close to the beach. I read this in the Chicago Tribune travel section--I couldn't dream this up myself: some locals, for fun, stand on the beach, and then when the jets pass over them, the jet wash blows them into the water. Amazing. I'd love to see that.

A Facebook Friend posted a photo of a KLM B-747 flying over the beach on approach to SXM. That's what reminded me of that story.

Pacquiao TKO's Hatton at 2:59 of 2nd Round

What a fight! Glad to see Ricky Hatton is okay after a devastating left hook to the head, courtesy of Manny Pacquiao.

Blackhawks 6, Calgary 3; series tied 1-1

What a spectacular Game 2 comeback! At least two fantastic goals here, including Patrick Kane scoring right after a screen graphic showing his stats (no points). Hoping for three straight wins!