Friday, May 25, 2012

Asifa At Agudah Announced

This week's Flatbush Jewish Journal has a lot of coverage on the past week's Asifa.

Much criticism has been leveled at the unleveled and disparate ratio of Yiddish vs. English speakers at the grand CitiField Asifa.

Perhaps this was part of the grand scheme. English speakers have been clamoring for their own Asifa, and sure enough, the front page of this week's FJJannounces the Flatbush Internet Asifa - A Community Gathering Featuring Practical Solutions to Internet Challenges.

Sunday, June 10 at 9:30 AM at the Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyamin - 2913 Avenue L. For Men and Women. All speeches will be in English.

Somebody out there is listening.

As for the Grand Asifa of last week, I think it still produced amazing results. Even though it was long-winded and primarily in a foreign language, it has nationally placed the need for a filter on a higher plateau.


UPDATE 6/1/12

Rav Matisyahu Salomon, Rav Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Rav Avrohom Schorr and Rav Yisroel Reisman will speak.

All speeches will be in English.

Men and Women invtited.

Attendees will receive a Free Technology Awareness guide.

11:00 AM to 1 PM TAG professionals will be available to put internet filters on smart phones.

No mention in the ad of any cost.

Hmm. Seems like this is what the Grand Asifa was supposed to be.

Patz Predator Pedro 'Prehended

"The mills of the Gods grind ever so slowly, but ever so well", is a refrain that I heard often while growing up.

Back in 1979. little Etan Patz disappeared while on a short trek to his schoolbus. His disappearance sparked a movement to better locate missing children. He was the first to grace the milk cartons as part of this effort.

The day of Etan Patz's disappearance, May 25, has been designated National Missing Children's Day since its declaration by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Although others have been implicated in this crime, no one ever admitted to being the perpetrator until yesterday. Coincidentally, 33 years, almost to the day after his disappearance, the NYPD has made an arrest.

This will hopefully give his parents closure to this tragic episode.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Facebook Frenzy Falls Flat

Since it's inception in 2004, Facebook has taken the internet world by storm.

Part of the attraction to Facebook, is the ability to peep into other people's lives.

A major fallacy of this generation is the fact that television has greatly enabled the concept of "Keeping up with the Jones's". There was a time when children played ball, played instruments and engaged in hobbies.

Nowadays, children don't play sports, they follow it. They don't play instruments, they watch others play on YouTube. Their hobbies are updating their Facebook pages and TXTing friends.

Rabbi Wachsman eloquently quoted the pundits who've labeled this generation as "click vegetables".

So I am crying no tears for the recent IPO of FB on the NASDAQ, and the subsequent falter of the stock down 20%.

As my Rosh Yeshiva once told me when I told him that I want to go to Eretz Yisroel to see the Gedolim there..."BECOME ONE YOURSELF!".

I'll leave it to my readers to decide if his Brocha came True.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Umbrella Unity Usifa Uplifts

Last in a series:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

The long awaited Usifa finally arrived last night at CitiField. Over 40,000 Orthodox Jews, ranging from Yeshivish to Chassidic, gathered in a unified, dignified manner to draw awareness, and to find solutions to the onslaught of technology on today's youth.

The vehicular traffic to the stadium was abnormally heavy, as myriads of attendees chartered buses, arranged carpools, or simply drove to the Queens destination. A strong police presense was felt, as hundreds of officers patrolled the vicinity afoot, in squad cars, in addition to several choppers overhead.

The picture perfect weather was far more conducive for ball-playing than listening to speeches, but no one minded the absolute glorious sunshine which bathed the garden-green-grass, a strong contrast to the black and white clad attendees who graced the stands.

Congestion on the vicinity roads probably delayed the procedings, but approximately 7:15 PM the program began with Mincha recited B'rov Am.

Organizers seemingly made an effort to include an international array of speakers, with Jerusalem, Montreal and Antwerp thrown in the mix.

As I assumed, Rabbi Wachsman of Monsey spoke. In fact he spoke several times throughout the evening. I was very impressed with his speech(es), particularly the content and the pathos in delivery. In fact, with the exception of Rav Mattisyahu Salomon (his beautiful British delivery), I can't say that I appreciated any of the other speeches. Now that may be due to the fact that the other speakers spoke primarily in Yiddish, but I sensed that the crowd simply did not react as well to the other talks.

Additionally, Rav Wachsman addressed the media, a topic that was ignored by the others.

I'm sure it was a huge balancing act of the organizers, who should speak? what language? how long? so many difficulties, yet the end result was a huge Kiddush Hashem as a sold-out CitiField is a rarity.

Highlights included Davening together B'Achdus for Mincha and Maariv. [What I haven't been able to figure out, is why there were various break-away minyanim, some even running simultaneously to the main one.] Being Mekabel Ol Malchus Shamayim with thousands of others was also uplifting and the spontaneous singing of V'Taher Libeinu in unison was also a defining moment.

There were no super surprises. Other than the unexpected telephone Psak of Rav Wosner and some rare public appearances of various Rebbes and Roshei Yeshiva, the gathering was mostly predictable.

A really big annoyance was the constant roaring of Jetliners overhead from the nearby airports. Better let the roar come from the appreciative crowd or via the speakers from the "speakers".

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Osifa's Outstanding Octogenarian's Orate

The excitement builds as the long awaited Osifa at CitiField draws near.

So far the Organizers of the Ichud Organization have been mum on who will speak during the program.

It's been reported elsewhere that Rabbi Wachsman from Monsey will M.C. the event.

Rabbi Mattisyahu Salomon will also probably take on a speaking role, as he is quite proficient in this regard. I remember hearing him speak at Chynka Hall, possibly the first Osifa of it's kind regarding Internet. He is very powerful.

Another possibility is Rabbi Avrohom Schorr, who spoke this past year at the Agudah Convention. He may want to rid the home of the computer, and replace Internet access with Internet Cafe's (sans food).

In any event, Rumor has it that the Organizer's tried to bring in some "big guns" from Eretz Yisroel and Europe. Even if they fail, I imagine that some of the senior USA Roshei Yeshiva, probably of the Moetzes, will grace the podium.

New York City was all abuzz today how CitiField landed the prestigious MLB All-Star game for the year 2013. I say that the real All Stars will grace the Field this Sunday, not only on the dais, but also in the stands.

Friday, May 11, 2012

E-asifa Expo Education Eliminated

Originally, the Asifa planned for May 20 at CitiField was supposed to include men,women and an Expo.

Yet women were subsequently removed from the program. Allegedly because the Chassidic Courts did not want to participate if they were included.

Other complained about the Expo, maybe a legitimate concern that perhaps monetary interests of those who controlled the Jewish filters were behind the gathering to turn a profit.

The ads this week no longer make any mention of an Expo. Simply, the gathering will commence at 7:00 PM and last until 9:15. Mincha will begin for early-comers at 6:30 PM.

Seems like the organizers have been beaten by those on the left and those on the right. I don't envy their job in placating everyone.

Kudos to their efforts in creating Achdus.

Reminds me of the old jingle song...

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

WildThings Writer's Warped Work

This week saw the demise of Maurice Sendak, one of the most prolific and talented illustrator's of children's books. Whereas his private life was not one to emulate, he captivated generations of children with his monster-like illustrations.

One of my favorite books was his 1963 offering "Where The Wild Things Are". The grotesque pictures frightened many a child (and their parents). His character Max tells his mother "I'll eat you up", somewhat out of place for a child's book of the 60's, yet the frightening creatures are lovable just the same, and it was this talent that engaged a child's imagination that made him so popular.

What is interesting, is that he was born in Brooklyn to a family of Polish Jewish refugees, and was deeply influenced by Walt Disney's "Fantasia" to make a career out of picture drawing. Also amusing, is that one of his earliest creations was doing the illustrations for a book called "Good Shabbos Everybody" (by Robert Garvey) (1951).

Children's books are a valuable resource for bonding a child with his parents. Parents who read bedtime stories to their kids reap the rewards of the child growing up wishing to emulate them and gain knowledge from books. Sadly, much of this may be lost to future generations as the electronic publishers gradually remove hard copies from the shelves.

Yet perhaps the most noble trait of an author/illustrator is to expand the imagination of the child. It is no coincidence, then, that several "Top 100 Child Book Lists" list "Where The Wild Things Are" as #1.

Perusing these lists sent me down memory lane, another of my favorite endeavors. On the way, I revisited some of my favorite story books. Among them:

The Carrot Seed

Harold and the Purple Crayon

The Lorax (and all other Dr. Seuss)

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel

Harry, the Dirty Dog

Goodnight, Moon

Curious George

Sheep in a Jeep

Caps for Sale

Rainbow Fish

Please add your favorites in the comments.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Grandiose Gathering Generates Goodwill

The Jewish People do not always necessarily create large Asifas. Yet in the near future, there is one gathering which will take place in CitiField, and another several months hence at the MetLife Stadium.

While these causes may be noble indeed, there is a much larger gathering, perhaps the largest gathering of Jews in modern history, which takes place yearly in Eretz Yisroel.

I am referring to the proclaimed Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, which takes place in Meron on Lag Baomer.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews of all stripes and persuasions gather on the 33rd of the Omer to mark the contribution and legacy of RSBY.

What is remarkable is that there are Sefardim and Ashkenazim, Ethiopian and Caucasian, religious and non-religious, all united together to celebrate what has become a Jewish holiday.

Whereas we find in the world around us that gatherings are primarily formed to cheer the living, Jewish people find it noteworthy to honor their dead. No non Jewish funerals, with the possible exception of forced attendance by dictators, can boast the hundreds of thousands of mourners who attend the Levayos of the Talmudic greats, usually within several hours of notice.

Mi K'Amecha Yisroel!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rav's wRitings Recently Revived - Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch

I was pleasantly surprised to see that a new volume (IX) has been published of Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch's writings. It has been a long time since the publishing of volume VIII.

What is fascinating is that the timeless essays are just as relevant in the 21st century as they were in the 19th.

The description below is from Feldheim's website:

This supplemental volume to the Collected Writings of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch contains articles not published in the original 8 volumes, as well as a comprehensive subject and source index to the entire Collected Writings series.

The articles reflect the ever-valid Hirschian ideology, on the following topics:

Naphtulei Niphtalti-a refutation of Reform rationales

Jewish Observations - a statement against anti-Semitism and derision of Torah

Rabbinic Judaism and General Education - an affirmation of ""Torah im Derech Eretz""

Address: Schiller Centenary - an evaluation of the worth of the secular within Torah parameters

Outrage in Hamburg - a criticism of a Jewish community's response to a forbidden marriage, thereby highlighting the need for independent Orthodoxy

Address: Battle of the Nations - an appreciation of civil freedom and its meaning for Jews

Two Letters - on the Aggadah - an analysis of the authority of Halachah and Aggadah

Carmel and Sinai - a call to faithful Torah observance amidst the challenge of the times

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ichud Internet Information Illustrated - CitField Asifa

There seems to be a lot of misinformation circulating around the Jblogosphere regarding the Ichud Hakehillos Internet Asifa.

I’d like to simply share some information from a recent 16 page color brochure that was distributed in some newspapers last week.

Page one, six and seven: Technology (Internet) is the underlying challenge of our day. Although it is preferable to live without it, it is becoming increasingly more difficult. Hence, we need to come up together with solutions how to harness this technology without falling into pitfalls. Filtered access is a large part of the solution. Another reason for the Asifa is to create Achdus in this regard.

Page two and three: Halachic analysis that unfiltered access to the internet is problematic, since without a filter, there is a strong possibility that one will stumble on Peritzus.

Page four and five: Personal account of the affects that unfiltered access had on one particular girl. She concedes that she is not the only one who got ruined by her iPod Touch, and begs parents to get more aware and keep these items away from their children.

Centerfold: Asifa advertisement “A Huge Crisis”.

Page 10: TAG Hotline specialist answers 10 questions about filtering. He provides startling figures on how many people access inappropriate content when their connection is not filtered. Yet filters are not the complete solution, as they can be bypassed.

Page 11: Some history in how the Ichud Hakehillos was formed, along with 14 names of associated Rabbonim.

Page 12 and 13 encompass a recent article written in the NYT by a secular executive editor who bemoans the affect that Twitter and Facebook have had on his child.

Page 14, 15 and backpage : pictures of the various Ichud gatherings. One complaint I’ve heard is the fact that women will not be included in this event. From what I’ve read elsewhere, it seems that they were originally supposed to be included, but in the attempt to seek complete Achdus, even among various Chassidic groups, women were removed. I imagine that since the primary concern is viewing objectionable material, this affects males much more than females.

Disclaimer: I have no association with the Ichud whatsoever.

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