Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why can't stores give accurate erev shabbat hours?

In the past 2 weeks, I've encountered 2 kosher restaurants, one a sushi place, and one a pizza parlor, that closed early on Friday.
In both cases, the website (and in the case of the pizza parlor, a sign on the door as well,) clearly stated that they closed on Friday 2 hours before Shabbat. So why were they already closed a good 4 or 5 hours before candelighting?
Not a big deal in the scheme of things, but annoying nonetheless. How hard is it to write on the website: "please call before coming on Fridays to verify hours"??

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day - we've come a long way, but there's still a long way to go

There’s a lot to celebrate since the birth of the modern environmental movement some 45 years ago.


40 years ago, raw sewage and industrial waste was being pumped directly into rivers. Acid rain was falling. Smog blanketed most big cites. Forests were being cut down at an accelerating rate. Toxins were everywhere.

It was much easier for people to get involved. They saw the problems at their doorsteps.

40 years later, the rivers of the US are mostly clear, with abundant fish and wildlife in and around them. Acid rain? That’s a term many who were born past the 70’s know only from history class. Cities have much cleaner air. In LA there's still smog, but you can actually see the valley. Forests are still being cut down too fast, but at least in the US, clear cutting has slowed dramatically, and sustainable logging is growing, with new trees being planted whenever one is cut down.

The most often cited environmental problem today is that of climate change. But that’s something most people don’t see on a daily basis. It’s doesn’t prompt a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) response. And the skepticism of climate change is greater than ever, bolstered by overblown and inaccurately reported stories like “climate gate”.

How do we get back to that environmentalist enthusiasm and sense of urgency, the kind that prompted Republicans like Richard Nixon to sign major pieces of legislation like the Clean Water Act and extension of the Clean Air Act?

I’m not sure, but in the meantime, it’s important to remember what has been accomplished. But we have a long way to go.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yom Hazikaron LaShoah VeLaGvura

Over on DovBear, there's a discussion going on about whether having Yom HaShoah in Nissan is appropriate and possible reasons Charedim do not commemorate it. Rafi G relates the reason his Rav opposes commemorating it. According to his Rav, it's inappropriate that Yom HaShoah was established on the date of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, because that's only remembering those who died fighting back instead of those who submitted to the will of Hashem and became Kedoshim.

Here's what I wrote in response:

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Think of the reality of when Yom HaShoah was established. Less than a decade before, over 1/3 of our people had been murdered and almost the entirety of European Jewish life had been destroyed.

The fact that Jews were able to get up and stand proud, the fact that they established a Jewish state in their ancient homeland, and the fact that they didn't want to just remember their friends, relatives, and communities as martyrs but also as fighters is something to be celebrated.

Could you imagine telling those hundreds of thousands of survivors, in Israel, in the US, and elsewhere that their loved ones were only martyrs? They needed something to believe in, to hold on to. Incorporating the Warsaw ghetto uprising into Yom HaShoah gave them that.

In memory of the dead, and in respect for those who went through hell and survived, I think it is utterly approriate to commemorate Yom HaShoah as it was established, as Yom Hazikaron LaShoah VeLaGvura.