Today, a new orga­ni­za­tion called B’nai Mitzvah Revolution announced itself to the world.

I’ve been priv­i­leged to serve as the webmaster/tech-guru on the project. Working with the team behind BMR — notably the co-directors and their col­leagues at HUC-JIR/RHSOE/ECE and the URJ — has been an amaz­ingly ful­fill­ing and insight­ful expe­ri­ence. I’m thank­ful to Isa for giv­ing me the oppor­tu­nity.

Check the site out. I’m incred­i­bly proud of it (though, truth be told, a lot of the con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion and tweak­ing came from the entire team).

Viva la rev­o­lu­tion!

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  • May 21, 2012

Just thought I’d help get the mes­sage out there… (Taken with Instagram)

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  • March 12, 2012

Sinbad on March 16. Who’s in?
(Taken with Instagram)

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  • March 6, 2012

Remember when you used to read MAD Magazine?

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  • March 1, 2012

Beverly Hills Purim Ball
(Taken with Instagram at Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills — A Four Seasons Hotel)

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  • February 26, 2012


I'm waiting in line for cupcakes for the pregnant wife.
(Taken with Instagram at Sprinkles Cupcakes)

Seth Godin:

Steve devoted his pro­fes­sional life to giv­ing us (you, me and a bil­lion other peo­ple) the most pow­er­ful device ever avail­able to an ordi­nary per­son. Everything in our world is dif­fer­ent because of the device you’re read­ing this on.

What are we going to do with it?

For the past sev­eral days, there’s been a lot of chat­ter on the inter­webs about a sug­ges­tion (which seems to have really taken off with this HuffPost arti­cle by Rabbi Jason Miller) that peo­ple boy­cott put pres­sure on Delta because “Delta will add Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam Alliance of part­ner­ing com­pa­nies and would require Delta to ban Jews and hold­ers of Israeli pass­ports from board­ing flights to Saudi Arabia.” My col­leagues on UPGRD​.com, Matthew and Hunter, have offered thought­ful and thor­ough responses, as have pod­cast con­trib­u­tors Ben and Gary. Normally, I’d stay out of this to avoid the redun­dancy. But since I’m in the unique posi­tion of being an occa­sional UPGRD con­trib­u­tor and also some­one who works pro­fes­sion­ally in the Jewish com­mu­nity, I felt like I should jump in. Below is the sec­ond of two posts on the topic, both of which are cross-posted on my UPGRD​.com blog and on my per­sonal blog.

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Arash Markazi sums up how a lot of us feel:

I know the ter­ri­ble thing that hap­pened to Brian Stow on open­ing day, I know what’s hap­pen­ing on the field, I know what’s not hap­pen­ing in the stands. And I know what’s hap­pen­ing in the court­room. I know all this but I still go to the games because real­ity has always found a way of sus­pend­ing itself when I’m at the sta­dium. I still have the same feel­ing enter­ing the park­ing lot off Sunset Boulevard I did when I was a child with my father…

…Feelings such as that are deep-rooted. I’ve loved the Dodgers for as long as I can remem­ber. It’s a fan­dom that was passed on to me by my father, and I’m not about to throw it away now over a time period I hope to tell my kids about when I take them to Dodger Stadium some day. That’s why I can’t allow McCourt to change my feel­ings about the Dodgers and why I refuse to let him chase me away from a place that has given me so much joy over the years.

There is noth­ing com­pli­cated or con­flicted about my feel­ings for McCourt. I don’t like him, what he’s done. It doesn’t take me very long to come to this con­clu­sion and move on with my life. The truth is I don’t even think about him when I’m at Dodger Stadium. Even when I’m sit­ting in an almost-empty sec­tion of the sta­dium. He is the fur­thest thing from my mind as I watch the game with a Dodger Dog in my hands and Vin Scully in my ears. Maybe I’m cling­ing to mem­o­ries that will never be recap­tured and set­ting myself up for more heart­break but I can’t help it.

The Dodgers and Dodger Stadium still rep­re­sent some­thing spe­cial to me, some­thing more impor­tant than court cases, divorce set­tle­ments and los­ing streaks. Judging from the empty seats around me, this puts me in the minor­ity. But I can live with that. I’ve lived with this team all my life.

Amen.

In light of the Weiner scan­dal, Jeffrey Goldberg com­ments on Jewish women:

I’m not going near the ques­tion of what Jewish women do or don’t do in bed, but suf­fice it to say that Jewish women are ter­ri­bly, and con­tra­dic­to­rily, stereo­typed by soci­ety, and, often, by Jewish men them­selves. Either they’re dark, hot-blooded sluts (a com­mon Wasps fan­tasy, by the way — some of my best friends are Wasps with Jewish women-fixations) or they are, as Weiner would have it, the frozen cho­sen. The truth, of course, is that all women are dif­fer­ent, but I’ve noticed a cou­ple of things over the years: 1) A great num­ber of Jewish women pos­sess an irre­sistible com­bi­na­tion of sex­i­ness, intel­li­gence, ambi­tion, and a deep capac­ity for love; and 2) Many Jewish men, the less manly-men, in par­tic­u­lar, are intim­i­dated by these super­star Jewish women…

…I know this sounds as if I’m adver­tis­ing for a Jewish woman, but, thanks to the great philo-Semite Malcolm Gladwell, I found the best one, thank you very much.

Jeez.

Seeing as he and I both man­aged to over­come our eth­nic pre­dis­po­si­tion to being intim­i­dated by strong Jewesses (in other words, I get where he’s com­ing from, I guess), it sounds to me like he’s brag­ging. (“Congressman Weiner rep­re­sents a cliché stereo­type, but check me out. I can han­dle the Jewish ladies.”)

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  • October 28, 2010

People seem to get all up-in-arms when they per­ceive that peace-loving, mod­er­ate Muslims don’t do enough to con­demn the acts of vio­lent extrem­ists with whom they hap­pen to share (kind-of) a reli­gion. When any­one tries to point out that the vast major­ity of Muslims abhor of vio­lence, and that vio­lent rad­i­cals are choos­ing to empha­size only those parts of the Quran which jus­tify their hatred (and that extrem­ists com­mit heinous acts in the name of other reli­gions, too), the response is that if Muslim mod­er­ates want peo­ple to see them as peace­ful, then they should stand up and con­demn their vio­lent co-religionists. The prob­lem is, peace-loving Muslims con­demn vio­lence all the time. Maybe we’re not lis­ten­ing. Or maybe we just bury their state­ments ten para­graphs down.

From the AP’s story about Farooque Ahmed, the guy who tried to help some under­cover FBI agents plant a “bomb” in the DC sub­way:

Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Ahmed arrived in the U.S. in 1993 and became a cit­i­zen in 2005, offi­cials said. He wor­shipped at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, which is known for its main­stream Islamic con­gre­ga­tion. Leaders there have decried vio­lence and were quick to call for Ahmed’s pros­e­cu­tion. He was not a mem­ber of the soci­ety, said board mem­ber Robert Marro.

He wor­shiped at the mosque. He never stuck around long enough for the reg­u­lars to get to know him. And when they found out that he’d been arrested for plot­ting vio­lence, the mem­bers of the mosque said he wasn’t a mem­berspoke out against vio­lence and called for him to be pun­ished. In other words, they said, “He’s not one of us, and we despise what he stands for.”

That’s con­dem­na­tion if I’ve ever heard it.

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  • October 24, 2010

1. I’ve flown over 200,000 miles (domes­tic) on air­planes in the last two years. Not once have I been scared because of “peo­ple who are in Muslim garb” or peo­ple who “are iden­ti­fy­ing them­selves first and fore­most as Muslims.” The only peo­ple who scare me on air­planes are the ones who are overly ner­vous, overtly anx­ious, or rude and obnox­ious. It seems to me, based on my expe­ri­ence, that none of these behav­iors are exclu­sive to a par­tic­u­lar reli­gion, eth­nic­ity, race, or creed.

2. It’s clear that the most of the peo­ple who loudly bashed NPR in the wake of Williams’ fir­ing weren’t par­tic­u­larly fond of pub­lic radio (that bas­tion of the elit­ist lib­eral media) to begin with. What’s ironic is that NPR (and the rest of pub­lic radio) is actu­ally the only main­stream media out­let that seems to have refused to be over­taken by blow-hard pun­ditry, sen­sa­tion­al­ism, or both.

3. NPR was right to fire Williams, and they shouldn’t hes­i­tate to tell it like it is: He wasn’t fired because the rules of “polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness” deemed his com­ments on O’Reilly’s show to be offen­sive. He got fired because real jour­nal­ists (and “news-analysts”) have to be fair and unbi­ased. That means they can’t behave like loud­mouth pun­dits. End of story. Williams can spout off say­ing that he got fired for “telling the truth” or “speak­ing his mind.” But that’s only half the story. He got fired because he wanted to get paid for being a jour­nal­ist, but then he also wanted to go on O’Reilly and spew what­ever “truth” he wanted. You can’t have both, buddy.

4. This week, I made a dona­tion to my local pub­lic radio sta­tion. You should too.

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  • June 7, 2010

Almost 15 years ago, the school had just been renamed “Milken” and they’d never had a base­ball team. Our jer­seys, ordered before the name change, said “Stephen Wise.” We were a pretty rag­tag bunch, the first ever team the school had fielded. The coach knew a bit about base­ball and a lot about yelling, the assis­tant coaches were for­mer Chatsworth base­ball coaches who spent most of their time mak­ing fun of us, and most of us would have no busi­ness play­ing on a “var­sity” team at any other high school.

We had a mis­er­able first few games, but we some­how — by the skin of our teeth — man­aged to win a few games and make the play­offs that first year. For a school that (at least ath­let­i­cally speak­ing) prided itself on its bas­ket­ball and water polo teams, the base­ball team mak­ing the play­offs was a big deal. Who cares that we got crushed in the first round?

The base­ball pro­gram now looks like a seri­ous thing. The team is grad­u­at­ing six seniors this year, and most of them have racked up some respectable career stats (99 stolen bases for one, a pair of con­sec­u­tive no-hitters for another). Even bet­ter, they made it to the Southern Section Division 7 cham­pi­onships. They got beat, but they seem to have played a respectable game.

I don’t know any of these play­ers, and my only con­nec­tion to them is that I was the start­ing sec­ond base­man 15 years ago, when we man­aged to not suck just enough to make the play­offs. Nonetheless, I’m still proud of the 2010 Milken Wildcats, Southern Section Division 7 runners-up. Way to go, gen­tle­men. You’ve come a long way.