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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”)
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 member, spoke 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.
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.
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.