"Russell Stone is a rabbi at a poor synagogue in New York City. He is a devout man with a problem. Membership is way down and he lacks the funds to keep his synagogue open. Things are looking very bleak, and he has grown progressively more cynical and bitter with the passage of time. Just as he is on the verge of packing it all in, he receives some interesting news. A former member of his congregation has died and left the rabbi a significant amount of money. A blessing? Or the start of something far more sinister? Can Rabbi Stone just accept the money and move on? His conscience says no. Step into his shoes as he travels all over Manhattan in his attempt to uncover the truth."
In the Coen Brother’s movie “A Serious Man,” we see young Danny practicing for his bar mitzvah by listening to the cantor’s rendition of it on his record player. That scene was undoubtedly sentimental for Jewish men of a certain age who prepared for their bar mitzvah by keying up the phonograph in their parents’ living room.
Raising a child with a disability is overwhelming. My daughter was three and a half when I finally received her Autism diagnosis, but she’d been in early intervention therapies since she was 8 months old. PT, OT, ST, ABA, AVB, etc.; we worked our way through the therapy alphabet.
In the old days the White House tried to protect the location of POTUS (that’s the president’s name to insiders). Today, with the 24-7 news cycle people demand to know where the leader of the free world is at all times. The White House posts President Obama’s schedule on its website so people know which lunches he’s speaking at, when he’s welcoming the Super Bowl champs to the White House, when he’s shooting hoops with his buddies and when he’s at a state dinner.
Spending a week in Israel earlier this month I kept my eyes open to the way Israelis use technology. Even on my first visit over 18 years ago I noticed that Israelis thirsted for the latest tech gadgets. Being a country that struggled with telecommunications early on in its existence made Israel primed for a telecom revolution. In the first decades of statehood, stories permeated about families who waited years just to get a telephone in their home. So when mobile communications took off in the middle of the 1990s, Israelis were eager to adopt the new technology.
On the 7th day of Hanukah, an anonymous donor gave to me a car-fridge and a new Wii. (Or so I dream.)
According to Maimonides, this kind of gift, where the donor knows the recipient (i.e. the coveted car-fridge) but the recipient doesn't know the donor, is the 3rd highest level of giving. The highest is the well-known teach-a-man-to-fish and the lowest is when donations are given begrudgingly.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, an influential ultra-Orthodox rabbi, says it is forbidden for religious Jews to own an iPhone and has instructed his followers to burn the device if they own one. It’s not that Kanievsky sides with Android in the smartphone war, but that he’s concerned about what observant Jews will see with such a device. Burning ones iPhone seems a drastic measure, but Kanievsky wasn’t the only Jewish leader with angst against Apple’s iPhone this week.