As I write this, we are packed for another weekend up in the Catskills, a place where it's still considered pretty safe for small kids to roam unattended within the confines of bungalow colonies. This is why The Mountains continie to draw tens of thousands of New York area, mostly Orthodox families, to leave their comfortable homes for broken-down shacks that list to starboard like a sinking ship, have broken appliances, leaky roofs, bad ventillation and are shared with all manner of crawling things.
It’s hard enough to summon the proper wisdom to decide how much independence to give children without having to grapple with the aching worry that you’ll regret a decision for the rest of your life. But that is every parent’s burden.
Managing Editor Robert Goldblum's cover story this week on recent demographic trends and the loss of institutions got me thinking about what he describes as the changing "Jewish taam," or flavor of New York City. If you grow up Orthodox, as I did, it's easy to feel like the whole place is Little Jerusalem, because of all the sights (Hebrew store signs), sounds (davening as you walk past a shul) and smells (potato kugel wafting down a heavily Orthodox street on a Friday afternoon.)
As I sit before Shabbat listening to the media and commentators rush to judgment that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is innocent almost as fast as they rushed to judgment that he was guilty when he was arrested back in May, I thought I'd check in for a bit.
I've been getting to know some of you better in the capacity of my new responsibilities as web editor, moderating comments that are posted to our stories, blogs, op-eds and other content. I am impressed by the generally thoughtful nature of most of the commenters, both named and anonymous, who agree or disagree gracefully.
It's easy to be skeptical today about the future commitment of today's young Orthodox Jews, in light of some bad public role models, the impact of social media and the high-tech age and the struggles of yeshivas and parents in responding to those challenges. This week's cover story on Shabbat texting, probably only one in a series of contemporary compromises that are catching on, doesn't help restore confidence.
I'm not making any judgements about whether Anthony Weiner should resign from office.
But as an observer, it's clear to me that even as calls for him to do so increase and he embarks on a leave of absence for therapy, he intends to fight tooth and nail to hang on to his seat and has no motivation to step down. The next few days will tell us how serious the House minority leadership and top party leaders are about forcing him out.
Another famous person is sending out controversial, male-genital-related tweets. Oscar winning actor Russel Crowe, in response to a fan's question, denounced circumcision as "barbaric and stupid. Who are you to correct nature?" Leaving aside that millions of people circumcise their sons for health rather than religious reasons, Crowe added: "Is it real that GOD requires a donation of foreskin?"
After my post last week on smoking and halacha, I found this column for Ami Magazine by Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel of America very compelling and wanted to share it with you. It does contradict the idea somewhat that organized Orthodox Jewry looks the other way at smoking.
I'm writing this post while watching the Celebrate Israel Parade, something that is easily possible to do from Fifth Avenue in the age of BlackBerrys and iPads, but much easier while at home seeing it on TV.
Hey, someone had to cover the inaugural broadcast from the viewer's perspective. Not pro-Israel enough? I'm also eating a felafel.
Despite the attempt by some friends to make me feel guilty about staying home (for a variety of reasons), I'm falling back on my two teenagers representing the family in the march.
It wasn't so long ago that we were treated to daily doses of a self-destructing sitcom star who claims to be Jewish. Now it's a self-destructing political star that people claim isn't Jewish. If Charlie Sheen had tweeted lewd pictures of himself to a young fan, even while he was married, it would be an item between the sports and weather on a slow news day.