I am debuting my solo show “Eroticized Rage” February 3 at Whitefire Theater in Sherman Oaks at 7pm as part of Solofest! Tickets are $20 and are purchased at the door.Read More
A friend emails: I was en route to work at 10:20 am this morning when stopped in first position at a red light on the northbound left turn out lane of Robertson at Pico. Just then two pedestrians crossed the street right in front of me, from the South East corner to the South West corner. This is where they stopped, awaiting the light to then cross Pico going northbound. Suddenly my left-turn green arrow came, so I didn’t have a chance to take a picture of them, as I was preparing to do. Do you have any idea who they are, or did you get reports about them this morning…..?:
Him: Man in mid to late 40′s or so, with olive skin, close-cropped hair, balding. Light blue-ish short sleeved button down shirt tucked into trousers. BIG ol’ stomach. Kippah on.
Her: late 20′s to 30′s Caucasian with Long Platinum blonde hair a la Amy Winehouse. But much messier. Teased super high, super wide, and super long. BIG sunglasses. White or light sleeveless blouse to her waist. Hip-hugger jeans. Bare stomach and back in between the blouse and her jeans.
Them: holding hands. Yes! holding hands.
Him once stopped at crosswalk: puts his arm around her, then kisses her.
Her (saw this as I was pulling my left turn): not reciprocating, incredibly droll look on face.
I wanted to get a pic sooo badly of this unlikely pairing; this exercise in non-kosher showmanship by a Kippah’d yid in one of L.A.’s most kosher parts of town–but couldn’t do it in time. Calling my sister, I figured it was an obvious trick he was with, but instead of being surreptitious, he wanted to parade her around. Somehow, she went along with it.Read More
Westwood Jewish Center: Join us for an elegant Shabbat at our state of the art banquet hall in honor of the holiday of Tu B’Av on August 3, 4.
@@@@@@ FEATURED SPEAKER: Luke Ford @@@@@@@
The son of a Christian evangelist, Luke Ford is a convert to Orthodox Judaism. He’s an Alexander Technique teacher and author living in Pico-Robertson. He’s been interviewed on 60 Minutes, ABC News, Entertainment Tonight and has been written about in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and GQ magazine.
Luke is the author of the book, “Yesterday’s News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism.”
Here are some things that have been written about him:
“He breaks legitimate stories that have a huge impact.” (Emmanuelle Richard, Online Journalism Review)
“Aggressive, eloquent, he’s a kind of shaggy-haired, acid-washed Brad Pitt.” (Matt Labash, Weekly Standard)
“Smart, insightful and with a charming Australian accent, Ford is one of the most fascinating characters.” (Michelle Goldberg, Speak magazine)
Come eat, drink and be merry while socializing with members of the tribe on our magnificent rooftop with beautiful 360′ views of the city!
Tu- B’Av- is Judaism’s designated day of matchmaking. According to Jewish tradition, the day has special powers to help one find their soul mate.
Back by popular demand, our Shabbat programs for young professionals draw an engaging pool of young professional Jews who are serious about their Judaism and relationships.
The $20 minimum donation includes dinner, lunch and all alcoholic beverages if registered by Friday, July 20th. $36 afterwards.
Please specify “Shabbat dinner” in the “other” fieldRead More
After more than 14 years, I need to move out of my current place Oct. 1.
Email me any tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m looking for practice students who are willing to commit to at least ten lessons. They will primarily take place in Pico-Robertson 90035 but some can be done in Santa Monica. Lessons cost $25 each. By the end of the year when I am certified as an Alexander teacher, I’ll be charging $100 per lesson.
Email me at email@example.com and let me know what interests you in Alexander Technique.Read More
Today marks the end of the shloshim period for our beloved friend Neal Dublinsky.
Neal’s friends, colleagues and relatives will be gathering tonight (8/24) at Shanghai Gardens at 8:15pm to commemorate the end of the mourning period.Read More
I’ll be reading a story that is 1400 words long. It should take ten minutes.
There will be refreshments. It is free.
Workmen’s Circle is located at 1525 Robertson Blvd, LA, CA, 90035.Read More
I’m like Chairman Mao. I win hearts and minds and I live off the land in my little hovel. I devote myself to providing good blog posts for the community so they can have something to share with each over the dinner table.
I had about $2,000 in savings and I invested them with a friend who was making a killing in real estate. Then Paul Volker started raising interest rates and the real estate game crashed. Oy vey!
I learned about things the hard way. More particularly, my parents bore the brunt and I learned from their suffering.
In the summer of 1980, my father lost his employment with the Seventh-Day Adventist church. My family moved from Pacific Union College in the Napa Valley, where we were renting, to the Auburn area, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range 45 minutes drive north of Sacramento.
My father set up his own non-denominational evangelical Christian foundation Good News Unlimited.
I’m reading this new book by economist Thomas Sowell — The Housing Boom and Bust.
From 2000 to 2005, the average home price in the United States increased by one-third. Millions of Americans began using their homes as ATMs, getting credit lines from numerous banks to pay off their other debts (whose interest was not tax deductible, only mortgage interest payments are deductible). Then in 2007, it all crashed.
For more than a decade, US newspapers have editorialized that banks are more conservative than they should be about lending money to blacks. The current foreclosure debacle suggests otherwise.
A 1991 Federal Reserve study found that blacks and whites with the same income had different mortgage loan acceptance rates. Is this racism? It’s not clear. Income is only one factor in determining whether someone is a good bet to repay a mortgage loan. Blacks and whites with the same income tend to have very different levels of wealth.Read More
David Deutsch emails:
Dear Rabbi ________,
I’m writing this on behalf of Luke Ford, in the hopes that you will reconsider your recent decision to ban him from shul unless he places his blog under your hechsher. While I understand how frustrating it can at times be to deal with him, there are a number of issues both personal and professional which I hope you would take in mind, and have a little rachmones on him.
First of all, by way of introduction, my name is David Deutsch, and among other things, I’m both shomer Shabbos and the Humor Editor of Heeb Magazine. Like Luke, like every frum person working in journalism, I am regularly confronted by the challenge of whether or not I am violating halacha in what I do. We want to inform or entertain, but can we do that effectively if we can’t criticize or call attention to people’s misdeeds? Some days we go to bed feeling we’re on the side of the angels, some days we go to bed wishing we hadn’t written what we’d written, but you should not presume that these decisions are always made glibly or without due consideration, or that we don’t seek ways to perform our own teshuva. We hope that people take into consideration the full spectrum of our work, and treat us no differently than they would anyone else in another profession.
This raises another issue. To be sure, there is something very personal about putting your thoughts to paper (or screen) that makes what Luke does much harder to separate from who he is. Most shuls have a word for real estate owners who charge exorbitant rents, high-powered attorneys who represent crooks and crooked corporations, or CEOs who fire hundreds of workers and ship their jobs overseas—they call them “boardmembers.” Certainly, rabbis have a right and a responsibility to be interested in the behaviors of their mispallelim, but there should be a fair standard applied equally.
This approach only goes so far, of course. At the end of the day, Luke, like anyone, can’t simply rationalize his behavior by saying “other people are doing far worse.” So the question then is what is it what he’s done that’s so objectionable? Looking at the specific incident involving The Jewish Journal blog, I can certainly understand why you were upset with him. On the face of it, one can argue that he violated the privacy of a teenage girl. But let’s be fair here—the girl in question is a nascent journalist who, one presumes, hoped to use prurient interest in her “private” life to further her career. Arguably, once she decided to blog about her life, it really stopped being private. Still, she is a teenager, and teenagers should be cut a certain amount of slack. But is Luke really the one to blame here? While it may be said that she didn’t know better, or that anonymity should still be respected even on-line, it may also be argued that if anyone was at fault here, it was the grownups at The Jewish Journal, who sought to boost their own website by exploiting the not-so private life of the girl in question, and who should have known that on-line anonymity may be desired, but it certainly can’t be promised. Let’s face it—Luke has his good points, but he’s not exactly an NSA cryptographer. In figuring out who the blogger was, he was pretty much doing what anyone who actually pays attention to writing could have done. Was it something that he had to do? No. Was it newsworthy? In the sense that the The Jewish Journal created and hoped to exploit an interest in who the blog’s author was, yes. Should Luke have done it? That’s a much tougher call, but I don’t think that the approach you’ve suggested is the best way to answer it, or to guide him in the future.
Luke—like all of us—is definitely a work in progress, and he marches to the beat of his own drummer (and I would tell you that after having tried editing him once, I would very, very strongly warn against taking over a supervisory role over his writing). But let’s look at the balance of his work. A lot of what he writes about are things that frum Yidden should be writing about. I certainly don’t always agree with him, but I think that the Orthodox world suffers from a real lack of introspection, and it is a good thing for our body politic to have people like Luke who are willing to raise questions about the establishment, whether it’s rabbinical misconduct, skewed Federation priorities and policies, or just general hypocrisy and sanctimony. We do ourselves a real disservice if we tell our own voices to “shah, shtill” and leave the field of criticism to those who don’t necessarily have the best interests of the Torah world at heart. And say what you will about Luke, he does care about Torah and mitzvos. And indeed, the very fact that you would threaten to ban him from the shul shows that you know this, since it’s a threat that would be meaningless to anyone who didn’t care.
Rabbi, I don’t know you, and Luke, to his credit, wouldn’t give me either your name or the name of the shul. I don’t know what your relationship to Luke has been, so I don’t want to make any judgments. But in thinking about this situation, I was reminded of something that happened to me years ago. I was riding my bike, and was about to run a red light, when I realized there was an elderly woman at the corner, so I stopped to let her cross. Instead of doing so however, she started berating me. “Are you going to let me cross? Are you going to stop?” and so forth. My initial reaction was anger, since, after all, I had stopped. I realized at some point, though, that she wasn’t yelling at me; she was yelling at all the bikers who didn’t stop.
What’s the connection? I just want you to consider the possibility that your approach to Luke is guided perhaps by the type of frustration we all feel to the things we can’t change. We all want a more civil discourse in the public world, and have very little influence in creating it. We are constantly bombarded by people saying and publishing things that we’d probably be better off not knowing, and can’t do a thing about it. In Luke, you have someone who you can influence. And I think it’s worth taking the time to consider that fact that, while this blog isn’t just a hobby, it’s Luke’s parnosse, he used to have a blog that brought him a much more lucrative parnosse, and he gave that up. How many of your other mispallelim would be so willing to give up lucrative clients or accounts that were morally objectionable? We know that Luke actually does care about these things, or this issue wouldn’t have arisen in the first place. The question is “What’s the best way to convert that care into action?”
When that elderly woman yelled at me, it left me annoyed, not sympathetic or even particularly understanding. Had she taken those same moments to thank me for stopping, when so few bikers do, it would have given me a chizuk to do the right thing in the future. Luke doesn’t need to be berated, he needs chizuk. I beg you to reconsider your plan for Luke. I don’t think Luke needs censorship; I think he, like all of us, could use guidance. My real fear is that you’ll end up isolating him from the community, and rather than guiding him, you’ll instead leave him rudderless. Instead of an eitheror ultimatum, perhaps you could simply take the time each month to ask him what he’s working on, and if there’s anything he’d like to discuss. Luke will still have his community, and you’ll probably be able to be a positive influence on the really important matters, while saving yourself a huge hassle in dealing with actually editing Luke, a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, much less a strange rabbi who I believe wants the same thing that I do.
At any rate, I hope this gives you some food for thought (does that need to be consumed in the sukkah?), and that, as we recently asked from Hashem, you will find it in your heart to cancel your own stern decree. Gut yontiff,
Gadi Pickholz emails:
At least you are beginning to get some priorities right, despite being preoccupied with attrition rather than contrition. As a simple example, there is more scandal in Lawrence, Long Island right now than Pico Robertson has experienced in thirty years, but no one is blogging it like you attempt. It truly is better keeping this under the carpet and within the community, a fact you do not comprehend.
On the other hand, denial of what is occurring both on the rabbinic and sexual level damages the community greatly, but no one is willing to walk the fine line of informing the public precisely because people such as yourself have blown the boundaries so badly in the past.
So the community suffers.
I just want to kick back and study the sacred text, but the squirrels have other ideas.Read More
I’ve lived in and around Pico/Robertson since coming to L.A. March 30, 1994.
I love it here but not for the intellectual excitement. I usually have to drive outside of the community to find that.
Most people, Jews or goyim, once they’ve practiced something for a long time stop thinking about it (except to improve and deepen their practice be it golf or Judaism). People who get into habits don’t like to question their habits. Who has the time and the energy?
There’s a lot of propaganda in Jewish life that Judaism is all about asking questions. Baloney! As Judaism (or almost anything I know) is practiced, only safe questions are kosher. Any question that challenges fundamental beliefs (such as Biblical criticism, archaeology, etc) are not welcome in orthodoxy, any orthodoxy. “Orthodox” means “correct belief.” Go to a Republican or a Democrat meeting and you won’t find people eager to rethink their fundamental beliefs.
Orthodox Judaism in Pico/Robertson is primarily a way of life. People have to work so hard to pay their mortgages and put their children through Jewish day school that they rarely time and energy left to engage in intellectual questions (and I don’t regard apologetics as particularly intellectual).
Once you belong to an Orthodox community, it quickly tends to become the overwhelming social reality in your life. It starts to affect all of your behavior and you have to be a real weirdo not to conform.
Luckily for my readers, I’m a real weirdo and some of them say I make Los Angeles Jewish life more lively.Read More