November 17, 2006

(Reb Yudel)

I Predict The Board will Try to Close Metro Schechter

Heh. This would be quite the prophetic post, if I weren't writing it on May 17, 2007. But for now, at least, I want to keep my Schechter board blogging off the front page.

Interesting stuff from the Schechter Parents News, November 17, 2006

Report on the 11.6.06 Meeting of the Board

A number of Officers were elected at the last Metro Schechter Board meeting. The Board now consists of 20 members who are representative of the metropolitan school community:

Sy Sadinoff, Chair

Mary Sanders, President

Eli Ungar, Vice President

Alan Tannenbaum, Treasurer

Meryl Wiener, Secretary

Rabbi Robert Abramson

Ann Appelbaum

Adam Brown, Immediate Past Chair

David Brown

Elana Gershen Finkelstein

Ary Freilich

Mindy Furman

David Goodman

Rabbi Michael Greenbaum

Linda Jesselson

Steve Kauderer

Carol Kekst

Marc Legman

Rachell Maidenbaum

Yael Spielman

At its meeting the Board established committee address the major strategic issues facing MSHS. They are the Committee on Trustees, Education, Executive, Finance, Institutional Advancement, Leadership Team Evaluation and Support, and Real Estate.

A discussion of the major issues facing the school was held. All agreed that space was at the top of the list. The Board agreed that its highest priority is to find a suitable facility in which to locate the school beginning September 2007.

The Board’s next meeting will be held on December 7th.

For one thing, who could imagine that when they said their "highest priority" was finding a space they would have have no second priority? That if they failed at their first priority they would try to close up shop?

It is interesting as well that only three board members of the board were parents -- two from New York and the parent of a New Jersey freshman.

The next we hear from the board is in January:

Dear Fellow Metropolitan Schechter Families:

I write to inform you about the Board’s efforts with respect to the School’s physical facility. For the past several months we have been actively exploring various options, recognizing that we need more space and a more customized facility to sustain our growth.

By way of background, the space that we presently rent at the Teaneck Jewish Center has always been viewed as an interim location. This space is covered by a lease that runs through June 30, 2008 and gives us the option to extend the term through June 30, 2009. While the School does have a home at the Teaneck Jewish Center for 2 more years should we choose to remain there, clearly, it is in our best interest to relocate to a more suitable facility sooner rather than later.

We have been exploring both near term and long term real estate options: 1) given our acute need for additional space, we have been looking at options that could provide relief in the near term; and 2) given that our lease ends in June, 2009 and that many options require a long lead time, it is necessary that we explore long term solutions now.

With respect to short term solutions that would provide relief for the coming school year beginning in September, 2007, we have been exploring 2 options: 1) sites where the School could be housed in a basically ready-made school environment, and 2) auxiliary sites where some subset of the School community could be housed, until a single larger facility is acquired.

With respect to long term solutions, we have been looking at plots of land (either with or without buildings), and existing buildings that could be revamped to serve as a school campus.

We are actively negotiating to purchase a nearby site currently being used to house a school. This site, though not completely consistent with our needs, could be made to work and has the advantage of availability in the near term.

In the event that our negotiations to purchase the nearby site do not work out, we have also looked at some options to acquire additional classroom space in nearby locations, but this would require us to split the program over two campuses.

We are not simply pursuing a single option. We continue to look at existing structures, as well as raw land, land with buildings that would have to be razed and land with buildings that could be overhauled into structures suitable for our needs.

Because of the acute nature of our facility needs, we have given priority to those options that provide near term solutions.

Our need to acquire a suitable new facility brings with it the need to raise substantial additional capital. To that end, we have asked Dorothy Bowser to focus all of her attention on this critical task. Earlier in her career, Dorothy led successful development campaigns in the public school sector. She is a knowledgeable, articulate and passionate spokesperson who can advocate persuasively for our cause. Effective immediately, Dorothy will relinquish all of her other responsibilities at the School and assume the post of Development Officer reporting directly to the Board. We are looking to secure off campus office space for Dorothy so that we can expand our development outreach.

I will be in touch with you as soon as there is something additional to report. If anyone in the community has access to information about opportunities that might be of interest to the School, please let me know. Meanwhile, thank you for your continued support of the School.


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Mary H. Sanders

Board President

And then on Feb. 16, 2007
Good news about next year: Please watch your mail for a letter from Board President Mary Sanders assuring the excellence and continuation of MSHS into the future.

November 16, 2006

(Reb Yudel)

Republicans Kill the Budget Progress: And Gary Rosenblatt Blames the Democrats

If one can be so open-minded that one's brains fall out, what does being excessively even-handed mean? If your answer is "State Department Arabist," you clearly haven't been reading the New York Jewish Week editorial section, which has taken to not singling out Republicans when its time to slap hands for assorted crimes and misdemeanors, ranging from Jack Abramoff to, in this week's issue, the failure of Congress to pass spending bills for the budget year that started several weeks ago.

What's to blame for that latest example of Congressional irresponsibility? Republican cowardice? A failure to confront hard choices prior to an election? A disfunctional culture of enablement between a rubber-stamp Congress and a What-Me-Veto President?

Nope, in the eyes of Gary Rosenblatt, those pesky Democrats are at least equally to blame:

The federal budget is a shambles, but Congress, tied up in partisan knots, has been unwilling or unable to take even baby steps toward repairing the fiscal damage.
Congress, tied in partisan knots? Yes, if by partisan knots you mean a four-year reign of Republican autocracy, during which bills were voted on only if the majority of the Republican congress approved, in which legislation was inserted into mark-up and voted on without being read, in which votes were improperly extended while hands were twisted and bribes were offered, and in which the failure of a bill to pass constitutionally-mandated hurdles was no obstacle to its passage and execution. Yes, the soon-to-depart 109th Congress was the most partisan, as well as the most do-nothing, in memory -- but don't blame that on "partisanship," Mr. Rosenblatt, with "bipartisanship" some kind of cure. The problem is the Republican Party, pure and simple.

And as for the cure -- well, the American voters (or, some would say, the hand of God) took care of that last week.

Now, if only we can have a referendum on the Jewish Week.

(Reb Yudel)

The Ecstasy of Rage - Yossi Klein Halevi in Reform Judaism

Reform Judaism Magazine - The Ecstasy of Rage
As a boy growing up in a Holocaust survivor family, I raged at the whole world. The Holocaust was not just the responsibility of the murderers, but of the onlookers, too. And I saw my rage as being the most noble, the most spiritual part of me. I was soaring with righteousness when my anger was distilled to its purest form of rage. My spiritual struggle was to realize that sometimes the qualities that we think of as our best, our most spiritual, are actually our most self-destructive, the very qualities we need to overcome. We need to surrender these qualities in order to move on and become real servants of God. It took me years to learn this lesson.

After the bombing of the Shiite mosque in Samarra, I looked at the pictures--the faces of the Shiite demonstrators--and I saw an emotion that was very familiar to me: the ecstasy of rage.

This kind of rage is now directed against me and against my children. My first response is to do everything I can to push that rage as far away as possible. If it means building a wall, so be it. But at some point I'm going to have to engage that rage. And it's terrifying for me because I know that mentality from within. And I know that if someone had tried to reach me when I was a teenager caught up in my Holocaust rage, I don't think it would have been possible.

There's more....
(Reb Yudel)

60% Interfaith couples raise kids as Jews in Boston

From Yossi Abramowitz: 60% Interfaith couples raise kids as Jews in Boston

The preliminary findings from the 2005 Boston Jewish Community Survey,
conducted by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute and released today by
Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the Boston federation, show that 60% of
interfaith families in Greater Boston are raising their children as Jews.
Sounds like good news. If nothing else, it gives Jack Wertheimer some new numbers to busy himself with now that he is no longer JTS provost....

(Reb Yudel)

Just in time for Thanksgiving: Bus Administration eliminated hunger in America!

Some Americans Lack Food, but USDA Won't Call Them Hungry -
Every year, the Agriculture Department issues a report that measures Americans' access to food, and it has consistently used the word "hunger" to describe those who can least afford to put food on the table. But not this year.

Mark Nord, the lead author of the report, said "hungry" is "not a scientifically accurate term for the specific phenomenon being measured in the food security survey." Nord, a USDA sociologist, said, "We don't have a measure of that condition."

The USDA said that 12 percent of Americans -- 35 million people -- could not put food on the table at least part of last year. Eleven million of them reported going hungry at times. Beginning this year, the USDA has determined "very low food security" to be a more scientifically palatable description for that group.

(Reb Yudel)

Gonzalez: We don't need no stinkin' due process

Justice Department's Brief On Detention Policy Draws Ire -

Justice Department lawyers argue that an anti-terrorism law approved by Congress last month allows the government to detain any foreign national declared to be an enemy combatant, even if he is arrested and imprisoned inside the United States.
Special thank you to my senators, Menendez and Lautenberg, for helping eliminate pesky due process for alleged foreigners.

November 14, 2006

(Reb Yudel)

Torah and Topography?

The Sentinel: Climb to top of world had unique challenges -
Three local men who are Orthodox Jews make it to top of Kilimanjaro

(Reb Yudel)

The Trouble with Texas

From the Dallas News:
First came the poor man, barely 17 years old – too young to buy beer or vote, but an adult under the Texas penal code. He took part in a $2 stickup in which no one got hurt. He pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and was put on 10 years of probation.

He broke the rules once, by smoking marijuana. A Dallas judge responded in the harshest possible way: He replaced the original sentence with a life term in prison.

Now the flip side of the coin, also from Judge Keith Dean's court: A well-connected man pleaded guilty to murder – for shooting an unarmed prostitute in the back – and also got 10 years of probation.

The killer proceeded to break the rules by, among other things, smoking crack cocaine. He repeatedly failed drug tests. He was arrested for cocaine possession in Waco while driving a congressman's car, but prosecutors there didn't press charges.

Judge Dean has let this man stay free and, last year, exempted him from most of the usual conditions of probation. John Alexander "Alex" Wood no longer must submit to drug tests or refrain from owning a gun or even meet with a probation officer. He's simply supposed to obey the law and mail the court a postcard once a year that gives his current address.

(Reb Yudel)

White House insider: The I in Faith-Based stands for Christ!

David Kuo, deputy director of the White House Office of Fatih-Based and Community Initiatives, spills the beans on Republican-style Religion:
My wife Kim and I were together with a group of friends and acquaintances. Someone mentioned that I used to work at the White House in the faith-based office.

A woman piped up and said, "Really? Wow, I was on the peer-review panel for the first Compassion Capital Fund." I asked her about how she liked it and she said it was fun. She talked about how the government employees gave them grant review instructions – look at everything objectively against a discreet list of requirements and score accordingly. "

But," she said with a giggle, "when I saw one of those non-Christian groups in the set I was reviewing, I just stopped looking at them and gave them a zero."

At first I laughed. A funny joke. Not so much. She was proud and giggling and didn't get that there was a problem with that.

I asked if she knew of others who'd done the same.

"Oh sure, a lot of us did." She must have seen my surprise, "Was there a problem with that?"

November 7, 2006

(Reb Yudel)

Which way will Joe go?

Radley Balko predicts:
But here's my bold prediction: Joe Lieberman will switch parties -- a couple of months into the next Congress. He'll do it with an eye on 2008, possibly as a presidential candidate. At the very least, he won't caucus with the Democrats, perhaps in anticipation of an independent McCain-Lieberman ticket. The press will fawn over the possibility. Libertarians will weep.
(Reb Yudel)

Top Texan Republican to Jews: You're Going Straight to Hell!

Looks like Texan governors remain as theologically stupid as they were in W's day.

(Reb Yudel)

Top Texan Republican to Jews: You're Going Straight to Hell!

Looks like Texan governors remain as theologically stupid as they were in W's day.

November 1, 2006

(Reb Yudel)

No room for heterosexual hanky-panky at Jerusalem gay parade protest

Do Orthodox rabbis hope to lure gays out of their pride and into the minyan? They're certainly working to ensure that their anti-gay protest won't feature embarassing heterosexual flirtations, according to Ynetnews:

The protests will centralize at two points, a massive prayer will be held along Jaffa St., from Zion Square all the way to the Davidka (for the men) while the women will hold their corresponding prayer along Ben-Yehuda St.