Sunday Times: About Orthodox Sex and Google Sex Searches

The Times has a long profile of Orthodox sex counselor Bat Sheva Marcus describing how she helps Haredi Jewish women have better sex.

It's inspiring and comical and embarrassing, all at the same time.

And for some hilarious general sex statistics from Google data, check out the article by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, "Searching for Sex". Starts off. "ARE you confused by sex? I certainly am." Well doh! And charts!

Grist for the mills of every late night comic.

Is Sheldon Silver Jewish?

Yes New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a Jew. He is a member of the Orthodox community on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and a graduate of Yeshiva University, class of 1965.

Sadly, he was arraigned at a federal courthouse Jan. 22, 2015, on bribery and corruption charges.

JTA reported on the story and linked it to another scandal involving an associate of Silver.
William Rapfogel, the longtime CEO of New York’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, was arrested in September 2013 for involvement in a kickbacks scheme. He pleaded guilty to helping fleece more than $9 million from the charity, including $1 million that he pocketed himself, and was sentenced last July to 3 ½ years in prison and ordered to pay $3 million in restitution.

Rapfogel’s wife, Judy Rapfogel, is Silver’s chief of staff. After her husband’s arrest, Judy Rapfogel claimed she had no knowledge of her husband’s criminal malfeasance, and she remained on Silver’s staff.

Silver and William Rapfogel lived in the same neighborhood and went to the same shul, the Bialystoker Synagogue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The two men often sat together in the sanctuary on Shabbat morning, though in recent years Silver began going to the early minyan on Saturday mornings, a neighborhood insider who declined to be identified told JTA.


שווה צפייה: לא תרקוד - "Thou Shall Not Dance" - a 2011 documentary about Religious Jewish men who study modern dance in Jerusalem

I subscribed to MAKO TV on my tablet and have discovered many TV shows and films in Hebrew from Israel. Through Chrome Cast I can watch the shows on TV in New Jersey as if I am in Israel.

"Thou Shall Not Dance" - is a 2011 documentary that I stumbled across on MAKO about Religious Jews who study modern dance in Jerusalem.

The premise of the film is that this is daring because religious Jews are not permitted to dance. To be technical about this, if you have ever been at a Jewish wedding you know that's not true. Men dance, women dance, not together, but there is a lot of dancing. Maybe not great quality. Also on Simchat Torah Jews dance.

Still there is a lot of struggle depicted in the film since these men decided to take up dance as an art for its own sake.

And yes, there is the big issue of Orthodox gender segregation that gets put on the table by telling this story about three men. They take as a given that they will not mix genders in their dancing because they are holding on to their Orthodox premises - paramount among those is the separation of the sexes. It was uncomfortable to me and odd to watch the struggle of these individuals within narrow constraints of their religion and culture as they grappled with their natural inherent needs to be artistic and expressive and to perform.

Israel 2011, Documentary 50 min
Directors: Eyal Sela, Yochai Shalom Hadad
Producers: Zafrir Kochanovsky , Miri Ezra
This illuminating documentary explores the obstacles faced by three Orthodox men who establish a dance school for religious males. The sensual nature of dance, particularly in a public forum, poses a unique challenge to those who live in a community where modesty is valued as the highest virtue. The film chronicles the struggles experienced by three dancers, as they try to reconcile their desire to express themselves physically while still maintaining an Orthodox life.

"Thou Shall Not Dance" is a heartfelt documentary about Religious Jews living in Jerusalem, who choose - despite a personal and social price they pay - to express themselves through dance. This is the 4 minute official trailer for the film.

רציתי לשתף אותך:  קבוצה של דתיים אדוקים מקימה בית ספר למחול
See the whole 50 minute film (with random ads) on MAKO TV.


My Kindle Book in a New Edition: From the Talmud: Yerushalmi Berakhot

I thought you might be interested in this book from Amazon.
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From the Talmud: Yerushalmi Berakhot
From the Talmud: Yerushalmi Berakhot
by Tzvee Zahavy
  Learn more  

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More Items to Consider:
God's Favorite Prayers
God's Favorite Prayers
The Origins of Jewish Prayers and Blessings
The Origins of Jewish Prayers and Blessings
Rashi: The Greatest Exegete
Rashi: The Greatest Exegete
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Is Sigourney Weaver Jewish?

Now it is far-fetched that anybody would think that actress Sigourney Weaver is Jewish. No, Sigourney Weaver is not a Jew.

The tall actress whom we know and love from Alien, to Working Girl to Avatar, and whom we once met, and told her how much we liked her work, is a Christian of Scottish-English extraction.

But it is noteworthy that IMDB reported that when she was young after graduating from high school in 1967, she spent several months on a kibbutz in Israel.

/repost from 7/16/10/

Help the Avalon Edgewater NJ fire victims

January 21, there was a devastating fire in Edgewater.
•    240 of the 408 units in the Avalon community were destroyed, permanently displacing more than 500 residents.
•    Over 500 residents from the Avalon complex's adjacent building were displaced.
•    Hundreds of our neighbors lost what they own.
•    Hundreds of the town's children are without necessities and need your help.

The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey in coordination with the Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson are collecting school supplies, toys, games, small houseware appliances, new socks, new underwear (in original package), toiletries, diapers, feminine hygiene products, and pet food for our neighbors displaced by the horrific fire. We are also collecting Gift Cards- Visa/ Amex, Target, Pathmark, Home Goods, Trader Joe's, Bed Bath and Beyond, Pet Valu).

There will be two collection sites with donations being accepted during the following hours:

Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey
50 Eisenhower Drive
Paramus, NJ 07652
Monday-Thursday 9am-5pm; Friday 9am-2pm
For more information contact 201-820-3947 or email bethf@jfnnj.org

Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson
1485 Teaneck Road
Teaneck, NJ 07666
Tuesday, Thursday 9am-5pm
Monday, Wednesday 9am-8pm
Friday 9am-2:30pm
For more information contact 201-837-9090 or email info@jfsbergen.org

For those in need, Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson is serving as a distribution center.


Shlomo Carlebach was the Charismatic "Soul Doctor"

Soul Doctor is the story of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s life as interpreted in a musical play. It's soon closing a run at the Actor's Temple Theatre. Go see it if you can. It is a wonderful play. [(212) 239-6200. ACTORS TEMPLE THEATRE, 339 W 47th Street, New York, NY 10036 (between 8th and 9th Avenues)]

Josh Nelson stars in this production as the charismatic Rabbi Shlomo.

Juda Engelmayer reviewed the current production in the Jewish Standard, "Shlomo Carlebach musical has the soul to heal frayed race relations."

Eric Goldman reviewed the previous production of the ‘Soul Doctor’ - in The Jewish Standard. Goldman liked the play, the acting and the music. He concluded:
For anyone who has ever been affected by having encountered Shlomo Carlebach in person or has been deeply moved by his music, this is a performance that you surely will enjoy. For everyone else, “Soul Doctor” is a story about a complicated man who changed Jewish life by doing Jewish outreach in a most unusual way...

“Soul Doctor” is a play with strong performances, incredible melody, and a moving story about a man whose music continues to revolutionize Jewish life and culture to this day.

“Soul Doctor” is playing at the Circle in the Square Theatre in New York.
I add a few comments to these excellent reviews. Carlebach's music is often played at Jewish weddings and sung in synagogue services. Professional musicians and cantors that I know have mixed feelings about his contributions. Many ordinary religious Jews today admire his tunes and are drawn to his work, years after his death in 1994.


The awful, evil, detestable, ironic act by bad Jews of photoshopping Angela Merkel out of the Paris march news photo

One of the worst articles that I ever read is, "Angela Merkel Got Erased — Don't We Have Better Things To Worry About?" by Tova Ross in the "Backward" magazine.

It is a carping complaint about the criticism levied against an Orthodox newspaper that cropped the women out of a news photo of the march against terrorism in Paris. One of those women was the Angela Merkel, the prime minister of Germany.

Here in bullet points is just a little bit of why I think Ross is all wrong.

  • The march was a watershed moment in world history where leaders joined arms to confront the evils of terrorism.
  • Merkel is a PM of Germany - marching on a street in Paris - to protest the slaughter of Jews. That is particularly noteworthy in light of European history and the Holocaust.
  • It is not the case that "merkel Got Erased." It is the case that very bad Orthodox Jews deliberately removed her image from the photo and then published it.
  • It does not matter what those bad Jews were thinking when they took Merkel out of the picture. It was an evil act. Publishing the doctored picture was an act of deception. The paper should know that. Just don't publish the photo at all if you don't want your readers to see her image.
  • There is no way I can accept this act as a religious quirk of Orthodox men who "believe" that it is "a sin" to look at a woman or a woman's picture.
  • It's not cute or quirky. It is evil to repress women in any way. It is not ignorant. It is evil. I condemn the action.
  • You can be critical of terrorism and also be critical of sexism, misogyny, discrimination and the denial of civil rights. In fact all of those bad things are on the same spectrum of evil. And the lesser evils can and do lead to the greater evils.

Is Yoga Jewish?

No, yoga is not Jewish, it is Hindu in origin.

I did yoga regularly in the early 1990s at the Northwest Tennis Club in Minneapolis Minnesota. My teacher was Bonnie West, an American woman from St. Paul with a wicked sense of humor and with no Hindu agenda at all. Her yoga classes provided wonderful exercise and discipline for the body and mind.

But the plot thickens. The Times chronicled in 2010 a controversy over the "ownership" of the practices of yoga in America..
Hindu Group Stirs a Debate Over Yoga’s Soul

Yoga is practiced by about 15 million people in the United States, for reasons almost as numerous — from the physical benefits mapped in brain scans to the less tangible rewards that New Age journals call spiritual centering. Religion, for the most part, has nothing to do with it.

Rashi - the Greatest French Jew and the Greatest Bible Exegete

Many scholars believe that Rashi was the greatest French Jew and the greatest Bible exegete.

Read about Rashi and his work in this best seller book at Amazon: Rashi: The Greatest Exegete. It was written by Maurice Liber. I added a new Foreword. Price: an amazing $0.99. Description as follows:

The paradigmatic master of medieval rabbinic commentary was Rashi (Rabbi Solomon b. Isaac, 1040-1105) a scholar from the north of France. While he is often credited with the move to “literal commentary” in medieval times, even a cursory study of his commentaries reveals how indebted he was to the rabbinic exegesis of the earlier classical compilations. With Rashi we witness the mature development of a new paradigm of interpretation. He delicately balances his interpretations between gloss and exposition. He picks at and edits the earlier Midrash materials and weaves together with them into his commentary the results of new discoveries, such as philology and grammar. His main proposition is hardly radical within rabbinism. He accepts that there is one whole Torah of Moses consisting of the oral and written traditions and texts. In his commentaries he accomplished the nearly seamless integration of the basics of both bodies of tradition.


Also please consider these books: 
The Book of Jewish Prayers
Dear Rabbi