Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Paris' Prime Grill

Nope, Prime Grill is not opening an outpost in France. I was browsing a fave website TMZ early this week and kept reading stories and watching clips of Paris Hilton's recent birthday party. The kept saying the party was held in Los Angeles at Prime Grill. I thought that was an amusing coincidence. Theres a restaurant in LA that has the same name as a kosher hotspot in NY. Prime Grill on East 49th Street is the go to place for many wealthy business men that need to find kosher food and a classy locale. I've been there twice. Once with friends, the other for a SCW student council "event". You often encounter frum celebrities like Avraham Fried, thats about it. Turns out they did in fact just open a Beverly Hills restaurant and it has become the "It" restaurant for young celebs. When Donald Trump wants to woo frum LA businessmen he takes them there. When kosher Golden Globe winner Sacha Baron Cohen's frum mom and dad are in from the UK, he brings them there. But the chophouse was put on the map last week when Paris chose Prime Grill Beverly Hills for her 26th birthday party. Come on. I know celebs like to waste money on stupid things. Like million dollar cars that they are just going to have impounded after their next DWI. But kosher food? Thats just crazy. If you're hungry, and you don't keep kosher? For God's sake, go to Fatburger or Pinks. Make me proud.

Segulah Kiddush

In my attempt to be the complete antithesis of the Jewish Feminist that I was labled in my previous blog post, I have decided to sponsor the upcoming Mt. Sinai Shabbos Mevarchim Kiddush. Why you may ask? As I entered the world of Orthodoxy I became familiar with the word segulah. Literally a treasure, its interpreted, by me at least, to mean mazel, or good fortune. Everywhere you go you find segulah. At weddings its a segulah for the kallah to pass around her jewelry to single friends at the chuppah. Its a segulah to take a swig of the germy leftover chuppah or sheva brachas wine. And my favorite wedding segulah, segulah challah. I love my carbs. Poppy seeds not as much, but yummy eggy challah is quite tasty.

Those were the first segulot I was introduced to. Then my friends started having babies. So my boss would bring cookies into the office after a bris and say eat this, its a segulah. He's a Rabbi so I believed him and ate it. I am not yet pregnant so so much for that.

I take part in segulah behavior because who knows what might help my situation. I'm a single chick. I'd like to get married so I can move out of God awful New York. If someone tells me eat a cookie, it might help, I say mezonos and eat the cookie. When I was on Birthright the Summer of 2003 I was the oldest person on my bus. I signed up for a "frum" trip because I didn't want my first Israel experience to be defined by how many Tel Aviv discos I visited or how many beer bongs I drank or how many hookahs I smoked. Little did I know that this meant 23-year-old working girl Susanne was going to be surrounded by 18-year-old Lubavitch girls from a seminary in Florida. Their only goal during this trip was to convince our madricha to take us to Amukah, the tomb of Jonathan ben Uzziel (who was said to have written the Kabballah), where unmarried people travel to be granted blessings to find a marriage partner. Well, 3 1/2 years later and I bet half of that bus is married with children. Maybe I didn't daven hard enough. Or, Chabad's acceptance of marriage after 3 shidduch dates has made it easier for those girls to get hitched. Who knows? All I know is when we arrived I got out of the bus, went into the tomb, and said a perek of Tehillim. Why? Because I was there.

Another segulah I recently learned about was that it is customary for a couple to sponsor a kiddush when they have a daughter. When you have a son, you have a bris and a Seudas Mitzvah (festive meal) follows the circumcision. So I guess someone long ago said, we really should encourage people that have daughters to celebrate their good fortune by having a kiddush. Preferably one with chulent. Everyones loves chulent. So now all my friend's that have daughters get together with others in their shuls who have been blessed with a little girl and do a kiddush. Somehow over the years a rumor was inserted into this idea that girls who were never given a kiddush to celebrate their birth would never be married, or something to that effect. Being a baal teshuva, I kind of doubt that my parents sponsored a kiddush in my honor. I don't think they even went to temple back then. I don't even think they knew what a kiddush was back then, other then it being the blessing over the Shabbos wine.

I saw today on one of the many Yahoo groups of which I'm a member, that a shul in Passaic is making a kiddush available for women like myself to finally experience this long overdue kiddush, and hopefully wash away that bad fortune that our parents afflicted on us years ago. So I picked up the phone to call the lady and express my interest when I realized I could donate to my own shul's kiddush that week with the same goal in mind. I realize I can't be the only person in the neighborhood that would be interested in being part of this. Already, I have one friend who is FFB that doesn't think her parents held one for her, and even one guy interested in being part. Again, I'm not saying that sponsoring a segulah kiddush is going to be the answer to my prayers, but who knows? I'm going to be there. I might as well grab a bowl of chulent and hope I meet my bashert.

P.S. If you would like to join be part of this kiddush feel free to email me. Even if you aren't a member of Mt. Sinai, even if you live in Antartica. If you are a women who never had a kiddush, or you have a daughter that you'd like to shower with this extra blessing, please let me know.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Auditions for Mt. Sinai Announcer

For those of you who know me, you know two things.

1) I'm loud and 2) I wasn't always religious.

Last Friday night, as usual, the shul's former Vice President rose to the bimah to make the Shabbos Announcements. At the end he announced that he is being replaced. Admittingly, he sometimes rambles on about certain things, especially personal Mazel Tovs, but the fella also represents old school Mt. Sinai. He raised his children in this neighborhood and has been a member for many years. For that reason I have never minded him getting up there. Every week, we saw the joy he felt looking into the full pews. As recently as 6 years ago, those same pews sat nearly empty.

He announced to the full sanctuary that it has been decided by the shul board that he should step down from his position as announcer so we could make way for a new, younger member to take his place. In fact, he announced that there would be an "American Idol" like contest to find his successor. I asked some of my shul board member friends and they confirmed that it had been decided at a recent meeting. I even inquired whether or not a female would be eligible and was told that they were not and was given a litany of excuses for this.
1) The announcements take place during davening. Rebuttal: They COULD be made after davening concludes, just as we did when we began Mt. Sinai's Young Leadership minyan following our mass exodus from the Bridge Shul. Why did we leave the Bridge Shul? Because the leadership was not open to making changes to accomodate the influx of the Washington Heights young modern members. Hmmmm.

2) The set up of the sanctuary would require the woman ascending the bima. Rebuttal: The woman could speak at the men's section entrance, opposite the Ark. The section is set up so that the men are facing one another, not the Ark, so to see the announcer they could look to their right instead of their left.

3) Rabbi Schnaidman made up his mind that it cannot be done. Rebuttal: Has anybody, EVER, heard the Rabbi actually say this, and if he has, has it been in the last 20 years? I think we are giving too little credit to our Rabbi. Admittingly, he's been in the rabbinate for many years, but even he has acknowledged that this shul has changed since he ascended its pulpit.

That said when I was browsing our community website Maalot I came across this post:

Mt. Sinai Announcement Auditions

So You Think You Can Announce?

Mt. Sinai will be holding open auditions to find the brightest post-tefillah announcements talent.

Beginning this week (March 2-3), applicants (shul members only) will be given one chance, a single trip to the podium, to prove that they have what it takes to clearly and concisely convey the week's announcements to the kehilla. After every applicant has had a turn, shul members will be directed to the shul website where they will vote for their favorite and decide who will be the new voice of Mt. Sinai.

Auditions will end on March 24 (latest) and the winner, decided by the online polling, will begin his duties after Pesach.

Mt. Sinai will be holding open auditions to find the brightest post-tefillah announcements talent? How can that possibly be the case when women aren't even allowed to "audition"? Brightest MALE talent more like, which hey, doesn't say much in my book. Other than the last line which says he "will begin his duties after Pesach" there is no other way to know its only open to men. I of course replied "Maybe you should clarify this is for males only since talented females are unable to attain the position. Although that in my opinion should be open to debate as well." Hopefully this will spark a conversation in our shul. Plenty of modern Orthodox shuls, including some in Teaneck and Mount Vernon, allow women to address the congregation after services. Why should we be so backwards.

And for all the naysayers, maybe its time to stop hiding behind the Rabbi. When I spoke to people that I'm pretty sure were personally opposed to it, they said, welllll I'm alright with it, but Rabbi Schnaidman is not. If you're not okay with it say so. If you really do support it, encourage a dialougue.

Now, back to where I started. I'm loud and engaging. I could potentially be a wonderful after-davening announcer. I am also a Baal Teshuva so I have definitely stepped foot on bimas in the past, including at my Bat Mitzvah where I stood in my pink talis and read my Torah Portion just like all the other boys and girls in my class. I refuse to accept the fact that being Orthodox means unyielding to change. Our communities have b"H become more welcoming to diversity. In Teaneck, you've got one dude in a black hat with a sheital wearing wife and he sits in shul next to a guy in a srugy who's wife doesn't cover her hair and wears pants. Somehow they've accepted how the other practices his religion. Each of their homes is Kosher and Shomer Shabbos.

The thing that irks me the most is that Mt. Sinai is soooo proud of itself for setting up this exciting, revolutionary contest to replace a guy who actually deserves to be giving the announcements. He is going to be replaced by some hotshot guy who just signed his second one-year lease on his Bennett Ave apartment. I'm not saying I necessarily want this job. But I do think I'd be good at it. I do think I deserve a fair opportunity to "audition". I am a member of this shul, paying dues which have climbed to a rate that frankly, I'm not sure I can afford any longer. And what do I get in return? Two dollars off at any shul event? A monthly newsletter? It shouldn't just be a punchline for the Purim Shpiel. These are real concerns that I have. Its not a joke. I refuse to hide behind the Rabbi. If we do not stay open minded, some of us just might need to find someplace that is.

Friday, February 23, 2007

When Kashrus Alerts are funny.

Sixteen Bean Soup Mix with Ham Seasoning UPC #75480753595:

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company-Montvale, NJ: This product bears an unauthorized OU symbol and is being withdrawn from the marketplace. Individuals spotting this product are requested to contact the Orthodox Union at 212-613-8148 or via email at

Now, I don't know about you, but when I come across a product like that, I first get ecstatic that I can once again taste the yumminess of pork products (the delicious fake soy bacon provided by Morningstar does not always cut it), but before I throw the can in my cart, I will first peruse the Nutritional Content chart on the side of the can. I'm sure after listing all 16 beans used to make this delightful soup, there would be some reference to ham. Ham comes from pigs and the last time I checked, pigs are treif. Whoever needed this kashrus alert to inform them that their ham soup was treif, God help them.

Quick side story: One of the most yummy kosher meals is making a Mornigstar Bacon Cheeseburger using one of their veggie burgers and their fake bacon with a slice of my favorite Smart Beat cheese. A few years ago I was eating one of these for dinner when my Breur's neighbor stopped by my apartment and told me how wonderful my meal smelled. B"H she didn't ask what I was eating. Had I said a bacon cheeseburger she probably would have dropped dead.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Addison leaving Greys!

My favorite character (behind both George and the Nazi and way the hell above Meredith) Dr. Addison Montgomery may very well be leaving Grey's Anatomy. Bad news? Well, on the upside, Reuters claims its to film and star in....drum roll please...a Grey's Anatomy spin-off based on her role as a neonatal surgeon. No news on where it will be based, perhaps NYC, which hasn't had a good medical show in a long time (hello anyone remember this Fall's 3 lbs? Yeah, neither do I). The two-hour pilot is expected during May sweeps. I'm kind of undecided on how I feel. I really like her on Grey's but maybe her storyline lately is a little flat, although it would pick up if she'd just hook up with Carev already! But if its all about slimming the large cast, my first choice is Isaiah Washington. He needs to go!

Happy Ash Wednesday!

I know Ash Wednesday is a solemn occasion for my Christian friends, but to me, its my favorite New York City holiday. Unfortunately I read a blurb in the paper yesterday citing that alternate side parking has been suspended today due to Ash Wednesday. Its a shame because the specialist part of the day is the 10 minutes it takes you to recall why the heck all these people have dirt on their foreheads. I usually have to walk by a minimum of 17 people before the thought occurs to me that they purposely had the ash placed there. Its hard for a nice Jewish girl to fathom getting dirty on purpose. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and always takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. During Lent devout Christians usually choose to give up something that they usually do, like eating meat on Fridays. Jews would never choose to give up anything. Not being able to eat bread for a week during Passover is a huge affliction in my book and not something I would willingly take on. To all you Christians out there...RESPEK!!! If you need me, I'll be spending my lunch hour sitting outside the church on 37th and Broadway in awe of the revelers receiving their ashes. Mad props.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My productive day off...

Usually on a day off I never roll out of bed. Well yesterday was no exception. I didn't peel myself away from my yummy jersey sheets until 12:30ish. The Reifer and I made plans to do something, anything, yesterday on President's day. So we decided we'd head out to the movies even though the bulk of new releases were either atrociously disgusting, or I'd already watched them on Peekvid. As we were leaving we got a call that a friend of a friend had free passes to the Guggenheim Museum. Being generally culturephobic I was still inclined to head to the latest B comedy, but hell, the tickets were free so we headed over to Museum Mile. The Guggenheim is a visually incredible building, designed I guess by some important architect, and can be seen in this ridiculously dated picture.

When you begin to enter the foyer you realize, hey, it was that cool outside, it'll be even cooler from the inside. And sure enough, it looked sooooo awesome.

So we had a great time walking around looking at pictures of monks dressed up in KKK costumes, possibly for Purim, who knows. There were also a bunch of Picassos including normal ones that weren't painted when he was dropping acid. Although, Reifer and my favorite Picasso was this one where he drew in his own crazy way a rack of meat and it was exhibited right next to a couple other artists attempting to regularly paint the meat. It was as if Picasso was making fun of their ordinary still life paintings. But the ultimate visual stimulation was the Salvador Dali paintings. Now seriously, that dude was on crack. And Reifer being the art genius she is told us interesting stories, like about how her art professor in college was obsessed with this one Goya painting we saw and made them study it for weeks so that she knew all the secret details of the painting. According to her, the teacher believed she really was the woman in the painting. Spooky.

We left there at around 4:30 and had time to spare before all-you-can-eat sushi at Eden Wok, so we decided in the end to go see a movie after all. We decided on Music and Lyrics, the new Hugh Grant romcom which played out identical to every other movie hes been in, except for The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, cause that movie just plain sucked. This version of the fish out of water British dude meeting quirky American female was just average. The only redeeming factor was that we saw it at the Loews Lincoln Center and 90% of the movie was taped within like 5 blocks from where we sat. That was pretty nifty. In fact, when we crossed the street to head to Eden Wok (which BTW has the same cross streets as Hugh's apt in the movie) we passed the restaurant where they encountered Drew's ex in the film. That was cool.

Then Reifer and I ate sushi until we both got sick and waddled over to the subway for the trip home. I'm happy that I was so productive yesterday and injected some culture into my life. Art, film, and sushi, all in one day. I have become quite the socialite.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My first time doing stand-up comedy...

Contrary to prior belief, I am pretty damn shy. In general, I know I'm funny. Amongst a small group of friends I can keep them giggling for hours on end. But other than this blog, I rarely express my humor to a mass audience. That was, until last night. At my shul, Mount Sinai Jewish Center of Washington Heights, we welcomed the proclaimed comedian of Jerusalem and the starter of the Off the Wall Comedy Empire, Dovid Kilimnick. I was asked by my buddy Margie to introduce Dovid and she asked me to be funny while I was up there. I was totally nervous but I think I kept my cool pretty well and didn't freak out. So basically, I came up with a short shtick basically describing the hardest thing about being frum and single isn't dating...but finding a roommate. Unlike most comedians, everything I mentioned was 100% true and each instance happened to me, like for real. I've just led a very very funny life. I always have competitions with my friends to discover who has the most screwed up roommate stories. I always win this battle. Not all the stories are funny (suicide attempts, eating disorders, etc) but some are (sleepwalkers, uber-relgious, getting run over by trucks, etc). I felt I needed to share my experiences with the world. So of course I uploaded the video to YouTube. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day!

Two things to brighten your Valentine's Day. Well, actually a third thing. This was originally forwarded to me by my shtark roommate and shtark people don't generally acknowledge Valentine's Day. I thought that was cute. Thanks ST. Oh, and Happy Birthday to my shtarkest friend of all, Margie!

1. Little Melissa comes home from 1st grade and tells her father that they learned about the history of Valentine's Day. " Since Valentine's Day is for a Christian saint, and we're Jewish," she asks, "will God get mad at me for giving someone a valentine?"
Melissa's father thinks a bit, then says: "No, I don't think God would get mad. Whom do you want to give a Valentine to?
"Osama Bin Laden," she says.
"Why Osama Bin Laden?" her father asks in shock.
"Well," she says, "I thought that if a little American Jewish girl could have enough love to give Osama a Valentine, he might start to think that maybe we're not all bad,and maybe start loving people a little bit. And if other kids saw what I did and sent Valentines to Osama, he'd love everyone a lot. And then he'd start going all over the place to tell everyone how Much he loved them, and how he didn't hate anyone anymore."
Her father's heart swells, and he looks at his daughter with new found pride. "Melissa, that's the most wonderful thing I've ever heard."
"I know,"Melissa says, "and once that gets him out in the open, the Marines could shoot the fucker!

2. Singles Awareness Day (SAD) is a humorous holiday celebrated on February 14 (although some prefer the 13th or the 15th to get away from the commercialism associated with the 14th). It serves as an alternative to Valentine's Day for people who are single: that is, who are not involved in a romantic relationship and can therefore not participate in Valentine's Day traditions. Some observers of SAD do so out of spite for Valentine's Day, as a Hallmark holiday, or for other reasons.

On Singles Awareness Day single people gather to celebrate or to commiserate in their single status. Some want to remind romantic couples to remember those less fortunate than they are. A common greeting on this day by its adherents is "Happy SAD!"

Sadly, the day is often used by less-friendly couples as a day to simply remind the singles they know about their current, uninvolved status.[citation needed]

The holiday is a good example of self-deprecating humor.

Good times.

Monday, February 12, 2007

5 Grammys!

The Dixie Chicks went 5 for 5 last night at the 49th Annual Grammys awards winning everything they were nominated for, included the big three, Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. As all of you know, I am a longtime fan of the Chicks, ever since the day I heard their anthem Wide Open Spaces as I was readying myself to trek across the country alone for college. And just like Natalie said last night, for the first time in my life I am speechless. Congrats Dixie Chicks. Thank you for not backing down. Freedom of speech is alive and kicking in America. Country radio made the selfish choice of denying Americans the beauty of Taking the Long Way. Hopefully with last night's win, those who didn't have the chance to hear the album the first time around will get up the courage to drive over to Wal*Mart and pick up this masterpiece. Whether you agree or disagree with their politics and wholeheartedly support the office of the president, you should also support the foundation of our great country. The Bill of Rights is a beautiful document. I encourage all of the Chicks naysayers to read it sometime.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Jerk of the day goes to...

I just read an article about a NYC Cabbie who found 31 diamond rings in the back of his cab and spent his entire day tracking down the man who left them. As a reward the cheapskate jeweler gave him $100 bill. Are you shitting me? If I lost those I would have given the guy $1000 check. What an ass! I lost my $50 cell phone last year and would have given the guy who found it $100 if he returned it. He would have saved me the hours of aggravation I spent fighting with Verizon over my new phone and endless emails I spent trying to recover my lost phone numbers. Theres sooo few good samaritans out there. Lets keep the ones we've got.

New Link

I'm adding a new link to the blog's sidebar. The title is a winner all the way- Frum Satire: The Rantings of A Frum Yid With A Warped Perspective. I've just sat down and read a bunch of his posts, and they are pretty amazing. He talks honestly and openly about topics of great importance in the frum community. Plus he's funny as hell!! Enjoy! I sure am.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Amarillo Sky

When I was at the Bull Riding competition with Sho last month we discussed the hit country song "Amarillo Sky" by newcomer Jason Aldean. At the time I had only recently heard it and didn't think much of it. Sho told me I should pay attention to the lyrics. Jason is describing the plight of the American farmer. Times are tough for farm owners. They always have been, but nowadays its even more so. As the lyrics state, "diesel's worth the price of gold. And it's the cheapest grain he's ever sold. But he's still holding on". The part that really gets me is the chorus which tells the story of the hardship the farmer endures and the committment that he has to his land. Jason sings, "He just takes the tractor another round. And pulls the plow across the ground. And sends up another prayer. He says Lord I never complain, I never ask why, But please don't let my dream run dry." These men and women work long hours sometimes to no avail. There could be an Act of God like a tornado or a drought and their year's income will be gone. But c'est la vie, that's life. Thats how their fathers and grandfathers lived their lives. My heart goes out to these brave Americans. I've always known the sacrifices these family farms made, but Jason Aldean's song and especially his video put faces to the stories.

Additionally I was reading an article in the NY Times this morning about the scarcity of veterinarians for farm animals. Farmers are losing livestock during routine deliveries because theres no doctor around in case of difficult labors. Most of the vets admitted to being drawn away from farms because caring for small domestic pets is much better business. It doesn't pay for farmers to spend money on expensive surgeries, when on the other hand people like my Mom and Dad would be happy to dole out the big bucks to make sure Muffy the Maltese is kept perfectly healthy.

This is the video for the song and opens with some of the young men who live this life telling their stories. Its poignant. Check it out: