Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Top of the evening to all...

Two interesting things happened over the last week or so.  They were feel-good events for me, even though I was not remotely involved in either one.

The first occurred with Jesse.  We needed something at the butcher shop.  Jennifer called them to take care of it, and to tell them that Jesse would be in to pick it up in a few minutes.  They knew he was my kid the instant he walked in the door.  How?  He had his bicycle helmet on his head.  All of Jewish Toronto knows I ride everywhere.  Most of Jewish Toronto has heard me say that "the more I drive in this town, the more I like my bicycle."

The second occurred with Jennifer.  She was conducting a funeral.  As I always do, she rode to the cemetery with the funeral director.  It would appear that the people at the funeral home appreciate working with me.  They can tell the military background.  They say it shows in the way I carry myself. They say it shows in the fact that I always start right on time.

There are too many rabbis out there with reputations I would not want to have.  As well, it is too easy to destroy a reputation.  To have a reputation of being on the bicycle, to have a reputation of having the military is nice to have reputations that fit so neatly with my own self-perception.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Learning New Things about My Wife

Top of the evening everyone.

I hope you have all been reading Jennifer's blog entries while she was recovering from the surgical procedure.  I did not know that the cats could type.

Jennifer and I have been married for over 19 years.  We know each other fairly well.  Over the last two weeks, I have seen something I did not know.  Jennifer can write comedy.

Normally, that job falls to me.  Still, the blog entries as written by Gandalf and Nora were hilarious.  They also did a fairly good job of capturing the personalities of the cats.  The kids were making time to read them, and also laughing.

Well written!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

He Basks in His Ability to Cook

Hi all....

As you read yesterday in Jennifer's blog, Jesse was heard to say that he "basks in his ability to cook."

When I woke up this morning, one thing became very clear to me.  He does not bask in his ability to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

I just love teenagers.

Have a good day.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Confirming My Soul

Top of the evening to all...

This week has seen the rockets from Gaza finally stop flying.  Let us all hope and pray that this ceasefire turns into something durable and lasting.

Over the last several years, I have often wondered whether or not Israel plays softball with the peace-loving neighbours to its south.  Two things come to mind.

The first is that the suggestion has been made many times that Israel should stop supplying electricity to Gaza.  I used to think it was a good idea.  If the ruling elite in Gaza wishes to be a sovereign nation, it must gain some experience in providing essential services to its population.  It is thus not Israel's responsibility.  That is what I used to think.

The problem with that is that electricity provides power to hospitals.  They need it.  As well, insulin and  many antibiotics require refrigeration.  It would be utterly soulless to take the weakest of society and render them victims even further, even if the only source of their current situation is their own leadership.

I attended a rally the other night in support of Israel.  At one point, the speaker said that civilians in Gaza had quite regrettably been caught in the line of fire.  Someone behind me said "too bad."  Without even thinking, I turned around and said "it is too bad."

As I said the other day, it is ultimately the sovereign authority's task to protect its civilians.  Nonetheless, no nation with a soul and a conscience just looks the other way thinking "too bad."  That Israel very much takes active steps to avoid injuring civilians, steps that are often to its operational detriment, is the right thing to do, even if not strictly within the requirements of law.

The neighbours to the south kidnapped a man and would not let him so much as send a letter to his parents for five years.  They have deliberately fired rockets at civilians.  They have deliberately placed their own people in the line of fire.  I hope that we do not learn the hard way that they might also be liars in their agreement to this ceasefire.

Good night.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

"It All Started When Israel Fired Back."

Such was the phrase in a sympathetic letter to the National Post.  The willing liars and useful idiots of the world have picked up on that theme.

Warnings about dangerous escalation and reminders to exercise restraint abound.  While this time, most of them do contain the statement that Hamas must stop launching missiles, many in that part of the world have conveniently, deliberately ignored more than 100 rockets that the peace-loving neighbours to the south of Israel lobbed across an internationally-recognized border.  It makes those calls for restraint most galling.  When over 750 rockets have been fired at Israel in 2012, one is forced to wonder why it is that waiting 10.5 months before shooting back in earnest is not the definition of restraint.

I have bad news.  In war, people die.  In war, civilians die.  It is not ideal, not remotely.  It is incumbent on all combatants to ensure that civilians are kept out of the line of fire.  This means that the folks in Gaza are committing war crimes in firing missiles at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, cities with no intrinsic military value.  This means that the folks in Gaza have blood on their hands, both the blood of the civilians they have murdered in Israel, and the blood of their own people whom they have deliberately, callously placed in harm's way.

Furthermore, international law specifically forbids deploying troops and weapons in civilian areas.  To do so is a gross violation of any basic human decency, as it renders those areas legitimate, legal military targets.  It is not illegal to destroy rocket launchers, even when placed in the basement of someone's home.

The folks in Gaza have targeted schools and homes.  They have targeted buses.  It is not peace that they seek.  It is war.  They can couch their lies however they so desire.  A lie though is a lie, no matter how pretty its appearance.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Good night.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, and Armistice Day

Hi all...

I got confused the other day.  I was chatting with someone about November 11th.  I had to go through Veterans Day and Armistice Day before finally settling on Remembrance Day.  I really must remember where I live.

France and Belgium observe Armistice Day on November 11th.  The reasons are obvious, primary amongst them being the ending of hostilities in Europe as World War I came to a close.

The nations of the Commonwealth observe Remembrance Day.  For Canada, this is particularly important.  While Canada entered World War I as part of the British Empire, Canada signed the Treaty of Versailles as a separate nation.

In the United States, today is Veterans Day.  The United States did not sign the Treaty of Versailles.  As such, to call the day Armistice Day would have been most disingenuous.  Memorial Day was first observed in 1868.  As such, that option was not available.

Memorial Day and Remembrance Day tend to focus on the deceased.  I like that Veterans Day focuses on the living.  We should take a moment to remember those who went, who did their duty, and came home.

Moreover, as we learn more about the long-term effects of combat, it becomes vital for us to remember those who did come home.  After the parades and celebrations cease, those who were there must cope with the aftermath.  The aftermath might be readjustment issues.  It might be employment issues.  It might be post-traumatic stress.  It is only appropriate to have a day to remember them, so that we remember that they are people with real personal concerns, and whose real personal concerns came into being due to the nation's call.

Good night all.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thank God That's Over!

Thank God that's over.


We should all wish success and good fortune to the President.  His successes are the nation's successes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This One Lasted Over Two Months!!

Good morning everyone.

My kids go through backpacks at a pace sufficient to support the entire industry.  We always end up buying them a new pack at the beginning of the school year.  At least one will need a replacement by the end of the first semester.

Backpacks fall victim to faulty manufacturing.  They fall victim to the slings and arrows of outrageous bouncing down the steps.  They fall victim to gross tonnage, either in them or on top of them.

Today, another backpack met its demise.  I am crushed.  So was the backpack.  I thought Keren had put it in the car.  Gavi had closed the trunk of the car.  That was a logical conclusion.  I walked up the other side of the car.  Our carpool driver did the logical thing.  She put the car into reverse to take our children to school.  I heard the sound.  Keren said that I always put it in the car because she cannot lift it that high.  I thought I always put it in the car because it sped everyone's departure.

In either event, this backpack has gone the way of the world.  We purchased it in August.

When we first moved to Toronto, we found a luggage and backpack store near our home.  I am certain by now that we have paid at least a month's rent on it.  And back we go.

Have a good day.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Yes...I Am the Rabbi.

Top of the evening everyone...

I had a conversation today that I did not enjoy.  The mother of one of the recent bar mitzvah kids popped in to thank us for how nice we were to her son.  She talked a little bit.  I talked a little bit.  She said something about perhaps coming to services a little more often.  I said that she can come any time she wants.  She said maybe, but the problem is that her son plays hockey, and they cannot get to services.  I said that my son has a black belt.  He goes to services.  She said the statement my colleagues and I all hate: "Well of are the rabbi."

It is true.  I am the rabbi.

I am the rabbi.  So is my esteemed bride.  I work a full-time job.  Jennifer works a part-time job.  We drive a mini-van.  We do not have a second car.  We have a mortgage.  Our kids are in day school until at least 3:50 every day.  All three of them take karate, and get there via city bus.  Our day is 24 hours long.  Our struggles as karate parents are no different from anyone else's.

My eldest, the only child of age, is a gifted Torah reader.  He puts on his tefillin every day.  He keeps Shabbat.  And do you know why?  Because it is what he has seen and known since day one.

I am the rabbi.  That has some bearing on the choices I make.  It has no bearing whatsoever on the implementation of those choices.

Folks, if you want your children to grow up in a certain way, live that way.  They will model your behaviour.  On the Jewish stuff, my kids all knew kiddush before they were old enough to start karate.  These are choices that we make as parents.  If we want our kids to be something, we have to raise them to be something, and not just hope it turns out for the best.  Parenting is an active process.  It cannot be done by remote control.

Good night everyone.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Election Day

Good evening all...

In less than 27 hours, voting will start in New Hampshire.  As the day progresses, the citizens of the United States will commence their civic duty and privilege of voting for the next President.

Throughout the last several months, we have lost sight of too many things.  The rhetoric in this campaign from both sides has been shrill, childish, and appalling.

This election is not about President Obama or about Governor Romney no more or less than it is about any other person.  It is about a nation.

As such, I will not make the tired wish of "may the better man win"  I believe them both to be decent men.  We are not qualified to stand in judgment of who is the better man.  It is not about either man.

May the nation win.

Those of you who vote in the United States, please vote carefully.

Good night.


Good News, Better News, Annoying News

Hi all...

The good news is that my blood pressure is down.  It is not great, but it is below the threshold of stage 1 hypertension.  I am pre-hypertensive.  That is the new medical term.

The better news is that there is a study out of Britain that shows that treating pre-hypertension and low-level hypertension with medication has little to no effect.  I am not going on medication.

The annoying news is that my doctor would like me to drop 10 pounds.  I have no problem with that.  I  only have a problem with dieting.

I suppose it is time to go on a sympathy diet with the cat.  What fun.  Maybe I will meow in his ear in the middle of the night when I am hungry.

Have a good night.