Saturday, July 31, 2004

I Was Racist, And I Was Wrong

Eve Kessler kindly pointed out that I used some racist language below. That was not my intention and I am very sorry. It's just that I've walked the mean big city streets for too many years now and the language of those I've associated with has rubbed off on me.

In many ways, I regard the black, brown and yellow man as my superior. The Oriental for his inscrutable dedication to science. The black man for his easy masculinity and athletic prowess. The brown man for his work ethic. They make me want to be more than I am.

Shul today was a deeply moving religious experience which makes me want to be more than I am. I read and finished Nathan Englander's FOR THE RELIEF OF UNBEARABLE URGES (nothing in it to make me think a second time) and still had time left over for Barchu, shma, repetition of the Amidah, the rabbi's drasha, catching up with friends, and an hour-long conversation with the shiksa security guard.

Cathy Seipp writes: "The mean big city streets...of Pico/Robertson. Gosh, that sure does sound mean and scary! What happened -- did a yeshiva boy shove you on his way to shul?"

Frum Sex For Four Years

The best posters on Frum Sex: Oy_it's_so_humid, and maybe heimish25 for frum stuff, aronteitelbaumrules for dirty stuff. one900s likes to argue semantics and science. The group is four years old, and gets up to 60 posts a day.

Do I Want to Have a Blog?

I keep hearing that I should ditch this blog in favor of my old website format, and that blogging is for losers. What say you, dear readers - is blogging for losers? Am I not a winner?

Friday, July 30, 2004

In Luke's Favor

Cathy Seipp writes about me to A Fly on the Wall:

In Luke's favor:

1. Cleans up nice.
2. Picks up the check, at least when he's working.
3. Always on time.
4. Good interrogation techniques.
5. Rarely gets angry.

On the other hand:

1. Serial killer van.
2. Sleeps on floor.
3. Annoying Protestant dietary habits.
4. Doesn't drink.
5. Expects me to go on all his dates.

Cheap Thrills

Mike Alb0 writes: You say you like live shows, but can't find any good ones in the Greater Los Angeles area that you can afford?

Well, I've got the perfect solution for you.

I went up to Griffith Park yesterday and visited the Los Angeles Zoo. Okay, the zoo's undergoing some construction and there are some animals like gorillas that have been shipped off to other zoos until their habitats can be finished, but the zoo still has chimps a-plenty.

As a friend pointed out, "Things just go better with chimps."

I suppose so. Those suckers have no inhibitions and provide hours of entertainment for those of us with juvenile mindsets.

I just wonder why the zoo, which plasters the exhibits with signs like "Did You Know...?" and "Why Does This Animal...?" Doesn't put up a plaque at the chimp enclosure that reads "Daddy? What Is That Monkey Doing to The Other Monkey?" and then offer possible explanations. I think it would help parents handle what was, for most that I observed, a very uncomfortable experience.

Once a Cheater, Always A Cheater?

Captain Carmen writes on Frumsex: This is a question that was posed on's "Sex Advice From..." series yesterday.

"Once a cheater, always a cheater: True or false."

Almost all the people interviewed said it was true.

But could you be a little more specific when you say, "It wasn't the same?" What do you mean? Do you not trust one another as much? Or do you have better sex as a result? Or less-frequent sex? Or what?

I know of one woman who left her husband after she found out he'd been cheating. She used to let him go out to strip clubs and go out with his buddies and travel around for business whenever, and she never questioned his activities - she was the cool wife.

But now, she's got a long-term boyfriend, and she keeps him on a much tighter leash. She's not as permissive, because she knows the dangers lurking out there that can tempt a man away from his happy home.

So even relationships that occur *after* one of the parties cheated can be different.

Luke Ford Exposed

By Dave Deutsch

He’s been said to have “calm of the Dalai Lama, and the charm of David Niven,” but lately, Luke Ford’s apple has definitely lost its blush. Whispers following recent appearances by the former male model manqué once known as the “glossy Aussie” hint that his increasingly erratic behavior and physical deterioration are signs of some sort of severe mental and/or physical condition—most likely syphilis. A phone call from a close personal friend of Ford’s, however, suggested a different reason. “Luke is distraught,” revealed my source, one of the coterie of distaff journalists who flock around the handsome expat, “It’s all because of David Deutsch. Deutsch is a funny guy, but sometimes, he goes too far. And his comments regarding Luke and Mexican immigrants are just way off base. He cares so much for legal Mexican immigrants, and Deutsch’s comments really hurt him, but he’s too much of a tsaddik to talk about all that he does for them.”
This reporter, for one, was dubious. Luke Ford, caring about Mexican immigrants? Luke Ford, who, after one wag dubbed him “the kosher Pat Buchanan,” quipped “No, he’s the treyfe Luke Ford?”
“I know it seems hard to believe,” I was told. “But don’t take my word for it. Go to Boyle Heights and ask around.”
Still waiting for the punchline, I did just that. Hungry, and hoping to kill two birds with one stone, I stopped by the unassuming Gonzalez Taqueria, and found myself eating the best burrito I ever had. I informed the gentleman behind the counter who I assumed to be Mr. Gonzalez of that fact, and was stunned by his answer.
“Gracias, but don’t thank me. I owe it all to my friend, Senor Luke.”
“Not Luke Ford?” I inquired.
When he heard the name, his face lit up. “Si, si, you know Senor Luke? He’s an amazing Mexican chef, and he not only showed me how to make this burrito, he got me to switch from lard to vegetable oil.” He turned to show me his profile. “I’ve lost 50 pounds. And he provides the kosher certification.” He pointed to the wall, and sure enough, there was a certificate bearing Luke’s own kosher symbol, the “Porn K,” a silhouette of a well-endowed young woman with a “K” in the middle. I asked the gentleman if Luke’s position on illegal aliens bothered him.
“Bother me?” he exploded. “It’s because Luke cares so much about us legals that he feels that way. Look, there used to be this woman who sold food from a cart down the block from my tacqueria. She paid no taxes, she paid no rent—she was killing my business. Luke called a contact of his in La Migra, and the next day, she was gone. He’s a savior, and I’m not the only one who says so. Go over to Gonzalez Garage and ask them about Luke.”
I did just that. As I entered, the crowd of vatos working on the low-riders started to size me up, and it was clear that they found me wanting. It was an uncomfortable moment, until I mentioned Luke’s name.
“Ese, you asking about El Jefe? Why didn’t you say so,” said the group’s apparent leader, a young man named Chino who, unlike his peers, had no tattoos. “El Jefe is our man. When I was in prison, Luke came around to counsel us—he’s the one who convinced me that it was wrong to make marks in my flesh, and paid for my tattoo remova. And when I got out, and I couldn’t get a job because employers would rather higher a damn illegal than an ex-con, Luke talked to his peeps in the industry and got me a job as a key grip, and now I’m learning to be a best boy, so I’ll be an’ effin’ double-threat. You wanna know how we feel about El Jefe? Look around this garage. What kind of cars we drive?” I looked around, took it in, and he smiled, proudly. “That’s right…all Fords. But hey, you really wanna get the 411 on him, check out the Gonzalez School for Children of Legal Immigrants. El Jefe is probably there right now.”
And indeed, he was, but by the time I got there, he was absent. Fulsome praise for Mr. Ford, however, was definitely in attendance. The school’s headmaster, Jorge Ochocoa told me that without Luke, the school wouldn’t even exist. “These are children who weren’t being served by the public schools. Not only were those schools understaffed and ungodly, but the children of illegal aliens were taking all the good education. By the time it came around to these kids, all that was left were gerunds and antonyms. How are they going to succeed with that? But El Angel—that’s what we call Luke here—arranged with somebody in his synagogue to donate this old building as a tax write off—he was going to burn it for the insurance money, anyway, and, until we could raise the money, Luke taught the kids.”
Luke Ford, teacher? Even after all I’d heard, I was skeptical…until Mr. Ochocoa showed me the pictures, and the awards Mr. Ford had won.
“But you know, when Presidente Bush gave Mr. Ford this “Points of Light” award, Luke said to him. “Mr. President, you have it wrong. I’m not teaching them, they’re teaching me.”
As I drove away from Boyle Heights, I couldn’t help but thinking that all of us—and especially David Deutsch, whose support for illegal aliens may have something to do with allegations that he employs low-wage Dominicans in Washington Heights to grade papers for him—have a lot to learn from El Angel…Luke Ford.

E. J. Kessler Accuses Me Of Racist Language

Forward assistant managing editor E.J. Kessler (who used to work the paper's religion beat) writes Protocols: "[A]m I the only one who thinks all that stuff in Luke's post about 'Muslims, blacks and Hispanics pouring out babies' and 'using their vaginas as cannons' sounds racist? Luke, dear, if women are procreating, it is part of God's plan. God does not care what religion or color they are. Nor should you. I defy any rabbi to tell you differently, and if he does we should expose him."

I reply: Eve, dear, is it part of God's plan to have women outside of marriage give birth to children who will disproportionately commit crimes and other social pathologies? Is it part of God's plan for women who want to destroy the Jewish state and for their children to blow themselves up killing innocent Jews to have more kids?

Eve, dear, do you think illegal Mexican immigrants and their children will be as friendly to Jewish interests as those legally here and raised with American values?
Sometimes things can be racist and right. Even Jesse Jackson says he would be more scared to run into a group of young black men at night than a group of young white men.

Eve Kessler responds: "The answer to your questions are, yes, yes and yes, bc we can't know God's providence. The point was about your language, dear. I didn't say your utterance WAS racist or makes you a racist. I said it SOUNDS racist. By the way, you could have gotten 10 awards for your work with Mexicans and still SOUND racist. Your utterance is also pointless, bc there's not a damn thing you can do to stop the phenomena against which you rail. So what's the point? To denigrate people? To get Jews to scowl every time they see a pregnant black or Muslim? Such language will not motivate anyone to create a single new Jewish child. To quote Stevie Wonder, 'Love's in need of love today. So don't delay. Send yours in right away.' PS, I would never have bothered to write the comment if I thought you were an irredeemable racist. It was a product of my affection."

I marched with Martin Luther King in Selmba Alabama so that blacks could have the right to vote. I was arm-in-arm with Abraham Joshua Heschel. After King was shot, I cradled him.

When I wanted to give tours of scenic Los Angeles, legal Mexican immigrants volunteered to help me out to repay my kindness to their people (I often buy fruit from their street vendors).

Kaspar Gomez writes Luke: Halo! My cousin Hector wants to know if you would be interested in providing your guests with food. We could follow you around LA with our taco wagon to serve your guests authentic Mexican cooking and sodas. Also, we can provide you with janitorial services, in case someone on your tour bus has any sort of an accident.

Fischel Teitelbaum writes Luke: Shalom Chaver! How was your Shavouos? Normally, this is a very happy time in Brooklyn, but not this year, not in Crown Heights. The grandaughter of the Satmar Rebbe and her baby were killed in a fire started by some candles. Then, yesterday, four Bobover yeshiva buchers were stabbed by a gang of 15 peurtoricans. Maybe connected to their big parade on sunday. Lots of peurtoricans. Lots. Oy, these people are even worse than the colored. And the emes is that lots of them are colored!

What do you think Luke, do you have peurto ricans in Los Angeles? I hope not! I still want to move to Los Angeles and meet your hot and sexy porno girlfriends! Mazel tov on your new tourism business. Could you use a tour leader to tell the tourists what they are seeing? Fischel could do that! I could go on a few tours and then i would pick up all they say and see. Then you could sleep late, daven late, study torah while I work as employee nomber one!

DISCLAIMER: Mr. Ford is a 38 year old Australian immigrant. He has never been married, lives in a hovel, has been expelled from half a dozen synagogues and an uncountable number of women's lives, drives a vehicle which by itself is estimated to account for close to 30% of the hole in the ozone layer, was formerly the porn industry's lead gossip columnist, currently has no discernible income, his most lasting work seems to be his quest for morbid obesity, and by almost any objective standard, contributes far less to American society on any given day than your average Mexican migrant farm-hand or slaughter-house worker.

Schvartz Like Me?

I recently finished John Howard Griffin's 1964 expose on racism, Black Like Me.  As my learned readers know, Mr. Griffin, a white man, describes his experiences during his travels through the American South all the while disguised as a Negro.   Interestingly enough, he did not score with any white chicks during his entire charade. How the times have changed. 

His book gives me a possible idea for a new book. Maybe I should update Griffin's premise and live as an urban Negro? My insights could help finally build a bridge between the Orthodox and Black communities.

I am intrigued, but a nagging question remains .... Could I even pass as a schvartze?

Anon writes: Luke? Pass as a black? Let me see ... He has a gun. He loves white p*ssy. He has no job. Hell, he qualifies as a NAACP member already.

JimmyD writes: I think you're sort of on to something, but you're missing the obvious. You should write a book called, "Jew Like Me." After all, you've already
spent considerable time passing yourself off as a Jew. Now you can publish those experiences from a Gentile's perspective.

An Orthodox Response To Alana Newhouse

Steve Brizell writes: "I saw Ms. Newhouse's response in the Forward. I believe that the following comments are warranted. There was no discussion of the widely circulated pamphlet circulated by two MO graduate students at MIT and Harvard that expressed many of my sentiments and opinions. RYBS pioneered the teaching of Talmud to woment at SCW. However, in two shiurim delivered to the RCA and the RIETS alumni, RYBS firmely rejected the feminist critique of halacha . I also stand by my critique on Ms. Newhouse's philosophy of Tznius as beyond the boundaries set forth within Halacha and the Mesorah in the many works of this subject that have written by both men and women."

Blowing My Didgeridoo

Many of you have seen the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) about half-caste Aboriginee children who were kidnapped from their Abo parents and educated to act like whites.

My story is similar but opposite. Before I was nine months old, Aboriginees stole me from my Christian family and raised me in captivity in the outback where I learned to play the didgeridoo.

This afternoon I will be blowing my didgeridoo on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica to raise money so I can afford a wife, kids and the full Torah lifestyle. Please drop a quarter in my yarmulke and God bless you.

If you'd like, you can blow my didgeridoo too.

Where's the Aboriginee ----?

My new friend Peter told me this week that Aboriginees are the ugliest people on the planet. I could not disagree. But when he argued there was no "Aboriginee ----" or "Aboriginal ----" on the Internet, I knew he was wrong. Today I Googled both terms and Peter is right. There is no such thing on the Net. Must be racism.

Fletch writes: Aborigines do not have sex that is why. They unlike most humans on the planet, spawn from holes in the ground.

Ene writes: On the plus side you could pay the content girls in glue and/or white out.

Shelly Crash writes: Content producers dropped the niche when national geographic ruined the market.

Ben writes: We've often thought of it. There are plenty around on the north coast.... There are a number of things that turn you off the idea tho...

First there really aren't that many good looking girls. Most have diabetes and are quite large (traditional diet includes lots of nuts and not the same fats), very few look after their skin or blow their nose for that matter. There are some very hot girls tho... Quite rare...

Second it's a really close knit community and you would expect it to get back to their cousins, uncles, brothers, sisters, pops, grans, etc etc. Some of which would in a drunken rage drive a car full of cousins from the reserves anywhere they thought there would be a fight. If you live somewhere where aboriginals live
then chances are it's too small a place to go messing with it.

Third there is no market for it.... Unlike the US where black girls are considered to be sex machines.... here.... well apart from the cultural divide there is a lot of angst on both sides still and it will be many years before intermarriage becomes more common.

In Australia we have a lot of different issues compared to the US situation. Here there were a lot of massacres and the government policy all through the years has been designed to f--- them over.... The law fights against the government and so
you end up with whites losing land and such... So there are plenty of pissed off people on all sides.

I Find Theresa Heinz Attractive

Am I so wrong? I want her to be my mommy and more. I bet that she could really shape up my life (not to mention my bottom line). That she told a reporter to "shove it" just increases her allure in my eyes.

Ami Eden Interview

An interview with Ami Eden, national editor for the Forward.

Rabbi Parrots Anti-Feminist Line

By Alana Newhouse for the 7/30/04 Forward:

Last week, I caused a bit of a storm with an interview I gave to a journalist named Luke Ford, who is writing a book on Jewish journalism. During the interview, Ford asked me professional questions about arts coverage in Jewish publications, as well as my personal views on religion. Since I was raised in a Modern Orthodox home, most of these questions centered on whether study and interest in the arts are properly cultivated in Orthodox communities.

Curiously, Ford took a detour to ask about my observance of the laws of tzniut, or modesty, which in many Orthodox circles are interpreted as requiring women to wear skirts that cover their knees and shirts that do not reveal their collarbones or elbows. I’m still not sure how or why the interview went in this direction, but it did. I was quoted as saying:

“If I go into a shul, I’m going to be dressed appropriately. But I walk around in pants and shorts. I feel like modesty is more about your character than about what you wear.... There are ways that you can cheapen yourself, and make people feel that you are usable in any number of ways — professionally, emotionally, psychologically, sexually. That is what I mean by immodest.”

The remark provoked a flurry of responses on Ford’s Web site, including this particularly pugilistic post:

“I would submit that someone who [substitutes] their own definition of modesty and tznius in place of and instead of the definition offered by Chazal (ancient rabbinic sages) presumes that they know [m]ore than Chazal. Moreover, the fact that Ms. Newhouse supposedly developed her mind at Barnard illustrates the danger in allowing the average child to attend and dorm in an environment shaped by post Modernism, MTV and multiculturalism. The average [Modern Orthodox high school] grad can’t handle the shock to their values.”


Original Alana Newhouse Interview.

Hafter Princess writes: "Luke is this Alanas answer to my question whethher her definition of modesty allows premarital sex? It seems that she opposes the fact that the rabbis speak out against premarital sex. Does this mean in her liberal view of MO it is OK? And no one should mention that the halacha forbids it?"

I think that is her answer. That society, and the Jewish community, should not worry about protecting feminine virginity -- intellectual and sexual. I must disagree.

First, I will set aside the question of Jewish Law in answering. Everybody knows that Jewish Law holds that men and women are fundamentally different, with different responsibilities, that they should be given different educations, and that the glory of the woman lies within (in the home she creates with her husband and children). I agree with Jewish Law but I won't invoke it in my response to Alana's column.

Second. Civilization must hold women to a different sexual standard than it holds men if it is to survive. Men must know who their biological children are or most men won't stick around to help raise them and support them and their mother. This is also why civilization must stigmatize, if not, in some instances, criminalize, all forms of sexual expression outside of heterosexual marriage, including masturbation, hookers, pre-marital sex, homosexuality and pornography.

Third. The most important question for any civilization is what do you do with them. Men are the instable part of the equation. As far as religion goes, you must reserve certain rituals for men only or men will drop out of the religion. For society, you must allow men to gather alone with other men (such as was the case in service clubs). Once you start allowing women in, men will drop out. Men do not like to compete with women. Once women pour into a field, it loses its appeal to men.

Fourth. Look at the disaster created by women, particularly Jewish women, pursuing higher education. They are not getting pregnant and having babies. While Muslims and and blacks and Hispanics are pouring out babies (using their vaginas as cannons while many Jewish women use their's as toys, in the words of Chaim Amalek), many of them out of wedlock, whites and Jews are not reproducing at a replacement rate. Europe is doomed and America is threatened. If you think an America that is increasingly Hispanic and increasingly populated by out-of-wedlock children will be an America friendly to Israel and the Jews, you are naive.

If you think the world is going to be a better place because Europe is dying (not reproducing) and must import Muslim immigrant laborers from Second and Third World countries, you are naive.

These problems are largely caused by modern feminism and this suicidal push for "equality" in the workplace and university, so that women get graduade degrees instead of children within marriage and men, who don't like to compete with women, get alienated from polite society, and have to go to stripclubs to bond with other men.

Does this mean that I think it is automatically wrong for women to take leadership roles in society and politics and religion? No way. Women of merit should succeed according to the level of their abilities. See Margaret Thatcher and the prophetesses in the Bible. I just think we should stop propagandizing women that what really counts is graduate degrees and professional success rather than marriage and children.

I also think that we should end all anti-discrimination laws so that Jews and blacks and men can choose to live with and associate with and hire and fire who they want.

As for education, I do not think it is a good idea to give boys and girls the identical curriculum as is done in some Modern Orthodox day schools such as Shalhevet in Los Angeles. I don't think most females are suited by nature to studying Talmud. Generally speaking, they would be better off in home economics classes and learning how to please and appear to defer to a man (boss him around at home all you like discretely, but don't cut off his balls in public). Jewish women would do well to learn from the examples of their asian sisters who rarely contradict and demean their men in public, and let their man feel like he is in charge. They still control him, but they exercise this control discretely. Also, many Asian women, as well as many Persian women I know, seem to genuinely enjoy cooking and cleaning, and these are loves that we should be cultivating in Jewish girls.

Hot! Sex! Live! Frum!

Visitors trolling for casual sex on last week were left scratching their heads over an unfamiliar reference that has surfaced in a flurry of recent postings.

"I keep seeing this term ‘Frum.’ Can somebody please clue me into what the hell that is?" wrote Jeff, a 30-year-old regular on the site.


How come none of the Jewish papers were clued-in enough to write this story? Do you see the qualitative difference between these New York Observer pieces and the crap filling Jewish weeklies?

I Need Help of the Yeshivish Sort

As the shabbos queen approaches, I continue to have some questions for her. But she never answers back, so maybe some smart yeshiva boy (I cannot accept the idea of a yeshiva girl) could help me out here:

1.Why is there a rabbinical prohibition against summoning an elevator or turning on a flourescent light on the Sabbath?
2.Why is it forbidden to turn on a simple radio, particularly one that does not generate a spark when switched on? Once switched on, is a torah jew like me permitted to adjust the volume? (I'm thinking of patenting radios for religious jews that are technically "on" all the time, but with the volume turned down. When the shabbos queen makes her entrance and you want to listen to a ballgame or the news, you just adjust the volume control without creating or terminating a circuit.)
3.Why is a Jew permitted to own a carpet, when walking on a carpet on a dry day will generate a static electical potential that discharges with spark, sound, light, and heat when the Jew touches a door knob? (I'm thinking of selling a line of plastic doorknows and bathroom fixtures for those who tremble before electricity.)

Also, whatever you do, do NOT fail to real my wedding planner blog. It is never too soon to start planning for that glorious day beneath the Chupa. Who should I get as caterer?

Joe writes: While I'm not sure if you're sincere in your question - especially since it doesn't appear on Protocols where people who might have an answe would read it - my understanding is that the most comprehensive guide to the laws of electricity on shabbos is found in: "Shabbat and Electricity", by Rabbi LY Halperin. It may be out of print, but probably could be found. And while I'm not an expert in halacha or in electricity, I think the prohibition is not of creating a fire, but of boneh, which is building.

Check Out My Marital Blog

You can't know the real Luke Ford without knowing all about my quest for a wife. You can read all about it at Luke Ford Seeks a Wife Blog, including many important things not available elsewhere.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

A Wife for Luke Ford

Hollywood screenwriter and novelist A Fly on the Wall writes:

Cybercelebrity Luke Ford needs a lot of things, but most of all he needs a wife.

Luke also has written a just-published book about a species of bottom-feeders known as Hollywood producers, a creature with which yours-truly often must break bread.

'Jesus Christ!'

My friend Rob saw a hot woman at the bank. He followed her as she drove off. At a stop light, he drove up next to her and got her phone number. I admire that. I could never do it.

Now, she's a Lefty and Rob's conservative, but through force of will and charm, he's made her his girlfriend. She was to be his date tonight to the Hollywood Bowl to hear the music of Brahms and Beethoven. Awesome seats, 30 feet from the stage.
Rob said we should meet at the bowl at 6:30 p.m. for a picnic. The concert started at 8 p.m.

I know Rob has a tendency to be late, so my date and I showed up at 7:15 p.m. No Rob. I call him on his cell. His date has cancelled. He's bringing "Canonical Ken," a lawyer in the Roman Catholic legal system (he's not a member of the CA bar nor does he have a secular law degree).

Date and I hang out in the Japanese Gardens with the Japanese. Along with the Chinese, they are my favorite type of ethnic Americans (because they get good educations, devote themselves to family and rarely have kids out of wedlock, unlike some other groups).

Rob and Ken show up at 8:20p.m. It would be fine to be mad at Rob, and frankly I was, but he bought me this apple pie health bar and I was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of our seats.

Canonical Ken's family used to design cross-bows. That's nothing. I was Hustler magazine's A--hole of the Month.

After the concert, Ken, who makes frequent visits to the Gregorian University in Rome, gets on his cell phone.

"Are you calling the Holy Father?" I ask. "Hey, Holy Father, rockin' Essa Pecker Solomon show tonight. Good enough to raise Jesus from the dead."

I was told to knock it off with the Holy Father routine. Tough crowd.

Rob can't find his car or his valet. I told him to just give his ticket to the nearest Mexican and all would be fine. Five minutes later, Rob finally takes my advice and we're on the road.

Canonical Ken drives with a maniacal jerkiness that would make the rack seem like a massage.

"Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!" I find myself screaming over and over again. I know I should be reciting the shma, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." But it is Jesus who keeps coming to my lips as Canonical Ken careens down Hollywood Blvd at 40 mph weaving in and out of traffic.

That I cry out the wrong name for the divinity makes me fear that my conversion has not been genuine and that my soul remains untamed. Whenever I screamed "Holy Moses," it did not feel authentic.

My girlfriends, even during my atheistic years, noted my extreme religiosity during moments of high passion.

You can take the boy out of the Church but you can't take the Church out of the boy.

Rob says I'm a drama queen, needy for attention.

Rob and I resolve to learn Latin together so we can study Canon Law and Virgil in the original. We'll make firm appointments on a regular basis. That way I will know that no matter how frantic my life gets, I will be sure of having plenty of time to myself.

Rob rushes off. His GF is looking after a dying person in the hospital and will be staying the night. He wants to bring her an air mattress. I think that is sick.

John Forbes Kerry: Good for the Jews?

While Kerry failed to address some of the issues that most concern me (gay marriage, transgendered rights, and the war on drugs), he did do a credible job of articulating a set of values and aspirations that I, Luke Ford, can get behind. Plus, it turns out that his father was really Jewish. I would endorse him outright right here and now, but that might anger some of my friends, and I value friendships more than I do politicians.

Still, I have one question about this man that haunts me: is he good for the Jews? Is George W. Bush?

Oh yeah - I almost forgot. Is he good for the United States of America?

Shomer Negiya By Default

I sit and ponder my recent dearth of female contact and cannot help but wonder if this is all just part of G*d's divine plan for me.

Am I being forced into the lifestyle of Shomer Negiya (the traditional Jewish custom of not touching a member of the opposite sex before marriage)as part of a divine plan that will lead to my hotly anticipated marriage?

I think, yes!

Is My Race Doomed?

As I watch the convention on CSPAN and look out over this sea of brown and black faces, I cannot help but wonder: is my race doomed? They flood into my country unimpeded by any sense of racial consciousness on the part of the people who build this civilization. The breed prodigiously, and here I sit, alone in my hovel, begging white women to mate with me. The future looks bleak for our kind.

If I Were Black, I'd Be Rich

There, I said it.

What John Kerry Can Teach Luke Ford

John Kerry has married twice; Luke Ford, not even once. And each time, John Kerry has hooked up with a staggeringly rich women. Luke Ford lives in a hovel. I want you, John Kerry (and I know for a fact that you read this blog), to teach me how to find a rich broad and get her to marry me.

Why Am I So Chubby?

It is not a rare moment when Cathy will look at me and say, "Why are you so chubby?"

"I can't help it," I respond. "It's my hormones. It's my genes. It's my physiological response to this fallen world."

"Well," she'll harumph, "that's not logical." And she'll proceed to spell out in detail why it is not logical for me to be chubby and why I should take better care of myself and exercise greater care with my choices.

I can't tell you how many times I've been chubby and then Cathy has argued me out of it.

Convention Highlights

I've been somewhat remiss in blogging about this convention and its highlights. I would have to say that for me, the highlight thus far has been watching the darkies dance with the white folks. I look forward to watching them sway together, arm-in-arm, before the evening is over.

Have I a Mobster Book In Me?

I always plan ahead with my writing - far ahead. So even though I am still working on a book on Jewish Journalism, I'm thinking ahead to the next book in the series. Right now, I'm leaning to writing a book on Jewish criminals: mafia money men, Russian mobsters, etc. If you know of any Jewish criminals (say from shul, or Federation events), please drop me a note.

Luke is an Isotope of Himself

I've figured myself out. I think that there are several of me, combined in a mixture much like isotopes of Uranium. I need to figure out a way to separate myself out into Luke-235 (distinct from the more plentiful Luke-238), so as to make a bigger bang in this crazy world of ours.

Luke Condemns Murray Rothstein's MTV

MTV is to be condemned for encouraging an atmosphere of easy promiscuity on television (and thus in our culture) with hardly ever mentioning the more probable consequences, like STDs. MTV is the plaything creation of Murray Rothstein, better known to you goyim as Sumner Redstone.

Who Wants To Sleep With Myron Magnet?

This guy wrote the book: Modern Sex: Liberation and Its Discontents. It just seems wrong. What does he know about sexual liberation and its discontents?

Pretty good...but Cathy's World is better!

From a review on Luke Ford is a tasteful and thoughtful site. Each day the author shares his gentle musings and tentative "dating" adventures with his dozens of readers, each of whom surely must be the better for it. One complaint: More pictures please!

Dinner With Peter Stuart, Cathy Seipp, Emmanuelle Richard

After 30 times eating at trafe restaurants, I finally got Cathy Seipp into a kosher restaurant Wednesday night. She was dressed sluttily as usual, with a sleeveless top and a dress that flounced a few inches above the knee.
Peter Stuart (who knows Cathy from their UCLA days in the late '70s) is a volatile Beverly Hills Jew who's turned conservative in his old age and doesn't mind saying what he thinks.
He was playing basketball with this 11yo Orthodox boy the other day. The older brother came out in a big black hat.
"Is that a Muslim hat?" Peter asked.
(Peter spent years in France and learned to hate Muslims.)
The kid said no. "We don't hate Muslims," said the kid. "We hate terrorists. We only hate those Muslims who hate us."
"Do you think Muslims in Muslim schools are taught to only hate Jews who hate them and want to murder them?" asked Peter.
"Mom!" cried the kids when faced with this troubling point.
Peter took off.

Cathy Seipp writes: "For the record, while it's true that my skirt (formerly Cecile's skirt, but she's at camp) is above the knee, only in the bizarre mind of a porn expert/converted Orthodox Jew/Seventh Day Adventist preacher's son would it possibly be considered slutty."

My Argument With Andrew Silow-Carroll Over Yossi Klein Halevi

I've been feeling surly lately, going off of people right and left. I went off on Yossi Klein Halevi earlier this week when he ran away from my questions.

Andrew Silow-Carroll, of New Jersey Jewish News, writes: "Luke's unhinged response to Yossi Klein Halevi proves why YKH was right to be wary of Luke's views on Lashon hara. (Full disclosure: I've met Yossi a few times, but otherwise I don't know him well.) YKH may not approve of Lashon hara, but at least when he engages in it he puts it through the rigors of journalism, which demand that a writer carefully research his case, assemble his research as accurately as possible, and allow the subject of his research to respond to charges and characterizations. That may not fly with the rabbis, but it would with a good editor, and journalism is not the beit midrash. If you want to see the difference between loshon hara and journalism, compare Luke's unsubstantiated allegations that Yossi is in the tank with Sasha Weinberg's rigorous takedown of David Brooks in Philadelphia magazine."

I respond: "Andy, apples and oranges. What I am doing so far about Jewish journalism and what that Philly mag piece did on David Brooks is like comparing talk radio to NYT journalism. We're working in different mediums. I have not attempted to write a comprehensive fact-check on Yossi, so your comparison is not valid. I gave impressions, which is what bloggers do, and I gave the raw material of emails."

Andrew Silow-Carroll responds: "If that's what bloggers do, then that's what's wrong with blogging. If my "impression" of a certain cop is that he is taking bribes, do I just go ahead and post it on my blog? If I suspect a rabbi is diddling his students, do I just throw his name out there as apederast? Maybe, per LSAT, I don't know what Loshon hara is. but do any of these apply: Rechilut? Tale-bearing? Motzi shem ra? Even my lowly Reform upbringing taught me that to destroy someone's good name is to commit a kind of murder. Does that mean a Jew can't be a journalist? Perhaps, if this was a rabbinically run theocracy, or if every Jew accepted the teachings of Chazal as binding. But it isn't and they don't. But at least journalism has an implicit (and yes, too often breached) ethical code that demand its practitioners seek both sides, weigh the evidence fairly, reveal the evidence accurately, and hesitate before reporting a damaging "impression."

I reply: Andy, step up to the plate and list the ethical violations I supposedly accused Yossi of. Please list where I trafficked in lashon hara with regard to him.

I said I had an impression from our emails that he was deferential to people in power who could help him.

Outside of our emails, I know Yossi Klein Halevi never breaks stories. To break stories, you have to risk damaging cozy relationships with sources.

I did not accuse him of anything like the ethical breaches you name in your post.

To take up your points specifically:

* Blogging is different from newspaper journalism as newspaper journalism is different from talk radio which is different from poetry. They are different mediums, which is why your comparison of my instantaneous post on Yossi to some piece in Philadelphia magazine where the author spent, probably, hundreds of hours, was wrong.

Blogging can be like newspaper journalism as can talk radio but the mediums inherently veer in different directions. That is ok. A camel is not bad because it is not a donkey. A blog is not bad because it is not as thought-through as a New Yorker essay.

* Can one ethically post an "impression" that a cop is taking bribes (without any evidence)? No.

* A rabbi diddling a student (with no evidence)? No.

* Did I destroy Yossi's good name? Of course not. I gave our email exchange in full (except for bits I edited out for the sake of Yossi and his precious sources). I linked to his books. I quoted supportive statements by admirers (which take up far more space than my criticisms). If that is destroying someone's good name, I hope it is done to me a hundred times a day.

* I did seek both sides. I got Yossi to respond via email. I reported his side. I reported the side of his admirers. I linked to his work. And I offered up some tentative criticisms.

* You wrote: "Luke's unhinged response to Yossi Klein Halevi proves why YKH was right to be wary of Luke's views on Lashon hara."

There's no lashon hara (referring to unnecessary gossip about someone's personal life) in my report on Yossi. I don't delve into his personal life. I offer tentative critiques of his professional life. So no, he had no reason to run away from my questions of him and you have no reason for supporting (on the basis of lashon hara concerns) his running away from tough questions. Transparency and accountability are good for Yossi Klein Halevi as well as the Jewish Federation.

Donnis Shacks - Killer, Friend To Movie Producer Steve Bing

From ABC News:

B O S T O N — As Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards arrived in Boston today for the Democratic National Convention, so did the California man who is their single biggest contributor. He is Stephen Bing, a wealthy film producer who, with little fanfare, has managed to steer a total of more than $16 million of his money to Democratic candidates and the supposedly independent groups that support them.

Democratic Party officials said they knew nothing about the man who law enforcement officials tell ABC News is Bing's friend and business partner — Dominic Montemarano, a New York Mafia figure currently in federal prison on racketeering charges. Montemarano has a long criminal record and is known to organized crime investigators by his street name, Donnie Shacks.

"Donnie Shacks' main activity was murder. No question about it. That was his main function for the Colombo family and for organized crime in general. He was one of the top hit men in the New York area," said Joe Coffey, a former NYPD investigator.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Bing paid Montemarano's legal fees after his most recent scrape with the law. Montemerano's lawyer said his client was an employee of Bing's.

After a recent private lunch with Democratic vice-presidential candidate Edwards, Bing also declined to answer questions about his relationship with Montemarano. "The American people have a right to know who's funding their presidential candidates and their parties," Lewis said. "The Bing situation shows us how little we really know."

As I reported in February:

A Mafia soldier writes:

"I met with an official and I told him about a meeting I had in a Manhattan Cafe. I was with some high ranking wiseguys, who are into bid-rigging construction projects. They were talking about getting a breather from the assault by the Feds on the Families. They were hoping that the War on Terror would help them. They said they would need another five to seven years to put everything back on track. The official told me they would get it. He told me that more and more resources are devoted to terror cases and less to major crimes.

"I was hanging out in a bar last night and my friends and I were discussing the presidential race. Clinton came up. We all laughed, because a friend of ours who is made and now [the Los Angeles] underboss [Tommy Gambino] gave Roger Clinton a 50,000 dollar check and a Rolex to help his father get a parole. His father who I know as Sal was a major player in the Pizza Connection and dumped tons of heroin on the streets of the US. It was all swept under the table."

This is Dominic (Donnie Shacks) Montemarano [convicted Mafia killer] and Elizabeth Hurley. Donnie is bald with glasses. Moments after this they went into the theater and watched A Night at The Golden Eagle. This was on the Paramount Lot.
Steve Bing was also there, Tommy Gambino and sister, Donnie, Uncle Artie and Vinnie A. This is right before the Roger Clinton scandal.

Photo One
Photo Two

A Fly on the Wall writes:

It's curious ABC made no mention of where Bing got his money. They make it sound like his film producing made him wealthy.

Not so. He received a whopping inheritance from his grandaddy, who also had quite a few shady business partners of his own. Bing has lost a lot more money than he has made producing in Hollywood.

Bing's bodyguards -- and why does he need bodyguards? -- are big thuggy-looking goombas who look like they walked out of The Godfather.

Bing is a bored little rich boy who likes to play writer/producer and also likes to hang around with moviestars and mobsters. He's the proverbial poor little rich boy who has to buy flashy friends because he's otherwise far too dull.

An Email Exchange With Teresa Watanabe Of The LA Times

Teresa Watanabe wrote the most discussed American Jewish journalism story of the past five years for the front page of The Los Angeles Times -- that scholars say the Exodus did not take place as the Bible describes it.

I emailed her an interview request July 27 for my book on Jewish journalism: "I'd like your views on what are the primary obstacles to producing compelling journalism on American religious life. It is often said around newsrooms that the religion beat does not go to the best and brightest."

Teresa replied: "I don't feel really qualified to comment on Jewish journalism, other than to say that I enjoy both the Jewish Journal and the Forward and find American Jewish journalism to be the highest quality of all American ethnic media I monitor. I'd like to pass on your interview request, but would certainly love to see your book when it's out.

"If you'd like to interview someone about religious journalism, my colleague Larry Stammer and former Times religion writer John Dart would be excellent choices."

I replied:

I appreciate your suggested alternatives though I am sure you know as well as I do that Larry Stammer is a crappy reporter.

You also know that you are perfectly qualifed to talk about the difficulties of reporting on American religion, if not specifically Jewish religion, and that if your subjects refused your interview requests with "I don't feel qualified," you'd feel fully qualified to be annoyed with them.

Journalists ask other institutions to be transparent and accountable but you obviously don't hold yourself up to the same standard. I've read a lot of your reporting on Jewish topics and I know you have many interesting things to say.

When LA Times reporters (there have been a dozen over the years) have turned to me for help, I have always given it to them. I've never refused an interview request (but once). I consider it a professional courtesy. And so should you.

Teresa replied:

An impressive attempt at guilt-tripping me but so far I'm several weeks late on a promised interview with a master's degree student who has been patiently waiting for me to help him with his thesis on reportage about Muslims and 9/11, including questions about many of my stories. As you can see, I am more than happy to be "transparent and accountable," time permitting. You specifically started your email off by saying you're writing about Jewish JOURNALISM -- a subject I do not, in fact, feel qualified to talk about since I only read the JJ and Forward sporadically.

But now I am annoyed at your annoyance, your presumption to tell me what I'm qualified to talk about when you don't even know me, your insinuations that I refuse to be "transparent and accountable," along with your slam on my trusted and most-valued colleague, Larry Stammer. He is not a "crappy reporter," as you put it -- among other things, he has broken national stories over the sex scandal this past year and is a perennial finalist in the RNA's national journalism awards.
He has covered the Jewish world far more than I have during the past several years, which is why I referred you to him.

I replied:

I wanted something that you could've provided if you had cared to give 20 minutes of your time.

My only remark about your qualifications was to protest your protest at your lack of them for my book.

You wrote: "I don't feel really qualified to comment on Jewish journalism..."

I replied: "You also know that you are perfectly qualifed to talk about the difficulties of reporting on American religion..."

That's no slam on you or presumption on my part.

I am sure there have been times in your journalism career when you were annoyed with people you wanted to interview who protested that they were not qualified to speak to you. You probably thought, if not said, let me be the judge of who to speak to for my story and I won't tell you how to run your business/affairs.

You may be right that I have missed the boat with Larry Stammer. I've read him for years. You also know that my view of him is widely shared in the LAT newsroom (though we may all be wrong).

You also know that you wrote the most talked about piece of journalism on American Jewish life (Wolpe, Exodus) of the past five or ten years.

I do not know your level of transparency and accountability. I do not know how many interview requests you have given. I do know that I never recall reading anything more than a cursory quote of yours and I'm pretty well read on these topics. So if you have been giving interviews, they've been pretty well hidden.

I do know that as a rule, at the LAT and other major papers, journalists such as yourself widely refuse interview requests. I think that is wrong. About half the time when I am interviewed, and that has happened hundreds of times in the past six years, the interviewer has asked me not to write on him, which is amusing and sad.

Teresa replied:

I gave interviews to whoever asked for them when the Exodus story broke, including Rob Eshman of the JJ, the Jerusalem Post and the now-defunct Jewish newspaper in the valley whose name escapes me. I am asked several times a year for interviews by college students, usually journalism or religious studies majors, and usually grant them depending on how frenetic my life happens to be at the time.

When people tell me they're not qualified to speak, they always provide an alternative, which I follow up with gratefully and graciously. Perhaps a few times I sweet-talked them into speaking to me anyway, an art you might work on honing.

In any case, I officially left the religion beat a year ago, let my RNA membership lapse, do not follow religion news so closely anymore except for American Muslim affairs. I'm supposed to be moving into ethnic community stories, and that's where I've been putting much of my psychic energy of late, even though I have some leftover religion stories that are set to run in the next few weeks and still help occasionally on the religion page. The paper's two official religion reporters are Larry and Bill Lobdell, another wonderful writer, in Orange County. Part of the reason I passed on your interview is that much of this stuff is fading very quickly from my aging memory.

People have been terribly unfair to Larry, including the New Times and L.A. Weekly and people in my own newsroom who have slammed him in those pages and not had the guts to own up to their sentiments. He's the most knowledgeable religion writer in Southern Cal, and a wonderful, kind, collegial and decent person as well.


Yehupitzer writes: "I think you were unfairly harsh to Teresa. She politely declined and then politely offered some suggestions. You then threw a hissy-fit. If I was her, I would have been tempted to write back "f*** off". She might have
been tempted as well, and then held herself back when she realized you would
post it all."

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I Need A Makeover

Everyone says I need a makeover. Cathy wants me to makeover my housing and transportation; Chaim wants me to makeover my blogg; and the rabbis want me to makeover my soul. I'm going to start with the simple matters first: this blog.

First off, the name "Your Moral Leader." Too "in your face", as others have commented. What else might this be called? I am calling forth for proposals for naming this blog. The winner (if female and hot) gets to spend a night at the hovel.

2004 YML Coupon Drive - Give Until It Hurts

Gentle Readers, I look upon my ever dwindling pile of shekels and I wonder how I might impress any potential marriage candidates? My straits are dire indeed. The simple facts are that marriage requires courtship, courtship requires dates, and dates require money.

Begging, like working, is certainly beneath me so I am initiating Your Moral Leader's first annual coupon drive. The coupons that you donate to me will multiply the effectivity of my severely limited funds. Simply put, your 2-for-1 dining coupons will double my number of dates, thereby doubling my potential for a blessed love match.

Remember, only coupons for eating establishment with suitable kosher and vegetarian menu items will be accepted. I would also appreciate any free samples that my readers might have laying around of Grecian Formula, Japanese slim fit condoms, and pharmaceutical samples of Levitra.

Do I have 'patsy' plastered on me?

My email exchange with Yossi Klein Halevi, a bad experience for all concerned.

Yossi wrote, At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Lewis Perdue and The DaVinci Legacy

Dan Brown's hit book The DaVinci Code was plagiarized from the work of Lewis Perdue.

"Signed letter of engagement Friday with law firm Alschuler, Grossman, Stein & Kahan, Santa Monica," writes Lewis. "Michael Plonsker is my attorney."

Lewis, who was Cathy Seipp's journalism advisor for one year at UCLA, has started a blog. And another one.

He's also published the book EroticaBiz: How Sex Shaped the Internet.

Lewis also has a movie coming out.

Luke Ford Fan Blog Update

As the doctor put it: "You could stick Luke's head under a bus and run over it countless times and this still wouldn't lower the quality of Luke's writing."

Am I an Emo Boy?

(thanks to Amalek - may his name be eternal - for this one)

From the New York Observer:

Women who have dated emo boys report being turned off by unsolicited, uncomfortable disclosures.

When the banker called Ms. Hackemann after their ill-fated third date, he said, "You know, I’m a communicator, and I bring things up."

"It was too much relationship talk too early about nothing," she told The Observer. "It had a feel of him being a little controlling in a way: From now on, if I’m a little bit late, he’ll be really hurt. It puts this huge pressure on you. And you want to feel relaxed when you’re on a date. That was the worst feeling of it. It made him look so weak and unattractive in my eyes, and maybe a little bit messed up."

Victoria, a spangly-topped bartender at the Village Idiot, rolled her eyes as she recalled her last date with an emo boy: "Before we even went out he said to me, ‘I’m really great in relationships, but I have a small penis.’"

"A guy told me during our first date that he had a small penis!" echoed Lorrie, a 35-year-old editor. "Why would you do that? It’s bad enough finding out the natural way, but for the love of God!
For the record ladies, I would never say such a thing about myself, for as Rabbi Hillel once said, "If I am not for myself then who will be for me?"

Monday, July 26, 2004

Historian Deborah Dash Moore

An interview with American Jewish historian Deborah Dash Moore.

Luke In Latest Jerusalem Report

Protocols is mentioned in the latest Jerusalem Report. The cover story is Jew vs Jew. On page 45, a piece in In and Around column says, "...Luke Ford, a convert to Judaism and son of a Christian evangelical, maintains the site's ( quirky flavor on topics including his conversion and the insularity of Orthodoxy, as this "group of Jews endeavors towards total domination of the blogosphere.""

Heather Mac Donald On Immigrant Gang Plague

The Immigrant Gang Plague

Judaism Hates (Selectively)

By Alana Newhouse: Orthodox rabbi Meir Soloveichik relates the story of a Catholic nun stunned by the hatred that Israelis bear for their enemies. After witnessing the pride of an Israeli friend whose son exhibited a loathing for Saddam Hussein, the nun concluded, "hatred is in the Jewish religion."

It is a striking observation, one that might evoke suspicions of historic, theologically based Christian antisemitism. But Soloveichik, a scion of an illustrious rabbinical family, has this to say about the nun: "She was right."

Jew vs Jew

Interviews with Samuel G. Freedman, author of Jew vs Jew.

'It Ain't Me Babe'

Chaim Amalek writes: "Time spent in a classroom is time not spend fornicating and making babies."

Khunrum writes: Come now Chaim. Who is going to support these babies? Let's take the Advisory Committee and Luke as a control group. Robert seems to be the only responsible marriage minded family man among us.
I can't speak for all but my disposable income is going to EVA Airlines, The Nana Hotel and Annie's Massage and Bath~House, not on some yenta harpy and two brat kids.
That leaves you, Luke, The Counselor and Master Weisblott. Slim pickings for a needy gal in search of a husband I'd say. Ha! ......Would a Nice Jewish Girl want to bring up her brood at Luke's hovel? They'd have a better life and more opulent surroundings at a homeless shelter.
The problem for these women is the same~same whether it be Australia, the USA or the world. Someone has to pick up the tab for this alleged domestic bliss and more and more guys are saying, to quote the prophet Dylan, "It Ain't Me Babe"

Sunday, July 25, 2004

No Bloggers I'd Want To Date

I was checking out this WSJ article on bloggers at the Democratic convention and looking at their pictures and there are none that I'd want to date.

Cathy Seipp On The Radio

I heard Cathy Sunday night on the His Side radio show with host Glenn Sacks. The other guest was humorist Bruce Stockler, a former joke writer for Jay Leno and the author of I Sleep at Red Lights: A True Story of Life After Triplets.
The show was billed as revolving around Cathy's National Review article on Silver Lake dads who want to be congratulated for doing the stuff mothers take for granted.
The show did not play out as it was billed and little of directly concerned Cathy's article. She was largely left with little to say. Bruce Stockler was hilarious and stole the show.
Cathy showed admirable taste in not getting into the details of why her husband left and why they divorced. She was discrete. She was witty. She was Cathy. She's the Queen of All Media with her MSNBC appearances.
I get an enormous amount of traffic from her blog and the number of her Internet references equal mine (and I've been blogging since 1997 and she's been blogging 14 months). I'm sure her website is getting more than the 2200 hits a day I'm bringing in.
It was good show tonight. The discussion was civil and funny. It was billed as more confrontational than it was. But as Cathy Seipp would say, to know me is to love me.
Cathy said, in effect, that if she had fallen for Glenn while he was looking after his kid (Cathy says a man who only looks after his kids and does not provide materially for the home is not attractive) that he would've left his wife for her. Glenn called her arrogant. He wasn't the first.

"Yids Gone Wild" - The DVD

I feel that it is fair to say that the Orthodox Jewish culture is greatly misunderstood by the general public. Our conservative style of dress and modest public demeanor is often misconstrued as dour and stodgy. Mainstream America is completely unaware of the many thrills and joys that fill our daily lives. This must be rectified!

My remedy is a new compilation video of scenes from Orthodox Jewish life that I call "Yids Gone Wild." I am soliciting all of my Orthodox readers to submit home videos of your Orthodox Jewish experience that you would like included in my educational DVD.

I must remind all contributors that only Orthodox activities will be considered. No secular behaviors, male/female dancing, or videos containing immodest styles of dress will be accepted.

So what are you waiting for? Bust out your 1987 Bar Mitzvah tape, your son's briss, Uncle Morty's wedding. The world is waiting.

(All submissions become the intellectual property of and cannot be returned.)

Bush v. Kerry: Which is Better for the Jews?

On the one hand, Kerry is the son of a Jewish man. On the other hand, Bush has lots of fully Jewish men working for him, and has done everything asked of him by the Jewish establishment. Why so many Hollywood Jews seem to detest Bush is something of a mystery to me.

Does American Judaism Traffic in Indulgences?

I find myself wondering if perhaps this might be the case. After all, it would seem from the recent (and not so recent) scandals to rock the Jewish world here that all one need do to win acceptance within the Jewish establishment is throw a lot of money around, and then all sins are forgiven (or at least hushed up, which is almost as good). On the other hand, for poor, working class Jews like me, no sin is ever totally forgiven or forgotten. I think we could learn a thing or two from other faiths in this regard.

'When Are You Coming Back?'

Those are the sweetest words you can hear when you leave a house. Particularly when they come from kids, because you know then that they are genuine.
I visited a mom and her two kids Shabbos afternoon. The four-year-old girl and the eight-year-old boy wrestled with me on the couch. Then the girl wanted me to put her on my shoulders and walk her around the neighborhood with her mom and brother and two dogs. I got all tangled up.
I left after an hour. As I was walking away, the little girl ran out and asked, "When are you coming back?"
Most every time I leave the home, one of the two kids runs out and asks that.
I remember my father drilled into me an opposite message from the book of Proverbs: "Remove your step from your neighbor's door lest he grow to hate you."
Thus, I try to be sparing in visiting people, or even sending unsolicited email. Most of my social occasions are suggested by my friends rather than by me because I desperately don't want to come across as emotionally needy as I truly am.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The Rise of Something on the Internet

I appeared on a documentary on UK's Channel 5 network earlier this month. I was opining about the rise of something on the Net. I think it was the rise of Torah.

Chaim Potok - Jewish Novelist Unparalleled

The most important works of fiction about the American Jewish experience in the past 100 years have been written by Chaim Potok. He tackled the serious questions, such as the ones about Judaism vs art in My Name Is Asher Lev. I think Potok makes later Jewish movelists look like dilettantes with their focus on the personal and their lack of tackling of the big issues, such as Biblical Criticism, Archeology and its challenge to traditional faith.

Smharya writes: "You've made a very important point. Why do you think things are this way?"

Luke replies: "Because of the growing narcissism of the post '60s world. Post '60s Jewish fiction deals principally with what makes the protagonists of their stories feel good (whether it is through secular or religious means, it still boils down to stories about individuals seeking their own happiness rather wider truths and a concern for how their behavior and choices affect the world). I converted to Judaism because I thought it was the best vehicle to making a better world."

When Good Stories Fall Into The Laps Of Bad Newspapers

In the 7/11/03 edition of the Jewish Journal, came a cover story about "When Bad Things Happen to Good Institutions."

Here's the lead paragraph: "When a University of Judaism (UJ) male administrator and a female student fell together from the second-story window of a Pico-Robertson apartment, hitting the concrete below and landing in the hospital, the story made the news and set community tongues wagging."

But there were no further details. The Journal never named names. But I will. The administrator concerned still works at the University of Judaism. His name is Dr. Amnon Finkelstein.

If I had been the editor of the Journal, I would not have told my reporter to come back with a story about how good institutions deal with scandal. I would've asked her to investigate the fall.

An informed Jewry is a stronger Jewry. Do not place a stumbling block before the blind, Jewish Journal, by refusing to name names when the story calls for it.

From my conversation with Jewish Journal editor Rob Eshman:

"You ran a story about the male administrator [Dr. Amnon Finkelstein, dean of admissions] at the UJ who fell out of the window with a naked female student. Why didn't you name names?"

Long pause. "We've since found out all the sordid details, the names, everything, but at the end of the day, was this a Jewish community story or a story of three people who are Jewish having wild sex? We don't do stories on every Jew booked down at the County jail, or every Jew who commits adultery.

"We just moved on to other things. Gaby Wenig's story reflected the larger implications of the story -- when big institutions that promote Torah values have to deal with scandals that oppose Torah values. The police blotter... It was certainly salacious and would've gotten a lot of people to read the paper but at the end of the day, it was not the story. Now, if it were a UJ rabbi..."

Tom Tugend - Fighter, Father, Friend

Tom Tugend has almost half a century in Jewish journalism. He fled Germany in 1939. He fought in WWII and Israel's 1948 War of Independence.

Hilda Silverman Peace Activist

I heard that Hilda Silverman, a peace activist who has taught at Harvard, was persona non grata at the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. Editor Jonathan Tobin says he has never heard of her.

Hilda writes me: Jan Hayden of Visions of Peace with Justice in Israel/Palestine forwarded your request to me.

I have no particular recollection of having been singled out by the Jewish Exponent. What I remember from the 1980's (possibly going into the early 90's) is that in general, Jews with progressive positions on Israel/Palestine were effectively blacklisted from the paper. One person I know who was directly affected by this was Rabbi Brian Walt, at the time the Rabbi of Congregation Mishkan Shalom. He is now living in Martha's Vineyard, MA, and heads up Rabbis for Human Rights, North America. I believe that Arthur Waskow was also affected by this blacklist. Arthur is the head of The Shalom Center in Philadelphia.

In mid-1987 I was one of a small group of US Jews who traveled to Tunis to meet with Yassir Arafat and the rest of the leadership of the PLO. As I recall, the Philadelphia Exponent even published an article about the trip that wasn't particularly condemning of me for having done that. And I definitely remember that at the end of 1986 The Exponent published a quite favorable article about Sara Roy, a Jew who was knowledgeable about and committed to Palestinians living under occupation, particularly in Gaza, whom I had invited to Philadelphia to give a talk. So I think the more serious problems probably occurred after that. But again, I have no particular recollection that I, personally, was singled out. I wasn't important enough in the Jewish community for that, and I was living out of Philadelphia much of the time from mid-1987 through mid-1991, at which time I moved away permanently.

Is Bush Smart Enough, Tough Enough To Win This War?

Chaim has been having his doubts. The following story passed the Luke Ford news desk recently. Dear readers, what do you make of it?

Scouting jetliners for new attacks

Flight crews and air marshals say Middle Eastern men are staking out airports, probing security measures and conducting test runs aboard airplanes for a terrorist attack.

At least two midflight incidents have involved numerous men of Middle Eastern descent behaving in what one pilot called "stereotypical" behavior of an organized attempt to attack a plane.

Jewish Dogs Live Well

This comes to us thanks to roving reporter Chaim Amalek from the New York Bureau:

New York Daily News -
A rite of paws-age
Friday, July 23rd, 2004

He didn't get to read from the Torah.
But Simon, donning a prayer shawl and yarmulke, was surrounded by family, furry friends and platters of bagels as the Coton de Tulear recently celebrated his "bark" mitzvah.

"It's just another one of those things New York City dog owners do," said Simon's owner Beth Aronson, 27, a Manhattan sales executive. "He's a very socialized dog, and for him it was a happy occasion."

Religious-themed pooch celebrations are becoming increasingly popular around the city, even though they're not accepted in traditional circles.

"This is shtick," said Rabbi Andy Bachman of New York University's Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life.

It's not that Bachman, an animal lover himself, doubts that pets are God's creatures. "I'm just not quite sure they need or want a bar mitzvah," he said.

The ceremony doesn't quite match the real thing.

The dog of honor usually feasts on bone-shaped, all-natural cake and plays with stuffed toy dreidels and menorahs, while the humans light candles or share stories.

Gregarious Women, Loser Men

Jane Wallace from Syndey, Australia, writes to the Bangkok Post: "Almost half the adult population in Australia is single and the birth rate is declining to zero.
We seem to have a huge surplus of extroverted, professional, social, party-loving females with huge amounts of money and a huge surplus of shy, introverted anti-social, unemployed males without any money. How can anyone pair off extroverted social females with introverted shy males? Is Australia creating it's own death?"

Fred writes: This is a testament to the great truth that women everywhere whine about the local males. Every Australian male I ever met seemed like a fairly
entertaining fellow. Who the hell would marry the harpie who wrote this letter?

Chaim Amalek writes: The same situation holds for Japan, Italy, and (with respect to its shrinking white, Christian population) France and, I suspect, the rest of western europe. I blame lots of things, but let's start with higher education. It is a well known demographic fact that the better educated a woman, the fewer the children she is apt to have in her lifetime. Time spent in a classroom is time not spend fornicating and making babies. Women are at their peak of fertility the very
years we pack them off to school to read Chomsky. Perhaps smart women should be granted tuition free university education - to begin after they have had three children.

That, and the state should act decisively to make television a less appealing form of entertainment. No more than three channels of entertainment, all to end broadcasting at 11 PM with the message "It is eleven o'clock; time for all patriotic people of european descent to begin reproductive fornication." Then there need to be ad slogans: "Ask your neighbor - What were YOU doing last night?" People should be encouraged to wear buttons boasting "I fornicated last night, and didn't use birth control. How about you?"

Those of you who know me know that I could go on and on and on about this.
(By the way, all of these problems will vanish along with our numbers once the muslim population gets the upper hand and the code of Sharia is established over
the West.)

Friday, July 23, 2004

Great Jewish Fiction

Alana Newhouse writes with a list of hot new Jewish authors: Myla Goldberg
Gary Shteyngart
Michael Chabon
Rebecca Goldstein ("The Mind-Body Complex"!! Please read!!!)
Allegra Goodman
Jonathan Rosen
Also, look out for Nicole Krauss. She's unbelievably good.

OK, here's my Jewish Lit syllabus. The list is a combination of work that I
personally love -- Grade, Yezierska, P. Roth, Goldstein -- and work that I
think is important Jewish fiction.

I.L. Peretz, "Between Two Mountains"
S.Y. Abramovitsch, "Fishke the Lame"
Sholem Aleichem, "Hodel" and "Chava"
Henry Roth, "Call It Sleep"
Abraham Cahan, "The Rise of David Levinsky" ***
Anzia Yezierska, "Hungry Hearts" (TOTALLY UNDERRATED!)
Michael Gold, "Jews Without Money"
Chaim Grade, "Rabbis & Wives" or "The Yeshiva"
I.B. Singer, "Satan in Goray"
Bernard Malamud, "The Assistant"
Saul Bellow, "Augie March"
Philip Roth -- "Goodbye, Columbus," "The Counterlife," "Sabbath's Theater"
Cynthia Ozick, "Envy; or Yiddish in America"
Mordecai Richler, "Barney's Version"
Michael Chabon, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay"
Jonathan Rosen, "Eve's Apple"
Rebecca Goldstein, "The Mind-Body Complex"
Nathan Englander, "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges"
Gary Shteyngart, "The Russian Debutante's Handbook" (for a great essay)
David Bezmozgis, "Minyan" from his short-story collection "Natasha"

Dr. Edward Alexander - The Jewish Idea

Dr. Edward Alexander, English professor at the University of Washington, and Orthodox Jew, and former contributor to Commentary, writes:

Here are a few very fragmentary jottings. I am, by the way, reluctantly,
against publicizing private problems of Jewish leaders.


TIKKUN: came into existence as a kind of anti-Commentary, a journal whose motto might be "nothing antisemitic is alien to us." It also affords a relatively harmless outlet for the untidy passions of its founder and editor, the buffoonish Michael (of Meaning) Lerner.

FORWARD: I ceased subscribing to this shortly after Lipsky was dumped for his deviations from orthodox Jewish liberalism and replaced by Goldberg. There is something outrageous about a Jewish newspaper that employs as a regular columnist someone (Leonard Fein) whose great moment in life was being fed breakfast by Yasser Arafat. People do sometimes send me good things in the paper--the occasional piece by Cynthia Ozick or Ruth Wisse or Alan Nadler--but for the most part the Forward seems a Jewish-accented version of NYTimes fundamentalism, evident in its assumption that homosexuality and abortion are the great Jewish desiderata and that Judaism follows an arrow-straight course from Sinai to the left wing of the Democr. Party.
Another irritating feature of the Forward is its beggar-like gratitude for any public demonstration of, or even allusion to, Jewishness by celebrities, especially Hollywood airheads.


COMMENTARY remains indispensable, though I preferred it before I had become persona non grata there. It is the most potent and articulate voice for Israel, which certainly can use such voices, and for Jewish tradition.

JEWISH VOICE AND OPINION (of Englewood, New Jersey): Although graphically hideous, this paper provides a remarkable amount of useful material in nearly every issue, and its editor also has a winning sense of humor.

Bunny Love

Hugh Hefner's "Little Black Book" tells his own heroic epic and shows us the world he has wrought.

by Matt Labash

His co-writer is Bill Zehme who has, in the past, proven himself a formidable talent, this year picking up a National Magazine Award for an impressive Esquire story he wrote on disgraced columnist Bob Greene. But as a longtime celebrity chronicler, Zehme has fellated more stars than most of the denizens of Hef's bunny hutch. Thus the Hefner/Zehme collaboration is a love story of sorts: Zehme's love for Hef, Hef's love for himself.

Bill Zehme, who possesses the trait any celebrity hagiographer needs in abundance--credulity. With pen, purple, and panties, damp, Zehme depicts Hefner in an annoying argot that is half fanzine, half overripe liner-notes from some moldy bebop album. At every turn, he polishes the legacy. Hefner, we learn on the first page, is less pervy old lecher, more silly girl. Like some dreamy, unicorn-drawing teenybopper, Hefner--indiscriminate mounter of thousands of women--it turns out, is in love with being in love. It says so right on the opening page: "The one he loved first did not love him back."

But if the prose is icky, it pales next to the man it intends to service. Despite Zehme's strenuous efforts to turn Hefner into something admirable, something approximating flesh-and-blood, the latter comes off as a 24-carat eccentric, completely unable to harness his own appetites.

Hefner is a gentle lover, Zehme tells us, presumably not from personal experience, though one can't be sure with sentences like: "Feelings intensified, as they are wont to, and walls changed to portals, as his gentleness would impress each woman he ever knew." How Hefner had a chance to survey each woman, when he was pinned at the bottom of a Sealy Posturepedic dogpile, Zehme doesn't specify.

However, it is not so much the softer side of Hef we are struck by. It is the utter banality of his observations. Though the man has spent most of his existence getting an up-close look at gender relations, he offers nothing but a series of no-duh epiphanies. With his wealth of experience, one might think he'd say something insightful, even if by accident. But he doesn't, unless you weren't clued in to the following: "The female body is aroused in more than one place." Or how about, "Some relationships improve with marriage, but a lot of them don't."

Dear Alana

Dear Alana, I have a final theological question for you. How many inches above the knee would a dress have to be before you would consider the wearing of such in the Forward office to be a sin?

Alana Newhouse (pictured on top of the Forward office) replies: "A skirt more than four inches above my knee might make the people I work with uncomfortable and, as such, I'd avoid it. Not because I believe it's a sin against God -- I don't think God is scandalized by my thighs -- but because it's a sin against fellow human beings."

Alana Newhouse at a reunion of her yeshiva.

Alana and her favorite lipliner enjoy a Shabbos kiddish.

At work at the Forward.

TV Viagra Update

I spoke to the TV producer this morning. When she wrote me about hearing that I had used Viagra "recreationally," she had a different understanding of the word than. I thought she referred to using Viagra outside of a committed marital relationship aimed at having kids and perpetuating the Jewish people.

No, she meant people who pop the pill and then go to bars and parties. They just take it for fun, not for the purpose intended.

I found that too weird and I had to tell her I did not know anyone who did such a thing.

Helpful writes: Insist that the interview be done in shadow ala 60 Minutes 1978 or better yet, dress up like Gene Ross and talk about how you bust a tab before answering the door for cookie selling Girl Scoutts. That's entertainment!

A) I cannot see Luke going to a bar.

B) I cannot imagine Luke squandering a $10 Viagra tab as a preemptive strike before entering the bar. What if he got a boner during a friendly game of darts? How gay is that? I see Luke only taking the if and when the panties hit the floor.

Chaim writes: NO! Do it wearing a silk, red robe AND a tallit gadol (that's a kind of large prayer shawl) and teffilim. And serve cookies to the reporters and crew, to make them feel comfortable.


Have you ever had a nightmare in which you accidentally turn on a radio on the Sabbath? I know I have.
My other nightmare is that I am having sex with my wife and it turns out she is having her period. Then I race to the mikvah to purify myself and there's a pig swimming in it, wearing slutty clothes. The pig then talks to me, and tells me it will all be okay. What does it mean? What does it mean?

Alana Newhouse - JAP, Journalist, Judge

An interview. An inner view. An inside look at the Arts & Culture pages of the Forward with particular emphasis on the tension between Orthodoxy, Modernity and modesty.
It will be the most fun you've had since listening to an Air Supply album.

One Loose Thread

One loose thread, if plucked at, is all it takes to unravel the most beautiful of garments. I fear that the cloak of my torah-itude is in danger of unraveling, all due to one loose thread inadvertantly pointed out by Amalek.

A few weeks ago, Chaim suggested that I broaden my intellectual horizons by reading up on physics, chemistry, and some engineering. Nothing fancy, just enough to lead me to consider the Rabbinincal prohibitions on electricity in the light of my new-found understanding of these disciplines. Unfortunately, a little bit of goyishe learning can go a long way in making the gedolim of old seem foolish and ignorant, even though I, as a Jew, know they could not have been, since all they were doing was revealing bits or oral law spoken by HaShem (God) to Moses on Mount Sinai. (And who else can say that about the things they utter?) So there must be some scientifically literate Jewish person out there who can answer me the following questions:

1.Why is there a rabbinical prohibition against summoning an elevator or turning on an electric light on the Sabbath?
2.Why is it forbidden to turn on a simple radio, particularly one that does not generate a spark when switched on?
3.Why is a Jew permitted to own a carpet, when walking on a carpet on a dry day will generate a static electical potential that discharges with spark, sound, light, and heat when the Jew touches a door knob?

I fear that if I cannot get a proper answer to these questions soon, I will be tempted to switch on and then listen to a radio tomorrow (during the sabbath), and once I've crossed that Rubicon, there is no telling what other sins I will rationalize my way to committing. Please, chaverim (friends), rabbis, Torah Jews of all yeshivas, HELP ME!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Good vs Evil People

I just finished the biography "Sam Spiegel."

Sam produced the movies The African Queen, On The Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. I could not get enthused about the book because the lead character was so despicable (liar, cheat, manipulator, selfish, extreme womanizer (more than 80 women in your life is just wrong), lousy parent and friend).

I don't like to read (or watch movies or plays) about bad people unless they are terrific writers.

Yet, I find my adrenalin running highest when I'm writing on bad behavior. I get the most excited when I capture the human condition as its most despicable.

I think that more than, say 80, women in your life is sleazy and just plain wrong. Where do you draw the line?

I'm disciplining myself to have no more than 35 women over the rest of my life. That's the kind of sacrifice I will make for my religion. I do plan to be monogamous when I marry.

Khunrum writes: By the time you marry you'll be so old, even with viagra, infidelity will not be an issue.

There are never too many lovers because as we all know there are long stretches when there are none at all. Always "stock up" when you can.

Kabbalah, Blah, Blah, Blah ...

I note that more and more prominent Hollywood power brokers are gravitating toward the study of Kabbalah. Perhaps I should forsake my more Orthodox appearance (yarmulke, black suit and stooped posture) for a trendy red string around my wrist?

Would this get me more dates? Would this jeopardize my Fairfax Street cred? I am torn ...

Helpful writes: Never mind the viagra. A red string tightly tied around your ----- will do wonders for your --- life.

Politicians With Higher Standards Than Jewish Charities

Do Jewish institutions have lower moral standards for accepting money than politicians? Apparently according to this Jewish Week article: "New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine wasted no time returning more than $80,000 of the billionaire developer’s campaign contributions. His New York colleague, Charles Schumer, gave some $4,000 of Kushner cash to charity, according to press reports.

"Kushner, who is known to write seven-figure checks to charity as easily as most people pay their phone bills, is unlikely to see one returned or uncashed in the near future, said Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, which provides support services for grant makers."

Self Publishing

Rodger Jacobs writes: Jeez, Luke, you're going to bankrupt yourself with all this I-Universe self-publishing. Why don't you wait to see how the "market" welcomes all this Luke Ford scribbling. You should take Amalek's advice and expand the Jewish Journalism book, First: who the hell is going to read that? Second, the problem with journalism today -- your thesis is that JJ is "lousy" -- is not limited to "Jewish" journalism. The interviews you have been posting on the blog have been tear-inducing boring. No one is going to be interested in this subject except the participants involved. Using your premise, if you were assigned to write an article on the plight of pets in county animal shelters would you choose to focus solely on cats? (Or Katz as the case may be)

Anonymous writes: Many of Luke's current problems in life would be ameliorated were he to take Amalek's advice. A book on Jewish ethnic journalism sounds like one of those vanity books gathering dust on the back shelves of every Jewish book store. (You know the kind - "The Happiest Gabbai on Long Island.") I think he is fond of this style of writing because it does not require much additional input beyond the interview. You ask some questions, you get some answers, you edit the answers down a bit, you publish the stuff and presto, you got a new book. Bob Greene of the Chicago Tribune had this down to a science. Column after column, 90% filled with quotes. At a minimum, he ought to broaden the topic to include ethnic journalism in general (which would be a real stretch for him - can you picture Luke interviewing NEGROES?) or something else entirely. How about a book about how gentiles view Jewish journalists? You could get a lot of interesting comments for that one, so long as you don't bother interviewing goyishe Americans.

Viagra vs Torah

A reporter at a network affiliate TV station in Los Angeles read something I wrote about my first-hand experience with the recreational use of viagra and wanted to interview me. As I have never been married, I fear that if I give such an interview, it will desecrate the name of G-d in front of the goyim. On the other hand, it could be funny as hell, increase my dating prospects, and help me peddle some books. How does one weigh up an averah vs some shekels and shiksas? I need your guidance.

BTW, I used the viagra all alone and in a manner that transgressed no Torah laws. I was just scientifically curious.

Madonna writes: Luke, my opinion as a (married) woman is that you are intelligent, funny, and wasting as much of your talent as possible, and that if you ever stopped trying to draw atttention to yourself with foolishness, you'd attract attention from those you seek.

Helpful writes: Only an attention-starved moron would go on television to discuss his lack of starch in the trousers!

Be sure to wear a nice suit and a snazzy yarmulke.

If you want dates do not discuss your use of male impotency drugs on TV instead start up a phoney dating service for women who seek only large endowed men like yourself. That will get you on Howard Stern.

Khunrum writes: Since this is a discussion on "blue buddies" I'd suggest your usual black suit and a viagra blue yarmulke.....dress for success.

Can it get you dates? The dates cost extra depending on what country you are in.

New Project

Even as I do the research for one book, I always have my eye on the project to follow. Right now I'm considering the following ideas:
a. Shabbos goys: who they are, what it is like being one of them.
b. "Mister Director" - The inside story of the men who run America's shuls.
c. Blisters - a book about people who are known for being known, and how they got that way.
d. Surfing (you didn't know that about me!)
e. Industrial design in Hollywood (ditto)

I count so much on the input I receive from you, dear readers. Which of these book ideas intrigues you the most?

Jewish Journal

I found this on an obit (presumably written by son David) of Herb Brin, the cantankerous publisher of Heritage, a Jewish paper in Southern California:

"The leaders of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation-Council who were sometimes derided by Brin as machers or big shots responded by converting its monthly house organ, the Jewish Community Bulletin, into a subsidized weekly newspaper in competition with the independently-owned Jewish press of Los Angeles. The Bulletin's successor, the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, still requires an annual subsidy of more than $2 million in charity money."

I email Rob Eshman, editor of the Jewish Journal, about this. He replies: "We don't receive a subsidy from the Federation, not for two dollars, and not for two million.

"The Federation buys a dwindling number of subscriptions from us -- about 5K next year. The rest of our circulation (50-65 K) is distributed through other subs (including shuls and other orgs that also buy subs for donors or members) and free distribution."

Luke emails: "Has the JJ ever had its staff take something like this: "Train and sensitize Jewish Week reporters and editors to UJA-Federation as a resource and seek out its perspective on important stories."

Rob replies: "Do we expect writers and editors to familiarize themselves with Jewish institutions and sources, including the Federation, and use them to inform particular stories when appropriate? Uh, yes. Do we have some training agreement or understanding with the Federation? No. Do we train writers to be skeptical and verify and balance information any Jewish institution or source offers, and supplement their interviews with independent research and analysis, rather than just parrot every accusation or statement? Yes."

Guys from 60 Minutes - Contact Me ASAP

Enough said.

Luke Takes a Poll

My Irish friend Yetzer O'Hara bet me a pint of my favorite brew that I would not post the following question here. Given my financial circumstances, guess what?

Jewish people, without thinking too long about it, do you see yourself as part of white America?

Torah Jews Have Some Explaining to Do

I've been reading up on electricity and chemistry of late and the attitude of the rabbenim towards electicity has me perplexed. David Deutsch below explains the operation of the rule, but he does not explain the basis for it. Here's what I need to know.

Consider the elevator. Every elevator does work in raising a mass m a distance h. The amount of that work, the energy spent, necessarily varies as a function of the weight of the passengers getting on no matter what the rabbenim had to say about it. (There are other factors as well, such as the frictional forces encountered.) So, given that the amount of energy an elevator must use - the amount of WORK it must do - is dependent upon the weight of the person using it, why is this permitted, but summoning the elevator by touching a switch is not? Why can't you summon it? Why can't you switch on a radio? Why can't you switch on other appliances, even when there is no spark involved? And speaking of sparks, why is a Jew permitted to have carpeting in his home, when it is known that on a dry winter day he will generate substantial static charges by walking across it, charges that discharge with a spark that produces both heat and light when he touches a metal door knob? Just what is the physical basis for these relatively recent rules? And while you are at it, why are orthodox jewish women trading in their natural hair for wigs made of other women's natural hair that often looks better than the stuff they started out with? Dave, every day Christians and Muslims write to me to tell me that my adopted faith is full of idiocy (pointing to these very examples), and that the One True God hates this idiocy. Please use your yeshiva education to help me prove them wrong.

Electricity on Shabbos

Dave Deutsch writes: Luke, your question about the elevators on shabbos reminds me of my army days, when after explaining the whole split hooves/cud chewing rule to my fellow Screaming Eagles (I wasn't keeping kosher, but I did not eat the flesh of the swine), they would sometimes ponder it for a moment, then exclaim triumphantly "Wait a minute, chickens don't have split hooves!" thinking that they'd figured out the flaw in the system that would bring the whole thing crashing down. Just as there was an explanation for that (different rules for poultry), there is one for your elevator conundrum.

There is a different between "using" and "making use." You may not turn on a light on shabbos, but you may enjoy the benefits of a light that is already turned on. Similarly, you may not push an elevator button, but if there is a shabbos elevator, which, prior to shabbos, is automatically set to stop on every floor, you may use it. Not all elevators, incidentally, are the same. Some elevators apply different levels of energy depending on the weight that they are carrying, in which case they can't serve as shabbos elevators because you're actually causing the energy to be expended (same principle with walking through an electronically opened automatic door on shabbos, you're not flipping a switch, but your presence is working it). From what I hear of your fluctuating weight problems, at any rate, you should probably just take the stairs.

As always, I'm happy to supplement your moral authority with the halachic authority afforded me by my Orthodox Day School education. Gut Shabbos, and if I don't communicate to you before Tuesday, have an easy fast.