I am a Yid. I like to rock. Veitur!

- [ Thursday, October 28, 2004 ] -
My first NY gig
I'll be playing in Lawrence, NY on Saturday night with Yaniv. We are opening for Chaim Dovid.
Aish Kodesh invites you to a special evening of music with Chaim Dovid on Motsai Shabbos, October 30th at the Young Israel of Lawrence Cedarhurst, Spuce Street and Broadway in Lawrence.

The evening will also feature Nochie Krohn as well as the New York debut of a great new group from Chicago, “Chiddush”.

The evening will begin at 9 p.m. No alchohol permitted! Separate Seating. Admission at the door is $20, $15 for students.

We look forward to seeing you there.

- [ Wednesday, October 20, 2004 ] -
They put the 'Jew' in Jewel
Jewel, a large grocery chain in Chicago, owned by Albertsons, has already been a major stop on the route of most Chicago Jewish grocery shoppers. A large Kosher section has been in the planning for a while but was discouraged by the local Kashrut agency in order to protect the smaller, local, Jewish-owned competition. The protection has now expired because the large, national Kashrut organization just came in and is giving their seal on a huge Kosher section. The new, full-service, Kosher deli and meat/fish dept will also include a carry-out Chinese place and more stuff I don't even know about.

I received this in the mail yesterday, with no return address. It's my understanding that everybody in the Chicago Jewish phone-book, The Acheinu, got one.
An Open Letter to the Community:

Dear Friend,

We view with much concern the recent development in our community of a supermarket chain competing for the kosher food clientele in an aggressive manner, against the existing local all-kosher food stores.

In other communities where this has occurred, kosher stores were forced out of business and those communities suffered greatly. Without competition, prices could be raised, the range of products and variety of brands could diminish, kashrus alerts to take products off the shelf can be ignored and overall quality of service to the communities needs can suffer.

Occasional lower prices and the convenience of supermarket shopping can be misleading lures that over time could cause more harm than benefit, to all of us.

In order to prevent this disturbing scenario from coming to fruition in Chicago, we strongly encourage all Jews to continue to patronize their local all-kosher Shomer Shabbos food stores.

May our beloved community continue to grow and flourish.
At the end, there is a list of Rabbis printed in a handwriting-style font. There are no signatures, and no indication of where it came from. I know for a fact that there are several rabbis on this list that do not endorse this anonymous letter or views it expresses. (UPDATE 10/26: I don't actually "know for a fact." I heard "around" that there were rabbis represented here that weren't asked about it. Either way, the onus is on the letter to prove that the rabbis listed did endorse this. I would be surprised if more than half the names did. I would be surprised if any of them was asked prior to publication.) This letter is BS. I resent the fact that the sender is too chicken to sign his name. I resent the fact that there are no signatures and the sender is trying to pass off a signature font as somehow being related to signatures.

I understand the importance of keeping the smaller stores. That will ensure competition, which will ensure Kosher excellence for years to come. The problem is that the competition right now is stagnant. There are some Kosher places here, that have done nothing to improve service over the years. The only changes made at a restaurant with a 'no-Jewel' sign in the window has been to serve less meat in the dishes and raise prices. The best place to get Kosher meat is only open during standard business hours and only till 3 PM on Sundays. I'm not saying that they can compete with low-prices and 24-hour availability, but they should give the Chicago Jewish community more. They need to try a little harder. I do not accept the reasoning that the Kosher consumers owe our long-time stores anything. You want to stay in business? Show us you care about keeping our business. How far should I go out of my way, so you can stay in business?

UPDATE 10/26: I did a little more investigation. The letter came from a local, frum, Jewish organization. It was faxed around to various Rabbis, and some of them agreed with the letter in principle. The idea was that it was going to be a letter requesting that the community support our local Jewish-owned businesses. They did not approve of the strong anti-Jewel message which is present in the letter. They did not approve of the way it went out anonymously. I know for a fact (I mean it this time) that at least one rabbi was very embarrassed by this letter, and wished his name wasn't on there. I maintain that this letter was put out the wrong way, and its message was not signed and not approved by all the rabbis on this list.

- [ Tuesday, October 19, 2004 ] -
The blog has over 10,000 hits. I'm 30 years old today (yesterday, according to the real calendar). I can't officially excuse my behavior on the innocence of youth anymore. More reflections and truths to come.

- [ Sunday, October 17, 2004 ] -
Blue Fringe in Chicago
The Blue Fringe concert today was sold-out. Contrary to the opinions of a Jewish institution of Chicago, the sponsor of the event, the show would have sold-out with an audience completely under 21. In turn, a downtown club gig on the previous evening wouldn't have interfered. They wouldn't have lost a dime. Because of an unbendable exclusivity clause, Chicago lost an opportunity to hear a fantastic Jewish rock band in a proper setting. See my some of my past posts for more examples of this ignorant Chicago custom. (UPDATE 11/11: Apologies to the band and management. They actually performed at a super-secret, friend/family event. This was unknown to me, and some other people, at the time.)

They played a solid set. They were very tight. The crowd loved them. They can jam, but they concentrated more on playing their hits. The crowd was pleased the few times the band sang "Chicago," "Skokie" and "Peterson Park" into the lyrics of various songs. They even made it rhyme.

The teeny-boppers had a great time. The 12- to 14-year-old girl demographic was well represented in attendance and volume. The screaming was non-stop. These boys are rock-stars, marketable for their age, as well as their performance.

The first set had most of the hits, and the audience lost a little focus after their hit, "Flippin' Out," was played. I thought the song selection improved, as well as the band's energy, as the second set went on. They had more jams later in the set. The audience got restless during the best parts and would keep requesting "Flippin' Out," even after it was played.

They had quite a few references to secular music, as well as Jewish music. Most references were over the audiences head. The audience was there for Blue Fringe music. I was very happy when they covered part of Phish's "First Tube." I screamed out in solidarity to the band for appreciating Phish. Twelve-year-old girls can scream as much as they want, but when I scream, people look at me funny.

They did a couple nice Jewish covers, "Ahavat Yisroel," by Reva L'Sheva, and "Tismach", a Yosef Karduner song from his album, Road Marks, that sounded like it was written for Blue Fringe. The most unusual cover of the evening was "Rapper's Delight," by The Sugar Hill Gang. I'm very proud of my wife for being the only one in the audience who knew every word.

Come back again, Blue Fringe. I hope you can work it so Kfar will get to show you off in a club. I want to see what it's like when you really get into it, and also without screaming high-school girls.

UPDATE: SklarO was there, too.

UPDATE (10/19): I want to add a couple points, because I think this review isn't as complementary as it should be. The lead guitarist, Avi Hoffman, was very impressive. He was tasteful and flashy at the same time. In addition, the band was extremely adept at playing with the timing and rhythm, often switching between multiple time signatures. 'Shkoiach.

- [ Tuesday, October 12, 2004 ] -
Try out the RadioVeitur link on the menu to the side. I'm testing it right now with some evën sh'siyah tunes.

- [ Monday, October 11, 2004 ] -
Tollbooth Update
Sticker on a tollbooth no.1

- [ Wednesday, October 06, 2004 ] -
Succah: Notoriety
My wife and I were having discussions about our succah battles. Initially, we were hesitant about fighting to build a succah. We didn't want to rock the boat when we just moved into the building. But we were encouraged and aided by close friends and with God's and their help, managed to accomplish this breakthrough in Chicago Jewish-condo-living.

We were worried about standing out and absorbing too much scrutiny from the evil condo-complainers. It's come to our attention that we have achieved certain notoriety. Not the bad kind we anticipated. People know about the succah and are happy about it. Not just in our building, but also in the large, neighboring condos nearby, also favored by Jews. People are excited about the succah revolution in our building and we are already discussing plans to expand our operation for next year. I've even heard a buzz, contrary to initial expectations, about a raise in property value. Our building just became more desirable to a great demographic.

So hear this, stodgy condo-boards: allowing the Jews to build succahs on the property will increase the value of your homes.

- [ Tuesday, October 05, 2004 ] -
New hooka supply source
SklarO, expert hookist, has set up a hookah supply shop in his home for his friends. He found a supplier, someone who has been providing him with supplies for over a year, who will give him significant discounts as he orders in bulk. Both SklarO and the supplier are aware of Nakhla problems, and SklarO has assured all that he will weigh the packs as they come in.

E-mail SklarO if you want in.

Friday night in the succah
We had a big Friday night dinner in the succah for the first evening of Chol Hamoed.

The plan was to have a bunch of people over who can drink, sing, and give words of Torah. That's what helps make my Shabbat/holiday meals special. The expectant weather that evening was thunderstorms. As Shabbos came in, the weather felt threatening and we had brief periods of drizzle. Last year, one of my biggest Succot regrets was that we ended a rockin' meal early due to drizzle. We brought the party inside, but the vibe we had started was clearly ruined. As it turned out, everything in the succah remained dry, long after we cleared out. I wasn't about to let that happen again.

I always want to hang out in the succah as much as possible. A lot of work went into permissions, the actual construction, and setting up conveniences. My wife, usually the sensible one, wanted to avoid setting everything up for a meal in the succah, only to have the chaos of everybody bringing everything back in during a downpour. We agreed to consult some of the other diners and set up outside. On the way home from shul, there was no rain. There had been some intermittent drizzle, but this was a break from it. The question is "does this light drizzle indicate a huge downpour, or is it just temporary?"

As the meal went on, we felt a little drizzle. I insisted that God wouldn't want to ruin our special meal, and that we could appeal to Him with our ruach (good spirit).

Every time it started to rain, we immediately sang a song and it stopped. When we finished each song, we started to chat and eat a little more. Then it started to rain again. We sang another song and the rain stopped again. This went on for over an hour. Eventually, we weren't hungry and finished singing all the good songs. We called it quits and benched. We brought in almost everything. Then the heavens finally opened up and we experienced the torrential downpour we were expecting all night.