Sunday, February 28, 2010

CRC to certify Trojan Lifestyles

Shushan News Service 14 Adar 5770:

The Central Rabbinical Congress (CRC), Satmar's kosher certifying agency, announced a deal with Trojan, the world's leading manufacturer of condoms, to certify its renowned "Lifestyles" product line. Grand Rabbi Joel Tattlebum announced the deal in front of his United Talmudical Academy in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, flanked by Rabbi Avremel Reichman. When asked how the fervently Orthodox Satmar sect can certify condoms to be used in illicit trysts, Reichman replied that Satmar's unique Torah lifestyle would be enhanced by Lifestyles condoms. "CRC is also roshei tyevos for Chemical Rubber Company, so our kosher symbol on Trojan's rubbers is a shiddukh made in heaven. Now when our teachers need to screw a shaina maidl, they won't have to worry about giving her diarrhea." "We don't have shaina maidls in our schools, only shyna mydls," Rabbi Tattlebum corrected. "And she has to be a 36; a man's neshama can only have an aliya screwing a lamed-vovnik."

When Rabbi Yoodle the Poodle Kolko, formerly of Yeshiva Torah Temeiah, was asked for his reaction to the new development, he remarked, "Our large families are long on shvantz and short on gelt. Dental bills are breaking us. Now when we want a lollipop we can wrap it in a CRC-endorsed Trojan condom, suck all day and not worry about cavities."

People gathered at the scene began clamoring for the new kosher cerified condoms, and had to be turned away. In a romantic touch, the new Trojans are to debut in Paris. "But we hope to have ample supplies in Brooklyn's boys' yeshivas and mikvas in time for the Rosh Hashanah blow jobs. Just look for the logo on the package. We wouldn't want our pure and holy boys corrupted by condoms that are not certified kosher l'mehadrin by CRC."

A Happy Purim to all and to all a good night.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Mah Nishtanah? Is Israel another Iran?

The chief scientist of Israel's Ministry of Education, Dr. Gavriel Avital, questioned the validity of the theory of evolution, and the reality of climate change, and seemingly opened the door for Israeli high school students to be taught pseudoscientific nonsense instead of or alongside mainstream science. The story appeared in Ha'aretz and Ynet, and was picked up by the National Center for Science Education, a watchdog group defending the teaching of evolution of which I am a member. The Education Minister, Gideon Saar, said on taking office that he wants to reverse the decline in Israeli students' performance in science and math. But the "chief scientist" that he appointed is not even a scientist but an engineer from the Technion with no background in science education, and it shows. Engineers apply the findings of science to improve our lives; as a rule they are not involved in the creation or dissemination of new knowledge. Practicing physicians, as opposed to physicians engaged in research, are thus engineers more than scientists, and indeed many Orthodox physicians deny evolution, mostly out of ignorance. Dr. Avital would perpetuate that ignorance in Israeli schoolchildren as well.
Here in the United States there was a celebrated "Monkey Trial" in 1925 where a teacher was tried for teaching evolution in defiance of a Tennessee law prohibiting it. It seems that we retry that case every decade or so, the latest iteration occurring in Dover, Pennsylvania in 2005. Israel does not need to import this dark side of American history. It does not need to throw itself back into the Dark Ages and to make itself a laughingstock throughout the world. It has enough bad press as it is, most of it undeserved, and the intellectual opinion leaders on American campuses are already biased against it. This imbecility will only make a bad situation worse. Why should America support Israel's struggle with the nuclear ambitions of Iran when both states are benighted theocratic cesspools, they will ask. What is the difference?
Thankfully, there is a difference. Israel is a democracy, and as seen in an editorial in Ha'aretz, there already is a grounswell of opposition in the scientific community and the Israeli secular public to Avital's policy. The editorial, in fact, calls for Saar to let him go. I hope he does. Free speech and a free press are the bulwarks of an enlightened society against just this sort of obscurantism.
I wish this whole affair was a premature Purim shpiel, but unfortunately it is not. We don't know how the story will play out, but we can keep following it and make our opinions known. Israel will NOT turn into a theocratic cesspool as long as I have anything to do with it.

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Just Blame the Unions

As much as I admire the New York Post for its courageous and politically incorrect editoral stand on the existential threat to our nation from militant Islam, I am sick to death of its bashing municipal unions in general and teachers and their unions in particular. (Full Disclosure: I teach in the New York City public schools and am a member of the United Federation of Teachers, the union that represents New York City public school teachers.) To read the Post, the city's unions are the new Jews. There is no ill or misfortune affecting the city that its unions are not responsible for. Transit fares about to rise? Never mind the waste and inefficiency in the system. Forget that its top executives get to work in chauffeured limousines, although their workplace is eminently accessible by subway. Just blame the hard-working transit workers and Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents them. Health care a mess? Never mind the city closing hospitals in the face of an aging population in need of health care more than ever. It's the ridiculously underpaid health care workers and the unions which represent them. Children don't learn? Must be the lazy and incompetent teachers and the UFT, that all-powerful teachers' union that owns and operates the legislature in Albany. Sounds like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

Sometimes I wonder if the Post's columnists and editorial writers read their own paper. Take some short blurbs in yesterday's paper and read between the lines. It is not uncommon for teachers in New York City to have side jobs and even side businesses. Such teachers must hew to stringent conflict-of-interest regulations. If not for moonlighting public school teachers, many yeshivot would have a tough time getting qualified secular teachers. A teacher who is also a licensed attorney with a priviate law practice is quite unusual, but not unheard-of. It appears that one such teacher, Alan Rosenfeld, has been languishing in a teacher reassignment center, commonly known as a "rubber room," since 2001. Teachers brought up on disciplinary charges are sent to rubber rooms while they await adjudication of their cases before arbitrators. Unless they are accused of crimes they draw full pay and benefits. According to columnist Andrea Peyser, this poor soul was accused of "leering at the rear ends of junior-high girls." No inappropriate touching, mind you. Nothng like what goes on in yeshivot all over the city. Just "leering." Well, would you want a teacher who spent the whole period writing on and talking to the board? We're supposed to interact with our students. That includes looking at them. What's the difference between looking and leering? That depends on who you ask. The same columnist incredulously states that the accused teacher was "cleared to teach." Ms. Peyser, that's what disciplinary hearings are for. Teachers have unions to protect them from being fired on some administrator's whim. We are entitled to due process. Charges have to be substantiated. That's what disciplinary hearings are for. If the administration fails to substantiate the charges at a hearing, the teacher is cleared to teach. A letter to the editor has the same teacher doing more than looking or "leering." He made "sexist comments" to students. Remember Lawrence Summers? The president of Harvard University? He was forced out for suggesting that there might possibly be biological differences between men and women that affect their aptitude for math and science. Politically incorrect statements should not be a firing offense, and this teacher was cleared to teach after a hearing. A news story in the same issue tells how Kenneth Feinberg, President Obama's executive-pay czar, is looking at ways to streamline the process of getting rid of bad teachers. Buried in the story we find the person that engaged him - none other than Randi Weingarten, ex-president of the UFT and now the head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the national teacher's union. Well, well. I thought that teachers' unions were interested only in protecting the jobs of bad teachers. The same story accuses poor Mr. Rosenfeld of making "sexual advances" at students. Leering, sexist comments, sexual advances. . . . Columnists, editorial writers and people who write letters to the editor usually do not have to substantiate their charges. Neither do bloggers. Fortunately for the principles this nation was founded on, administrators seeking to fire public school teachers do.

Now a word of advice from a veteran teacher. This may be news to you, but teachers are not plaster saints. They are human. Some of us are healthy, in shape and able to function without benefit of little blue pills. Many of our female students deliberately dress provocatively, and when they do so we look. How can it be otherwise? Are we made out of stone? Many of our educational woes would disappear if only parents would be parents and not pals. If you don't want your daughter's teachers to leer at her rear end, do not send her to school dressed in a manner that calls attention to her rear end, or to any other body part that may be leered at. Let her instead call attention to her brains and her achievements.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Tragedy in Haiti - Idiocy in Brooklyn

In an earlier post I stated that Orthodox figures hadn't yet blamed the earthquake in Haiti on our sins. It had to happen and now it did. Rabbi Yehuda Levin, in a video conference and press release carried on the Christian Newswire, stated that homosexuality is partly responsible for the earthquake. Homosexuality here in the U.S.A. mind you, and particularly in the American military, not homosexuality in Haiti, or even voodoo in Haiti. Why homosexuality in America would cause an earthquake in Haiti and kill 200,000 Haitians, while San Francisco, that mecca of sodomites, was spared, he doesn't clue us in. Nor does he tell us that homosexual soldiers serve openly in Israel's military, as they do in many countries all over the world, and Zahal's effectiveness as a fighting force apparently has not been degraded.
Why homosexuality, and not lashon hara, stealing from the government, laxity in kashrut, ad infinitum? Simple. Homosexuality happens to be Yehuda Levin's pet peeve, and has been for some 30 years. He has been spewing vicious, vitriolic hatred of homosexuals for at least that long. Not just hatred of a specific act that the Torah labels toeivah [abomination], as it labels dishonesty in business, but hatred of people. People who to all accounts have little or no control over their sexual proclivities. Even as a candidate for public office, he spewed his vitriol from every soapbox he can stand on, and it is telling that the only soapbox available to him now was of non-Jewish provenance. One wonders how many Haitian-Americans were listening to his rant, or became aware of it later on, and how they reacted to the news that God killed their loved ones to punish others for some real or imagined sins. If I was Haitian I'd be sorely tempted to take a swing at the good rabbi - beard, black hat and all.
Rabbi Levin has a synagogue not far from where I live. He calls it Mevakshei Hashem, Seekers of God. I have news for him; God is not to be found in hatred and bigotry.

Hat Tip: Failed Messiah

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