Thursday, January 27, 2011

shiur vs. class....

As the snow was starting to fall last night, I was standing at the bus stop looking at a sign for a shiur that took place last night. Some shul in the area was talking about kashrut FAQs.

So, I was looking at the sign and I was thinking about how they were calling it a shiur. It's a funny thing that "shiur" I believe means learning because I associate shiurim as distinguishing themselves from a class by being someplace where you don't learn. There's a shul here in Queens that has a lot of shiurim, but you don't really learn anything at them. They just repeatedly tell the women to be a "good, nice" girl and "wear skirt." They say things like, "girls who wear pants are like a toilet bowl and girls who wear skirts are like a champagne glass. Why would any man want to drink his champagne out of a toilet bowl?" Once you've learned not to be a toilet, what is there to learn?

The reality is that no one even listens or cares about what they are teaching. They leave the "shiur" talking about how "good" and "nice" it was but they keep doing whatever they were doing before. So, I was struck reading this sign for what I would call a class but what they would call a shiur. In my mind I was thinking, "why are they calling it a class? It looks like you actually learn at it."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Michal online vs. real Michal

Writing the last post, I was just thinking also about how people often comment, especially with regard to my posts about men and dating about how people must be driven away by my attitude and that's why people don't want to invite me or date me. The funny thing is that I'm pretty laid back and quiet in person. Often I don't say what I'm thinking, especially when I'm dealing with people I don't know so well. I don't really see myself as warm and nice and kind and just soooo NICE, but most of the women who claim to be, aren't, either. They are usually very manipulative. Somehow though, people seem to let it go. I'm not sure why.

My anonymous neighbor/blogreader...

So, I just published some comments from Kew Gardner, and Kew Gardens is in my area.

This blogreader pointed out that I don't tie in the changes to the Jewish yesteryear so much so I thought I would stop and do that.

I know a couple in their 70's and the husband always complains about how he can't wear a grey suit and where did this come from. I have heard a lot of people, especially Jewish women, who will spout off "this is good" and "this is bad" with no basis. Interestingly, FFBs are wrapped up in their own traditions and don't necessarily listen to anyone, including the rabbis. I'll elaborate. I went to a women's shiur once that was promoted as teaching the forgotten rules that people don't follow anymore. However, instead of learning what the rabbi said, the women (including the wife of the guy teaching us) kept saying, "that's not true because that's not what we did in my house growing up." I was thinking to myself how the class was promoted and thinking, "if you feel like you already know it all, why did you come?" Of course, I said nothing.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Girls Throwing Themselves At Guys...

I had a discussion yesterday with a friend about the way most women throw themselves at guys. I referred to it as, "running to the guys." I'm a girl who has never been one to do this. However, I've seen several girls who have. The topic actually came up because a non-Jewish friend of mine was thinking about taking a friend of hers (that I know, but don't consider a friend) in as a roommate, including putting her on her lease. I asked my friend, "are you sure you want to do that?" My friend tells me that she knows her pretty well nowadays. I pointed out that the friend is the type to do this "running to the guys." One time, about five years ago, my friend was looking for an apartment and I and this girl went along with her. The apartment hunting was very clearly for my friend. However, this woman kept cutting in asking questions saying that maybe she would get the apartment with her husband. The "husband" she was referring to was a guy she met within that past month and he was talking about marriage with her.

Girls want to get married soooooo badly that they get all excited whenever a man talks about marriage with her. So many of them lose all senses and the ability to critically examine that maybe, just maybe HE JUST WANTS TO SLEEP WITH YOU. However, if you suggest that, they will get defensive and start talking about all the men that want them or that they can get. Women say this and yet they are not married.

If all I wanted was to get married, then I could be married. However, I am not the type to date men I really not interested in, just because the man gives me the time of day. That's most other women-not me. I have to be attracted to someone I would consider. It's pretty hard for a girl to find a guy she actually wants. Many girls are so wishy washy they don't really have a what they want and what they don't want with regards to guys. After all, most of these girls who are always running around with guys claim they are trying to find out what they want.

I see a lot of it in the Modern Orthodox community. Girls are friends with all guys and not really any girls. Does anyone know, I'm guessing these girls are talked about and whispered about and referred to as sluts. If you talk to these women who are constantly running around with some guy they just met, they will tell you they are doing this because they are trying to get married. Yet these are the very girls who DON'T get married.

What do all of you think?

Asking Nosy Questions

I ran into a friend of mine today who was telling me about a wedding today between two black Jews that I don't know and first off, I wish a mazel tov to the hearty couple.

Anyhow, the conversation changed and my Askenazic white Jewish friend was telling me some of the things she has heard that many of the black Jewish girls go through. It was a little ironic because I had been asked by someone recently if a black Jewish girl was a convert or what her story was. The friend I saw today was telling me that the black Jewish girls she knows are quite sick of being asked if they were converts and could they please tell their stories.

I feel a little bad, but I felt relieved, simply because this means I'm not crazy. This reinforces what I say that people can really have no tact and ask questions that are out of line. I urge my readers to teach their children not to do this. I urge the community members to do what they can to destroy this habit.

Just like it's not so nice to ask if someone's a convert (especially right off the bat), it's obnoxious to assume that a convert knows another convert or a black Jew knows someone because they are also a black Jew. Yes, it might be a little more likely, only because there is an online conversion community and we do know others from there. We also know others from conversion classes. However, this means we generally know someone whose conversion period overlapped with our own since most don't stay long in the online conversion world after they finish their process. As for Jews of Color, they do have a group where they meet up. Though I know a black Jewish girl who has told me that she thinks it's retarded. Apparently, the meetings are a bit of a broken record. So, I can see that people would try out that organization but tire quickly of it. Thus, they would know those who tried the club when they did.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Unsolicited Advice That Flies Around

So, I'm looking through some old posts on some blogs that I follow for some ideas on potential blog posts and I came across one on Emes-ve-Emunah from about 6 months ago. I very much respect this rabbi blogger. He says much of what I say but he gets a better response. I suspect that it's because he's a man, and well, a rabbi. Nevertheless, in this post he was pointing out that people are quite quick to offer advice when they don't know all the ins and outs of a person's situation.

I find this myself. Repeatedly, people have suggested to me that I need to move. I, on the other hand, am not so sure that this will automatically fix the problem. Furthermore, I seriously doubt that someone else has been able to figure out solutions in my life that I am unable to figure out. After all, I'm the one that has the vested interest in it. So, I do spend a good deal of time trying to decide how I want to go about things.

The best, though, is when twenty-somethings who live at home with parents or other family start advising me. I know one girl told me that I could get a job for $50 an hour. I said, "so why don't you get a job for $50 an hour?" This past Shabbos I had a Shabbos pest, I mean guest, who amongst other things, tried to tell me get a job in this and move here and move there. I was wondering what kind of manners with which she was raised. The truth is that some of these girls think this is ok. It's really not. Furthermore, when people tell you, "that doesn't work for me," especially if you are in their home and they have been nice enough to you invite you when you were working up to asking if you could come, you should be respectful of the people who have invited you.

What arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre the men looking for?

I was thinking about the first comment on the last post. The woman, teacher, was sent to a married lady "expert" was to make her over. She says, "I was pressured to buy very pricey designer label tighter tops and skirts all in black with metallic accessories."

This got me thinking. I guess the idea is that men would be attracted to women with money (and a lack of senses to manage it responsibly). The thing is that I've always heard that it's the WOMEN who are looking for money and the men who are looking for looks and youth. Am I missing something? What do you all think?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Games Girls Play and Why I'm Not Married....

Over on Frum Satire's blog, discussions have heated up about tzniut, mostly skirt lengths. It started when the blog owner, Heshy Fried, had embedded a you tube video on his blog with an FFB couple from the five towns getting engaged. He called it "awkward shomer negiah moments" because it's a little weird to get engaged without any hand holding and a kallah who is putting on her own ring. I'll spare you all the link, because that's not my point.

The girl in the video was wearing rather SHORT skirt. I mean, it must have been at LEAST four inches above her knee, probably more. So, various discussion ensued in the comments over at FS that she probably wasn't REALLY shomer, after all, this was an "awkward shomer negiah moment." The fact of the matter is whether she is or isn't when it's just them two, she's still, "shomer when people are watching" and they were.

One of the mini discussions I want to hone is was when the men said repeatedly in the comments, as I've heard before, "if ONLY these women KNEW how hard they make it for us by dressing like that."  I'm sorry but these guys must be so stupid. These girls DO know. That's exactly WHY they do it. Even one of my rabbis told me, "you women have the power to marry any guy you want to because you women know what you're doing." Nevertheless, I don't see these men putting their money where their mouth is. Who are the men dating and marrying? The "frum" girls who dress provocatively. What does the community say? NOTHING.

I have discussed this people before. Most people just start trying to explain things to me because after all, I as a convert must know NOTHING. In reality, I'm steps ahead of them. As I explain to people, the rules are technically that you are to cover the knees and elbows but really the rules are that it's very important that the girl wears a skirt and NOT pants. It REALLY doesn't matter what length the skirt is or if it covers the knees or not. See, this is where people interrupt to me and start telling me what the halacha on the books is. What they don't realize is that I'm WAYYYY ahead of them. I understand full well that if you ask what you're supposed to wear as a Jewish woman, you will be told to cover your knees. However, I also know that women are usually asked if they wear skirts and no one stops to add that said skirt should cover the knees. A man will refuse to date girls who wear pants before he will refuse a girl with a high hemline. In Queens, a BT guy got engaged to a BT girl who wore pants and his entire group of friends tried to convince him to break it off or give her an ultimatum to stop wearing pants. When that didn't work, they STOPPED speaking to him. We're talking about a man over 40 and he's supposed to do what people tell him to?

NO WHERE in the Torah does Hashem say that women should only wear skirts. When you ask why women are supposed to wear skirts, you are told that either A) it emphasizes the butt too much, not tzanuah or B) it's man's clothing.

A) why do we care about emphasizing the butt but one must not DARE speak up about those who emphasize the knee? (Someone will undoubtedly get nasty at me for what I say.)
B) Women's pants are not men's clothing and many women are wearing skin tight stretch pants. The straight men are not exactly flocking to the stores for those. Now you can argue that stretch pants aren't tznius, but let's be fair. If want to attack them, you should attack the short skirts, as well. However, no one does, but people on the fringe like me. Furthermore, the argument is ludicrous because religious women (ok and Asian women) are really the only ones wearing skirts regularly these days. As such, pants are no longer exclusively man's clothing. In NYC, women wear skirts more because people are more shallow here than any place else but maybe LA and skirts are dressier. Nevertheless, that could be it's own post.

What this all boils down to is a desire for men to be macho and keep gender roles as close as possible as they were in the 1800's. Men aren't trying to keep women in skirts to keep them modest. If they REALLY were, then the community would react to slutty short skirts. In the Xtian community I used to be in, you would be pushed out if you wore a skirt above your knees. You would be asked to leave church and not to dress like that again. People claim this isn't done in the Jewish community because we don't want to lose these girls on the fringe. The fact of the matter is that we have no trouble doing it to women who wear pants. If you wore pants to my old church, you wouldn't be asked to leave, but no one would talk to you that day, not even your friends, or they would ask why you're wearing pants and give you a "look." At least, the reactions matched the order of preference of attire. We play games about in the Jewish world. Although, the xtians have other issues I'm not going to get into here.

In conclusion, if wearing a skirt above the knee is REALLY against the rules, then people need to act like it's wrong. The truth is that wearing pants is the absolute worst thing in the world an Orthodox woman is to do. It's better to go about in her panties than pants. In fact, a girl I once heard snap that she didn't own pants went on the "no pants subway ride" this year. She's not afraid of people knowing, either.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's The Largest School in the World... And It's Free!

For a while now, I've been wanting to blog about the Khan Academy, a collection of educational videos on the web. Most of the collection is made up of math videos, from 1+1 all the way to high end college math. However, there are also videos on science and even History (actually, history is only on his YouTube channel).

One guy makes all of the videos. His name is Salman Khan. No, he's not Jewish, but he is someone who believes in and is doing so much good for the world. He has credentials to end all credentials. He had a perfect math score on the SAT exam. He was valedictorian when he graduated high school. He went on to get degrees from MIT and Harvard which include a background in electrical engineering, computer programming and business. After college he worked at what he refers to as "a good hedge fund" where he was an analyst.
Sal went into the business of free education, like many good things, rather by accident. He was living in Boston and an aunt and uncle of his brought his cousins for a visit from New Orleans where they live. He was deeply impressed by the precocious nature of his cousin Nadia who was about 11 or 12 years old.  So, he encouraged her that she should go to MIT and become a hedge fund analyst, as anyone who is impressed with a youngster might encourage them to follow in his footsteps. Her parents, Sal's aunt and uncle, overheard and quietly broke him the news that Nadia wasn't doing so well in math. Well, he couldn't believe it. He set out to correct it by offering to tutor her over the web.
He started out on Yahoo doodle, but needed to give her some way to practice on her own time. He programmed some modules, or practice problems to do on his website, for his cousins to use. That's right, he eventually started tutoring various other cousins-her cousins as well as her siblings. These modules are still available to us, the public. Then one day he was telling a co-worker at the time about his modules and the co-worker suggested YouTube videos to supplement the modules. Sal realized that he was repeating a lot of lessons so this might not be such a bad idea and he went ahead and created his first video. His cousins immediately gave feedback that they preferred the YouTube videos to live interactions. The nice thing is that you can pause the video to digest the material if you need to.
So, Sal continued on in making videos and he continued to get excellent feedback from his students. He currently lives in California, as his wife, Umaima, is a resident doctor studying rheumatology. I'm assuming they moved out there when she started studying at Stanford. While the modules were first, the videos cover far more material and they are more well known. Eventually Sal got a heart-wrenching letter from a student who had previously been slapped with labels and tossed aside, so to speak. This young lad spent a summer living in front of his computer monitor watching Sal's videos. When he returned to school in the fall, he was given a math placement exam to see what he would study that year. He got every single solitary question right-on a PLACEMENT test. Sal had a heart to heart with Umaima and became a stay-at-home-dad and full time internet tutor, extrodinaire.
I, myself, stumbled across his videos on YouTube when I was looking to find out how scary Statistics would be. I used his videos. I got an A- in Statistics. Then when I discovered I would need to learn calculus for my degree, I discovered he had videos for that. I got an A- in that class. 
While in his interviews he says that he wants to do everything, in one video he teases, "I don't make spelling videos. I make math videos.
Why are his videos so appealing and so effective? There are many reasons cited in the various news interviews of him which you can watch on his website, but I think how he speaks to person on the other side of the internet video is a large factor. He often says things like, "I think you can understand this." I think it just speaks worlds for him. I had a professor who had his PhD from Harvard and he constantly talked down to the students and said things like our school is just above Kingsboro which is a community college. While I also had a little help from an awesome tutor (if you are in Queens and need a math tutor, let me know) and some friends, it is Sal Khan's videos that helped me the most.
Salman Khan, thank you for teaching me math!

Shidduchim Bullies

While I'm on the train of thought of bullies in the Jewish world, let me take a moment to feature "shidduchim bullies."

Just in case people dare to stand against the Talmud Bullies and use some common sense instead of blindly following them, we have the Shidduchim Bullies. These are the women in the community who will tell other women in the community, "if you don't tow the line and do X, your children will never get married." If you use a shopping cart... your kids will never get married. If you wear a tichel instead of a sheitel, your children will never get married. If you don't send your kids to the right summer camp, they will never get married...If you don't use the right white damask table cloth on Shabbos, your kids will never get married.... and so on and so forth. Never mind the fact that they could marry the children of other parents who have enough brain to think critically. The fact is that these women use this phony concern and scare women, absolutely scare the crap out of them. WTF is wrong with us that we let this go on and no rabbi or rebbetzin seems to be speaking out against it?

Have The Jewish People Lost Their Senses?

As I mentioned in my last post, the Torah from Hashem has been replaced in Judaism. It has been replaced by the chareidi doctrine. They use bits and pieces from the Talmud that suit them to support anything they want to support from taking money in exchange for promises of brochos and prayers at the wall to mouse rabbis. Anyone who questions this is screamed at and told, we don't know the ways of Judaism. I would like to remind people with some sense remaining how ridiculous they get. They fly in the face of Torah with the support of a wanton sentence from a member of the chazal. Chazal often don't agree one position making this a shaky argument. Furthermore, what do these people have to say about the numerous statements in the Talmud that man is supposed to support himself and his family? What they say is that we don't understand because we don't learn full time.

Are we really going to let these Talmud Bullies bully us out of common sense?

Talmud Bullies: For Or Against Hashem?

One thing that sickens me is the way people who are supposed to be good Jews are actually bullying other Jews.

Recently, a blogger that I read was considering shutting down his blog. I am disturbed by this. He speaks much of the same things I speak about. He sides with justice and Hashem and points out some of our problems in hopes that some of the people will think critically about the corruption that the masses accept without question. I do feel that on his blog, people actually think a little more critically about what he says which is why the Jewish people need spokespersons like this rabbi.

I understand that many people will look at me and say, "who am I, as a convert, to question the way things are done? The fact is that my response comes my BINA that I possess as a woman and from my study of the Pentateuch that I did in preparation for my conversion.

Furthermore, this rabbi agrees with much of what I say.

Seriously, though, I don't understand how people can think it's not against the Torah to say put pictures up of rabbis they've never met, as I criticized. Doesn't Hashem say rather explicitly, "thou shalt have no other gods before me."

I would like to point out to my readership that automatically dismisses that which I say, the people who came up with this are the people who have dubbed themselves the most religious Jews. Forget "tradition", USE THE BRAIN THAT HASHEM GAVE YOU and process what is going on in your surroundings. Don't let the Talmud Bullies bully you into their twisted version of Toyrah based on picking and choosing their favorite quotes from the gemara and using what they so please, meanwhile they criticize all other Jews of doing the same thing.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

cup o' coffee and a whole lot more.....

This is post replying to the comment on  SWF, 41 hasn't given up as I have.

As I've said before, the guys have it easy. First it wasy BeeZee, now it's Cup O' Coffee. Sometimes, I think I should date someone I don't like just so I can tag along with him on Shabbos and holidays and not have to sit home by myself. I'm constantly getting comments like I shouldn't be upset or whatever and this is the way it is. However, what you men are not understanding is that I'm not the only woman who is upset. Many BT women go back off the derech and site their reason as the fact that they didn't feel like they fit in the community. They didn't make friends and no one invited them for Shabbos. It's always the men who say, "I don't know what you're talking about, I have no problem getting Shabbos meals." Of course you don't!!! You are a man and men don't have these problems. Before people piss and moan about the skyrocketing intermarriage rates they ought to look to see if they've done any little things to try to make the Jewish world better for those inside it. Inviting someone over and being mean to them or not inviting people over contributes to intermarriage. My blog is here to try to connect the dots for those thick-headed Jews out there.

I really doubt going to your friends would be any better but where do they live? If I can stay by my friend, maybe I'll make an attempt. That's another thing. Even when I make friends with women it doesn't matter, because their husbands don't want me being friends with them. Husbands expect their wives to make friends WITH OTHER MARRIED WOMEN only and don't want some intruder coming for Shabbos. They want a wife to have friends who go their own way on Shabbos to their own family. Yet these same men want to invite all their friends and even without asking their wives first.

Most non-Jewish friends are no where near as nosy as Jews and there's this concept of a friendship UNFOLDING as you ask more later on. I just don't ask people a lot at first. Generally, you're sitting and talking to people and you start exchanging stories and you get to know each other that way, not by machine gun firing questions at someone making them feel like they are being mocked.

The idea that you have that people expect chesed for chesed makes what their doing no longer a chesed. If you invite someone over to make them feel uncomfortable, then you're not being kind. A chesed implies that they should not expect from me. However, your theory is flawed as sometimes the person picking on me is another guest. Also, it has happened when I've brought packaged food gifts with me. Also, it is more than my conversion story that people want to know that is out of line. I guess in the Jewish world they don't follow regular manners, but when non-Jews ask things like how much money you make, no one disputes that they are out of line. Sometimes, too, it's not that they ask anything soooo personal but more that they fire question after question at me and refuse to tell me about themselves. I actually went with a convert in the process to someone's house and they did it to her, too. They called me, "the one that keeps Shabbos" and they repeatedly harked on her throughout the entire meal that she needed to move somewhere she couldn't afford. Actually, I had a guest in my home who had the unmitigated gaul to start in on a mutual friend at my table about why she didn't like a certain rabbi. Then she started on me about why couldn't I make more money. She said I could make $50/hour. When she got a job and moved out of her grandparents' house I ran into her one day at the store and she had to put back some of her groceries because she couldn't afford them. Apparently, it wasn't as easy as she thought it was! Only in the Jewish world is ok to demand that someone explain to you why they are poor. For all the emphasis they put on "socializing" kids in the Jewish community, something has gone wrong, as they are not properly socialized. Being socialized means you know better than to ask these things.

I don't understand how "feeling the waters to see if they want to have you over again" justifies the sort of behavior and lines of questioning that I've been exposed to. I have been to some good people however, more than half of my experiences have been really bad. It's enough to make me afraid to try to go to people for Shabbos.

What I see is that the Jewish people want to sweep their flaws under the rug and not fix what's broken. It's not only this but there are many other issues and I"m not the only one in the Jewish blogger who feels this way. I think perhaps a double standard is being applied that I, as a woman, am supposed to be more nicy nice. However, the men are allowed to criticize, many male bloggers do.