Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Easy chicken

Since I've been blogging about healthy eating, I thought that I would give some instructions on quick food. I'm going to start out with easy chicken.

Put it in a pan with water (I use filtered) in the bottom. Add salt, pepper or whatever to the water. Put it in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees or an hour and a half at 385. Periodically take a big spoon and pour the chicken water over the chicken. Check your oven, maybe like me, you have a setting where the timer on the oven can be set and shut off automatically for you.

Too easy, right?

Save the juices at the end. They can be used for soups, gravys or flavoring. Freeze if you won't use them within 24 hours.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jewish men are so obsessed with women's looks that make up doesn't require a hecsher

It should. I was looking around on the internet at what make up is made of. I had always heard that eye shadow is fish scales... ok, that sounds kosher enough. However, it seems some other make ups are made of things like rust and crushed insects. Now insects aren't kosher, so why is it that women are wearing these crushed bugs and it hasn't inspired the latest chumrah of a hecsher for make up.

I really never expected religious Jews to be so shallow. In Xtianity, it was really frowned upon to be shallow and looks obsessed. When I was doing the research for my paper, I read something from a secular woman who did an ethnographic study of Gur women in the Tel Aviv area. For them, they were admonished for caring about looks. Their esteemed teacher pointed out that a woman who leaves the house well-dressed with every little bit of her looks tip top communicates "this is what I care about." Yet the women who responded to my survey here in the US equated modesty with looking good. This is what tznius means? I know one acquaintance told me that her husband doesn't want her in denim. He likes her dressed up. The only problem with that is that if we are dressed up every day, what does this leave for a special occasion or Shabbos? Somehow, it seems to me like Shabbos with no make up wouldn't be as special as every day with make up. If you're dressing up all week, surely you aren't getting it from the clothes on Shabbos.

Nevertheless, the community cares so much about a woman's looks. We are plagued with eating disorders. Women are advised to break halacha on the basis that men want them done up like Jon Benet Ramsey. Then the men complain that all us women are after is money. Well, honey, if you want us in brand new clothes and fresh mani-pedis all the time...um YEAH, that will cost and YOU"RE the one who wants it, YOU better be able to pay for it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Abstract from my paper on Jewish modesty

In the Orthodox Jewish world, how a woman dresses frequently makes its way into the discussions of many Sabbath tables, blogs, lectures, books, magazine/newspaper articles and more. What, statistically analyzed, are these women’s standards of modesty or tznius, as it is in Hebrew? Across the spectrum of Orthodox Judaism, how do women dress tzanuah? This study endeavors to discover that. This study is based on the analysis of a long questionnaire answered by one hundred and eighty-three Orthodox Jewish women throughout the world. There were both quantitative and qualitative questions included in the online survey. Mostly, the women are dressing according to the prescribed norms. Sleeves cover the elbows and a skirt covers the knees. However, there are some exceptions, mostly from the “rebellious” Modern Orthodox Liberal group. The exact specifics could be useful to the manufacturers and retailers of clothing with Orthodox Jewish women as their main target consumer.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another survey, this one for a classmate

Hi, as you all know, I did a survey for my research class. Besides my own Jewish survey for women on Tznius, my classmate, a guy is doing a survey on Jewish books. It seems he still needs responses. His standard promotional schtick appears below:


I'm a student working on a market research project analyzing the use of Jewish/Hebrew/Seforim books. This study will help me learn how and when you use of Jewish books in the home, at the place you pray, the community at large and during your time away on vacation, business or holiday. This will help me with my project at hand, so please be as honest as possible.
To make matters clear, Jewish books include but are not limited to:
Prayer Books
Torah, Talmud, Mishna, etc.
Jewish subject books
English/Yiddish/Hebrew, etc.
Poems, Novels, Fiction, Inspiration, Biographies, etc.
Holocaust, Israel, European Jewry, etc.
All Male and Female Jewish books
Children and Adult's books
Rule of Thumb: If you can find it in a Jewish library or place of prayer, its Jewish!

The Survey
I created a survey online that should only take you about five minutes to complete. The link below is a short link that will directly link you to the much longer link when you click on it.

Please note: The last section for the survey is completely optional. There is no need to add your contact information (name or email), but if you want to learn more about this project please do so. We will never sell your information to anyone, ever.

Please fill it out and pass along to your family and friends.
Please Email

Also, I would appreciate it if you would forward the survey link (http://bit.ly/bookprojectsurvey) to any other Jewish adults whom you know that may also be interested in participating. If you have access to other online Jewish groups (no specific denomination required) and can post it there, thank you so much.

If you have any questions/comments, feel free to complete this form:http://bit.ly/jWlwzP

Thank you

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let's travel back in history and swing by Jewish Spain

A paper I wrote earlier this semester...

Marking Diaspora History of the Sephardic Jewry

The period from about 900 to 1200 brought forth a wealth of influential characters in the Jewish community. During this time, Christian Europe had a dark cloud over it, but civilization was flourishing in places like Muslim Spain. Two influential Jews of Muslim Spain in the 10th and 11th centuries were Hasdai ibn Shaprut and Samuel Ha-Nagid.

A wealthy and learned Jew of Jaen, Spain had a son about the year 915. That son was Hasdai. Even in his youth, he learned Hebrew, Arabic and Latin. He had a strong interest in science and medicine that would lead him to become a physician. While he did not bear the title of vizier, he worked as physician for the calif ‘Abd al-Rahman III and ministered foreign affairs, as well. He was in strong support of the Jewish communities. He sent riches to and corresponded with the heads of the dwindling Babylonian academies. Instrumental in moving Jewish scholarship to his home of Cordova, he established a school and appointed Moses ben Enoch from one of these academies, but now in Cordova, to serve as the school’s director. He was a scholar honored by other scholars of the time. As the study of poetry and grammar become more in vogue for Spanish Jewry during his time, he excelled in them. The date of his death is unclear. He seems to have died perhaps 970 or 990 in Cordova, Spain.

Shortly after Hasdai passed on, 993 Cordova saw the birth of a Jewish man who would later become one of the most influential men of Spain. A native of Merida, Samuel’s father saw to it that his son should receive a thorough education of both rabbinical and secular studies. His rabbinical studies were under Enoch, son of Moses ben Enoch, whom was appointed by Hasdai. Like Hasdai, he excelled in languages and studied Hebrew, Arabic and Latin, for certain. It is said that he wrote a letter in seven different languages at some point in his life. He was to become a grammarian, poet and Arabic calligrapher. It was for these talents that a slave of vizier, Abu al-Kasim ibn al-‘Arif employed him for writing and calligraphy. When the vizier happened upon some of these writings made for the slave, Samuel came to work as this vizier’s secretary. On Abu’s death bed, he informed the king that his Jewish secretary was his “man behind the man.” The king elevated Samuel to hold the title of vizier for himself. In 1037, this king died. Luckily for Samuel the son which succeeded him retained Samuel. In 1055, he died and Joseph ibn naghrela, his son took over his position in Spain.

Hasdai ibn Shaprut and Samuel Ha-Nagid both had fathers who ensured they would be well educated. Both learned Hebrew, Arabic and Latin. Both were grammarians and Poets who either began or concluded their life in Cordova, Spain. Both of these men rose to have a hand in the affairs of a Muslim government. Both of these Jewish men made their mark in Diaspora history of the Sephardic world. Of course, as a calligrapher, Samuel did so both literally and figuratively.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Post: Living Healthfully

Those who read my blog regularly know that this past semester, especially reently, I've been putting up a lot of guest posts. It's been a rough semester and besides my school work, I've had a chronic cold that goes away and comes back for much of the semester. You who read regularly also know that I've been posting about health lately. So, I asked Hedva to write a guest post for me since she eats healthier than anyone I know. Please note that this is not the guest poster who has written most of the recent posts. This is actually her first guest post for me.

You can be thin and still be unhealthy. If your sole goal is to be thin, don’t waste your time reading this. If your goal in life is to be healthy, then read on!

I try to BE healthy, and I try to drag my family with me. To me, BEING healthy means:

1) Managing my time well so that I get enough sleep and eliminate as much stress as possible from my life. That means no TV, no playing computer games, and limiting time on email, social networking sites, etc.

2) Getting enough exercise. This does not necessarily mean joining a gym. To me, it means walking whenever possible, using the stairs instead of the elevator, running around with my kids, and doing a few minutes of yoga every night.

3) Eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water.

Healthy eating is what Michal wanted me to focus on, and it is undoubtedly the most important aspect of healthy living. I don’t count calories and I don’t look at the fat content. I simply eat as many whole foods as possible, and avoid the processed foods.

When I leave the grocery store, my shopping cart is full of vegetables, fruit, eggs, unprocessed cheese, fresh fish, plain yogurt, meat, and poultry. These are whole foods. I buy whole wheat bread with no sugar added (my goal is to one day use my bread machine and make my own bread!), and I buy 100% whole wheat pasta and rice. I buy quinoa. I do buy whole wheat crackers and whole wheat pretzels for the kids, but I try to limit their snacks to whole foods, like raisins, fruit, veggies, etc.

It’s really that simple. I cringe when I see other moms loading their carts up with soda, candy, potato chips, frozen chicken nuggets, white bread, white pasta, American cheese (aka, processed garbage), that yogurt that comes with the cookies and chocolate on top, etc. This stuff is not food. Some parts of it used to be food, until a corporation got its hands on it, added lots of garbage to it, packaged it nicely, and is now passing it off as food.

I try to serve eggs and hot cereal for breakfast, but my kids like cereal with milk too. So I buy the 100% whole grain cereals that don’t have any chemical preservatives and have less sugar. It’s still processed garbage, but it’s a little better than Fruit Loops.

We drink water. Lots of it. We never bring soda into the house (that stuff is poison). We have 100% juice only on Shabbos as we eat plenty of fresh fruits. My kids get OJ when they are sick and I’m trying to entice them to drink more. If you don’t like the taste of water, learn to like it. Eliminate all other drinks from your diet and within a couple of weeks, you will relish the taste of water. It’s a must for a healthy lifestyle.

Are we 100% healthy all the time? Of course not. We eat challah every Shabbos, which is our weekly dose of refined white flour. I give the kids a special Shabbos treat, be it a cookie or a fruit strip (made from real fruit). We eat dessert on Shabbos and Yom Tov (although I always substitute whole wheat flour for white flour). We go out to eat sometimes, and indulge in the white bread and the white pasta. But we usually eat real food.

And let me tell you - we eat well. Very well. My fresh vegetable salads are extremely yummy. I make fish or chicken every night, and it’s always good. My vegetable dishes have lured in even the most anti-healthy people (yes, asparagus and broccoli CAN taste good). We never go hungry and we never eat bland, gross food.

Cooking takes a lot of time and effort. It requires a lot of planning. Every Sunday morning, I sit down and write out a meal plan for the week. I then write up a shopping list and send the hubby shopping. I prep as much as I can the night before for dinner the next day. I’ll cut up the vegetables, prepare the marinade, etc. Having everything ready in advance makes it so much easier to put the meal together quickly.

Some people don’t have the time, or are simply unwilling to devote that time to cooking healthfully. In my opinion, if eating healthfully is a priority, you’ll find the time to cook. Cut out the television watching, reading blogs (except Michal’s, of course), and the time you spend on Facebook, and you’ll have time to cook a healthy meal!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Guest Post: Confessions of a Jew.... To Another Jew..

Earlier this week, I had an interesting surprise. After checking my blog and fnding some kind comments from new readers. I checked my Email. In my inbox I found the following (with a very mild amount of editing on my part). (Purple is for my female posters. I give him this deep green.)

A couple of months ago I was sitting with a classmate in the far end of the cafeteria, quickly going through my notes for a Classics exam that was to take place in short order. At the time, among the works we were studying, Plato’s ‘Trial and Death of Socrates’ was one of the texts. I had it out for test-prep.

That afternoon, for some reason, as you sat at the next table, minding your own business, occasion presented itself for us to exchange a few words. In short: you directed me to your blog and I wrote its address in the back cover of the Plato. I went to take the test; aced it and forgot all about the blog.

I’m generally not given to reading blogs because threads are very labyrinthine and my time to fiollow a thread is too limited to begin its journey, but I’m not averse to looking at some when they’re interesting, from time to time.

Anyhow: last week I had occasion to take the Plato out once more for the purpose of writing my final paper, and I came across the URL that I’d written those moths ago. I made a mental note to check it out because at the time we exchanged those few words, it appeared like you had something to tell, earnestly.

But as you know, as a student at the brink, together with everyone else, finals here in  ain’t no piece o’ cake. So I put it out of my mind for a few days. Yesterday, as I entered the library, and was passing security in the tight and crowded alcove area, we accidentally bumped into each other. I then resolved to remember to check it out; my curiosity burned.

Now, I find myself trying to calm myself from the outrageous things I read on your blog. Not only are your sufferance right, valid and correct, but I’m ashamed to read that such a deep disregard for other Jews—even to the basic human level—is the norm. Earlier, as I happened by one of the posts—and where I realized that you were, in fact, a convert—I commented to the effect that it’s crazy that such callousness exists among Jews. Now, hours later as I perused some of your posts, I realize that the reality of this situation is rampant and it disgusts me. As a born cynic, your stories should ordinarily strike me as exaggerated; but not these stories. I’ve seen them first hand too many times, to dismiss anything you say.

Now, I don’t hate my fellow Jew just because he/she is ignorant; but at the same time, it incenses me that the most noble and respectable Jew, the convert, is not respected.

I must point out: I may not be the type of person who socializes, in the first place; or I may not be a good schmoozer, much; but disrespect?! How can such a thing occur?!

Why, I wonder, does a conversation with you have to revolve around conversion, Judaism, theism, theology or anything like that? Why couldn’t it be about how one professor sucks and the other rules? About how Starbucks coffee is better than Dunkin Doughnut's (in my humble opinion)? That such-and-such an exhibit is coming to a local Museum, or that X,Y and Z? You’re human! If I’m to converse with you, I’d be conversing with a woman! Not some circus side-show…

If you wanted to discuss conversion and such, then you’d be doing that too—at your own volition; but why is it such a hot topic with FFBs? Sometimes the most embarrassing, insensitive, even gruesomely cruel questions are asked, and I can’t imagine what behooves them to ask them!

Of course you don’t have the answers, and neither do I; but as I said in my post response: my family has been blessed with our extended family, our Puerto Rican family. Unfortunately, due to my residence here in the five boros, and theirs outside the five boros, I don’t get to see them much; but are they in any way less my brothers and sisters than my biological siblings? No. in fact, I wouldn’t mind exchanging some of them…lol

But seriously: I read some of the episodes of the Hineini encounters; the Shabbos lunches; the keep-the-convert-at-arm’s-length attitude: and I hate it.

You’re just a simple, typical woman. You wake up in the morning like everyone else; you daven; you learn; you eat; you study; you have fun; you’re bored; you cry; you laugh; you wonder; you conclude; you love; you despise; you plan; you’re spontaneous; you win; you lose; you’re rich; you’re poor: you’re completely normal! So why the heck are you being treated like a lab rat?!

To put it another way: you're not a convert. You're simply a Jew. End of story.

I hope you find a man who deserves you; a sensitive, sensible, successful man, and one who’ll love you and you’ll love. And, moreover, I hope you find chein with people and you discontinue being treated like a diseased creature. You and you friends are nothing like that, and some of us are, boruch haShem, aware of that… I hope our numbers increase, as it's high time it did, and more of us come to appreciate you.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Guest Post: A dieting plan that I like (when I'm following it)

A dieting plan that I like (when I'm following it)

From the guest poster of most of the recent guest posts

I found out about volumetrics on accident doing a google search for an assignment for another class. Volumetrics is the brainchild of Dr. Barbara Rolls, a nutrition professor at Penn State. The principles are simple. Some foods have a higher/lower energy density than others. The more low density choices one makes, generally lower in calories and the more one can eat. So the premise is no 'forbidden' food. The problem I've had with a lot of dieting is that simply I like to eat nice size portions. Giving myself a tiny wedge doesn't really work.
There are a lot tricks in volumetrics books I've picked up and applied when not dieting. One prominent trick used through this plan is adding a bit of veggies here and there to higher density foods. This lowers the overall food density and I find it also make food look far more visually appealing too. Take for instance I often have rice and/or pasta with Shabbat meals. Now plan pasta and rice aren't that exciting and adding a thick sauce is generally adding calories. But what if one takes that rice and pasta and dressing it up with some green pepper, a tomato, onions and garlic? Or shredded carrots or cabbage, I'll take a handful and add it. All of a sudden that boring pasta dish looks much more appealing, except now it's a veggie rich pasta dish. I'm not really having a serving of pasta, I'm now having veggies with some pasta. This idea works with cholent, though I'll just add a just handful of veggies to the crockpot so not to distort idea of cholent of we know it. For the most part I've greatly reduced my own consumption of a lot of carbs (still have a few favorites) but for when I'm making a meal for others, this also is a good way of making more of what's on hand lighter and healthier.
What I've found most impressive in the books is the picture comparisons of foods with the same calorie values. The cover of one book shows a little cookie compared with a nice sundae with fresh strawberries, light cream topping, and chocolate sauce and a garnish of nuts. For the same calories, most would find the sundae to be more appealing dessert. Another picture shows pancakes with a pat of butter. Another with pancakes generously topped with fresh mixed berries. A classic chicken salad is modified with halved grapes. I could see adding bits of mandarin oranges too.
The biggest disadvantages of volumetrics is time and costs. It takes more time to chop up veggies and fruit. They have to be bought more frequently too. I'll get bags of shredded cabbage, carrots and frozen veggies to easily stretch and add a handful of this and that. I can buy rice and pasta mixes and they are shelf stable for months but produce is just something that perishable so more planning is needed. And let's face it, fresh veggies and fruit often cost more. I'll buy from the produce stands nearby and not from the grocery store, but still the fresh produce is more expensive. But overall, I think I found some useful strategies in volumetrics.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Guest post: Happy post part three of three

Both meals out were very nice, and each meal ended up being one other guest besides me. For dinner I met my host at shul after services. It is a bit weird trying to find someone you have no idea of what they look like! Lunch was supposed to have another person who never got in touch to confirm and was a no show. My lunch host actually said they have difficulties in getting guests through the same hospitality committee, and for guests to show up to the meal, so they were quite happy to have someone over that showed up and they'd like to have me back again. It had nothing to do with them, the couple and little kids were ideal hosts, the food was delicious and plentiful and their apartment was gorgeous.

It got me thinking with my own hosting experiences in this and other neighborhoods. Perhaps there's a segment of singles just like to 'reserve' a meal and if they get a better offer (meals with 20-30+ singles crammed into a tiny apartment tend to be the premium around here which upset me that with that many people, they couldn't accommodate one more) they dump their prior plans, in some cases not bothering to formally cancel. This so disappointing to the hosts who've planned a fancy meal, often bigger and better than what they would have done, and look forward meeing to someone new/new-ish. And of course by 'reserving' the guest spot, they prevent someone that was genuinely interested in hospitiality from coming since there's a limited number of people that will fit at a table. Too bad there isn't a way to separate out those folks looking for back-up plans with those that really appreciate the invite.

Let me tell you that the hosts that had me over this week, probably haven't had someone so thrilled by getting to be a guest, and I can say the infrequency certainly makes for it being especially memorable. Just re-charged my batteries so to speak, so I'm not dreading Friday nights like I was starting to. Now I'll feel happy for quite a while, even if the next bunch of shabbats are on my own, it was nice to have the shabbat experience of two meals in a row being a guest.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Guest post: Happy post part two of three

Regardless, I was pretty excited! I can tell you, I seriously doubt there was a happier guest to be in this neighborhood all Thursday night and Friday. It was so nice to leave the house (I work from home), leave my kitchen, and get to enjoy Shabbat from the guest perspective. Since I had a break from having to put in the time to host and handle much of my own food and home prep for guests, I got to enjoy a pre-shabbat manicure and a longer soak in the tub, something I never have time for. I find if I attempt earlier in the week, anything more than a coat of clear polish is a no-no, it gets chipped or horribly smudged up since I do a lot work with my hands especially near the end of the week. So I was pretty in pink nails too, a nice treat!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guest post: Happy post part one

A happy update to hospitality!

Last week, I wrote about the difficulties in socializing in the community and feeling like a permanent outsider. One key area that generated comments was Shabbat hospitality. I mentioned in the comments, the shul sent out an email a few days ago encouraging people to invite a new face or pay back invites extended previously. Very very rarely has an invite from the hospitality come through, a fews times in nearly two years (when it wasn't a communal event). Generally the weeks I've requested either alone or with one other friend, the results were Thursday AM getting the “we're working on plans for you” email then the very last minute (Friday afternoon) discouraging cold email “sorry no hosts available this week,” This is why I end up hosting so often since I'll have to cover for myself anyways. I got use to it, but sure it does sting to have to do everything one's self week after week while seeing everyone else joining plans with friends or people meeting up with their meal hosts after shul. Very difficult to get to know people when one keeps trying but not finding a way of fitting in.

This week after exchanging comments on the other posts, I had had it after it was suggested I was being 'conditional' to hope to be treated like a normal Jew, which supposedly I am. As my friends are away now that schools out, I resolved I'll not bother with other people on shabbat. My plan as of midweek was that I'll just eat by myself until my friends come back this fall, not bother with all the formalities or added expenses (summers are tighter for me as work slows significantly), and the extra home cleaning to look presentable. Just have a chilled shabbat dinner with my favorite take-out sandwich, my favorite drink, enjoy it while reading from the ever growning pile of 'must read' books I have, and get use to this for a while. BUT just on Thursday afternoon, I got invites for BOTH dinner and lunch out. I don't think I've ever had this experience ever having two hosts that didn't know me have me over. Sure one was a vegan meal, but it could have been just a few bites challah and hot water for all I cared. Both invites were from young families I did not know. I have no idea if that shul email encouraged folks to host guests, or that now that school's out, perhaps the deamnd of guests looking for hosts has gone down. I'm thinking a higher priority goes to students wanting meals as opposed to other folks in the neighborhood, I am not sure on this though. Will ponder that in just a moment.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Making healthier food choices

So, I recently wrote a post about how to lose weight. Now I want to get into some practical applications of how to go about this...

Instead of Potato kugel..........                                   have a baked or boiled potato (I like boiled, baked is too dry) and remember to either peel or clean the skin because the skins are very dirty.

Instead of only one vegetable                                    eat two or three
I usually have constructed a "meal" as a meat, a potato or noodles, and one vegetable. Now, I either make two or three vegetables or a large amount of one. Either way, I bulk up on the veggies because they have lots of nutrients and not so much calories. I like fresh but I try to make sure I have frozen for those time when I haven't gotten to the store, like now because I'm sick.

cookies, cakes and other fat pills                                 You should avoid as much as you can stand
You also don't want to snap and eat a lot of them, so maybe you want to have an occasional cookie. It's good to find some new things to eat. I find that I like chocoalate so my cookies, cakes and other fat pills were chocoalate. I recently found cocoa roasted almonds at Rite Aid. They were on sale buy one get one free, regular price 6.99 for a 10 oz container. They are so yummylicious. They have a hint of chocolate but they are packed with nutrients. If anyone wants to get me a graduation gift, get me a can of these!

Another idea is to snack on nuts but mix in some chocoalate chips to curb your sweet tooth. It's not great, but it's about making a healthier choice than just eating a fat pill.  Fruit is, of course, a nice healthy option. The problem with that is that it carries this stigma, "I am eating healthy" and this can turn you off from the food when you first start trying to eat better.

Bamba is actually really healthy. It has 25% of a daily need for Iron. I like Bamba and fruit together, like apples or bananas. Of course, it's not as healthy as fruit but if you have a mental block that keeps you from eating healthy, it's a great place to start.

When you make eggs, instead of frying them in butter or grease, make soft-boiled eggs. You still get that gooey wet egg appeal. You boil them about 5 and a half to 6 minutes. They get dropped right into the boiling water (+salt) and scooped out of boiling water. I don't recommend less than 5 and half minutes because then they are even softer and very hard to peel resulting in shells in your eggs, gross. I always put them from the pot of boiling water into cold water first. Add some salt and pepper and eat it with some toasted challah. It's very good.

Ok, I will write more about this another day...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Analyzing Lego-some case study input

Establish a set of recommendations for managing the innovative efforts, being pursued both internally and through cooperative alliances, to drive the company's future growth and to ensure that they are aligned with the vision and values of the organization.
I think they are doing a good thing by indulging in their adult market, especially since these adults are making super cool items like giant Homer Simpson statues and mocks of NYC neighborhoods. One of the key reasons to bring in adults is that adults decide what to buy for the kids. While this is often a product of kids nagging the adults, there are parents who are very much against many of the trends that are going on in the toy industry. I see in the case that LEGO tried to run a TV show to sell their product and this flopped (C-137) . However, they have the opportunity to be the premier product for another type of parent.

Susan Linn, who teaches at Harvard and many of her colleauges have formed a coalition to end the rampant commercialization of childhood. They believe, and rightly so, in creative play to stimulate a child's brain development and creativity. A toy that is based on "playing well" is so perfect for parents that care. LEGO has to tap into this market.

I also noticed on their website that they do have LEGOs for girls. I actually think they should do more for that. They don't seem to be selling many options of brick sets. All I saw on their website was the "starter" set. They should also sell an "enhancer" set which wouldn't have the stigma of being a starter set. They should try to sell to educational environments like schools and day cares (Duplo). They should run contests for kids to make things with the blocks and potentially win money that would be held for a their college as a future scholarship or they could win the latest LEGOs. Kids who don't have LEGOs would likely have to buy them to build something to enter. They could also do something like the Campbell's soup points to collect for your school.

They have to keep themselves in kids minds. They had commercials in the 1990s, which one can see if they search YouTube for LEGO commercials. However, they peaked in 2002 (C-131). They need to keep running commercials. To the parents, they should be marketing themselves as a toy both educational and fun. They should make a starter set for girls that would have mostly blue and purple blocks so they can market to tomboys whose mothers don't want them playing with boys toys, but they don't want anything too girly. Believe me, there's a market. That was myself and all my female friends when I was a kid.

Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood. Media Education Foundation. 2008. 25
Nov. 2010. Online: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=C17EC7C0822AF1E7
The Corporation. Prod. Mark Acbar. Big Picture Media, 2003. 5 Dec. 2010. Online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi63rXnuWbw.

Hidden Persuaders. Adweek Eastern Edition. 5 Jun. 2000, Vol. 41 Issue 23. 44.
Linn, Susan. Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood. New York: The New Press. 2004.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How to Lose Weight

I recently saw something on my friend, Rachel's Facebook. "New studies show that people who are overweight, are usually vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D causes a certain enzyme to create low sugar which gives a feeling of hunger. So before starting a diet, check out your vitamin D, and fix it. Also, don't starve yourself, because you'll be so hungry, that you'll eat too much. Also, before you eat try to smell the food, scientists say that the aroma of the food gives a signal to the brain that u r eating it, and you'll eat less. Try to chew as much as possible, so eating will take longer. The longer you eat, the better, and the less hungry you are."

When my friend wrote this, she tapped into how I try to eat, when I'm actually trying to "diet and excercise." If your body doesn't get the nutrients it needs, your metabolism will slow down. When I am trying to get in the right amount of good nutrients into my system, I find that I am reading package label and mentally bargaining. If I am trying to eat between 1,000 and 2,000 calories, but get at least 100% of the nutrients I need, junk food becomes out of the question. "WHAT? 100 calories for THAT little cookie and NO nutritional value??? OMG, I can't AFFORD that! I need those calories to make my nutrient levels."

Another thing about losing weight is the question people often ask of whether they should diet or exercise. People feel it's too much to concentrate on both. For me, they feed off of each other. Another incentive for not wasting calories comes from seeing how much work it takes and having this to consider when I'm making my food choices. "WHAT? 100 calories for that little cookie? That's TEN WHOLE minutes of walk jog on the tread mill!!" Suddenly, that cookie doesn't sound so tasty anymore.

Of course, there are times when I stop caring all together... I gain weight because I eat whatever I want and I figure I will deal with it later. This is BAAAAAAAAD. When I'm gaining weight, it actually takes a while before it hits me because I get used to seeing a small me and as I'm gaining weight, it creeps on and I don't realize how big I've gotten. I recently was looking at a big picture of myself from this summer. I was in the same picture as a girl I think of as "bigger than normal size" but not really ya know FAT. I was horrified to realize that I was really about the same size as her, yet I thought of myself as normal size,maybe a little bigger but, I hadn't realized how big I had gotten.

I'm happy to announce that I was able to run 2 miles on the treadmill the last time I went to the gym. Unfortunately, I'm sick so that was over a week ago (May 5th). My time is really high, but now that I'm running the whole two miles without walking, I'm going to stay with that and creep my speed up until I reach my goal. When I reach my goal, I'm going to add distance at the same speed: 2.1 miles... 2.2 miles... and so on. I want to get to be able to do a four mile run in about 40/45 minutes. I find that concentrating on a "run time" goal helps get me through those time periods when the scale doesn't move and I'm still not getting any clothes that are too small. Usually, between all three goals, one of them gives me nachas.

In closing, speaking of clothes fitting, this Shabbos I wore a top and skirt that haven't fit me in over two years. It's so exciting. It's like getting new clothes without spending the money! It's better than hand-me-downs because there isn't that "someone else's germs" factor or creeping thoughts that these goods were somehow "less than" which would be why someone may had given them up. I'm getting my own clothes back that were "lost to me" and I'm getting them because I'm accomplishing something.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I've heard a lot of guys complain they can't find a woman...

I thought I would take a few minutes to highlight some things that guys have done that caused them to accrue strikes against them.

1. if you are interested in a girl, ask her out and ON A DATE.
Twice now, I have had guys who worked in the restaurant business ask me to "come hang out" WHILE THEY WORK!!! When I get a text or phone call like this, I'm speechless. I am either on the other end silent, thinking, "Is he serious? WTF?" or I am just staring at a text message, "WTF am I supposed to say to that?" I may look like I'm 17, but I'm not and I don't think I'm out of line to categorize a guy like this as "liking me a little but not enough."
If you don't like a girl enough to take her out, don't bother talking to her. Shit, the weather is even warm now, a guy could ask me out to walk around a park. I suppose Mr. Phone Date fits under here.

2. If you are replying to an ad somewhere, respect what she said she is looking for
You men would get pissed off if a fat chick replied and you said you want a gym rat. How would YOU guys react? You wouldn't dignify her interest with a rejection form letter from Frumster. If I say within 10 years of my age and you are over 15 years older, I don't owe you a rejection. If you had read my profile, you would know you are TOOO Old. As long as you men want size 0 anorexic and ridiculously younger than yourselves, we women have every right to our preferences. NO pedophiles, thank you very much!

3. Do not lick or put your hands all over a girl's face
For those who aren't Jewish or maybe don't keep shomer. I had a guy once who licked my whole face like a dog would. Even though I don't wear the crap (make up) on my face, I never wanted a guy rubbing his hands all over my face and I surely never wanted to be licked. That's personal space.

4. Stop being so picky!!
If you are 50+ years old, bald, gray, wrinkly with no job and live with your mother, I don't know why you expect a size 0 or 2, blonde haired blue-eyed FFB with yichus and a small nose and 18 to 25 years old, to go for you. She won't. Like you men keep harping that we can't have a man who doesn't want us, you can't have a woman who doesn't want you. Be freaking realistic! Also, a girl overly concerned with outward appearances will be looking for a man who makes a LOT of money (over $150k a year, maybe more) and still probably treat you like garbage. Why are men always surprised that "hair make up and nails" (and heels and tight short skanky dresses...etc) girls treat them like garbage? She's shallow. If you look at her, you should know that. DUUUUUUUUUUUUUH!!!! So many men will only date this type and then say that all women are shallow gold diggers. Well, I guess they are only ATTRACTED to shallow women.....

Does anyone have anything to add?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Highlighting group work

As a friend of mine once eloquently put, "group efforts are best left to wolf packs."

In college, the professors like to push for group work. They know that employers don't like the way many of these generation Y kids don't "play well with others." When students complain, professors point out that we WOULD have to be able to work in a group in the work world. There are some problems with this, though.

In the work world, the work is done at work.

In the work world, many people have families (like spouse and kids, not mommy) so co-workers have grown out of the childish "I'll start it at 11pm the night before it's due," crap that college kids pull. (Then they wonnnnder why they have a 2 point something GPA.)

In the work world, someone is in charge. Whereas, at school, even if a team agrees to put you in charge, you have no authority.

The the work world, that is your only focus when you are there. Excessive socializing is usually not tolerated, either. Slackers are found out and the boss remembers. At school, the semester ends and the coattail riders move on to another A student next semester. The professors are also changing.

Finally, if you DO get stuck with all the work, it shouldn't matter since you're there TO WORK. Whereas with school, you manage your time. Doing all the work is actually MORE work, since you have to keep Emailing the other students who still don't approve or deny what you did. Hey, it's 5 days not even 5 hours before the thing is due, why do you have a bug up your @$$?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guest post: Kosher shiksa tries to volunteer...

Another Guest post from my anon friend that has been writing the recent posts...

the Kosher Shiksa volunteers or tried to....

My dearest friend is finishing up a practicuum in her graduate studies invited me to help out at her organization's Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration for seniors. The organization was expecting a much larger than normal crowd and thought an extra set of hands would be useful. My friend knew I am (soon to be WAS) active in voluteering and I am pretty good working with older population and liked helping out. She cleared it wouldn't be a problem.

I got up way earlier than normal to come along with my friend. We arrive just as one of the speakers was just starting. Given that it was an early event, the crowd was small, but my friend said most of people there she didn't recognize as regulars. At no time, was I less than right next to my friend. My friend's supervisor invited us to listen to the speaker since their wasn't really much to do to help out at that moment. My friend and I pulled up seats next to each other in the back of the room so we could easily leave when there was something to do.

No sooner did we sit down, did some old hag who had seen us with the supervisor, came over with a clipboard come up in a loud harsh voice wanting to know if I was with anyone and who I was. I thought it was odd that she was staring at me when we were with the supervisor. Clearly I was with my friend, we just pulled our seats together at the back so it would be easy to slip out when it was time to help out. I told her my very obvious Hebrew name (I don't use my secular name except for legal stuff) said I was with my friend who's next to me. My friend chimes in that I was with her to help out and had it cleared by the supervisor.

The hag remarks loudly, "Well, I'll ask you to sign in then. You know with non-Jewish people, you can't be too careful!" Really I was too stunned to say anything snappy, just walked out. My friend came after me and I told her I would leave and catch a car service back and would meet up with her for our later plans. My friend talks me out of leaving and I wind up spending much of the day in someone's office playing computer games until the activities were done with. I wasn't considered threatening hanging out alone in someone's office, but around others I was.

It was rather interesting, there were tons of minority non-Jews, but they were in support positions, caregivers for the elderly or working in the kitchen. Yet, a modestly and professionally dressed blonde woman sitting next to her friend that is interning there (and cleared having me come) is 'suspicious.'

Now someone is going to suggest that I shouldn't be so hard and that it was an isolated situation. Actually it's happened before quite a few times over the years. I'll spare the details, only to say that I'm repeatedly told it's nothing I do/don't do, and that I "shouldn't take it personally." I guess there's no need for a shiksa (the beit din clearly made a mistake in converting me) to help out. We're really not part of the community anways.

I know someone will tell me to grow thicker skin. Believe converts go through much and it's part of the training. I overlook much, try to think positive as much as I possibly can, but I simply can't continue deluding myself. The message I keep hearing over the years and now even more frequently is "GO AWAY!" Whether it is a different neighborhood, out of town, out of town telling me to go to NYC or go to Israel, whereever I am at, I need to leave. There's no need for a shiksa in whatever community I'm in.

Oh and happy Yom Ha'atzmaut, hope everyone else's was better than mine..

Monday, May 9, 2011

Part 6: socializing

When I was on Frumster, a male acquaintance showed me the search results in my age bracket. Pages and pages of pretty dark haired girls, a few, not many with lighter hair and eyes, but overall still had a “Jewish” look. Then there was myself and just a couple of other converts that stuck out. I gave up online dating a long time ago since the only replies I got were from dirty old men or men that wanted to have non-kosher fun with someone they considered to be a kosher shiksa they could play with and discard while holding out for a real Jewess. Sending complaints to Frumster didn't do much, as the men are still on there. There was nothing indicating this in my profile, indeed my rav approved my essays and photos prior to posting.
Now someone will likely point out that there are Jews of all colors, nationalities, shapes and sizes, which I agree. There are FFBs of Asian, African, Latin American descent that look like natives of their respective geography. I've known of 4th and 5th generation FFB African American Jews and Jews of Indian descendant that look nothing like a “typical” Jew. But certainly those are the exceptions and when people encounter them, they are considered exotic.

We have some at my school. People ask them when they converted and it annoys them to no end.So is there any way I'll ever fit in with the community? Before someone yet again mentions out of town communities or outreach centers, Over the years, I've tried those too, going to summer programs, extended weekend Shabbatons, and back in my hometown and still felt like I was treated like a stranger (which converts are)--cordially, but kept at a 'safe' distance.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

part 5: socializing

When I offer hospitality (very regularly since I don't get invited), people will come and come again, but rarely do they offer a return invite which is common at singles meals. They will, though, reciprocate when my friends host and will help set them up with men they know. In my old neighborhood, I once had a meal I hosted and one guest explicitly invited everyone, BUT me. Yet even after that she continued to accept invites to my home and ask to bring friends when she requested hospitality through the old shul and she was often matched with me. I could never understand this.

I would not have invited her again after that. This is not a friend.

Both Michal and I did not date during the lengthy conversion process, as for me at least I didn't feel right about dating a Jewish man when I wasn't Jewish yet. I respected the boundaries of gentile and Jews from interacting on such a deep level, hoping the lines would blur when I became a Jewess. Especially as I was in a modern yeshivish environment for much of my conversion process and I was under the impression it really would not have been acceptable. I am regretting the lost time now. I was told that dating could delay my conversion or even invalidate it. Yet I found that those women that cheated, often jump ahead of me, getting to cut corners in the process and were converted and were married well before I finished. Many are not Orthodox practicing now, they were just more convincing to a beit din, so they could plan their wedding that it appears I'll never get to have. At least they were married to guys that seem good, working, and age appropriate. Not the dirty old lazy bums I get offered for following the rules.Yet, here I am, still not married and really feel I need to give up since few men will consider dating me and the ones that do treat me horribly and I get people feel I deserve it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Part 4: socializing with converts

At the same shul, my convert friend of a minority descent told me it took her almost a year of regular Shabbat and shuir attendance to be offered a lunch invite. And that was after calls were made and she still rarely gets invites. My friend is nearly a generation older, but has a bubbly personality, elegant style and mannerisms, interesting career. People love to schmooze with her during kiddush but don't extend further. My friend feels because of her age and ethnicity, is often treated like a cleaning lady when she asks for shidduchim or hospitality and gets a polite brush off. Both of us are active in another shul as well, and at Chabad, and are quite generous in giving time and money to community causes. We go to shuirim together regularly and we both after years, still feel like we get the outsider treatment. It's not like we are takers, we both give plenty.

All the sudden the text colors aren't working...

Anyway, I also meet people very naturally in other scenarios but not so much in the Jewish world.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

part 3: socializing with converts

Now I think I'm of overall average appearance, but I do notice I stand out at shul, clearly I do not look like everyone else. I noticed that new people are frequently greeted and asked about their meal plans and invited which I am happy for them. When I was new, I was greeted nicely, small talk at kiddush was and still is made, but not offered an invite even when folks asked who I am eating by. After sticking with it for a while, there are a total of 4 families that have ever extended invites at the shul I go to regularly over the 2 years I attended. The other shul I sometimes go to, just 3 families one time each over the past 2 years, all right after I ask to have my name on the office list (it still is there). Just the rav and one other family ever inquire if I have meal plans for chagim. Yet my Jewish looking friends are offered meals much more frequently. If my friends ask if I can come along to the meal, usually the hosts will agree. But otherwise I have given up on getting invites even when I have explicitly stated I would like plans. It's like I'm a gentile, it is OK to be polite, but no extended socializing like one would with "real" Jews. I am a member of all the big shuls in my neighborhood and help out, so there is no doubt that I am halachically Jewish and not a pre-convert.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Do born Jews dislike socializing with converts that look like “Shiksas”? part deux

Do born Jews dislike socializing with converts that look like “Shiksas”? Part deux
So where does that leave us girls that look like Michal and I? Or women of color that can't pass for born Jewesses in terms of dating and community involvement? I feel that while I'm generally treated politely, I am treated with suspicion and considered far less desireable in terms community, mostly in hospitiality and shidduchim. I have a goyisha panim as I've been told nicely or I look like a shiksa as I've been called less politely. Michal and I are both blonde and blue eyed, not thin, but not obese either. I am of average height, don't know about Michal. I do have a somewhat Jewish last name (i.e. there are a few other families in my neighborhood that have same surname as well) and there is strong evidence of Jewish heritage going back a few generations on both sides. Although I may not look like it, there is a good chance I may indeed be a born Jewess, even my beit din, agreed even it was possible though it was inconclusive (but no bracha was made after I dunked since there was doubt). I have a gentle, sweet personality and traditional Southern manner, so it is not that I am offensive in my actions. I dress modestly within Orthodox guidelines, though I will wear colors other than black. I volunteer in the community and give generously to my ability to do so. My brother when he grows a beard looks very chassidishe and at a Jewish firm he use to worked at, he was sometimes mistaken for Jewish and asked to join minyanim, invited to meals. I keep thinking how lucky he was!
Michal again: The funny thing is that for me, people who don’t know my last name often don’t realize I’m a gyoress, though, of course some do. This is why More girls in my Jewish class would realize I probably converted than the girls in the Hillel. They hear my starkly Irish last name being called at roll and then they look and notice I look Irish. Actually, my German grandmother had a big nose and looked kinda Jewish. I also suspect that members back in my ancestry converted out of Judaism. FYI, my convert friend that I said you look like in some of your pictures had patrilineal descent.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Guest Post: Do born Jews dislike socializing with converts that look like “Shiksas”?

My blogreader friend who has written some of the recent posts about dating is saving me from the choice between letting the blog slip and school work in this time of "one last push" as I strain to make sure I do as well as possible this semester when I suffer from senioritis making it difficult to study. So, anyhow, she was kind enough to write up this nice long guest post which I will be posting in chunks spread out until it's posted.

Do born Jews dislike socializing with converts that look like “Shiksas”? Part one

I realized something very odd the other day. I know plenty of converts, most of them women. I've heard that 90% of converts are women, I don't know where that statistic is from, but I would not be surprised. Of the converts that I know are married, most of them met their husbands prior to or during the conversion process. In other words, they were gentile women when they began dating their husbands. When they converted they were accepted as full fledged Jews, even if not Orthodox practicing, they quickly got married escaping the hell of shidduchim. The few women that were already converted, I noticed a trend, the women had features that they could pass for a born Jew. Those few were fortunate to have conversions that didn't drag out for years and years and they were able to convert shortly after or during (heavily discouraged now) college so they did not miss out on prime dating years. I know in two cases, the women had Jewish fathers, but in the others, they just happen to have physical appearances that they didn't stand out. For a short time, when I first came into the neighborhood, I did dye my hair a dark brown would hoping it would help, but of course it doesn't change the rest of my physical features.

Insert from Michal: With the exception of Hillel friends, most of my Orthodox friends are converts. When I put my survey up on my Facebook, it was the convert friends who jumped in ready to help out. It was their convert friends who offered (not did after being asked) to status the link to my survey. The converts immediately had my back. As for 90% of converts being women, I believe this to be true. When I was taking conversion classes for a brief time at OZ, it was mostly women who were in the class. Also, when a man came, I had no way (well rudely asking people I don’t know which isn’t my style) to know if he was in the class or coming for “shiksa that he’s bringing in to Judaism.” I think it’s more that born Jews grow up with their friends and don’t really seek out new friends. Being older, I don’t know so many Orthodox born Jews my own age. Most of them are married and so their lives are all about their husbands and kids and maybe work. They socialize with other mothers, not single girls. When they do socialize with single girls, it’s usually girls with whom they grew up. I also kick myself for having not dated during my process. No matter what they SAY, I saw that they didn't do it that way they those who dated were hurried along.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Hey, if you're such a frummy, why is it that you submit disgusting dirty comments to my blog?

You claim that I'm not a real Jew because I am modern, neither are you, since non-modern are not supposed to be on the internet.

You see here is another problem. The men talk about how their women have to be tzanuah and such but they go around with dirty mouthes!

I am not posting any more of your comments, so GO AWAY!!

Contradiction of interest

I have been thinking a lot lately about how there is a huge contradiction in Judaism about how a woman should be dressed. Recently, I've been privy to many women's opinions on tznius. Over and over again is ground into women to be covered up. But by the same token, it's very important for Jewish women to be pretty. Is it? Well, when men are asked why they don't want a second date with women, time and time again, they complain that they are not attracted to her. They complain that they shouldn't be expected to have kids with a woman that they are not attracted to.

Look here at this man saying what men shouldn't have the courage to say in a public forum:
http://www.endthemadness.org/ under POSITIVE dating experiences, go back to November of 2009 to see how "Jacob" writes, "
Posted by:Jacob
Subject:In Defense of the Dress Size Question
Body:Dress size is not a madness question!

Most of the girls who have lower dress sizes are more attractive.

I am not attacted to girls with high dress sizes,
so why should I force myself to marry someone I am not attracted to?

It seems to me that most size 2 girls are more attactive (to me at least)
in comparison to girls who are size 6. Eva Longoria, known to many
people as the most beautiful woman in America, is a size zero.

Men look good when they are big and strong.
For women, it is the opposite, and that means a low dress size."

Yeah, well, I wonder how "big and strong" Jacob is to be making demands and here is the ultimate point. Eva Langoria does not dress modestly. If all Jewish women were size 0 or 2 (don't even get me started on calling size 6 unattractive) and running around half naked, I guess the guys would be attracted to us, right?

Personally, it was easier to stay small when I wasn't dressing tzanuah. There's not really an incentive to work hard to be tiny since I'm supposed to be covering it up anyway. That brings me to a whole 'nother point. I can't even tell you how many men have asked me to dress in a manner not tzniusdik for them.