Monday, June 29, 2009

A yated writer on why people go OTD

Once again after reading the Yated, I have found a letter which I feel is worth sharing (for educational purposes, of course). Apparently, one of the letter writers is irritated by the concept of people seeking therapy for their "at risk" children, because, according to him, if people only followed in the way of Hashem, nobody would go OTD.

Here is a piece of the letter:

Our Chachonim discussed these topics. They said that boys can lose their yiras Shomayim by not wearing yarmulkas. They spoke about timtum halev, which comes from the wrong things going into one's mouth.

When a boy is small as his yarmulka falls off, how quickly do we run to put it back? Do we realize that this can spell difference between whether he will still be in yeshiva at age 17? When we allow our daughters to eat cholov stam chocolate bar, do we realize the ramifications down the line and where this can lead? When our toddlers have fever and we give them Tylenol gelcaps with treif in it, why do we wonder that so many of our youth are falling by wayside?

These things are not opinions or thoughts. These are facts, built into Creation since the first six days.

The letter continued a little bit. But not by much.

Aside from the fact that this guy clearly doesn't know the difference between a chumra and a halacha as well as doesn't know the fact that he doesn't realize toddlers aren't given gel caps for safety reasons; He also clearly doesn't realize that this world is filled with very few absolute truths and the "truths" he described are certainly not built into Creation. The OTD rate is high, and while we can speculate as to why this is, to refer to these things as "facts" is just mind-boggling.

I don't understand this concept of a scare tactic. If anything I'd say its ignorant people like this guy who turn people off the path. He clearly has no understanding of what a halacha is, as well is completely ignorant of the history of the Jews. It wasn't until recently that Jews had 100 different hechshers on a single item. And it wasn't until recently that the frummy community was able to boast about a huge BT rate. And lo and behold, many BT's have no reservations admitting they ate actual treif, not just a "linient" version of something kosher.

If anything, this day and age no one would be going off the derech because now we have X-ray lights to check our lettuce!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Silly government, Wal-Mart keeps us thinner

I was reading an article in Forbes June 8, 2009 issue called "Wal-Mart's Weight Effect"

The article said the following:

...Our evidence is indirect, but we think it shows that price changes can have subtle and sometimes hard-to-detect consequences. Any change in price results in two phenomena. The first is the substitution effect: a change in consumption mix due to a change in relative prices. If a bag of salad is $2 and a bag of potato chips is $1, then the price of salad in terms of chips is two bags and the price of a bag of chips is half a bag of salad. If a Wal-Mart opens and reduces the price of salad to $1 a bag and the price of chips to 75 cents a bag, the "salad price" of chips has risen (from 1/2 bag to 3/4 bag) and the "chip price" of salad has fallen from 2 bags to 4/3 bags. In short, salad has become cheaper relative to chips.

The other effect from a change in prices is the income effect, which is a change in consumption due to a change in purchasing power. If Wal-Mart sells food at lower prices--even if our incomes don't change--every dollar can buy more. Therefore, we're richer.

I find this awesome. Because while the government is spending a fortune trying to figure out how to make poor people healthier; the CHEAP and easy answer is staring them right in the face!

As the great author (Art Carden) of the article said:

Do you want to make poor people healthier? Then restricting the growth of discount chains is the last thing you should do. Instead, repeal programs that distort incentives- like agricultural subsidies that make junk food made from corn and soybean derivatives artificially cheap. Next, cut payroll taxes. With more take-home pay in their pockets, lower-income workers can afford to buy foods that are better for their health.

This guy is suggesting the opposite of what the government is doing. I find that fascinating. As if liberals don't screw up enough, they now make it more expensive for NYC residents to stay thin, or lose weight.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

School Control

This post is dedicated to "remy," a commenter on my "Why I'm going to homeschool" post.

Here is one full letter from the Yated (Feb 20. issue-I'm behind), and a description and quote from another, followed by my humble POV. :-D:

Dear Editor,

As a longtime reader of the Yated who has always enjoyed your paper, I hope that perhaps my letter here will spurn some change in the way our children's schools give vacation. Our daughter is a preschool student in a Brooklyn girls' yeshiva and the amount of vacation that he school gives has baffled us.

You see, not more than six weeks removed from a long Chanukah vacation, it appears to be necessary to give off almost an entire week for mid-winter vacation. Two weeks later, President's Day is a mandatory holiday that we all must celebrate because the school gives off. Finally, three weeks after that, there is a three-day vacation to celebrate the Yom Tov of Purim which, the last time I checked, is only a one-day Yom Tov in Brooklyn. Of course, four weeks after that is the two-week Pesach vacation.

In today's environment, where for many children both sets of parents are working to make ends meet, the amount of vacation that our children's schools are giving is broering on inconsiderate. Asking aprents to make arrangements every few weeks for thier children so that they can go out and make a parnassah or to ask the same parents to stay home instead of going to work should be reconsidered.

I beleive the time has come to reasses whether it is beneficial for our children to be out of school as often as they are. We must find a good medium that works for students, parents and teachers.
Thank you.


The second letter is about a guy whose son came back from a camp reunion, excited about going to camp the following summer. The father on the other hand was having financial difficulties. He had no clue how to tell his son that he wouldn't be able to go to camp, so he decided to speak to the kid's Rebbe in hopes of getting advice. The Rebbe said the following:

"camp is no longer a luxury, but more of a necessity in developing within them a cheshek for Torah and Yiddishkeit...the wonderful blend of ruchniyos and gashmiyus of Camp (fill in name here), and especially the experience of Shabbos Kodesh spent b'kedusha and in the presence of gedolim and bnei Torah, could not and should not be so easily discounted."

blah blah, the guy called the financial office of the camp and agreed on a payment plan for his kid.

So now, here are my opinions of the disturbing letters above:

While I see the point of parents being annoyed by the constant vacations, and the constant need to find babysitters, I find it truly disturbing how parents lack in creativity skills and lack in respect towards their children.

Finding a babysitter on the days that most schools are closed should not be so hard- find a neighbor who has older children who also have off, and work out a deal. Maybe have them watch your kids for free, and in exchange drive them to school. or drive them to weddings or set up some kind of an arrangement.

There is also the concept of getting a grandparent to watch the kids, or a retired aunt or uncle. That's what my parents did. Sometimes they had the babysitter do it. Schools have CALENDERS for a reason. It's not like they call the Friday before Presidents' Day to inform parents of school closing!

The truly disturbing part, is the last paragraph:
"I believe the time has come to reassess whether it is beneficial for our children to be out of school as often as they are. We must find a good medium that works for students, parents and teachers."

Parents seem to be expecting the school to be their kid's babysitter, not their kid's educator. Parents also seem to not care too much about the student's, because students, young and old, seem to LOVE the days off (at least I remember loving them,and I know my sister loves them, too).

In comparing this with the second letter on how camps are mandatory, we can logically conclude that schools expect camps to teach. Especially since there was a part in the letter that mentioned that the Rebbe the parent spoke to happened to also be a sleep-away camp Rebbe (not the same camp this letter was talking about), which only goes to show that school, pretty much is year round instotution in the frum community. Which brings me to the reason for dedicating this post to "remy":

Dear remy,

Many frum people lack in the creativity and maturity skills to be decent parents. They have children and expect society to be their babysitter. The few days, weeks & months off once in a while should not be a problem for any parent with an ounce of creativity.

1- kids can be sent to a relative to be watched
2- a babysitter can be hired.
3- parents can take turns taking days off w/ aunts & uncles, and just watch cousins and have "play-dates" on those days off.

To shamelessly write letters to the Yated complaining about too-many CALENDER days off, is pathetic. It shows that my "misinterpretation" of your schools "discussion" was not far off.


Take a look at the facts. Frum people see no problem ridding their kids, and administrators are power-hungry. You think that camp is more necessary now than it was before? How so? Did our parents generation forget less when they were younger? Did they study more?

I do find this rather humorous. School is already year round, parents are open to financially sound options of preventing their kids from forgetting how to learn. And Remy is denying the intentions of the school.

Having parent-friendly schedules is one thing. But children aren't parents. They need more time off to be a kid and to learn about themselves.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Career Day

My sister had career day in school today. My mom and sister were both in attendence.

One of the speaker's stories went like this:

-I graduated an all girls school. I wanted to marry a kollel guy. I went to seminary and then to touro college. I found myself a kollel guy. All was well and perfect. It was exactly how we wanted it. I was so happy. Everything was going smoothly. I had a job as a morah. What made me get a real job, was when one day we went to the store and we realized diapers cost money! and then another day we realized Steak costs money! so we realized we couldn't sustain ourselves anymore so we both decided to become lawyers..."-


Interesting story, no? The story points out 2 things:
1- school, especially the BY, does not, at all, teach students anything about the "real world."
They should've been taught that things cost money. And they should've been told that money runs out, especially if not budgeted properly (I'm assuming they had enough simcha money, which was why they didn't feel the burden so much until after the baby came).

2- School should not be year round, because it doesn't teach anything about what real-life brings anyway.

I do have to put the positive in ...
The lady and her hubby learned their lesson and they aren't the type to encourage kollel on their kids, because they know better. :-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Everyone keeps by their own level of kashrus. Some people eat only glatt, some eat only beit yosef; some eat/drink only cholov yisroal, while other people don't particularly care. The only two times it is relevant to care if someone is super strict is if the person is keeping unnecessary strictness while simultaneously living on charity (money can be better spent than supporting a zealots cholov yisroal habit) and the second is if a catering-like facility is not upholding by strict kashrus standards.

2 examples of the latter:

1- A catering facility is strictly certified kosher. The hall it is located in has a ton of hustle throughout the week. Then one day of the week, say every Friday, an organization that is local allows outside food to come in from people's homes. The kashering agency turns a blind-eye to it without fully examing where all of the food comes from. Would you eat there?

2- Imagine a scenario in which a catering facility is having a fleishig's meal. The kitchen is fleishigs. If ever there is a need for dairy, the entire kitchen gets covered by tablecloth. If anything needs to be put into the oven, it gets double wrapped to avoid treifing the oven. In the scenario you are imagining picture the facility is having fleishigs for that day. One of the mini-organizations that comes to that hall decides they don't want fleishigs but want milchigs, so they cover one area with the tablecloth- only a few inches away- from the uncovered area/fleishigs location, basically meaning, anything could happen. Would you eat there?

Now, if i told you both 1 and 2 were the same place, would you eat there?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why I'm going to homeschool

My parents received the following letter from my sisters school:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. _____,

We are no preparing our fourth quarter of (insert school publication name here), our parent-teacher newsletter, and we are eager to hear your voice in our Roundtable Discussion.

With final exams upon us, and the temperature outside rising ever higher, vacation time is indeed calling our names. Vacation is a good thing; we all need this respite to recharge, reflect, renew. And there is no question that our teachers and students have well-earned their break. As educators, though, we worry about closing the books for ten weeks- we worry about vacation's effect on students' memory retention and study habits. Moreover, we worry about vacation's effects on students' memory retention and study habits. Moreover, we worry about students' withdrawal from our koslei beis-medrash - we worry about the ever-penetrating outside messages which stealthily creep into our systems.

A question we often consider is which school calender would ultimately be more effective for our students' scholastic achievement and personal growth- the traditional calender, a September through June school year culminating in an eight-week summer break- or the balanced calender, year round school with scattered mini vacations throughout the school year?

What are your thoughts as you approach the ten-week summer break?


Honestly I don't even know where to begin, here goes

1- "we worry about the penetrating outside messages which stealthily creep into our systems."

if one were to look up the definition of parenting, they would open a dictionary and find that it says "the rearing of children";

If one were to look up rearing it would say "to take care of and support up to maturity."

if one were to look up schooling- the process of being taught in school;

Now, here is where I think frum people get a little bit confused... REARING is *not* in the definition of the word "schooling" rather it is in "parenting". Frum people should take a frikkin course in PARENTING before they allow or even consider allowing a school (or unfortunately in today's day, the federal government) to "rear" their children for them.

Any every-penetrating outside messages should be the sole responsibility of- guess who- the PARENTS to take care of! THIS INCLUDES THE TIME *DURING* THE SCHOOL YEAR, *NOT* JUST THE SUMMER BREAK!

2- Last year, I had a series of KGB vs. Yeshiva/frum community posts. I thought it was mostly funny how they had similarities- sad- yet slightly amusing. After this letter, I no longer find it amusing. As a frum people, we not only don't give a damn about our children (sending them to sunday school, allow them to marry strangers because they passed a checklist of appropriate schools) but we don't give a damn about Hashem, and the concept of Torah She'bal pe.
The written torah *does* say to be fruitful and multiple, but Gd never intended for mothers to just be surrogates and fathers to be sperm-donors all for a diverse STUDENT body for a principal to raise.

Holy crap... What is this world coming to??

If schools head onto this path, I'm homeschooling.

Frum people suck.