Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jewish Train Etiquette

This is a unique insight so pay attention.

Train is the best way to travel in Israel. It truly is. I have often tried to put my finger on what exactly makes traveling by train in Israel just so delightful and have finally come up with the reason.

Having used the train system here well over a thousand times I can say that, with rare exception, the trains here are clean, quiet, and well air conditioned. Everyone seems to relax on the train and just mind their own business. It’s like taking a mini vacation to some quiet foreign countryside.

Thus, the reason people love riding the train in Israel is because it is one of few places here that actually allows you to forget that you are in Israel at all.

The trains provide a temporary bubble of normalcy where one can escape the cruel realities of Israeli roadways and interpersonal interactions.

However, there is something that has disturbed me from day one; something so vile that it spoils the experience for me every time and leaves me cringing and grinding my teeth, and that is the way we board and disembark from the trains.

Though the ride itself is much more pleasant that a typical bus ride, like the bus lines people crowd the car doors and entrances trying to force and shove their way on to the train without any concern for anything else whatsoever. This is usually at the expense of the people who are trying to get off, who are all at once overwhelmed in wave of over eager train boarders more than willing to run them down for a shot to get on that train. (I once saw a guy carrying a baby trying (and screaming in horror) to get off the train nearly trampled by a group of people too impatient to wait for him to get off until one Good Samaritan jumped in to save the baby from falling.)

So what is it that really bothers me?

It wasn’t that many years ago that fuckin’ Nazi’s packed us on and off trains shipping us to and fro from Ghetto’s, slave labor and death camps. It is my opinion that we Jews shouldn’t be over eager to get on any train, ever. The notion of Jews crowding on to trains is not something I relish to enact in life, ever—and certainly not in the Jewish state.

I think that there should be signs on the trains that read something like:

Relax and take your time boarding, there were those who could not.

So what I do is I wait. I will not push. I wait until the pandemonium calms down, even if the train is packed and I risk (gasp) having to stand.

Our honor and dignity are worth it.

Enjoy the Frankness!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

FY on FB!


You can now check the Frankness out on Facebook. You may also fan the Frankness.

The fan page is equipped with a discussion board too, so let the good times roll!

Enjoy the Facebook Frankness!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Caroline Glick on forcing Israel's elites from power?

In this piece Caroline Glick breaks down a bit knowledge on this country’s illiberal leftist crypto-fascist elites—which is always important reading in my book.

I’ve got to be honest and say that I believe that her final statements approach something akin to the Frankness.

These excerpts are pretty golden:

In a sad twist of fate, Israel's current elites are the direct descendents not of their Zionist predecessors, but of the exile elites their predecessors fought. Sixty years after statehood was declared, Israel is led by men and women who oppose Jewish power and embrace instead the Diaspora model of ingratiating themselves with foreigners through appeasement.


THE ELITISTS' passion for pieces of paper - or even just negotiations about them - is a general one. Anyone who is willing to talk about signing one, whether they are American presidents or Syrian dictators, is a friend and a partner. And anyone who questions the elitists' stubborn belief in agreements as Israel's ultimate goal in all things is an enemy of peace.

And especially…

But of course, the elites are not the entire country. They aren't even the majority, just a powerful minority. There can be little doubt that in due time the stubborn Zionist Jews will force our elitists from power and secure our country for the next 60 years.

I have to ask: is she verging here on a Frank musing? Or does she mean something else by “force our elitists from power”…?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Religious Fetish Update:

The Name Changer:

The name changer is an irritating annoyance of a filthy fetishist.

The name changer is person who late in life suddenly decides to start referring themselves by a name other than the one they are popularly known by. People who for years are known by a more secular name insist that everyone they know only refer to them by a religious name—regardless how stupid the name sounds, like Shloimy, Label, Channa Rachel, or Shprintzeh Leyah.

The notion of name changing is done only to appease the religious in group and nothing to do with anything else, ever. This fetish is usually associated with BTS.

Never accommodate a name changer—it will only contribute to the proliferation of more religious name fetishists.

If you ever sniff one out just stop 'em and say: "Ay fetishist! Keep your name right where it is, you will not become a new person by changing your name in some neurotic fetishist fervor!!!"

Enjoy the Frankness! is great!

I love this site so much I have to give it a plug!

It has everything on it from Martial Arts moves to how to bake a Hallah!

It can get quote creative in its scope.

Check it out.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Irony of 60

I find it funny.

In the Talmud one who dies before 60 is considered as if he was "cut off" (Karet) from his people by God—in an act of divine justice for certain insufferable wrongdoings. 60 being the half way point to 120—which is considered an ideal life span.

Israel is 60—I wonder: will we make it to 61?

I find it funny.

61 people are all it takes to form a government in Israel. 61, being the majority of our 120 person Knesset. Are the insufferable wrongdoings of 61 people all it takes to lead us to our doom—nuclear or otherwise?

Will 61 of 120 MK's get us over the 60th year hump to set us on our way to 120?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Matzav in a nutshell

What can I say; the nuances of this report provide enough material to wax endlessly Talmudic about the insanity of our local predicament well into the next 60 years.

As usual merits a full reproduction:

Arabs Fed Up With Palestinians

May 8, 2008: The Palestinians are fragmenting into dozens of mutually antagonistic factions. The new West Bank police, organized by Fatah, has found themselves battling clan, political and religious militias. Hamas continues to support attacks on Israel, which comes down to several crude Kassam rockets fired into southern Israel each day, plus several attempts to attack Israeli troops guarding the border between Gaza and Israel. Hamas continues to insist that, long range, they will destroy Israel. Because of that, Israeli military leaders do not want to have any ceasefire with Hamas, believing it will be used to pile up more rockets and fortifications for their next major attack on Israel. But the U.S., Europeans and Arab nations want a cease fire, so the Israelis continue to negotiate. Everyone understands that a ceasefire would not be an absolute halt to violence. Several Palestinian terrorist groups would refuse to participate in any ceasefire, and the Israelis would go after key terrorist personnel after such attacks.

Since these peace talks began six months ago, nearly 500 people, most of them Palestinians, have died in terrorist attacks and counter-terror operations. Currently, the UN is demanding that Israel resume fuel shipments to Gaza, despite Hamas attacks on the fuel transfer gate and facilities. Hamas is using the fuel shortage to keep their security forces moving, while denying mobility to the anti-Hamas groups in Gaza.

More Arab diplomats are privately telling the Palestinians (both Hamas and Fatah) that the Arab world is fed up with Palestinian squabbling, corruption and general inability to move forward. This is not expected to change anything, and avoids the fact that the Arab nations caused many of the Palestinians problems by not allowing Palestinians to migrate to other Arab nations after 1947 (the Palestinians could only stay as refugees). Israeli traditionalists see all this as an opportunity to take control of more land in the West Bank (which they see as part of "Greater Israel") and East Jerusalem (traditionally the Arab side of town). The Palestinians insist on removing all Israelis from areas they have moved into since 1967 (when Israel conquered the West Bank). That is not likely to happen because the small religious parties in the Israeli parliament are crucial for forming a government.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah has become increasingly violent, using groups of masked men to attack similarly outfitted pro-government (Sunni and Christian) gangs. Neither side is willing to spark another civil war, yet both sides are becoming more aggressive.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Religious Fetishism! (Or, The Fetishes of Israel)

The religious fetishist is an individual who elects to place remarkable sentimental emphasis, elaborately display, broadcast overtly, or obsess upon the role of religious devices, rituals, superstitions, clothing/adornments, music, ideas/concepts, or religious scholarship within ones life.

To be clear, religious fetishism, like all things, exists within a spectrum.

So for example, one who maintains a specific superstitious sentimentality for a certain type of Kippah to the exclusion of all others may be said to have a Kippah fetish, specific to the type one wears—more specifically, as Kippah wearing itself is a generally standard or universal practice within “religious” Jewish life and is rather commonplace and essentially unremarkable in virtually any Jewish community or circle, Kippah wearing as a general practice in itself scores a virtual (if not absolute) zero on the religious fetish scale.

However, wearing a large Breslov type Kippah with large letters proclaiming a slogan of some kind in place of a more common place Kippah leads to a significantly higher score on the scale of religious fetishism. Add some long curly side locks and you have an individual who scores higher yet. A person clad in a Kippah that covers the entire head topped of with a tassel or pompom at the crown accompanied by prominent curly side locks is making a personal and very public statement about the religious importance/value/correctness of their appearance, as well as their fixated preference for it in opposition to other options: their elaborately displayed (and specifically selected) appearance takes on a remarkable sentimental ritualistic emphasis (with supernatural implications), which in turn broadcasts a specific preference for unusual or atypical lifestyle choices, or in other words: it’s the display of a Religious fetish.

Due to my dissatisfaction with religious fetishism of almost every kind I would like to highlight those that perturb me most:

The Haredi:

Haredim are religious fetishism incarnate. They even have rival fetishist gangs whose entire goal in life is to proliferate their own fetishes while suppressing those of rival fetishists. Their fetishes range from: side lock fetishes, hat fetishes, holy book fetishes, Shabbat kugel fetishes, chulent fetishes, unemployment fetishes, obscurantist fetishisms, elitist fetishisms, and various misogynistic fetishisms. Some have Palestinian/Islamic fetishes. ALL have a European alter heim fetish.

The Ba’al Teshuvah (BT) with Ba’al Teshuvah Syndrome (BTS):

The Ba’al Teshuvah with Ba’al Teshuvah Syndrome is one of the most annoying of the religious fetishists, quite generally they obsess upon religious minutia too openly for comfort and to a degree intolerable to FFB’s and people who are in general more well balanced and casual about religious minutia. They incessantly ask stupid questions that they wouldn’t ask if they had a half-ounce of dignity (in which case they would just pick up a few books on basic Jewish laws and really learn them). To be fair its not always out of stupidity and indignity that they persist so, often they know the answer to their question but make the error in thinking that all people in the real world are as interested in their religious metamorphosis as their rabbi’s at BT school were—and are more often than not just trying to impress the rest of us with their religious fetishism (an undo their years of non-religious life). Its funny how I never think of BT’s who don’t have BTS as Ba’al Teshuvah’s—I suppose that BT is in itself something of a pejorative term.

The Minyan Addict:

The Minyan Addict is a nuisance no different than a housefly or mosquito. You are likely to encounter a minyan addict at malls, public events, on airplanes, on busses, on trains, etc—anywhere they can easily enough (and tortuously enough) subject you to their addiction. There you are minding your own business enjoying yourself with your friends or family and some overly enthused stranger with a minyan fetish jumps into your life asking something like: “have you davened mincha yet?” ARRRGH. This one really grinds my gears. The only retort to somebody like this is to say, “Well if I hadn’t I wouldn’t make it your problem” or “If I hadn’t it would be me bothering you instead of it being the other way around” or just lie and say yes. I have tried these all and they all work, but occasionally I give in to guilt and join all the other guys who this minyan fetishist duped into getting involved in his addiction. (Ever notice the faces on the other guys there? They feel stupid for saying “no” too).

The Halachist (or the Halahick obsessive fetish):

“I’m not sure you’re allowed to do that… That’s Asur…According to [insert rabbinical authority] you shouldn’t watch TV/listen to the radio/use the internet/read secular books/live in Israel/etc… Can you say Vayechulu with me? … I don’t think you can eat that… That’s not Da’as Torah”… It’s too late to daven now…mamesh…takeh…gevalt… rahmanah letzlan… you cant eat that now… we can’t understand even one hair off the top of [insert rabbinical authority]’s head… that’s still not Da’as Torah…blah, blah, blah.” They have a religionist/Halachah/worshiping fetish, whereby they view Judaism as being solely defined by Halachah. These are Halachah worshiping orthodox practitioners of Jewish ritual who worship worshiping.

The Carlebach/orthodox hippy Fetish:

The Carlebachnik is a weird type. By and large their most obsessed over item is their scarf, which they wear in all types of weather (never wearing a coat with it; wouldn’t want it to become concealed) in a manner that can only be reminiscent of a flamboyantly homosexual fighter pilot. They love to quote “Reb Shlomo” who is to them a sort of Prince of Peace whom they hagiographize by the moment—tales of Reb Shlomo are increasingly and deliberately taking the form of Hassidishe Maisess. Avoid the direct wild-eyed gaze of guitar playing ones…their guitars and flutes are another weird obsession. They have a quasi-spiritual/hippy fetish.

The Spiritual/Kaballah Fetish:

These are the types who wax mystical about klipot and tikunim. At advanced levels they begin to obsess over wearing the color white, often with a hood and dark sunglasses. They are useless imbeciles whose only true ambition in life is to lead a cult. They have a perverse spirituality fetish.

The Redemption Fetishists:

They are religious/spiritual/kiruv/messianic fetishists all in one; a one stop shop of absolute weirdness. Their messianic fetishism usually takes the form of personality cult over a living or deceased rabbinic figure, as did their ancient religious/spiritual/kiruv/messianic antecedents and predecessors: the Christians. They have a redemption fetish.

The Authenticist Fetish:

They ramble on and on about authentic Judaism (there is no such thing). Their fetish is some sort of “Authentic” Judaism. Simple enough.

The Apikoras Fetish:

One who delights in denouncing aspects of Judaism and waxing iconoclastic, especially with the more traditionally sacred aspects of Judaism. Yours truly, the Frankness is indeed guilty of indulging in this tasty fetish.

So next time someone lousy religious fetishist gets in your face, just look him or her straight in the eye and say: you have a religious fetish and I won't tolerate it, so F**k off!

Enjoy the Frankness!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Ha'atzmaut (Or, send in the clowns)

These are days of awe.

On Yom HaShoah we lament those who were eradicated and praise those who chose not to be as easily so.

On Yom Hazikaron we esteem and grieve our fallen defenders.

On Yom Ha’atzmaut we celebrate the reconstitution of our place on this earth.

However, every other day of the year we mockingly undermine those events, the great spirit of our reconstitution, and especially the fallen.

Therefore I say, that on these very days of pageant commiseration we mock them still—mock them with our moments of silence, mock them with our shallow commemoration, and mock them with our flags.

I am incensed by our feeble annual symbolisms and by how hollow the root causes of these days echo in our minds as they pass by, year by year by year.

We have accomplished so much in these last 60 years but have yet to undo that self-destructive thing within us that we still allow to dwindle our numbers, devastate our spirit, and jeopardize our Birthright: an existence exceeding a contentment with life hanging constantly in the balance.

Our Birthright is dignity. Our Birthright is life. Our Birthright is grand legacy.

All of the parties, barbecues, religious services, ceremonies, and dusty flags unfurling are just more and more bread for the ever-growing circus that the state of Israel has become, and of which we are growing increasingly dim and oblivious.

It is my passionate hope that we merit 60 more years, but that within them we tire from the notions of mere survival and pragmatics defined by an acceptance of Jewish collateral damage. But most of all, that we begin exercising the Birthright through our own will to power.

Enjoy the Frankness!