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Are you kidding me? Does this cop have nothing more important to do, like oh I don’t know, stopping drivers who are actually a threat? Doesn’t the government have more important issues to legislate on? This is almost as bad as when the bureaucrat came to my house a few weeks ago and told me if I don’t mow my backyard lawn that she’s going to put a lien on the property… but don’t get me started on that.

Essex County OPP stopped the tractor-trailer on Wednesday around noon after noticing the lone driver headed down Highway 401 in Lakeshore with a cigarette between his lips. The officer ticketed the 48-year-old London driver for smoking in an enclosed workplace.

Even some non-smoking drivers said the government should butt out of their business.

(read full article here)

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Sukkos at the TTC?

Looks like the Toronto Transit Commission’s built a sukkah at Finch station! It’s too bad they messed up the roof…

Sukkah at Finch Station

Chag Sameach everyone!

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So now, the latest show of solidarity with the ‘Toronto Declaration’ is that an Egyptian filmmaker has pulled his film from the festival in protest of Tel Aviv’s inclusion.

If the world made sense, the sequence of events would have been that 2 weeks ago, Tel Aviv filmmakers upon hearing that an Egyptian was showing a film, pulled out to protest Egypt’s systematic religious discrimination, lack of freedom of expression and treatment of women, and then quickly garnered a list of 50 people including celebrities who stand in solidarity with their position. But since 2+2=5 these days, we are all programmed to immediately think that such a scenario is outrageous, and instead find it quite natural that representatives of a country with an oppressive regime have legitimacy when coming out against the only democracy in the middle east. Welcome to the 21st century.

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A group of celebrities have issued their own letter defending Israel’s inclusion in the TIFF’s city spotlight. As the Jerusalem Post reports:

Natalie Portman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lisa Kudrow and Jerry Seinfeld were among dozens of film professionals who issued a statement this week defending the Toronto Film Festival’s decision to spotlight Tel Aviv.

My gut reaction was to be happy about this, but then I thought for a second and realized: why should I be? It just exposes a severe underlying issue: why should I, or anyone else for that matter, care that a director, a comedian, or an actor supports Israel or doesn’t support Israel? Why does Danny Glover’s opinion carry weight in international affairs? And let’s be perfectly honest, it does. If the original protest letter did not include celebrities, then it would have made no headlines and had no influence, but since Jane Fonda’s name is on it all of a sudden TIFF has some explaining to do and is put on the defensive. And who comes to the rescue, to lift up Israel from the pits of condemnation? Who is it that has the power sway public opinion back to supporting TIFF? None other than Middle East expert Lisa Kudrow!

There’s something wrong with this picture. (No pun intended. Really!)



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Swastika

Of course, nothing’s changed since I stopped blogging, and the constant barage of swastika graffiti hasn’t lost any momentum. Two synagogues were recently defaced in Seattle. Not to mention the swastikas recently found in Ukraine.

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And it gave me one of those warm and fuzzy feelings inside…

I was going to shul for the evening prayer service to say the mourner’s kaddish. On some nights, there is a lady who sits outside the entrance with a cup and asks any who passes by for tzedaka – charity money. She’s probably in her 50s, and only speaks hebrew, and you can tell she’s probably not all there. In any case, I usually give her what I bring for tzedaka, which in all honesty isn’t much, maybe 25-50 cents. Tonight I noticed that she had a few stacks of kippas on the ground in front of her, which was kind of odd. As I was passing by, she made some sort of sound that indicated that she wanted my attention. Unfortunately my gut reaction was to think “great, she wants me to buy a kippah from her!” so I just said ‘slicha, lo tzarich,’ ‘sorry, I don’t need one!’ and was about to walk through the doors when she yelled out ‘Matana!’ (gift) and now I thought that this was her sales pitch. “You can buy it as a gift for someone!”. So I again in my broken hebrew said ‘Lo tzarich!’ and was again about to walk inside. But she was adamant and yelled ‘Matana!’ once more and motioned for me to come over to her. I realized that what she meant was that she wanted to give it to me as a present. So she handed me a kippah and smiled, then I thanked her and smiled and finally went inside to pray.

I know a lot of people get really annoyed by the people in the neighboorhood who hang out in busy areas and ask for money, or at the full time yeshiva students who walk around the synagogue during prayer time and ask for money. I know that I often do. But we have to remember that these people are people too, and we don’t know their situation. I don’t know why this woman sits in front of the shul and begs for money. I don’t know why she chooses this lifestyle, instead of getting a job. But I learned today that she is just as kind as any of us. Just like us, she also wants to be a giver, and not a taker. Her situation for one reason or another requires that she be a taker, but she showed me tonight that this is not her preferred way of being. The moment she acquired a surplus of something, she gave it out, to a stranger no less! Deep down, we all want to be givers. And I think we should all remember this next time someone asks us for money. That person is only asking because they need to, and they would much prefer to be on the other end. We should all appreciate what we have, and appreciate that we have the means to be a giver. It’s truly a priviledge. Take advantage of it!

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I’m back… I hope!

So yes, it’s been a few months since I’ve really written anything, and to any regular readers, I’m sorry! My father was a huge driving force of the blog – we used to talk about politics and life every night, and the discussions formed the basis for many of my posts. Once my father passed away, it was just very hard to get back in the blogosphere.

I don’t know what happened, but I was reading the news tonight and it just felt like it’s time to start again. Maybe the feeling is linked in some sort of subconscious way to the fact that we had his unveiling on Sunday? Who knows… bottom line is that I’ve got lots on my mind and I know y’all wanna read about it! So hopefully I’ll start posting again a few times a week. Unfortunately, the state of the world hasn’t changed for the better, and there’s still plenty for me to rant about. Stay tuned.

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English publicly funded faith-based schools are allowed to give admissions precedence to members of its own faith. But the English Court or Appeal just ruled that London’s Jews’ Free School admissions policy is discriminatory because they refused admission to a student whose mother converted through a non-Orthodox  Jewish rabbinate. Apparently, Jews who run a Jewish school aren’t allowed to determine who is Jewish based on Jewish law:

“It appears clear to us… that Jews constitute a racial group defined principally by ethnic origin and additionally by conversion,” Lord Justice Sedley said. “To discriminate against a person on the ground that he or someone else either is or is not Jewish is therefore to discriminate against him on racial grounds.”

Please tell me Lord Sedley, since when can someone convert to an ethnicity? And if Judaism is an ethnicity, then why are there Jewish faith-based schools at all? Please tell me why there are black Ethiopian Jews and oriental Chinese Jews? Can I be black or Chinese if I go through a proper conversion process?

This is a completely ludicrous ruling, but it is no surprise that it happened, and we can’t complain about it. It demonstrates the dangers of being dependent on government. As the organization funding the school, the government has every right to decide how the school runs. They can decide who is Jewish, and the next step might be to decide what a Jewish education constitutes. You guys are teaching about God? Sorry, God doesn’t exist!

Hopefully the English Jews get their act together, and stop relying on taxpayer dollars for help with their education costs, but instead create and rely on what has kept the Jewish people strong for millennia: community. Our generation – jews and non-Jews alike  – is depending more and more on the government for everything from to deciding what food we’re allowed to eat to even taking care of our children at critical ages. Sometimes using public money can come at an even greater cost than just dollars.

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The Telegraph is doing a thorough investigation into officially released documents  from the British government that leave a paper trail of MP expenses. Highlights of commendable spending include ironing Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s shirts, paying for his Sky satellite subscription (£38/month), and Former Labour Minister’s Elliot Morley’s £16,000 mortgage (which was already payed off!)

I don’t have time right now to look through it more in depth, but I’m sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The main Telegraph portal can be found here.

In any case, we shouldn’t worry. Nobody in our government would ever do something like this.

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And for today’s irony: As the world’s favourite holocaust denier gets re-elected to power, the perpetrators of the holocaust are commemorating the victims of the crime they apparently never committed:

June 14th has been proclaimed by Polish Parliament as the day commemorating the victims of Nazi Concentration Camps.

It was first celebrated in 2006 on the 66th anniversary of the first deportation of prisoners to the Nazi German Concentration Camp in Auschwitz. The first transport of prisoners left from the southern city of Tarnow.

Grzegorz Rosengarten, head of the Associaition of the Auschwitz families says June 14th should be a date commemorating the martyrdom of the young people.

Germans deported 728 Poles, mainly young people, members of the resistance movements who attempted to force their way to Hungary, to join the forming ranks of Polish Army in the west. Poles were the first inmates of the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, where they died of hunger and emaciation or murdered in gas chambers. This date should by a symbol of their suffering,” maintains Rosengarten.

Jerzy Kowalewski , who spent over four and a half years in the concentration camps of Auschwitz Gross-Rosen and Dachau, says that all the victims of those times should be remembered every day.

To survive was a miracle, I thank God for watching over me. During the four years, seeing my friends die,  I kept wondering which day will see my end,” said Kowalewski.


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