Monday, May 21, 2007

Leavin' on a jet plane

On Sunday the OOS family will b"h be flying back to New York so that I can attend (amazingly productive, interesting, efficient, motivating, and mind blowing) classes, which will bring to a conclusion our first year in Israel.

It has been an amazing ride that brings new experiences daily, and often ends up with me looking foolish.

There are two things that I can state clearly. One is that Aliya is not easy-- at least for us. Two, if taken with a bit of humor aliya can cause one to grow in ways unimagined.

I do not know if I will get a chance to post before I get to the States, nor do I know how much time I will have once there.

In any event I would like to thank all of you who have taken the time to read my mindless blabber. I hope you got something out of it.

And please come back for year two.

Another Clarification

I know that the smart thing would be to ignore all of this, but for some reason this whole social work kerfuffle (is that a word?) is annoying me.

There have been questions as to whether I am cut out for the work, given the feelings I expressed in a recent post, which I have since deleted. There are those who feel that I am insensitive to the struggles of minority groups, or perhaps that I am even a bigot.

I am not.

No self- respecting mental health professional would ever make an assessment without having first met the individual being assessed. I find it absurd that someone would diagnose me as a racist based on a few words posted to a weblog. I can't convince anyone of anything that they do not want to believe, but the words that were written in that post-- although perhaps reckless and definitely ill- advised-- were not intended to be insensitive. I have already apologized for writing that post.

I would like to make a few points of my own.

The two people who responded (or is it one person?) seem to be troubled by my entry into the field of social work. Based on my comments "it makes no sense" that I would want to pursue this degree.

Well, I have a confession to make: I didn't want to go into social work originally. In fact, I used the MSW to get a degree that would allow me to become a therapist. You see, when I was in the States I had a decision to make. I wanted both a doctorate in psychology, and to make aliya. The doctorate would take around six years, and I didn't want to wait, so I chose to get a degree that would allow me to make aliya immediately, or in your words a "degree that any idiot can get over the summer."

As it happened, through my reading, I became somewhat enamored with many of social work's distinct characteristics such as its emphasis on empathy, systems theory, and de-emphasis of the medical model, and I came to realize that my sheltered upbringing shielded me from true suffering that many populations are exposed to.

However, just as I accepted many of social work's theories I reserved the right to reject some as well. For example, I patently reject as absurd the notion that perpetual poverty is solely a result of oppression. Don't get me wrong, I am not a Charles Murray guy either, and welfare is an enormously positive thing when used correctly, but c'mon, let's get real here guys.

If the field of social work can't tolerate professionals whose views don't correspond exactly with the greater profession than it will receive morons. They will indeed be asking for "low rent therapists." I for one will not apologize for holding on to my individual views. While I understand the need to be sensitive I won't conform to the PC obsession that grips my profession. To suggest that "it makes no sense" for me to be a social worker given what I wrote truly makes no sense.

One more thing: I still cannot grasp the commenter's obsession with my "frum colleagues." What does being frum have to do with anything? Or are you guilty of the same discrimination of which you accuse me?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A clarification

I have deleted my previous post after a commenter responded with this:
A few points:1) So what is a smart person like you doing getting a worthless degree from WSSW?2) I wish frum guys would get over the idea that social worker is the pc term for "low-rent therapist" and "degree that any idiot can get over the summer" and seriously consider the history and goals of the social work
movement before embarking on a career in the field. 3) If you really think that all homeless people are "lazy good for nothing psychos" you should seriously consider a different career. Or is "lazy good for nothing psychos" just the non-pc term for victims of domestic violence and sexual and emotional abuse and sufferers of severe mental illness?4) Yes, social work is at odds with most social-conservative (hence Republican)values. Social work believes in social engineering and the government's responsibility to aid certain underprivileged
classes of people. Was this very basic idea lost on you when you enrolled?5) I'm glad your MSW class stressed those ideas of social inclusion. Why? because even though they are little more than the touchy-feely ideas you get from public television shows for preschoolers, they run counter to the deeply held bigotry that you implicitly express (and is shared by many of your frum colleagues) in
what you havewritten:"We hate Homos.""We hate shvartzes.""We hate Spics""We hate those dark-skinned immigrants who bring disease, crime, and smelly food to our wonderful country.""We hate homeless people who are really nothing more than 'lazy good for nothing psychos'."Well, at least you will be practicing in Israel and come to the realization that a country full of Jews suffers from the same social maladies as the goyishe velt.Disclosure: I am affiliated with YU, but not WSSW in particular.
There is a great deal that I would like to say, but this is not the forum. For now let me leave it at this. I never meant "We hate homos, schvartzas, and immigrants." I definitely do not believe that homeless people are "lazy good for nothing psychos." However, after reading the post again I see that one could easily have gotten that impression from what was written and I apologize for that. If the commenter who responded would like to pursue this further I can be contacted at

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Seminary Girls

Ben Chorin recently mentioned his less than riveting experiences with Seminary girls who come to visit for Shabbos.

Being a firm believer in the merits of piling on I present the following story, which affirms about 500 different stereotypes regarding Seminary/Stern girls.

During Simchas Torah of my second year learning in Israel, there was talk of a airport workers strike in JFK, and rumors floated around that the motzai yom tov plane that would be carrying many Americans back to the States would be forced to land and stop over in Europe. I was sitting with my future wife in a hotel lobby when I heard the following conversation between two seminary girls:

Seminary Girl 1: Did you know that we might need to stop in Europe?
Seminary Girl 2: Yeah, that really stinks.
SG 1: Well, maybe we can go shopping.
SG 2: Yeah, but with our luck we will probably land in a bad European country like... Saudi Arabia.
SG 1: Yeah, I know.

(This story is true. I could not have made this up if I tried.)

B'inyan falafel

I have some serious thoughts on my mind that I will bezras Hashem post about in the coming days, but for now more shtuyot.

I love falafel. Especially Shalom falafel. I can't say that I have any insight into the nature of the geula, but I know that Shalom falafel will play a role.

That is why it pained me to such an extent when in the begining of the year my son refused to eat it. My son doesn't like falafel?????-- impossible. He might as well not keep mitzvot (not really-- but kinda). He loves it now so we're good.

A story that kind of sums up Israel: Shalom falafel is located on Rechov Betzalel, which is a fairly busy street. Because there is nowhere to park cars often stop in the right lane while their owners go and purchase a falafel. Usually, the owners buy the falafel and get back in their cars so as not to block traffic. However, one night while I was buying a falafel, a man pulled over to get a bite to eat. The street was busy, and his parked car started to cause a traffic jam. Seemingly oblivious, he took his time making his purchase while horns blared in the background. After his falafel was ready, instead of running back to his car and apologizing to all of the people stuck in the jam he created, he ordered a coke, sat down and leisurely ate his meal. This country is great.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

OOS weighs in on Winograd

Boo!!! Hiss Hiss!!!

Olmert stinks!!!

Just the type of savvy political insight you have come to expect here at the OOS weblog.