Recent twitter entries...

How Much is One Life Worth?

Okay, close your eyes... wait, not really, you have to read this. Pretend to close your eyes.

Imagine it is WWII. The German's captured a soldier on night. Just snatched him over the border. The next day there are cries for his release. But the Germans won't even talk about releasing him until the American's release 1000 prisoners. Not prisoners of war, Germans who came to America and committed a crime or multiple crimes that got them put in jail. Well... we can't let a poor American boy languish in prison in Germany... so we release those prisoners and wait for more instructions. Well that wasn't enough. Now for one man's life, we must release 1000 more criminals.This kid didn't break any rules of war, he just happened to be in a place where he could get grabbed. The American public starts to wonder... why are we releasing these criminals back into society so they can commit crimes against us again? For one kid? What is his life worth?

This situation is actually happening right now... it has been going on but change the word German to Hamas/Palestinian and the American boy is really, then 19 year old, Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier (in the middle of his mandatory draft service). And he has been in custody for 1278 days (and at the time I am typing this... 17 hours, 30 min, and 2 seconds). And Hamas demands something new everyday. We have to release thousands of prisoners, who were captured jumping the border, attempting to bomb Israel, or other crimes to appease these Palestinian captors. And yet, all we get in return is a video of a sickly, thin, young man who misses his parents and his home.

WHERE ON EARTH WOULD ANYONE ELSE DO THIS?! In America, we would not have fought for that one person. Not that, in America, we place any less value on life but we aren't tormented by terrorists in America. These terrorists know we want peace, that we want our people to be safe... and they exploit that... and no one stops them. And yet they are still the poor underdog. While I will not claim that the Israelis are completely innocent, I think the actions on the part of the Palestinians are often white washed.

Anyway, I am just disturbed at the amount the Israelis are giving up for this boy. And while I want him to be released to go home, I don't know how much I am willing to give up to do that... And by I and we... I am referring to my spiritual homeland... Israel.

This blog is written by a mother of an Israeli soldier. She is very brave to be able to articulate this difficult position.
A Soldier's Mother

(originally posted to my blog at Patheos)

Kosher Candy

One of my biggest challenges as a person who keeps kosher is finding kosher candy. Seriously! It's not something you think about. I mean, what are the chances that your chocolate candy bar has bacon in it or cheese and turkey? Okay... I guess I can't really say that anymore because people are making bacon candy bars... (couldn't they have found a better picture of bacon? I mean that doesn't even look good!)

But back on track here... the reason we need to look for a hecksher on a candy bar is usually because of the gelatin. I had a reality check many years ago. It was horrible... People always ask me, "Have you EVER eaten something that isn't kosher?" And my answer is, I am sure I have inadvertently but I have been keeping kosher since I seven and strict since 17. My reality check was a mistake. I love gummy bears. I really, really, do... certain flavors mind you (why do they always put more of the crappy flavors in the bags?) but I just love them. They are my second favorite candy. Well, Haribo makes insanely good gummy bears. They are just soft enough and taste yummy. Not too big or too small. Just perfect. One day I was having a chat with a vegan friend who mentioned that I should check the gummy in the gummy bears... uh oh, I thought. I hadn't even considered the possibility. Well I mean who even uses pork gelatin these days... sure, no hecksher but...

AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I went to their website and sure enough, in their FAQ's this is what it said -
  • What type of gelatin does Haribo use?
    Haribo products produced in Haribo's factory in Turkey are made with beef gelatin and are certified HALAL. All other items are made with pork gelatin.
  • Are Haribo products Kosher?
    Haribo products are not kosher.  There is however, a kosher line of Haribo sold exclusively through PASKESZ.

I nearly died... for several reasons.
#1. I LOVE these gummy bears!
#2. I had just bought a 5 POUND BAG! (remember... gummies are light... 5 pounds is a lot!)
#3. I had been eating them for about a year!
#5. ... the Paskesz version they mention, while just as good, cost about 300% more than regular. You can buy regular for $0.99 but the Kosher kind is usually just over $3

:( :( :( :(

So I vowed that day, never to eat candy without checking the hecksher again. No complacency. No more piggy gelatin. So I searched. You will be happy to hear, many of my favorite candies have a hecksher... including my #1 favorite, Good and Plenty. Yes. I love black licorice.

There is a great resource (though you have to be vigilant because these things can change at the drop of a hat) online. This company compiled the heckshers of all the candy they carry (which is most of it). Check it out here - Old Time Candy - Kosher

Use it wisely, friends!

(originally posted to my blog at Patheos)

Challah Baby

So many jokes you could make with that one... in fact, a lot of my friends use the word challah like holla... cheesy I know. But I am talking about the mitzvah of taking challah and the magic it can do...

So, women were give three special mitzvot (commandments) -

Challah - separating a portion of the dough, saying the blessing, and burning it
Niddah - family purity... meaning you go to the mikvah monthly and stay separate from your husband during your period
Hadlakat Nerot - lighting the shabbis candles

But let's talk about challah here.

Basics first.
When you are setting out to bake a true challah, you need to use at least 12-14 cups of flour. Many authorities say, in order to fulfill the mitzvah of challah and to be legitimate enough to separate, it needs to be about 5 pounds of dough. After you have gone through the long process of combining ingredients and kneading and waiting for it to rise and then punching it down and letting it rise again, you will separate a section of the challah out to be burned (see here for more info on that). This is technically the challah. At this point you will say - harai zeh Challah (this is challah) and then the blessing - “Blessed are you, adonai our G!d, who sanctified us with these commandments and commanded us to separate challah.” Then you shape your challah and put that small piece in the oven and burn it.

Why do we burn it? Because that piece, the one that is designated challah, was only to be eaten by the kohains (the priestly tribe) which was easy when the Holy Temple stood but... since it has been destroyed twice and not rebuilt, we can't give it to the kohain. SO we burn it so no one accidentally eats it.

Now on to the magical mystical side.

A friend who is dear to me has been struggling. To protect her privacy, we will call her D and her husband M. She has a beautiful daughter and a wonderful husband but they desperately want to have more children. She has struggled for over a year and a half to get pregnant again. I was fortunate enough to travel to Mexico with her and her family in January. She was deep in the midst of this struggle. She contacted the Chabad rebbitzin in Cancun about doing a mikvah in the ocean to help with her infertility. I was with her that night on the beach. It was so beautiful. Not really the weather, or the scenery... it was a blustery night and we were on a public section of the beach that was deserted but full of resorts. But what was beautiful was this mother's conviction to her unborn children. She swallowed her fears and went into the ocean with the rebbitzin (rabbi's wife). She dunked the requisite three times, said the blessing, and ran out of the cold water. I caught her with towels and we took a cab home. It was as if a calm had settle over both of us. And I prayed. I prayed that she could conceive and that her body would hold and nurture this child. Sadly, it did not work. She has, over the past year, had two losses.

I hadn't seen her in a while until the beginning of December. We were all getting together to celebrate the birth of beautiful twins. Our mutual friend, another Chabad rebbitzin, had just given birth to these miracle babies and it was fitting to see her again at this event. We caught up and I hugged her beautiful little girl. It was 6 days later that I got the plea.

"I am sending you this email because I think you may participate and because you may know others willing to participate. I am looking for at least 40 people to bake challah and to perform the mitzvah of separating challah during the 24 hour period between sundown Thursday, December 17 and sundown Friday, December 18.

There is a tradition and a belief that with the unified prayer of at least 40 people and performance of this mitzvah conception may be made possible. M & I have been trying to conceive for a year and a half. We have had two losses in the past year. It is said that if you “...pray on behalf of a friend with similar needs; Hashem answers you first," I have been baking challahs for a few years now and have seen the miracle of conception in many people. Today I am asking for your help."

First, how can you deny such a heartfelt plea? How could I deny this from a woman who I shared that beautiful mikvah with? How could I deny my family a delish challah? :)

But I needed to help find some more women. I found three more and the list topped out at 61 from all over the world. On this list were women who had NEVER met M & D. We all came together over a 24 hour period to bake challah, think about this family, and hope and pray for them.

My challah was a bit rushed. I had to get home from work and I was tired, I went to a friends house to have her daughters help me but they were grumpy and I was rushed, I used her kitchen-aid mixer (I WANT ONE!), got the dough together and then it had to rise... that took forever and we were all tired by the time it was ready so I took my dough home, threw it in the fridge with the intent to finish it the next day. Friday I got home from work, turned the oven on and took the dough out of the fridge to let it get to room temp... I'm running out of time! It's 5:30, dinner starts at 6:15... guests at my parents house, everyone is waiting for my challah... But I wouldn't rush it. I had to put every intention into the separation and the braiding. I couldn't cheat these challot. Baked and ready to go, I literally pulled a challah out of the oven, tossed it in a glass casserole dish, covered in foil, and dashed to my car. Steaming hot still, I pulled up to my parents' house at just after 7. They had JUST started shabbis! We hadn't gotten to the challah yet! What luck! Still hot from my oven, I put my challah on the plate next to the store bought one. It wasn't as pretty but it sure had a lot more love.
We did the motzi and dug in. A chorus of groans of enjoyment went up. It was delish! My father's tradition is to give the priestly benediction to everyone present. He calls it the holy huddle. We huddled, he gave us the blessing and then I told the 10-15 guests about the story behind the challah. I asked they keep D in their thoughts and intentions when they ate it. It was an amazing moment.

We don't know if our prayers or mitzvahs helped D get pregnant yet. We don't know anything other than 61 women who may not have baked challah that week, baked. We did something that wasn't easy, that took some of our time and we dedicated it to a friend, sister, cousin, stranger. We were unselfish for a minute.

And I don't believe that my challah separation was noticed by Hashem and Hashem wrote a sticky note to remind G!dself to make sure D got pregnant. But what I do believe is that in that 24 hour period, D was so loved, cherished, and hopefully realized that so many people out there are pulling for her and her family.

Maybe that's the kinda boost those eggies needed.

A great talk - On Challah and Mothers by Sarah Esther Crispe

(originally posted to my blog at Patheos)


Matisyahu... reinvented

There is this great new interview with Matisyahu on PBS (look for the video below) and it is really a beautiful and public and relateable story about how his faith has evolved.

I think one thing that defines our generation is that we aren't satisfied with the status quo in our spirituality. And it isn't just Jews, I have seen this with my non-Jewish friends too, whether they are Muslims or Christians. Sometimes our parents are observant in faith and it can feel oppressive and so behind the times. Other people have parents who aren't observant or involved in any religion (often times you hear them say, I don't want to push this on my kids like it was pushed on me) and those kids just want to find spirituality or a community.

I think the moral of the whole story is that there isn't really any ONE right path. We all are as unique as can be and there for different paths work for different people. And our journey to those paths is as unique as we are.

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on their own path to their spirituality. I will share mine after these videos...

PBS Interview with Matisyahu Pt 1

PBS Interview with Matisyahu Pt 2

I was raised in a Reform Jewish home. My father, uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather were/are all reform rabbis. I was active in the reform movement. I served on the NFTY-SE board (back when we were still changing over from being called SEFTY) as the Religious and Cultural VP. I thrived in my community. When my parents moved to Colorado and I went to college, I lost that community. I was searching for Jewish fulfilment and community. When I couldn't go to my own father's services any more (because he was in a different state), I found myself totally spriritually unfulfilled by the English reform services. I hated being "judged" when I walked into the sanctuary for what I was wearing or what I drove. I didn't feel sprirtually fulfilled... and then I went to Chabad. Over the past 10 years, my Jewish practice has evolved from far left to far right and now I have landed in the middle. I consider myself Orthodox, I prefer to wear a skirt and dress more modestly, I love going to Chabad services, and some of my closest friends are chasids.

So that was my evolution... what was/is yours?

(originally posted to my blog at Patheos)

Don't you DARE say Merry Christmas!

Do you know what really grinds my gears? The Happy Holidays/ Merry Christmas debate.

Look you can say what you want, you have freedom of speech but that also means that I can say Happy Holidays or Happy Chanukkah to you. If you want the freedom to say Merry Christmas you can’t take away my freedom to say Happy Holidays.

I am not diminishing your holidays by saying Happy Holidays, I am just including other people in that statement like my fellow Jews who celebrate Chanukkah or African-Americans who celebrate Kwanza.

I just question how Christians would feel if we only said Happy Chanukkah? Wouldn’t that be marginalizing their holiday? Well isn’t it reasonable that by saying Merry Christmas you are marginalizing mine?

Hey if you know that person is Christian, say Merry Christmas but if you aren’t sure or you are making a public statement, why not say Happy Holidays? The last time I checked, America wasn’t a solely Christian country, Christianity wasn’t the national religion of the USA, and Christmas isn’t a national holiday (though Christmas Day is recognized as an official federal holiday).

And then we get to public displays of religion… You want a Christmas tree funded by the Federal or State government? Fine… but you don’t get to block a public Menorah. So Bill O'Reilly said in 2006 that a policy banning nativity scenes in NYC public schools was "anti-Christian". But banning menorahs isn’t anti-semitic? Or anti-Jew?

I don’t care if you call them Christmas trees when you sell them… I’m not buying one anyway… we don’t have Chanukkah bushes or a Christmas tree for fun. I have a menorah and I am proud of it. You can absolutely keep Santa and Christmas trees and Easter bunnies that lay eggs (yeah, still don’t get that one). You don’t have to call them winter things or spring holidays, that doesn’t fool me. I have my own traditions and holidays.   I don’t want to feel included in Christmas, I just don’t want you to tell me I am anti-Christian if I say Happy Holidays. I am not marginalizing Christmas, I just am being inclusive and sensitive just in case the person I am talking to is Jewish or celebrates another holiday.

What about the retailers… what about them? So in their marketing they use holiday (well not any more since they have been susceptible to the right wing, Christian fanatical boycotts and petitions), cool then I actually look at what they are selling. When they use Christmas… then I don’t look because I assume it is all red and green and Santa Claus… So fine. If you want to alienate a portion of the population… well I guess you have to choose one. Either the insane, extremists of the Christian faith who are very good at fire and brimstone (it’s their bread and butter…) or the entirety of the country who don’t celebrate Christmas (Jews, Muslims, Athiests, etc)… perhaps placating the nasties is a good idea… less chance of violent threats than from the rest of us who are used to being ignored. But Target Corp might be onto something (full disclosure: I worked for Target for about 2 years… and I did say Happy Holidays when I was at a register). By including both Christmas and Chanukkah, you please a larger demographic in the US… hum, what a thought… pluralism. You can even use Christmas AND holiday AND maybe even Chanukkah! What?! No way!

So what happens if you are ringing me up at the grocery store or at Target and you greet me with Merry Christmas?

I say with a big smile on my face, as politely as possible, Happy Chanukkah.

Your face… is priceless.

I can't find the Target commercial I was talking about online but here is the newest GAP one and I think it's great! Clearly their products are for anyone who is buying and not just Christmas celebrators...

GAP Commercial

Whew! That feels better. Thanks for letting me get that out. :)

Check out my friend's blog (less of a rant) about straddling this line with his young daughter. Click here!

(originally posted to my blog at Patheos)

E-mail Streams

I just got overwhelmed.


I am just sitting here, minding my own business... eating my delish Mad Greens Salad (one request, cut your beets into rounds, not teeeny tiny diced bits) and working when I realized I had about 92 email or email like things to read. Communication overload!

At work, I generally have open:
My personal email
My work email
My Facebook page
My work's Facebook page
My website
My Twitter page (or my work one)
My Skype
AND my iPhone next to me

And every venue of communication has some group of people whom I don't talk to any other way. Most of my Facebook friends aren't on Twitter, my Tweeps only know me through Twitter, my family and Gamma Phi email me on the personal email, work emails go to Patheos, work people Skype me... Not to mention the text messages...

It's one giant cluster! Some days I feel like all I do is check email in one form or another. And with Twitter's new functionality where they let you know how many tweets have come in since the last time you refeshed, I am getting mega anxiety! What the hell? Now I have to feel guilty for not staring at twitter and constantly refreshing? Then every time I refresh my Facebook or post something new to the work one, there is a new message! I barely get them cleared before they start piling up again.

Now, here is the really screwed up part. I am totally overwhelmed with communication today but if I don't have a Facebook message or Twitter @reply or email from a human being tomorrow... I will feel neglected.

Why G-d? Why? Why have I been afflicted with this e-twitterbook disease?!

I don't have an answer but I do know this... it is these days, these weeks, that make me enjoy my Shabbis so much more. Sleep in, no alarm, no email or phone... just relax.

Ahhhhh visions of shabbis dancing in my head. Thanks for the vent...

Bathroom Habits...

Okay kids... so my friend Jen and I have been curious about bathroom habits (i.e. why do people pick which stall) and since I'm in Grad School mode... I decided to make an anonymous survey. I need at least 100 people to do it to get some decent data and I promise to share it, here, on my blog.

Will you take the survey and pass it along to your friends? THANKS!

Remember, totally anonymous!
(fixed the link!)

A blog... ignored

Okay, I admit my guilt. I have TOTALLY neglected my blog. It is so sad. When I realized it today I had a little tear.

BUT in my defense, I haven't been resting on the old laurels. (Where does that saying come from anyway? Hold on... Ah here ... well now I rethink the usage of that...)

ANYWAY! I have been hard at work. We had the crazy stretch of Jewish holidays and in between, I had my 10 year high school reunion. Then in addition, I started working at Level 3 Telecommuncations twice a week. It is an internship in the BMG marketing department and really fascinating. Not my total cup of tea, but I am learning so much.

AND I have been writing, I know, shocking! (Yes, I write a blog but I do claim to not be a writer.) Check out the article I wrote on College and Faith for Patheos. I spend so many days reading fabulous Jewish articles and finding content for Patheos as well as coming up with social networking strategies and ways to enhance our SEO. Recently, I have been editing video. I forgot how much I enjoy that.

And I volunteer. I am the Chapter Advisor for the University of Colorado at Boulder chapter of Gamma Phi Beta. I love working with these women and advising them. Recently I took on the commitment to meet and take out for coffee or ice cream every new member this semester... there are 83 of them. So, yeah... I've been busy.

What haven't I been doing? Dating. Kinda bums me out and I'd like to do more of that but it's hard to find that right person right now in Denver. I'm afraid to settle. But also... I just don't have time to commit to looking or dating. Sad but true. I will refocus energies on that later. :)

But I have been hanging with some super cool Jewish chicks and I enjoy that. And I will be snow boarding this winter which is fun too.

Anyway, that's my update. I think I will try to be better with this blog. I really enjoy it... when I remember it... :)

Second 9/11 Story

Sorry this one is a little late but I feel compelled to share it.

It is the story of my friends Esty and Dovi Scheiner.

Esty and Dovi were raised in the Lubavitch communities in Crown Heights and Boro Park, respectively, in Brooklyn. They were set to be married on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

The day of your wedding, in Judaism, holds a lot of different rituals than typical weddings. Yes, the bride has her hair and nails done but also the bride and groom (kallah and chassan) fast during the day of their wedding. They say all the psalms (tehillim) and it is said that you are closest to G-d on your wedding day.

Dovi woke up that day and went to shul to pray. He davvened (prayed) fervently and was completely unaware of what was happening some miles away. When he emerged from shul and saw the smoke, he knew there was something wrong. Some decisions had to be made. Esty and Dovi met with their rabbi to make some decisions. Their rabbi counseled, "Look at it as Osama Bin Laden did something evil, and you are doing something small but good."

So they were married. Emotions ran high. Dovi nearly fainted during the ceremony and had to have an IV put in. But something in them forever changed. It became their mission together, the mission of their marriage to foster a Jewish cultural life in Lower Manhattan. The run a group called World Tikkun Center (WTC) and The Soho Synagogue that makes Judaism accessible to everyone.

This couple and their mission has been incredibly inspiring to me and their story is a unique one. I am proud to call them my friends and I hope you visit them if you are ever in Soho!

9/11 - 911 - Sept 11 - 11 Sept

I can't believe it has been a full 8 years since September 11, 2001. It does feel like yesterday sometimes... and sometimes it feels like I saw it in a movie... wasn't Will Smith in that one?

So in the spirit of the day, I will share my story.

September 11, 2001 - Jacksonville, Florida

I was a junior at Jacksonville University. It was like any other morning. I didn't want to get up and go to my Theatre Design class. Hell, I just didn't want to get up. I have a habit of waking up to my alarm, turning on the TV to the Today Show or CNN and falling back asleep. In my half-asleep state, I peeked through my eyelids and saw an image of smoke coming out of the World Trade Center. In my half-asleep state, my brain said, "Why are they showing file footage of '93?"

Then I sat straight up in bed. This wasn't fake. Matt Lauer was telling me that this was happening right NOW. I sat in my bed, bolt upright staring at my little dorm room/college apartment television, listening to Matt Lauer talk and watched the second plane hit the second tower. That is an image I can never forget. I sat in shock, disbelief, but faith that everything will be all right.

Once my shock wore off, I ran and woke my roommates. I kept one eye on the TV while I got dressed. I finally tore myself from the television and practically ran to the other side of campus, to the fine arts building where my class was. When I got there, the entire staff and all the students in class in that building were huddled around a tiny, tiny TV. I remember that it was smack dab in the middle of Mary's office (she was the receptionist for the theatre and dance department) and students, faculty, deans were all huddled, some in folding chairs, some standing, some on the floor just... watching.

I don't know how long I watched. Classes were, clearly, canceled for the day. JU attracts many students from the northeast and I watched my friends call home and ask about family and friends. Consequences weren't setting in... it wasn't real. The realities would come soon.

When we heard the Pentagon had been hit, it was a shock, sort of. I don't think I had any more capacity to be shocked by that point. Until it hit me. The man I had been dating off and on was currently serving in the Air Force and he was stationed to be at the Pentagon on certain days. But which days? Come on Talia! Just remember what days was he supposed to be there. My brain lost its ability to function. Shock turned to fear. I tried to call him. No luck. No phone calls were going out. Phone lines were jammed. I had to be pulled aside by a friend to be calmed down. When my head finally cleared, I could think. Today is Tuesday. He works there Monday and Wednesday. Breathe.

Finally at some point in the early afternoon we couldn't take it anymore. We couldn't sit in that stuffy office that smelled like old sheet music and ancient costumes. My apartment-mate, Zeina and I started the seemingly long walk back home. Silence enveloped us. We couldn't talk. We couldn't communicate. We could only think. This young Jewish woman and her best friend, a beautiful Lebanese woman took comfort in each others presence. When we got home, we took comfort in cooking.

That's what we do. We feed. It's ingrained in both of us from our cultural heritage. We propped open our apartment door, turned on the TV, and cooked. We welcomed anyone who needed somewhere to be. We fed them until we ran out of food. And we sat, as a community, together absorbing what happened.

When I could finally speak to my parents, I told them about my day. My father's first response was, "We have to stand with Zeina and her family now." It seemed like an odd statement to me at the time. I didn't understand. What had Zeina done? Nothing. Except to have been born to an Arab Christian family. Yes, they left Lebanon as Zeina was born to escape the wars but the climate in the United States of America was not a nice one when it came to our Arab brothers and sisters, post-911. Her father had to shave his facial hair because he feared profiling when he traveled. Reality #1

Jacksonville is home to many military bases. With three military facilities plus the King's Bay Sub base close by, Jacksonville was high on the "potential target" list. Additionally, the city is held together with more bridges than I care to count. JU became an insulated campus, one that we were afraid to stray from in the days after the attacks. Reality #2

Bet ya didn't know that tiny, liberal arts university JU has the second-largest NROTC program in the nation. After 911, I watched friends disappear. With the start of the war, I saw many more go. Reality #3

When I didn't want to wake up that morning and I rolled over to catch 5 more minutes, I had no idea my life was going to change. I still remember being walked to the gate for my flights prior to 911. I remember when we weren't angry at every foreigner and Osama Bin Laden was just a funny name I had never heard of.

My life went on, we all grew and adapted to the changes in security, and I refused to be afraid to fly but our world changed drastically that day.

My Rebbe, my father's Rebbe, Reb Zalman wrote a beautiful prayer for peace for 9/11. Here is a link to it -

Since this post has gotten rather long, stay tuned. I have an uplifting post coming about my friend's very unique experience on 9/11. Possibly the only people in the world that have 9/11/01 as their anniversary.

Matis and Matthue


I really have been enjoying Matthue Roth's work (which I find on Facebook, My Jewish Learning, and his blog). His writing has really inspired me in the time I have been doing the Jewish content for Patheos. In fact, his article on Molly Goldberg + the interview with Aviva Kempner on NPR got me researching and ultimately writing about Molly.

So Matthue has recently done an interview with Matisyahu for MJL which is a really incredible piece. He (and MJL) so graciously let me use it for the Patheos website. I really love how Matis and Matthue talk about Matis' evolving style and niche of music. I challenge all the people out there who claim Matisyahu "isn't real reggae" (just look at his YouTube channel for the nasty comments) to show me an artist who's sound doesn't evolve and who fits solidly into a specific genre. More, I see a kid who was influenced by this genre and choose to imitate it (after all, imitation is the best form of flattery). Matis isn't trying to be Bob Marley... he's trying to be Matthew Paul Miller aka Matisyahu. He's praising Hashem in a way that is relevant ... TO HIM. And it has become relevant to others too. His music speaks to a generation. Why? Because here we sit, young adults, children of the baby boomer/hippies, as a favorite song says... looking for a place to land. Trying to find our niche, our place in this world. We watched our parents boom and bust, heard the stories & listened to the records (yes, records) from their youth. Found out how they accidentally ended up at Woodstock (not kidding, my dad rocks but that is a story for another time), all the while waiting for our chance.

Most of us didn't/don't have adversity to conquer, no civil rights battle, no JFK, no need for bootstraps. Where most of our parents moved away from religion for spirituality, we move towards it. We crave connection but it's not so easy any more. Young people are going back to church/temple/synagogue in droves to find it but there are distractions. Television, Facebook, getting drinks on a Friday night, being too hung over on Sunday. What speaks to the Twitter generation? Chabad dinners, Matisyahu, Reb Zalman's weekly siddur on cd (I try to listen to it at least once a day to get my davvenen in) ... technology. A different kind of worship.

I have seen Matis perform live three times (once in NYC and twice in Denver) at three very different stages of his evolution.
NYC - brand, spankin' new. No one knew who he was. We got home burned versions of his first CD, small crowd but we knew that this guy was going to be someone. They didn't have problems filling seats but it was 40 - 60 people.
Denver, pt 1 - Matis is getting popular. His music is the same but he has a broader following, outside of Judaism. I saw him at The Paramount in Denver and the house is packed (1980 seats... don't ask me how I know that). He sang the Sh'ma at one point, telling the crowd that this is a very sacred prayer for Jews. Instead of covering my eyes to say the Sh'ma like I normally do, I turned around. I was standing next to the stage and behind me was nearly 2000 people standing in awe. Some had their hands in the air, like how some Christians prostrate to G-d in church. Some had their eyes covered like Jews traditionally do during the Sh'ma and some just watched this man pray, in front of them, with fervor.
Denver, pt 2 - The Mile High Music Festival version. When I saw Matis was playing this huge music festival I was excited. I figured not that many people would be interested in his music and I could get up nice and close and enjoy the show... I was wrong. I was dead wrong. I couldn't have been wronger (yes, I know that isn't a word). We got to the tent early-ish... but not early enough. It was already packed 30 minutes before his set... and it kept getting more packed. First people kept inching closer, then we had to stand up so there was room for more people, eventually, we were packed into the tent like sardines. He started his set and the crowd went wild. One guy took off his Mogen David necklace (the Jewish star) and was waving it in the air but most of the people there weren't Jewish. They went because he gave them a connection to something more than just the music. He connected them to their faith.

Is Matisyahu a symptom of a change or the cause? I would honestly say a symptom. Matisyahu's life story reads as fairly typical (ish) of my generation (of course, if you read it generally). He was a normal kid in White Plains, NY. Grew up liking Reggae music, smoked pot, didn't like school, felt no connection to his Judaism. Until he met a Chabad rabbi in Washington Square. Then it all changed for him. He went to a Chabad yeshiva, married a good frum girl and the rest is history. But he used his music to connect to his Judaism and entertain his yeshiva-mates. And now, really, the rest is history. I think he melded his secular upbringing with his new found observance. And that observance has been evolving too. He has jumped around to different sects of Judaism but the key is that Judaism is still central to how he lives his life.

For those of us who grew up with varying levels of religious observance who are being drawn to the more observant level, it's about melding our experiences, not forgetting them. Though the Orthodox Jews I hang out with don't have tattoos, I look at my tattoos as a badge of my history, of where I have been and where my journey has taken me. I am proud of my battle scars, the ones I have incurred on my journey to finding my level of observance and spirituality. The fact that mine is much more orthodox than my parents isn't unusual anymore. Really, we are all just a part of the Matisyahu generation.

And I leave you with a blessing Reb Zalman gave to me & my parents - "May your children be so frum (observant) that they won't even eat in your home."

Read Matthue Roth's interview with Matisyahu here -

Drumroll please....

The results are in!

I made it to the semi-finals of the Mad Men photo competition!! I am so excited, if for no other reason than there were over 4,500 entries and I am in the top 10 women! Thanks to everyone who voted for me, tweeted it, Facebooked it, and generally made me viral. :)

Here's a link to the semi-finalists -

Stay tuned. I don't know when we find out who wins but I will let you know when I know!


Let's talk about my new favorite photo...


Thanks for @partridge for this!

Mad Men contest part deux

Okay, so I don't want to cast aspersions on this process but...

The voting has been crazy. Doing my super-PR girl thing, I got the word out there about me. There have been over 500 clicks on my link - (which is why I use, they let you track clicks) but I am landing on the 8 or 9 page! EVERYONE in the contest has only 2 stars with the exception of one girl. She has three stars and has been sitting pretty as #1 in the contest for over a week. That is pretty strange considering that no one has stayed that steady in this game. Her shot is alright but I doubt she has more friends voting than all the rest of us who have been blogging, Facebooking and Tweeting about it. I am pretty positive that the only people who have been voting are friends of contestants and Maddicts. It is clear that everyone is going around ranking themselves a 5 and everyone else a 1. This, though logical, seems silly and unfair. There are pictures that do not capture the essence of this competition ranking in the top 20, and that is silly!

It's turned into one big f-you fest and I don't like that. It's who's friend network is bigger and who can find auto-voting software to outsmart AMC. :( Very disappointing.

I hope the powers that be take a good look at the votes before picking the winners.

All that being said, I am not a sore loser. I had fun doing this and would do it again and I do, desperately want to play in the costume room for the show sometime (okay, maybe the props too).

So please, vote for me. We have until Monday. Again, my link is

Ever feel like you were born at the wrong time?

I have... I have a passion for the advertising of the 1950's & 60's. Well, needless to say, my favorite television show is Mad Men.

So when I heard that Banana Republic (one of my favorite stores) and Mad Men were hosting a contest, I knew I had to enter! The prize? Priceless! A chance for a walk on role on Mad Men but the Banana $1000 gift card doesn't hurt! So I got a good friend of mine who is an incredible photographer to take some great pics of me wearing my favorite 50's style (Banana Republic) dress all around Denver! They came out amazingly!

So how does this work? Well, I need all of you to go to this website (AdGirl Talia) and vote for me (you don't have to register). Everyday! :) Please give me 5 stars. The competition is interesting, I would say most of it is headshots and wedding pics, a lot of snaps taken on a night out but there are some die hard Mad Men fans (we call ourselves Maddicts) that have done a good job. The public vote gets you through the first round. Top 10 women and top 10 men. Then the creator of Mad Men makes his choice - 60% on Mad Men style and 40% on creativity. Well, I really hope to win so I need your help! Please vote often and high! :0)

Thanks!!! Oh and here is the link to the other pics from the photo shoot - Photo Shoot (pics by Ben Barefoot)

And here are some pics from the new season (you just try to tell me that I don't look like I fit right in! :)) - Mad Men Season Three

Mad Men Contest

So the BRILLIANT minds behind Mad Men and the clothing line, Banana Republic have come up with a fab contest.

Submit your best "Mad look" and win a walk on role one Mad Men...

Well, since I A. am addicted to Mad Men and B. am a Mad Ave gal myself (okay, not NYC but I am a PR/Marketing professional in Denver) and C. have a very special affinity for the 50's/early 60's... especially in fashion, I am entering the competition.

I will send out the link to my page when I submit so stay tuned. AND please vote for me! :) After looking at the 400 or so pics they have up now, I am confident in my photo shoot! :)

Obama, Israel and the Financial Crisis pt. 2

So the previous post was born out of my Facebook conversations today.

I would like to share with you the extended conversation I had with an acquaintance from college. We will call him "JU" (like our university). A few others jumped into the conversation and I will add them in with appropriate names. :)

After I posted the Patheos discussion about the Dems blaming the Jews, I got this comment on my wall - (here we go folks, be sure you are strapped in and ready for the ride)

JU - talia, I'm curious...would you still support Obama if he apologized to the world for the United States provoking Iran to send a nuclear missle into Jerusalem?

Jen -
I don't think the US would have to provoke Iran for that to happen. I don't think I understand the hypothetical you've posed.

JU - The President would blame the US for this

Jen - on what are you basing this assumption?

JU - The international apology tour that he undertook several months ago.

Jen - so because he make an international trip, it's an "apology" tour? your logic still eludes me....

JU - He dislikes this county, the founding documents he finds a document of "Negative rights", and will bow to a Saudi King. With no basis he calls Cambridge police stupid for arresting a black professor who was acting beligerent toward an officer of the law ..Obama takes ten days to comment on the attrocities that the Iranian people suffered after ... Read Moretheir election; sat in a Church pew for 20 years listening to an anti-semitic preacher, Jeramiah Wright. The cynicisim posed in my question is to find out if Talia sides with Israel or Obama?

Jen - I think you're funny in a belligerent and mis-informed sort of way. There is still no logic in what you are saying. However, I will have to let Talia answer your question, which perhaps I should have done to begin with rather than engage in this madness. Curiosity got the better of me.

ME! THD - I highly disagree that the two are mutually exclusive. I believe that Obama is the man to take our country to the next level, into the 21st Century. I think he has the compassion and understanding to handle international diplomacy as well as domestic with tweezers, rather than the sledge hammer our former president used.

I think President Obama supports Israel and Jews but sees a need for this insane Middle Eastern feud to end. And I agree with Jen, Iran doesn't need any provocation to attack Israel. They have been threatening for years and years.

Eretz Yisrael is my spiritual homeland. I spent time there and love the land and my people. I support Israel and do not want to see it split into pieces but I also have good friends who are Arabs, Muslims, and who call themselves Palestinians. ... Read More

I think Mr. Obama was correct to open dialogues with the Arab nations. Without dialogue, there can be no peace or understanding. I do not believe that America can survive as an insular country... (it continued but took a bit to type, so there were responses in between)

More after the jump

Obama, Israel and the Financial Crisis pt. 1

So... as part of my job at Patheos, I posted a discussion in our discussion forum. Here is a link to it - Are Jews to Blame?

In a nutshell (help I'm in a nutshell... sorry couldn't resist) it discusses that more Democrats than Republicans BLAME JEWS!!! for the financial crisis!!!! 34%, in fact!! That is incredible to me considering that we Jews don't have any financial magical power. There are those stereotypes. There have always been those stereotypes. Why? Because back in the day, Jews were forbidden from doing many jobs. Money lending was considered "dirty" so it was relegated to the "hated" class, the Jews. Hence, we got pretty good with numbers and some families stay in the business. Now, I don't have my head in the sand and I know that Bernie Madoff perpetrated one of the largest ponzi schemes in the history of the world and that he was Jewish but what about these?

(My post continues below these...)

(borrowed from - Business Pundit)
10. The Fraudulent Feminist - no evidence of Jewish heritage
In 1880, Boston Ponzian Sarah Howe promised women 8% interest on a “Ladies Deposit.” She said it was only for women, selling an implicit assumption of safety. She took the Money and ran.
9. The Haiti Haters - not Jewish
Ponzi schemes popped up all over Haiti in the early 2000’s. These schemes sold themselves as government-backed “cooperatives.” They ran mainstream-sounding ads, some of which featured Haitian pop stars. As a result, people felt safe investing more than $240 million–60% of Haitian GDP in 2001–into the schemes, which ended up being a massive swindle.
8. The Scientologist Snake - Scientologist
Earthlink co-founder and Scientology minister Reed Slatkin posed as a brilliant investment advisor for A-list Hollywood residents and corporate bosses. Working out of his garage, Slatkin cheated the rich and famous out of roughly $593 million, creating fake statements referring back to fake brokerage firms to prove his mettle. He fed the Church of Scientology with millions of his winnings. In 2000, the SEC caught wind that Slatkin wasn’t licensed, and busted the scheme.
7. The Lottery Uprising - no evidence of Jewish involvment
When Albania was moving out from behind the Iron Curtain in the mid-1990s, a powerful government and environment of questionable ethics resulted in a financial system dominated by pyramid schemes. The government endorsed various Ponzis, which robbed the majority of the population and netted more than $1 billion in losses. Albanians rioted and overthrew the government.
6. The Costa Rica Crooks - evidence of Christian faith
Three Costa Rican brothers, Enrique, Osvaldo and Freddy Villalobos, defrauded clients–mostly American and Canadian retirees–out of $400 million in a 20-odd-year unregulated loan scheme that started in the late 1980s. They promised interest rates of 3% per month on a minimum investment of $10,000. Villalobos moved money through shell companies before paying investors. Its staying power had to do with the fact that margins were low, the brothers were disciplined, and the outfit just barely skirted past laws.
5. The Biblical Bilker - Christian
In fraud-rich Florida, the Greater Ministries International church used Bible-speak to cheat its flock out of $500 million. Starting in the early 1990s, the church, led by gun-toting minister Gerald Payne, offered worshipers investments in gold coins. Payne then created an investment plan that would “double the ‘blessings’ that people invested” by funneling money towards the church’s fake precious metals investments. According to the Anti-Defamation League, Payne said that God had modernized the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and asked him to share the secret.
$500 million later, the Feds caught Payne, but most investors never got their money back.
4. The Boy Band Bandit - Jewish
Beginning in the late 1980s, Lou Pearlman, Art Garfunkel’s cousin and former manager of ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, offered attractive returns through his FDIC-insured Trans Continental Savings Program. The scheme was neither a savings and loan nor FDIC-approved, but that didn’t stop Pearlman from bilking investors out of nearly $500 million, with which he planned on funding three MTV shows and an entertainment complex.
3. The Retiree Plunderer - no evidence of Jewish heritage
Mexican resort owner Michael Eugene Kelly schemed retirees and senior citizens out of $428 million. He offered them timeshare investments in Cancun hotels that he called “Universal Leases.” The timeshares came with rental agreements promising investors a nice fixed rate of return. Most of his victims used their retirement savings, thinking they would get solid, low-risk returns. The SEC says that “more than $136 million of the funds invested (came) from IRA accounts.” Kelly, meanwhile, bought himself a private jet, racetrack, and four yachts.
2. Madman Madoff - Jewish
Bernard Madoff’s scam is still unfolding. The facts as we know them now are that Madoff spent decades building the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, bilking nonprofits, famous people, funds, banks, and countless others out of $50 billion.
1. The Namesake - no evidence of Jewish heritage
The King of Get Rich Quick, Charles Ponzi became a millionaire in six months by promising investors 50% return in 45 days on international postal coupon investments. He earned $15 million, which in 1920s terms was serious money. After Ponzi was caught, investors only received $5 million back.

More after the jump

There she is, folks — that's Molly Goldberg, a woman with a place in every heart and a finger in every pie.

If you are like me (a week ago) you have NO idea who Molly Goldberg/Gertrude Berg is.

I was listening to NPR on Friday and heard a very interesting story. It was about this Jewish woman in the 1920's who created a sitcom, The Goldbergs. In fact, she created the genre of sitcom, to an extent. It started as a radio show and then was adapted to television. It went off the air in the 1950's. Sadly, most of the episodes were destroyed but there are a few historical records of the radio show and television show.

I read a great article on about The Goldbergs. Read it here
Also, there is a new film out called, Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg (a signature call of that show), by Aviva Kempner. Here is the interview with Aviva on NPR (which is what sparked my curiosity).

Gertrude Berg was an actress and writer (screenwriter, eventually), one of the first women to hold those roles. She was born in NY to a Jewish family and wrote about what she knew, Jewish family life in NYC. She was the first person to receive the Emmy for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series but things weren't always funny for Gertrude. She was loyal to her cast/friends, almost to a fault. When her television husband, Phillip Loeb, was accused of Communism (he was involved in the Actor's Equity Union and AFRA to better conditions for actors), Gertrude stood by him... until she was forced to let him go for fear that the show would be taken off the air. She did, however, keep him quietly on the payroll because he was eminently unemployable after being blacklisted by McCarthy. Though she provided for him, Phillip Loeb sank into a depression. Being unable to work and with failing eyesight, he ultimately committed suicide in 1955.

Gertrude addressed real issues affecting Jews in America with her scripts. Ms. Kempner mentions this in her interview with NPR, "Very early on as Hitler rose in power, she had a very overt Passover scene on radio," says Kempner. "Some months after Kristallnacht, she had a stone being thrown through the window on the radio show, and while no one was addressing the Holocaust on TV, she had an episode where she got letters from her relatives."

But Molly Goldberg was everyone's mother during those 26 years (20 years on radio and six years on television)... imagine that! 26 years! We are lucky if a show lasts one year these days.

She was the stereotypical Jewish mother but not in a negative way. Always positive and with dignity. It didn't matter where you lived or if you had ever met a Jew, you loved Molly Goldberg.
President Roosevelt supposedly said, "I didn't get us out of the Depression, The Goldbergs did."

Once the television show went off the air, Gertrude moved onto the Broadway stage earning a Tony for her work in A Majority of One.

Gertrude Berg (zt"l) passed away in 1966.

What a powerful history that I never knew. I will be looking for anything I can find from the amazing 26 years of The Goldbergs and if you want to see something now, the article from has a few clips.

Mayim Balik on What Not To Wear

I have to say that I was incredibly disappointed in this episode of What Not To Wear.
What they neglected to show is that Mayim is an Orthodox Jewish woman and she following the laws of tznius ( They even had her study partner on the show to talk about it ( but they cut it.

They criticize the length of her skirts and encourage her to hem her skirts shorter and wear sleeveless tops but that may not be what she feels is appropriate. Why can't we find modest and attractive clothing? Why can't longer skirts look attractive? Why isn't modesty attractive?

I was really looking forward to this episode to see beautiful modest clothing in respect of Mayim's beliefs but I was disappointed... I still love Stacey and Clinton but I think they missed a great opportunity to speak to a chunk of the population who dress modestly.


Things that I love -
  • Rainstorms
  • My family (even if they are crazy)
  • Clean sheets
  • Squash (... I'm not even a little bit kidding, and yes, I mean the veg)
  • A night out with friends
  • Learning new Jewish "stuff"
  • Catching Sherlock Holmes/Hercule Poirot/M*A*S*H*/Murder, She Wrote on tv randomly
  • Making new friends
  • Writing letters and postcards by hand & using the postal service to mail them
  • Benefit blush (shallow, I know... but I do love it) & mascara
  • My besties that I rarely see because I live by mountains and they live by oceans
  • Friends who step up and love you when you need it
  • People who do random acts of kindness for no reason
  • Honest compliments

Things that I hate -
  • Food that is so spicy that is makes my mouth burn
  • When people abruptly stop talking to me
  • Intolerance
  • Restaurants that don't serve anything that doesn't have pork or shellfish in it (SOME PEOPLE CAN'T EAT THAT STUFF!!)
  • Unanswered text messages
  • People who hold grudges
  • Being judgmental
  • Lies (especially the ones that hurt)
  • Short rainstorms
  • Men who can't grow up & treat people around them like crap
  • People who don't know that bacon is pork (okay, it is pretty funny... but seriously!)
  • People who you trust but then treat you like crap
  • People who manipulate you
  • Not being able to let go of the hurt

I saw this quote forever ago and I hang onto it
because I need to remember it -

Never make someone a priority
who makes you an option.
Let the filtering begin.

New Fav Blog (other than my dad's of course)

Do the words "Jon" "and" "Kate" make you want to hang yourself? Have you dreamt of putting gum in Kate's hair just so she has to cut those ridiculous things she calls bangs off? Have you checked with your significant other to see if you can handle adopting at least the 6 little ones (because frankly, Maddie is a little brat) to save them from the woman to has pictures to prove she gave birth to them? Then this blog is for you...

I think it is HILARIOUS.

Things I Want To Punch In The Face

A great shul guide

I got this in an email from Parasha Partners today. It is a really helpful guide for the Saturday morning services.


Dear Rabbi:

I occasionally go to synagogue on Shabbat, but feel very uncomfortable — I never know when to stand or sit. I expect that I will eventually figure it out, but it would be helpful if there were some general guidelines you can provide.

Janet N.

Dear Janet:
To stand or to sit - that is the question that has engaged the halachic authorities throughout the centuries. The underpinnings of the answer are fascinating, but before we explain them, let us first state the rule you are looking for.
There are only 6 places during the Shabbat morning service that, strictly speaking, one is required to stand. All other times that you find people standing, it is because they are following certain customs that are laudable, but not compulsory. The 6 places where one should stand are (the page numbers following refer to the ArtScroll Siddur - Heb./ Eng.):
  1. Baruch She’amar (the beginning of what’s called “Pesukei d’Zimra”), p. 370;
  2. V’yavareich David, p. 396;
  3. Amidah (silent prayer), p. 420, and the chazzan’s repetition of the Amidah (unless one is infirm), Kedushah (if one sits during the repetition), p. 422;
  4. the carrying of the Sefer Torah (Torah scroll), p. 436 & p.458;
  5. the Mussaf prayer and its repetition by the chazzan, p. 462, including Kedushah, p. 464 (if one sits during the repetition);
  6. Aleinu, p. 480.
It should be noted that standing is only a requirement for those who are capable of standing. If, however, one is unable to stand because of physical limitations, he or she should certainly recite the above passages and will be accredited with having said them properly.
The reason we stand for 1) and 2) is that they are recited in the section of Pesukei d’Zimra that are praises about G-d. These two passages express His primary praises, and therefore we stand to show our fullest reverence. We stand for 3), which is the silent prayer. It is called “Amidah” (lit. ‘stand’) because we find that our Patriarch, Abraham, stood when he established the morning prayer (see Genesis 19:27). Whenever the Sefer Torah is being carried (4), we have an obligation to display it the greatest honor. We stand during the Aleinu prayer because the first and last letter of the prayer expressed in the first passage spell eid, (‘witness’), and in Jewish law a witness is required to stand when giving testimony. The content of the Aleinu prayer is a declaration of our faith, essentially our testimony about the Creator’s existence.
The practice of standing during the performance of a mitzvah is traced to the mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer, the counting of the 49 days between Passover and Shavuos. According to one tradition, the Torah requires this counting be done in a standing position. There is much discussion among the early authorities regarding the linkage of other mitzvos to Sefiras HaOmer. Those that are linked must also be performed in a standing position. All authorities agree that putting on a Tallis (a four-cornered fringed garment) and the blowing of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah are linked and require standing. Some add that Kiddush Levanah (the blessing on the new moon when it becomes visible), Lulav (the 4 species taken on Succos), and Bris Milah (circumcision) are also linked and require standing. Other authorities add even more mitzvos to this list, based on exegesis. It is interesting to note that all authorities agree that there is a class of mitzvos that one should sit for— blessings that are made on our enjoyment of the pleasures that G-d has given us, for example, the Grace after Meals following a bread meal. Included in this category are the blessings that are made before eating food or enjoying the aroma of different flowers or spices.
While some of the rules of standing may be complicated, one thing is simple. The effort we make to stand when performing a mitzvah is an expression of our respect and readiness to fulfill Hashem’s Will.
Rabbi Reuven Drucker

Rabbi Drucker can be reached at

Submit your questions for publication consideration to

SHORT BLOG = #JackassDay

So today has officially been declared Jackass Day.

Bad drivers, bad boys, bad social networking sites... just all around annoying. But the best part is nearly everyone in the office is on the same page. So we are trying to trend #JackassDay on Twitter now. And having a great time...

Hilarious... so enjoy Jackass Day and if you want to be cool, help us trend #JackassDay by Tweeting about Jackass Day with the hashtag - #JackassDay


New Crazy Bastard video

This is the best video! Very awesome.

The irony/poignancy is very cool. Notice the signs on the top left of the screen... and Jacob looking like a homeless person...

The end though... classic... and totally not planned!

Watch it here-

And share it with your friends, email out one of these links (or tweet it or facebook it)! - or

And be sure to check out for cool discussions and very interesting articles. (And seriously, Jews, got on those discussion boards. The Evangelicals are kicking our butts!) :o)

Wordle Word Cloud

I love this program.

This is a snapshot of my most used words in my blog.


So... I am a total quote girl. I love them, I am touched by them, and I horde them...

But I am simplifying my life so I am going to put them all in this blog post and take them off my Facebook, etc. I'll keep adding so you keep checking. :)

"You have to keep moving forward. As long as you’re holding on to where you were yesterday, you’re standing still." -The Rebbe

"Faith, in its most sublime function, provides man with a level of courage that he could not otherwise achieve"

“…A Rabbi is a person in search of that which can never be found, but he knows that the search is what is important. Somehow to translate faith into life and love into action. And when he experiences it, he catches a glimpse of what everything is all about. And suddenly pettiness disappears. And hurt and aggravation fade away. And there is a light most wondrous to behold. Some people call it redemption. The Rabbi calls it God." –My Grandfather

Reb Nachman of Breslov said: "The voice of my beloved- the pulse. If you want to know G!d, you need only to listen to His voice within. You need never be lonely for Him or out of touch with His inner spirit; you can always touch your pulse and say, "Ah, there you are."

"Intolerance lies at the core of evil. Not the intolerance that results from any threat or danger. Not the intolerance that arises from negative experience. Just intolerance of another being who dares to exist, who dares to diminish the space in the universe left for you. Intolerance without cause.

It is so deep within us, because every human being secretly desires the entire universe to himself. Our only way out is to learn compassion without cause. To care for each other simply because that “other” exists." - The Rebbe

"In a single bond I am bound with Him; my soul is united with Him, burns in Him, cleaves to Him."
- Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on the day of his passing, Lag BaOmer

"Hayom katzar, v'hamlakha m'rubah" -
"The day is short, the task is great"

"Actors are not made, they are born."
-Angela Landsbury

"I have great faith in fools; my friends call it self-confidence."
- Edgar Allan Poe

"In the midst of difficulty, lies opportunity."
-Albert Einstein

"A sorority is more than letters on a sweatshirt, I say. More than traditional songs, a gold pin, rituals, and obligation, or a way of life. A sorority is learning about people, a sorority is giving without expecting a return. A sorority is earning respect from others, as well as for yourself. A sorority will not solve all your problems. But I have made good friends and found confidence there to help me take life one step at a time."

Sherlock Holmes Trailer (w/ Robert Downey Jr?!?!)

Okay folks... watch this before you read my blog (but keep reading... please!)


So if you have ever read any of my blogs, you know I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I like him because he is flawed. He isn't all brawn and no brains. He loves to engage is mental gymnastics and can spend hours sitting in a chair thinking with his eyes closed before taking action. And yes, I know what you are going to say ... he's a boxer, he's hyper, he has ADD sometimes and yes, he does... but never once did Doyle write a scene where he was boxing or engaging in that type of physical behavior (I believe, I haven't researched this). He eluded to it... but never was Holmes interrupted in the middle of a boxing session. Knowing about that time period, I am inclined to say that Doyle wrote the boxing in to "place" Holmes in society. That was something that gentlemen did. They went to Gentleman Jacks to box. Nothing that I have ever read (and I have read most everything on Holmes) has given me the impression that he was an "action hero."

This new film (and only judging based on the trailer) seems to be an Americanized action flick with a predictable format that they decided to name Sherlock Holmes. I had my doubts from the start. The best Holmes-ian productions have been British. And hey, not discriminating here... I'm American but Doyle was British, Holmes & Watson were... Americans may have a hard time enjoying the subtly of the British humor and what not but an Americanized, cowboy-esq, action hero Holmes doesn't sit right with me.

Needless to say, I will see the film and let you know what I think but ... ... ... ... right now, I'm not sold...

A new spin on comparative religion

SO, in my last blog (almost a month ago... yeah, sorry about that) I spoke briefly about my new job at Patheos.

Background - Patheos is a comparative religion website with a fantastic interface. It is a fabulous resource for anyone who is studying religion, wanting to know more about their own traditions, or has questions that have plagued them for years. The site launched on May 5 and it has been SO exciting! We have had some great coverage on the launch. See our article here. Leo and Cathie (the founders) are really passionate about the site and incredibly articulate about it!

Okay, so my role - I am the Community Manager for the site. You can really break the site into a few sections. There are the Gateways and library where the worlds traditions are cataloged and serve as a great resource. The Public Square is a place where the leaders of the faiths who are chronicled as Gateways can weigh in on some of the hottest, most controversial and thought provoking topics in our world today. And then there is the community section. That is where I come in. In the community, we have groups, blogs, and discussion forums. I have been hard at work creating the governance documents for this community. Leo and Cathie, in fact, everyone at Patheos is really committed to making this a safe place to express beliefs and learn about others. It has been a really cool and interesting and hard process for me but I have created some documents that I am really proud of and I think serve this community really well.

In addition to that, I have been learning about the back-end management and how to use the software that we are utilizing for this website. It is Pluck software and it is just so versatile and awesome. I have to say, I was partial geek before but now I am going into full geek mode! It's a lot of fun. Not only do I do the governance but I have also been charged with the social media aspect. Twitter and Facebook and all that jazz. My specialty! I have been learning so many new techniques and measurement ideas.

So that's the new gig. Really enjoying the co-workers, bosses, and the work. I am very happy I made this decision. On to Chapter Five in The Life of Talia. :)

New Job!

I started a new job today at It is a comparative religion website with a social interaction aspect.

I highly recommend checking this site out. It hasn't fully launched yet (look for the main launch on May 5th) but it is super cool. The Judaism gateway needs some work so go to the contact us button if you are interested in being a contributor.

I don't have too much to say about it yet but I will keep you updated. (Come on, today is only my first day!)

Kids are funny

Sorry that it's been a long time... life got REALLY busy!

Okay so, I have these awesome friends. They live down the street and their daughters go to ballet at BNC. Really fun and sweet family. I will give them fake names to protect their anonymity (but frankly, if you know me or BNC, you will see through my ruse). So Phad and Sen have 4 little girls. They are 8, 6, 4, and almost 2. Really smart and cute kids.

So I knew the 4 year old (we will call her... uhm... Poxy) since she was very little. When she was a toddler, she was so afraid of these primary colored plastic bugs that you could put the in a circle around her and she wouldn't cross it. SO funny. It was a pretty effective baby gate. But I have to say, I think the youngest (we will call her... uhm... Kaherazade) is the funniest.

Disclaimer, I think Sen is pretty much the best mom I have ever met. She is SO giving me mom lessons when I have kids.

So Kaherazade says many funny things. Lately it is "Bunnies, kill me." What she means is she wants her dad to go out and knock off the bountiful bunnies that have taken over their neighborhood. The girl is serious about this. She found a slingshot and gave it to Phad to get the job done! Tonight, we were getting their house ready for Easter while the three older kids were sleeping and making Easter baskets for all four. Kaherzy saw the stuffed, pink and purple, bunnies for the baskets and she kept saying "outside, outside" like we needed to put the stuffed ones outside and kill them! She was so serious! We had to take the bunnies out of sight.

So Kaherzy gives us many band names when she babbles... we like "Bunnies kill me beyotch." Don't steal it. It's ours. Kaherzy says sh*t, beyotch, a**hole, and my fav... c*ck when she means to say talk. Sorry if anyone is offended but it's hilarious and those words are off limits when she gets old enough to remember.

Beyond anything, my favorite is when she knows they are going to ballet or when she sees me and says "Tayah, Tayah." That sweet voice, blue eyes... dude, I am a big puddle.

The coolest thing about hanging with little kids is how in the moment you become and have to be. You can't worry about bills or problems or tomorrow or yesterday... you are right there, right then. Same thing with animals, I think.

I love kids. :-)
And lordy, I have so many good stories to tell at these girls' weddings. :-)

So, Sen said I could spill the beans and anyway I am doing a superior job of protecting their identities... HA HA... but... Sen is pregnant again! Totally unplanned and she didn't know until the middle of last week but she is almost 6 weeks. I am actually hoping for a boy... Phad needs some support in that house... but you know that kid will be dressed in girl clothes because that is what they have on hand! :-)

The State of the Nation('s arts writers)

Okay. I get the economy is bad... trust me, I REALLY get it! But there has been this disturbing trend of laying off arts reviewers from major newspapers.

The LA Times has a section for Movie, TV, and Music reviews... no dance. Very little about dance on their online site. The Village Voice in NYC? Last I heard Deborah Jowitt, the dance critic, was laid off from the periodical. I hear she is still writing dance for them (she was a biographer of Jerome Robbins) but I don't think she is full time as a dance critic any more.

NYTimes? Anna Kisselgoff is a legend. She is still writing. But those are the biggies, guys. What about the locals?

Here is Denver we lost our full time dance critics a few years ago. Now they all wear multiple hats and are called "Arts Critics." And they do an enormous job. I am not knocking these hardworking folks but when a contact recently told me he couldn't make it because that weekend he had to go to a RollerDerby Dolls event, rock concert, and then a night club opening to cover for the paper, I decided that this has gotten out of hand. How can someone be an expert when they have to see so many different forms of entertainment to keep their jobs? They do a phenomenal job writing the articles but they don't get to connect to the work quite as well when they are running to the Philharmonic for their evening show, all in the same day.

The reason this came about is because our partner, Curious Theatre Company in Denver received this most AMAZING review by a writer for the Westword here in Denver. It is possibly the most beautiful review I have read. The show was incredible but this review, beautiful. Here is a link to the review - The Westword Eurydice

Final word, don't shove the arts to the side and call it okay. We may not be breaking news but we deserve column inches too.

Okay, off soapbox.

The Twitter Revolution

Well, it has officially happened. Twitter has taken over the world.

In the past week, I have had 10 friends join twitter who were anti-tweet before. Why the change? Why now?

The Denver Post ran an article in the Sunday A&E section about Twitter -
And on March 3rd they ran this Twitter article -
Two articles about Twitter in less than two weeks!!!!

Clearly, the press is jumping all over twitter and as it comes out that John Mayer is tweeting nasty about Jennifer Aniston during a concert or Shaq clearly doesn't know how to spell because his tweets are illegible, Twitter has become fodder for the mainstream. AND it is becoming a news source. People in the plane that crashed into the Hudson were tweeting live from the sinking plane and on the ferries. CNN's news isn't breaking anymore because I read it from the people who are experiencing it on Twitter.

Twitter caught my attention in the middle of 2007. At this point I can't remember who urged me to sign up but I had an account and then I read a story about an American kid in Egypt who got thrown in jail. He tweeted, "Arrested" and kept the world updated with his short tweets. The country was mobilized on his behalf in just a few hours and he was released. All because someone, his Tweeps, found out that he was in jail. I wonder how Twitter will figure into court cases and missing persons searches... "Well, Captain, she tweeted that she was meeting a guy out on cty rd 4 at 11:37pm and hasn't been heard from since." That plus GPS in cell phones should help locate missing tweeters.

But back to why the surge in members. I blame Facebook. So we all know by now that Facebook changed their interface and there are articles all over the web about how much it sucks and what people like or don't like (and then there are the people who don't really understand the Web 2.0/3.0 revolution and make up for it by calling those of us who do understand front end and back end systems and all that idiots and dorks and time wasters... I bet you in a month or two they will be calling us to help them get set up on Twitter or Facebook). I'm not here to discuss the pros and cons of it (because frankly, I don't have the time to and it was done really well here - but I think that the new "Twitter-like" Facebook interface helped make Twitter go mainstream but pissed off the Facebookers.

Here's the logic -
Facebook users who are Twitter users saw the similarities immediately. SO we all started Status Updating that and talking about how much we disliked it. That plus the abundance of media coverage about Twitter pushed these people over the edge and they signed up.

Now, I will say that of these people who just registered, many have only tweeted once and the tweet read something like, "Trying this Twitter thing out" or "Signing up for Twitter!" But that's okay guys, just hang in there. I think it was a full year after signing up that I got Twitter-active (now I have 600 some followers and well over 2,000 tweets, I average 16 tweets a day). It took going to the NPAC arts conference in Denver last year to really get me going. I realized I could tweet the wisdom I was getting and share it will my tweeps. It was great!

Anyway, here is another really great blog post on the evangelising of the anti-tweeters -

So, needless to say (I think), Twitter is becoming main stream and the early adopters (I like to think of myself as one) will be moving on to the next best thing. And Facebook, you are not it. I'm kinda happy with the change in Facebook... now my addiction is disappearing. Instead of checking it every half hour or so, I maybe check it once or twice a day! Whoo hoo!! I guess I don't need that 12 step for FB after all...

A blog from my father on Purim

My father wrote a facinating blog on Purim. Please check it out here - Rocky Mountain Hai: An open letter to my dear friend on Purim, slaughter and moderation

"Our path weaves between the weal and woe of life." Wow.

Very cool, Tatti!

G-d's Grand Gestures

Or should I say Grand... like Grand Pas or Grand Pas d'action... meaning big or large step. A Grand Pas d'action is a large step that contributes to the story being told.

I believe in G-d's Grand Gestures, the Grand Pas d'action of G-d, only because I have first hand experience in them. They come at the crappiest times, putting me in the crappiest positions, and usually with crappy consequences. But the beauty of these, shall we call them, G3s is that there is always something better on the other side.

Not just a little better, infinitely better.

Life changing better.

Beautiful rainbow better.

These huge, crappy experiences are like (in my weak interpretation) G-d smacking me on the back of the head and saying, "Nu*?! What were you thinking?!"
*Nu has the effect of the word "so," sort of. NPR says - "Nu" is a word used to express expectation. At the doctor's office, for example, you can say, "Nu, so how does my heart sound?" At a restaurant, you can say, "Nu, when is our food coming already?" At a friend's coffee table you ask, "Nu, nu, so what's the news with the family?"

Sometimes I think my Pops, my grandpa, is behind it. I picture him up in heaven having his Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi with the Almighty G, looking down at me going, "Uh oh! Excuse me for a second G-d, I need to get my granddaughter's head back into reality."

These revelations don't come without hardship and it is SO like Poppa to let me get deep enough into my own mess before he let's me know I am being stupid. But I'm thankful for it. I have only had to have two serious attention-getters in my lifetime and a few minor ones. Today was one of those minor ones. How annoying! But... I needed it.

Just a reminder to slow down, smell the roses, don't forget to davven, and don't miss the important things in life. So, I'm slowing down. Focusing on me and my needs. And generally enjoying my life.

Basil Rathbone... my hero

Okay, so I posted in February how I am in love with Sherlock Holmes and recently ordered some old DVDs (Rathbone and Bruce from the 40's and Jeremy Brett from the 80's).

Well, I got them... finally! :-)

As luck would have it, my schedule didn't allow a Sherlock Holmes weekend and there were technical difficulties... (I need another surge protector for my living room tv. The Comcast guy didn't tell me he unplugged my dvd player to plug in the cable box, grrrr.) BUT I have snuck a few episodes in here and there this weekend.


First of all, the UCLA Film & Television Archive did an AMAZING job at restoring these films. AND they put a note in the box explaining it. I actually learned a lot! Here is a blurb from their website -

Until 1950, films were produced using nitrate cellulose film stock, a chemically unstable and highly flammable material that inevitably deteriorates and turns to dust. Film preservation historically referred to the transfer of nitrate films to more stable acetate (or safety) film stock. However, acetate film stock also deteriorates, giving rise to a condition called "the vinegar syndrome"; and many of the color films made since 1950 are also subject to irreversible color fading. Many of the Archive's preservation and restoration projects deal with these post-1950 titles. The Archive is relying increasingly on a new polyester film stock, which appears to be much more stable if kept in optimal storage conditions.

They really did a nice job. They found the original front end titles and back end credits that were thrown away and restored the film to it's former glory. There were only a few they couldn't get all the pieces for or were irrevocably damaged.

So the first few episodes, well really, movies (they are over an hour long and were shown in theatres) are totally time warp Sherlock Holmes. They brought Holmes and Watson into WWII to help fight the Nazis. HOW COOL. It is rather funny to see them dressed in the period attire of the 40's rather than the late 1800's but still cool. The writers did a great job adapting Conan-Doyle's character to a new time period. They stayed pretty true to the character. (if you ignore the fact that they say "It's elementary, ____" to nearly every character and that is not something that Conan-Doyle wrote.)

So needless to say, I really am enjoying this collection. And I have two recommendations for you.

1. If you are watching late night tv and see a Brett or Rathbone Sherlock Holmes coming on, WATCH IT!

2. Help support the archive. What they do is invaluable and we have preserved so much history through their techniques.


Okay! I think that a birthday is more than just a day. I like to celebrate a birthday month. Not for presents or anything but it just gives me a reason to be excited all month.

So my birthday is March 19... that is 19 full days of joy (you can still celebrate afterwards but you know that the momentum lags a bit after a few days).

But a birthday is also like a new beginning, a new year for your soul/body/mind. Isn't it interesting, as Jews we give ourselves so many new years, new beginnings. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Tu b'shvat, the new year for the trees. January 1st, the secular new year. Our birthdays begin a new year for ourselves and you always get to celebrate twice if you use your Hebrew birthdate.

Why do we feel like we need to give ourselves clean slates over and over again? We say on Jan 1st that we will make resolutions. We say on our birthdays that this "one" will be a great one. But on Rosh Hashanah its different. On RH we actually take time to look at our lives and the past year. We reflect on mistakes and mis-steps and ask for forgiveness. We look for opportunities to forgive, reconcile, and start fresh. I like it. No empty promises. No gorging on cake, just a good look at who we are today and what we could do better in the next year. But you still get to have fun. So I am going to use this month to reflect and make adjustments and be excited about the future.

So anyway, Happy Birthday Month to me! And don't forget to celebrate you and how cool you are in your birthday month...

not saying that I'm cool...

but I think I am...

you know what I mean...