Archive for the ‘Judaism’ Category

Wedding and Israel

December 7, 2010

I spent a lot of time researching the best time to take my vacation this Winter. I negotiated with my managers over the course of three weeks before we settled on dates.
Finally, on November 1, 2010 I purchased my tickets to fly to Israel on January 23, 2011 and to New York on February 6, 2011.

I informed my parents and siblings of my plans and I let my ex-wife know that I would be unavailable during those two weeks.

One of my younger sisters decided to accept a marriage proposal just prior to Thanksgiving.
A couple of weekends ago she warned me that they were considering a January 30th wedding. I informed her that I already purchased my ticket and if they held it that date, I probably wouldn’t be there.

On Friday December 3, 2010 she informed that they did, in fact, book the wedding for January 30th.*

I didn’t want to change my plans, but I felt like I was “required” to research my options. I called the airline. They told me I’d be charged a minimum of $250.00 to change my flight plans.
I spoke to my management. They didn’t want to be blamed (how they phrased it) for keeping me from attending my sister’s wedding, so they agreed to re-open negotiations to plan my vacation dates. However, they made it clear that they wanted me to go on vacation sooner rather than later.

(Basically, they expect a lot of projects to begin in February 2011, so they want all hands on deck.)

I called my brother in Israel to find out what he was doing and to hear what he thought. He’ll be coming in for her wedding. He offered to let me use his apartment while he’s away (especially if his whole family travels with him). He agreed that I am not obligated to change my plans because they knew the situation before they chose January 30.

* When I ask people advice, they usually ask why is she getting married so soon after meeting the guy and why does she need to get married on that particular weekend?
I haven’t spoken to her about it. However, I think my dad is imposing his belief that engagements should be short. This belief might work for ultra-Orthodox Jews and its practice might be appropriate for people who buy into that way of life, but I think it’s a mistake for my sister.
My sister is a sincere, god-believing, ethical, Orthodox-practicing, commandment keeping person. But she is not ultra-Orthodox.
She should have a “normal” Orthodox engagement period of 3 to 6 month. I hope I’m wrong, but I believe that this shortened time line will have negative repercussions.

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Something uncontroversial: Mosque in Downtown Manhattan

August 26, 2010

While looking for an uncontroversial topic to blog about I heard people debating whether NYC should allow a mosque at 51 Park Place in Downtown Manhattan.

Everyone agrees that the current U.S. Constitution allows for mosques in Downtown Manhattan.

Everyone agrees that while 51 Park Place is nearby, it’ll still be two blocks away. It’s not like it’s being erected on the World Trade Center site or even next door. This map demonstrates the physical closeness and remoteness of the WTC site and the mosque.

Map of mosque site and WTC site

Map of mosque site and WTC site

There were only three arguments in opposition to building the mosque. The first was legal. The current building at the site of the future mosque was a possible landmark. Since I don’t agree with giving any location landmark status, I was glad that the committee voted against giving it a landmark status. While there is still an appeal underway to that decision, I don’t understand the basis of the appeal.

The second was security. If the mosque donations are coming from terrorist groups, then that could somehow make things unsafe for New York.
The way I see it, we should encourage terrorists to give donations to American causes. The less money terrorists have, the less likely they’ll be able to fund their terrorism.
The real issue isn’t money coming from terrorist organizations, but money going to terrorist organizations.

The third was emotional. Since the World Trade Center was destroyed by Muslims and about 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center by Muslims, it wouldn’t be respectful (or “sensitive”) to build an edifice so close to the site of destruction that will encourage people to join and maintain the Muslim faith.

My perspective is the dead don’t care about what is built there. The dead don’t have feelings and they don’t have knowledge of events. So, whether we decide to green-light the project or not, the sensitivity argument is non-starter for me.
And, I don’t even care of the timing of it. In Tuesday’s Daily News paper, Richard Huff quotes John Houseman, WPIX/Ch. 11’s assistant news director, in regards to covering the ceremony at the World Trade Center site, “This will continue through the 10th anniversary,” Houseman says. “I don’t know what happens in year 11.”
From my perspective the dead are gone the moment they die. If they wanted to build a mosque on the World Trade Center site on September 12, 2001, from a “sensitivity to the dead” point of view, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

However, there are three other possible issues. Two of them are specific to the location and one is about mosques in general.
The first is sensitivity to the living. While the deceased don’t care where a mosque is built, some of their loved ones and some of those who survived the attack do care. While this a legitimate concern, it’s unmanageable. How far away from the World Trade Center site is far enough? What if there’s one survivor who doesn’t want another mosque built anywhere in Manhattan because the thought of it is too painful, the pain would still be true.
As a result, I don’t think we should indulge them. They will just have to be in pain. With time, they’ll die or move on to the next issue and the pain will subside.
The second is historical. People, like Michael Savage, who study history point out that Muslims have a history of building a mosque near the location of a victory over their enemies.
However, in this case, was their really a victory for them to celebrate? Sure, they knocked down some buildings and they killed thousands of innocent people, but it directly lead to the death of thousands of Muslims (in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq*), many of them of the same group as the terrorists on the planes.
It also has the same restriction that the former argument had. If this is so close that it’s seen as a “victory” mosque, what distance would be needed to remove it from that status?

The third argument is that mosques, in general, should be forbidden because they encourage people in their devotion to Allah. Since Allah calls for the death of non-believers, a mosque could encourage terrorists and terrorism.
(Whether Allah really calls for the death of infidels or not is irrelevant, so long as Muslims kill in Allah’s name.
When Christians kill in the name of Christ, it is appropriate to say that Christ calls for murder.
And, if you believe the Bible’s version of history, when Jews killed in the name of Hashem, it was appropriate to say that Hashem called for murder.
The same is true for any other religion or group.
Since they are all fictional characters, what “they” say is less important than what people say they “say”.)

I think there is merit to this argument. However, it’s unconstitutional. If we amended the U.S. Constitution to forbid all religions from erecting houses of worship, we would resolve this problem. Sadly, many other issues would surface.

Therefore, as it currently stands, I cannot protest the mosque’s construction. I hope that it fails because of logistical reasons (lack of funding, mistakes in the blueprints, etc.), but since that’s unlikely, I’m sure a year after the mosque is built the hullabaloo will blow over. Tourists will flock to see the mosque that they wrote letters to the editor to protest and support and New York will benefit.

* I know the argument that Iraq was unrelated to September 11, 2001. However, the USA was bloodthirsty after the blow it received that day and was much more enthusiastic about taking out Saddam Hussein than they otherwise would have been.