Friday, March 21, 2008

Tales of Chesed 1

I'm a reluctant BT - I became observant primarily under the influence of my wife. One of the things that won me over was the feeling that at least some Orthodox hashkafot had a better-than-average chance at creating mentches. For me, mentchlicheit is the prerequisite for frumkeit - you can't be a good Jew in my eyes without being a good person first. There are other hashkafot than this, as has become increasingly clear to me with time.

One of the main reasons we moved to my present town was the high degree of achdut among the Orthodox community. Shul bulletins routinely publicize other shul's events, many people are members of multiple shuls, most people eat over one another's houses. When we were first looking into the community, we were sitting in a realtor's office when a 16 year old boy came in. He had seen me at mincha, and since we were obviously looking over the town, he wanted to see if he could help - were we looking to stay over Shabbat, did we want to know about the town, whatever. Malka Esther said to me afterwards 'any town where they are raising the boys to be that helpful has got to be a good place to live.

So to help me get over my recent bout of negativity, I thought I would share some stories of chesed in my town. Here's the first:

D. had moved to town about a month ago. He was going to marry R. who has lived here for about a year. Neither of them had developed a lot of friends in town yet. D. & R.'s wedding was scheduled for a Thursday. That weekend was the afruf and wedding of the son of one of the town's biggest baalei tzedakah. The wedding on Thursday came off beautifully. A number of people who only knew D. casually not only showed up for the wedding, but were instrumental in making sure everything ran smoothly.

Friday night there was huge oneg shabbat in honor of one the visitors in town for the big wedding. He was a very well known Israeli rabbi, and literally dozens of people showed up for the oneg. The room was packed, and nowhere more so than the head table. Not only were the speaker and the wedding party there, but so were the rabbis of two synagogues, the head of the local kollel, and other prestigious out of town guests. While we were waiting for things to begin, in walks D. The host of the oneg sees D., makes his way to him through the crowd, gets a rousing chorus of "Od Yishama" started, and then brings D. to the head table, where everybody scrunches over to make space for the new chatan. Personally, I had never seen a bridegroom treated that way other than at his own sheva brachot. Here at an event for someone else entirely, someone made sure that the chatan was made to feel like a king, despite being new in town.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Kosher Drama in Miami

Get the full story by clicking on the title of this post.


On March 3, 2008, representatives of Kosher Miami received information from a private investigator (who would not disclose who he was working for), that he had surveillance of activity that allegedly showed that an employee of Fu Xing Chinese restaurant was buying non-kosher chicken and bringing it into the restaurant.

Immediately after leaving the office of the private investigator, the delegation of Rabbonim went to Fu Xing. They immediately questioned the employee whom they saw in the pictures, and the employee ran away on foot before answering any questions. The Rabbonim went to the parking lot in the back of the restaurant, found the employees car, and were able to see chicken in a bag inside the automobile.

The restaurant owners claimed that the employee must have been stealing chicken from the restaurant.

As a precautionary measure, the Rabbonim asked the restaurant patrons to leave immediately, and suspended the hashgacha of the restaurant pending further investigation.


Kosher Miami representatives went with the pictures to the non-kosher meat supply house where the purchases were allegedly made, and asked the management and staff if they recognized the Fu Xing employee as someone who shopped at the supply house. No one was able to recognize him.

It has been reported to Kosher Miami by reliable sources that the private investigator was hired by a competing Chinese restaurant. Considering this, and considering the results of the investigation, Kosher Miami at this time does not believe that the allegations are true, but the investigation is still ongoing.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Bookish thoughts

If I ever do write this, I have no idea if it will be a Purim torah essay or an entire book, but I call dibs on the title What color is your Kool-Aid? - A guide for the new BT