Archive for the Miami Category

Bah, Teenagers

Posted in Me, Miami, Rants on December 11, 2008 by frumpunk

Kids are awesome, aren’t they? They start off plump and cuddly then segue into something cute and constantly learning for the next decade or so. I don’t have kids, but I’m the second oldest of a family of seven, so for those of you in a similar position, you know what I mean when you refer to siblings from a somewhat parental viewpoint. But the kids get back at you, don’t they? They manage to end up as anthropomorphic adults of a sort, only stupider and with more acne. It’s a terrible thing and I don’t know why they do it. Spite, I guess, from being pushed around and told to go to bed at six when its still sunny. Because when you tell a child to go to bed, what he hears is “lie down in a dark room and don’t move for ten hours”. A few years of that can build up a decent amount of resentment in anyone.

So going to my original point, that being teenagers. It’s a good name for a band but a terrible period in life, at least at the start. It gets cool by the time you’re around seventeen, but then you’re a “young adult” so it doesn’t count anyway. My youngest sibling is now eleven and I’ve three siblings at various stages of teenagerhood. I say various stages, but they’re all equally annoying. It’s a sad thing for me that I’ll officially never have little siblings again. Sadder even for my mother, which might explain why she points out every passing female under thirty and unringed to me.

My parents have been ill for a couple of days, and that meant the job of driver fell to me. School drop-offs and pickups. Appointments and all that fun stuff. Basically spending hours a day in a car driving teenagers. And I don’t like it. I don’t understand teenagers, probably because I never was a teenager. I don’t mean that in the Matilda sense (“I hate children. Glad I never was one.”) but the realistic sense. I did pass through the ages of thirteen to twenty and made it out alive and relatively unscathed, but I wasn’t a teenager like they are today. It’s not just my siblings, all teenagers today are rotten little things. The internet has ruined them. We never had MySpace or Facebook, hence we didn’t devote an amazing amount of time to taking pictures of ourselves to post. We had AIM, MSN and the AOL Jewish Chat Room (good memories, “a/s/l”…) but it’s not the same. We weren’t image obsessed, the opposite, we were anti-image. If you wanted to look cool you had to bloody work at it, not just pop into Hot Topic or a website. I think Hot Topic was open when I was in high school, but it wasn’t the same anyways. Noone went there. And have you heard the music they listen to? It’s this vapid inane crud, with lyrics as deep as an Arkansas outhouse circa 1870. I listened to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins in high school, our music had heart. And even the inane crud of my day was relatively harmless, Backstreet Boys, Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray and all that. Now even the tween pop songs have lyrics that would be banned by Justice Potter Stewart back in 1964. And one last thing on music, the kids have it too easy. Back in my day, if you wanted an album you went out and bought it. Sure, you could download it. Over a 33.6kbps modem. Napster. And one song at a time. Now the kids can steal a whole album in the time it takes me to get out of bed in the morning. And CD’s. We lugged around our CD players and these massive CD cases. You had to if you were going somewhere and wanted a variety of music. Now these brats have more albums than Best Buy in a player the size of Kevin Federlines brain. We had iPods. sure. 5GB if you wanted. You just needed a Mac and $400 or so. Now the most expensive one is 160GB for $250. And I thought things got more expensive in time.

I’m sorry, I’ve gone completely off topic. I left my siblings behind ages ago and just went on a bitter screed about the youth of today, didn’t I? My point is that I was never a teenager, not like today. I wasn’t annoying, rude or demanding. I went through my teenage years with headphones in one hand and a gemorah in the other. I had my balance, never felt the need to lash out at authority figure for negative attention. Not much anyway. I don’t know, the kids aren’t alright.

Disclaimer: Post written at 2.15am. May not be coherent or worthy of posting. Apologies if my suspicions are correct and I’m just overtired.

Negiah And Tefillin Dates

Posted in Girls, Me, Miami, Shidduchim on November 27, 2008 by frumpunk

Seems there’s been a decent amount of discussion in the JBlogosphere lately about shomer negiah and tefillin dates and stuff. My own opinion on the subject is simply to be 100% shomer. Honestly, its the one thing I’ve always been strict on myself about, mainly because most aveiros that people do are personal things, basically things that are between them and G-d, but whether or not you were shomer can have far reaching consequences when you get married and stuff, especially for girls. I’ve always known that I wanted sex, the ultimate expression of intimacy, to be only between me and my wife. I didn’t want a history, a list of previous partners, a “where did you learn that!” kind of thing. Its also a constant practice in self-control for me. If I can control myself from the most difficult to resist thing, it gives me the knowledge I can control myself given far easier things, like being lax on kashrus and stuff.

I’m not judging those who aren’t shomer, I believe to each his own. But what I don’t really get is the people who are shomer, but only up to the point of not going all the way. All that does is create a constant anticipation, a “so close but so far” kind of thing. In a shomer relationship, you know that whats off bounds is off bounds. If you don’t cross that first line, you don’t risk crossing any others. Its difficult, of course, but not the same as allowing yourself to get to that certain point then stopping. And its amazing to me how far people will go without doing it. Like sharing the same bed, but only sleeping. I’m sure its nice, but at some point that’s gotta be torture for the guy.

I’d say my view was reinforced by two things. When I worked at a Pesach hotel in Miami way back when, probably 9th or 10th grade, and I had the chance to but didn’t, that was kind of the ultimate thing. (Everyone else pretty much spent the entire ten days hooking up.) And it was pretty much solidified in first year Beis Medrash when I was older and wiser. My chavrusa was a 24 year old who had gone off the derech and come back on in the past year. He was engaged, and he was tortured by whether or not he should tell his kallah (who was always frum) about his previous sexual partners. Seriously, it was tearing him apart. I knew I didn’t want to be in his shoes.

Its only in the past few years that I learned that even among my frum friends, my strict shomer policy put me in the minority. At some point you begin doubting yourself about whether you’ve just been naive. As someone put it to me, “do I really think that these days I can find a frum girl who’s not crossed any of the lines?”. He didn’t say it quite like that though (I try and keep this blog PG). I hope I can.

(To clarify, when I say lines, I’m not talking about hand holding or something minor and stupid like that.)

(Wow, this post is a downer, isn’t it?)

Treif in Miami

Posted in Kashrus, Miami, Rants with tags , , , on March 12, 2008 by frumpunk

The Yeshiva World reports on Fu Xing

The Yeshiva World reports that the kosher chinese restaurant in Miami, Fu Xing was selling non-kosher chickens. Now it probably shouldn’t matter as Miami is trief anyways, but there is a silver lining; I now know conclusively that non-kosher chicken does not taste better than the kosher variety.

Now on a serious note, let me tell you what the problem is: the standard of kashrus. I know many kids who made extra money as teenagers working summers as mashgichem for restaurants in Miami. This is a typically low paying job and you can’t support a family on it, so its high school to college age kids that work at this. Now I’ve done this myself and I’m pretty sure I know most of the people who worked as mashgichem in Miami restaurants.

The only requirement was that they met with the rabbi who headed the position in the beis din who would ask them if they were shomer shabbos. Thats it. The only people who had any training were those who did it full time which wasn’t many. They were taught the basics of shomering: unlock the fridges, light the fires, check the fridge for hechshers on everything, lock up at night.

The main problem is that noone checked on the teenagers who were mashgichem and noone checked if they kept kosher themselves.

I know one person very well. He worked at a restaurant as the mashgiach for almost three years. He had gone off the derech years before. He didn’t keep kosher and he didn’t keep shabbos, yet he was responsible for a prominent restaurant being kosher.

Now in fairness to him I know he was actually meticulous. He knew his stuff (learned on the job of course) and nothing treif passed through that resturant. He may not keep kosher but he knows its importance to everyone else who eats there. Unfortunately, he split the shift (mornings or nights) with another guy who I’m pretty sure didn’t care.

The whole system needs revamping. Right now its based around money. Restaurants want the kosher business so they tolerate having a mashgiasch, however they pay around $7-8 an hour and so as not to have a dead hand around they always require the mashgiach to work preparing the food as well, further limiting his ability to be checking on the workers.