Thursday, December 29, 2016

UN Demonstration

This past Wednesday a spontaneous demonstration developed at the United Nations to protest the Security Council's resolution condemning Israel's settlement policy. The demonstration was led by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. I can't say that I subscribe to all of the rabbi's positions, but I have to give him credit and show respect for his courage and forthrightness in standing up for the Jews and Israel. The resolution is an abomination passed by what is increasingly becoming an anachronistic organization, the UN. As information is revealed about the resolution it has become increasingly apparent that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry exerted considerable arm twisting to get the resolution passed in the Security Council, while at the same time exercising an abstention on the resolution to let it pass.

Obama, being a lame duck president, and Kerry can only be seen as acting out of spite against the State of Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu because the President and his henchman were not able to impose their vision of a weak and enfeebled Israel on the Jews.

Netanyahu, much to his credit, was outspoken and clear in his response. Israel will not bow. Israel has never asked the US to fight its wars for her. The country is confident and capable enough to stand up against its enemies, as has been demonstrated time and again over the past 70 years. Even though Great Britain voted for the resolution, given the post-resolution fallout, she has been admirably supportive of Israel and critical of the Obama's administration actions. Methinks there was considerable heat placed on Great Britain to sway their vote on this matter.

I hope that after Obama and Kerry are out of office, the critics of their policy continue to investigate and keep the heat on these two petulant children. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see both of their public careers destroyed by this despicable maneuver.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hanukkah - Part 2

Many years ago when I was a kid, I always looked forward to lighting the Hanukkah menorah. Still do, I guess I'm still a kid.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Faces and situations are the most engaging subjects for me when I'm out shooting street. The holiday shopping season on Fifth Avenue offers a plethora of opportunities.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Hanukkah -Part 1

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is fast approaching. Purely by chance it coincidently occurs - at least the first night and day - with Christmas. The festival celebrates an event that occurred two hundred years BCE (before the common era) so it predates Christmas by that many years. Other than occurring during the same month of the Gregorian calendar, the two holidays have nothing in common. A detailed explanation of the festival can be found here.

Briefly, at that time - 200 BCE - the territory of biblical Israel was dominated by a Syrian extension of the Greek empire. Their rulers tried to impose their philosophy of life which was the antithesis of the deep spirituality that formed the roots of Judaism for many hundreds of years prior. The Syrians sought, as so many oppressors of the Jews before and after them have sought, to break the spirit and will of the Jews by forcing them to give up their ritual practices through which they worshipped their faith in G-d. The priests in the Holy Temple at that time were of the family of Maccabee who also happened to be mighty warriors. The struggle they led was not only against the Syrians, but also because many of the Jews at that time bought into Greek philosophy and the culture was assimilating. So as it turned out, this was also an internal struggle amongst the Jews. The Syrians tried to break the spirit of the Jews by defiling the Holy Temple and specifically the olive oil that had been sanctified by the Great Priest to be burned in the Lamp of the Temple. They failed. After the Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks and entered the Temple, they found all the jugs of sanctified oil had been defiled, except for one that still had the Great Priest's seal in tact. The jug contained enough oil for only one day, but eight days were required for production, purification, and sanctification of more oil. The miracle of the holiday, which is what the festival of Hanukkah commemorates, is that the oil in that one jug lasted for eight days. And so the Hanukkah Menorah, a nine branch candelabra, is lit every night for eight successive days to commemorate the miracle. 

The Hanukkah Menorah is the central symbol of the miracle and the festival. Here's some local kids at a Home Depot workshop, sponsored by my local Chabad Center, making menorahs.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Walk in Williamsburg - Part 4

The last set of this series from this past Sunday. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Walk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Part 3

A few more shots from my walk in Williamsburg last Sunday. Chanukah is coming and the events are beginning to happen. It's one of the two rabbinically ordained festivals (the other being Purim) and celebrates the victory of the Maccabees in throwing off the yoke of the Syrian Greeks who wanted the Jews to assimilate and accept the supposed superiority of Greek logic over Jewish faith in G-d.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Walk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Part 2

I have some routes I take through neighborhoods in which I photograph. But I hadn't been to Williamsburg for quite a long time, so I just made a right turn on Williamsburg Street West because I saw a group of men standing in front of what turned out to be Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar, a very large synagogue within the Satmar community of Chassidim.

As I walked towards the group, two men walked in my direction. When they got close one of them made a joking comment to me about taking a photo of him, and so began a conversation that took an interesting twist. Turns out that the mother of the other of the two men came from the same town in Hungary that was the home of my paternal grandparents. And my grandmother's maiden name was the same as his mother's. So we may very well be mishpucha.

It's a small world!

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Walk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn - Part 1

In the beautiful crisp autumnal weather yesterday I took a walk through the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. It's been an up and coming gentrifying neighborhood for several years now, but mostly on the north side of Broadway. The area between Lee Avenue and Flushing Avenue is the heart and soul of the Satmar Chassidic community. The sect is one of the more closed and insular of all the Chassidim, and they maintain very traditional Eastern European modes of dress. Generally, they are very camera shy because many tourists visit the area to photograph the 'peculiar' dress and culture, especially on Saturday which is the Sabbath day of rest - seems inconsiderate to me. I've had some stand-offish reactions from people, but recently the community has become more open and accepting.  I usually try to start conversations with people along the way. This time I was very surprised by a chat I had with a gentleman on Williamsburg Street West. More on that next time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Another Upsherin

An upsherin is usually a gathering of friends and family, so it's almost always rather informal - and a bit chaotic. Makes for some interesting situations, but very spontaneous and difficult photo ops. Kids running all over, parents walking in front of the camera, that kind of stuff. And very informal lighting, so at this occasion flash was necessary. This is one of those events that is going to take a great deal of trial and error, and practice to get right.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


The great American pastime is a game that's played for about six months and culminates in a contest between two teams, one from each league, who play a series of up to seven games to determine who is the world champion. This year the two teams were the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.

The Chicago Cubs won the world series because they beat the Cleveland Indians in four out of the possible seven games. The Cleveland Indians scored 33 runs over the course of the seven games while the Chicago Cubs scored only 27.

Does it seem reasonable that because the Indians scored more runs than the Cubs that the world series title should be stripped from the Cubs and awarded to the Indians?

Just sayin'............

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Vote

I took walk this afternoon by Trump Tower on Fifth Ave in NYC. I usually try to stay away from politically opinionated rants. But this past election and the resultant reaction is just too much. Even so, I don't have much patience. The  uneducated seem to think that because Hillary won a small percentage advantage in the popular vote, she deserves to be called President, and that not to do so would be a perversion of our democracy. Of course, if it had been the other way around and Trump had won that advantage in the popular vote but lost the electoral college vote, these selfsame righteous liberals would be totally mute.

So for the great unwashed, here's a video to explain why our founding fathers (that would be Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison) set up the Constitutional system of elections the way they did. And grow up!

Monday, November 7, 2016


Yesterday's post was the event.

Another young lad today. His upsherin is later this month. I had the opportunity this past weekend to photograph him with long hair. I'll post the 'after' shots at a later date.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


A Jewish boy's third birthday is the first milestone of his life. For the first three years he takes in all the sights and sounds around him, and his parent's loving care. He's a receiver. But at age three, he becomes a producer and becomes ready to share his unique gifts. For the first three years, his hair is allowed to grow without cutting. On his third birthday, friends and family are invited to a hair cutting ceremony, in Yiddish it's called an upsherin. From here on, the boy wears a kippah and tzitzit (ritual fringes) and is slowly trained to recite blessings and the Shema (the most important words in Judaism). He begins his Jewish education and the world begins to benefit from him.