Shia Altman

Random thoughts

Hey, I don’t have much else this week.  Sorry.

Mr. Verbose here struggled to even sit at the keyboard let alone type something out. See friends, I entered the weekend feeling pretty miserable, hoping the weekend would never end, when I knew it would. There were a few nice things that happened along with some non-negative thoughts Shabbat and Sunday, so there is something to be said for that. But the good, or at least the non-bad, is always temporary it seems, and I just could not get the writing juices really flowing.

Friday night’s Shabbat meal was great. My sister as usual, along with my brother-in-law and nephew made another great meal. I look forward each week to that meal. Comfort food, comfort family. My sister makes the best soup, there is schnitzel and dishes that have become traditional for Shabbat in our family. Just seeing familiar faces and eating that great food makes me feel better. For a bit. The conversation is nice too. It can get political, or be about local Jewish news, or Israel, maybe there will be a Dvar Torah (Torah insights thoughts), etc.

By the way, a fairly new entry in the dessert part of the Shabbat meal is quickly becoming a tasty, customary staple. Trader Joe’s Chocolate Brooklyn Babka. If chocolate is your thing, this will be your Shabbat cake ritual. Trust me. (You are lucky you can’t see me salivating and shuttering right now at the thought of a piece of babka.)

As we were chatting during the meal, I wondered loudly why when it comes to the big three of meat proteins, cow meat is called beef and pig meat is called pork, but chicken meat is not called something other than chicken? Why isn’t there a name for chicken meat? See, dear readers? This is the kind of mishigas you have to deal with from me when I am feeling down.

My nephew told me about the pro-Israel rally in New York City he attended last week and his seeing the usual Neturei Karta (anti-Zionist Chassidic sect) knuckleheads alongside Arabs to protest against Israel. Aside from their typical Israel bashing, they actually had a sign proclaiming, “Women who wear skirts above their knees, their kids will die four years earlier.” No kidding. Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, when looking down from Heaven at these disgusting creatures, must get pretty nauseous.

I like the three “jewels” of the US equine world known as the Triple Crown, three difficult races; one of those races is in my hometown Baltimore (the Preakness Stakes). Now I don’t gamble and I am not into horseracing, but being Baltimore is in the mix, that may be part of why I am interested. Also, the horse is my favorite animal. They are so beautiful and even look noble to me in a way. Finally, it is so hard to win all three races. That had not happened since 1978. Till yesterday.  Including Saturday’s winner, American Pharoah, there have been only 12 Triple Crown winners in the 140 years of these three racing venues. The horse is owned by an Orthodox Jewish Egyptian. Mazal Tov!

After I watched that magnificent 3-year old animal glide to victory, I thought I would just write about horses, like where they are mentioned in the Torah and the Talmud, and maybe expound a little, but I just didn’t have the will to do any research. So there.

I also thought I would write a column about Pamela Geller and this whole freedom of speech thing even if it is offensive speech. (I still may.) You may know Ms. Geller is the one who had that “Draw the Prophet” cartoon contest in Texas a few weeks ago where a couple of terrorists came by to try and kill everyone but were instead killed by Texas law enforcement. Go Texas. Anyway, she still makes the news because she will periodically debate some pundit or news journalist on TV who is more worried about Muslims and their feelings than Christians or Jews or others, and their lives. Also, just last week, Boston police killed a knife-wielding terrorist whose goal was to behead Geller. Go Boston.

And as I had written once before I am sick and tired of this “the Prophet” Muhammad thing when the media refer to Muhammad. “The Prophet” this, and “The Prophet Muhammad that.” Hey, we don’t say the Prophet Moses, etc. So Muhammad, Muhammad, Muhammad.  Muhammad.

Two of my former Bar Mitzvah students, one who just turned 15 and to whom I still teach other synagogue services such as Megillat (the Scroll of) Ruth which he chanted spectacularly a couple weeks back on the holiday of Shavuot, and his older brother recently graduated from college, performed the Torah reading and the Haftorah reading respectively on Shabbat morning, and beautifully so. I am one proud teacher. I had a new Bar Mitzvah student this past weekend as well. A joy, really. Smart kid, eager to learn, sweet voice. I can’t wait for the next lesson.

Last night, while surfing around, I saw some blurb on the 60’s group, The Seekers. A great-sounding Australian quartet, three guys and a girl, with tremendous, harmonious voices. During one stretch of time their music actually outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. For the next hour and a half I listened to their songs and watched an interview of them. I must have listened to their three biggest hits three or four times each. Watch and listen to them on YouTube, it’s worth it. You know, I would like to go to Australia one of these days. While my rickety bones are still capable of movement, lol.

Alas, the weekend has passed. Heavy sigh.

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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