10/30/13

Is Kathleen Sibelius Jewish?

No, Kathleen Sibelius is not a Jew. President Barack Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services is Roman Catholic.

Sebelius was raised in a Roman Catholic family in Cincinnati, Ohio. She served for eight years as a representative in the Kansas Legislature, eight years as Insurance Commissioner and then was elected governor.

Sebelius is the daughter of former Ohio Governor Democrat John J. Gilligan -- the first father/daughter governor pair in the United States after her election.

10/29/13

Starting Today My Book "God's Favorite Prayers" is in the New Kindle "Matchbook" Program

God's Favorite Prayers


If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for FREE. Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.

God's Favorite Prayers

Are Paper Books Kosher?

Is owning dead-tree real-paper books kosher in this age of e-books? Some say no. Some say yes.

Andrew Couts does not exactly ask that question. But he does raise the issue of whether a person can defend his decision to amass what he calls a "book collection." I suppose a collection is less than a library.

As a professor of the humanities I accumulated a substantial library over the years. And I thought that action was defensible, even necessary. I "needed" to have all those books. Even though I wasn't living in the sticks and I had a major research library on my Big Ten campus, I needed to own eighteen bookcases worth of books. Those were my professional tools, and like a tradesman I could not just go and borrow tools every time I needed to work on a project.

On the Digital Trends site Couts frames the question of why we need to own all those paper-books in the context of the digital age. Why own paper when you can own the digital impulses of a book?

Couts opines mainly against real-paper book in, "Is there any reason to own paper books beside showing off? Not really."
Like some kind of sadomasochistic twit, I’ve moved houses three times in the past three years. Each of these moves reintroduced me to the symptom of insanity commonly known as a large book collection. The bulk of my household’s possessions come in paperback and hardcover, you see – dozens of boxes and hundreds of pounds worth of pulp that take up more space in a moving truck than all of my furniture combined.

My book collection is a burden...
His points that follow are perceptive. Books are conspicuous egotistical objects, he says.
My book collection, I realized this weekend, is one of the few things in my home that makes me seem smart. Visitors step into my living room to see shelves and shelves of tomes – Hemingway, McCarthy, Kafka, Tolstoy, Franzen, Sedaris, Bukowski, Fitzgerald – each creased spine revealing more about my interests and intellect. At least, that’s what my subconscious likes to believe. Just as vacation photographs show off where we’ve been, books show where our minds have traveled. They have, in other words, become little more than an elaborate way to brag.
He also reviews the reasons that we might give in defense of owning real books, saying, "...there are good reasons to prefer the old medium..."

For Couts that does not include the Shabbat prohibition of electrical devices that some Orthodox Jews observe. [I say "some" because recent reports claim that something like 50% of Orthodox kids use their phones to text on Shabbat. It is fair to assume that some of those kids also read online sites and maybe even ebooks on the holy day.]

It's not reasonable to assume that Orthodox authorities will suddenly decide to permit the use of ebooks on the Sabbath. Orthodox practices change slowly, if at all. In the near term, if you are an observant Orthodox Jew who wants to read your "collection" on the Seventh Day, it will have to be a paper library, not a digital one.

Bottom line: If you are Orthodox (modest or egotistical), or if you are just plain egotistical and like to brag (Orthodox or not), you will want to have your paper books arrayed in book cases around your house, because they don't just make you look smart. They make you look pious too.

10/26/13

Is Charles Krauthammer Jewish?

Is columnist and Fox TV commentator Charles Krauthammer Jewish? Yes he is a Jew.

In JPost interview Krauthammer reflected on his Talmudic upbringing. He described himself in the interview we cite here as not very religious:
As for my own practice, it's fairly minimal, but I go on the required days. I go to Yizkor, those kinds of things. I once described to a friend my Jewishness - I said, I'm a Jewish Shinto. I believe in ancestor worship. That's the heart of my Judaism.
We disagree with most of what neoconservative Charles Krauthammer says about foreign policy. But from the excellent interview he gave to the Jerusalem Post, "The unfashionable Charles Krauthammer," we learned that his eloquent argumentation skills derive in part from his Orthodox Talmudic education.
Can you talk a little bit about your own Jewish upbringing and sense of Jewishness, and how that influences you? ...
I grew up in a Modern Orthodox home. I went to Jewish day school right through high school, so half of my day was spent speaking Hebrew from age six to 16. I studied thousands of hours of Talmud. My father thought I didn't get enough Talmud at school, so I took the extra Talmud class at school and he had a rabbi come to the house three nights a week. One of those nights was Saturday night, so in synagogue Saturday morning my brother and I would pray very hard for snow so he wouldn't be able to come on Saturday night and we could watch hockey night in Canada. That's where I learned about prayer...
He suffered a tragic swimming accident when in medical school which left him paralyzed.

He has a new book out and is the subject of a Fox News program and was on Jon Stewart's show to promote the book, Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics.



Here is the entire article. It is no longer available at jPost.

"The unfashionable Charles Krauthammer"

10/22/13

Times: Four out of Five Americans Believe in Angels

I no longer give any credence to surveys about religion.

According to surveys, eighty percent of Americans believe in angels.

Really?
Conjuring Up Our Own Gods
By T. M. LUHRMANN 
BIG SUR, Calif. — “AMERICANS are obsessed with the supernatural,” Jeffrey J. Kripal, a scholar of religion, told me here at Esalen, an institute dedicated to the idea that “we are all capable of the extraordinary.” 
Surveys support this. In 2011, an Associated Press poll found that 8 in 10 Americans believed in angels — even 4 in 10 people who never went to church. In 2009 the Pew Research Center reported that 1 in 5 Americans experienced ghosts and 1 in 7 had consulted a psychic. In 2005, Gallup found that 3 out of 4 Americans believed in something paranormal, and that 4 in 10 said that houses could be haunted...

What are the Agunah Chronicles?

What is "The Agunah Chronicles"? I know what "The Vagina Monologues" is. It's an episodic play written by Eve Ensler which ran off broadway.

"The Agunah Chronicles" is a supposed "forthcoming book" that does not appear on Amazon when you do a search for it.

Don't you just cringe when someone makes claims about a "forthcoming book" that are not verifiable and they get that published in the Times?

Anyhow, "The Agunah Chronicles" "authors" wrote a letter to the New York Times . Here is what appeared in the Times:
The scandalous situation of kidnapping and torturing recalcitrant husbands who withhold a Jewish divorce, a “get,” from their wives is a result of the Orthodox rabbinate’s failure to use the compassionate and creative solutions long available under Jewish law to free women from dead marriages (“U.S. Accuses 2 Rabbis of Kidnapping Husbands for a Fee,” news article, Oct. 11).

Pious agunot, women desperate to be free of their husbands, many of whom are violent, criminals or pedophiles, are vulnerable to corrupt rabbis who tell them that yielding to extortion or torturing their husbands is the only way they can ever be free to remarry and raise a family.

Opportunistic thugs, sometimes mythologized as heroes, run amok because mainstream Orthodox rabbis insist that even violent and degenerate husbands retain control over their wives. Every rabbi who fails to use the peaceful avenues available under Jewish law to free agunot opens the way for this shocking disgrace of the Jewish community.

SUSAN ARANOFF
RIVKA HAUT
Brooklyn, Oct. 11, 2013

The writers are co-authors of the forthcoming book “The Agunah Chronicles,” a nonfiction account of helping agunot struggle for freedom in rabbinical courts in the United States.
I don't think the thugs who beat up the husbands are the "corrupt rabbis" here. It's the other ones -- those who deny a woman the right to divorce her husband. But let's not quibble. Anyway... where can I order the so-called "forthcoming book"?

UPDATE: I'M TOLD BY A FRIEND THAT I OVERSIMPLIFIED THIS PROBLEM AND MY VIEWS ARE MARGINALIZED.

I said in reply: Thanks for your assessment but on the contrary, the opposite is the truth. My view is mainstream.

Each day that rabbis claim this is a complicated problem that has no easy solution, they marginalize themselves and the orthodox community even more from the rest of the Jewish world and from the rest of the civilized societies of the world.

It is time to accept that women have the right to divorce their husbands and to enact that as our process and stop the marginalization of Judaism.

My hope is that now - after the publicity of the current scandal - civil courts will actively intervene in the process and issue instructions that a woman be given a divorce by rabbinic authority. And there are rabbis who will do just that, thus, by the intervention of the civil authorities, ending the current oppressive system.

10/21/13

Is Cory Booker Jewish?

Shmuley Boteach wrote a nice op-ed in the Bergen Record about Senator Cory Booker's spirituality. Booker comes off as quite a character.

Booker is a Baptist, but his religious views are broad and pluralistic as described by Dan Gilgoff at US News.

So no, Cory Booker is not a Jew; he is not Jewish. But he is tangled up in Jews, the Bible, and throws around quotations of Hebrew sources, thanks in part to Rabbi Shmuley, according to Shmuley's account of the matter. Here's part of the story from the op-ed.
When he shared with me just a few mornings ago the sad news that his father, Cary, to whom he was particularly devoted, had passed away, Cory expressed his desire to travel together to the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, to pray and light a candle for his father's eternal soul. It was the final days of the campaign and another politician could scarcely have afforded the trip in the middle of the night to the Queens cemetery. But a vigil for his father was the priority and I will never forget watching him recite his father's beloved Psalm 121, slowly and deliberately, enunciating each and every word: "I lift up my eyes to the mountains — whence does my salvation come … from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. The Lord watches over you… He will keep you from all harm… He will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore."

I asked him if it pained him that his father, a warm and gentle man who took great pride in his son's service, had missed seeing him become a senator by just a few days. "I believe he can see me, Shmuley. He sees me even now."
Odd, you say? Hey, it's New Jersey where by state law everybody has to have a shtick.

10/16/13

Is Mark Cuban Jewish?

Yes, Mark Cuban is a Jew. He owns the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team -- winners of the 2011 NBA championship.

Cuban's Russian Jewish grandparents changed the family name from Chopininski or Chabenisky when they immigrated to America. Cuban grew up in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh in a working class family.

In September 2002, Cuban married Tiffany Stewart, an advertising executive (who likely is not Jewish) in a private ceremony in Barbados.

The billionaire entrepreneur was charged in 2008 by the SEC with insider trading in what appeared to be a weak case.

Update: Case was dismissed but it can be refiled by the SEC (7/2009).

Update 2: Cuban is going after the SEC for malicious prosecution and has been granted discovery by the court (12/2009).

Update 3: Cuban on trial for insider trading September 2013.

Update 4: 10/16/2013 - a jury cleared Cuban of wrongdoing, making Mr. Cuban a winner in the civil case and delivering a blow to the federal agency that he battled tooth and nail for five years.

10/15/13

Tasers and Stun Guns: How Rabbis Modernized the Orthodox Divorce Process in America


Many of the high-profile news stories about how Orthodox Rabbis were arrested for plotting to force a recalcitrant husband to divorce his wife unfairly portray Orthodox practice as primitive.

Nothing could be further from the truth. For centuries Orthodox rabbis have been modernizing divorces in America. Those biased news stories omitted the account of how much the divorce process has progressed in America.

Going back to early colonial days -- if a husband refused to issue a divorce his wife rabbis had to resort to hot cattle prods applied to private areas of the husband's body. That was messy and left marks.

But, after Ben Franklin's invention in 1749 rabbis immediately modernized the technology of the divorce processes. They were able to connect the recalcitrant husband's privates to a lightning rod. That was a significant technology upgrade to the divorce process. However rabbis still had to wait for a thunderstorm to get a divorce decree from an uncooperative husband.

After the technological innovations of the late 19th century, when electric utilities became commonplace, rabbis modernized their processes again. Divorces could be obtained at any time by connecting up wires pluggged in to the wall to the husband's testicles. However even with that astounding modernization, all the parties still had to be near a power source, and that was somewhat limiting.

In the 20th century rabbis modernized divorce processes again by adopting in the 1940's the electric cattle prod and the stun gun to deliver an electrical shock -- anywhere and anytime -- to the genitals to persuade a husband to issue a divorce.

Rabbis continued to modernize in recent years by adding the taser to their arsenal in the 1970s. The rabbis indicted last week (10/2013) in New York and New Jersey were promising to use the most up-to-date stun guns, cattle prods and tasers available in America.

As you can see from the history of the technological innovations that rabbis have made, it is simply a case of media bias to wrongly characterize up-to-date Orthodox rabbinic divorce processes as backwards or primitive.

10/14/13

Was JFK a Conservative and Jewish?

Was JFK a Jew? Was he a conservative?

No JFK was not Jewish. He was Catholic.

No historians have long professed that JFK was not a political conservative. He was a liberal.

Though JFK was not a Jew, in a new book, Ira Stoll provides us with some new pro-Jewish credentials for JFK, summarized by him in a JTA article.

Stoll's controversial revisionist thesis in this new book is that JFK was a political conservative because he was anti-communist and pro-business. The publisher contends:
As Ira Stoll convincingly argues, by the standards of both his time and our own, John F. Kennedy was a conservative. His two great causes were anticommunism and economic growth. His tax cuts, which spurred one of the greatest economic booms in our history, were fiercely opposed by his more liberal advisers. He fought against unions. He pushed for free trade and a strong dollar. And above all, he pushed for a military buildup and an aggressive anticommunism around the world. Indeed, JFK had more in common with Ronald Reagan than with LBJ.

Not every Republican is a true heir to Kennedy, but hardly any Democrats deserve that mantle. JFK, Conservative is sure to appeal to conservative readers — and will force liberals to reconsider one of their icons.
We leave it to the professional historians to judge the validity of this sure-to-sell-books-thesis.

Hat tip to Barak for bringing this to my attention.

10/10/13

My Fifteen Minutes of Swim Fame with Diana Nyad


Wednesday night (10/9/2013) I swam with celebrity endurance swimmer Diana Nyad for fifteen minutes in a specially built 2-lane 40-yard pool in front of Macy's on Herald Square in New York City. (If you do not know who she is - read about her here.)

Nyad was garnering publicity for Proctor and Gamble, who sponsored her 48-hour in pool endurance swim, and she was raising money for Sandy Relief and she was getting a pool-load of promotion for herself. And that is totally okay, in fact it is highly admired part of the American way of life to be an entrepreneur like that.

Now it's not as if I was the only person in the city to swim with her. Richard Simmons and Ryan Lochte and other celebrities and a whole bunch of common people swam with her.

Now you ask, how did I get this swimming honor? Did Diana read my book, "God's Favorite Prayers" and say to her staff, go see if you can convince Rabbi Tzvee to swim with me? Did Ms. Nyad read my essay, "Hudson River Diary" about my swim struggle in the New York Triathlon and feel the need to induce me into yet another swimming challenge?

No and no. I am a common person, not a celebrity. This opportunity came to me in parts by chance, by timing, by the good efforts of my wonderful friend who found out that I could do this and sent me the link to apply and by my love of swimming and by my continued chutzpah.

On the Swim with Diana Application Form it asked and I answered:
Briefly, tell us why would you like to swim in the Nyad #SwimForRelief?: 
Diana inspires me. I identify with her dedication. I am a rabbi who swims 1.5 miles every day. I swam in the NYC triathlon in the Hudson this summer. Like Diana, I swam 100 miles this summer too - but it took me all summer.
And they wrote back right away that I'm in and gave me a great time-slot in which to swim.

And how did it feel? What was it like to swim with a celebrity at Herald Square? I'm told it was really cool. And it was deemed cool by all objective measures by my friends and family members who came to cheer me on.

But I felt that this was a delightfully strange thing to be doing. And in the pool, when it came my turn, Diana had been swimming for 35 hours. Up close, when I got in and looked at her, she looked really tired. She had just put on some insulating swimwear to keep her warm even though the pool was heated to 82 degrees. The air was 55 and there was a night chill around us.

Before we started to swim on schedule at exactly 8:10 PM, her assistant told her to say hello to me and she did say hello. So I said, "I'm Tzvee." I think she said, I'm Diana, and I said I know that.

She swam really slowly. I had a hard time keeping from swimming ahead of her. Then after one lap of 40 yards, she turned on her back and she started to kick. I did a really slow backstroke. We did this back and forth for 6 or 8 more times. At some point she stopped to get an inhaler from her assistants and they tried to feed her a spoonful of yogurt. I stopped too. I felt it would be rude if I kept swimming while she was pausing.

This was a painstakingly slow swim. And yes. It was cool, like no other event I've ever been in. We raised money for charity. We marketed products. We entertained New York and we continued to promote Diana's story of inspiration - that a 64 year old woman could endure an incredible 100 mile swim.

So that was my so-called-cool Fifteen Minutes of Swim Fame with Diana Nyad.

10/9/13

To Raise Money for Sandy Relief Tzvee Will Swim With Diana Nyad in Herald Square - Please Help

I'm swimming 8 PM Wednesday night 10/9/2013 at Herald Square in NYC with Diana Nyad to raise money for Sandy relief.

Please make a donation to sponsor our efforts.

See the webcam here.

Diana Nyad wrote -

48 Hour Swim for Hurricane Sandy Recovery via AmeriCares

To mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad - fresh off her landmark swim from Cuba to Florida - helps power disaster recovery efforts through a 48-hour test of mental, physical and emotional endurance: the Nyad Swim for Relief. With the strength and support of P&G brands at her side, Diana Nyad swims for 48 continuous hours in the heart of New York City to raise funds for the AmeriCares Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.

Fundraising Websites - Crowdrise

The Nyad Swim for Relief reflects the emotional and mental strength it takes to overcome adversity and restore a sense of normalcy to lives disrupted by disasters. P&G brands Duracell, Tide and Secret are underwriting all production costs for the Nyad Swim for Relief, maximizing the donated funds that directly support Sandy recovery activities. In the months following Hurricane Sandy, AmeriCares distributed more than $6.4 million in aid to help survivors, including $3.5 million for medicines and relief supplies and $2.9 million in grants to community organizations providing services such as storm clean-up and mental health counseling. And the recovery efforts continue with so many storm survivors still in need of help.

Hurricane Sandy caused approximately $70 billion in damage across the Eastern seaboard, destroying 12,500 homes in New Jersey alone. To-date, in Ocean County, NJ, more than 25,000 residents are still displaced from their homes and in New York FEMA has again extended its deadline for Transitional Sheltering Assistance -- demonstrating the continued need for these recovery efforts.
A 40-yard, two-lane pool is installed in Herald Square for the event, allowing the public to witness Diana’s incredible display of perseverance while learning about AmeriCares important work of rebuilding lives.

How you can help:

Make a donation to AmeriCares Sandy Relief Fund.

Share the word with friends and family about this important event and fundraising effort (social media links are located above) and encourage them to join in.

Cheer on Diana by sending words of encouragement using the hashtag #SwimForRelief. Submissions may be showcased at the pool, shared with media and featured across Nyad Swim for Relief activities.​
- See more 

10/7/13

Google Glass Joins Caribbean Islanders with Orthodox Hasidic Jews in Crown Heights Brooklyn



Google Glass will change the nature of communications in many ways. Here is an early example.

From the Daily News:

Brooklyn filmmakers (Mendy Seldowitz, Celso White, Ben Millstein and Hannah Roodman) are using Google Glass technology to document long-standing tensions in Crown Heights. Project 2x1 is using the new technology to show what life is like for Caribbean Islanders and Hasidic Jews

Four Brooklyn filmmakers are seeing Crown Heights through rose-colored Google Glass. They employed the newfangled technology to tease out longstanding tensions between the neighborhood’s primary inhabitants.

The four 20-somethings behind Project 2x1 used the camera-equipped glasses to show what life is like for the Caribbean islanders and Orthodox Hasidic Jews who live there.

The mission: “To bring two distinct communities together to form one united neighborhood,” said Hannah Roodman, the project’s director and producer.

The product: A short film that depicts scenes from everyday life — including scenes in a barbershop, a synagogue and the annual West Indian Day Parade — most filmed with a small camera attached to different faces.

Read more

10/4/13

JStandard: My Dear Rabbi Talmudic Advice Column for October: Charity Fraud and Rote Recitations

Published in The Jewish Standard: Dear Rabbi. Your Talmudic Advice Column

Dear Rabbi,

I am a generally charitable person. After services one weekday evening this summer, I gave some money to a poor-looking middle-aged woman, a shnorrer who was standing begging outside of my shul. By chance I then walked from the shul behind her. After following her for about five blocks, I saw the woman get into a red Porsche sports car and drive away. I've been wondering ever since then whether by giving her money I fulfilled the mitzvah of tzedakah.

Trying to be Charitable in Teaneck

Dear Charitable,

Sadly it's highly probable that you did not fulfill any mitzvah by giving that woman money. Sure, I could imagine a scenario wherein she was a truly indigent person who borrowed a fancy car from a benefactor to drive to Teaneck to beg for charity. But that story is a total stretch. In this case it is nearly certain that you gave an outright gift to stranger who was not particularly in need.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with doing that. But no matter what your charitable intention was in that act, I'd say that you did not accomplish tzedakah. And when you saw her get into that swanky car, you correctly must have felt that you had been scammed.

In giving charity to an individual you make an all or nothing gesture. If the person is needy, all of the money you have given goes directly to helping him or her. If the person is dishonest, you have lost your chance to do any good.

If you want to perform a true act of personal tzedakah to help a person in genuine need, apparently you have to be more careful. You will have to balance your trust in the basic honesty of your fellow human beings with some suspicion that others may be deceitful or corrupt.

Most of the time in cases of doubt you can rely on the rule of the majority – the assumption that most people act sincerely. In the case of your question, you followed the woman and unintentionally you  clarified the details of her status, and by so doing you removed it from the pool where the preponderance of situations would have classified your generous act as "charity."

Related to your question, you no doubt know that we have more than one means to accomplish that aim of being prudent in your charitable giving  in our community . As an example, I recommend the Jewish Family Services of Bergen County (www.jfsbergen.org), as one target for your donations. It is an excellent upright organization, with which I have been involved with for many years.

By making a gift to such an agency, you will benefit from the judgment and expertise of trained the social service professionals who run it, under the supervision of a dedicated and distinguished independent board of directors.

I can vouch that when you give to a charity like JFS you can be highly certain that your intended charitable donation will go to assisting people in need, and not into paying to fill the gas tank of a pretender's Porsche 911 sports car.

Realize, though, that even a highly visible public agency can be susceptible to corruption. The recent disturbing news about the theft of more than $5 million over a span of twenty-one years from the Metropolitan New York Council on Jewish Poverty gives us pause for concern.

Of course, we do want to live our lives permeated by trust. As you learned though, we need to intermix some measures of skepticism and judiciousness into it.

10/3/13

Are Christmas Trees Kosher?

A Christmas tree is not an edible food, so the rules of kosher and treif do not apply to it. Surprisingly, a new study shows that the fact is that some 32% of US Jews, especially those married to Christians have trees. In my father's generation they jokingly would say they had Hanukkah Bushes. They don't say that much anymore.

A Christmas tree ordinarily in the US is an evergreen. There is nothing inherently wrong with having one in your house or outside of your house. It is unlikely that early Christians in Israel had pine trees in their homes on Christmas, since those trees are not numerous in the Holy Land.

But contemporary Christians attribute religious significance to a Christmas tree, and most rabbis will discourage or forbid Jews from having them in their homes. In addition for the average Jew, there is a psychological barrier to having a Christmas tree.

And we have the latest incredible credible 32% statistics from the Pew study of Jews in America, "A Portrait of Jewish Americans". One number that jumps out for me is that 4% of modern Orthodox Jews have Christmas trees.

Jewlicious picked out the salient quote from the study:
Page 80: About a third of Jews (32%) say they had a Christmas tree in their home last year, including 27% of Jews by religion and 51% of Jews of no religion. Erecting a Christmas tree is especially common among Jews who are married to non-Jews; 71% of this group says they put up a tree last year. Compared with younger Jews, those 65 and older are somewhat less likely to have had a Christmas tree last year. And relatively few Orthodox Jews, including just 1% of UltraOrthodox Jews (and 4% of Modern Orthodox), say there was a Christmas tree in their home last year. Attending non-Jewish religious services is an infrequent occurrence for U.S. Jews; just 15% say they do this at least a few times a year.

10/2/13

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Total Brown Paper Security Solution

Seen on Northern Boulevard in Queens.

Spy Source: Total Security Solutions Company


Do they Guarantee the Opacity of Their Brown Paper Security Solution?

Road Warrior Quotes Tzvee: Glare, Shmare!



I was quoted By JOHN CICHOWSKI, ROAD WARRIOR COLUMNIST, in the Bergen Record, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2013, Road Warrior: New Fort Lee high-rise blinds drivers. His article is about glare, and starts off as follows, "As they move through Fort Lee, eastbound drivers approaching the George Washington Bridge just before sundown can’t help but bathe uncomfortably in the intense glow of the dazzling glass tower that’s slowly reaching into the sky...."

He liked what I brought to his attention, having by chance read the news about a London tower a few weeks earlier ("...the owner of a luxury Jaguar XJ, said Monday the blistering beam of light melted the panels on his car in just one hour."):
"Glare, shmare!" said Teaneck’s Tzvee Zahavy. "In London, the reflected sun off the new Walkie Talkie skyscraper is so hot that it melts cars and fries eggs."

True enough. British media reports said extensive glazing was used on the sweeping curvature of the 37-story London building to maximize its views. As a result, the sun’s rays were magnified so much that they warped the panels of at least two parked cars — a Jaguar and a van. Witnesses said the damage was accompanied by the smell of burning plastic.

"Every bit of plastic on the left-hand side and everything on the dashboard has melted," said the van owner.

But none of the reflected sunlight from The Modern in Fort Lee approaches the hideous intensity of the Walkie Talkie in London, where the sun in early fall beats directly on the building for two hours or more. The glare from the high-rise on the Jersey side of the Hudson generally lasts several minutes at most.

And unlike the enormous engineering challenges posed by the Walkie Talkie, the Fort Lee mayor believes The Modern may one day elude the sun’s rays altogether.

"This is only the first building being built for this project," Sokolich noted. "There’s more to come, so I think the sun won’t get through."...