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כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם, וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי

Monday, February 22, 2010

Soveya, Inc.

Let me introduce to you Soveya, Inc.

Soveya in Hebrew means 'satisfied'. Put differently, Soveya is your new Fressers Anonymous. It is THE place where you can learn about losing weight whilst nourishing your soul with Jewish new-age crap. It is a clever niche in the frum (mental) health  market.

Founders are Rabbi Eli (or Louis presumably before he joined Aish haTorah) and Rebbetzen Zakah Glaser, a happy kiruv couple that were seriously overweight and found out that, by losing a 100 pounds or so, managed to get a hold on their food addiction. And promptly turned it into a business US tax-exempt organization.

They even have their own website (www.soveya.com) where you can find product information, read testimonials, book speakers and read the story of their lives. Eli and Zakah Glaser used to be 'Kiruv Professionals' (sales reps for the oldest monotheistic religion).

Eli knew he was not 'tocho kebar'o' (the same person on the outside as he was on the inside):
My credibility suffered. Here I was, an outreach Rabbi teaching fellow Jews the wisdom and beauty of Torah, encouraging them to incorporate Judaism as the primary focus of their lives, and I couldn’t get a handle on my hamburgers. “Rabbi,” they’d say, “I don’t understand. You keep kosher, pray three times a day, have all this structure in your life and still . . .”
As the Rabbis tell us, the question is often better than the answer - especially when I simply didn’t have one.
Zakah's statement is even more revealing:
I was walking through life in a food fog - lethargic and fatigued, confused and frustrated. I put on a happy face, but I was aching within. Outwardly religious, inside I felt spiritually barren. Every bite was a brick in the wall between me and G-d. Instead of turning to G-d during times of need, I turned to food. I used food to escape from uncomfortable feelings and situations.
Luckily, they got a handle on their kishkas and are marketing their new product very well: they have a Facebook group, endorsements by Rabbi Horowitz, articles on the Aish website and even a news item on CNN. Or so it looks like. iReport is a place within the CNN domain where people can publish their own 'news messages' without being reviewed by any editor. Who cares? It looks credible.

I can definitely see the potential of this organization. Many people like us (and I confess to being addicted to food as well) eat whenever they are nervous, because food is a drug. And being Jewish brings along a ferking LOT of anxiety: a myriad of guilt feelings, expectations to live up to, shidduchim, communal pressure, large families that need to be fed, thought control and unhealthy long Shabbos and Yom Tov meals with lots of challah and fatty food.

Living halachically is one big obsessive compulsive experience and since the outlets can usually not be sexual or anti-authoritarian, overweight one is considered to be an innocent issue.

So although I hope that the Glasers will be successful in being mekareving people to a healthy way of life, my advise would be: let's instead throw off the yoke of 'heaven' and let's get all sane: let's do away with the unnecessary guilt feelings, the Shabbos and Yom Tov meals, let's make people really free and more aware about the way they look and give them a healthy relationship to their bodies and, by extension, their sexuality.

How about 'Dayeinu, Inc.'?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


If you ever wondered how traditions (minhagim) start, check this story out:

In the Godforsaken town of Olney, Bucks, there is a yearly pancake race. Women over 18 don a scarf and apron and are supposed to run holding a frying pan.
People do crazy things.
It finds its origin in a legend, as described in the article:
The story suggests one woman heard the church bells ring for the service and was so worried about being late she fled her house and ran down the High Street still clutching her frying pan and wearing an apron.
This event has been commemorated ever since with Olney women, complete in traditional apron, cap and holding a frying pan with a real pancake, running through the town.
Now, God forbid we should change that tradition!
And indeed, this year, a man on the BBC payroll, got dressed up in an apron and a scarf, holding a frying pan and…came third in the race!
The response of the BBC:
A spokesperson for the BBC said: "The Olney pancake race organisers were keen Blue Peter covered the event and Helen Skelton, its female presenter is currently kayaking in the Amazon for Sports Relief, so they gave Joel special dispensation to take part in the race.
"It would not be in the style of Blue Peter to simply film the race, the whole thing about the programme is that the presenters take part."
See? Heteirim (dispensations) lead to giluy arayois (sexual frivolty)!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kiruv Alert: Tefillin as an Ancient Accupuncture Treatment

tefilin I saw this article called “Tefillin: an ancient Acupuncture point Prescription for Mental clarity” years ago when I was still frum. I loved it.
Kiruv professionals would like you to believe that this is proof for TMS.  After all, how could anyone else than God, thousands of years ago, know about acupuncture?
If you ask me, this does not prove anything more than that a religious Jew, who happens to be involved with acupuncture, believes that putting on tefillin may help you concentrate better. But so does coffee and smoking cigarettes.
Last week, someone sent me the article again, so I decided to do a little investigation.
The first thing I realized is that some people do not realize (neither did I) that acupuncture is not a scientific discipline. In fact, a quick glance at Wikipedia already shows that:
According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture points are situated on meridians along which qi (a "life energy"), flows...but there is no evidence to support their existence and they have not been reconciled with contemporary knowledge about biology, physics or chemistry.
Some googling did prove, however, that the article was indeed published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine in October 2002. This is their website and the original article can be purchased here, so that looks kosher. What does not look kosher, however, is the following.
The “About us” section reads as follows:
The Journal of Chinese Medicine was established in 1979 by Peter Deadman, and has been published continuously since then. It has played a vital role in raising the standards of education and practice in Chinese medicine throughout the English-speaking world.

Since 2001 the journal website has been offering the very best Chinese medicine books for sale on our website and in March 2005 greatly expanded the range of online products to include herbs, acupuncture supplies and specialist teas.
Hardly a yichus. Sounds more like a sham to me.
And here is the chinese medicine guru himself, Peter Deadman, publisher of the magazine:

On his personal website, there is no mention of any educational background. Despite this, he endorses his magazine as “Probably the premier English language journal in the field of Chinese medicine”. Medicine my tuches.
Oh yes, he also plays Klezmer for a band called ‘Matzos’, which might explain why he let this tefillin article slip in by accident.
My advise? Stay away from these so-called ‘proofs.