Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mizrachi asks - Netanyahu answers!

Check it out! I had each of my classes post questions to the Prime Minister for his Youtube interview. (you can check out all of our entries on my Youtube channel - also you can see a pic of some of my other students at 1:56) They were all great, but one actually was chosen! It appears around minute 10 in the video. Great job, guys! I'm really proud!

Screenshot of my Youtube videos

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Underreported

 I find it deeply troubling that the story below is barely getting any attention. I posted previously about the lack of American self reflection at the Unites States Holocaust Museum. Now we are watching this phenomena in real time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Pod has Landed

Well, as promised in two previous posts, (see here and here) Avigayil and I have indeed been judged by none other than John Hodgman. We were both nervous as heck, but it was fun.

I will, however, say that being mocked and lectured to (even comedically) is pretty rough! I really felt chewed out by the end. Phew.

Anyway, with no further ado, (and just in time for Purim) here is the podcast featuring Avigayil and Mike:

The Sound of Young America

P.S. Can you hear Sirius Black in there?

The Judge with his doppelgänger.

The Sound of Young America
The Sound of Young America

Monday, March 14, 2011

Evidence to place before Judge John Hodgman

Our case will be heard before the Judge tomorrow.
Here is the invitation I sent to the Judge's producer:

Please find photo evidence submitted in the referenced album. In all, 11 photos have been submitted. Each photo has a caption explaining its relevance to the case. Note that I have included Avigayil in the invitation, so that there is full disclosure.
Many thanks,

Evidence for Judge John Hodgman: Mar 14, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A high school teacher's 25th reunion

I've been wondering why reunions are so engaging.

It isn't just the satisfaction of the "where are they now" curiosity.
It isn't that you really catch up. The conversations are way too short, and the room is much too noisy and crowded. And the time goes by way too quickly to even talk to everyone you want to. There were some folks that I only waved to! Part of me felt a bit short changed and let down by this.

So why did I leave feeling so happy and energized? Why do people I haven't seen in so many years seem to mean so much to me? I'm not sure, but here's a theory I came up with.

I was a really shy kid. As I discussed in an earlier post, I'm still pretty introverted. But in high school I came out of my shell and became able to meet people with confidence and interest. Looking back, I realize that I was only able to do this because of my Flatbush classmates.

The 403 boys whom I had so much fun with. Making Rocky and Cory laugh when Bernie and I walked them home on Friday night of the Junior Shabbaton. The memories we began to mention on Sunday night were just the tip of the ice berg. And as I began to speak up more in high school, (usually using humor as my ticket for entry) I felt accepted by people I never thought would give me a second look.

Every one of those interactions was a step in becoming more self assured around people. As this social confidence grew, it gave me a much greater self respect as well. There is no way that I could do what I do for a living if I had not been developed that camaraderie with my classmates.

For my students who read this blog, (and I know there are some of you out there) I have two thoughts. First of all, remember that the friendships that you have and are making now are like no others that you will ever form.

But more importantly, remember that they way you treat each other can have more impact than you realize. This can be for good, or God forbid the opposite. None of us are perfect, but when we try to make those around us feel accepted and respected, we are helping them become their best selves.

I can tell you that here in Fuchs Mizrachi, I see that happening every day. But man, Flatbush Seniors '86 are a grade right out of history! I owe you much.


The Falcon

Glory of Friendship

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, 
nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; 
it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when 
he discovers that someone else believes in him and is 
willing to trust him. 

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, March 4, 2011

And here I am in the local paper! (again)

Well, you can read the whole article here,  but here are the parts that quote me:

"Rabbi Michael Unterberg, the Jewish history department chair at Fuchs Mizrachi School, met with Kepley and the cast to serve as an expert and tutor in all things Judaic.

Unterberg’s discussions with the cast ranged from the practical – how to wear tzitzit and what it feels like to “shuckle” while praying – to the spiritual. The cast and Unterberg had in-depth discussions on the influence of Jewish mysticism on Chasidism and how those beliefs amplify Asher’s parents’ pain at his leaving the fold.

Unterberg also raised the issue of “tensions with Christianity in the shadow of the Holocaust,” he says. He felt it was essential for the actors “to understand how a Jewish parent would view a cross or crucifix, the pain, what that symbolism would mean to Eastern European immigrants.”

The experience of working on the production “was really enriching for me,” he adds, noting the actors craved knowledge of details about Chasidic life that didn’t directly figure into the script just so they would have a fuller sense of who their characters are.

“It’s interesting to see how actors study,” Unterberg says. “Chasidim have this view that every life is a spark. Actors share that value – appreciating other cultures. It was cool.”

Kepley looks forward to “Asher Lev’s” three high-school student matinee performances. While the majority of schools attending these shows are religious schools, there’s only one Jewish school among them: Unterberg is bringing a group of 90 teens from Fuchs Mizrachi. Kepley’s past experiences with student matinees leads her to anticipate “great discussions afterwards” with teen audiences of different faiths.

Unterberg says he almost balked at bringing his students to the “Asher Lev” matinee, as the regular evening productions will contain nudity. The student matinees, he was quickly assured, would not.

“For me and my school, we’d have been in the same position as Asher” had the matinees contained nudity, Unterberg observes. “We want to experience culture, but we also want to uphold Modern Orthodox traditions.”

When you search for my name on the Cleveland Jewish News website, you get several other article about or mentioning me. Below are most of the results. You can click to see those articles too. 

Not so bad for some kid from Brooklyn, I guess.

Death of a 'dream'
Cleveland resident mourns, celebrates life of aunt killed in terrorist attack in Efrat. By DOUGLAS J. GUTH Staff Reporter Rabbi Michael Unterberg says he was stunned as he looked out at the ocean of mourners who came to his Aunt Sara's funeral in t...
 4.2K - Jun. 7, 2001; scored 1000.0

Exploring the world of Asher Lev
A bearded man in tzitzit (ritual fringes) sits hunched on a wooden bench. He snaps into a memory of his childhood and becomes an insecure 10-year-old boy. He begs his father to cancel their planned move to Vienna, to let him stay in New York. If forc...
 6.9K - Mar. 4, 2011; scored 898.0

Guide takes a new view of gay, Orthodox Jewish life
Written as a careful balance of ancient Jewish law and modern ideals of human compassion, a code of conduct on the Orthodox community s treatment of homosexuality was released online this summer, complete with signatures from over 170 Modern Orthodox...
 5.3K - Oct. 1, 2010; scored 855.0

Tubbs Jones was a friend to Jews,’ say local leaders
As the Ohio and Washington, D.C. political worlds mourn the death of U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, local Jewish leaders recall the woman whose charisma and willingness to listen ultimately made her the correct choice to represent a district with, ...
 7.8K - Aug. 28, 2008; scored 539.0

Tackling modern Israel in area jewish schools
Cleveland day and religious schools work to bring modern Israel into the classroom. With Israel front and center in the news almost every day, many Jewish families are calling for a more concerted effort from educators to teach children about modern ...
 5.3K - Sep. 1, 2005; scored 539.0

Something rotten’ in the Tony Brown review of Hamlet’
First, a quiz: Read the paragraphs and answer the multiple choice question that follows: “A friend, an Israeli Jew from Jerusalem whose father survived the concentration camps to settle in the promised land on the promise it was empty, comp...
 6.0K - Jun. 12, 2008; scored 425.0

Jewish day schools address current Israeli crisis
As the intifada enters its 19th month and an Israel virtually at war dominates the headlines, Yom Hazikaron(Israel Memorial Day) and Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) take on special poignancy this year. As part of the double commemoration on...
 8.0K - Apr. 11, 2002; scored 425.0

A 2006 trip that began in 1942
My summer vacation began this year on July 23, when my mother Bertha Lautman, the 48th Jewish prisoner interned in Auschwitz, and Rabbi Michael Unterberg traveled with me and my mother from Cleveland to Slovakia. (Rabbi Unterberg is planning to make ...
 5.4K - Nov. 23, 2006; scored 425.0

Defending Israel on campus goal of high-school program
Perhaps the most dangerous place to be a Zionist is on today’s American college campuses. From coast to coast, left-wing politics and the Palestinian cause have joined forces, notes Middle East analyst Mark Silverberg. Supporting the Palest...
 5.6K - May. 8, 2008; scored 425.0

Mizrachi on Israel
I appreciated Michael Goroff's cover story Tackling Modern Israel in area Jewish schools (CJN, Sept. 2). However, I would like to round out the picture of Israel education at Fuchs Mizrachi School. Religious Zionism is our raison d�...
 1.2K - Sep. 15, 2005; scored 269.0

Heartfelt Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration
Fuchs Mizrachi School celebrated Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) in a room overflowing with more than 500 Clevelanders, as well as visitors from Detroit. The experience was extraordinarily heartfelt, and the connection between the s...
 1.1K - May. 19, 2005; scored 269.0

Devorah Pomerantz and Zachery Goldstein were married recently at the La Malfa Party Center. Rabbi Michael Unterberg of Cleveland and Rabbi Alan Berkowitz of New York officiated. Mrs. Goldstein, daughter of Lawrence and Phylis Pomerantz of University ...
 0.6K - Mar. 18, 2002; scored 269.0

Write On trip to Israel trains new advocates
Many trips promise The Real Israel. But the Israelis who met the teen advocacy group Write On for Israel, co-sponsored by The AVI CHAI Foundation and the Cleveland Jewish News, really delivered. On a recent 10-day Israel trip, a component of the Wr...
 7.9K - Jul. 3, 2009; scored 269.0

Defending Israel on campus 101: Pro-Israel group starts at OSU and other schools
When Lisette Dolgin was a college student and Hillel officer at Loyola University Chicago in 2005, she wasn’t a well-educated Zionist. This despite the fact that Dolgin is a grandchild of one Holocaust survivor and one Israeli-born vetera...
 4.5K - Oct. 10, 2008; scored 269.0

Never again or enough?
We had our first Yom Hashoah commemoration at Wiggins Place. We are Jewish seniors of the same generation but with different backgrounds and denominations. The majority were born in America and raised children who had grandparents, aunts and uncles i...
 1.4K - May. 4, 2007; scored 269.0

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Our Brush with Greatness 1.5

What? You don't listen to the Judge John Hodgman podcast? Well then not only are you missing out on a really fun and clever comedian at work, but you will also miss the Unterberg episode.

Yeah, that's right. Minor television celebrity and former computer pitchman John Hodgman has agreed to help me and Avigayil resolve a long running dispute. And then publish the whole conversation on the internet. And so once again, the Unterbergs will have a brush with fame!

I'll make sure to post it here when it airs. (or casts... or pods... or whatever) In the meantime, I'll whet your appetite with the letter that Avigayil sent the show. The show's producer called us today, and told us that we can present our case before the judge over the next two weeks.

Here's the application she sent:

Argument: between a father (Michael) and daughter (Avigayil): Should a father have the right to force his daughter to watch a classic movie, that even if she does not like it, it does have merit and should be seen. It should be noted, that there are good odds that she will like it.

Daughter: Plaintiff: Avigayil: I am an eleventh grader in high school and I think that my father should not be allowed to dictate what movies I must watch. I give him the full right to forbid me from watching movies, and even to suggest movies that he thinks I might like. But for him to ask me to stay home on a saturday night to watch a movie that I do not want to watch, instead of going out with friends or doing homework, it taking it too far.
PS My father would like for bailiff Jesse to stop using the word “myself” incorrectly (i.e. “the show is produced by myself”)
PPS Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, my father gave me permission send this email

examples of movies I have been forced to watch and did not like:
The Magnificent Seven
The African Queen

examples of movies that I have been forced to watch and did like:
The Untouchables
Duck Soup (Marx Brothers)

examples of movies I have yet to watch that are being saved on Tivo:
Boys From Brazil
A Few Good Men

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Are these two videos complementary?

What do you think?

(kudos to 10th grader Eli Diamond for the suggestion)

I also touched on the topic of school conformity in a previous post, but these short presentations are suggesting new models of thinking. Their creativity beats my kvetching hands down.

Too cool for school.