Thursday, February 03, 2005

I AM BACK 2/3/05


I just came back from a kosher cruise on the Costa Atlantica, where I served as a scholar in residence for Josh Post and Suite Life Cruises. The sun certainly is more agreeable than ice and snow, but all good things must come to an end. It was a terrific voyage, but certainly not good for the waistline.

Today I participated in two tele-conferences of great interest and importance. The first was a meeting of the Unity Committee of the Governing Board of the Jewish Agency which has been deeply involved in the critical problem of conversion in Israel. It is the single most important DOMESTIC issue after security.

The second call was an interesting in depth analysis of Russian anti-Semitism sponsored by the National Conference of Soviet Jewry. Mark Sofier of the Israeli Foreign Ministry gave an update on the view from Jerusalem, while Rabbi Pinchus Goldschmidt, Chief Rabbi of Moscow presented the picture from his home city. The final speaker was the groups Executive Vice-President Mark Levin who is among the most sincere and competent jewish professionals we have today.

Over the next day or two I will outline my thoughts on these issues. Incidentally, in May of this year I will be leading a small group (primarily physicians and their spouses) to Israel for Yom Haatzmaut, and to present a sefer torah to the Israeli Navy in Haifa. From Israel we will be visiting Moscow, with the assistance of Mark, the NCSJ and Rabbi Goldschmidt. We finish off our visit in Berlin which is now a problematic area in view of the over 100,000 halachic jews there (the second largest Jewish population in Europe after France) and the fact that more Soviet Jews go to Germany than Israel at the present time. For example, I believe that Bnei Akiva has over 30 young shlichim (teachers youth leaders) in Germany.

WCBS RADIO is an all news station in NYC. For many years they and their sister station WINS (1010) provide 24 hour news coverage in a set pattern, that allows you to anticipate that the weather for example will be broadcast on the 8’s (08, 18, 28, etc ) after the hour.

While I no longer watch Dan Rather and CBS NEWS on TV, by force of habit and because I am a “news junkie” I keep my dial tuned to the news stations which includes Bloomberg, ABC and NPR (which has a separate problem re fairness).

Over the years you become familiar with the voices and occasionally the faces of the reporters (sometimes simply readers with resonant voices). Thus in a major criminal trial you look forward to the analysis of a particular reporter that you have learned to trust.

Thus, it pains and annoys me when the announcers abuse the hospitality of my car radio to become high pressure sales persons, for flowers, eye surgery and mortgages to name a few causes. When the weatherman tells me to type his name into my internet flower order to get a free vase, or the sportscaster informs us that with good credit his bank fooled him and gave him a hard time while applying for a loan, I find this rather insulting to my intelligence. Moreover, it diminishes my trust in them as objective reporters who have no personal agenda when they report the news.

I have no problem with them being used in ads for a product, but not on their news station. I suggest these people get a raise from the stations and leave the selling to someone else. Perhaps I am old fashioned but, there is a special trust I would like to have in my news reporters, that I listen to every day. Hucksterism and pushing products is ruining that at least for me.

What do you think?