Story: Rich Man Insults Unwanted Guest

Rich Man in Bar Kamtza story

Once upon a time there was a rich man (played by my daughter, see above photo). He was throwing a party. He told his servant to invite one particular guest. His servant messed up and invited the wrong guy. Ooops. Major oopsie doopsie. The rich man was super mad. In the end, a temple was destroyed, and the Jewish people scattered. Yes, to those who know, this is the Bar Kamtza story. Learn more here:

Or use the Wikipedia version:

And if you want a really long detailed discussion of the whole story (this is from the yeshiva where my son is, Yeshivat Har Etzion):

Rich Man Insults Unwanted Guest – Bar Kamtza Story in Photos

My daughter played the rich man. Here is the story (or some of it) in photos:
Invitation: "You are invited to Mr. Ashir's Birthday Bash! If your name is Bar-Kamtza, don't come."
The invitation says: You are invited to Mr. Ashir's Birthday Bash! If your name is Bar Kamtza, don't come.
TIME: Sunset – Sunrise
PLACE: Somewhere

servant instructions to invite Kamtza
Mr. Ashir the rich man instructs his servant to invite Kamtza to his party. Servant messes up (note the similar names between the friend and the enemy), and Bar Kamtza shows up the party instead.

Mr. Ashir screams at the top of his lungs at Bar Kamtza.
Mr. Ashir screams at the top of his lungs at Bar Kamtza. Now that is one unwanted guest!

Bar Kamtza takes his revenge by putting blemishes on these cows. Everyone including the Roman emperor gets upset. Disaster happens. Temple is destroyed. There are lots of morals of the story (you can look up those up if you are really interested).

Notes on Bar Kamtza Story

1) We never find out anything about Kamtza. He does not seem to be a part of the story. Just has a great name (probably a fake one, like Ploney Almoney).
2) What in the world did Bar Kamtza do that made Mr. Ashir dislike him so much?

Your Turn, Please

If the wrong person showed up at your party, what would you do? How would you treat him or her, especially if it were someone you didn’t really like? What if you were a guest, and a host starting yelling at an uninvited guest? What if you were hurt by someone – what do you do with the hurt?

The Reluctant Videographer: Miss Hannigan

Miss Hannigan in Annie, Jr.
Last week my daughter performed in a show: Annie, Jr. at the Highland Park High School in Highland Park, New Jersey. She had the role of Miss Hannigan who runs an orphanage filled with girls. Does she like her job? No. I have to say I never cared much for the story of Annie: too sappy. But as I now see it from the point of view of Miss Hannigan, I enjoy it much more. She clearly is totally in the wrong, wrong role in life. Of course, just because she’s miserable, why should she have to be so nasty to everyone else as well? She is pretty darn funny – she probably should have been a comedian.

A favorite line:

Some women are drippin’ with diamonds / Some women are drippin’ with pearls / Lucky me, lucky me, look at what I’m drippin’ with / Little girls!

The day of the show I figured out how to use the movie mode on my camera. Maybe by the next show I will use a tripod, but I did manage to get six videos online. With my middle son’s help, I put them on YouTube in a playlist: Annie, Jr. – HPYTC 5/14/15.

Here is Miss Hannigan singing ‘Little Girls’:

A scene of Miss Hannigan yelling at the orphans:

You can see the other four on the play list.

I had hoped to do more watercolors, but the show got in the way. The holiday of Shavuot is coming this weekend: best wishes to all that celebrate. One week later is the Israel Day Parade in New York City. After that, a special wedding of someone who I’ve known since she was one. It’s nice to have many celebrations, but I like time to do creative work, too.

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What do you think of the Miss Hannigan character? Does she have your sympathy at all? Or perhaps she bothers you a lot? Regarding video, have you done any videotaping? How have you gotten better at this task? Do you have a YouTube channel?

Oh, and the Reluctant Videographer is me.

Melting Candles, Daikons and Raritan Avenue

You plan, you plan and God laughs. I had certain ideas about how to focus this blog once I renamed it Sketching Out, but my mind is not there. So I apologize for the potpourri of this post.

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I have some photos that are supposed to go with a post called Fermenting Daikons. What is a daikon? It is a strong and long white radish. I bought one for a dollar at the organic stand at the Highland Park Farmer’s Market. Here is one photo:
daikon radish

So you will have to come back to learn how to ferment a daikon. Hint: the only ingredients are water, sea salt and a daikon. Update: here is the post on how to ferment a daikon.

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Last night we walked down Raritan Avenue (was it hundreds? or thousands? Probably close to one thousand) in support of Israel. It was a peaceful march. Lots of smiles, some hugging, parents of IDF soldiers (yes, we have quite a few in this community) glad to receive support. In the short rally at the end, one of the topics mentioned was the appreciation that the U.S. Congress has given funding for the Iron Dome, and how local groups such as NORPAC have played an important role in meeting with senators and congressman to get funding for the Iron Dome.
walk for Israel on Raritan Avenue

soldiers we hug you
The sign reads (in Hebrew, loosely translated by me) “Soldiers of the IDF, we hug you from a distance!”

rally for Israel
Thank you to the owners of the old Y property who allowed us to use the space for a few speeches, including a moving one about a soldier (a family member of the speaker) who had just been killed while on duty.

You can watch a video of walkers down Raritan Avenue in support of Israel in this nine minute video by Gary Leslie.

When I posted some photos on Facebook, I had a few people in Israel thank me. But all I did was post a few pictures … I don’t have to go and dodge missiles every time a siren goes off. My friends and family in Beit Shemesh have been going to the shelter perhaps five times a day? But that is nothing compared to those who live in the south of Israel. People who are handicapped just have to stay in the shelter. Or pray the missile won’t hit them.

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“What can I do?” seems to be on the mind of many. Here is a guest post on my friend’s A Mother in Israel blog with 21 Ways to Help Israel. Personally, I decided to give to the Lone Soldier organization because I know too many lone soldiers (a Lone Soldier is someone who serves in the IDF and whose immediate family does not live in Israel). And then because one of my friends in Israel recommended it, I also sent a donation to A Package From Home.

Excerpt from a note by a friend in Beit Shemesh (who grew up in Edison, NJ): “The situation here is very tense. Everyone knows someone who is down in Gaza fighting for us. Everyone has experienced a Tzeva Adom (Red Alert) at least once in the past few weeks. Everyone is on edge about possible kidnaps, airstrikes, and the war. Despite all this, life goes on here. People still go to work and sit in the same boring meetings, kids still go to the parks, people still go shopping, and see movies. Life must continue here or the Terrorists win.”

Fashion and Modesty

My daughter is taking an art class in fashion. So she was excited when I volunteered to share some of her drawings in a post:

fashion drawing

A few questions came up regarding the class. It seems that her art teacher used words to which she was unaccustomed to talk about the human body (the main word in question is b-*-*-b-s). It sounds like her teacher even pointed to that part of the human body while using this language. To give a little background, my daughter and her friends attend a modern Orthodox Jewish day school. So they are unaccustomed to hearing such language in the classroom. One friend felt it was OK to talk that way; another said it would be OK for a science teacher to talk about those parts of the body. I pointed out that sometimes the science teacher talks about the science or anatomy but doesn’t bring up the feelings that the words might elicit.

In addition, my daughter told me she was careful to draw dresses that are what is called tznuah – modest. My daughter wears short-sleeved shirts, as I do, but not sleeveless. We also wear skirts that reach close to our knees. In school, she has to wear quarter-sleeves or longer and skirts below the knee or longer. She sometimes wears pants, but she is not allowed to do so in school. As opposed to feeling trapped by these rules, as some girls do, I think they make her feel safe. The one drawing on this post that is sleeveless she explained to me is a bathing suit. In her most recent dance school she was required to wear a dress that had hardly any top at all, so it made her feel naked. She was very unhappy about that outfit.

fashon models drawing

A Discussion on Fashion and Modesty

With the view that people have different cultural norms, and certainly anyone reading this post may have a different viewpoint, upbringing and outlook from my daughter, myself, her art teacher or her science teacher, I have a few questions for you.

  • Have you ever given much thought to how you dress?
  • Would you be comfortable with the use of the word b-*-*-b-s in the classroom?

Feel free to discuss in the comments anything I have mentioned. The point is to understand someone else’s point of view.

Tell Us Your Favorite Fashion Design

On a lighter note, you could comment on your favorite outfit on this post.

fashion models drawing

Branch and Leaf on Meadows Trail

meadows trail branch with leaves
Way back in January, my daughter and I went for a walk on the Meadows trail near Donaldson Park. The trail was cleared back in 2006, and it is a nice stroll through the woods. I like this photo and wanted to share it; it looks a bit like the branches of the raspberry bushes in my backyard. It was a snow-less winter in New Jersey, and I think this photo reflects that sort of empty brownness that we had instead.

I haven’t been able to get into nature much recently myself (other than my yard), as I’ve been taking care of my father who is 82 and has needed a lot of help lately. We are working on getting him a new living situation. Balancing work and my regular family duties with this has taken a lot of my time and energy.

Sunset and Scallions

Stratton Mountain, Vermont at sunset
We just came back from a fun ski vacation at Stratton Mountain in Vermont. The skiing went well, despite the fluctuating ski conditions (rain one night) and up and down weather. My daughter now eagerly skis a longish trail on the side of the mountain called Lower Tamarack.

On the food front, finding food for us to eat for 3½ days is a bit of a struggle. This year, I packed various homemade food over the past two months that I had frozen in advance for vacation. The potato latkes from Chanukah, for example, were OK since I had packed little applesauce cups as well, so they had a nice condiment to go with them. Spaghetti pie (recipe in Honest Pretzels by Mollie Katzen), however, normally one of my daughter’s favorite dishes did not freeze and defrost nicely into a tasty dish. Most of it got thrown out, unfortunately. The homemade mushroom barley soup was a hit, but the prepared Tabatchnick’s frozen mushroom barley soup not as much. My kids normally like macaroni and pizza slices, but how many of those can one eat? Ditto for Streit’s canned minestrone soup – all my kids like that soup, but not for every meal. My family eagerly consumed leftover chicken soup last night when we got home.

For myself, I made brown rice in the crockpot two nights in a row (1 part rice to two parts water). I bought scallions and parsley in a supermarket right before we got to Stratton. Scallions are an improvement over bringing an onion and a knife and then ignoring the onion for the duration of the trip. You can cut scallions with a plastic knife, if necessary. Also, one year I brought lettuce on our winter trip, only to find it had frozen and wilted on the journey. Parsley holds up better in the winter weather. I’ve also learned to bring a few bags of frozen vegetables – easy to store, easy to prepare.

If you bring your own food on vacation, what tips do you have for storing, preparing or serving the food?

Elegant Woman in Pink Painting

elegant woman painting
Elegant Woman in Pink, painting by my daughter, June 2011

My daughter painted this elegant woman in pink in her art class with teacher Jill Caporlingua. Jill has a Facebook page for her students’ art work – if you go to, you can see many paintings by a variety of students of all ages.

If you or a friend has a small business, you can learn how to put up a Facebook business page by reading Ease of a Facebook Business Page.

And I usually wait until Friday to link to other bloggers’ posts, but I did so enjoy these drawings for Jewish months by two of Mrs. S.’s children.

Review with Painting

detail of still life oil painting by Elaine Wenger
detail of still life oil painting by Elaine Wenger

This is a detail of a still life painting by my mother, Elaine Wenger.

This week I converted my blog to what is known as Responsive Web Design – in other words, the blog should look good both on large windowed browsers and on small mobile phones. You can see what I mean by shrinking the corner of the browser page.

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

Review with Mime

mime on boardwalk at Asbury Park
Mime performing on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey

It was fun to watch this mime perform on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. He would start to move towards you and then suddenly stop and freeze. When I gave my daughter some money to put in his bucket, he motioned toward her, but she didn’t know why. You can see what happened next in the photo at the bottom.

On My Blog

The BIG GIGANTIC news today in our household is that the RPRY team of middle son (5 of them) won the Torah Bowl Championship. They previously won the New Jersey division, and today they beat New York schools SAR and HALB. Torah Bowl is sort of like Jeopardy – they get asked questions about certain parts of the Torah, and they have to answer quickly.

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

mime with girl
Here’s my daughter and the mime – he had motioned toward her so she could get her picture taken with him. He did that to anyone who put money in his bucket.

I posted these mime photos as part of Straight Out Of the Camera -I have a bit of time online on Saturday night. On Sunday, I’ll be marching down 5th Avenue in New York City with my kids’ school.

Ballerina in Teal

ballerina in teal 2009
Ballet Dancer in Teal, Winter 2009

This blog got an overhaul this morning, but you may not notice many changes (feel free to comment on the ones you do notice). I updated the theme of the blog to a child of the Twenty Ten theme. What does that mean in English? It just means the code is more 2010 than the previous theme, which I created myself from scratch in 2007. So it helps me out technically with adding new plugins to the blog, such as the Add This plugin so you can easily share a post on your favorite social media site, such as Facebook or Twitter.

There is a contest on my other site, Websites for Small Biz, that offers free postcards. Yay – my first giveaway. Stay tuned to either of these blogs to learn more.

The girl? She’s my daughter in Winter 2009. She’s taller now and even more graceful a dancer.