Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
How wrong first impressions can be. The man turned out to be Rabbi Dr. Jur. Berysz (Dov)
I ask the scholar to answer a question that has been plaguing me for many years. Is an observant Jew allowed to smell the odor of bacon? What should he do if his neighbor is barbecuing what Israelis facetiously call 'white meat' (pork to everyone else)? Close the windows? Sell the house? What if the neighbors are Jewish?
The rabbi surprises me. It turns out that there is no law prohibiting a religious Jew from smelling even the traifest of the traif (unkosher, I am thinking here a double cheeseburger granished with shrimp). I ask him whether the enticing odor might lead a religious man into transgression (there are laws, for example, prohibiting the handling of money on Shabbat for similar reasons). "What", he answers, "do you really think a religious Jew is going to eat hazer (pig) just because he smells it?"
Our conversation then takes an interesting turn. There are many blessing that Jews are supposed to invoke during the day. There are blessings for waking up in the morning, for eating various kinds of food. Even smell blessings, as for example when you smell the spice box on Saturday evening, as the Shabbat (Sabbath) ends. Turns out that is also a smell blessing for the 'etrog' (a citrus used during Tabernacles). What about smelling other foods? After all, it is well known that the smell of freshly baked bread spreads happiness and an urgent desire to buy practically anything (after all, that is why supermarkets have bakeries). However, among the sages, there is a disagreement as to whether the smell of bread itself warrants a blessing in its own rite. Because of this dispute, very religious Jews are supposed to refrain from smelling baking bread, lest they risk the dilemma of wondering whether to bless what should not be blessed, or not to bless what should.
So, folks, in case you were wondering: A very observant Jew, encountering his neighbor's barbecue, is not required to take any affirmative action whatsoever, even if the neighbors are Jewish and barbecuing pork chops and they smell really good (the chops, that is). On the other hand, if the same neighbor bakes a loaf of bread, the observant neighbor must close the windows and go for a long walk. As they say, go nose.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Mel Rosenberg presenting on
Periodontal Disease & Bad Breath
Dentists often assume that periodontal disease is a major cause of bad
breath. Indeed, bad breath is often cited as being a warning sign of
periodontal disease. But is it? This is the issue which I will address
in my presentation. Indeed, various studies have demonstrated
significant associations between gingival index and probing depth (on
the one hand), and oral malodor, as determined by odor judges and
volatile sulphides (see, for example the review by Morita and Wang in
2001). However, several publications, notably that of Bosy et al.
(1994), conducted on over 120 Canadian subjects, did not find a
significant association between the two (although the level of malodor
was slightly elevated in the periodontal disease group.
Specific questions to be addressed:
• Why do some studies show significant differences between periodontal
disease parameters and bad breath whereas other studies do not?
• What role does the posterior dorsal tongue play in this relationship?
• Is interdental plaque an important factor?
• Should we find other ways of measuring bad breath to identify the
• Should bad breath be a factor in determining how dentists and
periodontists view the oral cavity, instruct patients and monitor
Address: Europäische Akademie für zahnärztliche Fort- und Weiterbildung der BLZK GmbH –eafz
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Earlier this year, we hosted Jeff’s 140 Conference here, and when we found out that he would be here for Purim, we (
Since we are at an engineering college, my first idea was to have a symposium focusing on the future of mobiles, or something equally geeky. But Jeff sent me a Facebook message suggesting that I look for a subject that I am passionate about.
Needless to say, I am passionate about creativity: teaching creative thinking (my first job at Afeka College, together with
So the first idea was a symposium on creative thinking: can it be taught or naught? Here at the college, we have a rare ensemble of full-time and part-time staff (and even students) who use creative thinking methodologies (TRIZ, SIT, brainstorming, etc.) in their courses. But this might quickly turn into a wrestling match between people proposing the various techniques. Also, it would be unidirectional and informative, a bunch of talking heads, rather than experiential.
Enter the un-conference. The un-conference is a meeting in which there is a high level of democracy. In other words, the people attending can suggest themselves as speakers, as well as the topics they choose. The schedule is dynamic and sometimes spontaneous. Wondrous things can happen in the class and outside as well.
So I contacted Yossi and asked for his moral support. He agreed, and suggested that we work together with one of his up-and-coming youngsters, Noam Fine. Noam and I met up briefly at the DLD in
So what went on at Bird Brain 10? In the auditorium, we had an eclectic mix of birds sharing their thoughts, visions, and art. Yossi talked about silliness as next to creativeness, and brought Noa Vax to the stage for an impromptu microphone tapping percussion solo. The next batter up was Yossi’s formidable brother Didi who talked about amazing useless things (two of which are on permanent display at the college). The Vardi brothers were followed by thespians, orators, musicians, magicians, conductors, inventors, patentors, and more. Presiding over the meeting on Mor’s perch was Max the talking parrot, who had very little to say, and was very popular as a result.
Outside, Hagai Cohen eggzibited his printer-organ, Moti Sokolov, president of the college rode on Didi Vardi’s walkcycle, Yossi Matias googled on the piano, while Ilil gave out delicious jam samples (jam session with jam), Aviva and Jehudi gave out smiling roses. There were lots of smiles.
You had to be there. If you weren’t, well we plan to have Bird Brain 11 on the day right after Purim, 2011.
For more on Bird Brain you can check out:
Thursday, February 25, 2010
As I write these words, I am working on a sixties performance with Noam Tsur, a new friend from the hi-tech sector who is a rip-roaring guitarist and musician. Three weeks ago we were putting together a song list for our show (it now includes some of our favorite tunes including “Jet Plane, Don’t Think Twice It’s Albright, Feeling Groovy, So Long Marianne and many others”). We were talking about one of my (everyone’s?) top musical heroes of that era, Donovan and wondering which of his songs to include.
A few days later I was on my way to attend DLD, a weird and wondrous annual event in
To my great fortune, he appeared again at the end of the meeting (for a wonderful rendition of ‘Atlantis’, he hasn’t lost anything of his musicianship and charm). This time I did gather the courage, went over to him, had my picture taken, told him how much I loved his work. And he sped off again.
Earlier that morning, I had the great fortune of singing a spontaneous duet with Randi Zuckerberg, an awesome singer who supports her musical career by working at Facebook (joke, she is Mark’s sister and one of the chief movers and shakers at FB). Steffi kindly reciprocated by inviting me to lunch with a cadre of the amazing folks who lectured at the meeting. I asked Itay Talgam to be my ‘date’ and we sauntered over to the restaurant for lunch. Actually we sauntered quickly since it was about
Guess who was sitting in the corner of the restaurant at a table with Steffi and other dignitaries? None other than Donovan. I dared not go over to say hello, having prostrated myself at his feet only an hour earlier. At some stage during lunch, Itay pulled me over to the piano (didn’t take much pulling) and I started to play. Next thing you know, Donovan passed by. “Donovan”, said Itay, “why not sing a song with us (Itay you should know is
I then got up, went over to Donovan , hugged him, told him that actually my favorite song of his was “To Try for the Sun”, and the next thing you know, there we are, singing it from memory (his better than mine).
“And who’s going to be the one,
To say it was no good, what we done,
I dare a man to say I’m too yo-u-n-g,
Donovan is about 63, and hasn’t lost a bit of his hair or his charm. His agent told us he would be starting a world tour, including
But here's the thing. Imagine an 18 year-old me back in 1969, sitting on Kibbutz Urim, and strumming "Yellow is the Color of My True Love's Hair" on guitar, using the chicken-plucking technique that Steve Plaut has just taught me. Along comes an apparition (bearded translucent and wearing a white robe, hovering six inches above the floor) and says "Young Mel, I am your rock and roll angel from above. If you behave yourself, forty years from now you will be singing "Mellow Yellow" with Donovan." Who would have believed?