Crib Talkers

My 2-year-old twins Jonah and Talya Miller were supposed to take a nap one afternoon. After I put them in their cribs, instead of falling asleep they started talking to each other. I wondered what the conversation was about so I hid a video camera in their room. Funny stuff!

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(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Israel Photo Contest

The Detroit Jewish News recently held an Israel Photo Contest to which I submitted four photos. One of my photos won third place and two others were honorable mentions. My friend, David Salama, won first place with a photo of his two-year-old son Elliot at the Western Wall.



(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Postville Woes

Yesterday’s news about the federal raid on the Postville, Iowa Kosher slaughterhouse was pretty bad. The allegations were that some 80% of the employees were in the country illegally, including a number of the rabbis at Agriprocessors.

Could it get worse? You bet!

Today there are reports in the news that Federal authorities charged that a methamphetamine laboratory was operating there as well, and that employees carried weapons to work. JTA reports:

The [meth lab and weapons] charges were among the most explosive details to emerge following the massive raid Monday at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa. In a 60-page application for a search warrant, federal agents revealed details of their six-month probe of Agriprocessors. The investigation involved 12 federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the departments of labor and agriculture.

According to the application, a former plant supervisor told investigators that some 80 percent of the workforce was illegal. They included rabbis responsible for kosher supervision, who the source believed entered the United States from Canada without proper immigration documents. The source did not provide evidence for his suspicion about the rabbis.

The source also claimed to have confronted a human resources manager with Social Security cards from three employees that had the same number. The manager laughed when the matter was raised, the source said.

At least 300 people were arrested Monday during the raid, for which federal authorities had rented an expansive fairground nearby to serve as a processing center for detainees. The search warrant application said that 697 plant employees were believed to have violated federal laws. Agriprocessors officials did not return calls from JTA seeking comment.

That sound you hear coming out of Iowa is a big “Oy Vey!”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Israel 60

The State of Israel celebrated its 60th year of statehood yesterday on the 3rd of Iyyar because the official date of Israel’s independence (5 Iyyar) falls on Shabbat this year. World leaders, celebrities, and corporate tycoons are joining Israel’s Yom Ha’atzmaut festivities in Israel.

Even President Bush will be attending the President’s Conference next week. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was scheduled to appear at the President’s Conference on a technology panel with Google founder Sergey Brin. However, his name has been dropped from the schedule. Perhaps this is because he was offended that all the press material had him listed incorrectly as “Mark Zuckerman”.

Many world leaders have also made official proclamations to honor Israel on its milestone anniversary. The JTA reports that on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a “stinking corpse” on its way to “annihilation”. In other news, the Hallmark Greeting Card company has hired Iranian president Ahmandinejad to write birthday and anniversary cards.

On a more serious matter, I attended a very moving Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day) program on Tuesday evening. A portion of the documentary film, A Hero in Heaven, about Michael Levin (z”l) was shown. IDF Staff Sergeant Michael Levin, a former USYer and Ramah Poconos camper from Philadelphia who made aliyah to Israel, was killed during the Lebanon war in August 2006. The film is a very moving tribute to Michael, who was a chayal boded (a lone soldier, meaning he had no immediate relatives in Israel).

In the past sixty years Israel has celebrated great successes and mourned for the loss of thousands who died fighting for the country. Below is a video in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary. Am Yisrael Chai!

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

PodCasting Torah

I love reading articles about the intersection of technology and religion, specifically Judaism. My colleague Rabbi Eli Garfinkel, with whom I worked at Camp Ramah Wisconsin in 1997, was featured in a USA Today article last month about the use of podcasts in religious groups.

Rabbi Eli Garfinkel, spiritual leader of Temple Beth El in Somerset, N.J., a Conservative Jewish congregation, says he draws listeners from as far away as Italy, Argentina and Israel on his podcast, RabbiPod.

“I’ve been working on teaching the Torah in an accessible manner for a long time, and when the podcast technology was invented, it just seemed like a natural,” he says.

The article explains that Podcasting is an inexpensive way for pastors and rabbis to greatly expand their audience beyond the walls of their own place of worship.

Israel Anderson, a software designer in Denver who operates a free site called God’s iPod, screens all podcasts submitted to him and weeds out most. Part of what’s driving the popularity of religious podcasts is dissatisfaction with organized religion, Anderson says. “If you’re in a home church or go primarily for fellowship but your church isn’t particularly good at teaching, a podcast is a good way to hear from a wide variety of people.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Max Fisher Highway

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit building in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan is appropriately named for Max M. Fisher, the Jewish businessman and philanthropist who died in 2005. In addition to the Federation building, the home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (“The Max”) and The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business also bear his name.

Today, at a ceremony at the Fisher Building, Representative Joe Knollenberg dedicated a thirty-mile stretch of Telegraph Road as the “Max M. Fisher Memorial Highway”. I happened to be walking into work at Tamarack Camps (located in the Fisher Building) when the dedication ceremony was beginning and I took the photograph below. This is really a wonderful way to honor such a philanthropic, remarkable man.

Max Fisher Highway

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |