Feb 4, 2009

A Kick in the Pants

"Sorry I missed the election that made you spokesman for the neighborhood."

That is the text of an email I received last night. That's it - nothing more. No name, no further explanation.

This was sent to me in response to an email that I sent to the local list describing the letter I sent to the director of Superbus, and his phone call to me. I am not sure where this person saw in any of the correspondence an indication that I consider myself a spokesperson for the community. I assume this person feels that nobody has a right to voice their opinion on anything, because in reality that is all I was doing. I was participating in a conversation and describing a conversation I had. I think I have as much right as anybody else, including the anonymous sender of the email, to voice my own opinion.

And whether I am spokesperson, which I am not but let's just say theoretically, or somebody else is, I guess this person prefers that Superbus management (who admitted to making this decision on their own) be the spokesperson for the community dictating to us how our neighborhood should look. And if not Superbus, then this person prefers that the various kannoim and rabble rousers be the spokespeople for the community.

This is not a popularity contest and I am not running for anything, so the sender of the email can have his or her own opinion, and if they prefer not to have one they can choose to follow the opinion of whomever they want.

But I still have a right to my own opinion.

But all that is beside the point. The truth is that the email was a bit of a kick in the pants. I therefore want to give a disclaimer for this blog.

I am the author of the Life in Israel blog. This blog is where I voice my opinions. That is it.

I am nobody's spokesperson, I talk for nobody else.

I simply talk about various topics that interest me in various ways, and I try to keep my readers interested and entertained. If you don't like my opinion, you are welcome to either argue with me and point out the error of my ways (I have even been known to once in a while change my opinion based on someone else sharing their viewpoint with me), to read my blog and just tsk tsk at my misguided life, or to go read someone else's blog.

This blog is open to the public. I have provided this as a place where other people can freely (even anonymously) voice their opinion on anything they like, and I try to encourage people to keep it respectful. I am proud to say that this forum has been found to be a fairly comfortable place for people to express their thoughts, myself included, and debate the issues openly.

But I speak for nobody. I am not the spokesperson for any of the following groups (in no particular order):
  • frum jewry
  • haredi Jewry
  • national religious Jewry
  • Modern Orthodox Jewry
  • Conservative Jewry
  • Reform Jewry
  • Atheists
  • Yerushalmim
  • Hassidim
  • American Jewry
  • Israeli Jewry
  • Russian Jewry
  • Bet Shemesh people
  • RBS B people
  • RBS A people
  • Kirya Haredi people
  • Jerusalemites
  • Tel Avivians
  • Chicagoans
  • Married People
  • Parents
  • shochtim
  • bloggers
  • marathon runners
  • politicians
  • computer people
  • employees
  • bankers
  • lawyers
  • rabbis
  • doctors
  • prisoners
  • tech geeks
  • Facebook users
  • Twitter users
  • my family (correct, I do not even speak for them)
  • anybody else
I speak for myself, and nobody should think otherwise. If I happen to say something you agree with, consider it pure chance, or think that we are probably both wrong.

Perhaps I needed that email to remind me that I speak for myself, and myself alone.

But I have every right to voice my opinion.


  1. I nominate Rafi G to be the spokesperson for the community

  2. I am not looking for the job, thanks.

    Though I understand Mayor Moshe Abutbol is trying to fire Yehuda Gur-Aryeh from the City Spokesperson job... Maybe I should apply for that one... :-)

  3. IIRC, we voted unanimously to make you recording secretary of the carpool, after which you ran on the carpool party's list (כפ) to be community spokesman. It was a close election, and we ended up making a deal with the makolet that we would allow them to expand if they would throw us their votes, as long as you guys would find a way to run me out of town (I was annoying them by always, no matter how big the bill, paying with small-denomination coins). You guys made a whole fuss, but didn't really mind, since I was always running late.

    It seems that anonymous complainer really did miss the elections! He should pay more attention next time.

    (How about posting a copy of your original email? It's possible the guy has a point, but it's hard to criticize you, I mean come to an informed decision, without seeing what he was responding to.)

  4. my guess is that it was a response to the following email:

    Eli Balilius, the Mancal of Superbus, just called me regarding the email I sent to him.

    He explained to me that nobody told them what to do, nobody gave them instructions to be mehadrin. They even prefer not to be mehadrin, because a mehadrin format costs them more money.
    He explained to me that what happened is that they opened such a station in the Kirya Haredit. There they opened it in the mehadrin format because of the needs and requests of the local residents.

    They then decided to open another station in RBS. They did not ask anybody, they did not do a survey, nobody gave any instructions, when they finally found a location they simply copied the other location in the exact same format and opened up as quickly as they could.
    Eli admits it might have been a mistake to open like that, but they wanted to open quickly, so that is what they did.

    I recommended getting rid of the mehadrin, because in our neighborhood people do not like it. I told him we moved to RBS not Kiryat Sefer. He told me that in kiryat Sefer they are against mehadrin, but in Bet Shemesh they want it. I told him most haredim in bet Shemesh are also against mehadrin.

    Anyways, I recommended he get rid of the mehadrin, or at least make some hours regular and some separate. He said they will consider it for a day or two and it sounds very reasonable so they will likely do it in a few days.

    he did want it made clear that the decision to operate mehadrin was made by Superbus alone, and was not dictated by anybody

    or this one:
    הבקר שלחתי דוא"ל למא אלי בליליות, מנכל סופרבוס.
    הוא עכשיו התקשר אלי והסביר לי שההחלטה לעשות המוקד הטענה ברמב"ש על מתכונת
    "למהדרין" היתה החלטה של סופרבוס, ורק של סופרבוס, ולא היתה מוכתבת ע"י
    הוא מודה שכנראה היתה טעות, אבל הסביר לי איך החליטו כך - קודם פתחו מוקד בנחלה
    ומנוחה ושם דרשו שיהיה בשעות נפרדות. כשהחליטו לפתוח ברמב"ש, החליטו די מהר ורק
    העתיקו את מה שהיה בנחלה - בול. ככה יצא לנו גם מוקד "למהדרין" אפילו שלא
    מתאים לנו.

    הצעתי לו לבטל את זה, שזה מקומם אנשים. הוא אמר שאם יקח סקר הוא יודע שימצא
    אנשים שיגידו ככה והפוך, אז הםיחשבו מה לעשות. הצעתי לו עוד הצעה שיפתחו עם
    שעות נורמךיות, ובנוסף יהיה כמה שעות "למהדרין" למי שדורש.
    מר בליליות אמר שזה נשמע לו רעיון טוב וידונו על זה ויחליטו, וזה נראה לו
    שיתקבל. רק יקח כמה ימים.

  5. Rafi Not Rafi G.

    Rafi, don't let this discourage you. Your post about Superbus was really important and has raised this really important issue that may well have gone unnoticed by many of us (myself included) if I hadn't read it on your blog. This what blogging is about.

  6. thanks, but I am not discouraged, just giving a disclaimer. Worse things have been said to me.

  7. Rafi, we stand behind you. The blog is certainly a lot cleaner then plastering the neighborhood with ugly pashkvilim plastered mostly illegally and an eye-sore and all signed anonymously.
    Keep up the good work. Where else would we hear the real story about these things.

  8. This shows who made you at least the spokesman on this issue:


    If you can't be bothered to click the link, it's just a screenshot that shows that your original post on Superbus comes 5th on a Google search for superbus israel, and only preceded by Wikipedia, Government sites and one big travel site.

    What does this mean, you ask?

    It means that Google, arguably the most powerful entity in the creation, says that Rafi G is the authority on Superbus in Israel from a consumer's point of view.

    As Rafi (not Rafi G) said, that's what blogging is about. And Rafi G said it himself in the post. The fact that many people like to read Lifeinisrael and feel comfortable using it as a forum for discussion does give it authority.

    The beauty of it is that someone who doesn't agree can leave comments, start his own blog and try to develop his own community and authority.

    Or he can send anonymous emails...

  9. If I am the authority on Superbus in israel, then Superbus must be in big trouble!

    As I said though, the anonymous email comment was in response to an email on the email list, and not to the blog post (I think)

  10. please don't be intimidated by small minded people. You don't have to explain anything to anyone.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

  11. Rafi G,

    I know he responded to your email, but his question was: who made you the authorty etc.

    And I'm showing you that you are, at least as far as Google is concerned, and whether you like it or not, Google is probably the authority on who is worth listening to about any word on the planet!

    That's what I was talking about regarding charedim and technology too, and what the traditionally powerful askanim are most afraid of when it comes to the Internet.

  12. WHAT?!? You're not the spokesperson for prisoners and Facebook users?!? Bbbbut you've MENTIONED them!!

  13. Rafi, I would nominate you for spokesperson any day. Keep up the good work!

  14. It's important to note that as your readership grows, your ability to influence opinions grows. Many people who started organizations or other chesed projects and suddenly found those around them listening to their opinion did not intend to be influential either.

    So while indeed you are just expressing your opinion, you now have hundreds or thousands of people listening to it, and having their own opinions formed by it.

    Now your job is to run away from it, which will make it chase you all the more. :-)

  15. "Worse things have been said to me."

    if anyone wants to know what - just ask me!!! Danny and I have a book on names we called him......

    love you Mr. Spokesman

  16. Shaya-you have to come n comment more often.

  17. what's really funny is Rafi was the official spokesman in the house when we were kids - He was the "good kid" (meaning we got caught and took the blame, he didn't get caught)so if he spoke for us - we got in less trouble.....

    so he has much precedent for being a spokesman.

  18. sabra - shaya used to comment a lot. I think he got tired of banging his head against the wall!

    Shaya - I don't remember that. I remember that when I spoke up, I saved myself and blamed it on you and you got it worse!

  19. I don't remember ever getting into "less" trouble.

  20. Rafi,

    If it was from someone with an e-mail address of "Inline Investor", ignore it - I received a nasty, uncalled for, response to a request I'd posted to the ShemeshList from this individual. When I asked the list moderators if they knew anything about this person, they said that they did not, but that this person had tried to post similar responses to the list in the past, but the posts had not been allowed through.

  21. Keep up the good work Rafi - you may (arguably) not Represent anyone but yourself -but you do Present what many of us think, and express it muchy better than we can.

    Getting criticised for doing the right thing, goes with the territory!

    We're with you!

  22. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjDx2ZwLUs0&feature=related

    the more things change, the more they stay the same

  23. I vote Raffi "Mara Dasra" of RBS.

    Heck, I vote anyone who'll get rid of the current "Moron Dasra".

  24. Admit it, you're provocative! You love to provoke, to stir things up a bit and see what happens. You can't be surprised that you got a response from someone who's offended.
    I'ts just a shame that they don't have the courage to put their name to their email and sent it all snidey secretly. (What kind of sad people write nasty stuff and sign their name "anonymous"? - losers!)

  25. rw - you are going to get me in trouble...


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