Monday, November 28, 2016

An Israeli NASCAR Driver... No, Seriously

I've seen the movie "Airplane!" so many times and I always chuckle at my favorite scene. It's when the flight attendant offers a thin leaflet titled "Jewish Sports Legends" to a passenger on the plane. The stereotype that Jews aren't successful in sports might be fairly accurate. After all, there really aren't that many famous Jewish athletes. However, what's even more rare than a famous Jewish athlete is a famous Jewish NASCAR driver. That makes the story of Alon Day really unique. 

Not only is NASCAR driver Alon Day Jewish, but he's also Israeli. A recent article in Sports Illustrated noted that Alon Day is the first Jewish NASCAR driver. He led his team to their first-ever first place finish. While Day didn't drive the team's car in the victory lap, he managed to hold a spot in one of the top ten positions and for a while even maintained second place. 


Israeli Jewish Alon Day - NASCAR Driver


Alon Day is from Ashdod, the country's sixth-largest city and the largest port in all of Israel. Day's benefactor is Jewish attorney David Levin, who has a goal of promoting Israel through motorsports. Yes, that is an odd goal, but he might be on to something. NASCAR hasn't traditionally had a large Jewish fan base, although it is growing. I've been a fan of NASCAR my entire life because of the excitement of the speeding cars and the drivers fighting for position around the track. Perhaps I discovered my love of auto racing as a kid in Detroit watching the Detroit Grand Prix race around the streets of downtown Detroit and Belle Isle. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cyber Monday Technology Recommendations

Last week I published my annual Holiday gift guide with 30 of the best technology gadgets and personal consumer electronics for this holiday season. That list was far from exhaustive because there are some amazing deals to be had over the next several days with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. The drastically reduced pricing of impressive smart TVs, phones, computers, audio products and more would not be imaginable a few years ago. As always, check for the best pricing online.


SMART TELEVISIONS

VIZIO 60" Class 4K UHD SmartCast Home Theater Display - Wow! Sam's Club is selling this 60 inch gem on Black Friday for the amazing price of $548! This Ultra HD has Google Chromecast built-in and your phone is your remote with the VIZIO SmartCast app. The display is amazing and this uber-thin smart TV weighs a tenth of what the old 60 inch TVs weighed. This TV has 4 HDMI inputs and a 120Hz effective refresh rate. You can't go wrong with this deal. samsclub.com



LeEco Super4 X55 Ecotv - My attention was piqued when I heard about this TV with Harman Kardon sound. When I heard about the Black Friday price of only $599 for a TV valued at closer to $1,000 I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This 55 inch smart TV smart TVs to the next level with a 4K display, quad-core CPU, a multi-core GPU and a fully-integrated eui interface that lets you explore a world of content with ease. Customers must pre-register for LeRewards at LeMall.com by clicking on the LeRewards banner. This price is good from Black Friday through the end of Cyber Monday. us.lemall.com/us/tv/leeco_super4_x55


PHOTOGRAPHY


Nikon D3400 2 Lens DSLR Bundle - If you ever thought a good DSLR camera was out of your price range. Think again. Sam's Club is offering this bundle for only $499. It includes a Nikon D3400 DSLR Camera with AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm and a 70-300mm lens. Your photographs will be sharper than you can believe and sharing is instantaneous with your photos automatically transferred to your mobile device. The camera has a 24.2MP CMOS sensor, 5FPS, Full HD video, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth image sharing. As a bonus it comes with a Nikon gadget bag, extra battery, 2-Year Nikon Extended Service Contract and 32GB SD memory card. samsclub.com



PHONES/TABLETS/CHARGERS


ZTE's Axon 7 Smartphone - ZTE makes the only phones with premium Hi-Fi audio chips so they deliver superior sonic quality, louder bass, higher dynamic ranges, and the cleanest audio signal path among competitors. A dual SIM slots allows you to switch between two carriers at any one time. This is a great phone if you care about the sound quality of your calls and your music. zteusa.com/axon7


FreedomPop - Consumers will trade in over 120 million smartphones in 2017, generating wholesale revenue of more than $17 billion and forecasted to grow four to five times faster than the overall smartphone market. FreedomPop has opened the Freedom Store and is offering several Cyber Monday deals on phones: Get Unlimited Data until 2017 with the following: 4G LTE/3G Mingle Hotspot - $19.99 (90% off); Get Unlimited Data until 2017 w/ Moto E, 2nd Gen LTE - $29.99 (86% off); Get Unlimited Data until 2017 w/ LG G Pad 7.0 - $49.99 (83% off). freedompop.com


Boost Band - With this amazing wristband you can charge any device. You no longer have to carry around a bulky charger or power bank in your pocket. This wearable option will charge your device enough to keep you going. boostband.net


Belkin Apple Watch Screen Protector - InvisiGlass® Screen Protection is the best screen protector available, engineered for strength and clarity and tested to meet optometric standards. The result is a crystal clear screen protector that keeps your screen safe from damage while still giving you an incredible screen experience. belkin.com


Fuse Chicken Indestructible TITAN iPhone Charging Cable - The Toughest Cable on Earth We’ve all seen it - the frayed cables, cords tied in knots, and the happy puppy chewing on our charger. TITAN solves all of that and more with industrial-grade cabling that is wrapped in not one, but  two layers of flexible, high-strength steel. fusechicken.com


Silent Pocket Fold Over Wallet iPhone Case - It's unusual to find a protective case for your phone that is also a stunning leather wallet. The smooth, supple genuine Napa leather of the Silent Pocket case is stunning and it's made to withstand years of use. The folio style case deflects and absorbs radiation and provides four slots for credit cards leaving all ports on your phone with full access. silent-pocket.com



AUDIO

Fluance Fi70 Three-Way Wireless High Fidelity Music System (Natural Walnut) - Bring the concert hall into your home with high fidelity sound performed flawlessly by this impressive and powerful integrated amplifier and six speaker configuration with dual 8” subwoofers. The beautiful cabinet design's hand crafted with audio grade wood, separate enclosures and a thick front baffle to perfect the reproduction of your favorite music. Plus wirelessly stream music instantly from Spotify, Pandora, iTunes or your own music library. Black Friday promotion: $499.99 and free shipping. (regularly $699.99) fluance.com


Monster ClarityHD On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones - Monster's audio products are always cutting edge. The ClarityHD headphones provide a swipe control​ for play/pause, tracking, and volume​. As far as wireless on-ear headphones go, these provide superior performance and sound quality. Plus, the ultra-soft ear cushions and pivoting ear cups​ make for a very comfortable pair of headphones that won’t slip off your head no matter how active you are. monsterproducts.com


Master & Dynamic Rolling Stones MH40 Wireless Over Ear Headphones - You have to see AND hear these Master & Dynamic headphones to truly appreciate how legendary these are. At $399, this is quite a bargain since only 1962 pairs were produced (a reference to the year the Stones formed as a band). masterdynamic.com


B&O BeoPlay A2 Active - This portable Bluetooth speaker will certainly impress with its True360 sound. I'm a big fan of Beoplay audio products. This speaker is dust and splash resistant, comes with two canvas straps and boasts up to 24 hours of battery life. beoplay.com


Beats EP - Beats by Dr. Dre's latest headphones, the EP, are a wired, passive on-ear headphone with a premium sound to match it’s durable, lightweight design. A Black Friday price of $99.95 makes these the best Beats value of all their headphones. They're also battery-free for unlimited playback and have adjustable vertical sliders for a personalized fit with RemoteTalk to make phone calls. Available in black, white, red or blue. beatsbydre.com


Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 - These great looking wireless over ear headphones have on-demand active noise cancelling, wireless freedom and immersive audio. They come with a micro-USB charge cable, 3.5mm cable and travel sleeve. plantronics.com


House of Marley Liberate XLBT - These over-ear headphones boast a powerful bass and stunning stainless steel detail. The 50mm dynamic drivers with neodymium magnets provide a 12 hour playback time. You can use the in-line mic with a three-button controller for hands-free calls and easy music control. The soft ear cushions are comfortable and have durable fabric-braided cables for tangle-free cords. Available in Midnight and Saddle colors. thehouseofmarley.com


BIT by Polk BOOM BIT can be clipped anywhere on your body and its sweat, dirt, and shock-proof design will allow bikers, hikers and runners to continue listening to music without hindering their ability to hear outside potential dangers (such as cars, other bikers, etc.). As an added bonus, the BIT also has a built-in speakerphone and a three hour battery life with built-in USB for easy charging, making it the ultimate on-the-go speaker. polkaudio.com


Audio Helix Cuff - When you’re always on the go, convenience is critical. That’s why we developed the Helix Cuff to be completely hands-free. The Bluetooth 4.1 powered by CSR and Qualcomm chipset feature enables you to connect your phone, tablet, or computer to your Helix Cuff and stream music or calls without plugging into a device. The Helix Cuff makes your life simpler. The Bluetooth connection works up to 30 feet between the Helix headphones and the source device. ashleychloe.com



NIMA Football Helmet Bluetooth Speaker - The speaker delivers crisp, organic natural sound with 5.5' deeper bass than you'd expect from another speaker. It allows you to carry your helmet with an authentic feeling. It connects wirelessly to your smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth device, so you can listen to your music, videos or games anytime, anywhere. The built-in speakerphone is also great for conference calls. nimausa.com


Phiaton BT110 Wireless Compact Bluetooth Earphones - These compact earphones with wireless technology and IPX4 water-resistant design combine durability and outstanding sound. With Phiaton's RightFit+ Eartips there are multiple size options to provide a comfortable fit. phiaton.com


HOME


Ring Video Doorbell - You've likely seen a commercial on TV for the Ring Doorbell. It has a proven track record of crime prevention. The Ring Video Doorbell and the new Stick Up Cam make great gifts for any homeowner this holiday season or for yourself. Ring devices call a user's smartphone when they detect motion, enabling homeowners to see and speak with visitors remotely. Ring Video Doorbell provides added convenience, but most importantly, it can and has prevented home break-ins. Now with Stick Up Cam, users can monitor and protect their entire home, not just their front yard. Plus with the Ring Solar Panel, users never have to take down camera to recharge it. ring.com



WalabotDIY - With WalabotDIY you can look inside the walls of your home and take the guesswork out of your next construction project. See up to 4 inches in concrete and drywall with adjustable sensitivity for optimal calibrations to your specific construction walabot.com/diy


Wacom Bamboo Slate Smartpad - I'm always struggling to type notes quickly enough in meetings so the Bamboo Slate from Wacom has become my go-to writing pad now. I can take handwritten notes with a pen on any type of paper and then store, shape and share them in the cloud. With the push of a button, my notes are converted into digital files and you can organize, edit and share them on iOS or Android Bluetooth enabled devices. wacom.com


FINsix’s Dart - Dart is the world’s smallest laptop charger... literally. At a powerful 65W, it's the perfect travel companion for today’s ultra-thin laptops and other mobile devices. Dart is up to four times smaller and lighter than the charger that shipped with your laptop. Dart eliminates the bulk, making it easy to throw the charger into a pocket and have on hand when you need it most. finsix.com


eero - Recently included in the Wall Street Journal, eero is the sleek, whole-home WiFi system that replaces old routers with multiple access points. Just download the app and plug one eero directly into your existing cable or DSL modem. The app takes it from there and you won't have any more dead spots in your home WiFi. eero.com


Iris Security Pack at Lowe's - Giving an Iris Security Pack to a friend or relative this holiday season shows you care about their safety because it can increase protection at home for a fraction of the cost of a traditional home security system. Iris comes complete with two contact sensors, one motion sensor and a keypad. The pack provides the essentials to install a customized smart home security solution to keep the home and loved ones safe and secure. All Iris products work with Amazon Alexa and Nucleus. irisbylowes.com


Tstand Tablet Stand - This amazing tablet stand started as a Kickstarter campaign. Lightweight at 1.25 lbs, it's perfect for watching your tablet in bed. It fits most iPads, Kindles and other tablets in either landscape or portrait position. The Tstand also transitions easily between two modes: bed mode and desktop mode thanks to the patented h-shape base that creates a custom viewing angle. tstand.com


Brydge iPad Keyboard - precision-engineered to provide users an unrivalled experience that combines the convenience and functionality of the iPad with the productivity of a MacBook. All Brydge keyboards boast a sophisticated, minimalistic design that includes adjustable brightness backlit keys, Brydge’s patented 180-degree hinge system for premium viewing angles and adjustments, Bluetooth connectivity, and a powerful rechargeable battery that lasts up to three months. brydgekeyboards.com


Active Edge Shirt - I was pretty skeptical of a shirt that said I'd sleep better at night if I wore it, but it actually works. This is the first technology capable of infusing electromagnetic frequencies into fabrics and other materials. The technology has been tested at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital, the United States Department of Defense labs, and in several independent labs. Tests have shown that wearing a treated Active  Edge TM product results in a 17% average increase in range of motion, 12% average increase in grip strength, 8% average reduction in fatigue with an increase in REM restorative sleep time. activeedgegear.com


RCA Slivr Antenna - This antenna is an essential gadget for cord cutters. allows consumers to enjoy HD TV with no monthly fee or subscription. RCA is helping us watch TV (including sports events) with the highest quality picture (4K and 1080 HDTV). It's as simple as taking it out of the box, plugging it into the TV and that's it. rcaantennas.net


Tile Slim and Tile Mate - If you're always losing things like your phone, wallet or your keys, I highly recommend Tile. Tile is a tiny Bluetooth tracker and easy-to-use app that helps you find everyday items in seconds. You can attach it to anything. With this technology, you can see the last place you had it on a map and make it ring when you get close. Tile Slim is perfect for slipping into a wallet or pocketbook and Tile Mate now comes with four preset ringtones to choose from. thetileapp.com


Poof Pea Activity Tracker for Pets - The Pea is a worry-free solution to tracking your pet’s activity levels, calories and sleep. Get your pet on the path to a healthy life. Usually $39.99, use Promo Code blackfriday20 to save 20% today (the same code works with the Poof Bean, which is normally priced at $49.99). mypoof.com



CHILDREN



LEGO Dimensions Starter Packs - Lego Dimensions is a Lego-themed action-adventure video game developed by Traveller's Tales and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360. For Black Friday, the award-winning video game LEGO Dimensions will be up to $50 off at select retailers, including Target, Toys R Us, GameStop, Walmart, BestBuy and Amazon. You can buy the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and WiiU Starter Packs for only $39.99 (usually $89.99). The Starter Packs include the LEGO Dimensions video game, 3 LEGO minifigures (Batman, Gandalf, Wyldstyle), the LEGO Toy Pad and LEGO bricks to literally build the gateway into the game! lego.com/en-us/dimensions


Sky Rover Voice Command Drone - Don't think you have to spend a lot for a drone for the kids this holiday season. The Sky Rover responds to 12 voice commands when wearing the included headset. It has four motors that are protected by propeller guards, making this drone perfect for kids. auldeytoys.us




Tilt SpinTales Jungle Rug - I'm not sure you can find such a beautiful rug for your child's bedroom or play area for under $100, let alone one that offers such excitement. Tilt's SpinTales Jungle Rug provides adventures of three jungle friends: Milo (a boy who lives in the jungle), Huggy (a bear who likes to sleep) and Stickers (a gecko who wears glasses). This fully illustrated area rug is 4 x 6 feet and comes with a free app (iOS & Android). Order before the end of 2016 and get three free Jungle Stories. tilttextiles.com/rug.html


NEON Flash Scooter - This is not your typical scooter. It glides smoothly, but at night it's all lit up with impressive LED deck and motion-powered wheels. With its reflective deck featuring a neon under glow, children can’t help but be noticed wherever they go. This strong and durable scooter with a lightweight aluminum frame is perfect for quick and easy transportation. neonlyghts.com


App Dudes (from Toy Island) - This unique smartphone stand is available in Marvel’s Avengers Iron Man and Captain America and will entertain children with animations and phrases that match the superheroes’ individual personas. To bring the characters to life, simply download the free App Dudes App to a smartphone, place the phone in the App Dudes Smartphone Stand and watch as your favorite Marvel Avenger comes to life. appdudes.com


Square Panda - This unique game is the only comprehensive multisensory phonics product on the market with 14 levels of Phonics instruction and a diagnostics engine that measures each child’s individual progress, challenges, preferences for game types, and patterns of play. Turn your child into a fluent reader and build their foundation for future learning. squarepanda.com


My Kingdom Books (MKB) - According to a Tech Pro Research study released earlier this year, 67% of businesses polled said they had plans for including augmented reality in the future, with 20% ready to commit to it over the next 12 months. So it's important that parents and educators begin incorporating AR into early childhood practices in preparation for future technology. My Kingdom Books is a customizable children’s book that comes complete with augmented reality technology provided through an app, forming a next-generation pop-up book. mykingdombooks.com


Kurio Watch for Kids - Getting a 9-year-old kid an Apple Watch might not be the best idea as it can get lost, damaged or forgotten about. The Kurio is a real smartwatch with a high-res touch screen, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and entertainment features like a music player, camera and video, messaging and photo editor. The Kurio Watch is packed with over 20 games and productivity tools including an alarm clock, calendar, contacts, calculator, an activity tracker and more. kurioworld.com


Talk-to-Me Mikey (from Playmates Toys) - Children can have hours of fun talking to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. This toy recognizes when a child asks any of a list of ten questions and responds in over 100 unique ways. The highly interactive turtle also features motion sensors, sings songs and plays games. toysrus.com


ROXs Real Life Gaming Console - ROXs gets kids away from screens and makes them move around. ROXs uses technology and digital gaming concepts - the two elements that make kids stick in front of screens - to get them to run, move and jump. There are over 8 pre-loaded games and the ability to create up to 50 player profiles. playroxs.com

TRAVEL

weboost Drive 4G-S - The Drive 4G-S (formally the Sleek 4G) is weBoost’s most affordable 4G vehicle cell phone signal booster. This 4G booster can boost cell signals up to 32x, enhancing 4G LTE and 3G signals for one person in a car, truck, van or RV.  store.weboost.com



Luminaid PackLite Max - This highly versatile solar lantern can also be charged via USB port. It's high powered, providing up to 50 hours of LED light on a single charge. Weighing in at under 7 oz and completely waterproof, this bright LED lantern is the perfect gift for serious backpackers and family campers alike and can be used by families during power outages. luminaid.com/products/packlite-max


Dog & Bone LockSmart Travel - This keyless Bluetooth luggage lock provides travelers with a secure and trackable solution, easily controlled by an app. It is TSA approved and allows users to conveniently access belongings without physical keys. dogandbonecases.com


GAMING


IOGEAR Kaliber Gaming Keyboard and Zyxel AC2600 Gaming Router - If you have a true gamer on your holiday gift list this year, you can't go wrong with this gaming keyboard/mouse combo and gaming router. Zyxel's router brings the fastest and most reliable connection for all wireless enabled devices so streaming movies and playing the latest video games are without hassle or interruption. An IOGEAR Kaliber gaming mouse is also available individually or as a keyboard/mouse combo. iogear.com | zyxel.com


HEALTH/FITNESS/SPORTS



HYPERICE's HyperSphere Vibrating Massage Ball - My back's never been the same since I started using this massage ball over the summer. It provides localized vibration therapy that increases the range of motion and flexibility. Plus it increases circulation. It's an essential tool for localized soft tissue therapy for the back, hips, glutes, shoulders and feet. Available in two different colors and only $149. hyperice.com/product-4/vibration-technology/hypersphere.html


MOCACuff - MOCACARE, a company that specializes in developing cardiovascular monitoring devices has unveiled its latest home heart monitor, an FDA-approved wireless blood pressure cuff worn on the wrist. MOCACuff is a sleek, portable monitor that connects with a dedicated mobile app providing highly intuitive ways for users to view and track their progress. It also gives expertly-curated, personalized health recommendations. mocacare.com


Lumo Run - This is the first smart tracker that actually analyzes your running form and offers personalized coaching to help you exceed your goals. Simply clip the Lumo Run sensor onto the back of your running shorts, aligned to your spine before going for a run. You'll get a full analysis of your running form and recommended exercises personalized to you. As a Black Friday special, get an extra $50 OFF Lumo Lift and Lumo Run 2-packs with code HOLIDAY50 (Through Cyber Monday). lumobodytech.com



Blast Baseball 360 Swing Analyzer - Every baseball player and softball player wants to hit with more power and consistency. That's a lot easier now with Blast bat sensor technology. The better your swing timing, power, and efficiency, the better you will control where and how far you hit the ball. The Blast Baseball app captures video highlights of your swings, combines them with insightful Blast sensor metrics, helps you analyze your mechanics, and provides drills for improvement. The Blast 360 Swing Analyzer is now on sale at $124.95 (regularly $149.95). blastmotion.com


Breathometer Mint - Mint is a digital health device powered by scientific breath analysis technology. It works with your smartphone to detect signs of harmful bacteria which can often be related to larger health concerns like stroke or heart disease. By measuring the organic compounds in your mouth released by various bacteria, Mint enables you to monitor your oral health and the effectiveness of your cleaning routine and diet. breathometer.com


Shot Tracker - This is a wearable tech for basketball enthusiasts that tracks, makes misses and attempts. Comprised of three parts, a net sensor, wrist sensor and interactive application, ShotTracker helps players identify weak shooting spots on the court and helps them figure out what they need to do to strengthen those spots. ShotTracker works with the most elite trainers and players create enhanced workouts, virtual camps and challenges that help athletes improve with each and every shot. It's been endoresed by Magic Johnson and former NBA Commissioner David Stern. shottracker.com


Baby Quasar Pure Rayz - This beauty device uses technology developed by NASA. The red light stimulates collagen production to reduce wrinkles and fine lines, in addition to clearing up acne. This is 100% safe, effective and FDA-approved. babyquasar.com
iBaby AirSense - The world’s smallest air monitor & ionic purifier will detect and remove allergens and harmful toxins from your home. This smart ionic purifier with real-time air quality alerts is essential for any home with a baby. It includes a temperature and humidity detector, personal air station and Wi-Fi speaker and music player. There is no filter cleaning or replacement required. ibabylabs.com

Monday, November 21, 2016

Learning to Be a Rabbi in the Pews

This past Shabbat was relaxing, spiritual and reflective for me. I wasn't "working" as a rabbi, so I had the chance to sit with my family in the congregation as I do on many Shabbat mornings. My oldest son and I arrived early to shul (the synagogue) because he wanted to get there in time for Shacharit (the early morning prayers) as he will be leading that part of the Shabbat services at his upcoming bar mitzvah. Rather than worry about the spiritual satisfaction of anyone else in the congregation (a common occupational hazard for rabbis), I was able to focus on my own spiritual needs.

As a rabbi who is not a full-time congregational rabbi, I have the luxury of being able to enjoy Shabbat services with my family on many occasions throughout the year at the same congregation in which I attended preschool, became bar mitzvah and celebrated my wedding. I lead services as a Visiting Rabbi in a congregation just enough times throughout the year for me to enjoy the experience without the tzuris (loosely translated from the Yiddish as "headaches") that usually come
with a full-time pulpit rabbi position.

When I was in rabbinical school at The Jewish Theological Seminary I was fully committed to spend my professional career as a congregational rabbi. However, I wouldn't trade my current lifestyle for anything because I'm afforded the opportunity to serve as a rabbi and still have many weekends to myself and to my family to truly appreciate Shabbat.

Rabbi Herman Savitz
Rabbi Herman Savitz


I can point to many rabbis before, during and after my time in rabbinical school who served as positive role models for me to learn what it means to serve a congregation as a rabbi. There was one rabbi in particular who taught me both how to be a rabbi-congregant and why that position is such a blessing. In 2001 my wife and I moved to Caldwell, New Jersey where I served a rabbinic internship during rabbinical school. It was at Congregation Agudath Israel that we met Renee and Rabbi Herman Savitz. I immediately liked them both. Renee is a warm, caring and talented artist who made beautiful tallitot (prayer shawls) and Torah covers. Herm was a dedicated hospital chaplain at a prominent psychiatric hospital, the Veterans Administration Hospital a couple other hospitals. He was a big teddy bear who was very knowledgeable and enjoyed to kibbitz.

Rabbi Savitz went to shul when he wanted to and when he did attend, he often arrived late. I always enjoyed sitting with him and schmoozing during the service. He maintained a very nice and respectful friendship with the rabbi of the congregation. When he was called upon to help out in the synagogue, he graciously did. He was treated as a fellow congregant, but always with the respect that he deserved as a rabbi. I know that several people in the synagogue treated him as a friend and fellow congregant, but when the time came and they needed a trusted counselor, they went to Rabbi Savitz in his rabbinic capacity.

While I served that internship to learn from the rabbi of the congregation, I learned a great deal from Rabbi Savitz as well. I often look back on my time in Caldwell, New Jersey and reflect on what Rabbi Savitz taught me about being a rabbi who's also a congregant in a synagogue. It can sometimes be a challenging role, but he did it with class. I hope to emulate his menschlichkeit.

Rabbi Herman Savitz, z"l, died last Thursday and was buried yesterday. To his entire family I offer my deepest condolences. Hamakom yinachem etchem. May the memory of Rabbi Herman Savitz endure for blessings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Allstate's Good Hands Rescue App Launches

My interest was piqued when I was recently contacted by Allstate to tell me about their new on-demand, pay-per-use roadside service app. After all, in a few more years I'll have a teen with a driver's license and Allstate's mobile app sounds like something that will give me some added peace of mind when he's driving on his own. When Allstate asked if I'd be interested in interviewing Jerry Ferrara ("Turtle" on HBO's "Entourage"), its celebrity ambassador for the Good Hands Rescue app, I was all in.

Jerry (it's difficult not to call him "Turtle") is now on the Starz show "Power" and loving life. Unlike his TV alter ego, however, he won't just endorse any product. He really seems to believe in the Good Hands Rescue app and I can understand why. There's no one who isn't hassled and nervous standing on the side of the road with car trouble. In the 21st century a car breaking down is certainly less common than a generation or two ago, but a flat tire can happen to anyone. During my interview with Ferrara I was reminded that back in the winter on my way to the airport early in the morning I hit a block of ice and got a flat tire. Even with roadside assistance, we waited for a long time and missed our flight. I had no way of checking to see how long it would take for help to arrive. Allstate's Good Hands Rescue app is a game changer.


This is a free app from Allstate that allows consumers to pay only when they need a rescue service, which completely removes the membership fee usually associated with similar services. Think of this as like Uber for roadside mishaps, as users can get real-time updates through a smartphone to confirm service and an accurate ETA.

Allstate Good Hands Rescue App

As Ferrara pointed out in the interview (video below), more than half of the millennials planning to drive to their Thanksgiving destination will drive two hours or more and this increases the chances of a mishap on the road. As Thanksgiving approaches, Allstate's Good Hands Rescue mobile app will take much of the stress out of traveling by giving away $2 roadside rescues on the busiest travel day of the year, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (November 23). These rescues usually estimate $69 for a jump, tire change or fuel, and $99 for a tow, but all of these services will be just $2 on November 23, which is sure to help generate a lot of buzz for the Allstate Good Hands Rescue app.

You can pay per use and the Good Hands Rescue® service can be used by anyone, not just Allstate customers.The service uses GPS technology to connect any driver in need with a dispatched service provider, relieving drivers from describing their location and generating transparency into the estimated time of arrival. As soon as help is dispatched, motorists can receive a service confirmation with the roadside provider's estimated time of arrival and can track the provider's en route status.
Allstate's Good Hands Rescue service is available as an app for free (download from the Apple Store or Google Play Store), or via the mobile website.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Holiday Tech Gift Guide 2016

Can you believe Black Friday and the 2016 holiday shopping season are almost here? The good news for those of us shopping for personal consumer electronics and tech gadgets for friends and family this holiday season is that there are some real bargains. Tech innovation has improved dramatically over the last year and because of competition the pricing has come down significantly.

This year, I've structured the holiday tech gift guide a little differently. I had the opportunity to review many products this year, but I've narrowed the guide down to my top 30 featured products -- from tablets and phones to cameras and drones. I'm also putting together a future gift guide of less costly tech items in categories like kids, health/fitness, home/security and audio so be on the lookout for that. Always remember to check online for the lowest current prices on these items as most will be discounted as we get closer to the holidays. Remember, Hanukkah begins on the evening of December 24 this year.


Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - I'm currently putting this gift guide together using this awesome 2 in 1. It's super lightweight at only 2.4 lbs. and extremely thin making it the best alternative to a laptop. The Surface Pro 4 is the perfect holiday gift for a loved one looking for a device for work or play -- especially for the student who doesn't want to schlep around a heavy computer laptop. Powered by an Intel Core processor, it offers up to nine hours of battery life. Paired with the $60 Surface Pen you can use it for detailed sketches and handwritten notes. $899 microsoft.com




Parrot Swing Drone - I often hear people say they'd love to buy a drone, but the cost is a barrier. Apparently, Parrot heard this too and responded with a couple of new minidrones that are affordable and just as impressive as the more expensive models. The Mambo and Swing are Parrot's two new minidrones that will be great starter drones this holiday season. I had a chance to test out the Swing and found it to be easy to fly and very stable. It truly combines the best of a quadcopter with the power of a plane. Swing is the only plane with autopilot and a vertical take-off and landing mode. With the Parrot Flypad controller, it's simple to fly with ultra-precise control. $139.99 parrot.com



CleverPet - I spent close to an hour at the CleverPet booth at CES in January just watching the dog play with this amazing contraption. You sort of have to see this to believe it, but CleverPet is the first company to offer unlimited adaptive All-Day Play for dogs. Your dog’s mind will be engaged and exercised with custom light, touch and sound puzzles. CleverPet's software, built by PhDs in computational neuroscience, includes puzzles using touch pads, lights and customizable sounds, paired with food-dispensing rewards. New games update automatically on the CleverPet Hub via WiFi. $299 cleverpet.com




GoPro HERO5 Black – GoPro has been in the news a lot lately because of its falling stock price, but don't count this company out yet because its cameras are still the best. HERO5 Black is the most powerful, easy-to-use GoPro with a 2-inch touch display, simplified controls and video resolutions up to 4K at 30 frames/second. You simply won't find a better holiday gift for your active friends who would love professional quality video of their outdoor experiences. This GoPro is waterproof without a housing to 33 feet and boasts advanced wind and noise reduction. $399.99 gopro.com




ASUS ZenPad Z8 - ASUS has been my computer maker of choice for the past six years so I wasn't surprised I fell in love with the ASUS ZenPad Z8. Exclusively from Verizon, this trusty little tablet boasts a 7.9-inch 2K IPS display with enhanced sharpness, contrast and color. It's ergonomically designed for comfort and its speed will impress you. This makes an ideal gift for anyone from students to grandma. I keep this in the glove box of my car so I'm never without a tablet at a meeting. $99.99 with 2 year Verizon contract verizonwireless.com/tablets/asus-zenpad-z8




XYZ Printing da Vinci Mini - If you think it's impossible for a top performing 3D printer to cost under $300, you'd be wrong. The da Vinci Mini is perfect for designing and printing 3D prototypes for businesses and replacing parts and pieces of items around the home. The unit comes with embedded Wi-Fi capabilities, offering portability and simplicity. The Mini automatically loads the filament and has an auto-calibration feature. This will be the perfect Christmas or Hanukkah gift for creative kids or adults. $289 xyzprinting.com




ergotronhome Workspace Lift35 - For several years I've been on the lookout for the best standing desk that isn't too expensive. The Lift35 converts any surface into a flexible sit-stand desk providing the proven health benefits of movement. I was able to set this up quickly and have been impressed with the simplicity of the desk’s hand-brake levers to instantly stand up or sit down as I work. $449.95 ergotronhome.com




HairMax LaserBand 82 - Both men and women experience hair loss at some point in their lives. I can relate because I'm follicly challenged myself. HairMax's newest and fastest treatment laser device is clinically proven and FDA cleared. The LaserBand 82 delivers safe, nourishing light energy to hair follicles to activate them for stronger growth. Treatment takes as little as 90 seconds for 3 days a week. This might seem an odd Christmas or Hanukkah gift, but for the recipient who might not buy it for themself, they'll be grateful for your generosity. $799 hairmax.com




Huawei Nexus 6P - I've become something of an evangelist trying to convince friends of the Android phones that outperform the iPhone. I'd recommend Huawei's Nexus 6P over the iPhone 7 any day of the week. This has become my main phone (I carry a few) and I love it for its speed, lightweight feel and strong durability (made from aeronautical-grade anodized aluminum). The camera (12.3 Megapixels with a sapphire-crystal lens) is the best I've seen on a smartphone and no one believes the photos I take where shot on my phone. Available in three colors: Matte Gold, Aluminum or Graphite. $499.00 (32GB); $549 (64 GB); $649 (128GB) gethuawei.com/nexus6p




Moto Z with Insta-Share Projector - I'm big on the Moto Z family of smartphones because of the Moto Mods, which transform your phone by snapping on an attachment like the Moto Insta-Share Projector ($299.99), JBL SoundBoost ($79.99) or the Incipio offGRID Power Pack ($59.99). These mods snap on and off easily and turn your Moto phone into a high-res movie projector or a serious music player. The Moto Z calls itself the thinnest premium smartphone and offers up to 30 hours of battery life and a water repellant coating. $624 motorola.com




Slingbox M2 - I've been using Slingbox for a few years now and I can't imagine not having access to it when I'm out of town and want to watch my live and recorded TV content. This is the ultimate gift this holiday season for anyone who would appreciate watching their TV from anywhere in the world on an iPhone, Android, tablet or laptop with absolutely no monthly fees. From TV buffs to sports fan, the M2 is the perfect holiday present. Available at retailers nationwide including Best Buy, Target, Amazon, Costco and Walmart. $99.99 slingbox.com




Brinno TLC120 Timelapse Camera - This Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled time lapse camera is compact and weather resistant/waterproof. It creates HDR time-lapse productions easily in any environment. With Bluetooth app control and Wi-Fi transfer, capturing and sharing time-lapse videos has never been simpler. The new Brinno App (Apple or Android) makes it stress-free to frame the scene, set the capture interval, playback rate, white balance, exposure value, custom colors, and timer as well convert from AVI to MP4 videos and share them via social networks​.​ $299 brinno.com




singlecue Gen 2 - Israel-based eyeSight Technologies has released the singlecue Gen 2, a way to control your entire home with gesture control technology. With the simple wave of a finger (swipe, click and shush) you can now seamlessly control smart home devices, including TVs, media streamers, thermostats, entertainment systems or lighting. Singlecue Gen 2 is compatible with more than 1,200 brands and 100,000 devices, including Philips Hue, Apple TV and Nest. $149 singlecue.com




Pad & Quill Valet Luxury Bag for iPad Pro & 13" Laptops - It seems that not a day goes by that I don't get a compliment about my Pad & Quill bag. I use it to carry my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and my ASUS ZenPad Z8. Stephen Hans, master of Product Design at Pad & Quill, describes this beautiful leather bag as "Mad Men meets the Wild West." This slim bag is made from full grain USA steer leather and lined with 24 oz. filter twill waxed canvas. I've been a long time fan of Pad & Quill's products including their phone cases, briefcases and luxury leather bags and now they're also producing handsome watch bands for the Apple Watch. $139.95 padandquill.com




BeeRaider Wireless Radial Keyboard & Mouse - To say this isn't your standard keyboard is an understatement. This special keyboard has been designed to be logical, ergonomic and compact. This will make a wonderful holiday gift for anyone who struggles to type and wishes they could type faster and more efficiently. The mouse is just a bonus. $119.99 beeraider.com




GrillBot - This was one of my favorite award winners at CES and I was thrilled the 2.0 version has been released. GrillBot has become such a popular consumer electronics product for one main reason: no one enjoys cleaning their BBQ Grill. This fully-automated device makes grill cleaning possible with the simple push of a button. The replaceable wire brushes pop off for easy cleaning and are dishwasher safe. It runs on a rechargeable lithium ion battery and the LCD alarm and timer let you set the GrillBot, walk away and return to a fully cleaned grill. Amazing! $129.95 grillbot.com




TomTom Adventurer Sports Watch - I don't understand why more people don't include TomTom when they talk about fitness trackers. The Adventurer has modes for hiking, biking, snowboarding, swimming, skiing or running all with GPS, compass and barometer tracking. The built-in heart rate monitor is more accurate than competing sports watches. An integrated music player even holds up to 500 songs (3GB) to let you workout or hike to your favorite tunes. $349.99 tomtom.com




Nucleus - Designed for today’s modern family, Nucleus is a home intercom system with video, a mobile app and Wi-Fi capabilities that puts you instantly in touch with the people that matter most. Equipped with a wide angle camera and speakers, Nucleus improves family communication between rooms in your home and between loved ones outside your home. I've been watching the steady growth of Nucleus since before their product launch and this is one impressive communications tool for any family making it an ideal gift this holiday season. $249 nucleuslife.com




Amazon Echo Dot - The Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news and set alarms. The Echo Dot is the perfect gift for colleagues at the office or your kids' teachers this holiday season. $49.99 amazon.com




Fitbit Charge 2 - Fitbit Charge 2 has become the company's most popular fitness wristband, featuring an enhanced exercise experience, new health and fitness tools powered by PurePulse heart rate tracking, smart notifications and a new sleek, design. The display is larger and easier to read and the tracking is more precise. Multi-sport modes allow for tracking specific workouts like runs, biking, weights, yoga and more. $149.95 fitbit.com



3Doodler Create - Have a friend or family member who's tricky to buy things for? Well, if they're artsy or into crafting or DIY, 3Doodler Create is a unique gift that allows them to get inventive and create almost anything. I gave each of my kids their own 3Doodler Create and it kept them busy for an entire afternoon as they created everything imaginable. $99 the3doodler.com



SkyBell - This smart HD video doorbell makes homes and neighborhoods safer with an easy and affordable home security solution. It's compatible with both iOS and Android devices. SkyBell's live video stream allows residents to see, hear and speak to visitors from anywhere. This is the type of holiday gift that shows you care about the recipient because it improves their safety. $199 skybell.com



Inductrix FPV RTF Drone - This is the perfect beginner FPV drone, which is designed for indoor flying in even the smallest of places. Its integrated video transmitter, FPV camera, high performance motors and large 200mAh battery make this one of the most impressive and smallest drones on the market. The ducted propeller design allows the drone to bounce of walls and objects without crashing. $199.99 horizonhobby.com




Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam - Today's webcam might look similar to the webcam you had ten years ago, but make no mistake they are very different indeed. Logitech's C922 is the perfect gift for anyone interested in broadcasting live video or increasing the clarity of their video conferencing. The camera allows for either 1080p or fluid HD 720p at 60fps. It also comes with a free 3-month premium XSplit license. $99.99 logitech.com



GoSun Sport Solar Powered Stove - Not everyone who enjoys camping and the outdoors wants the hassle of making a campfire to cook meals. The GoSun Sport is a smart holiday gift for your favorite outdoors enthusiast. This compact stove cooks a meal in 20 minutes (in full sunlight), heats up to 550° F, works through freezing, partially cloudy weather or light overcast and stays hot for hours. $279 gosunstove.com





Flir Scout TK Camera - When it comes to tech innovation there's just about nothing more impressive than thermal vision. This is the ideal device for the outdoorsman or hunter in your family. This pocket-sized thermal vision monocular lets anyone to see in total darkness. You can take video and photos capturing the heat signatures of people and animals up to 100 yards away. Common uses include spotting wildlife in zero or low-light conditions, including fog and making sure the campfire is really extinguished. $599 flir.com





Vuzix iWear Headphones - This set of high-end video headphones with dual HD display delivers a compelling mobile wearable video and gaming experience. As an on-the-go home theater device, iWear projects a 130 inch screen in front of the wearer. Content truly comes to life whether it's from a computer, DVD player or gaming console. The headphones support 2D & 3D video, as well as virtual reality for a comprehensive range of options. Vuzix's model is much more lightweight than many VR headsets on the market. $499 vuzix.com




DYMO MobileLabeler - I love DYMO labelers and this one lets you create high-quality, self-adhesive labels using Bluetooth wireless technology from your Apple or Android mobile device using the free DYMO Connect mobile app or from your computer. $79.99 dymo.com





Perfect Kitchen PRO Smart Scale and App System - This kitchen tech product makes baking accessible and hassle-free with a smart scale that seamlessly connects to your phone or tablet and guides you through each recipe in real time. It works with three apps -- Perfect Bake, Perfect Blend and Perfect Drink -- making it easy to become a better baker, a smoothie pro or a master mixologist. $129.99 surlatable.com






Beddi - This intelligent alarm clock has a wake up light, multiple USB charging ports, a high quality Bluetooth speaker and multi-colored mood lighting. Whoever is lucky enough to get this as a holiday gift will be woken up by their very own playlists on Spotify, get the most recent weather forecast, receive the latest traffic reports and request an Uber ride with the touch of a button. The settings can be customized by the free mobile app (iOS and Android). $99 wittidesign.com/en/beddi