Queen Esther Helped Me Beat the Draft

In 1966 Tuli (Naph­tali) Kupfer­berg pub­lished “1001 Ways to Beat the Draft”. I acquired a copy, but it was of lit­tle use to me as I was (at least at the time) fair­ly safe with my 2S (stu­dent) defer­ment. A cou­ple of years lat­er while liv­ing by myself in a tiny apart­ment on Bor­land Road near Cal State U at LA I was “invit­ed” by my local draft board for a pre-induc­tion phys­i­cal.

But­tons I wore dur­ing my col­lege years

The event was sched­uled for the day before Purim, a day known as the Fast of Esther (Ta’an­it Ester תַּעֲנִית אֶסְתֵּר). I arose ear­ly, skipped break­fast, and drove to the draft board’s office some­where in down­town LA. When I arrived I joined a num­ber of young men, none of whom I knew, or even looked famil­iar. We were told to strip to our under­wear, put our clothes in cub­bies, and were giv­en lit­tle can­vas draw-string pouch­es to hold our valu­ables (wal­let and keys was all I had).

Stand­ing in a cir­cle fac­ing the cen­ter an offi­cer came around with a doc­tor and admin­is­tered the “cough test” which was my first ever encounter with an inguinal her­nia. This was fol­lowed by some­one else, writ­ing notes on a clip­board who asked each of us in turn:

Do you have any scars or iden­ti­fy­ing marks”.
I replied: “Yes, cir­cum­ci­sion.”
The offi­cer asked me to spell it.
“C I R C U M …”

At that point, the offi­cer real­ized what the scar was and (I guess) decid­ed that it wasn’t suf­fi­cient­ly dis­tinc­tive for his pur­pos­es. He looked at me askance and moved on to the young man stand­ing beside me in the cir­cle.

The fol­low­ing sta­tion on our phys­i­cal exam was upstairs. We stood in line and one by one stepped onto a large scale (about a yard square). When it was my turn, the offi­cer checked my height and adjust­ed the weights so that the bal­ance would show my accu­rate weight. I’ve been rather thin my entire life. (My pedi­a­tri­cian told my par­ents that I was “slen­der”.) At that point in my life, the most I’d ever weighed was 114 lbs. The offi­cer not­ed my weight aloud as “111 lbs.” I stepped off the scale to move onto the next part of the exam, but the offi­cer called me back and asked that I stand on the scale again so he could take anoth­er read­ing. I stepped back on the scale and asked the offi­cer if I should put down the pouch with my valu­ables. He grudg­ing­ly nod­ded his head yes. I put the pouch on a shelf beside the scale and he took his sec­ond read­ing: “110 lbs.”

I don’t remem­ber any­thing about the remain­der of the exam. It turns out that 111 lbs. is the min­i­mum weight require­ment to be draft­ed. I received a 1Y defer­ment, a tem­po­rary phys­i­cal defer­ment. I imag­ine the army thought that some­one might fat­ten me up so I could fight in Viet­nam.

I fast­ed the remain­der of the day. That evening I’m sure I ate some hamen­taschen and may have gained the miss­ing pound then and there.

Short­ly after this expe­ri­ence with my draft board, the sys­tem changed to a lot­tery and my num­ber was unlike­ly to be called.

Thank you, Esther!

This but­ton dates from the Latke–Hamantash Debate dur­ing the 2008 McCain/Obama pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign.

Cook­ies First
(based on the McCain cam­paign slo­gan “Coun­try First”)
Size:1.5″ square
Pin Form:clasp
Print Method:cel­lu­loid
TextCook­ies First

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jack­et you no longer wear, or they are poked into a cork-board on your wall or col­lect­ed in a jar. If you have any lying around that you do not feel emo­tion­al­ly attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point, they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um. You can see most of the but­tons shared to date.

Cosmic Illumination

yod, aleph, resh

Num­bers 6:25 ( י א ר )

May the Breath of the cos­mos illu­mi­nate us and be gen­er­ous to us.

May we be strong as lions (ארי) full of awe (ירא) for the light that illu­mines (מאיר) us, reflects (מראה) from us, and that oth­ers see (ראה) glow­ing with­in us.

Ana­grams and relat­ed words ofיָאֵר

Linoleum cut pro­duced […]

To bigotry no sanction

said the orig­i­nal George W.

On August 18, 1790, the orig­i­nal George W. penned eight con­se­quen­tial words that don’t receive suf­fi­cient rep­e­ti­tion. The words were not orig­i­nal­ly his. He mir­rored the text of a let­ter deliv­ered to him ear­li­er that day in New­port, Rhode Island by Moses Seixas that described the new Unit­ed States Gov­ern­ment as one […]

A Growing Haggadah (2019)

New edi­tion avail­able for down­load

With Avigail’s edi­to­r­i­al involve­ment, the longer fal­low peri­ods between edi­tions of this Hag­gadah have short­ened. The pre­vi­ous print­ed edi­tion is only 2 years old. Before that, they were fur­ther years apart. While I remain fair­ly sat­is­fied, I am not com­pla­cent. I made many changes fol­low­ing Seder 5751 when Avi­gail and I vis­it­ed Reed to see if […]

strengthen our covenantal relationships



Mish­neh Torah, Bless­ings 10:16; based on Gen­e­sis 9:11

May we strength­en our covenan­tal rela­tion­ships
as we reflect and rein­force
the love of a car­ing uni­verse.


Linoleum cut pro­duced by Mark, August 2018
©Mark Hurvitz

last year’s card

the sep­a­rate cuts

the list of cards


keep those cards coming

chang­ing tech­nolo­gies

orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished Octo­ber 2011; updat­ed August 2018

Most peo­ple who know me under­stand that I am not averse to tech­no­log­i­cal change. I have been inter­ested in how com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies have been used and changed for many years. In June of 2010, I wrote about my involve­ment in the devel­op­ment of what I called “the elec­tronic leaflet”. When I was in […]

Did you go to the Purim Concert?

Purim: Megilla Read­ings, Balls and Con­certs (oh my; so many options)

As long ago as 1864, New York Jews attend­ed Purim Balls, a tra­di­tion now main­tained for the past 32 years at The Jew­ish Muse­um. And, not only in New York, but also Bev­er­ly Hills, CA, Min­neapo­lis, MN and Akron, OH where young women are pre­sent­ed as […]

Be Happy, It's Adar! (again)

On 15 Feb­ru­ary, 2018, in hon­or of Rosh Ḥodesh Adar 5778:

The Hebrew text around the edge says: MiShenich­nas Adar Mar­bim BeS­im­cha(When Adar Comes, Joy Is Increased)
משניכנס אדר מרבין בשימחה


4.4 cm

Pin Form:

Print Method:

On 23 Feb­ru­ary, 2009, in hon­or of Rosh Ḥodesh Adar 5769:

The Hebrew text around the edge says: MiShenich­nas Adar Mar­bim BeS­im­cha(When Adar Comes, […]

Let's all do the al chet (1)

[A slight vari­ant of this page appears here 10 times. In each the text remains essen­tial­ly the same. How­ev­er, I will add a link to a new “sur­vey” each time.]

I have writ­ten else­where, that I came to the rab­binate out of “poli­ty” not “piety”. My involve­ment was as a com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er.

Nonethe­less, I recall sit­ting one Yom Kip­pur day in the late […]

Fake News vs. Truth a case of Goliath vs. David

Is Fake News vs. Truth a case of Goliath vs. David?
Once we knew one truth

Over forty years ago, Rab­bi Richard N. Levy wrote a para­graph that entered the Gates of Prayer Sid­dur. I quot­ed from it in a ser­mon dur­ing the Clin­ton impeach­ment hear­ings that dealt with “what is truth”.

Once we learned one truth, and it was cher­ished or […]