Category: Personal


Updated on August 29th, 2006
First, let me welcome you to YUTOPIA – The Sometimes Updated Blog of Rabbi Josh Yuter. If you’re reading this entry, you’re probably looking for some more information about who I am and what I’m doing here.

As you might have guessed, my name is Joshua Yuter, and among other things, an ordained rabbi from Yeshiva University. After bouncing around for years, I’m currently landed in Washington Heights New York and employed as a computer programmer.

I started blogging primarily to improve my writing skills with minimal accountability. Meaning, I felt I needed a non-threatening public forum where I could speak my mind and not get villified. (yet). The short answer to my general hashkafa is is ashkenazi guf, non-kabbalistic sepharadi neshama. Long answer is…well, you’ll just have to come back here more often to figure that out, but in terms of halakha check out this series for starters. Of course you should read everything in the archives – not that it’s all gold, but some interesting things in there…somewhere.

The significance of the name YUTOPIA is often misattributed to my connections with Yeshiva University (YU). This is a reasonable guess considering I spent 7 years there, but I’ve moved on some time ago. Really, YUTOPIA is based off of my last name. The name first came to me way back when I was tinkering with RedHat Linux and needed a domain name. As with most things in college, it seemed clever at the time.

Initially, YUTOPIA was running on Blogger, but thanks to Shaya Potter’s uprgading of YUCS it was time to move on. At the time of the move, YUTOPIA had over 4,000 hits – mostly thanks to Protocols R.I.P.) – and a few other very odd poogle links. On October 20, 2003, YUTOPIA moved to YUCS where it has remained since. Since that time we’ve gone through a few redesigns and some other improvements.

YUTOPIA is a small sample of the many thoughts which run through my head on any given day. I may get intellectual, personal, or shticky. My general attitude has been that there is a lot of stupidity on the internet and I don’t really need to add to that. However, I usually bring a unique perspective on things which some people find interesting. I realize not everyone will agree with everything on here, if they leave here thinking a little more than they did previously, I’m happy.

So that’s the scoop. Take a look around, stay as long as you like, and feel free to comment – we’ve had some great flame-free discussions in the past, e-mail or IM anytime.

Gemar Hatima Tova

I’m still not able to put up a complete summary of the yamim noraim here, but I do have one story. As you could probably guess, there aren’t too many frum Jews on the U of C campus. Also, several of the regulars headed “up north” for Yom Kippur which diminished our talent pool even further.

Just how short-handed were we?

I davened neilah.

Yes, you read that right. On shabbat shuva, we realized that one of the regulars – who would normally take a tefillah or two – was probably not going to make it in for Yom Kippur. So, we divided up who would get what and I got neilah. I never thought I’d say this, but for a small second, I actually regretted not taking a Belz class.

My plan for Erev Yom Kippur was to go to the University’s Library to see if they had anything useful in their recordings collection. This was far more eventful than it should have been. First the library didn’t open until 12:00, and the recordings desk didn’t open until 1:00. On top of that, the search engine was down so I couldn’t even see if they had anything available.

Finally, I got the call number for this CD which seems like a live recording of an actual reform service complete with mixed chior and organ accompaniment. I wouldn’t have minded this so much, but they didn’t even use a normal nusach. (Carlebach’s simha l’artzekha for n’ilah????) I didn’t realize at the time that they also had this one which probably would have been more helpful. Still, kudos to U of C for actually having these CDs in their recordings library in the first place.

In the end, I think it went well. I love the acoustics in the chapel and we had enough ventilation such that it didn’t feel stuffy (which wreaks havok with my voice). Although I think I butchered the official nusach, I was able to fake enough of it such that no one seemed to mind and some actually liked the davening. (Oh – and no one seemed to care that I’m not married or that I don’t have a beard).

The Jewish community here is small and very special. Hopefully I can write more about it in a longer post on the yamim noraim sometime before pesach.

Sweet Home Chicago

The move is done – I’m finally here in the windy city. With much help from my mom, we the move went surprisingly smoothly. We rented a Buick Century from National. The rate wasn’t horrible considering it was a one-way rental. Ironically, we picked a car with IL plates. The trunk was massive and we got incredible mileage – the entire trip took 1.5 tanks of gas. Including two rest-stops, we were able to do the trip in about 12 hours. It helps when you can average between 70-95 MPH.

Coolest name in my building: M. Powers.

The accommodations rated a “Very Nice” on the JMSTM (Jewish Mother Scale). I basically have everything I need here and the area doesn’t look much worse than Washington Heights. The only real down side is that I have an 18 min walk to get to campus which will get really annoying in the sub-zero winters. I might be getting DSL here which will help with the blogging (and hopefully research).

Orientation is this Tues, followed by registration Wed-Fri, and classes start on Tzom Gedalia. So, I have one more slow day to settle in before the craziness starts.

Ch – Ch – Ch – Changes

As I wrote in the title, this is my “sometimes” updated blog. I’ve tried to keep the posts here intelligent and/or humerous and to post only when I had something to say, or more importantly, the time to say it. There’s the rub. This week I am finally moving to Chicago and trying to get the student loans and finances in order. It’s an exciting opportunity, but terribly nerve-wracking. At any rate, I doubt I will be able to blog until after I’m done moving and things calm down.

Also, I have been told that the new YUCS machine is in, and assuming I can get a redesign done, I will be moving the blog over there. Not that I have anything wrong with Blogger, but MoveableType is a more powerful system which includes a superior commenting system than what I’m using now (not that I get so many comments, but just in case…).

So, by the time I post again, I’ll be in a new state on a new server.

“Turn and face the strange” indeed.

Yoreh? Yoreh!

After four years of courses, shiurim, tests, and papers, I finally have the authorization to call myself “Rabbi.” My Revel transcript has all the classes and confirmation of passing the comps and official graduation will be forthcoming. This is however close enough to say I completed my requirements for smikha according to R. Bronstein – the only opinion which matters at this point.

So, now I’m a Rabbi. Technically this is my second smikha if you count this one, but considering how I helped write the “behina,” I don’t think people would take it seriously that I gave myself smikha. (Not like there are any other problems or anything).

I’m still busy with moving from NY to NJ and from NJ to Chicago and setting things straight with the program. So instead of actually thinking, and in honor of smikha, this week I’ll be doing the blogging equvilant of a “clip show” and post some of my more “classic” works from the past four years.

I figure I should show I did something all this time…

Frumster Rant

Normally I’m better tempered than this; it takes a lot to get me annoyed enough to blog. However, in one day I’ve gotten messages from Frumster people who probably should….well you can decide what to do with them.

Person 1 (intentially leaving out their screen name) messages me with a “Hey – What’s up?” I was planning on ignoring it until somone who will remain nameless for now said that it’s hard for girls to be so forthcoming. So I politely responded. Then I get the generic message that she read my profile and doesn’t think we’re compatible. Meredith suggested that she could be a “Frumster Spammer” which I suppose is possibly, but unless she’s a hacker, she’d still have to look at my profile before sending a message. “What’s up” indeed.

Person 2 lives in England, doesn’t want to make aliyah, and isn’t even sure if she wants to relocate. She simply said, “Hey Josh, I likeyou rprofiel!!!” (sic). Best I could respond was “Thanks!” Then she e-mailed me asking if I’d consider living in London. For the record, I never want to be accused again of moving to fast.

Look, there are obvious problems with the dating world which have been explored at length elsewhere. Grayson Levy starts up a great free website to help people out, and yet people still can’t take the time to use it properly – or perhaps they’re just illiterate or confused by the color scheme.

My suggestion: A programmer with sufficient free time on his/her hands should implement an “Intelligence Factor” based on typos in a person’s comments and e-mails which would help weed out some people. Downside would be the increased odds of such people hooking up and eventually breeding….

Never mind.