Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tarek: those guys seemed extremely observant

Last week we posted a quote from Tarek's website that generated a heated discussion in the comments area. Based on his quote about Sukkot and other information, many commenters on this site have been asking questions about how Lee and Dan handled certain situations during the show. We strongly believe in gathering facts rather than making assumptions and accusations, so we decided to get further information from a source close to the situation.

Lee is still very much alive on the show, so he's not available to talk to us. Since Dan was gracious enough to answer our questions last month, we decided to reach out to Tarek Saab. We asked Tarek to elaborate - from his perspective - on how Dan and Lee handled the Jewish holidays and other religious issues, and how it was perceived by their teammates.

A huge thank you goes out to Tarek for responding to us quickly, thoroughly and openly.

Here's what he wrote:
[passages colored in blue for emphasis by OA]

First of all, thank you for the compliment. I will return the compliment by saying that I think you have a great site. I have visited several times.

I want to preface this e-mail by saying I have a very rudimentary understanding of Judaic tradition, so please forgive anything I say that might seem ignorant (I am in the lower-echelon of Mensa!). Dan (my roommate in the suite) was very clear early on that religious observance was going to take priority over anything related to the show, and he explained this to everyone on Gold Rush. Obviously, I am aware of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, but Dan mentioned to me that there were some other holidays coming up that would cause an issue - Sukkot was one. I really respected him for taking the stance and sticking to it. I am religious as well, so I get it.

To answer your questions, those guys seemed extremely observant. Dan was getting kosher packages from home regularly, and there were times when the boys wouldn't speak on a cell phone. If I remember correctly, there were also times when it would be pouring out and they wouldn't use an umbrella or drive in a car. It was impressive, and I am sure there were other things they did that I didn't even notice. Even when we won the Post task and received a gourmet meal from Jean-Georges, the boys wouldn't eat it. (Actually, I ate Dan's meal in addition to mine). Later on in the season, our team would try to order all kosher food for dinner so Lee could get a good meal.

The topic of skipping tasks because of the holidays was very sensitive in the suite. Not everyone was in support of it because they thought it was an unfair advantage. (In truth, it can be a disadvantage as well because you can't prove your worth if you don't participate). As I explained on my website, I was in support of their decision even if they needed to take off additional time down the road. However, this was not the case with everyone. It was NOT an easy position to be in, and if they had taken off more time, I don't know how the others would have reacted. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Some have commented that they had an advantage because they were able to rest while we were working, but if I am not mistaken they were fasting during that time, so it wasn't exactly a vacation.

Dan was fired after the fifth task, so he was able to avoid future conflict. By default, I just assumed that Lee would maintain his stance and observe Sukkot after Dan left. Please understand that my comments are in no way an indictment of Lee or his beliefs or the way he chooses to practice his faith. I am not even familiar with the traditions related to the Sukkot holiday. I was just surprised that the issue wasn't addressed because I knew it was so important to Dan, that's all. I expected to lose Lee for another task. I didn't raise the topic with Lee because, quite frankly, it was none of my business.

I hope this helps. If you think your readers would find this interesting, feel free to post. Let me know if you have any other questions.



At 5/11/2006 12:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is clear that Lee did not observe Sukkos, but rather chose to work. Maybe we can now stop calling him orthodox and maybe we can conclude his performance is nothing more than a chilul Hashem.

At 5/11/2006 1:41 AM, Anonymous sam said...

oh for cryin out loud. anonmous, go back to your hole.

At 5/11/2006 8:39 AM, Anonymous jd said...

seriously anonymous, get over it, you've never met lee, and all you know about him is what you see of him once a week on TV, stop pretending you are some sort of lord of Orthodoxy or Judaism and stop judging others unfavorably or no good reason.

by the way, kudos to Tarek and the other canditates for taking the time to respond to OA, it is really great to personally hear your thoughts on the show.

go LEE!!

At 5/11/2006 8:55 AM, Anonymous mo said...

for you, anonymous, the internet is assur.

as tarek said, it's none of your business.

At 5/11/2006 10:28 AM, Anonymous notthesameananymous said...

Why can't everyone wait till Lee is done with the show and see if he has anything to say on the matter? Not that he has to and not that anyone should draw any conclusions if he stays silent but I think if you are following him as closely as most of the people on this blog are, you at least owe him that courtesy.

At 5/11/2006 11:37 AM, Anonymous mo too said...

mo: So you don't get that working on succos and on shabbos (and it's quitr obvious that Lee did both) is a bit different than using the Internet? I'm MO too, and am disappointed that Lee would rather win a contest than maintain his observance.

At 5/11/2006 12:13 PM, Anonymous Mo said...

Mo Too- People call me Mo... it's short for Moshe. Glad to hear that you're also a Mo.

Anyway, of course it's assur to work on shabbos and yuntif. Lashon HaRa is also assur. So is embarassing someone in public.

Am I disappointed in Lee? Not at all. He can do whatever he wants and it won't bother me. All of klal yisroel needs to be more tolerant of each other. Whether someone is Reform, Conservative, Chasidic, Lubavitch, Satmar, Ger, Modern Orthodox, whatever, we're all Jews and deserve each others' respect and love. Even if someone claims to be Orthodox but isn't perfect at it, or claims to be Conservative but acts more Reform. Why should anyone of that bother me? Those words are just labels. All Jews and non-Jews are people and deserve our respect. I'm not perfect and certainly not worthy enough to admonish another Jew for his actions.

If you have a problem with what Lee or any other person does, speak to them privately. Don't admonish them in front of the public while you're hiding behind your keyboard. That's not MO behavior.

If we each worried more about our own behavior and not about other people, we'd all be stronger and Moshiach would arrive sooner.

At 5/11/2006 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the whole argument about. For Lee he worked is orthodox usually. Unless it is a popular show on TV and with a rich guy named Trump. Most Orthodox people, if you offer them money to work on saturday they would deny.....unless they are week like Lee and it was very tempting. Its pretty sad on his part, but who really gives a damn anyways.

At 5/11/2006 8:46 PM, Blogger Wallyhorse said...

Speaking of Tarek:

He's now posting at Television Without Pity (under the name "Maniac"), which you can see at:
(link will take you to the first of Tarek's posts at TWoP)


At 5/11/2006 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey please respond to the comment i wrote yesterday. Well I think that lee and roxanne are the last two for one reason and that is that if you look at lee and roxannes website both have a link to vote for them. The finale could be decided by the online poll. why would lee and roxanne be the only ones with links to vote for them. They both clearly right in their links "help donald pick the next apprentice. Tammy, SEan (doesn't have a website yet but neither did michael) and allie seem to not think the voting is important. This of course is all speculation so their is no need to criticize. However, i would like to know if you guys think that this is valid

At 5/11/2006 10:19 PM, Blogger Wallyhorse said...

As for Lee and Roxanne:

It's possible they are the only ones who decided to post links to the final poll on their websites. It's quite possible they are the final two (and I think Lee is in the final two for reasons well noted already), but I think it's actually Tammy who is in the final two with Lee.


At 5/11/2006 11:36 PM, Anonymous Orthodox Apprentice said...

It has been noted several times over the past month that Roxanne and Lee are the only candidates asking for votes on their own websites. Additionally, Lenny is asking his fans to vote for Lee.

Decide for yourself what this means.

At 5/13/2006 10:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tarek is a very nice guy, but he clearly is not very knowledgeable of Judaism. Yom Kippur requires someone to be in Shul all day, while Rosh Hashanah requires someone to be in Shul for most of the day. Even if there was a way that Lee could help his team without doing Melacha (using cell phones, etc.), there would be no way for him to get to the task without doing Melacha (driving a car, etc.). With Sukkot, it is certainly conceivable that Lee was able to arrange his day without doing Melacha. As for the fact that he “working” without doing Melacha, there are ways to structure things to avoid that problem. For examples, waiters who work on Shabbos get paid for the work they did before and after Shabbos.

Now to be fair, I didn't follow the timeline and the episode very carefully, and perhaps there was a smoking gun of Lee doing Melacha. It seems to me though that Halacha requires us to be Dan Likaf Zechus. Even if someone knew for a fact that there was a problem, it would still be Assur to publicize the fact.

At 5/14/2006 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't interview Lee until the season is over. However, you can track down his Rabbi and ask how often Lee called him to ask his Halachic advice, as well as what advice he gave.


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