Shabbat Shalom everyone!
Shout out this morning to my brother-in-law David, continuing his recovery from neck surgery to relieve his perpetual pain in the neck. Once the drugs wear off, may the scotch pour anew.
My sleep-deprived brain is spinning with so much going on, I honestly don’t know where to start. Olympics, Ben & Jerry’s, Delta variant, fires, floods, spyware, Ron DeSantis, Ted Lasso, Oy. My head hurts already. Fortunately, the JNR editorial staff is here to boil it all down for you and expose the naked truth amidst the chaos clothed in the news of the week.
But let’s begin with Bob Dylan. America’s greatest songwriter turned 80 years young this year, and took a slight pivot on his Never Ending Tour by offering a $25 live streamed concert, which turned out not to be so live, but rather a well choreographed music video. Well, the Jew from Hibbing, Minnesota still can transcend like the best of them, and this faux concert was actually pretty good! I wouldn’t pay $25 for it, but you can get it for free on Youtube. May he always stay, “Forever Young.”
Now let’s jump into the Ben & Jerry’s controversy. Much ado about nothing would be my summary here. Maybe a distraction from a real issue, the Israeli spyware being used for illegal purposes by governments across the globe. But for those of you not following this item, the makers of Cherry Garcia decided to pull the plug on sales of their creamy concoctions in the occupied West Bank. There is some squirrelly language in the policy added at the last minute by their corporate owner, Unilever, that suggests some alternative arrangements, but that doesn’t matter. The liberal Jewish press has latched onto this as another example of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) run amok. I say bullshit. First of all, this is not a total boycott of sales in all of Israel, just the West Bank. Furthermore, I think we should be supportive of the B&J position as it is a reminder to the right wing Israeli leadership to reverse the destructive path it has taken in recent decades toward de facto annexation of the West Bank and destruction of the possibility of a two-state solution. The American Jewish Committee, (full disclosure, I am a former Board member of the Boston Chapter) and otherJewish organizations need to re-assess their positions if they are truly supportive of a two-state solution. So, buy and binge your favorite flavors, (Yasso Arafudge?) guilt free while you watch Season 2 of Ted Lasso, now playing on Apple + TV.
I tried like hell to stay awake for the Olympic parade of nations last night, but fell asleep before team USA made it to the stadium. I was on and off the fence a few times wondering if they should have just cancelled or postponed the event in order to have live audience and a truer experience, but even though my slumber got the best of me, I saw enough to stoke the excitement and renew my interests in this magical event. And I even enjoyed the uniquely Japanese opening ceremonies, although I am a bit perplexed about what was going on half the time. And I am now rooting for the Bangladesh team, after learning that they have never won a single medal in the history of their participation since 1984. And I was especially stoked by the IOC’s decision, finally, to honor the Israeli’s killed in the 1972 Munich games. The families of the 11 athletes and coaches murdered by Palestinian terrorists had pressured the IOC for many years to do something, and they finally did. Enjoy the games!
Now, on with the News of the Jews, courtesy of The Forward:
- The Forward coverage of Hitler’s 1936 Olympics – The Forward picks up on the Olympic theme with this piece looking back at how they covered Hitler’s games promoting the Aryan race. As you may have surmised, there was scant coverage by the Forward, with a focus instead on a competing sporting event taking place in NYC, The World Labor Athletic Carnival, sponsored by the Jewish Labor Committee. The IOC, although pressured to move the games to Rome, chose to capitulate to Hitler instead, risking the normalization of the Nazi regime, and spawning protests and boycotts from Jewish organizations around the globe.
- Ben & Jerry’s testing American anti-BDS laws – Believe it or not, several states, most of them red, have passed laws that attempt to penalize companies that refuse to do business with Israel. Silly stuff actually, as they have little to no impact and have been shot down in courts. Wait till they figure out Unilever also owns Hellman’s mayonnaise!
- What was lost in the B&J meltdown – I am glad The Forward included this piece looking closer at the prevailing attitudes about the West Bank Settlements in Israel. The majority of Israelis now support continued settlements, despite them still being illegal under international law. The argument on the Israeli right is not about whether or not, but how far they should go. Should be interesting to see how the new government, even further to the right of Nuttenyahoo, plays with the new coalition and American Jews, 25% of whom believe Israel is promoting apartheid policies with regard to the Palestinians. Oh what a tangled web they weave.
- A Rabbi reflects on his years playing baseball for the Israeli Tel Aviv Lightning and the hope he sees for Israel in their Olympic baseball team – The team is bound by their ties to Israel, Judaism, and “uniquely poised to expand the definition of hope in an increasingly diverse Israel society”. An interesting factoid: the word “southpaw” describing a lefty pitcher originated from the design of ballfields to align the pitcher facing west to avoid sunlight shining directly into the hitter’s eyes. If the pitcher is facing west, their arms are toward the southern side fo the field, hence the nickname “southpaw”. You learn something new every week with the JNR!
- Bob Dylan’s new music video overblown? You already know my feelings on this latest release from Bob Dylan. This critic was left disappointed overall, since he had high expectations and was expecting a live concert. I thought it was kind of cool how they made the venue look like a smoky jazz club.
- Mayoral candidate, Stacey Prussman, wants to be “the Jewish mother of New York City? Serious candidate? A stand-up comedienne for the last 20 years, Prussman wants a shot at helping New Yorkers feel good again. Running on the Libertarian ticket, Prussman thinks there needs to be more vegan delis in New York and is not a big fan of the BDS movement. And she wants to fight anti-semitism by teaching more high school students how to cook (“Food is love”). Vegan deli?
- Kurdish Jews gone but not forgotten – Levi Meir Clancy, a Los Angeles native, is trying to resurface the 27 centuries of Jewish history in this region of the world where all the Jews left under pressure from the government following the establishment of Israel. Clancy established a foundation to restore and preserve Jewish history, as well as establish a synagogue for Jewish visitors and ultimately pilgrims who may one day visit the region.
- A Yiddish professor (and female orthodox rabbi!) shares Yiddish children’s literature with the world – Emory College professor, Miriam Udel, a self professed Hebrew school nerd and Harvard Divinity school graduate, teaches Yiddish and has published an anthology of Yiddish stories and poems for children, “Honey on the Page”. Interesting to me was the fact that early Yiddish literature was imbued with progressive political values and Udel is not shy about continuing the tradition in her selections (Labzik: The communist puppy, eg). I am sure there is a lot to learn in these Yiddish children’s tales, but Udel’s anthology may not make it onto my Grandson’s reading list this summer.
That’s all for now, maybe too much already, but hey, let’s not forget to be careful out there!