Shabbat Shalom. And apologies for the expletive, but I have a rant I need to get off my pounding chest.
What kind of bullshit twisted thinking leads so many of our fellow citizens to think getting a jab in their arm in order to save themselves, friends and family members from insufferable pain and potential death, is some kind of imposition on their personal liberties? Please explain to me the logic of the 40%, yes I am not exaggerating, 40% of hospital staff/employees who are supposedly caring human beings, deciding not to take a vaccine that prevents a virus that could be deadly to their patients or themselves? Please explain to me why, (based on polling and statistical modeling conducted recently by The Economist), the greatest predictor of whether an American has been vaccinated is whether they voted for Joe Biden or Donald Trump last November? The polling and model shows that Biden supporters were 18 % points more likely to get a jab. When are the leaders of this country, yes you Uncle Joe, and the rest of the blithering morons in Washington posing as leaders, going to start getting a backbone and instituting mandatory vaccinations and some kind of Vax Passport program? Or should we just continue to sit by while the right wing a-holes push their anti-vax propaganda and lies. It’s time we smartened up and got a little tougher on the jackasses that think their right to be a moron is more important than the health and economy of our country. If these “freedom lovers” want to continue to conflate an absence of oppression with an absence of responsibility, throw the fuckers in jail! Just like we would If they decided to not pay their taxes, or if they dodged a draft to an unpopular war! I have no patience any more for this nonsensical thinking, and just sitting by while the country continues a fall into Delta depravity and masking madness. Apologies if I have offended anyone here, but please, if you haven’t already, save yourselves, your loved ones, and our economy, and get a goddamn shot.
On a more positive vibe, the olympics continues to provide us all with a respite from the daily barrage of Covid bullshit. Katie Ledecky is a swimming machine, and is clearly one of my new heroes, but the big story, which so far The Forward has completely missed, is Alix Klineman, a 6’5” Jewish Olympic beach volleyball superstar! I know they tend to grow them bigger and blonder in California, but jeesh, what Jewish Olympic-sized gene pool did her parents swim in? But even bigger than Alix, (but not quite as tall), is my other new Olympic hero, 40 year old Women’s basketball superstar, Sue Bird (no relation to Larry), now competing in her fifth Olympics. The women’s basketball team has not lost a game since 1992, and has been led by Bird since she was the WNBA’s No.1 draft pick in 1998. Go USA!
Now, on to the news of the Jews, everyone’s favorite weekly summary of Jewish news and culture, courtesy once again of The Forward. This week features a hodge-podge of topics: baseball, faux pets, Jackie Mason, Jewish mothers, and other fun stuff! So here you go:
- Build it, and they will come, and they did! Israel’s own Field of Dreams story, features an Israeli olympic pitcher and the interesting back story of how his parents came to Israel, helped launch a kibbutz, and led the building of Israel’s first baseball field in 1983. They had to convince the Kibbutz elders that replacing cotton and corn with a diamond would be a good thing for kids. Good thing they were convincing! Unfortunately, the Israel team got whipped by the Americans, 8-1 in yesterday’s Olympic games. The Israelis need to win their next game, or face medal elimination, leaving me in a quandary about who to root for.
- Jackie Mason and his impact on the world of Jewish humor – Mason passed away this week, but left a significant impact on Jewish comedy. While most of his peers eschewed emphasizing their Jewishness in their comedy, Mason embraced it. A former Rabbi, Mason’s views on younger, more assimilated Jews began to color his routines later in his career but he was never quite able to bridge the generations, staying mostly popular with his own generation. “Why does a Jew have a boat? The Jew takes you to the waterfront, shows you his boat, then says “let’s get something to eat.”
- A Ben and Jerry’s franchisee pushes back – Last week I mentioned my own opinion that we should support the decision by Unilever to pull their ice cream from West Bank shelves. This New York franchisee is protesting that decision, and donating 10% of profits to State of Israel education causes. Publicity stunt? Or is he just a knee-jerk schmuck? You decide.
- Hollywood Jews weigh in on “My unorthodox Life” – For those not in the know, this is a relatively new Netflix show depicting the life and family of a woman who left her Orthodox community to eventually run a top modeling agency. Apparently the show is generating some noise and loud objections from some in the community. Does the show unfairly represent the Orthodox? Beats the hell out of me. I have always felt its cool to be a jew, but I do wonder what the latest fascination seems to be with the Orthodox given the plethora of shows featuring them lately.
- Faux pets helping holocaust survivors? Yes, cheaper and cleaner than the real thing, these pretend pets retail for around $130 and come in both cat and dog models. But a non profit is providing them free to holocaust survivors, many of whom live on meager fixed incomes and could not afford the real thing. Too bad, because there is no robot or AI toy that could possibly replace my Nox and the absolute joy and tongue licking I get whenever he greets me.
- Who was baseball’s first Orthodox player? The debate rages on in this battle over who was the first. If you guessed Sandy Koufax, you are way wrong. No, the right answer is Morrie Arnovich, who played in the Majors from 1936 – 1942, ending his short career to go fight the Nazis of course. Morrie, who played left field for the Cincinnati Reds, not only refused to play on the high holidays, but also refused to play on Shabbat! Some really cool backstory elements here regarding the city of Superior Wisconsin and the Hammonds, but I loved the reference to a classic historical matchup that occurred during the 1940 World Series which pitted the Reds against the Detroit Tigers in the backdrop of the Holocaust and WWII. Arnovich had just sat out a couple of games in observance of Yom Kippur, but in the next world series game, the other great Jewish baseball hero, Hank Greenberg, stepped up and belted a ball that Arnovich chased down in left field. Arnovich and the Reds went on to win the World Series. I am sure if Greenberg were a more observant Jew, the series might have ended differently.
- University of Wisconsin apologizes, but is it enough? Go to classes or go to shul? That is the dilemma facing the approximate 4,000 Jewish students attending U-Wisconsin, as administrators and teachers neglected to incorporate the high holidays into the school calendar, starting classed this year smack dab on Rosh Hashanah. My biggest take-away here is how come so many Jews are going to Wisconsin? Do they have something there I don’t know about? Perhaps a world champion shofar player?
- Two Jewish moms take their advice column to the podcast world – An interview with the Forward’s own Bintel Brief ladies. While I sometimes read the Bintel Brief’s, and have cited a few of their columns in prior reports, I was not interested enough in these two to slog through this rather long interview. Take my advice, skip this one.
- A Jewish millennial becoming a Civil War historian – Hmmmm. Not sure about this one. Kid is either a whack job, or some kind of history savant. He does suffer from Aspergers but his passion for Civil War history is genuine and if you know of a nice Jewish girl or guy seeking his or her bashert, keep Nils Skudra in mind. Or not.
And so ends this week’s JNR. Next week, The Forward will not be publishing the weekly, so the JNR staff may take advantage of the break and have a little off-site planning session on Marthas Vineyard. But until then, let’s be sure to stay safe in this Delta ridden land. https://pdfhost.io/v/RTjujFWBa_ForwardYourWeekendReads073021.pdf