Shabbat Shalom everyone!
A couple of quick shout-outs: Big shalom to new members Karen Kane (Jack’s mom), and Reade Brower, an old UMass friend and fellow Bell’s Pizza delivery alum! Sandy and I are here in our nation’s capital helping to celebrate our dear friends Beth and Michael’s son’s wedding! Mazel Tov to Corey and Jocelyn! Lots of shnibsies and schmoozing on the docket tonight!
If there is a Jewish version of a whirling dervish, that is my brain this week from the landslide of news and events that flow at me faster than my brain can cope. But, baseball brings me back to a wonderful equilibrium, as the marathon that is the summer game’s regular season races down Heartbreak Hill to the exciting fall finish line. If you have been paying any kind of attention at all, or even if you are one of those millennials that think the game is too boring, you must agree that the playoffs have been one exciting ticket so far! Let’s hope these baseball diamonds are forever and the sport continues to entertain for the generations that follow. And for you Red Sox fans, let’s put last night’s tough loss behind us, and hope our team can overcome the big bats and bad juju of Houston and bring home the American League pennant!
I know you are all probably getting a bit squirmy wondering when I am going to get to the fun stuff and talk Jew news. So, squirm no more. Lots to choose from this week, and once again my friends at The Forward decided to skip the weekly summary and offered up some boring alternative, so, you get to suffer through another week of picks from yours truly. But, before I get to the list, the big issue of the week was one that kind of crept up on the Jewish establishment press: Sally Rooney and her decision not to publish her latest book in Hebrew.
For those not in the know, Sally Rooney is a young, Man Booker award nominee whose three novels documenting the unfulfilled and dissatisfied lives of millennial women have rocked the literary world. She is a brilliant debater and author, and I confess that I have not ready any of her works, so far. She just released her latest novel, “Beautiful World, Where are You” on September 7th, and quietly made the decision to not have her book translated in Hebrew as a sign of support for the BDS (Boycott, Divest,Sanctions) movement and the plight of the Palestinian people. “I simply do not feel it would be right for me under the present circumstances to accept a new contract with an Israeli company that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the U.N.-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people,” her statement said. “If I can find a way to sell these rights that is compliant with the BDS movement’s institutional boycott guidelines, I will be very pleased and proud to do so.”
Well, the response from the Jewish media was at first muted, but then picked up steam, and now has became hotter than a latke fried in Chile sauce and dipped in hot mustard. There are so many dimensions to the issue that I won’t go into detail here. But, even though I have previously voiced my opposition to the liberal knee-jerk reaction to Ben and Jerry’s decision to halt sales of their creamy concoctions in the West Bank (Occu-pied Cherritory), I am still contemplating my position on Sally Rooney’s decision. But, I usually come back to the idea that Israel is always treated differently in this matter than many other countries with much worse oppression and suppression of basic human rights than Israel. Will Ms Rooney not allow her book to be published in Arabic to protest the treatment of women in most muslim countries for example? And should we indeed hold Israel to a higher standard? All good questions. What do you think?
Let’s move on to other issues and news of the Jews for the week:
- The death of McBagel: what does it all mean? When Covid hit and many commutes halted, the McBagel was one of more than 100 menu items the fast-food chain scrapped. And McDonald’s is not alone: Chick-fil-A also discontinued its bagels earlier this year. “Is the bagel no longer worthy of cultural appropriation? With the fast-food bagel in retreat, the Jewish breakfast is at a crossroads. Does it return to its hard-boiled immigrant roots or remain an empty vessel for crispy bacon and mysterious “breakfast sauce””? The author of this piece raises some serious questions about the bagel as a metaphor. For more, click here.
- What the new Hollywood Museum left on the cutting room floor – After years of delays, the $484 million Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opened to grand fanfare, but the author of this piece was struck by what was left on the cutting room floor – especially because her great-grandfather helped run Fox Studio in the first half of the 20th century. She says the omissions reveal a historical amnesia regarding the antisemitism Hollywood Jews faced. The museum’s main exhibit does a good job of referencing the contributions of diverse peoples to the industry, but makes little mention of the Jewish pioneers that helped build the very foundations of the industry. If these moguls were alive today, they would probably react with “What are we, chopped liver?” Is this a gripe piece or big omission? You be the judge, and click here for more.
- The Sally Rooney boycott brouhaha is right out of a Sally Rooney novel – The writer of this piece, Taylor Zax, actually read the book, and had this to say, as well as other thoughtful analysis. ““Beautiful World, Where Are You” is an occasionally uneven but largely brilliant reflection on the question of whether, in a modern world defined by political and environmental peril, it’s possible to live a meaningful life. And the fuss over Rooney’s choice of where to let the book be published has somewhat masterfully illustrated one of its central points: That the way we have learned to exchange ideas about the world in this very online, very alarming modern world erases meaning, rather than creates it.”
- Speaking of Hebrew writing, this major league manager has it written all over his body – The latte-drinking, bodybuilding, overachieving manager of the San Francisco Giants and former Red Sox hero has a Star of David tattoo on one leg and a “Never Again” tattoo on the other. He defies the stereotype of Jewish people being unathletic, and of the Actually Athletic Jew. His office walls are adorned with pictures of Gandhi, Einstein, Ali and Lincoln. “He’s aggressively, almost goofily urbane,” Louis Keene says of the manager, Gabe Kapler. Want to read more? Click
- The great JNR Bubka challenge 2021 – There is nothing more satisfying then the moist, chewy, chocolatie baked Bubka right after it comes out of the oven. Babka was eternally memorialized in pop culture in a 1994 episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry and Elaine camp out at Royal Bakery (based on real-life Royale Pastry Shop in NYC) to wait their turn to buy a babka to take to a dinner party. When they finally reach the head of the queue only to learn the bakery is flush out of chocolate babka, Jerry is convinced by the attendant to purchase a cinnamon variant, which Elaine deems a “lesser babka.” He valiantly defends its potential merits, noting “Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka. People love cinnamon. It should be on tables at restaurants along with salt and pepper.” Ride on Jerry! So this year the JNR is sponsoring it’s first virtual event, The Great Big Bubka Bake-off. Just send me an example of one of your favorite bakes, and I will make the supreme sacrifice of trying each one and providing my honest and humbled feedback.
That’s all I’ve got this week. Time to put on my tux and dancing shoes. Hope you all have a great week, and hey, let’s be careful out there!