Shabbat shalom one and all!
Birthday shoutouts to Alyssa Hirsh and my sister Phyllis. And send your good thoughts and financial support to our friends in the Ukraine. Here are links to a few deductible charities to help the Jews in Ukraine. Chabad-Lubavitch Ukraine Relief Fund and the Mishpacha Orphanage, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, American Jewish Committee. And when our gas prices climb even further, feel patriotic in paying for the Ukrainian price bump.
My rant this week is about the fascination with, and the disturbing trend, especially among young men, to accept and even worship bullying, toxic male behavior and personalities. It partially explains the popularity of the orange turd and his minions, Republican fascination with Putin and other authoritarian leaders, right wingers who want to “own the libs”, Fox blowhards like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, etc etc etc. To this day, I still have a hard time understanding how 75 Million Americans could be duped into voting for the orange turd, but maybe PT Barnum was right about a sucker being born every minute. Or maybe these bullies have tapped into something that has been building for years. For example, this is the first year that 30 year olds are not doing as well as their parents did at 30, breaking a long held unwritten social contract, and this is especially true of young men. Colleges are now 60/40 women to men, and graduates are 2-1 women to men, as many more men than women are dropping out. Why are so many young men failing? The statistics are alarming: young men are 3x more likely to overdose, 4x more likely to commit suicide, 9x more likely to end up in prison. Women tend to mate with men that are socio-economically horizontal or upward from them, while men tend to go horizontal or downward. That leaves a boatload of failing young men without degrees and without a mate. Great recipe for bad shit to happen.
It’s this backdrop of bad news for young men that the orange turds of the world prey upon. I suspect that many of these young men are feeling broke, alone, with not much hope of a future with the normal kinds of attachments that most of us enjoy and that keep us civil. They look for culprits to blame, and the fake masculinity, bravado, “blame the other guy” or immigrants for your problems becomes an appealing explanation for their own failures. But enough of this rant, it’s too damn depressing, and we have enough depressing news to deal with already. To end it on a more positive note, perhaps our white hot economy will provide some relief in the form of meaningful work opportunities for these young men.
Now, moving onto the news of the Jews, here are some carefully curated selections for your weekend enjoyment.
- What to do about those Jewish Russian Oligarchs – A few stories emerged this week about boycotts of products, confiscation of yachts, etc, tied to Russian oligarchs. The Forward has a story about Yuri Shefler, CEO of Stoli Vodka, and how some restaurants and liquor stores want to ban Stoli from their shelves and menus. The hitch: Stoli is made in Latvia, not Russia, by a company whose owner is a Russian Jew with UK and Israeli citizenship. For more, click here.And then there is Roman Abramovich, big time supporter of all things Jewish, who donates a handsome amount every year to keep the doors of the Yad Vashem museum open. Ironically, Israel has reached out to US diplomats in order to excuse Abramovich from sanctions that would freeze his assets. Read more here.
- Jared Kushner needs a good beating – This according to the right and honorable Roger “Dirty Trickster” Stone, who had a Danish camera crew follow him around for 2 years. Apparently, Roger was not too keen on Jared’s follow-thru on all the wonderful pardons Stone requested. Stone is a clown, and not worthy of any JNR space, but this one I added for pure weirdness. Click here for more.
- Putin’s Rabbi? Believe it or not, this Rabbi claims to be close to Ras-Putin and has offered to mediate a peace settlement. Berel Lazar says he’s ready to do anything ‘to silence the guns and to stop the bombs,’ after Ukrainian rabbis rail against invasion. Lazar, a follower of the Chabad movement, has served as chief rabbi of Russia for some 20 years — though the position is somewhat contested — and has long been known to have the ear of the Russian president, occasionally earning him the moniker “Putin’s rabbi.” You go Rabbi! Click here for more from the Times of Israel.
- Contemplating Babyn Yar – The Forward devoted a lot of space to the attack by Putin on this holy site. The Russian bomb that hit part of the memorial complex of Babyn Yar – the ravine in central Kyiv where more than 33,000 Jews were massacred in 1941 – was not the week’s most deadly. But the symbolism of such a site being struck was powerful for Jews worldwide. Here is an essay by Batya Greenwald reflecting on the irony of Putin bombing the site of a former Nazi atrocity. Click here for essay.
- ⛷️ Some Uplifting News! The Paralympics begin today in Beijing and will feature Israel’s first-ever winter participant, 20-year-old Sheina Vaspi. She lost a leg as a toddler when a bus hit the family’s car and will ski in multiple events on her remaining leg. “My leg didn’t survive,” she said. “No big deal.” Vaspi, who is Hasidic, got permission to compete wearing a skirt over her ski pants. (Times of Israel)
- Last year on this day, Charles Barkley joked that he was losing weight so that he could dance the hora at his daughter’s Jewish wedding. “I’ve been really working out hard because apparently they’ve got to pick me up in a chair,” he said. His daughter said the 250-pound basketball star had a great time on a chair at the Jewish celebrations after initial worries his fellow dancers wouldn’t be able to lift him!
That’s all I’ve got this week. Remember, be careful out there. And if you have an open shot, take Putin down!