Shabbat shalom! Shout out this week to my nephew Jake who on Friday graduated High School, packed his bags, and started a cross country trip to the new family home in Staunton, Virginia. Congrats Jake! Watch out Virginia and Longwood University!
Wow. My jaw literally dropped listening to the opening remarks at the Jan 6 hearing on Thursday evening. Smart, succinct and clearly aimed at setting up the DOJ to file criminal actions against the disgraced former President. The orange turd should look good in an orange jump suit. Liz Cheney summed it up best for me when she directed this comment to her Republican colleagues “who are defending the indefensible,” as she put it. “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.” Mic drop.
I have recently started exploring outside my media bubble, and have been surprisingly pleased with many of the conservative bloggers and writers I am following. I highly recommend Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan, and Matt Taibbi for real and thoughtful positions that may be contrary to your own. What’s interesting is that they, and other conservatives in the blogosphere have been pretty quiet on the Jan 6 front, and are taking up a new distracting cause in going after some of the craziness in the Transgender community or trying to pivot to discussing the economy and rising crime rates. The latter are clearly legitimate issues that most Americans care deeply about, but for goodness sakes, you would think the existential threat to our democracy and the on-going threat from Trump world would get some of their attention? Here is what Bari Weiss had to say about the topic, “I want all this to be sorted out, but a confession: I have to force myself to follow this story still because I care more these days about other topics (the economy and rising crime). It seems like lots of Americans feel this way.”
While the recent focus by the right on Transgender issues may seem like a distraction, I actually think the conservatives have a point. The idea that our biological sex is a social construct is a bit ridiculous. And I am not in favor of allowing transgender folks to compete in sporting events of their identified sex. (see this NYT story on swimmer Lia Thomas”) Don’t get me wrong: I believe firmly in advocating for the rights, dignity and respectful treatment of all LGBTQ folks, but I am having a hard time wrapping my progressive brain around proper use of pronouns and providing a growing number of children with puberty blockers and calling it “gender affirming” therapy, a euphemism for a sex change. There seems to be a fairly radical wing of the LGBTQ+ world that has taken this extreme view which is causing a backlash against them even by members and leaders of the gay and lesbian community. Which is a bit ironic since it was the Gay and Lesbian community that fought so long and sacrificed so much for same sex marriage rights and to get the Bostock decision by the Supreme court that prevented employment discrimination. If you are interested, here is a link to a great podcast with Bari Weiss (a lesbian woman) and Andrew Sullivan (a gay man) going deep on the topic and questioning the legitimacy and media bias on this issue. Click here.
Enough. Let’s talk Jew news. And, as usual, there is been plenty of it. Israeli Prime Minister Bennett’s coalition government hangs by a tallis thread as important legislation, such as the renewal of Israeli law to settlers on the West Bank, gets mired in ugly politics. A single Knesset Minister, Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, is refusing to vote along party lines, leaving the coalition government short by one vote to pass anything. Here are a few other carefully curated headlines for your reading edification:
- Bazooka Joe Jewish? Chew on this story of the Jewish roots of Bazooka Bubble gum. Started as a tobacco company by Russian Jewish immigrant Morris Chigorinsky, the company was failing when his 4 sons decided to open a penny candy division, Topps Chewing Gum. The product sold well, but in 1953, Topps made an alteration to the design that proved to be a game changer: the inclusion of small comic strips starring Bazooka Joe, a swashbuckling kid who donned a black eye patch and got into various scrapes and adventures with his crew of streetwise companions. That blew the bubbles off their competitor Dubble Bubble!
- Avocados practicing Judaism? I always thought being Jewish was kind of hip and cool, but who knew that avocados would jump on the cool Jew bandwagon?Parents: Don’t let your children take out student loans to be studio artists.That’s because computers, which already have proven their ability to beat humans at playing chess and delivering junk mail, now can produce custom oil paintings — or photographs, or pictures in the style of your favorite Chinese dynasty— simply in response to a description. The algorithm enabling this phenomena has been around for a while, but recently Noam Zur, an Israeli who who identifies himself as “a proud Jewish orthodox,” asked the machine to produce such images as “Avocado mom and and avocado daughter, lighting Shabbat candles together” and “Avocado returns to the land of Israel after 2000 years of exile, oil painting” and “A Jewish avocado looking at the night sky” and, you get the point.
- ✝️ Jews in the Vatican – No, not my nieces and nephews who just visited the Vatican as tourists. The Pope hosted Yad Vashem Director Dani Dayan last Thursday. The first-of-its-kind meeting took place as a new book shines a light on Pope Pius XII’s silence during the Holocaust. (JTA, Forward)
- Buffalo Republican: Hitler is ‘the kind of leader we need today’ – This guys a real doozy. Last week, Carl Paladino, a congressional candidate in New York who has rallied against gun control legislation, shared a since-deleted Facebook post that promoted conspiracy theories about the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde and also about COVID-19 vaccines, CIA mind control and the assassinations of John Lennon and the Kennedys. He also made racist remarks about Michelle and Barack Obama, which he never rescinded. Click here for more.
- Boston Jews say a pro-Palestinian group’s map of local ‘Zionist leaders’ is a guide to antisemitism: A Jewish arts group. A Jewish high school. A Jewish newspaper. A pro-Palestinian collective aligned with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has listed all these and more on an interactive map that Jewish leaders in Massachusetts and beyond say is an effort to intimidate Jews — and puts them in danger. With its list of addresses and employees of these organizations, says Jeremy Burton of the Jewish Community Relations Council “they are choosing” to “essentially point the finger at the Jewish communal infrastructure of Greater Boston as responsible for every evil under the sun.” JTA ➤
- 📈 Young American Jews report feeling as “favorable” toward Palestinians as toward Israel – This is not a good trend. The data comes from new findings from the Pew Research Center. Jewish educators are working to confront this dramatic generational shift in attitude by urging young adults to appreciate subtlety when considering the Middle East. (Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle)
Probably enough for this week. Enjoy the weekend everyone, and hey, let’s keep our eyes on the road, and let’s all be safe out there.