Shabbat shalom everyone! Great to be back in the writers saddle after a week of rest, relaxation and reflection. And happy National Dog Day to all you dog owners! I was not aware there was such a holiday to honor our beloved canine pets, but apparently the holiday was created in 2004 by Colleen Paige, a Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Advocate. She created the day, celebrated every August 26th, so that all dogs can be celebrated and also to draw attention to the number of dogs in shelters and to encourage adoption to those who have yet to find a place to call home.
Since its inception in 2004, it is estimated that approximately one million dogs have been saved through adoption in the U.S. For dog owners that aren’t looking to add to their family, National Dog Day has become a day for treating their friend like the legend they are and enjoying the connection that we’ve built up with dogs over thousands of years. Our last family dog was Moose, who passed some years ago, but certainly left a warm spot in all our hearts, especially Sandy, who was his bestie!
The expression “Dog Days of Summer” actually has nothing to do with our furry friends. It turns out that the ancient Greeks and Romans weren’t referring to real dogs, but to the great astronomical one, Sirius. The “Dog Star” is located in the constellation Canis Major, known as the Greater Dog, and is the brightest star that shines at night. You can actually find references to the “dog days of summer” in ancient texts. If you go back even as far as Homer’s, The Iliad, it’s referring to Sirius as Orion’s dog rising, and it describes the star as being associated with war and disaster.
And disaster is what the orange turd is facing as the evidence clearly shows the now disgraced and former President stole classified documents and then for some deranged reason we don’t know about yet, refused to return them! The affidavit released yesterday suggests that if some of the classified documents returned from Mar-a-Lago in January had fallen into the wrong hands, they could have revealed sensitive details about human intelligence sources, or how spy agencies intercept the electronic communications of foreign targets! Particularly damning, the affidavit states: “There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found.”
According to the affidavit, part of the FBI’s rationale for searching Mar-a-Lago last month was that no space at Mar-a-Lago was authorized for the storage of classified materials. But it’s not just how they were stored, it was the possible unlawful concealment or removal of the documents. On top of that, classified materials were mixed with unclassified documents like newspapers, magazines, and personal documents, which further demonstrates Trump’s complete gross negligence with sensitive information and property that doesn’t belong to him. A best case scenario is that no-one who saw any of these files knew what they were looking at, but who knows! There are numerous stories of Russian and Chinese nationals being invited to Mar-a-Lago who could have easily gained access to these documents!
Meanwhile, old man Joe continues to get shit done. I am not supportive of the abuse of executive actions that has taken place over the last few decades, and I am also not sure I support the latest give-away to reduce student debt. Seems to me that only Congress should have the power of the purse strings, and forgiving debt is pretty much the same thing as shifting the spending to others. Hence, this handout will probably be ruled illegal down the road. But in the greater context of things like tax subsidies to the oil and gas industry, this give-away looks a lot more democratic and targeted toward folks who could use the help. However, facts are devilish things. According to one website, virtually all—about 90 percent—of student loan borrowers are paying back their loans on time, which suggests that the individual amounts aren’t too much for them to handle (about $300 per month, according to the website Student Loan Hero, but that amount can vary wildly based on type of institution, type of degree, age of the borrower, and more). And it’s fair that the borrowers pay, since they get most of the benefits (about $900,000 in extra median lifetime earnings for men and $630,000 more for women). Canceling the debt merely shifts it onto other taxpayers—including people who already paid their student debt (c’est moi!) or didn’t go to college at all. Fair?
Is there a Jewish angle to any of this dog day madness? Dogs are for the most part portrayed negatively in the Bible. Deuteronomy appears to equate dogs and prostitution, ruling in Deuteronomy 23:19 that if one of these is used to pay for an animal — say, if one offered a dog or sex in exchange for a goat — that purchased animal cannot be brought to the temple as a sacrifice. The Book of Kings includes several references to dogs feeding on corpses. And in the Psalms, dogs are described as beasts that maul at human beings. So, it looks like dogs had their own dog days in the good book. But in Israel, it’s a different story:
- Tel Aviv has the largest number of dogs per capita in the entire world. Israel is home to about 80,000 dogs that enjoy long walks in the 60 dog parks across the country.
- Tel Aviv is already known as the nonstop city, the gay friendly capital of the world, and now it might just serve as the most dog friendly city too.
- Tel Aviv will test dog poop DNA to fine owners who don’t clean up – City council approves setting up database, obligating owners to submit their pets’ DNA details when receiving their license.
What about news of the Jews this week? Haven’t I subjected you to enough already? For the curious in the crowd, here are a few carefully curated bits taken from various Jewish sources around the globe:
- Iran, Diplomacy and Option B – While the US and European leaders continue pressing Iran on a new Nuke deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weaponry, Israeli leaders across the spectrum have been busy bashing it on multiple fronts. A lot of Lapid’s comments focus on the $100B in funds that will be released to Iran, and the terrible things they may likely do with said funds, and how the current deal enables further uranium enrichment, beyond the last deal. According to Netanyahu, “The terrible deal with Iran… casts a heavy shadow on our security and our future, the deal enables Iran to get everything and give nothing… The current deal is worse than the previous deal.” Stay tuned for a lot more on this as the deal develops. Israel and the US have already agreed to develop a military solution if diplomacy fails. Click here for more.
- 🕍 Jews in Montana? When the tiny Jewish community in Helena, Montana, could no longer maintain its synagogue building, back in 1935, they sold it to the state, asking that it be used for a “good and social purpose.” Temple Emanu-El, completed in 1891, housed the state’s social welfare offices, and eventually was taken over by the Catholic Church. Now, the Montana Jewish Project, founded in March 2021, has raised enough money to buy it back and create a community and cultural center. “Helena was one of only four state capitals in the nation without a synagogue or Jewish center,” said Julie Bir, who was involved with the project. “We’ve just changed that.”
- 🥯 Give me Liberté or give me death – A favorite cream cheese of Jewish Montrealers is being discontinued. “Liberté cream cheese is part of a long legacy of foods brought to Montreal by Ashkenazi immigrants that changed the food culture of the city,” writes Kat Romanow, the co-founder of the Wandering Chew and a Jewish food historian. Liberty Dairy Products was founded in 1936 by the Kaporovsky family. It was located on the corner of St-Urbain and Duluth, in a building that now houses the iconic Montreal sandwich shop, Café Santropol. The company was called Liberty to honour the Kaporovsky family’s hope upon seeing the Statue of Liberty during their passage through Ellis Island. Wanting to fill the need for kosher dairy products, they sold cream cheese, along with cottage cheese and sour cream, and delivered it to customers with a horse and buggy. (MyJewishLearning)
- Jared’s Daddy issues – Jared Kushner’s memoir is all about forgiveness — but he’s not asking for ours: ”Breaking History,” the memoir by former Trump adviser and all-around wunderkind Jared Kushner, reads like a bloated cover letter, according to reviewer PJ Grisar. But it’s hard to miss that Kushner is trying to do a bit more with his White House tell-some book, directly linking his ethic to lessons about forgiveness gleaned after the imprisonment of his father, Charles. But, as Grisar writes: “One thing Kushner doesn’t ask for in this unapologetic slog is forgiveness for himself.” Read the story ➤
- “I like me, I really, really like me” – 👋 “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has been renewed for Season 12. “In researching this multi-faceted, multi-talented man, I discovered that there’s more to him than I ever could have imagined,” Larry David said about his role playing Larry David, adding: “I only pray that I can do him justice.” (Variety)
- 🍦 A judge dealt Ben & Jerry’s board members a setback in their unusual legal fight against their own corporate parent, Unilever, over ice cream sales in the West Bank. The judge denied the board members’ petition to block Unilever’s transfer of Ben & Jerry’s assets to a local licensee in Israel. That transfer will allow Cherry Garcia and other signature flavors to be sold in West Bank settlements, which the board members say undermines the brand’s values. (JTA)
- More MAGA nuts – Her state party apologized for her, but this GOP nominee continues to spread antisemitic tropes. Kim Crockett, the Republican nominee for secretary of state in Minnesota, described Jewish billionaire George Soros as a puppet-master of her Jewish opponent. Crockett, who called the 2020 presidential election “rigged,” is running against the Democratic incumbent Steve Simon, who is Jewish. Crockett is one of several Republican candidates vying for secretary of state who question the integrity of the 2020 election and have used antisemitic tropes or invoked the Holocaust in their campaigns. (At least 11 GOP nominees for the office have questioned the legitimacy of the election.)
I am running out of steam, so will spare you any further Jew News. Have a great week everyone, and let’s continue to be careful out there.