Shabbat shalom readers!
A shout out this week to old man Joe Biden, who seems to have found a second wind, or maybe despite the current shortage, they upped his adderall dosage. Whatever the reason, he and his administration deserve a few kudos for getting shit done. I don’t agree with all his policy decisions, and he is a pretty crappy speaker, but he and his administration seem to have their shit together and that sentiment is shared more broadly as reflected in the latest polling with his favorability now at 49%. Averting the railway labor strike, leading NATO nations to support Ukrainians kicking Russian ass, climate legislation, the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, and the fact that we are no longer a joke on the world stage are all contributing to a more positive vibe, especially among the millennial and “meh” crowds. Way to go Joe.
Despite some progress, the country is still reeling from inflation, my stock portfolio has taken such a hard hit I actually went back to work, and the lunacy on the right continues unabated, and will probably get worse. But, stay positive JNR people! The best is yet to come! At least if you believe in “long term-ism” as defined recently by the Scottish philosopher Scott MacAskill whose recent book, “What We Owe the Future” proposes that we give the same weight to future people as we do to those alive today when making decisions. In some respects, Biden’s climate legislation was one such decision. Unfortunately, those kind of decisions are few and far between, and the value of what I call “stewardship”, has been subsumed by decades of narcissism, immediate gratification, and short term thinking. We tried to teach our kids to always leave a place better than the way you found it. Do the knuckleheads who use immigrants as human pawns in a culture war have any sense of decency let alone stewardship? What value is there for future generations in Putin’s egomaniacal war on Ukraine? Are we all, as the late Peter Bergman of the Firesign Theater proposed, just Bozos on this bus?
There are quite a few Bozos reacting to Disney’s recently released teaser on the new “Little Mermaid” film. A #NotMyAriel movement threatens to boycott the movie because Ariel, now played by Halle Bailey, isn’t a white redhead. Amazon had to temporarily suspend audience reviews because of the racist Bozos campaign to downgrade the show due to its diverse cast. Ariel appears to be white in the 1989 animated film, yet despite the complete irrelevance of her skin color and Bailey’s obvious and immense talent, a young Black woman in the lead role was clearly unacceptable to the racist underbelly of the country. How dare Disney not cast a carbon copy of the cartoon princess! F-ing Bozos. To view the teaser, click here.
Now, without further ajieu, news for the Jews, as carefully curated by yours truly from a smorgasbord of Jewish sources:
- ‘Anne Frank would still be alive’: Ken Burns opens up about his new documentary – On Monday I attended an event at Symphony Hall previewing Ken Burns new documentary on the US response to the holocaust followed by a panel discussion with Burns and his co-producers. One interesting anecdote: Burns was inspired to produce the documentary by reader and viewer reactions to two other of his documentaries on WWII and the Roosevelts. He received so much correspondence questioning the holocaust and so chock full of misinformation and disinformation, he felt compelled to set the record straight. On the U.S. response: “We failed, ultimately, because we did not yell loudly enough about it,” Burns said. “We did not yell early enough about it, and we did not save as many people as we could have saved. “We could even have filled the meager quotas and saved five times as many people as we did, but the state department was always changing the requirements, raising the bar, moving the goalposts, and making it too hard for even Otto Frank to get his visa,” he continued. “I think maybe if he had gotten his visa, maybe Anne Frank would still be alive.” Read the story ➤
- Two Jews win at the Emmys – The 74th Emmys, hosted by Kenan Thompsonand DJed by Russian-born, German-raised Jewish artist Zedd, made for a strange evening with little in the way of previous years’ social distancing and even less patience for long-winded speeches. But it did give us some Jewish wins. Julia Garner took home her third Emmy for her valedictory performance as Ruth Langmore on Netflix’s “Ozark.” And Brett Goldstein received his second Emmy for his role as foul-mouthed footballer Roy Kent on “Ted Lasso.” True to form, he cursed, even after he said he wouldn’t.
- Yeshiva madness: If you can’t beat them, shut the whole thing down – Days after the Supreme Court ruled that Yeshiva University must allow an official LGBTQ pride club on campus, the administration suspended all student clubs for the time being. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court denied YU’s stay motion in its ongoing efforts to block the LGBTQ club, meaning Y.U. would have had to recognize the YU Pride Alliance while litigation continues in lower courts. The Modern Orthodox university appears to prefer that none of the campus’ 90 or so clubs function, perhaps until the case is resolved. For more, click here.
- More Yeshiva madness: New York’s Hasidic schools failing despite public funds – The leaders of New York’s Hasidic community have built scores of private schools to educate children in Jewish law, prayer and tradition — and to wall them off from the secular world. Offering little English and math, and virtually no science or history, they drill students relentlessly, sometimes brutally, during hours of religious lessons conducted in Yiddish. Yet, despite receiving billions in public funds, there is little accountability to secular learning. As a result, thousands of students failed basic math and literacy tests conducted in 2019. For more, click here.
- 🏫 The Department of Education is opening an investigation into a complaint alleging that Jewish students at the University of Vermont faced numerous instances of antisemitic harassment . It’s the latest such case opened by the department’s civil rights office on college campuses across the country. After reading the details, I have a sneaking suspicion there may be some over-wokeness operating here, but its early in the investigation. (JTA)
- On this week in history (Sept 13, 1993): In a famous gesture of hope for a peaceful future, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands with Bill Clinton — and each other — at the signing of the Oslo Accords. The peace efforts won Rabin and Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, but the promises of the agreement have not come to fruition, thwarted in part by Rabin’s assassination in 1995.
- Nina Totenberg’s ‘Dinners With Ruth’ offers insight into the late Supreme Court Justice. And gossip. The veteran NPR legal correspondent and Ruth Bader Ginsburg became friends in 1971. RBG officiated at Totenberg’s second wedding. Their relationship went far beyond reporter and subject, strengthened by their shared passions for music, shopping and food. Over the years, Totenberg writes in her new memoir, they saw one another “through great personal joys and also deep personal sadness.” Read the review.
I need to get ready for some pickle ball this afternoon, so will cut it off here. But as usual, please stay safe out there. And get the new booster shot!