Mother nature struck Florida with a vengeance this week, leaving a horrifying path of destruction and devastation that is hard to fathom. The only good news (if you can call it that) to emerge from this disaster is that we did not have to put up with an orange moron throwing paper towels and taunting local politicians. Admittedly the bar is pretty low these days, but it appears as though Biden and DeSantis put aside their obvious differences, acted like adults and actually cooperated. I wish the best for Floridians affected by Ian, and hope all are safe and can eventually rebuild their lives.
Speaking of Mother Nature, an interesting fact I learned this week is that the earth actually shakes every 26 seconds and apparently, scientists have no explanation for this phenomenon. Discovered in the 1960’s, well before Carole King’s popular song, “I Feel the Earth Move” hit the charts in 1971, and well before I first met Sandy, scientists have ruled out either of those events having anything to do with real earth shaking. What they do know is that these microseismic recordings emanate from the Gulf of Guinea, just off Africa’s western coast, but to this day they still don’t know something just as important: why they are happening in the first place. There are theories, of course, ranging from volcanic activity to waves, but still no consensus.
Another great mystery I learned about this week has to do with Yom Kippur which we will celebrate this week. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. Until that verdict, we refrain from eating, drinking, bathing, wearing perfumes or leather shoes, and lastly, no marital relations, although not sure after the non-bathing and washing part, that sex would be top of mind anyway. Now, here is where it starts to get weird, and mysterious. Another traditional Yom Kippur observance for Ashkenazi Jews over the last 1000 years or so is the practice of “Kapparot”, whereby every Yom Kippur Eve— observant men and women wave a chicken over their head. According to professor of classical rabbinic literature Reuven Kimelman, kapparot involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head three times and reciting a prayer to transfer sins to the bird. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor. Traditionally, men use roosters and women hens, though pregnant women use both in case they’re having a boy. The practice is controversial among rabbinical scholars, and even today, it continues to ruffle feathers (sorry), especially among animal rights activists.
Now, let’s get to the jew-cy news bits. The following is a smattering of items carefully curated by yours truly from various Jewish sources:
- In the path of Hurricane Ian, rabbis open their homes and safeguard Torahs: The storm has left some synagogues scrambling to prepare for Shabbat and, once again, turning to virtual services. “It certainly gives you a sense of reverence to see this kind of power displayed,” said Rabbi Bruce Diamond of Fort Myers. “And it reminds us of how everything hangs by a thread.” Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz of the Chabad of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers rode out the storm at home, not by choice but because the evacuation order had come during Rosh Hashanah, when Orthodox Jews refrain from using technology. “We couldn’t leave because we only found out after yontif and it was too late to leave,” Minkowicz said, using the Yiddish term for a Jewish holiday. Read the story ➤
- “The pastrami must be amazing”💰 The Justice Department charged three men who ran a New Jersey deli with fraud, after the store, which had less than $40,000 in annual sales, somehow achieved a market capitalization of more than $100 million. (New York Times)
- ✝️ An interfaith group voiced its concerns about the rise of Christian nationalism on Wednesday during a briefing on Capitol Hill – One of the organizers of the event was Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who said that the movement played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection and that he learned more when he read a book called “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.” (Religion News Service)
- The stock market’s in trouble for a lot of reasons. Could the Days of Awe be a contributing factor? – Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services, went on CNBC to opine that the plunge in the market may come down to familiar “cycles and traditions,” some of them Jewish. (But no, I don’t think he’s blaming the Jews for the stock market, per se.) “Rosh Hashanah happens at sundown on Sunday,” Cashin said, “and when I was an Irish altar boy in Jersey City, I was told that that tradition is you sell on Rosh Hashanah to buy back on Yom Kippur, cause you wanna be without worldly goods. So I think that may be adding, believe it or not, to some of the mild selling pressure we’re seeing today.” (The Forward).
- Israel rejects annexation as West sanctions Russia, threatens any who back land grab – Israel joined a wide chorus rejecting Russia’s annexation of four occupied regions of Ukraine Friday, reiterating its full support for Kyiv’s sovereignty.In a statement issued shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties to incorporate the partially occupied regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia into the Russian Federation, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it would not recognize the move. “Israel supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, we won’t recognize the annexation of the four areas by Russia. Israel has repeated this clear position many times, including in recent days,” the ministry’s official statement read. (Times of Israel)
- In step toward civil marriage, Jerusalem court accepts ‘Zoom weddings’ from Utah – A Jerusalem District Court ordered the Interior Ministry on Thursday to recognize marriages conducted over video-conferencing through the US state of Utah, in another step toward easing access to civil marriage in the State of Israel.Just before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the state of Utah reformed its marriage process, allowing ceremonies to be performed through video conferencing software, such as Zoom, as long as at least one of the people involved — including the officiant — was located physically in the state. (Times of Israel)
That’s all I have time for today. Have a great week everyone, remember to twirl that chicken three times, atone for all your sins, feel the earth move, and please continue to be careful out there!