Shabbat shalom everyone.
It’s a rainy, dreary day here in Sharon, made even more dreary this morning by the USA being knocked out of the World Cup by the Netherlands, who were able to capitalize on defensive lapses by our boys.
One of the things I love about writing this weekly blog is that it keeps me current on most things Jewish, and I get to share with all of you some of the profoundly good things that Jews have accomplished and continue to accomplish in the worlds of business, academia, entertainment, science and yes, even sports (there are 2 Jews on the USA World Cup team!). I try to include one or two news items each week that appeal to the younger generations and I usually include, not always by choice, some news item relating to anti-semitism. It bugs the shit out of me that anti-semitism continues to be a recurring theme in the news, but this is the world we live in. And while I will continue to not let it define this space, I cannot help but think that the meter has hit the danger zone and we are about to enter into a new era of concern, especially here in the land of the free and the home of the stupid.
I don’t care how much good the orange turd might have done for Israel, his breaking bread with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes in Mar-a-Ego makes him complicit in whatever stupid anti-semitic acts follow. The orange turd’s mainstreaming of the fringe elements in the US has had a direct correlation with the record breaking incidents of anti-semitism reported by the Anti-Defamation League. According to the ADL, 2021 was the highest year on record for documented reports of harassment, vandalism and violence directed against Jews. The watchdog group has tracked these incidents since 1979, and it says 2022 will look a lot like last year. These record breaking numbers present as part of a consistent, five year upswing in the number of antisemitic incidents, unprecedented in the ADL’s three plus decades of data collection.
Elon Musk kicked Kanye West off Twitter on Friday “for incitement to violence,” after the rapper posted a picture that showed a swastika interlaced with a Star of David. The post came hours after an interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, in which West sparked outrage by declaring his “love” of Nazis and admiration for Adolf Hitler. The photo was captioned with the bitterly ironic words “Love everyone #lovespeech.”
I am having a hard time believing that in this enlightened day and age, we are still dealing with this level of stupidity and hatred. Yet here we are. Whether the orange turd is an anti-semite may be debatable, but what is not debatable is that the a-hole has not apologized nor condemned the kind of crap that Fuentes and Ye are exuding from their twisted and demented minds. President Biden put it well in his tweet: “Silence is complicity.”
Let’s move on to other news for the Jews, courtesy of yours truly and a careful curation of sources including The Forward, Times of Israel, IZZY, The Future of Jewish, JTA News, Unholy: Two Jews on the News, and other great sources:
- Slivovitz, a spirit with a cherished Jewish history, gets UNESCO World Heritage protection – L’chaim! L’chaim! Živjeli! (Croatian toast meaning “Let’s Live!”) Slivovitz, a plum brandy traditionally associated with Passover by many Ashkenazi Jews, has been added to the United Nations’ list of items with “intangible cultural heritage.” Serbians led the charge for the designation, but the spirit became particularly associated with Polish Jewry in the 19th century, as Jews became prominent in the field of alcohol production and the running of inns and taverns. They found special utility in slivovitz when it came to maintaining the Jewish laws around keeping kosher. I remember Passover’s at Bubbie and Zayde’s house always included a Denmark brandy called Cherry Kijafa, which tasted a bit like cough syrup. Click here for more.
- How Marty Feldman became the great forgotten Jewish comic: Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein will always hold a special place in my heart as it was one of my Dad’s favorites. (“What hump” he would say, hunching his back for a laugh) Today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of the actor best known as Igor in “Young Frankenstein.” There was so much more to Feldman than his eyes, which Mel Brooks once likened to “hard-boiled eggs that somebody painted eyeballs on and didn’t paint them on right.” Dan Epstein, critic for The Forward, takes a closer look at Feldman’s career and legacy. Read the story ➤
- 🤔 A Florida district said it has reversed its decision denying a mother’s request to give a Hanukkah presentation to her son’s fifth grade class. A school official had initially told the mom she could not make the presentation because of a law Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in March prohibiting discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades. Now, the school says she can come in — but has to clear her lesson with the principal first. Imagine if this guy was POTUS? (WFTS Tampa Bay)
- This Israel is not going to be governed by Talmudic law:’ Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s former and future prime minister-designate, sought Wednesday to calm concern about the right-wing extremists in his incoming senior cabinet and their opposition to rights for Palestinians and LGBTQ people. “We don’t adopt the prohibition of rights to people who deserve it under Israeli law,” Netanyahu said to Bari Weiss on her Honestly podcast. Read the story ➤ or listen to the podcast. I read a transcript of the podcast and was quite impressed with Bibi and his responses to Bari’s questions. But he has some major league crazies to deal with in his coalition, and despite all kinds of crazy concessions, he still hasn’t formed a government!
- 💸 Tel Aviv was dethroned as the world’s most expensive city, according to new rankings released Wednesday. New York and Singapore tied for the top spot; Tel Aviv is now third. (CNN)
- On this week in history (2002): The Food Network aired the premiere of Barefoot Contessa starring Ina Garten. The show made Garten, who had worked on nuclear energy policy in the White House, a household name — and her devoted husband, Jeffrey, an internet sweetheart. The duo’s loving on-air dynamic earned them a spot on the Forward’s 2019 list of 24 power couples: The Jewish Edition. Sandra and I were overlooked for that list once again, but there is always next year!
- The ‘Fabelmans’ is mesmerizing — before it goes off the rails – So says PJ Grisar, movie critic for The Forward. My mom and sister are seeing it today, so we will get the real critics opinion later. But according to Grisar, Spielberg’s latest is a Jewish boy’s dream movie, but “Its human spirit and largesse live up to his best work, but in the end, it hews too close to home to cohere. In its efforts to be comprehensive, it is more a dream than a well-engineered narrative — sumptuous, deeply felt and ultimately illogical.” Click here for more.
That’s all for the week! Stay warm, make good decisions, and be careful out there!