Shabbat shalom, hey! Or for my Canadian friends, shabbat shalom, eh?
By the end of every week, and before I begin a new post, I usually have read hundreds of Jewy and secular sources of news and culture and listened to about a dozen podcasts. It can be daunting, given how much the media relies upon bad news and conflict to sell their content in an ad-supported ecosystem. I usually end the week with a dose of good news from Jessica Yellen’s Friday offering of “News That Doesn’t Suck”, which usually provides some uplifting stories, but this week, focused instead on the alarming CDC report documenting how teen girls in the US are experiencing record-high levels of sadness, violence, and trauma, thanks to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat! Just what I needed to hear after a week highlighted by a toxic train derailment, earthquake disaster recovery, Fox News lies (redundancy?), balloon shootings, and Microsoft’s Bing chat bot claiming that February 12, 2023 “is before December 16, 2022” and then copping an attitude by telling the NY Times questioner that they must be “confused or mistaken” to suggest otherwise. Maybe I should take some comfort in knowing it will be a while before this new technology replaces me and the JNR!
But, what turned things around for me was a story out of Israel. A real mensch story that makes me think, that just maybe, the kids are alright, or at least show some great courage and promise. The story is about a veteran Orthodox journalist on the country’s most-watched news network who came out as gay on Tuesday. While in my opinion all “coming out” stories involve a degree of courage, in these more enlightened times you wouldn’t think that a coming out story would warrant major headlines. But prominent Orthodox Israeli journalist Yair Cherki’s very public announcement that he is gay was particularly heroic given his public profile, his devout Jewish orthodoxy, his father being a prominent orthodox rabbi, and given the current climate in Israel where certain leaders in the ruling coalition are “proudly homophobic”. “I tremble as I write these words,” Cherki writes in a Facebook post that quickly went viral; “I love men and God, and this isn’t contradictory. But now I am 30 years old, and I write not because I have the strength to write, but because I have no strength to be silent. [But I also write] for my son who has not yet come into this world,” Cherki continued. He explained that he was choosing to go public with something he considered a “private matter,” because he didn’t want to have to “live in the shadows” and wanted to “come home to his family and live in the truth.” “I know that this truth that I shared here saddens people dear to me who I love very much and that love me [too]. I hope you find the place in your soul that will allow you to discuss this properly,” Cherki wrote.
Tip of the kipah from the JNR to Cherki! The post quickly went viral, with politicians across the political spectrum expressing their love and appreciation for Cherki’s words. They included MKs from the Likud, Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beytenu, National Unity and Labor parties. Even a pair of MKs from the far-right religious Otzma Yehudit party, whose chairman, Itamar Ben Gvir, regularly protested against the Jerusalem Pride Parade, responded to Cherki’s post with heart emojis.
By now you must be asking the obvious: where’s the beef? Give us some of that old time news for the Jews! That carefully curated summary of snippets of interest to all of us across the Jew S of A. Well, here you go, and thanks for your readership!
- Scary stuff: Second Jewish man shot after leaving morning services in Los Angeles – Police arrested a suspect Thursday night in connection with a pair of shootings of Jewish men after they left morning prayer services in Los Angeles.According to a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department, the suspect, who was taken without incident, was in possession of a rifle and a handgun when he was arrested in Riverside County, east of the city, at around 5:45 p.m., less than nine hours after the second shooting occurred.
- AI beginnings: On this week in history (1996): Russian Jewish chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, then the world’s top-ranked chess player, defeated the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in the sixth and final match of their first competition. Slightly over a year later, in May 1997, Deep Blue would defeat Kasparov, marking a turning point in the history of artificial intelligence. “No matter what human-like feat computers perform in the future, the Deep Blue match demands an indelible dot on all timelines of AI progress,” a Wired magazine article noted in a 2017 look at the legacy of the matchup.
- Holy shit! The Talmud of Pooh – This one is for my kids, who to this day, still enjoy a good pooh story or joke. Apparently, Jewish scripture is full of shit. Literally, pooh is everywhere and can be many things in our sacred texts. It can provide comic relief, like in the Megillah when Haman’s daughter mistakes her father for Mordecai and throws the contents of a chamber pot on his head. Pooh can be a punishment, as in the “Gittin” section of the Talmud, when we are told that “mock[ing] the words of the Sages will be judged with boiling feces.” It can also be a great way to insult witches. As the Talmud tells us, “One who encounters witches should say this incantation: Hot feces in torn date baskets in your mouth, witches; may your hairs fall out because you use them for witchcraft; your crumbs, which you use for witchcraft, should scatter in the wind.” If you want to read more about pooh in our ancient texts, or even learn how to deal with a big pile of pooh on your carpet during shabbat, click here.
- Opinion | The Jewish case for sending Nikki Haley to the White House in 2024:She may be a rational Republican, but her Faustian bargain with the orange turd makes me skeptical. But, she is a shrewd politician, and even though she is polling at less than 5%, Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has long been a vocal defender of Israel; as governor of South Carolina, she signed the first legislation in the country against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Forward columnist Bethany Mandel argues that foreign policy is just one of three key strengths — the other two being school choice and religious liberty — that should endear Haley to Republican Jewish voters. Read her essay ➤
- An immodest proposal: At the Western Wall, a woman in her underwear protests modesty limits – An Israeli activist stood in the middle of the women’s section of the Western Wall to protest against a bill to impose new restrictions on freedom of worship at the Western Wall. The suggested bill will ban egalitarian, mixed-gender prayer at the section of the holy site where it is now allowed, criminalizing the activity of the Women of the Wall prayer rights group, and banning visitors from wearing attire deemed immodest. Click here for more.
- You can’t make this shit up department: Congresswoman claims to be Jewish, revealed to be granddaughter of Nazi – Florida Republican congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna was outed by The Washington Post on Friday for lying about her Jewish heritage in a previous interview with the Jewish Insider in November 2022. Not only is Luna almost certainly not Jewish, but also according to several family members, reports the Washington Post, Luna’s paternal grandfather Heinrich Mayerhofer, who died in 2003, served in the armed forces of Nazi Germany when he was a teenager in the 1940s. “I was raised as a Messianic Jew by my father,” Luna had told the Jewish Insider, clarifying that she identifies as a Christian. “I am also a small fraction Ashkenazi.” She was endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene. Enough said.
Too much to do, not enough time, and I am running out of the latter. And I haven’t even mentioned the continuing nonsense around judicial reform in Israel, where while the first reading vote was going on in the Knesset, over a hundred thousand Israelis were marching outside in protest. Yet the stubborn Nut-and-Yahoo continues to ram this dangerous legislation through the Knesset. President Herzog calls the current form of the legislation a “serious danger to the future of Israel”.
Have a great weekend everyone! And hey, let’s be careful out there!
2 thoughts on “The Jew News Review – February 18, 2023 – “Are the kids alright?””
First, the Hebrew school teachers at the conservative synagogue of my childhood neglected to mention Tikkun Olam, and now I learn that poo(h) is a real thing of our faith?! What other opportunities for a more meaningful Jewish education did they hide?
It must have been covered exclusively in the reform synagogues!