The Jew News Review – June 3, 2023 – “The medium is the message?”

Shabbat shalom! And a tip of the kipah this week to President Biden. Uncle Joe may have tripped over a sandbag this week, but he was steady and on his game in avoiding an economic calamity brought to us courtesy of Republicans holding the country hostage over the debt ceiling debacle. I admonished Joe in an earlier post for doing what he said he would never do, negotiate with terrorists, but the reality was that in a split congress, compromise was necessary. While it’s crazy to think that this kind of catastrophic brinksmanship could become normalized, it’s an unfortunate sign of the times. And the fact that no-one on either side seems happy with the legislation is probably indicative of a good outcome, also reinforced by one of the best one day gains on Wall Street in many years (+701 DJIA). Speaker McCarthy (blech) also gets some credit here for keeping the whackos in line. Now, if only we can really do something about the size of the debt, that would be something! But, it looks as though we will continue to kick that can into the next generation. 

Or maybe we can turn to God for a solution? I have been doing more driving lately, actually going into our office for work this week, and have noticed a trend in “out of home” advertising, AKA Billboards. If you are on I95, or the Expressway, or anywhere on the Boston-New York corridor, you will invariably be assaulted by billboards either selling you cannabis, divorce and personal injury attorneys, Herb Chambers cars, Casinos, and now, Jesus. “Are you ready to meet God?”, “Are you going to Heaven or Hell?” are just a few I have noticed lately. You may also recall the “He gets us” Super Bowl ad campaign, launched by funding from Hobby Lobby and other evangelical groups as a way to combat decades of bad Catholic Church headlines and falling memberships. And this new billboard trend is not exclusive to the Catholic Church, as you may recall a few times I have mentioned the Anti-Semitism awareness billboards promoted by Jew Belong in the Northeast. And billboard religion is not new to the south, where for decades you could find anti-abortion billboards, many of them pretty gruesome and awful. Maybe it’s the continued trend toward streaming vs live TV, or the easy access and cheaper cost of billboards vs social media advertising, but it is clearly a thing. I am with Woody Allen on this one: “Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on Sundays!”

The news out of Israel this week includes some very intriguing developments on the political front and a story emerging out of Italy that is the stuff of a new season of Fauda. Regarding the former, Bibi continues to walk a tightrope in keeping his coalition together. While he was able to pass a budget a few weeks ago with some very rich handouts for his religious friends, there is another deadline approaching on June 15 that determines the make-up of the judicial selection committee in the Knesset. Amazingly, the current bill negates completely the original intent of the controversial judicial reforms and leaves the status quo in place! Twenty three weeks of protests by hundreds of thousands have forced Bibi to backtrack on at least one major piece of the reform legislation! And there have been a series of other proposed bills that have been pulled back for fear of backlash, or of the opposition calling for a vote of NO confidence. 

Even more intriguing is the story emerging out of northern Italy regarding the capsizing of a boat in rough lake waters that left at least four people dead. Turns out that 13 of the boaters on board were Israeli Mossad agents, and another 8 were Italian secret service. One of the dead was identified as Erez Shimoni, a fake name, who goes by the code name of the Hebrew letter “Mem”. More on this story later. But for now, lets get to the good stuff, my weekly collection of carefully curated Jewy news items, copy and pasted from the likes of JTA, The Forward, Kveller, Jewish Boston, Times of Israel and other Jewy journals. Here you go:

  1. Can Massachusetts really be as anti-semitic as they say? Who is “they” anyway? Like many of you, I have always believed my home state was more progressive than most others. I know we have a bad history around racism, but I was surprised to see the current stats around anti-semitism here in Massachusetts, where according to the ADL we have the 4th highest Jewish population in the country, but we recently ranked second in the country when it comes to white supremacy – trailing only Texas — and we’re No. 6 when it comes to antisemitism, a 41% jump from 2021 to 2022.  Click here for more.
  2. 👟  Adidas resumed selling Kanye West-branded sneakers this week – Months after Adidas cut ties with Kanye West, Yeezy shoes are back on sale, with a portion of the profits going to the Anti-Defamation League and other advocacy groups. The German shoe brand is trying to get rid of the inventory left after it ended its partnership with West amid his antisemitic tirades last fall. Next to Crocs, the Yeezy shoe has to be the ugliest things on the market. (AP)
People pay $300-500 for this crap!
  1. TikTok star Montana Tucker follows Holocaust series by emceeing embassy event for Israel’s 75th anniversary – I have no idea who she is, but she is a TikTok star, whatever that means. So, for you younger folks who may follow her dance clips, it’s good to know she is branching out into more serious efforts, and recognizing her holocaust surviving grandparents as well. She has said that she was inspired in part to educate others about Holocaust history and antisemitism by Kanye West’s series of antisemitic rants last fall. She was also disturbed by a 2020 Claims Conference survey on millennial and Gen Z knowledge of the Holocaust that found that 63% of those demographics in the United States did not know 6 million Jews died during World War II. It’s a mitzvah! Click here for more.
  2. ⚖️  The Tree of Life Synagogue trial of the accused shooter in that horrible massacre is shaping up as a seminar on American Jewish tradition, with witnesses offering an impromptu glossary of Jewish terms and ideas. But, it must be horrible for relatives and witnesses to have to relive the incident in a lengthy trial. A crowded courtroom heard one of the 911 calls made from the synagogue during the first day of the trial of the accused shooter. Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who survived the massacre, took to the witness stand and cried as he described how he recited the Shema prayer thinking he was about to die. “I thought about the history of my people,” he said. “How we’ve been persecuted and hunted and slaughtered for centuries.”(JTA)
  3. The Jewish inventors you never knew: Mr. Potato Head, the sewing machine, the TV remote control, shopping carts, Barbies, jeans, aspirin and a popular Easter candy – all were invented by members of the tribe. Dennis Eisenberg, an illustrator whose professional moniker is DenBerg, explores some of the items we employ on a daily basis. See the drawings ➤
  1. Lake Maggiore deaths: why were Italian and Israeli secret service agents on a boat in northern Italy? It reads like a pitch for a thriller. A group of tourists board a boat on a beautiful lake at the foot of the Alps. The boat capsizes in a sudden storm. Four drown as others swim to safety. In the days that follow, as authorities struggle to trace hotel bookings for the passengers, it emerges all were affiliated with the Italian and Israeli secret services. Five days after Gooduria, a 16-metre houseboat, was swallowed up by Lake Maggiore, there is growing speculation over what its passengers were doing in this corner of northern Italy.One theory is that the agents were in Lake Maggiore to spy on Russian oligarchs, who have reportedly been buying villas and hotels in the area, circumventing the EU’s financial sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine by funnelling money into Italy from Swiss bank accounts. Another theory is that the Israeli agents were monitoring contacts between Iranian firms and Italian ones based in Lombardy’s industrial zone. Click her for more. 
  2. Amazon aired the final episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel this weekend. While some critics say the series relied on shallow Jewish stereotypes, others claim it thrust a new type of heroine into the mainstream: “the anti-Jewish princess.” I thought this last season was one of the best, and really brought home one of the show’s over-arching themes about feminism during that period in our recent history. I will miss Midge, but will miss her agent even more. (JTA)

That’s all I have this week peeps! I hope you all have a great weekend, and remember, be careful out there! 

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – May 27, 2023 – “Time Billionaires”

Shabbat shalom! A tip of the kipah this week to the Queen of Rock and Roll, Tina Turner, who passed away at the ripe age of 83. There have been many obits honoring her impact and life story, so I won’t even try to do her justice here, but I will provide a link to one of her great performances of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”. I chose this performance due to its 80’s vibe and choreography. And those legs!

And a happy Shavuot to all! What the hell is Shavuot? According to Wikipedia, the word Shavuot means “weeks”, and it marks the conclusion of the Counting of the Omer (don’t even ask). It’s considered the Jewish Pentecost, since it occurs on the 50th day after the first day of Passover, and marks the revelation of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelis at Mount Sinai. On Passover, the people of Israel were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot, they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God. For some strange reason, it is celebrated by eating dairy, so, show your commitment to serving God by indulging in a Crescent Ridge Sundae, or head over to The Butcherie or Barry’s Villiage Deli in Waban for the best cheese blintz in Boston. Mmmmmmmm good!

I celebrated Shavuot by indulging in one of my favorite pastimes – Power washing. Like Huck Finn whitewashing the fence, I think I would pay money for the privilege of magically removing crud from any surface using the power of jet propelled water from my SunJoe machine. The instant gratification is addictive and the results generally exceed expectations. And this project, the deck railing at my daughter and son-in-laws new home in Sharon, was no exception. This was time well spent. 

And speaking of time well spent, I am reminded of a story I read this week in The Free Press regarding the concept of Time Billionaires. The idea was surfaced in 2019 by Graham Duncan, the cofounder of East Rock Capital, who during an appearance on an episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, noted the following: 

A million seconds is 11 days. A billion seconds is slightly over 31 years. . . . I feel like in our culture, we’re so obsessed, as a culture, with money. And we deify dollar billionaires in a way. . . . And I was thinking of time billionaires that when I see, sometimes, 20-year-olds—the thought I had was they probably have two billion seconds left. But they aren’t relating to themselves as time billionaires.

The main point here is that time is our most precious asset, but many of us don’t realize that until it’s too late, or the best power washing opportunities are behind us.

Key Lessons from charts: 

  • The “magic years” with your children will fly by if you let them
  • Time with your family is limited
  • Put down your phone, embrace life, be present in the moment
  • Slow down, do more power washing!

Given that I am currently over 2 billion seconds old, I am not likely in the Billionaire club any more. But, with whatever millions I have remaining, I will do my best to power wash my ass off. Got a project for me?

Now what about the news for Jews you ask? Well, ask and ye shall receive. Here forthwith is your weekly wrap-up of Jewy news stuff curated by me and cut and pasted from the likes of The Forward, Times of Israel, Kveller, Jewish Boston, JTA, and other Jewy journals. Enjoy!

  1. Biden plan to combat antisemitism demands reforms across the executive branch and beyond – President Joe Biden unveiled a multifaceted and broad strategy to combat antisemitism in the United States that reaches from basketball courts to farming communities, from college campuses to police departments.“We must say clearly and forcefully that antisemitism and all forms of hate and violence have no place in America,” Biden said in a prerecorded video. “Silence is complicity.” The sixty page document and its list of more than 100 recommendations stretches across the government, requiring reforms in virtually every sector of the executive branch within a year. It was formulated after consultations with over a thousand experts, and covers a range of tactics, from increased security funding to a range of educational efforts.
  2. Kissinger at 100: “If it were not for the accident of my birth, I would be anti-semitic” – War criminal or diplomatic genius? The former secretary of state is remarkable for his longevity — his policy record is another matter. Those who appreciated Niall Ferguson’s hagiographical two-volume biography will applaud Kissinger’s role as the first Jewish secretary of state and his success in helping to achieve détente with Communist China and the Soviet Union. By contrast, political writers Seymour Hersh and especially Christopher Hitchens have pointed to a series of alleged war crimes by Kissinger in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Chile, Cyprus and East Timor marked by decisions made with apparent blithe unconcern for human suffering and loss of life. Click here for more.
  3. The Florida mom who got Amanda Gorman’s poem restricted says she’s sorry for promoting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – (JTA) – Months before a Miami-area mother persuaded a local school to remove an Amanda Gorman poem from its elementary-aged library, she was posting antisemitic memes on her Facebook page. Now, Daily Salinas is apologizing for one of those things — and unrepentant about the other. The jackass claims she “has Jewish friends” and watched Fauda. “I want to apologize to the Jewish community,” Salinas told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Wednesday. She was saying sorry for a Facebook post she shared in March offering a summary of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a notorious antisemitic forgery written more than a century ago in Russia. She also mistakenly identified the author as “Oprah Winfrey”, and admits that she doesn’t read books. Oy.
  4. 🇮🇱  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will restart the push to radically change Israel’s judiciary after his government successfully passed the state budget early this morning. Benny Gantz, the National Unity party chairman, said Netanyahu is “once again drunk with power.” (Haaretz)
  5. 🤷  None of this was on my Bingo card for today: Woody Allen saved a friend with the Heimlich maneuver while out to dinner with Alan Dershowitz. The friend, former Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein, was choking on a piece of pork. In a recent op-ed co-authored with Dershowitz titled “Why Biden might be the Dems’ last pro-Israel president,” Stein wrote that he will now be voting Republican because of the Democratic Party’s stance on Israel. (Dershowitz wrote that he “is planning to remain a Democrat and vote for Biden while seeking to marginalize the radical anti-Israel elements in that party.”)As the Post reported, Allen has saved another person with the Heimlich maneuver at an Upper East Side Italian restaurant: In 1992, he sprang to the rescue of Jean Doumanian, a former “Saturday Night Live” producer, at Primola on 2nd Avenue. (JTA
  6. 🇮🇱  The U.S. State Department condemned the Sunday visit to the Temple Mount by Itamar Ben Gvir, the far-right Israeli minister, who declared “we are in charge.” The site in the Old City of Jerusalem, believed to be where the biblical temples stood, is also the third-holiest site in Islam, known as Al Aqsa. The rightwing nut job is deliberately poking the bear and will be responsible for whatever violence he precipitates. (HaaretzAP)
  7. On this week in history (1954): Bob Dylan, nee Robert Allen Zimmerman, was called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah. The Nobel Prize-winning singer-songwriter, whose Hebrew name is Shabtai Zisel ben Avrahamis best known for his poetic, folk-influenced hits like “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and “Tangled Up in Blue.” Here’s Dylan’s 10 most Jewish songs.

That’s all folks! Enjoy the long weekend, be present and embrace life! And do some power washing! And be careful out there. 

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – May 20, 2023 – “Chief Twit is full of Sh#t”

Shabbat shalom! And a quick shout out this week to my globe trotting nieces, Natalie returning from another China trip, and Remi, on her way to Israel for a week before returning home from her semester in Italy. Life is Tov! 

Here we are, two weeks or so away from an economic meltdown brought on by the MAGA nuts who will inflict global damage to the economy, our 401Ks and our power and prestige across the globe in order to get what they could never get legislatively. There is a pattern of behavior happening, not just in the US, but in many democracies, whereby a small minority uses the courts, locally and supremely, and other un-democratic means to impose their will on the majority. Sure, the left has been guilty of the same behavior over the past decades, but usually to advance the rights of the marginalized, not to destroy or take away rights. And Biden, who said he would never negotiate on the debt ceiling issue with the MAGA terrorists, is doing just that. No doubt they will end up compromising on something, but this MAGA version of political Russian Roulette is just one more example of extremism doing damage to our country. Tic, tic, tic, tic…..boom?

The same kind of extremism is playing out in Israel – just replace MAGA with Haredim. Israel needs to approve a budget by May 29 or the government automatically dissolves. The Haredim, which now make up over 13% of the population, are in the cat bird seat and are extracting billions in shekels from Bibi’s coalition using their leverage leading up to the deadline. There is mounting pressure in Israel to stop supporting the Haredim, who represent an idle class of Israeli citizens who are seeking exception to mandatory military service and who only study Torah, and therefore, for the most part, do not work or pay taxes. The Yeshivas where they learn, (many do not even teach core curriculum), are almost entirely dependent on tax support from the State. With their current level of population growth, the system is not sustainable and creating political havoc in a country already divided over proposed judicial reforms. We need to be respectful of the Haredim, and their honored place in Israeli society, but keeping them isolated and dependent on the State might have been ok when they were a tiny fraction of the population, but not when they are now over 13% of the population. Tic, tic, tic, tic……boom?

Schmuck of the Month – Dump your Tesla stock. As if we needed any more evidence that the Chief Twit is full of shit, Musk rolls out tweets and doubles down on the Soros conspiracy crap, which will only lead to further anti-semitic incidents and rants on his stupid social media platform. Take your blue check and shove it Elon. I recommend everyone un-subscribe to Twitter immediately, and do not buy a Tesla. The man is a brilliant engineer, and may have done more than Al Gore to save our planet, but what an a-hole. In a rambling interview with CNBC on Tuesday, punctuated with more awkward moments of silence and more bull shit than a steaming pile of poo emojis, Musk defended his anti-Soros tweets with, “That’s my opinion” and “freedom of speech.” Freedom of speech my ass. When Turkey asked Twitter to throttle the free speech of dissidents before this month’s election, Musk obliged. When India asked Twitter to censor a BBC doc critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Musk obliged. The journalists blocked by Musk for writing negative stories might as well time travel to the old Soviet Union. I like how one Canadian journalist put it, “This is now the albatross around his neck. The dumbest genius alive is coming across as a raving hypocrite with the media literacy of a North Korean tween. Musk’s priorities are baffling. Instead of perfecting autonomous vehicles or colonizing Mars, this disrupter with the DNA of a scatological troll is wasting his precious time on Twitter to score cheap retweets and likes from his global army of red-pilled fans? It’s as if Michael Jordan, in his prime, quit basketball for graffiti.” Nuf said. Rant over.

  1. Lipstadt to Musk: Stop invoking antisemitic tropes: “You can criticize George Soros” for his economic and political positions, the antisemitism czar Deborah E. Lipstadt said Wednesday. “But when you turn him into the Rothschild of the 21st century, then you’re engaging in antisemitism.” Referring to Elon Musk’s recent Tweets comparing Soros to a Marvel character, she added: “When you turn him into this villainous character, which has antisemitic overtures, you’ve crossed the line.” Read the story ➤ 🤦  A day after comparing George Soros, the billionaire Holocaust survivor, to a mutant villain from the X-Men franchise, Elon Musk took aim at the Anti-Defamation League Tuesday afternoon. “ADL should just drop the ‘A,’” Musk said on Twitter. Several white supremacists’ accounts praised the post. (JTA)
  2. 😲  On the other hand – The Israeli minister in charge of fighting antisemitism says Elon Musk is “an amazing entrepreneur and a role model.” The comments come amid widespread criticism of Musk’s tweets about George Soros as antisemitic. Israel’s foreign minister disavowed his ministry’s condemnation of Elon Musk for saying progressive Jewish megadonor George Soros “hates humanity.” Now, a second Israeli minister — this time the one in charge of the government’s efforts to combat antisemitism — has gone further in in defending Musk, whose Soros comments have been condemned by multiple Jewish watchdogs as antisemitic.(JTA)
  3. Montana the canary in the coal mine? I don’t know about you, but I won’t be “Moving to Montana Soon” as Frank Zappa’s weird song famously called out (“gonna be a dental floss tycoon”). Not only did the state recently pass one of the most stringent anti-abortion laws, but they also un-invited Rabbi Stafman from delivering the invocation before the legislative session and replaced him with a Christian, without the courtesy of an explanation. Some of those upset over the cancellation of Rabbi Stafman’s invocation noted that this year’s legislative session — the body meets for 90 days every other year — was particularly acrimonious. Leadership, dominated by conservative Christian Republicans, had seemed to grow increasingly hostile to Democrats like Stafman and others who pushed back on an agenda that included bills to ban abortion and limit the rights of trans and other queer people. “There’s still no explanation. They’ve just left everyone hanging at a time of rising antisemitism,” said Rabbi Mark Kula of Congregation Beth Aaron in Billings and a leader of the Jewish community at the University of Montana. “The legislature is very single-minded right now. It’s focused on a white, male, Christian agenda.”   Click here for more. 
  4. 📜  An 1,100-year-old Hebrew Bible sold for $38.1 million at a Sotheby’s auction Wednesday, becoming the most expensive book ever sold. Known as the Codex Sassoon, it was bought by the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv through a donation from Alfred Moses, a former U.S. ambassador to Romania. (JTA, Getty photo)
  1. 🐶  A stray puppy was found in Missouri with swastikas drawn all over its body.A local shelter posted to Facebook that it cleaned up the dog, who is three months old and now staying with a foster family. “She is heading for the tub to scrub-a-dub-dub all of this hate off,” the post said. “Only love here.” (NY Post)
  2. Shocked about Rudy Giuliani’s attack on Passover? Don’t be: Dov Hikind, a former Brooklyn assemblyman and ally of the former mayor, said he was “not at all surprised” when he read the comments alleged in a lawsuit filed Monday by a former staffer who also accuses Giuliani of sexual abuse and harassment. “He was a great friend of the Jewish community,” Hikind said, “but sometimes when you rub a little bit on certain people, things come out.” The Forward political reporter, Jacob Kornbluh, dug through four decades of Giuliani and the Jews – including that time when, as a prosecutor, his office reportedly forced a Holocaust survivor to face a blackboard with the words Arbeit Macht Frei — German for “work will set you free” and what was on the gate to Auschwitz. Read the story ➤ 
  3. ‘Bridgerton’ mastermind and ‘Queen Charlotte’ author also makes a mean matzo ball soup – There weren’t a lot of Jewish aristocrats in the Regency era, but that doesn’t keep Julia Quinn from drawing on her personal history. There’s something about the Bridgerton family that reminds Julia Quinn of her own. Or should we say, the characters she created remind Julie Pottinger (born Cotler) — the author best known by her pen name and the initials JQ — of her animated and affectionate Jewish family.  “I come from a family of very loud, talkative people. Not to stereotype anybody, but we’re pretty typical that way,” Quinn told The Forward in a recent Zoom interview. She’d woken up to wonky internet that day, so she was speaking from her mother’s house five blocks away from her own in Seattle. “Nobody believes me when I tell them I’m the quiet one in the family — because I’m not quiet,” she said. But “it’s very difficult to get a word in edgewise when my family is together.” Sound familiar? Read the story

Enough already! Enjoy the weekend everyone! And hey, let’s all remember to be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – May 13, 2023 – “Moms, Celtics and Xanax”

Shabbat shalom! And a special shout out this week to all the mom’s, (especially my own), who have wonderful children to celebrate them on Mother’s Day! And if celebrating mom isn’t exciting enough, we have a Celtics game 7 as icing on the Sunday cake! If you thought game 6 was stressful, take another hit of Xanax for game 7. And Go Green! (And happy birthday Max!) 

In our home, we have a tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day by planting our annuals gardens, a labor of love that puts an even bigger smile on my wife’s beautiful face. This year I missed the annual trek to Briggs nursery where we convert the SUV into a greenhouse on wheels, chock full of flora, and draw all kinds of attention from other wide-eyed Briggs patrons wondering how the hell we are going to fit everything.

So, enjoy the weekend everyone! The weather should be great for whatever you have planned! 

This week was a Xanax week in the news. Following the orange turd’s liable verdict for sexual assault and defamation, which should be no surprise to anyone, the ignominious idiot appeared in a “Town Hall” on CNN in which he spewed more lies and insults and doubled down on his big lies. Most of the Republican audience cheered him on and even laughed along with him on his most putrid comments. This treasonous, treacherous rapist is going to be the Republican nominee for President. And, according to recent polls, has a slight edge to beat Biden in the general. Un-fucking-believable. As Andrew Sullivan put it so aptly, “the emergency is still here; that Trump is more likely than not returning to the White House as of now; and the interlude of these few precious years when this monster wasn’t daily assaulting our constitution, sanity, and our sense of decency is over.” Ugh.

Israeli’s had a real reason for double dosing Xanax this week. Following the death of a Palestinian prisoner on a hunger strike in an Israeli prison, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fired 104 rockets into Israel, then Israel retaliated with an assassination on 3 PIJ operatives, the PIJ countered with 400 rocket barrage, most destroyed by the Iron Dome, and some falling on their own people in Gaza. More than 30 Palestinians in Gaza, including civilians and militants, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on leaders of Islamic Jihad, which is designated by the United States and European Union as a terror group. One Israeli civilian has been killed by a rocket from Gaza.

And if that isn’t enough to make Israeli’s anxious, there is a shortage of Fruit Rollups in the country that is starving for the Tik Tok induced craze of wrapping ice cream in the leathery fruit snack. Two Americans were arrested at Ben Gurion Airport for smuggling over 650 pounds of the sugary treat in several large suitcases. 

What else is going on across the Jew S of A you ask? Well, asked and answered. Here, once again, is your weekly buffet of carefully curated news for Jews, copied and pasted from the likes of The Forward, JTA, Kveller, Jewish Boston, Times of Israel, and other notable Jewy journals. 

  1. Why the yeshiva world is rooting against the 76ers:Philadelphia’s NBA team is one win away from securing a spot in the Eastern Conference Final. But the Philadelphia arena that serves as their home court is meant to host the biggest yeshiva gathering in the world on a June day when there would be a final-round basketball game if the 76ers make it past the Celtics and go all the way. Which would mean a last-minute scramble to rearrange the yeshiva event, Adirei HaTorah, which draws thousands of men for live music, dancing, prayer and speeches. Let’s hope the Celtics put an end to that issue. Read the story ➤
  2. The State Department told Truman not to recognize Israel. He did it anyway. This Sunday, May 14, marks the 75th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence — and President Harry Truman’s official nod to the new state 11 minutes later. Truman’s historic move, which set off a cascade of international acknowledgements, came as a surprise to Israelis, members of his own administration and, crucially, the Soviet Union, with whom the United States was competing for allies in the Middle East. Read the story ➤
  3. 📚  Florida’s department of education rejected two textbooks about the Holocaust proposed for high schools, as part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ crackdown on what he calls “woke indoctrination.” Separately, the Texas legislature passed a bill that would allow public schools to employ chaplains. (JTAReligion News Service)
  4. 😨  A New Hampshire man whom authorities say kept a framed picture of Hitler and a Nazi uniform in his home was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on gun charges. Separately, in England, a man who shared right-wing extremist content in a Telegram channel titled “Hitler group” was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for possession of explosive substances. (New Hampshire Union LeaderDaily Star)
  5. ‘He needs to go’: Long Island Jews react to George Santos’ indictment – As Rep. George Santos appeared in federal court yesterday to face charges including wire fraud, money laundering and lying to Congress, Jacob Kornbluh of The Forward, took the pulse of political leaders and voters in Santos’s district. After months of outrage over his deep well of lies, “it is clear that George Santos cannot continue to represent” the heavily Jewish district, said Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County’s executive. Read the story ➤
  6. 😢  Gunter Demnig, a 75-year-old German artist, has spent three decades placing stones outside the last known residences of Holocaust victims, across 30 European countries. He will soon place the 100,000th of what he calls “stumble stones” — and said he plans to continue embossing the cobblestones with victims’ names and the dates and circumstances of their deaths, and installing them by hand, “as long as my knees are OK.” (News18)
By placing Stolpersteine (stumble stones) outside the victims’ last known address, 75-year-old Gunter Demnig aims to draw attention to the fate of individuals in the Holocaust. (Credits: Reuters)
  1. Is it OK for a Supreme Court justice to accept a gift basket of bagels and babka? The ethics of the Supreme Court have been in the spotlight following a ProPublica investigation documenting lavish gifts to Justice Clarence Thomas from Texas billionaire Harlan Crow. Beth Harpaz of The Forward has a different kind of story — about a justice who rebuffed an appetizing offer from her high school classmates for fear of violating the court’s ethics rules. In February 2021, amid the solidifying of the court’s conservative majority, a member of an alumnae Facebook group proposed sending Kagan a gift basket in solidarity. Several dozen women chipped in for a spread to remind Kagan of home, complete with Russ and Daughters’ famous babka. Before the organizer, Ann Starer, sent the package, she had a moment of questioning: Would the gift violate any ethics rules? So she reached out to Justice Kagan, who said she wouldn’t feel comfortable accepting it. But, Kagan wrote, “I’m very grateful.” Read the story ➤

That’s all folks! Let’s hope for a Celtics win on Sunday to make for an even happier Mother’s Day! And hey, let’s remember to be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – May 6, 2023 – “Ich Dien”

Shabbat shalom on this coronation day! And a quick shout out to my Staunton friends and enthusiastic fans, Pat and Glen, for Glen’s speedy recovery from a recent fall. Hope to see you both at my next visit in July!

Wow. As I type away here on Substack, I am drawn to the live streaming of King Charles III coronation ceremony. I have not seen this much gilt, gems and jewels on so many robes in my lifetime. And what’s up with the golden orb? Brilliant. When it comes to pomp, the Brits are hands down the best. Although I would still prefer Lady Gaga singing the national anthem at our inaugural equivalent over much of what I have seen so far.

As I have noted previously, I am not a big fan of the douchey Charles. Even after all these years I have trouble forgiving him of his treatment of Diana, although that whole episode begins to seem more mundane the further away it appears in the rear view mirror. And, I have to admit, he seems to be growing into the role, and the latest polling even indicates his popularity among the Brits is also growing, but still 10 points below William’s. And of course, his reign comes in the great shadow of a Queen who turned tact into a superpower, and was beloved by everyone across the globe. That is, indeed, a very tough act to follow. 

So, will Charles III be a good king? And what does that really mean? He has certainly demonstrated through his own work to be a genuine friend of the Jews. I thought it was a warm and generous gesture that he invited the chief Rabbi to stay at his home last night so he could walk to the inauguration on Shabbat. 

Born in 1948, the king is a bit of a Boomer having come of age when young people still believed they could change the world. He has been known to indulge in New Age weird stuff, like talking to trees, and is deeply committed to a “Naturalist” point of view and combatting climate change. It is said he can be charming at his best and pedantic and self pitying at his worst. Joan Rivers thought he was witty, and he once thought about asking Barbara Streisand on a date! He is the first reigning monarch to graduate from university and learn Welsh and he supposedly plays the cello fairly well. For decades he has been waiting in the wings, lingering hopefully, and now here we are. Time, I think, has grown on him, and he has grown with time.

Shortly before his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969, a young Charles was interviewed by the BBC. He was asked what all the pomp meant to him, and to reflect on the princely motto, Ich Dien, or “I Serve”. “One can be so cynical about this sort of thing and think well, it’s only a ceremony and some people are against it and perhaps it’s for television, and you know, it’s just a show,” he said. “I’d like to think that it’s something a little bit more than that, that perhaps it’s a symbolizing of Ich Dien, if you like.” Then the boy prince seemed to chastise himself. “All right,” he added. “I’m the only one who thinks that.” Even cynical me is thinking, maybe not.

Meanwhile, the news cycle continues its relentless attack on our senses and sensibility. Here in the good ole Jew S of A, we are learning more about how the Supreme Court really is above the law and how easy it is to buy an opinion, or at least a judge. Like we needed any more reasons to dislike Clarence Thomas. And then of course there is always news about the Orange Turd, a twice impeached, indicted rapist who has a clear lead for his party’s nomination, and Tucker Carlson, who is clearly an insane person leading the right into further moral degradation. Just your normal, run of the mill stuff. And in Israel, Gaza flare ups and protests continue over the proposed legislation to gut the country’s checks and balances of power. And what about other news for the Jews this week you ask? Well, ask and you shall receive. Here once again, is your weekly buffet of news about Jews carefully curated from the likes of JTA, The Forward, Kveller, Times of Israel, and other notable Jewish journals:

  1. 👑  King Charles decided his coronation on Saturday will include leaders of faiths beyond Christianity. It’s the first British coronation to do so. The U.K.’s chief rabbi and his wife plan to sleep over at Clarence House, a short walk from Buckingham Palace, so they do not have to violate their Shabbat observance to attend. (Washington PostAP)
  2. 🎶  A British children’s choir has recorded a new version of “Adon Olam” in honor of Saturday’s coronation of King Charles. The choir includes children who go to five local Jewish schools, and is accompanied by musicians from Ukraine. “Adon Olam,” Hebrew for “sovereign of the universe,” is typically sung at the end of morning prayers. (JTA)
  3. 🇵🇸  A Palestinian prisoner died Tuesday morning after an 86-day hunger strike.Gaza militants fired three rockets toward southern Israel after news of the death was announced, and Israeli prisons are preparing for riots. (Haaretz)
  4. Mazel tov Babs!  Congrats to Barbra Streisand who is set to receive this year’s Genesis Prize, sometimes called the “Jewish Nobel.” Streisand said she plans on donating the $1 million prize to charity. (JTA)
  5. 🕍  Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, the new movie based on Judy Blume’s 1970 novel, was filmed on location in Charlotte, North Carolina, including at Temple Israel, a Conservative synagogue. The congregation’s real-life rabbi, Michael Wolk, leads a Shabbat service Margaret attends with her grandmother. (Jewish Insider) Blume is having a moment with the recent release of a documentary about her life and career streaming on Amazon Prime titled “Judy Blume Forever” and a major on-screen adaptation of “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” which debuted on Friday to warm reviews. The topics Blume has written about since 1969 have remained relevant: her books still regularly land on banned book lists as states continually debate what young readers should be able to access. Blume’s 29 books, which have sold over 90 million copies and been translated into 39 languages, have been touchstones for women — especially Jewish American women — for multiple generations. Her protagonists deal with a range of teen issues, from bullying to sex to loneliness to menstruation, in a realistic way, but they also grapple with issues of Jewish identity as they come of age, adding an extra layer of relevance for young Jewish readers. You go girl!
  6. 💍  Christie’s auction house is expected to bring in more than $150 million Wednesday at one of the largest jewelry sales in history. The items come from the family of a German who purchased companies from Jews during the Nazi era, sparking controversy. “We are aware there is a painful history,” said the president of Christie’s. (New York Times)
  7. May is Jewish American Heritage Month – “For generations,” said President Joe Biden, “the story of the Jewish people — one of resilience, faith, and hope in the face of adversity, prejudice and persecution — has been woven into the fabric of our nation’s story.

Well, that’s all folks. I hope you enjoy the weekend! Maybe have a cuppa in honor of King Charles, or go out and get pissed until you are knackered, but in all cases, let’s be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – April 29, 2023 – “A tree grows in Israel”

Shabbat shalom! And a tip of the kipah this week to the State of Israel, celebrating its 75th year as a country! 

Growing up Jewish in Holbrook, MA, a small working class, mostly goyishe suburb of Boston and Brockton, we weren’t exactly surrounded by Jews. We had a small, but tight Jewish community, and used an old converted Church as our synagogue. I learned Hebrew at Mr. Weans house, an affable old Jew with a distinctive, raspy high pitched voice, whose wife, Esther, used to drive us to and from their home two days a week. Mr. Wean had a large reel to reel tape recorder he referred to as “the monster”, that served then as a “high tech” tool for memorizing vocabulary and learning basic Hebrew language skills. (“Ish, Isha”, still resonates in my memory) And it seemed that every week, the seven of us seated around a large formal dining room at Mr. Wean’s house, learned a little bit about Israel, and were constantly being asked for donations to “plant trees in Israel”. I could never quite understand the need for planting trees someplace far away and foreign to me, and why they needed our money to do so. But I remember that it seemed important, and somewhere there may be a forest, or at least a few old trees by now, that represent my early connections to the Jewish State.

Over time, those connections to Israel, and the whole concept of Zionism, became much more important to me, and more clearly understood. Our people needed a safe haven, not just to survive, but to thrive as a “people”, to have a homeland, and to establish a Jewish state. Theador Herzl, considered the father of Zionism, wrote this in 1896 about the Jewish state he never lived to see:

The Jews who will it shall achieve their State. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and in our own homes peacefully die. The world will be liberated by our freedom, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind.”

The founding of modern Israel can be traced back to World War I, when Zionists lobbied the British for recognition of a Jewish state in Palestine.  After World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the United Nations proposed dividing the area into Arab and Jewish states, an idea opposed by the Arabs. Nonetheless, Israelis declared independence in 1948 and the new country then defeated the Arabs in a series of wars.

And now, as Israel turns 75, this young country, roughly the size of New Jersey, and despite all the confounding headlines, has managed to live up to Herzl’s great vision. While I have only once visited this amazing country, I can’t imagine, in its brief history, a better time to live there than the present. And I can’t imagine that Herzl himself would have dreamed the country would become a world leader in business, science, and technology and accomplish so much in such a short period of time. Check out this shortened list of accomplishments:

  • Israel has the highest number of Nobel Prize winners per capita, more than the U.S., France or Germany.
  • Israel is now considered “start up nation” due to its tremendous entrepreneurial spirit and the volume of new technology companies it has incubated. The country has more venture capital per capita than any other country in the world.
  • Israel is the only Middle Eastern country on the list of the world’s top 10 happiest countries. The UN World Happiness Report ranking is based on 6 factors: Income, life expectancy, social support, generosity, freedom to make life choices, and perceptions of corruption.
  • Israel has the highest production of scientific publications per capita in the world
  • Israel has the highest worldwide publication of new books
  • Israel is the only nation which began the 21st century with a net gain in the number of trees (thanks to our donations!)
  • Israel is the country with the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita
  • Israel has the highest relative immigration rate, absorbing 350 percent its population in six decades
  • Israel has the largest number of chess grandmasters per capita of any city in the world
  • Israel is the nation with the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world

So, while the country has issues, like any other industrialized democracy, don’t let your opinions and your pride fall prey to the algorithms of Twitter-dumb, the main stream media, and the boycott crowd. Don’t lose the forest for the trees that we planted so many years ago, and celebrate the tremendous accomplishments of the Jewish State we have connected with on so many levels. Happy birthday Israel!

Let’s end this week’s posting on that high note. Next week, I will return with a regular entry. But for now, let’s be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – April 22, 2023 – “Earth Day and Rupert OutFox’d”

Shabbat shalom! And happy Earth Day everyone!

Tip of the kipah this week to Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, a book she published in 1962 that helped inspire the environmental movement that ultimately led to the establishment of Earth Day, which we celebrate today. I am old enough to recall the early 70’s when rivers would catch on fire from chemical dumping, DDT and pesticides were killing off entire bird populations, major oils spills were tarring the coasts, and the air was so thick with pollutants in some regions that kids were not allowed to go outside for recess. But, you can feel good about the progress we have made, thanks in some part to Carson’s book, and the environmental movement it inspired, and Richard Nixon, who for all his faults was a leader in Environment legislation which led to the creation of the EPA. (Ironic that Republicans now lobby to neuter the EPA) The first Earth Day protest led to 20 million Americans marching in streets across the country, which was about 10% of the US population at that time, and would make it the largest protest march in US history.

Lately, Earth Day has taken on more of a marketing spin than a protest movement, as Corporate America has been steadily “greenwashing” the event. This was recently noted by Denis Hayes, the American environmental activist who coordinated the first Earth Day in 1970, denounced the “appalling” environmental messaging by oil, gas and other companies and said he hoped it did not distract attention from the threats posed by the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, which he compared to the threat of nuclear conflict during the cold war. “[Earth Day] is abused rather frequently. Of course, it’s particularly upsetting to me when it’s an event that I’ve had something to do with. I take some solace in the fact that I think relatively few people anywhere are motivated to accept the sentiment behind ‘Earth Day at Exxon’. It just doesn’t pass the giggle test,” he said.

Other news this week was chock full of culture war stories ranging from abortion pills, more crazy gun violence, and Dylan Mulvaney, the queen of queens, who with the help of Tik Tok and her 10 million followers has set off a Bud Light tempest in a toxic beer mug. And then there is the real war stories, including the Russians bombing their own cities, and a civil war about to erupt in Sudan, the 3rd largest country in Africa. But the best news of the week was, of course, Fox finally bearing the cost for the barrage of bullshit they perpetuated on their bubbled tribe. More lawsuits are pending, and time will tell if this will change any of their lying and abhorrent behavior. But the shameless Fox a-holes also provided the best comedy of the week with this laugh-out-loud post-settlement statement which could be the most laughable line in journalism history: “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.” Jake Tapper, for one, had trouble holding back his laughter. And Fox’s statement demonstrates a level of chutzpah that vaults it into “Schmuck of the Week” status, hands down. And of course the late night folks had a field day taking down the Fox schmucks: “Damn it! I want my trial!” Colbert said during his late show on CBS. “You were supposed to provide me with six weeks of delicious content. I wanted to see Rupert Murdoch put his hand on the Bible and burst into flames.” Fallon was more forgiving on “The Tonight Show.” “You could tell Fox was stressed about the trial because they spent the day chugging Bud Light.” “It’s so much money, they’ve already started selling ad space on Tucker Carlson’s forehead,” Corden quipped in his late-late show.

Over in Israel, despite the Knesset being on Passover/Spring break, the protests against Nut-and-Yahoo’s judicial reform continued into their 16th week, with 150,000 taking to the streets despite two terror incidents in the previous 24 hours. That kind of courageous resolve is what gives me hope that the protests will prevail and the coalition will modify the current proposals, preventing Israel from becoming the next Hungary or Turkey. 

This is a somber, reflective week in Israel, as they celebrate three holidays, Yom HaShoa (Holocaust Remembrance) and Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) leading up to a more happy and celebrated holiday, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day. There is a saying in Israel that sums up this week quite poignantly: “Yom HaZikaron is the price we pay for having a country, and Yom HaShoa is the price we paid for not having one.” Unfortunately, the divisive nature of Nut-and-Yahoo’s coalition has soiled what is normally a somber memorial day recognition of those families that have paid the steep price of preserving the country’s existence. Many of the bereaved families have expressed that the ministers from the administration do not attend the memorial day events as another form of protest against what they see as proposed laws that will diminish the country’s democracy and values, values which their loved ones fought to defend.

But, what about some other Jewsy newsy? Here again, per usual, is your weekly buffet of carefully curated news for Jews from the likes of JTA, Times of Israel, The Forward, Kveller, Jewish Boston and other fine journals of Jewish information. Enjoy.

  1. Ahead of Israels’s 75th anniversary, majority pessimistic about nation’s future – Survey shows 60% don’t feel represented by government; many believe ministers should stay away from Memorial Day ceremonies; 53% say judicial overhaul harming the country. I find these survey results to be very concerning and contrary to my perceptions of Israeli’s brimming with pride and confidence in the accomplishments of the Jewish state and its future. Read more here.
  2. On Culture: This devastating memoir will break your heart – I have been hearing nothing but critical praise for this book, written by the former Forward Culture editor, Jonathan Rosen. The Best Minds: A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions is a heart wrenching story of Jonathan’s best friend, Michael Laudor, who had a schizophrenic breakdown and brutally murdered his pregnant fiancée, stabbing her repeatedly and slitting her throat. The good intentions has to do with the “de-institutionalization” mantra of the 70’s that was meant to be a progressive development for the treatment of mental health, but failed on many levels. Laudor was something of a savant who seemed to conquer his deamons, so much so that a movie was in the making starring Brad Pitt about his life. Lauder was found not guilty of the murder he committed for reasons of insanity. Read more here.
  3. Shake Shack is coming to Israel in 2024, bringing its burgers and custard to Tel Aviv – The company did not answer questions about whether any of its 15 planned locations would be kosher — something that would make its signature products impossible to pair. The chain announced Wednesday on social media that a location will open next year in Tel Aviv, which has a robust burger scene — including local chains such as Moses, Burgerim and Black Bar ‘n’ Burger and international franchises including Burger King and McDonald’s. Over the next decade, the company announced, it plans to open 15 locations across Israel. Shake Shack did not offer details about its local products. Read more here. 
  4. Arye Deri pitches 50% off graves to impoverished Holocaust survivors – WHAT? Over one third of holocaust survivors in Israel live below the poverty line. So, what does this moron propose to help? Offer them 50% off their grave site! This is no joke! Another Schmuck of the week! The Schas Party chairman lauded a bill proposed by a member of his party that would give Holocaust survivors a 50% discount on graves, tweeting on Tuesday that “it’s the least we can give to the survivors who are still alive.” The tweet has since been deleted and an edited version has been re-uploaded. Read more here.
  5. 🎒  Hebrew school enrollment in the U.S. dropped 45% over the last 15 years, even as the number of Jewish children grew. There were some pockets of growth, mostly in programs that operate outside of synagogues, and those run by Chabad. (JTA) Oy. This does not portend well for future nachas machinery. Mark Oppenheimer of Tablet Magazine has been pushing for free Jewish education as a way to combat this trend. Makes sense!
  6. Don’t ask, don’t kvell: His synagogue barred him because he’s gay. Now, he protests outside each Shabbat – Brian Mandel, 53, and his husband of 10 years wore their rings to shul but told anyone who asked that they were roommates and best friends. He said the rabbi seemed to understand the situation, at one point telling them, “you’ll always be welcome here.” But on Jan. 9, Mandel said, the rabbi told him that some members had expressed discomfort with the couple’s presence, and that after consulting with his own rabbi, he had decided to bar them from services. “I just want a shul where everyone who’s Jewish is welcome,” said Mandel. “To me it’s a simple matter: I’m a Jew. Where do I belong on Shabbos if not shul?” Read more here. 
  7. 🇷🇺  Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, the son of Jewish Soviet emigres, appeared in a Moscow court on Tuesday, the first time he had been seen in public for weeks. Gershkovich, who has denied the espionage charges against him, faces up to 20 years in prison. Meanwhile, Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian Jewish dissident, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for treason. (CNNWSJJTA)

That’s all folks! Enjoy the weekend, and remember, be careful out there!

Brad out. 


It was a surreal scene in Times Square on Tuesday when the tourist spot’s famous Naked Cowboy stood in front of a recreation of a cattle car that was used to transport Jews to the concentration camps, placed there in commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day. “This is the crossroads of the world,” said one of the organizers of the exhibit. “So if your goal is to increase awareness, this is the place you want to be.” See more photos from the event ➤

The Jew News Review – April 15, 2023 – “Schmuck of the Week”

Shabbat shalom! Always good to be back in the writers saddle after a wonderful Passover pause that featured a lot of Govermans (old and new), a beautiful Seder, and reconnecting with fabulous friends and family. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday!

This week I am introducing a new feature to the JNR I am calling “Schmuck of the Week”. I typically begin each JNR with a “tip of the kipah”, a positive homage to someone newsworthy, usually within the JNR readership. And I will continue to do so. But each week, I am also dumbfounded by the volume of nincompoops who seem all too willing to demonstrate a level of stupidity that goes beyond chutzpah. I have been toying with the notion of “Schmuck of the Week” for some time, but put it off thinking the concept had already become a blogosphere cliche. That was until Jack Teixeira decided to share top secret documents with his teenage pals on a Discord server. Thanks Jack, you dumb ass, for being an iconic schmuck, and for setting a high bar for those schmucks that may follow in your schmuck-steps. Because of you, people will surely die, our alliances will be shaken, and who knows what else may befall our great country as a result of your wanting to impress your teenage gaming boy friends. But, I should probably reserve this premier award for the lame, faceless, yet-to-be-named morons that approved a 21 year old access to this level of secret documents. What on earth were they thinking, and who wrote the security screening protocols that allowed this kid to slip through, Benedict Arnold? Here are a few questions they need to incorporate into updated top secret screening protocols, courtesy of the JNR:

  1. Are you old enough to wipe your own ass?
  2. If you answered yes to question 1, are you still living with your parents?
  3. Do you still enjoy a good fart joke?
  4. You just met your new boss and his name is Ben Dover. How do you react?
  5. Do you still order a “Happy Meal” at McDonalds?

These questions will surely address the emotional IQ qualifications for top secret clearance, and assuming the NSA incorporates them into updated security protocols, we will all be able to rest a lot easier knowing our secrets are safer!

On the Jew news front, Passover did not put a pause on the troubles brewing in Israel over the last few weeks. Rocket attacks from Lebanon, terror attacks in Tel Aviv, two sisters and their mother brutally slain in a West Bank shooting. Ugh.

Violence between Israelis and Palestinians has intensified since a series of Palestinian stabbing attacks on Israelis were followed by Israeli army raids on Palestinian centers in recent months. The tensions flared in December after Benjamin Netanyahu formed the most right-wing government in Israel’s history and appointed ministers who favor further restrictions on West Bank Palestinians. At least 16 Israelis and close to 100 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of this year.

The latest round of violence started a week ago Tuesday night when Israeli troops subdued Palestinian worshippers who were occupying Al-Aqsa mosque in the Temple Mount, a site in Jerusalem holy to Muslims and Jews. The worshipers threw fireworks and stones at the troops, who beat the worshipers in scenes caught on phone video. The worshipers were violating a rule against spending the night in the mosque because of reports that Jewish extremists planned on sacrificing an animal on the Temple Mount to mark Passover. Jewish worship on the Mount is limited by a decades old arrangement to silent prayer, and attempts top breach that norm have in the past led to tensions and violence.

But, what about all the other Jewy newsy stuff you may be asking? Well, here you go, more carefully curated stuff from the likes of The Forward, Times of Israel, Kveller, and other Jewy journals:

  1. Jewish students at Massachusetts middle school faced widespread harassment –Adding further insult to Massachusetts reputation injury, my home state made headlines in The Forward this week for a widely reported incident of anti-semitism. Dozens of students at a Massachusetts middle school are accused of harassing their Jewish peers, including by performing Nazi salutes and making references to the gas chambers and Holocaust. The incidents took place over the course of several months, according to a parent’s letter to city officials in Belchertown, a small town outside Springfield in western Massachusetts. That same letter claims that a school investigation has uncovered video, social media posts and Google Docs made by the offending students that verify the allegations. Experts have warned that antisemitic sentiments promoted by celebrities like rapper Kanye West and basketball star Kyrie Irving “often correspond to increased bigotry in school settings.” 
  2. Clarence Thomas’ close friend Harlan Crow collects Nazi artifacts. The reason why could be even darker than it seems – Good ole Clarence was a serious runner up for Schmuck of the Week with all his questionable ethics surrounding his acceptance of gifts from billionaire Crow. Crow owns paintings by Adolf Hitler and a signed copy of Mein Kampf and claims the collection is testament to his hatred of communism and fascism, and some conservatives have suggested it memorializes Hitler’s victims. But Sam Weinberg, who runs a think tank for Generation Z, says that if that is Crow’s intent, “he is doing a very bad job.” The display in Crow’s Dallas home “indicates a bizarrely simultaneous disconnect with the legacy of the Holocaust,” Weinberg argues, “and also a deep fascination with its horrors, almost to the point of reverence.” Read the essay  
  3. The Marvelous Midge is back! – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel returned for the 5th and final season, and so far, so good! While the show has always been a bit silly, I loved the settings and kitschy characters portrayed, especially her agent Susie. Here is what The Forward’s culture maven Mira Fox had to say: “Of course, it’s all a little goofy, but it’s hard to mind too much. After all, the show has never excelled at realism. Mrs. Maisel has always been best as a heavily stylized piece of nostalgia, and the final season really leans in. Bouncing between the 1960s, where the show left off last season, and visions of the future, we’re treated to all eras of costumes and references — and even some pretty funny photoshop, leveraged to write Midge into various historical events.” Read the story
  4. Science explains Passover constipation — and how to fix it – You really can’t make this shit up! While no formal, peer-reviewed studies have been published on the link between Passover and constipation, there is ample science to back up what many suspect: matzo literally gums up your digestive tract. “There’s certainly a lot of logic to there being problems if you eat too much matzo,” said Stan Drake, a recently retired Jewish gastroenterologist who used to practice in Virginia. “Matzo is basically white flour and water and there’s like zero fiber.”That explains everything. Read the story
Oy! Could this be you?
  1. 🙏  After a spate of recent violence, Israel’s government banned Jews from the Temple Mount for the last 10 days of Ramadan. Last week, Israel forces were filmed beating Muslim worshippers they had removed from the site, which is often the site of clashes during Jewish holidays and Islam’s holy month. (JTA)
  2. Al Jaffee’s MAD Magazine was my personal Talmud – I grew up with Mad Magazine and recall the back cover, inspired by Al Jaffee, which was a novel “fold-in” when other magazines were doing “fold outs”. Al was also the originator of “Snappy answers to stupid questions” which use to make me laugh out loud. Here is a tribute to Al from The Forward’s Culture Editor, PJ Grisar. Read the story.
  3. 📚  A public high school in Florida has pulled an illustrated adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary from its library shelf, calling the graphic novel “not age appropriate.” A  Texas school district that ordered the same book removed last year reversed its decision after public criticism. (JTA)


Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone! And hey, let’s continue to be careful out there!

Brad out

The Jew News Review – April 1, 2023 – “Orange is the new orange”

Shabbat shalom! And a big shoutout and tip of the kipah to JNR friends Sophie and Eric, who, no fooling, will tie the knot under a hoopah on this April Fool’s day! Mazel Tov Sophie and Eric!

I might have said this once or twice before, but what a crazy f-ing week! Hard to wrap my addled brain around so much happening on so many fronts, but let’s dive head first into the shallow end and deal with a certain orange turd that has left an indelible stain on our country’s soul. I heard someone say the other day that in the last 30 years, there have been three major catastrophic self-imposed mistakes that are still damaging the country: The Iraq war, The Roe decision, and the election of you know who. Couldn’t agree more. But the orange stain doesn’t want to fade away, and unless the a-hole drops dead from eating too many cheeseburgers, his dark shadow will continue to be a gloomy, divisive presence on our collective psyche, as if someone had taken a black sharpie and scrawled “schmuck” on the country’s forehead. Maybe it will fade away, but what an embarrassment in the meantime. And despite two impeachments, an insurrection, and now an indictment, the Republican party is still solidly behind him, and his polling and fund raising is only getting better. Makes me want to puke. I just did. 

So, how do I feel about his indictment? Ugh. I would love to see him in an orange jump suit, cuffed, and doing a perp walk, followed by an indictment party, as Sandy has mentioned more than a few times. But, I have an awful feeling about opening this Trumpian box, even though I think he needs to be accountable for flaunting and breaking the law and for being a total a-hole. To paraphrase Dylan “even the president of the United States, Sometimes must have, To stand naked.” Sorry for the Dylan reference, as the mental image of a naked Trump is a bit frightening, but you get my point.

For those of you old enough to remember, in 1987 there was a supreme court justice fight over the nomination by Ronald Reagan of Robert Bork to replace a moderate on the Supreme Court. Bork’s nomination was fought hard by Democrats and an ugly liberal anti-Bork campaign, which ultimately led to the rejection of Bork and the travesty of a process we have now in confirming SJC nominees in which nominees do not answer any substantive questions to avoid being “borked”. My point is, indicting the orange turd is the right thing to do, but it will fester in the vengeful minds of Republicans, who will use the precedent to indict Democratic Presidents for stupid stuff. And that brings me full circle: we wouldn’t even be having this conversation but for one, narcissistic, horrible human being, so, the best outcome is still one that sees him drop dead from eating too many cheeseburgers. 

Speaking of beef, can we talk about the elephant in the dining room? There is a new manufactured meat on the market making headlines. Some marketing geniuses in Australia decided to use the DNA from a woolly mammoth to grow a giant meatball! No April Fool’s joke! See the picture below, and tell me you wouldn’t want to have that baby tucked between a crusty french bread and smothered with provolone cheese and marinara sauce! Looking for something new to serve at your Seder? Maybe add it to your (already cluttered with woke symbols) Seder plate to symbolize scientific progress? News of the mastodon meatball sent Sandy scurrying through our collection of children’s books to unearth one of our kid’s favorites, “Your Mother was a Neanderthal”, by Jon Scieszka, which included a plucky woolly mammoth with an odd sense of humor that delighted our kids. 

A meatball made using genetic code from a mammoth is seen at the Nemo science museum in Amsterdam, Tuesday March 28, 2023. An Australian company has lifted the glass cloche on a meatball made of lab-grown cultured meat using the genetic sequence from the long-extinct mastodon. The high-tech treat isn’t available to eat yet – the startup says it is meant to fire up public debate about cultivated meat. 

The other elephant in the room is yet another mass shooting and kids being killed. I still don’t understand why the right thinks the price of freedom to buy military grade weapons is worth a single child’s death, never mind being the leading cause of deaths among children in this gun loving land of the free. Why are we the only country with this problem? Easy access to guns. Period. 

Pretty brutal news week. So, let’s get to the good stuff. Freedom! Exodus! Plagues! Passover is in the air! I have been diligently de-crumbing the house, and will even wash the garage floor later today! Even more exciting than the garage floor….this is the first year that Govermans will outnumber Hirshs at the Seder table! Mom, Bill, Phyllis and Carrie are all coming to Sharon to break matzah and celebrate Passover. Life is Tov. But, what about some real news of the Jews you may be asking? What about Nut-and-Yahoo hitting the “Pause” button on gutting democracy, aka “judicial reform”? Well, ask, and you shall receive:

  1. Negotiations for compromise “Dead in the water” before they even began – Things are not off to a good start. The Nut-and-Yahoo Coalition is insisting it take control of the Judicial Selection Committee, a non-starter for the opposition, killing any chance of an agreement before negotiations even get off the ground. Netanyahu on March 27 agreed to suspend the legislation — notably including the bill to change the Judicial Selection Committee, which was to have been approved by the Knesset within days — until the Knesset returns on April 30. The overhaul would end up passing “one way or another,” and the “lost balance” between the branches of government would be restored, he said. “We will not give up on the path for which we were elected,” he vowed.  Read the story.
  2. LA synagogue hosts ‘Mitzvah Mania’ with Jewish pro wrestlers – Yes, you read the right, Jewish Pro wrestlers. What Jewish mother would let her kid become a pro wrestler? Apparently Mrs. Colton. Colt Cabana, real name Scott Colton, is used to walking out to crowds of hundreds of fans as a member of All Elite Wrestling, a popular show that airs on channels such as TBS and TNT. On Sunday, he’ll be wrestling at a synagogue. Temple Beth Am, located in Los Angeles’ heavily Jewish neighborhood of Pico-Robertson, is putting on “Mitzvah Mania,” a one-off show with mostly Jewish wrestlers. It’s pegged to another event taking place this weekend: “WrestleMania,” the annual marquee event for the WWE, the country’s largest professional wrestling series. In addition to Cabana, attendees will see former Jewish WWE stars Lisa Marie Varon (or Victoria, as she was known in the ring) and Chris Mordetzky (a two-time National Wrestling Alliance champion known as Chris Masters and later Chris Adonis). Who knew?
  3. On Culture: It’s a date: Netflix’s ‘Jewish Matchmaking’ debuts May 3 – (JTA) — A matchmaker who says she has successfully paired 200 Jewish couples is the star of “Jewish Matchmaking,” a Netflix series that is set to start streaming May 3.Netflix announced the series, a spinoff of its wildly successful “Indian Matchmaking” show, nearly a year ago. Now, new details that the streaming giant released on Thursday reveal that it will take place in both the United States and Israel, and will feature people from a variety of Jewish backgrounds. Their guide will be Aleeza Ben Shalom, an Orthodox Jewish dating coach with a decade of experience who was based in the Philadelphia area and moved to Israel two years ago. Read the story.
  4. Civil War Passover Seder memorialized in West Virginia: Twenty Jewish Union soldiers under the command of future President Rutherford B. Hayes built an area for services, held Seders, and recalled the exodus from Egypt. They lacked charoset, but their “Yankee ingenuity prevailed,” wrote one participant. It was a “bright spot and peaceful moment” during a period marked by carnage, said Drew Gruber, executive director of Civil War Trails, a group that is unveiling a sign Monday at the site of that 1862 Seder. Read the story ➤
  5. 🤦  Trump goes whacko in Waco – Moments after former President Donald Trump was indicted Thursday, he appeared to blame George Soros, the Democratic donor and Holocaust survivor. “Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who was hand-picked and funded by George Soros, is a disgrace,” Trump said of the prosecutor who brought the charges in emails to reporters and social media posts. Bragg is among a number of liberal prosecutors backed by Color of Change, a political action committee where Soros is the largest funder. (JTA) 💰  Invoking Soros is a go-to for right-wing politicians and activists that many see as rooted in the antisemitic trope of a moneyed Jewish puppet master. But Alan Dershowitz, the celebrity lawyer who was Trump’s counsel during his first impeachment, recently said it’s fine to criticize Soros because “he’s not much of a Jew.”(Forward)
  6. 🇷🇺  Russia detained a Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich and accused him of spying. It’s the first such allegation against an American journalist since the Cold War, and comes a week after the U.S. arrested Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, a Johns Hopkins University graduate student, accusing him of spying for Russia. (CNN)
  7. ⚽  FIFA, soccer’s governing body, canceled Indonesia as host of the men’s Under-20 World Cup because of protests over Israel’s participation. This is the first year Israel has qualified for the tournament, which is scheduled to start May 20. The governor of Bali asked that Israel not play in his province, and conservative Muslims staged an anti-Israel march in Jakarta on Monday. FIFA has said it will find a new host city. (AFPNew York Times
  8. ⚖️  Who is the bigger a-hole? An Israeli judge ordered Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to pay roughly $19,500 to Stav Shaffir, a leftist member of Knesset, who sued him for libel over his Tweets about her.(HaaretzTimes of Israel)


I will be taking next week off to focus on family and holiday fun! I hope you all have a great Passover Seder! Chag sameach! And hey, let’s remember to be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – March 25, 2023 – “March Madness”

Shabbat shalom! And a tip of the Kipah this week to Ilana Dayan, considered to be the “Walter Cronkite of Israeli journalism”, who after 30 years of upholding an objective an unbiased view of events, used her voice of reason and truth to condemn Nut-and-yahoos judicial reforms that are being brute forced into law by his coalition of crazies. Dayan, who emigrated from Argentina to Israel so knows a bit about authoritarian governments, used her platform to make an emotional, but sensible appeal for the citizenry to continue their protests. She delivered her address one day after President Herzog’s compromise proposal was rejected by the Nut-and-yahoos. 

“And now, when there is no compromise in sight, ask yourself only one question: Will there be one thing – one – that the majority will not be able to do to the minority, after this move is completed.

Then imagine yourself in a minority, any minority.

And after you imagine, decide which side of history you want to stand on.

And what will you tell the children of the winter of ’23 one day?”

If you haven’t been following the events in Israel, things are moving fast, and in the wrong direction. Despite hundreds of thousands taking to the streets, international condemnation, opposition from most of the legal and business community and others, the march toward madness and a constitutional crisis continues. The first of the major laws is up for vote this coming week, and more protests are being planned. On top of all this madness, the week in Israel included the following headlines, which symbolize just how scary things are becoming. It reminds me of the old saying that “the inmates are running the asylum.”

  • Knesset repeals the disengagement law from land in Northern Sumeria, land which was evacuated in 2005 in order to accommodate a “land for peace” two state peace plan. The ruling leads to Biden recalling the Israel ambassador for a dressing down.
  • Finance Minister and Coalition Craziest Smotrich makes a speech in front of an Israeli flag claiming Jordan as part of Israel, and states that “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people”. Whoops.
  • Transportation Minister Miri Regev on Wednesday said in a speech that she did not like visiting Dubai and would not be going back to the city in the United Arab Emirates, which has been at the forefront of recent Israeli efforts to normalize ties with Arab nations. Speaking while wearing her diplomatic dunce cap she stated, “I’ve been to Dubai. I won’t be going back. I don’t like the place.”
  • Nut-and-yahoo personally steps in to pull a law passed by his crazies that would target Christian minorities. An article on Sunday by ALL ISRAEL NEWS first broke the story of the dangerous bill in which two ultra-Orthodox members of Knesset – Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher – were determined to outlaw anyone from sharing the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah in Israel, and punish violators with prison sentences.

All of these stories happened in the last 3 days! Alarm bells!

“Rally for Freedom” 12th week of protests as Coalition tees up first vote on judicial reform this week. Protesters declare a “week of disruption” ahead of the vote.

As Israel moves closer to it’s 75th anniversary, one has to wonder if the next 75 years will continue to show Israel as a beacon of liberal democracy, or something more resembling the monarchs or theocracies surrounding them. Or something more like the religious democracy emerging in Hungary. But, I continue to have faith in the Israeli people and so I continue to be hopeful that a peaceful compromise will prevail. 

So, what else is going on in the Jewish world you may be asking? What are some other gems of Jewy news from the streams of The Times of Israel, The Forward, Kveller, etc you may be asking? Ask, and ye shall receive:

  1. Defense minister said to warn PM he won’t back overhaul legislation in current form – This just in: During his much-publicized meeting with the prime minister Thursday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned Benjamin Netanyahu that he will not vote in favor of the bill to assert political control over the country’s Judicial Selection Committee if it is brought to a vote next week in its present form, according to a Friday report. This is big, and a first major crack in the crazies coalition. Gallant is a Likud member himself, and his concerns that continuing down the current path will break the military should make every Israeli nervous.
  2. From the “you can’t make this shit up” department: Kanye West says he likes Jews again after watching movie with Jonah Hill.  After a number of increasingly unhinged antisemitic rants last year, Kanye West has declared that he’s alright again with Jews after watching a movie with Jonah Hill. In an Instagram postSaturday, the rapper shared a promotional poster for “21 Jump Street,” a 2012 crime comedy in which the Jewish actor costarred alongside Channing Tatum.“Watching Jonah Hill in 21 Jump street made me like Jewish people again,” Ye wrote. “No one should take anger against one or two individuals and transform that into hatred towards millions of innocent people.”
  3. Despite missed Yom Kippur clue, Jewish studies professor is a three-day ‘Jeopardy!’ champ: Melissa Klapper, author of Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860-1920, won $59,100 in the shows that aired Monday through Wednesday. She told the Forward’s Adam Kovac that she doesn’t have “good hand-eye coordination” and thus was not first on the buzzer for that Yom Kippur clue. Which was: “Jon Stewart noted that while Lent is 40 days, Jews have this one day of atonement. ‘Even in sin, you’re paying retail.’” Klapper, who once wrote for the Forward, assured Kovac that she knew the right question. “I got so many emails from helpful, kind Jewish studies colleagues, offering to explain Yom Kippur to me,” Klapper said. “It’s all in good fun, but yeah, I got a lot of razzing.” Read the story ➤
  4. You think you have tsuris? 🇮🇱  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing corruption charges in an ongoing trial, vowed in a Thursday night television address to take a more active role in his government’s planned judicial overhaul. This morning, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara informed Netanyahu that doing so would violate a conflict of interest deal he signed in 2020. (JTATimes of IsraelHaaretz)
  5. Of course they are: White supremacists are driving the jump in antisemitic incidents: The Anti-Defamation League’s annual report, just out this week, documents a dramatic escalation in antisemitic propaganda activity in 2022, bringing it to a level unprecedented in recent decades. Hateful banners, fliers, laser projections of swastikas onto buildings and similar hate-speech activities increased more than assaults, vandalism or any other form of antisemitism the ADL tracks. Read the story ➤
  6. Passover Prep News: A flame throwing Rabbi and price gouging at the car washMany Jews pour boiling water on countertops to clean them for the holiday. Rabbi Mendel Weiss, who leads a Chabad in South Florida, uses a blowtorch. In videos that went viral on TikTok, his process could be mistaken for someone clearing out Nazi bunkers on the beaches of Normandy. Weiss can clear six homes in one night this time of year, and also does big hotels. Asked if he takes any precautions, he said: “Well, I pray a lot.” Read the story ➤In other Passover-prep news, New York’s attorney general warned of potential price gouging at local car washes where Orthodox Jews flock to flee their vehicles of chametz. The consumer alert said some car washes have jacked up rates by as much as 50% and some are billing the higher prices as holiday specials. 
  7. An Exodus Story: How marshmallows became a kosher-for-Passover tradition:The Forward Culture Editor, Mira Fox, did not grow up eating marshmallows on Passover, so she was curious about how it became a thing. Diving into cultural history, she discovered a journey framed by immigration and innovation that, appropriately, involves its own exodus from Egypt. Read the story ➤

That’s all folks! I need to start ridding the house of chametz! And please, remember to be careful out there. And one more thing, enjoy the History of Rock video below. Clever way to use a guitar riff to capture the history of the genre, although I would have gone with “Aquarius: Let the Sun Shine In” by the Fifth Dimension for 1969. After all, according to the astrologists, this week Jupiter is aligned with Mars. 

Brad out.