The Jew News Review – September 24, 2022 – “Shofar, so good”

Shabbat shalom everyone! And a happy new year to you all! l’shana tova tikateyvu!!!

It’s a very busy weekend here leading up to Rosh, so I am taking a holiday break and preparing to consume massive amounts of Ruth’s brisket, as once again, Daniel and Ruth host an amazing new year celebration.

Jewish law requires that the shofar be blown 30 times on each day of Rosh Hashanah, and by custom it is blown 100 or 101 times on each day. That would be a tall order for any shofar aficionado, hence, if you were able to view the video above, we have reached out to our animal friends for a little help.

Another tradition of Rosh is to perform “Tashlich”, literally “casting away” the sins of the year by throwing small pieces of bread into a nearby body of water. Hence, to be properly prepared, I have purchased several large loaves of challah for my personal use.

Whatever your form of celebration, Sandy and I wish you all a healthy, happy, and fun new year! Good yontif!

And remember, be safe out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – September 17, 2022 – Are we all Bozos on this bus?

Shabbat shalom readers!

A shout out this week to old man Joe Biden, who seems to have found a second wind, or maybe despite the current shortage, they upped his adderall dosage. Whatever the reason, he and his administration deserve a few kudos for getting shit done. I don’t agree with all his policy decisions, and he is a pretty crappy speaker, but he and his administration seem to have their shit together and that sentiment is shared more broadly as reflected in the latest polling with his favorability now at 49%. Averting the railway labor strike, leading NATO nations to support Ukrainians kicking Russian ass, climate legislation, the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, and the fact that we are no longer a joke on the world stage are all contributing to a more positive vibe, especially among the millennial and “meh” crowds. Way to go Joe.

Despite some progress, the country is still reeling from inflation, my stock portfolio has taken such a hard hit I actually went back to work, and the lunacy on the right continues unabated, and will probably get worse. But, stay positive JNR people! The best is yet to come! At least if you believe in “long term-ism” as defined recently by the Scottish philosopher Scott MacAskill whose recent book, “What We Owe the Future” proposes that we give the same weight to future people as we do to those alive today when making decisions. In some respects, Biden’s climate legislation was one such decision. Unfortunately, those kind of decisions are few and far between, and the value of what I call “stewardship”, has been subsumed by decades of narcissism, immediate gratification, and short term thinking. We tried to teach our kids to always leave a place better than the way you found it. Do the knuckleheads who use immigrants as human pawns in a culture war have any sense of decency let alone stewardship? What value is there for future generations in Putin’s egomaniacal war on Ukraine? Are we all, as the late Peter Bergman of the Firesign Theater proposed, just Bozos on this bus?

There are quite a few Bozos reacting to Disney’s recently released teaser on the new “Little Mermaid” film. A #NotMyAriel movement threatens to boycott the movie because Ariel, now played by Halle Bailey, isn’t a white redhead. Amazon had to temporarily suspend audience reviews because of the racist Bozos campaign to downgrade the show due to its diverse cast. Ariel appears to be white in the 1989 animated film, yet despite the complete irrelevance of her skin color and Bailey’s obvious and immense talent, a young Black woman in the lead role was clearly unacceptable to the racist underbelly of the country. How dare Disney not cast a carbon copy of the cartoon princess! F-ing Bozos. To view the teaser, click here.

She’s a mermaid you Bozos!

Now, without further ajieu, news for the Jews, as carefully curated by yours truly from a smorgasbord of Jewish sources:

  1. ‘Anne Frank would still be alive’: Ken Burns opens up about his new documentary – On Monday I attended an event at Symphony Hall previewing Ken Burns new documentary on the US response to the holocaust followed by a panel discussion with Burns and his co-producers. One interesting anecdote: Burns was inspired to produce the documentary by reader and viewer reactions to two other of his documentaries on WWII and the Roosevelts. He received so much correspondence questioning the holocaust and so chock full of misinformation and disinformation, he felt compelled to set the record straight. On the U.S. response: “We failed, ultimately, because we did not yell loudly enough about it,” Burns said. “We did not yell early enough about it, and we did not save as many people as we could have saved.  “We could even have filled the meager quotas and saved five times as many people as we did, but the state department was always changing the requirements, raising the bar, moving the goalposts, and making it too hard for even Otto Frank to get his visa,” he continued. “I think maybe if he had gotten his visa, maybe Anne Frank would still be alive.” Read the story ➤
  2. Two Jews win at the Emmys – The 74th Emmys, hosted by Kenan Thompsonand DJed by Russian-born, German-raised Jewish artist Zedd, made for a strange evening with little in the way of previous years’ social distancing and even less patience for long-winded speeches. But it did give us some Jewish wins.  Julia Garner took home her third Emmy for her valedictory performance as Ruth Langmore on Netflix’s “Ozark.” And Brett Goldstein received his second Emmy for his role as foul-mouthed footballer Roy Kent on “Ted Lasso.” True to form, he cursed, even after he said he wouldn’t.
  3. Yeshiva madness: If you can’t beat them, shut the whole thing down – Days after the Supreme Court ruled that Yeshiva University must allow an official LGBTQ pride club on campus, the administration suspended all student clubs for the time being.  On Wednesday, the Supreme Court denied YU’s stay motion in its ongoing efforts to block the LGBTQ club, meaning Y.U. would have had to recognize the YU Pride Alliance while litigation continues in lower courts. The Modern Orthodox university appears to prefer that none of the campus’ 90 or so clubs function, perhaps until the case is resolved.  For more, click here.
  4. More Yeshiva madness: New York’s Hasidic schools failing despite public funds – The leaders of New York’s Hasidic community have built scores of private schools to educate children in Jewish law, prayer and tradition — and to wall them off from the secular world. Offering little English and math, and virtually no science or history, they drill students relentlessly, sometimes brutally, during hours of religious lessons conducted in Yiddish. Yet, despite receiving billions in public funds, there is little accountability to secular learning. As a result, thousands of students failed basic math and literacy tests conducted in 2019. For more, click here
  5. 🏫  The Department of Education is opening an investigation into a complaint alleging that Jewish students at the University of Vermont faced numerous instances of antisemitic harassment . It’s the latest such case opened by the department’s civil rights office on college campuses across the country. After reading the details, I have a sneaking suspicion there may be some over-wokeness operating here, but its early in the investigation. (JTA)
  6. On this week in history (Sept 13, 1993): In a famous gesture of hope for a peaceful future, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands with Bill Clinton — and each other — at the signing of the Oslo Accords. The peace efforts won Rabin and Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, but the promises of the agreement have not come to fruition, thwarted in part by Rabin’s assassination in 1995.
  1. Nina Totenberg’s ‘Dinners With Ruth’ offers insight into the late Supreme Court Justice. And gossip. The veteran NPR legal correspondent and Ruth Bader Ginsburg became friends in 1971. RBG officiated at Totenberg’s second wedding. Their relationship went far beyond reporter and subject, strengthened by their shared passions for music, shopping and food. Over the years, Totenberg writes in her new memoir, they saw one another “through great personal joys and also deep personal sadness.” Read the review.

I need to get ready for some pickle ball this afternoon, so will cut it off here. But as usual, please stay safe out there. And get the new booster shot!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – September 10, 2022 – Flights of angels…

Shabbat shalom!

Shout out this week to Queen Elizabeth II. May she rest in peace. Yehi zichra baruch.

She was born in 1926, two years before the invention of sliced bread, and reigned over Britain for more than seven decades, a time that spanned World War II, 15 Prime Ministers, 13 US Presidents, seven Popes, the Internet, Brexit, Covid, and the sun setting on 56 of the 70 territories of the British Empire. Through it all, the Queen remained a solid symbol of decency and decorum, and her dedication to service to the Commonwealth was a constant, despite the many personal pains she endured. 

As the news of the Queen’s death broke, ordinary Brits converged at both Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace and, in a scene too fantastical even for The Crown, a double rainbow appeared outside the palace as the crowd sang “God Save the Queen.”

In my earlier years, I was a bit of a cynic regarding the value and relevancy of the monarch in modern society. But then I lived in England for 10 weeks and in addition to learning to love warm beer, I learned firsthand how the monarch, and the Queen herself, represented the heart and soul of the country. I attended the Trooping of the Colours ceremony in the early 80’s (along with tens of thousands of others), and witnessed the pageantry associated with the celebration of the sovereign’s birthday, and I also learned the significant role the monarch plays in the tourism economy of the country. 

She inherited the throne in 1952, after a rushed series of devolutions across the British empire, including the ouster of Britain from Mandatory Palestine in 1948, which led to the founding of the state of Israel. While she was criticized by some Jews for never visiting Israel, the Queen inspired loyalty from UK Jews throughout her reign. And, throughout her reign she built a solid relationship with the Jews as symbolized by a few selected anecdotes provided below: 

  • She had her sons circumcised — something that was unusual at the time. The practice among royals predated by at least a century the belief that circumcision may be medically beneficial. Elizabeth, wanting a professional to do the job, brought in a mohel named Jacob Snowman. The hiring of Snowman for such delicate work characterized the close relationship between the British princess and the Jewish community, one that continued when she assumed the throne.
  • Her private art collection in Windsor Castle included many Jewish artifacts, including a Torah scroll rescued from Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust.Elizabeth elevated several chief rabbis to knighthood, and two to the House of Lords. 
  • In 1972, British Jews vowed to plant one million trees in Israel to honor the queen’s 25th wedding anniversary to Prince Philip.
  • The second-ever Israeli envoy to the UK, Eliahu Eilat, was granted a rare sit-down dinner and overnight visit with the queen at Windsor Castle in 1959.
  • In 2000, the queen inaugurated Britain’s first permanent memorial to the Holocaust. She served as the patron of the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Trust from its establishment in 2005 until she passed it on to Prince Charles in 2015.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog called her death the “end of an era. Throughout her long and momentous reign, the world changed dramatically, while the Queen remained an icon of stable, responsible leadership, and a beacon of morality, humanity and patriotism,” he said in a statement. “In her life and in her service to her people, the Queen embodied a spirit of integrity, duty and ancient tradition.” Amen.

I have been reading a lot about Elizabeth in preparation for the JNR this week. I strongly recommend this piece by British-American author, Andrew Sullivan, who speaks glowingly of the Queen’s selflessness and presents her and the monarch as a “symbolic, sacred, mystical thread through time and space” that is “simply a gift from the past that the British people, in their collective wisdom, have refused to return.” For the full story, click here. As for King Charles III, let’s hope he has sufficient time left to redeem himself of his overall douche-baggie-ness and deplorable relationship with Princess Di. His speech Friday was a good start and he ended it on a personal note to his mom, with a final quote taken from Hamlet, “And to my darling Mama, as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late Papa, I want simply to say this: thank you. Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years. May “flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest”. 

Speaking of douche-bags, how sweet is the prospect of seeing Steve Bannon behind bars, followed shortly thereafter by the orange turd? Both of these a-holes have mounting legal problems that should eventually put them in the clinker for some serious “me” time. But, no kenahoras. Stay tuned and stay hopeful. And let’s also hope Ukraine continues to kick some Russian ass!

Now, onto some other news for the Jews, carefully curated by yours truly from various Jewish sources:

  1. On culture: Ken Burns “The U.S. and the Holocaust” – The long awaited (and dreaded) documentary by the famous film maker will be released on September 18 and run in 3 parts on PBS. In interviews about “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” Burns, whose wife is Jewish, has often cited the famous quote from Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” “Now,” said Burns, “almost every sentence of the film rhymes with the present in terrifying ways.” Burns explores the history of the Holocaust in the US in three distinct sections, the first exposing America’s national mythology as a country welcoming refugees as pure fantasy. Sandy and I will be attending a special screening and interview with Burns at Symphony Hall next Monday. Click here for more on Burns documentary.
  2. King Charles: A mensch for all seasons? Hard to believe, but rumor has it his homeliness was a big fan of Barbra Streisand, and, as a 2016 book by Christopher Anderson alleged, from the 1970s through the 1990s, Charles persistently tried to romance her! These and other gems present a convincing case that King Charles III was, is, and will be a bigger friend to the Jews than his mom. For more, click here.
  3. 🎭 Are Rosenstein and Guildenberg still alive? – Tom Stoppard said he was compelled to write the multigenerational drama “Leopoldstadt,” which premieres on Broadway next month, out of “guilt” over his newly discovered Jewish past. Stoppard’s mother, who fled the Nazis when he was a child, married a British army officer, played down her history and her Jewishness, and he followed her lead in not looking back. “I don’t recall ever consciously resisting finding out about myself,” Stoppard said in a new profile. “It’s worse than that. I wasn’t actually interested. I was never curious enough. I just looked in one direction: forward.” (New York Times)
  4. NFL 2022: A Jew preview – First it’s the banks, now it’s the NFL owners box! My brother tells me there are 10 NFL owners with Jewish heritage so a quick fact check revealed he was spot on Click here. However, there are probably more Jewish owners than players in the league! But, if you want to root for your favorite Jewish player, you have the following to chose from:  Jake Curhan, Seattle Seahawks, A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers, Michael Dunn, Cleveland Browns, Anthony Firkser, Atlanta Falcons, Greg Joseph, Minnesota Vikings, and Josh Rosen, Cleveland Browns. Two additional players — veteran Nate Ebnerand Sam Sloman — are currently unsigned free agents. Sloman, a placekicker who was drafted by the Rams in 2020 and has also played for the Titans, was waived from the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad in May. While at Miami University in Ohio, Sloman’s teammates called him the “Kosher Canon.”
  5. Oops! Maybe we did it after all, but it was an accident!  The Israeli military admitted on Monday that it is “highly probable” that an Israeli soldier mistakenly killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while she was reporting on a raid in the occupied West Bank for Al Jazeera in May. The Biden administration had been pressuring Israel to release the findings of its investigation into the incident, while some members of Congress called for an expanded probe. Click here for more.
  6. 😲  A commenter on the website of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation offered $5,000 to anyone who murdered a member of the group, $6,000 “if they are a kike.” – The organization was founded in 2005 to ensure U.S. soldiers can freely practice their religion and is run by a Jewish veteran, Mikey Weinstein. Weinstein’s son Casey served in the Air Force and is a state lawmaker in Ohio who has faced harassment from the religious right. (JTA)
  7. Iran deal collapsing? Or is this a political bone Biden is throwing to Lapid – In my humble opinion, it’s the latter. How convenient that right before Israel elections in November, Lapid can claim that pressure from his government on the US negotiations with Iran on a new JCPOA is what derailed the deal, which would be hugely popular in Israel where a vast majority are against it. I smell politics at play! For more click here.

Well, that’s all I’ve got this week. God bless the Queen! And hey, stay careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – September 3, 2022 – The high price of brisket, milk and honey, and democracy in the Keystone State

Shabbat shalom everyone! Shout out to my mom this week, who is recovering from Covid and a special thank you to her friend Sandy, who flew in for a visit and ended up playing Florence Nightingale instead of enjoying a week in the beautiful Shenandoah valley with her good friend. Some chicken soup, paxlovid, and the care of family and friends should get her back on her feet in no time! And a good caution to all to make sure you schedule yourselves for the new booster available now!

The weather is nothing short of spectacular here in New England, as the kids head off to college and the Red Sox continue their dreadful decline in the standings. It would take more time than I have to cover all the news this week, but I will try and cover some key topics and balance out the usual shit show with some good news. And speaking of good news, I finally received my official Press Credentials! Yes, that is my official United States Press Agency Photographer/Reporter pass pictured below. That credential, along with my Captain Midnight Decoder Ring will enable me to get places never before visited upon by any member of the Jew News Review.

Like my ordainment in the Ministry of Life Church, this credential is priceless!

The country continues to ratchet up the volume on culture clashes as we get closer and closer to the midyear election cycle. Evidence of further treason, possible espionage and obstruction continues to mount against the former disgraced President, who continues to incite his cult followers while endorsing election denier, anti-semitic and un-American candidates. However, we can celebrate a small victory for Alaska and for the nation, as the icon of Stupid in politics, Sarah Palin, lost in a special election to a native Alaskan and now the seat is held by a democrat for the first time in over 50 years. 

As I write this blurb, Old Joe and the orange turd are duking it out in strategic swing state Pennsylvania, where the orange turd has endorsed Doug Mastriano, a self-described Christian nationalist and leader of the “Stop the Steal” movement contesting the results of the 2020 election. Mastriano, who attended the march to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, has compared that riot to the 1933 Reichstag fire and some of his statements have raised the ire of Jewish leaders, including some Republicans. He has likened Democratic gun-control proposals to Nazi policies and referred to abortion as a “barbaric holocaust.” He launched his campaign with a shofar blast courtesy of a man named “Pastor Don,” who wore a Lion of Judah Messianic prayer scarf. And he has called the separation of church and state a “myth” and said Islam is incompatible with the Constitution.

Mastriano faces off against a Jewish candidate, Pennsylvania’s current Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, whose Jewishness has already become a talking point in the race, largely because of Mastriano’s open association with far-right and antisemitic groups. I don’t usually endorse any candidates, but will be making an exception in this case. Here is a link if you feel the same.  Donate to Josh

I can’t help but make a connection between the orange turd’s endorsement of Mastriano and Nut-and-yahoo’s latest attempt to weasel his way back into power in Israel. The former Israeli PM has been working at creating a coalition of right wing zealots with his recent video message pleading with Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, the feuding leaders of the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties, to put aside their differences and renew the alliance that saw them win six seats in last year’s elections. Warned Netanyahu: “Only running together will ensure that these parties clear the electoral threshold” — and thus make it safely into the Knesset in the November 1 elections. Politics does make for strange bed fellows, and the shrewd Nut-and-yahoo knows he needs every seat possible in order to get back into power. I am no expert in Israeli politics, but what I read about Ben Gvir makes me cringe, and immediately think about the orange turd’s mainstreaming of fringe types such as Mastriano, who without Trump and Trumpism, would never have emerged from obscurity. 

According to David Horovitz of the Times of Israel, “Netanyahu has been intervening on Ben Gvir’s behalf for the past three years, shamefully elevating an adept, dangerous provocateur into the political mainstream. Ben Gvir is an ardent admirer of the racist rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated transferring Israel’s Arabs out of the country. He was a teenage activist in Kahane’s Kach movement and was convicted of incitement to racism in 2007 for holding a sign at a protest reading “Expel the Arab enemy.” But he has modified Kahane’s transfer demand, and dodged a parliamentary ban, by declaring he seeks to expel “only” those Arab Israeli citizens he deems “disloyal.” The Meretz party’s new leader Zehava Galon on Saturday denounced the merged far-right slate as an ‘alliance of thugs’.

Nut-and-yahoo is no Trump, but they both need to take a hint and move on. Both our countries would be better off.

Now, without any further ajieu, here is a sampling of other stories I am sure will pique your Jewish interests:

  1. Shabbat in the Desert: A Burning Man bash? A group of free-spirited Burning Man devotees has been hosting a shabbat on each Friday of the concert for going-on 13 years, calling themselves the “Milk + Honey” camp. Milk + Honey is one of dozens of theme camps at the annual Burning Man festival, the week-long celebration of art, music and general revelry on a barren Nevada plain. What started as a small prayer service for a few dozen desert-wandering souls is now a Kabbalat Shabbat for roughly 1,000 of them, followed by a meal. (That’s 120 challahs and 120 bottles of wine, if you’re scoring at home.) With the weeklong festival of “radical self-expression” in northwest Nevada’s Black Rock Desert returning after a two-year pandemic hiatus, Zvika Krieger — who goes by “Surrender” during the festival — is gearing up for the biggest, hottest and perhaps most spiritually transcendent service yet. For more, click here.
  1. High prices for the High Holidays! 💸  How much will your Rosh Hashanah brisket cost this year? Rising grocery bills, inflation, and a nationwide poultry shortage are affecting people’s High Holiday plans. One kosher caterer says he’s had to double his prices, warning “there’s definitely more of that to come.” (J, the Jewish News of Northern California)
  2. Shiva call: Gorby and Jews – From Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the longtime chief rabbi of Moscow: “It was he who allowed Jews again to lead a Jewish life, study Hebrew, go to synagogue and be openly Jewish,”  writes Goldsmith, who recently fled Russia because of tension over the war in Ukraine. “It is bitterly ironic that his death comes at a time when the freedoms he sought to institute are being snatched away from the Russian people once again.” Read his essay ➤
  3. 🤝  Family members of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics reached an agreement Wednesday with Germany – Germany agreed to pay them the equivalent of $28 million to compensate for their losses. The 50th anniversary of the massacre is on Monday, and the families had threatened to boycott the official commemoration ceremony because they considered Germany’s prior offer of about $10 million too low. (AP)
  4. From the Culture files: ‘The Patient’ is one of the most Jewish shows on television – Steve Carell aint Jewish, but it’s called “acting” and it’s damn good! In the new Hulu series, Steve Carell stars as Dr. Alan Strauss, a Jewish therapist held captive in the basement of a patient who happens to be a serial killer. There’s a major narrative arc about Alan’s son’s Orthodox conversion, and the script is peppered with  asual mentions of kashrut, kaddish and kibbud av v’em — honoring one’s parents — plus a soundtrack featuring Leonard Cohen and Debbie Friedman. And the  series asks some very Jewish questions about fathers, sons and inherited trauma through Holocaust flashbacks. Read The Forward review ➤
  5. 🎤  Amy Schumer talked frankly about kids calling her Amy Jewmer and throwing pennies at her – In a new profile in The New Yorker, the comedian said she also suffered from trichotillomania, the irresistible urge to pull out her own hair, which left her with a bald spot that “a yarmulke would cover.” (New Yorker)
  6. 🕍  Inside the fierce battle over America’s oldest synagogue – There has been bad blood between two of the most storied U.S. synagogues since the 1880s, with sit-ins, court battles and feuding lawyers. Will peace ever break out between Newport’s Touro Synagogue and Manhattan’s Congregation Shearith Israel? Per the Associated Press: “The Rhode Island congregants who worship at the nation’s oldest synagogue won’t be evicted, as a judge ruled in their favor Monday. But the yearslong legal dispute over the historic building and a set of ceremonial bells worth millions appears far from over.” (AP)

That’s enough for now. Dyanu! And remember, let’s be particularly careful out there! Let my mom’s experience be a lesson for us all. Get vaccinated! And get boosted!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – August 27, 2022 – Dog days of summer

Shabbat shalom everyone! Great to be back in the writers saddle after a week of rest, relaxation and reflection. And happy National Dog Day to all you dog owners! I was not aware there was such a holiday to honor our beloved canine pets, but apparently the holiday was created in 2004 by Colleen Paige, a Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Advocate. She created the day, celebrated every August 26th, so that all dogs can be celebrated and also to draw attention to the number of dogs in shelters and to encourage adoption to those who have yet to find a place to call home.

Since its inception in 2004, it is estimated that approximately one million dogs have been saved through adoption in the U.S. For dog owners that aren’t looking to add to their family, National Dog Day has become a day for treating their friend like the legend they are and enjoying the connection that we’ve built up with dogs over thousands of years. Our last family dog was Moose, who passed some years ago, but certainly left a warm spot in all our hearts, especially Sandy, who was his bestie!

Moose – Sandy’s bestie relaxing in the back yard circa 2017

The expression “Dog Days of Summer” actually has nothing to do with our furry friends. It turns out that the ancient Greeks and Romans weren’t referring to real dogs, but to the great astronomical one, Sirius. The “Dog Star” is located in the constellation Canis Major, known as the Greater Dog, and is the brightest star that shines at night. You can actually find references to the “dog days of summer” in ancient texts. If you go back even as far as Homer’s, The Iliad, it’s referring to Sirius as Orion’s dog rising, and it describes the star as being associated with war and disaster. 

And disaster is what the orange turd is facing as the evidence clearly shows the now disgraced and former President stole classified documents and then for some deranged reason we don’t know about yet, refused to return them! The affidavit released yesterday suggests that if some of the classified documents returned from Mar-a-Lago in January had fallen into the wrong hands, they could have revealed sensitive details about human intelligence sources, or how spy agencies intercept the electronic communications of foreign targets! Particularly damning, the affidavit states: “There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found.” 

According to the affidavit, part of the FBI’s rationale for searching Mar-a-Lago last month was that no space at Mar-a-Lago was authorized for the storage of classified materials. But it’s not just how they were stored, it was the possible unlawful concealment or removal of the documents. On top of that, classified materials were mixed with unclassified documents like newspapers, magazines, and personal documents, which further demonstrates Trump’s complete gross negligence with sensitive information and property that doesn’t belong to him. A best case scenario is that no-one who saw any of these files knew what they were looking at, but who knows! There are numerous stories of Russian and Chinese nationals being invited to Mar-a-Lago who could have easily gained access to these documents!

From Steven Colbert’s Late Night show

Meanwhile, old man Joe continues to get shit done. I am not supportive of the abuse of executive actions that has taken place over the last few decades, and I am also not sure I support the latest give-away to reduce student debt. Seems to me that only Congress should have the power of the purse strings, and forgiving debt is pretty much the same thing as shifting the spending to others. Hence, this handout will probably be ruled illegal down the road. But in the greater context of things like tax subsidies to the oil and gas industry, this give-away looks a lot more democratic and targeted toward folks who could use the help. However, facts are devilish things. According to one website, virtually all—about 90 percent—of student loan borrowers are paying back their loans on time, which suggests that the individual amounts aren’t too much for them to handle (about $300 per month, according to the website Student Loan Hero, but that amount can vary wildly based on type of institution, type of degree, age of the borrower, and more). And it’s fair that the borrowers pay, since they get most of the benefits (about $900,000 in extra median lifetime earnings for men and $630,000 more for women). Canceling the debt merely shifts it onto other taxpayers—including people who already paid their student debt (c’est moi!) or didn’t go to college at all. Fair?

Is there a Jewish angle to any of this dog day madness? Dogs are for the most part portrayed negatively in the Bible. Deuteronomy appears to equate dogs and prostitution, ruling in Deuteronomy 23:19 that if one of these is used to pay for an animal — say, if one offered a dog or sex in exchange for a goat — that purchased animal cannot be brought to the temple as a sacrifice. The Book of Kings includes several references to dogs feeding on corpses. And in the Psalms, dogs are described as beasts that maul at human beings. So, it looks like dogs had their own dog days in the good book. But in Israel, it’s a different story: 

  • Tel Aviv has the largest number of dogs per capita in the entire world. Israel is home to about 80,000 dogs that enjoy long walks in the 60 dog parks across the country. 
  • Tel Aviv is already known as the nonstop city, the gay friendly capital of the world, and now it might just serve as the most dog friendly city too.
  • Tel Aviv will test dog poop DNA to fine owners who don’t clean up – City council approves setting up database, obligating owners to submit their pets’ DNA details when receiving their license.

What about news of the Jews this week? Haven’t I subjected you to enough already? For the curious in the crowd, here are a few carefully curated bits taken from various Jewish sources around the globe:

  1. Iran, Diplomacy and Option B – While the US and European leaders continue pressing Iran on a new Nuke deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weaponry, Israeli leaders across the spectrum have been busy bashing it on multiple fronts. A lot of Lapid’s comments focus on the $100B in funds that will be released to Iran, and the terrible things they may likely do with said funds, and how the current deal enables further uranium enrichment, beyond the last deal. According to Netanyahu, “The terrible deal with Iran… casts a heavy shadow on our security and our future, the deal enables Iran to get everything and give nothing… The current deal is worse than the previous deal.” Stay tuned for a lot more on this as the deal develops. Israel and the US have already agreed to develop a military solution if diplomacy fails. Click here for more.
  2. 🕍  Jews in Montana? When the tiny Jewish community in Helena, Montana, could no longer maintain its synagogue building, back in 1935, they sold it to the state, asking that it be used for a “good and social purpose.” Temple Emanu-El, completed in 1891, housed the state’s social welfare offices, and eventually was taken over by the Catholic Church. Now, the Montana Jewish Project, founded in March 2021, has raised enough money to buy it back and create a community and cultural center. “Helena was one of only four state capitals in the nation without a synagogue or Jewish center,” said Julie Bir, who was involved with the project. “We’ve just changed that.”
Temple Emanu-El in Helena, Montana, was built in 1891.
  1. 🥯  Give me Liberté or give me death – A favorite cream cheese of Jewish Montrealers is being discontinued. “Liberté cream cheese is part of a long legacy of foods brought to Montreal by Ashkenazi immigrants that changed the food culture of the city,” writes Kat Romanow, the co-founder of the Wandering Chew and a Jewish food historian. Liberty Dairy Products was founded in 1936 by the Kaporovsky family. It was located on the corner of St-Urbain and Duluth, in a building that now houses the iconic Montreal sandwich shop, Café Santropol. The company was called Liberty to honour the Kaporovsky family’s hope upon seeing the Statue of Liberty during their passage through Ellis Island. Wanting to fill the need for kosher dairy products, they sold cream cheese, along with cottage cheese and sour cream, and delivered it to customers with a horse and buggy. (MyJewishLearning)
  2. Jared’s Daddy issues – Jared Kushner’s memoir is all about forgiveness — but he’s not asking for ours: ”Breaking History,” the memoir by former Trump adviser and all-around wunderkind Jared Kushner, reads like a bloated cover letter, according to reviewer PJ Grisar. But it’s hard to miss that Kushner is trying to do a bit more with his White House tell-some book, directly linking his ethic to lessons about forgiveness gleaned after the imprisonment of his father, Charles. But, as Grisar writes: “One thing Kushner doesn’t ask for in this unapologetic slog is forgiveness for himself.” Read the story ➤
  3. “I like me, I really, really like me” – 👋  “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has been renewed for Season 12. “In researching this multi-faceted, multi-talented man, I discovered that there’s more to him than I ever could have imagined,” Larry David said about his role playing Larry David, adding: “I only pray that I can do him justice.” (Variety)
  4. 🍦  A judge dealt Ben & Jerry’s board members a setback in their unusual legal fight against their own corporate parent, Unilever, over ice cream sales in the West Bank. The judge denied the board members’ petition to block Unilever’s transfer of Ben & Jerry’s assets to a local licensee in Israel. That transfer will allow Cherry Garcia and other signature flavors to be sold in West Bank settlements, which the board members say undermines the brand’s values. (JTA)
  5.  More MAGA nuts – Her state party apologized for her, but this GOP nominee continues to spread antisemitic tropes. Kim Crockett, the Republican nominee for secretary of state in Minnesota, described Jewish billionaire George Soros as a puppet-master of her Jewish opponent. Crockett, who called the 2020 presidential election “rigged,” is running against the Democratic incumbent Steve Simon, who is Jewish. Crockett is one of several Republican candidates vying for secretary of state who question the integrity of the 2020 election and have used antisemitic tropes or invoked the Holocaust in their campaigns. (At least 11 GOP  nominees for the office have questioned the legitimacy of the election.) 

I am running out of steam, so will spare you any further Jew News. Have a great week everyone, and let’s continue to be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – August 13, 2022 – One nation….

Shabbat shalom! 

The heat and humidity may have broken around here, but the news cycles are red hot this week with a new episode of the orange turd eroding our democracy and dividing the nation. Just when things were returning to normal, and Congress was actually getting shit done, we get the news that the former disgraced President, in addition to instigating a treasonous coup, is now dabbling in espionage! WTF! Whatever is in all the boxes labelled “Top Secret” and “Really Wicked Top Secret” that the FBI pulled out of the basement and toilets of Mar a Lago, doesn’t worry me. But what does worry me is the right wing responses and the evolving excuses coming from the usual bunch of sycophants and spineless cowards still more worried about their hold on power than the fate of our great nation. The Republican Party, the once great “Law and Order” Party, in its deranged zeal to defend the indefensible is now doubling down on their active contempt for the rule of law! In their view, Democrats and liberals have so thoroughly seized control of major American institutions (“The Deep State”) — including the federal bureaucracy and law enforcement apparatus — that nonpartisan governance is functionally impossible. 

But what is more troubling to me is how eerily this current legal search scenario resembles the lead up to the violence that erupted on January 6. The Republican leaders/cowards that continue to promote the conspiracy bullshit will have more blood on their hands, as already witnessed by the maniacal MAGA nut that went after the FBI office in Cincinnati. MAGA world is erupting and calling for civil war without even waiting for the evidence. On right wing social media, there are countless references to “lock and load” and statements like this: “It certainly feels like they’re treating it as a hot civil war. When this is all said and done, the people responsible for these tyrannical actions need to be hanged.” Ben Collins, who covers disinformation, extremism, and the internet for NBC News, wrote on Monday evening, “The posts on these pro-Trump forums tonight are as violent as I’ve seen them since before January 6th. Maybe even more so.” 

Yikes. Let’s hope cooler, more rational heads will prevail and we eventually get more facts around this historic search of a former President’s home. I’m not sure it was the right political thing to do, but I thought Merritt Garland did the right thing by holding the press conference and releasing the information. From what I have seen of Garland so far, his temperament, smarts, and respect for the rule of law, it’s a shame his Supreme Court seat was stolen from him and given instead to a beer guzzling cry baby.

Well, enough of my venting, and let’s get to some news of the Jews! Finally! Here are a few more carefully curated gems of the week! Enjoy!

  1. 📺  The showrunners behind Hulu’s “The Patient” are defending their choice to cast Steve Carell, who is not Jewish, as a Jewish therapist. “I think our feeling has always been, as television writers, that we’re kind of in an area where people are pretending to be other people,” said co-creator Joe Weisberg. The casting of non-Jewish actors in decidedly Jewish roles has caused criticism in recent years, with Sarah Silverman denouncing the practice as “Jewface.” I for one, am not buying it, but that’s just my humble opinion. (JTAVariety)
  2. 🍻  Torah and Tonic please? Opaque plastic wrap covers the windows of a nondescript storefront in Somerville, Mass., Cambridge’s less haughty neighbor, leaving passersby to guess what business might soon open here, less than a mile from Harvard. A minimalist poster tacked to the window offers a very brief explanation: “Lehrhaus, a Jewish tavern and house of learning. Opening soon.” Torah study during the day and beer, schnitzel and kugel in the evening. “We want to build on-ramps to Jewish learning in an environment that people understand and want to spend time in,” said Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, a co-founder. (Jewish Insider)
  3. Shiva Call: the secret Jewish life of Olivia Newton John – The Australian actress and singer, perhaps best known for her role in “Grease,” died Monday at 73. Her Jewish grandparents fled Nazi Germany and then helped others escape as well. You may have heard of Newton-John’s grandfather: He’s Max Born, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist. She often quoted him saying: “The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it, seems to me the deepest root of all that is evil in the world.” And she added: “I have a real problem with people killing each other for what they believe, so my grandfather’s words put it all into perspective for me.” Read the story ➤
  4. Getting in their licks – 🍦  A group of Israeli students have sent a cheeky letter to Ben & Jerry’s, accusing it of hypocrisy for pulling out of the West Bank while “occupying” land in Vermont that once belonged to Native Americans. “Justice, morality and boycotts are not just slogans and antisemitic weapons for your food company to point at the Jewish community in Israel,” the students wrote in a letter organized by the hard-right legal organization Shurat Hadin. “Justice and morality must begin at home.” (New York Post)
  5. The best Jewish Deli’s in the US – I did not see my two favorites, Reins in Connecticut (tubs of pickles on your table), a convenient half way stop on our way to New York, and the amazing Sherman’s Deli in Palm Springs. The latter passed the Gary Gekow test for having Jewish style rice pudding that ranks right up there against the best Deli’s in NYC. Not surprisingly, many of the best are in NYC according to this author, and my favorite on the list is “Call Your Mother”, a DC favorite.  So, what are you waiting for, call your mother and take her to a deli! Read the story
  6. 🎸  Following a passion – Joe Resnek is a Harvard Law School grad who became a White House speechwriter. Nowadays you can find him in long dreadlocks busking on streets in his hometown of Chelseaacross the Mystic River from Boston. His first album was released this summer. “Moving a crowd is the principle,” Resnek said. “Obama was a rock star – and not because he sang.” (Boston Jewish Journal)
  7. 🔥  “I’m melting, melting. Ohhhhh, what a world, what a world” – On the fifth anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in which neo-Nazis chanted “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Virginia, the city approved a plan to melt down its bronze statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and replace it with a public art installation. A prior plan to remove the statue from a downtown park was what sparked the white supremacist gathering, in which a counter-protester was killed. (NPR)

That’s all I have this week! Hope you are all enjoying the summer and not hiding any top secret documents! And hey, let’s still be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – August 6, 2022 – The Ice Cream Edition

Shabbat shalom! Shout out today to all the riders and volunteers saddling up for this year’s Pan Mass Challenge today and tomorrow to raise money for Dana Farber Cancer research! The target this year is $60 Million! Go PMCers and enjoy the ride!

The dog days of August are upon us. With the Red Sox stumbling hard in July, and this oppressive heat stifling outdoor activities, staying cool and hydrated and in good spirits can be a challenge. However, there is no greater antidote to this summer malaise than a vanilla frappe from Crescent Ridge Dairy. Max and I have been splitting one of these heavenly creamy concoctions each Friday as a way to usher in the weekend. There is no describing the comfort that comes with those first sips: I can actually feel the neurotransmitters snapping to attention in my brain and the waves of dopamine pulsating through my body. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. There is no question that ice cream ignites the pleasure centers in our brain with far fewer downsides than illicit drugs and researchers have also found that the fat in it reduces the intensity of sad emotions by almost 50%. Hence, I have dedicated this issue of the JNR to celebrate and honor the great antidote to the dog days of August – ice cream, and the incredible influence Jews have had on the development of this wonder drug. More on that later.

“The Ridge” as we locals refer to it, has been voted in the Top 10 ice cream purveyors in the world!

First, another shout out, this one to the Women of the Wall, a group agitating for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel (Western Wall), for over a decade. The story feels hopelessly Groundhog Day-ish: activists show up every Rosh Chodesh, the celebration of the new Hebrew month; try to smuggle a Torah into the women’s side of the Western Wall; Orthodox men and boys harass them. It happened again a week ago last Friday, when the bat mitzvah of an American girl was disrupted by an angry mob. But their voices grow stronger and louder, and I am hopeful that sooner rather than later, the powers that be will change the rules and finally allow women to pray at the Kotel just as men have been doing for centuries. Come on guys, this is a no brainer! Watch this clip and you get a sense of the raw spiritual strength of the group and the genuine anger of the orthodox men who are obviously not supportive of the idea because they believe the Kotel is a “mens only” synagogue for the Orthodox. The rules were changed back in 2016 to allow women and other non-orthodox an area on the southern part of the wall to pray, but kept most of the Kotel restricted.  Women of the Wall Video.

But back to ice cream.

While its origins are decidedly non-Jewish, (China’s ancient King Tang of Shang recorded employing 94 “ice men” who prepared a recipe made of buffalo milk, flour and camphor which was eaten chilled) Jews have had a significant impact on the modern world’s appetite and popularity for this amazing treat. Think Baskin Robbins, Häagen-Dazs, Ben and Jerry’s, Steve Herrell’s and you begin to get the picture, as all of these ice cream entrepreneurs are Jewish! Ice cream is so ubiquitous in Israel that a common Hebrew saying when people bump into each other is pa’am shlishit glida – the third time we meet, we’ll go out for ice cream together. It’s an apt expression, conveying the deliciousness and popularity of ice cream in Israel.

So, without any further delay, here is the scoop on ice cream and Jews, or at least a few anecdotes I hope you enjoy as much as a vanilla frappe from The Ridge!

  1. Baskin Robbins – Irv Robbins, born in 1917 in Winnipeg, used his bar mitzvah money to launch the Snowbird Ice Cream parlor in 1945 in Glendale, California. Irv was a master ice cream maker, having learned the trade as a kid in his father’s ice cream store. When he served as a lieutenant in the US Navy during World War II, he’d spent his spare time making ice cream for his fellow soldiers. Snowbird Ice Cream featured a new innovation: 21 different flavors, a dazzlingly large selection at the time. A year later, Irv’s brother-in-law Bert Baskin opened his own cafe, Burton’s Ice Cream Shop in Pasadena, California. The two joined forces in 1948, combining their know-how and their stores, and introducing the high quality ice cream that made Baskin-Robbins ice cream a beloved brand for generations. One favorite of mine: Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.
Good ole Irv
  1. Häagen-Dazs – In 1961, Häagen-Dazs came on the scene, offering American consumers a delicious new, high-quality ice cream. It was the invention of Jewish immigrants Reuben and Rose Mattus. Reuben moved from Poland to the US with his mother when he was a young child, and the pair immediately started working for a relative in the Italian ice trade. Reuben learned the ropes of ice and ice-cream making, but he realized something was missing. Rose Mattus Mattus experimented with making heavier ice cream that was richer and used natural ingredients. Soon, they had a delicious product on their hand. The only problem was what to call it. The couple wanted an upscale-sounding name, so they invented the vaguely Danish-sounding name Häagen-Dazs. “The only country which saved the Jews during World War II was Denmark. So I put together a fictitious Danish name and had it registered,” recalled Reuben Mattus.
Rose Mattus
  1. Ben and Jerry’s – The ground-breaking ice cream company was founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont, by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. The pair tried to establish a socially conscious firm, using recycled materials to build their first cafe and using hormone-free milk in their products. They also delighted consumers with their amusing names for ice cream flavors, such as Chunky Monkey and Chubby Hubby. Though Ben and Jerry’s has been owned by the multinational corporation Unilever since 2000, it still produces amusing new flavors and names for its ice cream. In 2017, the company even distributed a special kosher for Passover flavor in Israel: charoset!Ben and Jerry
Ben and Jerry

Boycott nonsense update: Its misguided anti-Israel boycott is finally melting away, thanks to a new arrangement by B&J’s parent company Unilever.The brand will now be sold throughout Israel and the West Bank under its Hebrew and Arabic names — effectively ending the boycott the company imposed on Israeli towns in the West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem in July 2021. That move prompted heavy criticism from American consumers and led several states to implement sanctions — with one stockholder even suing Unilever. Now, after consultations with the Israeli government, Unilever has sold its Israeli rights to the ice-cream label to local franchisee Avi Zinger, which will allow for the sale of its products without Unilever’s direct involvement.

  1. Steve Herrell – Some of the most innovative ideas in ice cream making have come from Jewish inventors and chefs. In 1973, Steve Herrell opened Steve’s, a wildly popular ice cream parlor in Davis Square in Somerville. Herrell pioneered a new way of making rich, dense ice cream – and served his delicious ice cream with a new twist. Rolling out slabs of ice cream, he’d mix in treats like crushed candy bars and cookies. Ice cream “mix ins” soon became a national trend.
  1. Shiva call: The Choco Taco – As reported (eulogized?) by The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post and NPR, the beloved ice cream novelty the Choco Taco is being discontinued, effective immediately. On social media, the outpouring of love and sadness was overwhelming. Horror author Stephen King, soccer star Alex Morgan, Star Trek legend George Takei, all expressed their condolences. U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut even suggested invoking the Defense Production Act to stave off the beloved treat’s demise. But what interested me more was the deep Jewish connection. Good Humor truck drive Alan Drazen invented the choco taco to compete with popsicles. In his own words, “I was on an expedition in Mexico and got separated from my party. It was hot. I hadn’t had anything to drink. And then I saw a mirage. An ice cream taco, rising out of the distance. That’s how I got the idea.” This was the midrash that Drazen humorously shared in Jason Cohen’s authoritative 2016 history of the Choco Taco for Eater.
The Choco Taco was the brainchild of a Good Humor driver named Alan Drazen…

  1. What’s next?  Beyond a weekly vanilla frappe, what do we have to look forward to in the way of new ice cream concoctions? Well, the Israeli entrepreneurs are cooking up some new delicacies, and one of them, from a new Israeli company, Solo Gelato, is set to shake up the ice cream world even more: they have invented a machine that uses containers that are the same size and look similar to coffee pods to make individual servings of rich ice cream right in people’s kitchens. Their 24 options include no-sugar ice cream pods, organic, alcoholic and other ice cream variations. I may give it a try, but for now, I will stick to the vanilla frappe.

This heat continues to confine me to air conditioning, so I may need a double dose of the Ridge very soon. Hence, time for me to sign off and head to the freezer section. But, hey, let’s not forget to be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – July 30, 2022 – “Dreams and schemes and circus crowds”

Shabbat shalom! 

This morning I have Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark” spinning on the turntable, not just because I am feeling nostalgic today, but also to honor her first public performance in 9 years after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015. Her voice perhaps a few octaves lower than in her prime, she sat regally on the stage of the Newport Folk Festival last week and gave a compelling performance. I always felt Joni never got her due as the iconic female folk singer of our time, perhaps but not quite, on a par with Dylan. Maybe it was her Canadian roots? Here is a link to one of the songs she performed at the Festival, “Both Sides Now.” 

Joni Mitchell has become a living international treasure—a musician who speaks to the heart through the strongest of imaginative languages….

Summer continues to provide weather challenges across the nation as our “blue marble” continues to warm up from too much carbon polluting the planet. The evidence couldn’t be any clearer: the ice melt in Greenland, fires in California and Europe, floods in Kentucky, and if you ask my mother, Virginia is now a tropical part of the country. But, in a pretty shocking about face, Senator Manchin agreed to a watered down version of the Climate bill, which experts agree, may give is a fair chance of turning back the clock on the rising tides of climate. Could this scheme be a dream come true for the planet? It authorizes $369 billion of new climate spending, the largest investment in emissions reduction in American history—and, more important, the biggest blow against climate change ever struck by the U.S. government. “This is it. This is the real victory,” Sam Ricketts, a co-founder of Evergreen Action, a climate think tank, and a former adviser to Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, told me. “I struggle to find enough superlatives to describe this deal.” 

Apparently, negotiations between Schumer and Manchin’s staffs have been ongoing for some time, and kept completely secret from the Dems and Republicans, the latter of whom are now desperately trying to look more stupid by, in an act of pure revenge, stopping a bill from providing medical relief to veterans who have been victims of exposure to “burn pits”. Nice. Stay tuned for the next part of the process referred to as “vote-a-rama” where Senator Sinema will undoubtedly want to make some stupid changes and Republicans will force Dems to vote on even stranger amendments. Just part of the sausage making though, so this should actually happen! Bravo Congress! If you want to read more on the process, here is a link to the latest Axis analysis.

On the Jew news front, some interesting developments in Russia and Israel. Putin is at it again, showing the world why Russia should now be considered a terrorist nation, with his latest effort to shut down the Jewish Agency in Russia, an organization that pre-dates the State of Israel and is primarily responsible for helping Russian Jews emigrate to Israel and/or perform aliya. Since the Ukraine war began, over 20,000 Russian Jews have emigrated to Israel, a staggering number that probably represents a significant brain drain as well as the loss of potential draftees into whatever land grab the Russian monster is planning next. Putin is probably also sending a clear message to Prime Minister Lapid that he is not liking his support of Ukraine, nor the latest bombings by Israel in Syria to stop the build-up of Iranian military there. 

And speaking of Lapid, new elections for Israel are in November, and the Las Vegas line, or whatever the Israeli equivalent would be, is all over the map. There appears to be 3 potential scenarios developing: Nutt-and-yahoo finds 61 votes, Nutt-and-yahoo fails and Gantz creates a coalition, or a 6th election is required and Lapid stays on as PM. It’s complicated. And a new party has formed called the “Zionist Spirit” which may have some leverage in determining the outcome. Wild stuff. In case you are wondering how Israel functions during these times, the way the rules work there the party in power continues to have power, except they cannot introduce any new major spending bills. But decisions and government continue unabated otherwise.

Here are a few other Jewish gems, carefully curated by yours truly from various sources, too numerous to name:

  1. 🤷  Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito decried what he called “hostility to religion” in his first public remarks since the court overturned the constitutional right to abortion. Give me a freaking break Alito! You and your predominantly Christian Justices are making decisions based on your personal religious beliefs that are hostile to the country! Meanwhile, during a trip to Canada this week, Pope Francis told local clergy that God does not want “a world governed by religious laws.” (BloombergCNNReligion News Service)
Pope Francis arrived at a basilica in Quebec on Thursday
  1. On Culture: Ken Burns and the Holocaust –   Ken Burns said he spent seven years on his new documentary film, “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” which will air over three nights in September on PBS. He said: “I will not work on a more important film than this.” Sandy and I will add it to our list of must see shows, which now also includes “The Bear” streaming on Hulu. (Axios)
  2. Is it possible to separate Roger Waters’ music from his politics? The 78-year-old made his name with Pink Floyd, but his vocal opposition to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has complicated his relationship with some of his Jewish fans (including me) — and fellow musicians. After attending a recent Waters show, Jim Sullivan, a longtime music critic for the Boston Globe, spoke to some Jewish musicians about the political aspects. “I still love the music,” said Genya Ravan, a punk rocker who fled the Holocaust, “but he is drunk on his own perfume and it stinks.” Read the story ➤
  3. Norman Lear, still going strong on his 100th birthday: The creator of “All in the Family” and a slew of other shows from the 1970s celebrates one full century today. As PJ Grisar writes in a birthday tribute, while Jews were rarely at the center of Lear’s TV universe, the Emmy and Kennedy Center-winning writer and producer brought social issues to the fore in his work, a tendency that arose from his Jewish background. “At 9 I learned that people disliked me because of my Jewishness,” Lear told the Forward in 2014. “It was a profound discovery and influenced everything I ever felt about the human species, the human condition.” Read the story ➤
  4. AIPAC’s misguided strategy: Rep. Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat, supports a two-state solution. But for AIPAC, which has spent millions trying to defeat him in an upcoming election, this makes him insufficiently pro-Israel. “By attacking Levin on his pro-Israel bona fides, AIPAC is playing a short-term game,” writes Joel Rubin, the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress and spokesman for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. “This is not how you grow support for Israel. This is how you tear it down.” Read his essay ➤
  5. 🙏🏻  Americans’ stated belief in God dipped to 81%, down 6 percentage points from 2017, according to a new Gallup Poll. That’s the lowest it’s been since Gallup first asked the question in 1944. And according to Woody Allen, “not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on Sundays”. (Religion News Service)
  6. Can you fix stupid? 🍺  A Rhode Island sports bar, trying to entice customers into its air-conditioning during this last heatwave, received backlash after it shared an Anne Frank meme to social media. The since-deleted post was a photo of Frank with the words “It’s hotter than an oven out there… and I should know!” (ABC 6)
  1. The secret Jewish history of Joni Mitchell – Of course, The Forward has its usual Jewish angle on everything, including Joni Mitchell. Mitchell was not Jewish, but she married a Jew, and was surrounded and influenced by many Jewish men in her life and career. The artist once said that her song ‘Both Sides Now’ was inspired by a passage from a Saul Bellow novel. “Over the years, we have come to understand that her songs are highly autobiographical, strewn with details of her high-profile affairs with James Taylor and Graham Nash (both of whom returned the favor in their own songs), as well as with David Crosby, Jackson Browne, Warren Beatty, and the great Jewish bard of depression and loneliness, Leonard Cohen.”  Click here for more

That’s enough for this week! Stay cool everyone, and hey, let’s remember to always be safe out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – July 23, 2022 – Hot and blathered

Shabbat shalom! 

It’s really hot and getting me cranky. But despite my crankiness, I will try and be positive and shed some good news along with my usual crabby blather. And on that good news front, how awesome was it to see a guilty verdict for one of the more loathsome characters on the planet, Steve Bannon? And while it makes me sad to watch how the orange turd abused the patriotism and loyalty of his ardent supporters, I thought Thursday’s prime time January 6 hearing, led by Liz Cheney, was an important step in laying out why the orange turd should not be allowed anywhere near the levers of power. And the fact that even Merritt Garland was cranky in his little press conference, leads me to believe it’s not just the heat getting him cranky, but the prospect of indicting the disgraced former President. Now that would be good news! And if that isn’t enough to put a smile on your face, how about the video of Senator “Fistpump McRunpants” fleeing like a chicken from the MAGA storm troopers he was fist pumping minutes earlier?! Comic relief.

Job well done January 6 Committee! Now it’s time to hand this off to the Justice Department and let the legal proceedings begin. 

On the Jew news front, lot’s to discuss. If history is your thing, I recommend the new book by preeminent journalist Walter Meade, “Arc of the Covenant”, which thoroughly debunks the many myths about the power of the Jewish lobby and it’s influence on Zionism and the creation of Israel. He tries to explain why polling in America shows 55-70% support for Israel, yet the Jewish population is only 2%, and white Evangelicals only 14%. And he dispels many historical myths, such as how “Harry Truman saved the Jews” and maybe Stalin deserves more credit! You can listen to an interview of Meade with this link Click here.

Now, here are some other carefully curated news about Jews, selected by yours truly from various Jewish sources such as The Forward, Times of Israel, Kveller, etc.

  1. Under the Israeli radar: -Small headlines like this one, Kohavi meets Morocco’s defense minister, army chief on second day of landmark trip” are indicators of political and military cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors. This builds on the success of the Abraham Accords, one of the only bright spots of the Trump administration. Israel’s head of the IDF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with his counterpart in Morocco, opening the doors for Israel to sell weapons to the African country. I predict you will be seeing more of these headlines in the near future. For more, click here.
  2. Sports Beat: Jewish NFL quarterback Josh Rosen signs deal to join Cleveland Browns – The Cleveland Browns signed former first-round draft pick Josh Rosen as a backup quarterback Friday, as the team awaits word on the fate of its expensive starter Deshaun Watson. Rosen, who is Jewish, was a standout in college at UCLA, but has failed to find his footing since being drafted 10th by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. Rosen went 3-13 in starts for the Cardinals and Miami during his first two seasons. He was with Atlanta last season and appeared in four games. How sweet that he will be the back up QB for Jacoby Brisket! For more, click here.
  3. From the Anti-Semitism Desk: Holocaust memorials in Buchenwald and Berlin vandalized in same week – (JTA) — In the same week, sets of unidentified individuals cut down trees planted to commemorate Holocaust victims near the former Nazi camp of Buchenwald in Germany and drew swastikas onto one of the concrete slabs of Berlin’s Holocaust memorial.Near Buchenwald, the perpetrators on Tuesday sawed off the tops of seven trees planted along a road that used to lead to the camp, the DPA news agency reported. The trees were planted earlier this year as part of a commemorative project titled “1,000 beeches for Buchenwald,” through which relatives of some of the victims murdered there planted dozens of trees commemorating their families across the campground. The perpetrators did not take any branches, leaving the tree tops lying near the trunks. The International Auschwitz Committee, an association of survivors of that former camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, called the incident a “hateful and calculated demonstration of power by neo-Nazis.” Police told DPA that they do not have concrete information on the perpetrators. For more, click here.
  1. A priest, a rabbi and an imam walked into a wedding — for 500 couples:  No, not the beginning of a lame joke. So many weddings have been postponed and re-postponed during this pandemic era. But love persists. Last weekend, it was on public display at Lincoln Center, where a bevy of brides and grooms in gowns, tuxes and jazzy ensembles said a collective “I do” in a symbolic ceremony and danced the night away. “I thought it was sort of a schtick, but it turns out it wasn’t,” said Rabbi Matt Green, one of the officiants. He said it was his first time working directly with Christian or Muslim clergy. “The minister referred to Jesus as ‘rabbi Jesus’ on stage,” he recalled, chuckling. “And I was like ‘why not!’ You know, sure.” Read the story ➤
  2. Speaking of true love: 💕  A nice Jewish girl met a nice Jewish boy with “Be a Mensch” tattooed on his bicep while riding the New York City subway. They struck up a conversation, and then parted ways. It had all the makings of a romantic comedy. But they’d failed to exchange contact info, so the woman turned to social media. Her simple plea —  Does anyone know this guy? — was retweeted tens of thousands of times. Until, finally … well, I won’t spoil the ending. (NY Jewish Week) But, Steven and I are considering getting the same tattoo as part of our branding efforts for Mensches With Wrenches!
  1. On culture: Netflix is dropping Part 2 of “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” this coming Friday. Sandra and I give two thumbs up to Part 1, as this is some great historical fiction that takes place from the 1920’s and onward, pre formation of Israel. For a trailer, click here.
  2. Under pressure, Jewish federation network announces opposition to abortion ruling: When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, most Jewish groups rushed out statements in opposition – including organizations like the American Jewish Committee that generally seek to stay above the partisan fray. But one establishment stalwart remained conspicuously quiet: the Jewish Federations of North America, which represents more than 100 local federations and has an influential policy voice in Washington. But after pressure from Jewish feminists, including a Chicago congresswoman, and questions from the Forward, CEO Eric Fingerhut came out against the court ruling this week. Read the story ➤

That’s all for this week. Stay cool out there everyone, and remember, let’s also be careful out there!

Brad out.