The Jew News Review – March 18, 2023 – “Pilos 2: Make America Thin Again”

Shabbat shalom! And a tip of the Kipah this week to Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, winner of countless Oscars, (and maybe the new name for the Israeli judicial reforms?) Wouldn’t have been my choice for Best Picture, but I did appreciate the rather poignant moment where Harrison Ford presents the trophy to Ke Huy Yuan, who I later learned had co-starred with Ford in 1984’s Indian Jones as Short Round, Jone’s sidekick. Quite the comeback!

I haven’t yet seen the movie Whale, which garnered best Actor for Brendan Fraser, who plays a reclusive, morbidly obese English teacher who tries to restore his relationship with his teenage daughter. But, based on my last weight reading from the scale, if the trend line continues, I may be able to play Fraser’s role in Whale 2. It seems as though I have permanently crossed the Mendoza line, and recent efforts to lose weight and drop below the line have failed. The last time I ventured in this territory, I started my own diet called PILOS, not a Greek food-based diet, but an acronym for Penis In Line Of Sight. My objective was to lose enough weight so I could look down and see something other than my gut. And I was successful! But alas, not for long.

So, I joined the growing number of US adults, two thirds of us according to the NIH, who are either overweight or obese. The statistics are a bit disturbing, as apparently one third of us fatties are obese, and, it’s not just an American problem, as countries such as Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and even France are seeing similar trends and statistics. If the trend lines continue globally, according to the WHO, there will be approximately 4 Billion obese adults by 2035! Yikes! Could the burden cause the Earth to fall out of orbit? 

Capitalism to the rescue! Enter the pharmaceutical industry. The hot new drug on the market is a weekly injection that was approved by the FDA for treating Type 2 Diabetes, but which now has a huge off-label market for weight loss since it mimics a hormone that makes you feel full so you don’t eat as much. And it works! As long as you maintain your weekly injections at a cost of between $900 and $1200 per month! These drugs have become so popular that the stock of Pfizer and Novo Nordisk, two makers of the drug, have doubled since the drug went viral in the off-label market two years ago. And their success is raising all kinds of health policy and other issues, such as will insurance pay for it? Right now, 40 million of the 110 million obese people are covered for it, but should it be covered and for whom? Personally, I am in the camp of covering the cost for everyone, and treat obesity as if it were a chronic condition, which it is. I take a statin pill every day to help prevent heart disease, shouldn’t we think of obesity in the same way? Science and biology have pretty much proven that while it is easy to gain weight, it is next to impossible to lose it, as our bodies have evolved to retain weight, not the opposite. So, let Medicare negotiate better pricing, and, develop a pill instead of an injection. And make America thin again!

Speaking of weighty topics, the judicial reform in Israel continues to spin toward a messy conclusion. I was hopeful that the Herzog compromise might bring Bibi and his coalition of crazies to their senses, but not so far. I fear Israeli’s are living the quote from Vaclav Havel, “We stand at the edge of a great abyss, and are about to take a giant step forward”. However, the pressure within Israel and around the globe continues to mount with protests now in their 11th week and showing no signs of abating. But, Bibi has made a few comments recently suggesting the current proposals may have gone too far, so, maybe some hope!

Now for the good stuff, those carefully curated bits of Jewcy news from the likes of The Times of Israel, JTA News, Kveller, Jewish Boston, The Forward, and other fine and sensible Jewy journals. Her you go:

  1. 🇮🇱  From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned of the possibility of civil war if the government won’t agree to a compromise on judicial reform, a stunning pronouncement from a personality and an office that are both known for restraint.” But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Herzog’s proposal for a compromise. Hundreds of thousands were expected to take part in a day of “escalating resistance to dictatorship” at 150 locations across the country Thursday. (JTATimes of Israel)
  2. Nut job Ben-Gvir shuts down program to combat violence – Netanyahu nutjob, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who serves as national security minister, said on Wednesday that he was shutting down a program dedicated to reducing violence in Arab Israeli towns. His reason: The program is operated by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which he called a “leftist organization.” “JDC is a nonpolitical organization and has been so since our founding in 1914,” Michael Geller, a spokesperson for JDC, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Ben-Gvir’s characterization baffled many across the Jewish communal world who know the JDC as a nonpartisan group with an extensive track record of providing humanitarian aid to Jews in distress. For more, click here
  3. Gefilte fish: can you make silk out of a sow’s ear? Nope. But you can try, as this writer/chef did and managed to keep it on her Passover menu. “To avert extinction, the gefilte fish I loved had to evolve”, says Yona Eighenbaum, culture editor for The Forward. For me, just saying the words “gefilte fish” was a portal to another time and place. To my childhood and my parents and their history. But with that generation almost gone, gefilte fish was losing its luster, often politely described as an acquired taste. I worried about extinction, imagining a future where even the words would disappear from our lexicon, the portal closed.” For more, click here.
  1. 🇵🇸  Israel Losing ground with Democrats – Put this in the “Pisses me off” column. A Gallup poll released Thursday showed, for the first time since at least 2001, that more Democrats sympathize with the Palestinians than with the Israelis. In a separate question, a majority of Democrats said they have a favorable view of Israel. (JTA) Bill Maher raised this poll with guest Israeli actress, producer and activist Noa Tishby, whose most recent book is “Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth”. We must do something to win the hearts and minds of the younger generations.
  2. Shabbas Goy plans a comeback – Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is contemplating a political comeback after resigning in 2021 amid accusations of sexual harassment, has launched a pro-Israel advocacy group. Calling himself a “Shabbos goy,” Cuomo said non-Jewish politicians like him should speak out “first and loudest” in defense of Israel. “I am going to call the question for Democrats. Do you stand with Israel or do you stand against Israel?” Cuomo said in pre-recorded remarks at an event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. “Because silence is not an option.” 
  3. 📈   The FBI counted 20% more anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2021 than the prior year, according to updated but still incomplete data published this week. Overall, the new report found a total of more than 10,800 hate crimes — the highest number in decades. (JTA)🔪  Speaking of which, a 22-year-old man in Lakewood, New Jersey, was arrested late Monday night on nearly two dozen charges after he wielded a machete at a group of Orthodox Jews leaving synagogue. (Asbury Park PressLakewood Scoop)
  4. Holy Bagel Blunder Batman! – Angie Gautney of DeLand, Florida tried to solve a puzzle that, for most bagel-lovers, would have been a shoo-in. The nearly completed puzzle on the board, in the “Food & Drink” category, was, “WARM TOASTED BA_ELS WITH LO_ AND CREAM CHEESE.”You see it, right? It’s plain as, well, a plain bagel. But unfortunately, Gautney’s guess was “warm toasted bagels with low and cream cheese.” Oy.

That’s all for the week fellow JNR peeps! Hope you have a great weekend! And, hey, remember to be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – March 11, 2023 – “Sunrise, sunset…”

Shabbat shalom!

My brain this morning is a whirling dervish of news, topics, and ideas which could probably fill a few months worth of JNR content. Fortunately I have a helper today, my grand daughter Abby, who will keep me focused and gets awarded “muse of the week” for her inspiring presence. Today is also the Yahrzeit of my Dad, who passed 24 years ago, and unfortunately, never got to meet Max or Abby or any other nachas generators yet to come. Sitting here with our little bundle of Abby joy, with the Yahrzeit candle flickering in the background, and hearing my Dad’s name called out during our Temple service last night, I am feeling a bit verklempt this morning. 

Which may be why my thoughts turn away from failing banks, CPAC whack jobs, orange turdness, Days of Disruption and other shit storms and toward honoring the memory of Israel’s greatest export since the Jaffa orange, Chaim Topol. The sun set permanently this week on the actor best known as Tevya from the landmark film version of “Fiddler on the Roof”. Topol began playing the lead role on the London stage, but will surely be best known for the oscar nominated film version produced in 1971 by one of my favorite Goys, Norm Jewison. Topol went on to reprise the role in stage productions across the world including Turkey, Japan, and Greece, where he got to see firsthand how universally resonant Fiddler’s themes were: the struggle between tradition and modernity, the importance of family. But he also embodied it as a deeply Jewish story. According to one critic, “Fiddler was carefully structured to make Judaism and the influx of Jewish immigrants after the Holocaust sympathetic and accessible to outsiders. But as American Jews have become increasingly assimilated into American culture, it has turned into a touchstone for the Old World roots that help ground Judaism as a unique ethnicity and culture.” 

True that. Sandra and I recently added the film version to our list of holiday movies, (along with “Die Hard” and “Love Actually”), and were surprised to find that some of our nieces and nephews had never seen it! So, a new tradition, tradition! And to Topol, a big “tip of the kipah” for an indelible performance that will certainly live on forever in the hearts and minds of Jews and non-Jews across the globe. If you are interested, there are two documentaries on the film with interesting anecdotes and back stories, and both do a pretty good job of articulating the cultural significance of the film and play, “Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles”, and “Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen”.

Topol and Norman Jewison on the set of the 1971 movie musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’

And speaking of the struggle between modernity and tradition, there is more of that theme playing out in Israel. Over 250,000 protesters took to the streets on Thursday (160,000 in Tel Aviv alone) to protest Bibi’s proposed power grab of the Supreme Court of Israel, making this the 9th week of such protests. Let’s do a quick summary: The high tech community, most economists, 80% of the people, most Jews around the world, most of the legal community, and now the reservists in the Israeli military, all oppose the manner, methods and content of the judicial reform proposals. Most recently, Bibi couldn’t find a pilot to fly him to Rome for a meeting since the pilots are also protesting, and, the protesters in the streets blocked his passage to the airport so that he had to take a helicopter instead of drive! Bibi, boobelah, you are losing your grip! 

There appears to be some sunrise emerging on a compromise, led by President Herzog, but there are so many red lines on the key issues that it will be real tricky to carve out a compromise that will actually be acceptable and workable to all interested parties. And here in the good ole US of A, the American Jewish community seems to be agonizing over the Israeli government’s recent behavior. National organizations known for ferociously defending Israel are now publicly criticizing it over proposed changes to the judicial system. Rabbis, too, have sermonized against those reforms and new extremist cabinet ministers, including our own Rabbi Metzler, who re-emphasized his support of the protesters in last night’s Shabbat service. And dozens of prominent Jewish leaders came out against a planned visit by one of those ministers, Bezalel Smotrich, in a scathing open letter this month. No matter how you feel about the issue, they should at a minimum slow this process down and have a thoughtful dialogue before sunsetting democratic traditions that have served Israel well and reflect the liberal values of the country. 

What about all the rest of the Jewy news you may be asking? When do we get to eat at the buffet of juicy items gathered from the likes of The Forward, Times of Israel, Kveller, Jewish Boston, and other notable journals of Jewish news and culture? Well put your feedbags on, cause here you go:

  1. Remembering Topol, the people’s Tevye – When making the film version of Fiddler on the Roof, director Norman Jewison chose Chaim Topol over Zero Mostel, who played Tevye in the original Broadway production. The Associated Press estimates that the movie has been seen by more than 1 billion people – including, according to Mira Fox at The Forward, the Mormon students at Brigham Young University who staged a production of Fiddler last year. “Topol’s Tevye,” she says, “shaped how they understood what it meant to be Jewish.” Read the story ➤
  2. 🇮🇱  Yikes! It’s been a deadly 24 hours in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – The Israeli owner of a farm in the occupied West Bank shot and killed an armed Palestinian man who reportedly threw improvised explosives at the farm early this morning … A Palestinian gunman shot and wounded three people on Tel Aviv’s main drag of cafes and restaurants Thursday night, before being killed by the police; two  Israeli Arabs suspected of aiding the attacker have turned themselves in to authorities … Earlier on Thursday, undercover Israeli forces killed three Islamic Jihad gunmen in the West Bank. (Times of IsraelJTAHaaretzTimes of Israel)
  3. White supremacists passed out more propaganda than ever in 2022: That’s according to a new Anti-Defamation League report out this week. The group found 6,751 incidents of white supremacist propaganda, a 38% increase from the previous year and the highest number since the ADL began tracking it. Among those propaganda incidents, according to the ADL, 852 — about 13% — were antisemitic, more than double the number in 2021. Carla Hill of the ADL said a “a small number of people” were responsible for large numbers of incidents, adding: “One person can literally make a town feel like it’s inundated with antisemites.” Read the story ➤
  4. Your guide to Jews in baseball 2023 – Ah, spring training and Fort Myers can only mean one thing: Spring is on the way! Our fantasy league baseball draft is the end of this month, and none too soon! As long as I can remember, my father always talked about the great Jews of baseball, mostly Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax. Of course there were others, but none that I recall from Dad. “Jewish people are very passionate about baseball,” Boston Red Sox pitcher Richard Bleier recently noted. “They love finding out who the Jewish athletes are.” That’s been true ever since Lipman Pike, New York-born son of a Dutch Jewish family, became the first professional ballplayer in 1866. Now, we have The Forward to thank for giving us the guide for all Jews in Baseball. For the complete guide, click here.
  5. This week marked International Women’s Day. Ellen Cassedy, a founder of the 9-5 movement, says in a new OpEd that her lifetime of fighting for working women was inspired by the stories she heard about Yiddish-speaking women and girls in the garment industry who went on strike for better wages and hours. Bonus:Watch a Yiddish rendition of Dolly Parton’s song, “9 to 5.”
  6. Shiva call – Judith Heumann, often called the “mother of the disabilities rights movement,” died on Saturday at 75. Her work paved the way for the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.  Read The Forward’s 2021 conversation with Heumann, who they named to the Forward list of 125 American Jews who shaped our world. “’The Jewish community has an obligation, I believe, to be leaders,’ Judy Heumann said in 2016, and boy, she was one hell of a leader. Tip of the Kipah to you Judith, may you rest in peace. 
  7. Purim illegal in Tennessee? What else is new. Tennessee’s new anti-drag laws would make Purim celebrations illegal. A bill signed into law there makes it illegal to stage “adult cabaret” anywhere a child might encounter it. Like, for example, at any Jewish community center Purim spiel or carnival where some might choose to portray characters of a different gender and, especially, at The Vashti Ball, New York’s largest queer Purim party, which features drag and welcomes children and teens in a non-alcoholic section. This anti-woke bullshit needs to end soon. For more, click here. 

And so, another JNR comes to an end. It’s been a pleasure working with Abby this week, I hope it can become a new tradition! And hey, let’s remember to be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – March 4, 2023 – “The shaming of the true”

Shabbat shalom everyone!

It’s Purim week! And I must confess, it’s one of those Jewish holidays that never really caught my attention, until now. It’s very popular in Israel, where there is no halloween equivalent enabling the opportunity to “dress up” and flaunt alter egos. But for some reason, my formal and informal Jewish upbringing did not include a Purim party, at least not to my recollection, a faculty which in my advanced years is admittedly beginning to show signs of oxidation. So, maybe my renewed interest in Purim is due to being slighted all those past years, or maybe it’s the recent revelation to me that according to the Talmud, this is the only Jewish holiday where the rabbis promote drinking alcohol until you can’t tell the difference between Esther, savior of the Jews, or bad guy Haman (clack your groggers!). My own theory on the popularity of the holiday is that hip Jews read the whole Megillah, drink a shot at every mention of Haman, and get so wasted they decide to dress up for synagogue as if attending some sort of “Rocky Horror Purim Show”. Whatever the origin, I will start celebrating this weekend with some home made hamantaschen paired with a fine bottle of Bordeaux from the Galilee wine region.

“A person should drink on Purim until the point where they cannot tell the difference between ‘Blessed is Mordechai’ and ‘Cursed is Haman.’
Talmud-Megillah 7a/Shulchan Aruch
(Code of Jewish Law

A Purim celebration in Mea She’arim.

Also this week, we learned with verifiable court testimony what we all knew all along anyway: Fox news is far from “Fair and Balanced”, and more like “Fake and Bullshit”. The revelations in the Dominion Voting Systems legal filings demonstrate the full corruption of Fox News and prove the channel has become completely untethered to any standard of integrity and shames the advancement and pursuit of journalistic “Truth”. Its own bias bears no comparison to that of the “mainstream media.” CNN, ABC, and USA Today have their flaws, but at least remain within the bounds of reality. What Fox did is different. They haven’t abandoned the tradition of objective fact in favor of moral or cultural or political bias. As Andrew Sullivan noted so succinctly, 

“They still privately believe in empirical reality; they will just happily trash it in public if they think it will lose them viewers and thereby money. The core principle is money. Not truth, money. Not ethics, money. Not even obeying the law. Money. Murdoch’s News Corp. knew full well that hacking people’s phoneswas a crime and the opposite of journalism — but they did it anyway for the money and lied, lied, lied their way through the fallout. Similarly, they knew the 2020 election was no more fraudulent than any other, but lied about it anyway — for the exact same reason: “green.”

Let’s hope Dominion wins their defamation suit and the damages put Fox News and the wrinkled old bastard that owns the place out of business.

The black cloud hovering over Fox News barely hits the radar compared to the shit storm going down in Israel this last week. A few hours after a shooting Sunday that killed two Israeli brothers stopped in traffic in Hawara, a large group of Israeli settlers rampaged through the occupied West Bank town, throwing rocks and setting fires to homes, trees and cars. One Palestinian was shot dead and dozens were wounded. The attacks took place as Israeli and Palestinian officials met in Jordan to deescalate the recent wave of violence. Combined with the massive protests against Bibi’s coalition of crazies effort to ram judicial reforms through the Knesset many believe will lead to the “end of democracy” in Israel, things are pretty tense to say the least. And given the intransigence of Bibi’s coalition on each of the major judicial reform measures, there does not seem to be any offramp for a compromise. Israelis are a tough people, and don’t panic too easily, so let’s hope there is some kind of compromise solution that will help lower the temperature and lead to a more secure normalcy. 

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. I hear the clamoring for more carefully curated news items, so on with the show, this week’s smorgasbord of stuff from across the globe!

  1. Netanyahu compares Tel Aviv protesters to settlers who rampaged Palestinian village – Israelis held a “Day of Disruption” Wednesday, with mass protests across the country over the government’s planned overhaul of the judiciary. Police fired stun grenades, water cannons and tear gas at protesters, and at least 11 were hospitalized and dozens were arrested. In a televised address Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that “foreign elements” were behind the demonstrations but failed to provide evidence. He compared the protesters to the Israeli settlers who torched a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, condemning both with a line from Proverbs: “We will not tolerate a situation in which every man does that which is right in his own eyes.” The speech occurred as protesters surrounded Netanyahu’s wife in a Tel Aviv hair salon. Read the story ➤
  2. Remember the Alamoshi – Remember the Alamo? The storied battle took place during the Texas war for independence from Mexico. Frontiersman Davy Crockett was among 200 men holed up in an old Spanish mission used as a fort during a 13-day siege by thousands of Mexican soldiers. It ended with a battle on March 6, 1836, that left Crockett and all of his comrades dead. But one man got out alive — or so they say. His name was Louis Moses Rose, and according to some accounts, he was Jewish. But was he? And if he escaped the fate that befell the others, does that make him a survivor — or a coward? Click here for more.
  3. 🇭🇺  Two peas in a pod? Hungary’s far-right president, Viktor Orban, decided to move his country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in an apparent attempt to curry favor with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hungary would be the first member of the European Union to put its embassy in Jerusalem, following a similar move by the U.S. in 2018. (Times of Israel)
  4. On Culture: 🎭  Amazon announced the premiere date for the fifth and final season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: April 14, the day after Passover. (People)🎭  And speaking of Jewish comedians… Lea Michelle will continue to play Fanny Brice in Broadway’s Funny Girl until the show closes on Sep. 3. A North American tour through 30 cities is set to begin in the fall. (Hollywood Reporter)
  5. Why are these Israeli protesters dressed up like characters from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’? Because, according to an organizer of the demonstration, proposed laws to expand the power of Israel’s rabbinical courts, would be “a significant blow to women’s rights.” The women join a worldwide trend – demonstrators have donned similar red cloaks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Argentina, Ireland and elsewhere. Read the story ➤
Protesters in Tel Aviv dressed as women from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.
  1. What’s in a word? Anti-Semitism no more? joins the Forward in updating spelling to ‘antisemitism’: The website is the latest in a long list to get rid of the hyphen and the capital S. Deborah Lipstadt, the noted Holocaust historian and now ambassador fighting antisemitism, was an early adopter, explaining that “anti-Semitism is not hatred of Semitism or Semites,” which could include a variety of groups. “Antisemitism is Jew-hatred.” When the Forward made the change in 2020, our editor-in-chief noted that “the capitalization implied discrimination against ‘Semitic’ people, a category that does not really exist in any meaningful way in our world.” Read the story ➤
  2. 👟  Adidas is trying to figure out what to do with $500 million worth of Kanye West-branded ugly-ass sneakers, after it cut ties with him over his antisemitic tirades. The company was going to rebrand the shoes but worried about a possible backlash. A new option being considered? Burning them all. (Washington Post)

That’s all for the week folks. If you intend to drink yourself into a Purim haze this weekend, make sure you do it safely! And hey, let’s be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – February 25, 2023 – “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

Shabbat shalom everyone! 

It used to be that talking about the weather was a safe bet for small talk, but lately it seems to be making headlines more often than not. A blizzard in Los Angeles? Snow in the desert? Weird, right? Check out these pictures from California:

Weather weirdness was hardly the only abnormality highlighting this last week. You may recall in last weeks JNR the report of two separate instances of Jews being shot on their way to or from synagogues in California. Like a bad version of groundhog day, I report every week in this blog on acts of anti-semitism which are unfortunately rising at an unprecedented rate here in the USA and around the world. We get used to it, our reactive senses numbed to the harsh reality that people hate us, for no particular reason other than being a Jew. So, it was not shocking to me that a hodge podge of fringe groups decided to hold a “National Day of Hate” today, on shabbat, to harass Jews at synagogues around the country. Who the hell signs up for attendance at a celebration of hate? WTF! More on this later, but when Sandy raised the topic the other day, she was suggesting we do something about it: Go to our synagogue as a sign of support, or attend a “love” rally in opposition. But should we? Or by doing so, do we lend more oxygen to the flame of hatred and provide them more media attention than they are worth? Is the juice worth the squeeze?

It’s a legitimate question, and one that puts me in the wayback machine to 1977, when as a political reporter for the UMass Daily Collegian, I wrote what I thought was an exposé  on the US Labor Party, a radical fringe group led by Lyndon Lerouche that believed Rockefeller, the banks, and the Trilateral Commission were running the world. The full page piece was edited severely and ended up focusing on their challenging Mass PIRG to a debate on energy policy. The next day I received an enormous amount of hate mail from liberal groups questioning my judgment and the editorial decision to promote the group in any way. It was the “any publicity is good publicity” mode of thinking and I had fallen into the trap of my byline being more important than the good of the commonwealth. In a sense, it was an early warning sign of cancel culture, but it raised an important and legitimate question on handling fringe groups. Hence, my answer to Sandy’s question about what to do in response to the “National Day of Hate” was, at least this time, to just blog about it, and avoid giving it any more oxygen with the mainstream media, lest we normalize this shit any further. Keep it on the fringe, but also, be cautious. And curiously, the main stream media has not covered it much at all. 

I nearly got cancelled after crafting this article in 1977.

Keeping with the abnormal theme, and onto something a bit lighter and distracting from the latest culture war nonsense or World War III news: What is all the fuss about this Cocaine Bear movie? Is this possibly the decade’s answer to Snakes on a Plane? I admit I got a good laugh at the official trailer which you can watch below. Would I pay money to see it? Is the juice worth the squeeze? It probably won’t make any Academy Award nominations, but could be fun!

Now, what about all the news for Jews around the world and across the Jew S of A? Inquiring minds want to know more, so without any further ajew, here is your carefully curated smorgasbord of offerings this week, from The Forward, Kveller, Jewish Boston, JTA, Times of Israel, and other Jewy journals. Enjoy!

  1. Jewish communities brace as white supremacists plan ‘Day of Hate’ this Shabbat: Police departments in New York, Chicago, Denver and other cities across the United States warned local synagogues that extremist groups are calling on supporters to harass Jews with antisemitic banners, flyers and graffiti on Saturday. The Anti-Defamation League said it has been hearing online chatter about the event for a few weeks. An NYPD spokesperson said that “out of an abundance of caution, the department will deploy additional resources to sensitive locations, including houses of worship.” Read the story ➤
  2. Cocaine Bear has roots in a Bat Mitzvah – The dark comedy loosely based on a true story is the talk of Hollywood! And did you know that its leading guy is Jewish? By this point, the film’s title might only be unknown to those who have been hibernating: “Cocaine Bear,” a black comedy very loosely based on a true story from 1985, is the talk of the town in Hollywood and beyond leading up to its theatrical debut on Friday. One of the movie’s stars, Alden Ehrenreich, was discovered by Steven Spielberg at a friend’s bat mitzvah. Ehrenreich, now 33, made a scrappy home movie that he and other friends showed at the bat mitzvah ceremony in 2009. Spielberg was in attendance at the Los Angeles synagogue and afterwards invited Ehrenreich, who is Jewish, to meet with fellow directing legend Francis Ford Coppola. Ehrenreich would then get his first acting credit in a Coppola drama called “Tetro.”
  3. “No schticks or tricks” Perspectives on Israel’s proposed judicial overhaul – Israelis should recall the infamous “schticks and tricks” words from Bibi Nut-and-yahoo when he promised Benny Gantz that when Gantz joined his coalition he would rotate his leadership to him half way through the term. Of course it was a lie, and now Israelis are expected to trust Bibi and his radical coalition that the changes they are proposing to reshape the balance of power are good for the country. While most agree some reforms would be beneficial, a majority of Israelis and diaspora Jewish organizations oppose the extreme nature of the proposed changes. The issue continues to grip the nation and has the potential to rip the country apart. Here are links to two interesting pieces on the pros and cons of the proposed legislation Bibi is ramming through the Knesset.
    1. Two Jews on the News – Two guests, two perspectives – Yonit and Jonathan talk to two Israelis with sharply conflicting views of the current state of their country. Legal activist Yonatan Green is a staunch advocate of the judicial overhaul – while New Yorker writer Ruth Margalit has profiled the hard right nationalist Itamar Ben-Gvir, who she calls the Minister of Chaos. Click here.
    2. Why are liberal Israelis so terrified of Bibi’s judicial reforms? An opinion piece from Amichai Cohen laying out the dangers inherent in the proposed legislation. Amichai Cohen is a senior fellow of the Israel Democracy Institute and a member of the law faculty of Ono Academic College.
  4. 🇮🇱  Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday that the government’s push to overhaul the judiciary put the country weeks away from becoming a “de facto dictatorship,” and that citizens may need to disobey what he called “an illegitimate regime.” Meanwhile, a middle school teacher in a Tel Aviv suburb was fired for “incitement” after leading a class discussion about the government’s planned judicial overhauls. (Times of IsraelHaaretz)
  5. ‘I had to form a minyan’ | Broadway’s Jews gather to grapple with neo-Nazi incident: After antisemitic protesters harassed theatergoers attending Parade, a musical about the lynching of Leo Frank, about 50 Jews who work in New York theater met up for what they compared to “Jewish AA.” They shared their fears and ideas for increasing security, and floated ideas for counterprotests, educational initiatives and an industry group focused on fighting antisemitism. “If you listen to the room, it is an energized hum, and it’s not a funeral-like dirge,” said Ari Axelrod, the actor who organized the gathering. Read the story ➤
  6. On culture: Walter Mosley talks about his latest book — and his Jewish mother:The themes in Mosley’s 60 books often reflect his experience as a Black man in America. But Mosley is also a Jewish man whose mother had a profound influence on the complicated stories he tells about love and loyalty, race and power, wealth and capitalism. In a wide-ranging conversation with our Beth Harpaz, Mosley talked about racism, antisemitism, and his Uncle Chaim. Read the story ➤
  7. National Banana Bread day – This last week we celebrated National Banana Bread day. Ever wonder what to do with those over-ripe bananas? Just ask my brother-in-law Daniel, or as we lovingly refer to him as, Banana-Dan. National Banana Bread Day celebrates a perfect pairing of fruit plus bread. Admit it, few things are quite as comforting as walking into the house and smelling a freshly baked loaf of banana bread. It’s certainly a dessert staple in Dan and Ruth’s house, one in which they generously share with the rest of the Sharon clan. And we still use the recipe my Mom gave to us many moons ago! The best things in life deserve an entire day devoted to celebrating their existence!

Let’s end on that sweet note. And by the way Dan, we could use a new loaf! And let’s be careful out there everyone!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – February 18, 2023 – “Are the kids alright?”

Shabbat shalom, hey! Or for my Canadian friends, shabbat shalom, eh?

By the end of every week, and before I begin a new post, I usually have read hundreds of Jewy and secular sources of news and culture and listened to about a dozen podcasts. It can be daunting, given how much the media relies upon bad news and conflict to sell their content in an ad-supported ecosystem. I usually end the week with a dose of good news from Jessica Yellen’s Friday offering of “News That Doesn’t Suck”, which usually provides some uplifting stories, but this week, focused instead on the alarming CDC report documenting how teen girls in the US are experiencing record-high levels of sadness, violence, and trauma, thanks to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat! Just what I needed to hear after a week highlighted by a toxic train derailment, earthquake disaster recovery, Fox News lies (redundancy?), balloon shootings, and Microsoft’s Bing chat bot claiming that February 12, 2023 “is before December 16, 2022” and then copping an attitude by telling the NY Times questioner that they must be “confused or mistaken” to suggest otherwise. Maybe I should take some comfort in knowing it will be a while before this new technology replaces me and the JNR!

Bing’s new chatbot is unhinged, rude, and kind of scary. Sound familiar?

But, what turned things around for me was a story out of Israel. A real mensch story that makes me think, that just maybe, the kids are alright, or at least show some great courage and promise. The story is about a veteran Orthodox journalist on the country’s most-watched news network who came out as gay on Tuesday. While in my opinion all “coming out” stories involve a degree of courage, in these more enlightened times you wouldn’t think that a coming out story would warrant major headlines. But prominent Orthodox Israeli journalist Yair Cherki’s very public announcement that he is gay was particularly heroic given his public profile, his devout Jewish orthodoxy, his father being a prominent orthodox rabbi, and given the current climate in Israel where certain leaders in the ruling coalition are “proudly homophobic”. “I tremble as I write these words,” Cherki writes in a Facebook post that quickly went viral; “I love men and God, and this isn’t contradictory. But now I am 30 years old, and I write not because I have the strength to write, but because I have no strength to be silent. [But I also write] for my son who has not yet come into this world,” Cherki continued. He explained that he was choosing to go public with something he considered a “private matter,” because he didn’t want to have to “live in the shadows” and wanted to “come home to his family and live in the truth.” “I know that this truth that I shared here saddens people dear to me who I love very much and that love me [too]. I hope you find the place in your soul that will allow you to discuss this properly,” Cherki wrote.

Tip of the kipah from the JNR to Cherki! The post quickly went viral, with politicians across the political spectrum expressing their love and appreciation for Cherki’s words. They included MKs from the Likud, Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beytenu, National Unity and Labor parties. Even a pair of MKs from the far-right religious Otzma Yehudit party, whose chairman, Itamar Ben Gvir, regularly protested against the Jerusalem Pride Parade, responded to Cherki’s post with heart emojis. 

By now you must be asking the obvious: where’s the beef? Give us some of that old time news for the Jews! That carefully curated summary of snippets of interest to all of us across the Jew S of A. Well, here you go, and thanks for your readership!

  1. Scary stuff: Second Jewish man shot after leaving morning services in Los Angeles – Police arrested a suspect Thursday night in connection with a pair of shootings of Jewish men after they left morning prayer services in Los Angeles.According to a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department, the suspect, who was taken without incident, was in possession of a rifle and a handgun when he was arrested in Riverside County, east of the city, at around 5:45 p.m., less than nine hours after the second shooting occurred.
  2. AI beginnings: On this week in history (1996): Russian Jewish chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, then the world’s top-ranked chess player, defeated the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in the sixth and final match of their first competition. Slightly over a year later, in May 1997, Deep Blue would defeat Kasparov, marking a turning point in the history of artificial intelligence. “No matter what human-like feat computers perform in the future, the Deep Blue match demands an indelible dot on all timelines of AI progress,” a Wired magazine article noted in a 2017 look at the legacy of the matchup. 
  3. Holy shit! The Talmud of Pooh – This one is for my kids, who to this day, still enjoy a good pooh story or joke. Apparently, Jewish scripture is full of shit. Literally, pooh is everywhere and can be many things in our sacred texts. It can provide comic relief, like in the Megillah when Haman’s daughter mistakes her father for Mordecai and throws the contents of a chamber pot on his head. Pooh can be a punishment, as in the “Gittin” section of the Talmud, when we are told that “mock[ing] the words of the Sages will be judged with boiling feces.” It can also be a great way to insult witches. As the Talmud tells us, “One who encounters witches should say this incantation: Hot feces in torn date baskets in your mouth, witches; may your hairs fall out because you use them for witchcraft; your crumbs, which you use for witchcraft, should scatter in the wind.” If you want to read more about pooh in our ancient texts, or even learn how to deal with a big pile of pooh on your carpet during shabbat, click here. 
  4. Opinion | The Jewish case for sending Nikki Haley to the White House in 2024:She may be a rational Republican, but her Faustian bargain with the orange turd makes me skeptical. But, she is a shrewd politician, and even though she is polling at less than 5%, Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has long been a vocal defender of Israel; as governor of South Carolina, she signed the first legislation in the country against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Forward columnist Bethany Mandel argues that foreign policy is just one of three key strengths — the other two being school choice and religious liberty — that should endear Haley to Republican Jewish voters. Read her essay ➤
  5. An immodest proposal: At the Western Wall, a woman in her underwear protests modesty limits – An Israeli activist stood in the middle of the women’s section of the Western Wall to protest against a bill to impose new restrictions on freedom of worship at the Western Wall. The suggested bill will ban egalitarian, mixed-gender prayer at the section of the holy site where it is now allowed, criminalizing the activity of the Women of the Wall prayer rights group, and banning visitors from wearing attire deemed immodest. Click here for more. 
  6. You can’t make this shit up department: Congresswoman claims to be Jewish, revealed to be granddaughter of Nazi – Florida Republican congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna was outed by The Washington Post on Friday for lying about her Jewish heritage in a previous interview with the Jewish Insider in November 2022. Not only is Luna almost certainly not Jewish, but also according to several family members, reports the Washington Post, Luna’s paternal grandfather Heinrich Mayerhofer, who died in 2003, served in the armed forces of Nazi Germany when he was a teenager in the 1940s. “I was raised as a Messianic Jew by my father,” Luna had told the Jewish Insider, clarifying that she identifies as a Christian. “I am also a small fraction Ashkenazi.” She was endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene. Enough said. 

Too much to do, not enough time, and I am running out of the latter. And I haven’t even mentioned the continuing nonsense around judicial reform in Israel, where while the first reading vote was going on in the Knesset, over a hundred thousand Israelis were marching outside in protest. Yet the stubborn Nut-and-Yahoo continues to ram this dangerous legislation through the Knesset. President Herzog calls the current form of the legislation a “serious danger to the future of Israel”. 

Have a great weekend everyone! And hey, let’s be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – February 11, 2023 – Quake, Rattle and Bowl

Shabbat shalom! 

Shout out this week to those suffering in the wake of the horrible earthquake, now responsible for over 20,000 deaths in Turkey and Syria, and hundreds of thousands of injured and homeless. The powerful and deadly 7.8 richter quake was felt in Tel Aviv as well, which is actually closer to the epicenter than Istanbul! If you want to help, here are a few links, one for the Red Cross, and one for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Link to Red Cross Link to JDC

In the midst of earthquake carnage and the fall of Israeli democracy (more on that later) we get to indulge this weekend in one of the few truly remaining cultural events that taps into our innate desire to be part of something larger than our social media accounts and personal, tribal bubbles we all tend to inhabit. One of my favorite culture writers, JD Heyman (Culture Wag) described it thusly: 

So we are left with the Super Bowl—bloated, problematic, and yet reassuringly middlebrow, a cherished relic of collective diversion. If you are from Kansas City, it is exciting. If you are from Philadelphia, it is epic. If you are from most everywhere else, it is an opportunity to half-pay attention, eat nachos, check out Rihanna, and dissect the ads. The Super Bowl was first held in Los Angeles in 1967. It is not some hallowed sporting tradition but the spawn of 20th-century mass media. It grew and become more preposterous with network television and its gargantuan ad budgets. The Super Bowl clings on not because those elements still dominate the culture but despite their decline.

There’s some sadness in that. The Super Bowl isn’t classy, and it might even be a little bad for us. And yet, we still crave shared spectacle and heroes, however imperfect, to root for. As much as human beings are susceptible to individual vanity, we require opportunities to blur into the enormity of a crowd. The big tent liberates us from the tyranny of isolation, and stifling obsession with the self. So, appreciate the razzle-dazzle and cheese. Indulge in lavish commercials for things you don’t want. For one day it may all be gone! Isn’t it nice, once in a great while, to be brought together instead of riven apart, even if only for a silly game?

So, enjoy the ads (but don’t get too annoyed by the “He gets us” campaign), check out Rihanna (or Adele watching Rihanna), root for MVP Patrick Mahomes, chow down on chicken wings (much cheaper than last year – yay disinflation!), win your Squares pool, and just enjoy being part of something bigger than yourselves. 

As I write this post, thousands of Israelis are once again lining the streets in order to protest Nut-and-Yahoo’s “coalition of crazies” attempt to upend democracy in Israel by minimizing the power of their Supreme Court to check the power of the executive branch. Despite what you hear from Bibi, and despite the Wall Street Journal editorial claiming otherwise, this is a big F-ing deal. There is no question that the laws governing the powers of the Court could be changed and updated to reflect a more balanced, modern and nuanced system of justice. But, what Bibi and the crazies are proposing essentially throws the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. And this issue was never presented to the Israeli public before the latest vote that brought the coalition of crazies to power. 

In an appeal to Diaspora Jews to get educated and get involved, well known diaspora authors Matti Friedman, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Daniel Gordie, penned”An open letter to Israel’s friends in North America” published yesterday in the Times of Israel. 

Even if elements of the proposed changes may seem similar to practices in other democratic countries, as the government maintains, all of those democracies have powerful institutional checks and balances, absent in Israel, that limit unbridled executive or legislative power and protect individual rights. Israel has no formal constitution and no second legislature. It has no federal system or regional elections. The prime minister’s plan effectively concentrates nearly all power in the hands of one person – the prime minister himself.

This is no “judicial reform,” but a dramatic alteration that would bring Israel’s governing system closer not to the US and Canada but to Hungary and Turkey.

A major strike is planned for Monday across Israel, and employers have already given the green light for employees to participate. Let’s hope that Nut-and-Yahoo will at least try and listen to reason, and slow the process down so that the people can and will be heard. 

Now, what about all the good stuff? Is he done with his blathering portion of the JNR? What else is new this week in Israel and across the JewSA? Well, here you go peeps, your carefully curated news for the Jews, courtesy of The Forward, Times of Israel, Keller, Jewish Boston, and several other worthy Jewie journals. 

  1. Tens of thousands to rally Sat. night ahead of nationwide anti-overhaul strike Monday –  The protest will be held in West Bank settlement for 1st time; Tens of thousands of Israelis were expected to take to the streets in mass rallies on Saturday evening against the government’s legislative efforts to dramatically weaken the High Court of Justice and secure political control over judicial appointments.  Click here for more
Thousands of Israeli protesters rally against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on February 04, 2023.
  1.  What does the Talmud say about sports betting? Did you get your Squares picked before the big game? Betting on the Super Bowl is an American pastime on par with the Thanksgiving Day nap, if not the dinner itself. But in Jewish tradition, gambling is like shrimp: Just because it’s popular, fun and usually harmless, doesn’t mean the Torah feels good about it. Most rabbis frown upon gambling, citing a line in the Talmud that says a dice player cannot be accepted as a witness. That teaching is generally interpreted as applying only to those who gamble professionally, not recreationally. So, don’t feel immoral when you collect your winnings this weekend, and good luck! Click here for more
  2. Forget beer and deodorant commercials. A new product is advertising at the Super Bowl this year – Jesus: A nondenominational Christian campaign called “He Gets Us” will run two ads during the Super Bowl, costing about $20 million. The spots strive to make Jesus more relatable to modern-day liberal Americans, writes our Mira Fox, who spoke with a professor of marketing about the commercials. “It’s hard not to see the campaign as a conversion drive,” she writes. Does Jesus need to rebuild his personal brand?  Read the story ➤
  3. Say a little prayer for Burt – Burt Bacharach, the legendary songsmith behind “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and countless other hits, died Wednesday at the age of 94. Born to Jewish parents in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in Queens, New York, Bacharach made his name as a composer of virtuosic and immediately identifiable tunes. Bacharach’s career spanned seven decades, enduring cultural shifts and finding a new audience in the 1997 film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, where he served as a stand-in for the mood of the 1960sIn the second Austin Powers film, Bacharach appeared alongside Elvis Costello, a longtime fan. With Costello, Bacharach recorded 1998’s Painted from Memory, which earned Bacharach one of his six Grammys. Their final collaboration, The Songs of Bacharach & Costello, will be released March 3. 
  4. On culture: Remember, it’s a comedy! In this opinion piece, Ilana Kaufman, CEO of the Jews of Color Initiative, analyzes You People, Jonah Hill’s attempt at RomCom, and is not a fan. She was expecting a modern retelling of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but she was dismayed to discover that the film was full of stereotypes of both Black and Jewish Americans — and that the existence of Black and brown Jews were completely absent. “Jews of color are not mysterious and unknown,” Kaufman writes, “and yet their erasure from You People, when an actual Black woman with Jewish heritage is in a leading role, is painfully paradoxical.” Read her essay ➤
  5. More culture: 📕  Barbra Streisand has written a memoir, My Name is Barbra,that is set to publish on Nov. 7th. According to the description, it will include, among other things, the behind-the-scenes story of how, with Yentl, she became the first woman to write, produce, direct and star in a major motion picture. (Twitter)
  6. And more: On a witty new TV show, American Jews lust after Israel — literally:Chanshi is a nice religious girl from Brooklyn with one not very Orthodox desire: to sleep her way through the IDF. The eponymous new series Chanshi follows her misadventures — at one point she walks down Jerusalem streets screaming for “tall dark Israeli men.” It’s hilarious, writes our Mira Fox in a review, and it’s also a smart look at the rough experience many American Jews have as they attempt to reconcile their idealized — and slightly fetishized — visions of the Holy Land with an often grimy, rude reality. Read her review ➤

That’s all for the week everyone! Enjoy the game tomorrow, and hey, let’s continue to be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – February 4, 2023 – It is Balloon!

Shabbat shalom everyone! Oy! What a week! It’s colder than a penguin’s petzl out there, but not colder than a Republican’s heart, so dress accordingly. And if you do venture into this arctic chill, bring binoculars and check out the Chinese “research” balloon making its way across the US of A! The pentagon just released this image of what appears to be the beginnings of a huge diplomatic kerfuffle in the making:

Pentagon released this image of the Chinese spy balloon as it crossed over Montana. Up, up, and stay away!

I couldn’t help but reflect on the old F Troop episode, hence the clip above. By today’s standards, F Troop would likely be cancelled by the Woke police, despite their depiction of the Indians being wiser and more competent than their comical, but friendly white soldier friends of F Troop. Funny stuff regardless, and I recommend you younger ones checking out the show on TV Land or other retro stations. 

It was Ground Hog day this week, and the Republican clown show in the House led by Kevin McCarthy continues to show us re-runs of why they should never be allowed near the levers of power ever again. You may disagree with the big spending democrats and the level of debt we continue to pile on our grandchildren, but at least they try and solve problems instead of creating chaos. Which leads me to my next topic, Fauda. Chaos, or in Arabic, Fauda, is the name of a popular Israeli TV series which has gone viral around the globe. Sandy and I just binged the 4th season, and it was another fantastic, exciting and dramatic season! Two thumbs up! (Except perhaps for the ending, which was a bit over the top)

So, a big shout out to Noah Stollman, one of the lead writers on the show, and brother to JNR subscriber, Seth Stollman! Seth was kind enough to introduce us to Noah when he was here visiting a few years ago, and we have been huge fans before and ever since. If you haven’t watched the show, we highly recommend you do. It’s about a group of Israeli special ops who go undercover to perform amazing rescues or other operations, but it is also more about the foibles and families of the team. Well written, and well acted, one of the leads on the show is also the creator, Lior Raz, who prior to becoming a famous actor, was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body guard. 

What is even more fascinating about the show is that it has become something of a guilty pleasure among viewers in the Arab world. We’re talking Netflix’s most viewed show in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, second most viewed show in Qatar, third in Jordan, fifth in Turkey, sixth in Morocco and eighth in Saudi Arabia. And the number one show in Italy and other countries!

That’s all well and good on the Israeli cultural front. But, the number one issue in Israel continues to be the existential threat posed, not by the all the recent unrest in Jenin and the West Bank, but by the conservative coalition itself, looking to cripple the ability of the Supreme Court to overturn rulings by the Knesset. Nut-and-yahoo, who has not had a single interview with any Israeli media since being elected, has decided to go on a PR campaign to soft sell his efforts to turn Israel into another Hungary or Turkey to audiences in the US and anywhere but Israel. He appeared recently on CNN with Jake Tapper, misleading viewers into believing that what they are trying to do is nothing different than what is done in Canada or the UK parliaments. Such bullshit ignores the fact that Canada and the UK have bi-cameral parliament, and constitutions, both of which have a built in check on the powers of the executive. He also said that currently their justices are “self appointed”, which is a bold faced lie since justices in Israel are appointed by a 7 person committee made up of 3 current judges, 4 politicians, and 2 lawyers. Behavioral Economist, and recent Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman, described the reform as “the worst threat to Israel’s existence to date”. Nut-and-yahoo is pushing for a fast track on the legislation currently targeted to be voted on by the end of February. Yikes! Not much we can do except get our legislators and Jewish leaders to exert international pressure on them to modify their position. 

I know what you are thinking. When is he going to get to the good stuff! Where are all those carefully curated stories from The Forward, Times of Israel, Kveller, Jewish Boston, Israel 21c, and other fine Jewie journals? Well, your wait is over. Here you go:

  1. The Michelin Guide is coming to Israel: What took so long? (And here I thought the great Jewish cook books were in the Humor section of the book store!) Israeli chefs have been dominating the food world recently. Yotam Ottolenghi’s best-selling cookbooks, Plenty and Plenty More, full of Middle-Eastern influenced fare, are ubiquitous. Michael Solomonov’s Israeli Soul and Zahav cookbooks are nearly as hard to escape, and his Philadelphia restaurant won a James Beard Award. Israeli chefs run acclaimed restaurants across Europe and have served as celebrity judges on cooking shows. But eateries in Israel weren’t eligible for the most sought after of those accolades: the Michelin star. That’s all going to change, according to Israel’s tourism minister Haim Katz, who said in a statement that Michelin will begin evaluating Tel Aviv restaurants. For more, click here.
  2. Rep. Omar co-sponsors Israel resolution as GOP majority votes to remove her from House committee – Omar has indeed been critical of Israel, as have many regarding the plight of Palestinians. But this act of revenge by McCarthy and his sycophants goes beyond the pale. The House voted Thursday along party lines to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her criticism of Israel and past comments that were perceived as antisemitic. The resolution, introduced by Jewish Republican freshman Max Miller from Ohio, making good on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s pledge to remove Omar from the prestigious panel, passed 218-211.  The resolution cited Omar’s past comments critiquing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that were perceived as antisemitic, and several statements she made lambasting Israel in 2021.  At the same time, Omar added her name to a Democratic-led House resolution that recognizes Israel “as America’s legitimate and democratic ally” and that condemns antisemitism. Click here for more.
  3. Kiss frontman Simmons wants to rock Holocaust memorials with Never Again concert – Music icon, whose mother survived Nazi death camps, says at ‘boring’ UN commemoration that Jewish community needs to get more groups involved in remembrance activities. Simmons’s mother survived the Nazi death camps as a teenager, then moved to Israel after the war. Born Chaim Weitz in the northern city of Haifa, Simmons moved to the US as a boy, identifies as Israeli and remains involved in pro-Israel advocacy. “Nobody wants to be preached at so if you have Holocaust remembrance events, concerts, music, a ‘Never again’ music festival — great idea — where people of all nationalities, all creeds, all religions, all skin tones get together,” he said. “You buy a ticket, it goes to charities and of course Yad Vashem and other organizations to try to stop this hatred.”“We should have U2 up there, people that mean something,” he said. “Who says it is much more important than what they’re saying.” Now I would buy a ticket to that concert! Click here for more.
  4. Minnesota synagogue builds an ice rink — and inaugurates it with a klezmer skate – Look out Brian Boitano and Nancy Kerrigan, here come the next generation of Olympic Jewish figure skaters! JTA — A forecasted low of -16 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 Celsius) in the Twin Cities on Thursday had the stage set perfectly for two frozen Jewish firsts — a Klezmer on Ice festival and a synagogue-run skating rink. Temple of Aaron, a Conservative congregation of about 700 families, is inviting families to bundle up and have fun on what Rubenstein believes is the first-ever skating rink on a synagogue property. The rink, which can accommodate about 30 people at a time, was built by congregant Joel Paper and is being maintained by “Ice Captains” — synagogue members who clear it of snow and shovel off any extra ice that forms. Click here for more.
  5. Ready to run for president, Nikki Haley is a star in the pro-Israel community – Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations, announced that she will join former President Donald Trump in the 2024 race for the Republican presidential nomination. Haley was a staunch advocate for Israel during her two-year tenure at the U.N., where she blocked the appointment of Salam Fayyad, a former Palestinian prime minister, as a U.N. envoy to Libya, and spearheaded the U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council, a group that has been highly critical of Israel. She also hosted a reception for the 60-some nations that did not vote for a resolution condemning Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. She is looking like a legitimate contender and maybe a more rational Republican?

That’s enough already! I need to get my binoculars and check for any Chinese balloons floating over Sharon. I am pretty sure there is a TikTok logo on the damn thing somewhere!

Let’s be careful out there, stay warm and don’t let your petzls freeze!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – January 28, 2023 – New JNR Subscriber

Shabbat shalom!

Occasionally, but not quite often enough, the planets align and something magical happens. Michael and Kalie surprised us this week by delivering a bit of magic in the form of Abigail Rose Goverman! Our beautiful new grand child was born this Wednesday morning and between the kvelling and taking care of Max and Nox, there is not enough time in the day to produce my usual posting. This will have to due for now!

She has my nose I think.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – January 22, 2023 – Culture week, President Doofus, and bombshells

Shalom! And wow! So much to cover and so little time!

I am writing the post this week from a Starbucks on 7th Avenue, having spent the better part of the week in the city that never sleeps combining a little business with a lot of fabulous culture. Some of the gang have joined me this weekend to help celebrate Lauren’s birthday by watching Lea Michele hopefully put the fun back in Funny Girl! If Funny Girl is even half as good as the amazing musical &Juliet, or as impactful as Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt and the Tenement Museum, than this trip will have been a cultural feast that any theater foodie would savor. It’s been a fun week, and still more to come!

Uncle Joe, on the other hand, has not had a very fun week. My new nickname for Joe is now President Doofus. I cannot fathom how supposedly intelligent people in his administration could handle something so poorly, and how he could possibly respond to questions about his handling of secret documents by claiming his “garage is locked”. You have to be kidding me. Nice going Doofus. There is no comparison to his mishandling of documents to the Orange Turd’s, who rather than cooperate with officials, obstructed and lied about them. Yet, we still don’t know all the details on how Doofus came to have these documents, why he started looking for them, and other facts. Hopefully there is not more Doofus-ness yet to be revealed, like why they sat on some of this until after the mid-terms?

A few other bombshells fell this week. Let’s start with Israel’s Supreme Court ruling against Interior Minister and Health Minister Aryeh Deri, appointed by Nut-and-yahoo despite Deri’s promise not to ever serve again after being found guilty of several tax law violations. As I write this post, over 100,000 Israelis are marching in protest of the administration, whose autocratic movements include reforming and restructuring the Supreme Court to give it less power over the Knesset and the executive branch. In Israel, since there is no dual legislative branch, no constitution, and only a Parliament with a slim majority to write laws, the only check on the power of that slim majority is the Court. Hence, the battle lines on Court reforms are wide and deep, and this decision, probably the right one, will only fuel both sides of the debate. Let’s hope things don’t get real ugly. The Court’s decision was based on a “reasonableness” clause inherited from England that basically holds officials, as trustees of the general public interest, responsible for being “reasonable” in their appointments. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely have to dismiss Deri from his cabinet posts by Sunday morning in order to comply with Wednesday’s High Court of Justice’s ruling against Deri’s return to ministerial office, or be in contempt of court.

Contempt of Humanity is how I would describe the Republican efforts to sabotage the US and World economy in order to make a point. This would be bombshell number 2, and while I think in times of increasing interest rates the debt our nation is carrying is a huge issue and not sustainable, the Russian Roulette exercise the Republicans are putting us through is shameful. Where were these morons when Trump lowered the Corporate tax rates and other supply side stupidity, leading to another $1 trillion increase in the debt! During the orange turd’s presidency, the national debt increased by $7.6 trillion! My guess is that spending by a Democratic led House contributed significantly to that debt, but please, spare us the horrible hypocrisy. So, rather than raising taxes or looking for ways to increase revenue, the Republican plan is to cut entitlement programs that are hugely popular. What a bunch of heartless morons.

I know, I know….stop venting and get to the good stuff. What about news for the Jews you may be asking? When do we get all that “carefully curated” stuff from The Forward, Times of Israel, Kveller, Jewish Boston, and other Jewy journals? Well, your wait is over. Here you go:

  1. Cancel that cancel! In a reversal, Harvard offered a fellowship to a critic of Israel. A media storm had erupted after Kenneth Roth, the former director of Human Rights Watch and a strong critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, had an offer for a fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government withdrawn. Now, Harvard is welcoming Roth and the  official who made the initial decision said he’d made a mistake. “I am sorry that the decision inadvertently cast doubt on the mission of the school,” he said in a statement, “and our commitment to open debate in ways I had not intended.” Read the story ➤
  2. Chicken soup has roots? The National Jewish Book Awards gave its top prize to a book about Black Jewish identity – Michael Twitty’s “Koshersoul,” a memoir and reflection on the foodways of Jews and African Americans, was named Jewish book of the year for 2022 —the first book by a Black American Jew to win the award. (JTA,Twitter)
  3. Meet the inventor of the abortion pill, who was a teenage gunrunner for the French Resistance during World War II and keeps works by Maimonides on his bookshelf. Étienne-Émile Baulieu faced comparisons to, you guessed it, the Holocaust, when he debuted his invention, including the accusation during a TV debate that it would “kill more human beings than Hitler, Mao Zedong and Stalin combined.”“You can’t say it’s like Hitler,” Dr. Baulieu exclaimed. “Don’t say things that would make me laugh if this weren’t a serious debate.” (New York Times)
  4. Antisemitic slogans and a swastika were projected on the sides of multiple Florida buildings over the weekend. The incidents in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach were the latest in a series of like antisemitic stunts that began in October. Authorities said the West Palm Beach incident had ties to an investigation in nearby Boca Raton, and Jacksonville politicians introduced emergency legislation aiming to address the issue. (WPTV,Yahoo,Florida Politics)
  5. Adolfo Kaminsky Dies at 97; His Forgeries Saved Thousands of Jews – His talent for creating realistic documents helped children, their parents and others escape deportation to concentration camps, and in many cases to flee Nazi-occupied territory. When he joined the anti-Nazi resistance at 18, his expertise enabled him to erase Jewish-sounding names like Abraham or Isaac that were officially inscribed on French ID and food ration cards, and substitute them with typically gentile-sounding ones. The forged documents allowed Jewish children, their parents and others to escape deportation to Auschwitz and other concentration camps, and in many cases to flee Nazi-occupied territory for safe havens. Click here for more.
  6. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the Biden administration is no longer prioritizing efforts to enact a new Iran nuclear deal. “The Iranians killed the opportunity to come back to that agreement swiftly many months ago,” Blinken said. (Times of Israel)
  7. The U.S. is sending arms to Ukraine via Israel, which holds a significant cache of American ammunition. Israeli leaders, who have been hesitant to risk damaging relations with Russia, expressed some concerns that the move might endanger their relationship with Moscow. (New York Times

That’s all folks! Hope you are having a great weekend! And hey, remember to be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – January 14, 2023 – Early edition

Shabbat shalom!

It is with mixed emotions that Sandy and I make the long plane ride back to Boston today after spending a month in the warm desert air of Palm Springs. Sad that we are leaving this west coast Shangri-la and the wonderful memories made here, but happy to be returning to family and friends back home. FaceTime with Max was ok, but clearly not as good as the real thing.

Due to this being a travel day, I will not have time for my usual post and hence, will make this brief. Instead of my usual blathering and careful curation of the news, I thought I would leave you with a few interesting links. The first is this week’s Unholy: Two Jews on the News podcast which had a really riveting interview with Thomas Friedman I know you will find interesting and insightful. Friedman, Pulitzer prize winning author and NYT columnist, has been covering the mideast for 40 years. Whether you agree with Friedman’s analysis or not, you cannot deny he cares deeply about Israel and the Jewish faith. And as Yonit says, our greatest challenge is not about the growing criticism of Israel, but that future generations will not care at all about Israel.

The second link is the latest post from Andrew Sullivan’s Weekly Dishcast on Substack. I always find his writing both sharp, witty and refreshing. This week he talks about why the right is losing the younger generations, and makes some salient points in the process. Good stuff, and worth the read.

Have a great week everyone! And hey, let’s be careful out there.

Brad out.