The Jew News Review – November 12, 2022 – “Just once”

Shabbat shalom!

Yesterday was Veterans Day, so a shout out to all the men and women, and their families, that serve or have served bravely in the defense of our country. The draft for the Vietnam War ended in 1973, the year before I turned 18, but I had already received my draft card and that year my number in the lottery was 009, which would have certainly sent me on my way. My sister was fairly active in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War group, and my parents were probably considering sending me to Canada, as they were clearly against the war as well. I don’t know what I would have done, but I am glad I didn’t have to make that horrible decision. And I consider all who served in that debacle of a war American heroes, despite the insanity and immorality of the conflict.

A second shout out this week to the American electorate, who went to the polls and rejected some of the crazies, and helped to restore some of my faith in democracy. I recall a meme/metaphor from one of my Substack reads this week which still sticks in my brain, and summarizes how I feel about the election results.

Just once. Well, the plane didn’t crash this time around and fortunately, all the pundits and prognosticators got it wrong. The Red Wave turned into a pink puddle as the voters for the most part rejected the crazies and rallied around a women’s right to control her own body. As of this Shabbat morning, it looks as though the Dems won’t even need Georgia as Arizona already has been declared for Mark Kelly and in Nevada, it looks as though Cortez Masto will ultimately pass Laxalt and put another win in the D column. But there are gremlins on the wings of this plane and there is clearly more turbulence ahead. While the high-profile crazies mostly appear to have lost, some did win. J.D. Vance will be representing Ohio in the U.S. Senate. DeSantis cleaned up in Florida, even winning the Latino vote in Dade! More worryingly, as of Friday afternoon, the Washington Post was reporting that, “So far 173 Republican candidates who denied the 2020 election results have won their midterm race.” And, as soon as next week, the Orange Turd is expected to announce that he’s going to run for president again. That could shut down one engine on the plane completely while extremists in the courts could possibly shut down another. Hence, if there is not a fundamental reshaping of the Republican party, we could be crashing this plane in two years. Just once.

Watching and waiting on election results has been exhausting and stressful. So, let’s move on to some news for the Jews! Without further ajieu then:

  1. Israeli elections -Really Strange bed fellows, or “The Tyranny of the Majority” – Maybe both. In order to reclaim power in Israel, Bibi formed a coalition of crazies. With 64 seats, he has a solid majority but will be beholden to some radical crazies including Ben Gvir, who gets most of the media attention, and the leader of the equally crazy Religious Zionism faction, Bezalel Smotrich. Will Bibi be able to reign in the crazies? Or will football stop on Shabbat, hebrew prayer be allowed at the Temple Mount, and the courts get neutered from their role as a check on the legislature? All good questions. Read more in this Op Ed from David Horovitz of the Times of Israel.
  2. The Jewish Feminist who helped launch Ms magazine – Sandy and I listened to a wonderful interview this week with Letty Cottin Pogrebin, who helped Betty Friedan launch the Political Women’s Caucus and Gloria Steinem launch Ms magazine. It was interesting to learn how the movement was influenced by so many Jewish women and about anti-semitism within the movement. But more interesting was just listening to her life story and the forces that shaped her work. Two thumbs up from Sandy and I. Click here to listen to the podcast.
  3. Kentucky Fried Morons – On Wednesday, KFC Germany sent a message to users of its app with the title “Anniversary of the Reich’s pogrom night,” according to reports in the German news media and screen shots of the promotion that circulated widely on Twitter. The message invited customers to enjoy “tender cheese with crispy chicken.” To their credit, they did apologize for that they claimed was an automated push tied to national observances. The pogrom that began on Nov. 9, 1938, is known as Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, and is widely commemorated as the start of the Holocaust.
  4. LeBron, Sir Charles, and Commish weigh in on Kyrie anti-semitism – LeBron James became the most influential NBA player to say Kyrie Irving’s suspension for sharing an antisemitic movie was overkill: “Help him learn,” James said, “but he should be playing.” Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish, said he he doesn’t believe Irving is antisemitic. But Sir Charles Barkley had a different opinion. Read the story ➤
  5. Is the Orange Turd about to be flushed? Hasidic rabbi assails Trumpism rampant among the Orthodox: It “twisted the minds of so many yiden,” said Rabbi Aaron Teitlebaum, using the Yiddish word for Jews. “It brainwashed people – and that’s so painful.” The harsh rebuke from Teitelbaum, the grand rebbe of one of the Satmar Hasidic sects, also challenged Orthodox voters’ reverence for the former president. Read the story ➤
  6. On Culture: Jeff Wilbusch from ‘Unorthodox’ brings his past to bear on a new character in ‘The Calling’ – Meet the Talmud-quoting, hotdog-whispering detective from Peacock’s latest show. “The Calling” begins with a man in a hotdog suit booked for murder and a detective saying a Hebrew prayer over a victim’s body. It’s not your normal prime-time procedural and the detective is no ordinary policeman. NYPD detective Avraham Avraham, played by Jeff Wilbusch, whom you may remember as the gun-toting Moishe from “Unorthodox” or as slick diplomat Uri Savir in “Oslo,” was inspired by Dror Mishani’s series of novels. Series creator David E. Kelley lifted the scene from Tel Aviv to New York City, and, while keeping the details of the crimes largely the same, reimagined Avraham. For more click here.
  7. Jews in Congress – In addition to running the banks and the courts, we now are taking over the legislature! At least 6 Jews, possibly 7, can now help form a minion in DC, with 4 of the new members Democrats and 2 Republicans. Although Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, 7 percent of the current Congress is Jewish, with 38 Jews among the total of 535 lawmakers. In the Senate, the 10 Jewish members comprise 10 percent of that body; Jews comprise 6.4 percent of the House. Nine Jews in the Senate are Democrats, the 10th, Bernie Sanders, is an Independent. In the House, all but two members were Democrats. The Republican exceptions are Reps. Lee Zeldin (lost Governor race) and David Kustoff, from New York and Tennessee, respectively. More proof of Jewish Exceptionalism! Meet the new Jews in Congress.

That’s enough already! Hope you all have a great week, and remember, make good decisions and be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – November 5, 2022 – “Alas, poor Israel….”

Shabbat shalom! 

Another gorgeous weekend on tap here in New England, with potentially record breaking temperatures. What we used to call “Indian Summer”, but in the post woke world, perhaps we should say, “Indigenous Peoples Summer”? 

“Hoist with his own petard” is what I am thinking, thanks Shakespeare. But why?

Political “wokeness” is a slang term that according to Merriam Webster “is easing into the mainstream from some varieties of a dialect called African American Vernacular English (sometimes called AAVE). In AAVE, awake is often rendered as woke, as in, ‘I was sleeping, but now I’m woke.’”

The meaning appears to have shifted sometime after Erykah Badu repeatedly used the line “I stay woke” in her 2008 song, “Master Teacher,” which begins, “I am known to stay awake.” After the song came out, “’Stay woke’ became a watch word in parts of the Black community for those who were self-aware, questioning the dominant paradigm and striving for something better,” according to Merriam-Webster. And now, the term has evolved from being the past participle of wake, to it’s current meaning, to be “conscious and aware” – but the slang word has come to represent an embrace of progressive activism, as well.

Which brings me to my “hoist with his own petard” point. In it’s dogged pursuit of social equality and justice for all, the left has embraced a long line of positions, some of which I personally favor, that end up becoming political fodder and scare tactics for the right (defunding police, sex changes for kids, borders and crime out of control), ammunition that will be used against us to put election deniers and fringe lunatics in positions of power. In other words, by embracing “woke” social justice and equality for all, have we contributed to the fall of our precious democracy as the pending red wave predictions indicate? Oops. Didn’t we elect Uncle Joe to return some center-left normality to our politics? Shouldn’t the dems be more focused on middle class messaging? Or are we just going to be victims of the usual amount of mid-term losses and hyperbolic but effective right wing propoganda? I am not suggesting we should not advocate for social justice reforms, but we should be sure to put them in the right priority and context, or suffer the consequences at the polls. And there will be consequences. Think about Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and other fringe yahoos now leading House committees as the majority party. Ugh. 

And speaking of fringe, and to borrow shamelessly once again from Shakespeare, the question of “To Bibi or not to Bibi” has been answered, pretty emphatically by Israelis, who this week gave a majority of seats, 64, to Bibi and his coalition of religious zealot parties. In a remarkable comeback, his 3rd now, Bibi, at the age of 73, will become the new Prime Minister serving a 3rd non-consecutive term. This election was lost by the left more than won by the right, as there was only a small gain in the popular vote for the religious right and Likud parties. Bibi smartly aligned the right while the left splintered into too many parties, some of which were not able to get the required 3.25% minimum vote threshold, thereby losing their seats and their potential majority position.

“Alas, poor Israel” say many observers, including one I trust on this topic, Thomas Friedman, columnist/author for the New York Times and long time observer of the Middle East. 

The coalition that Likud leader Bibi Netanyahu is riding back into power is a rowdy alliance of ultra-Orthodox leaders and ultranationalist politicians, including some outright racist, anti-Arab Jewish extremists once deemed completely outside the norms and boundaries of Israeli politics. As it is virtually impossible for Netanyahu to build a majority coalition without the support of these extremists, some of them are almost certain to be cabinet ministers in the next Israeli government.

As that previously unthinkable reality takes hold, a fundamental question will roil synagogues in America and across the globe: “Do I support this Israel or not support it?” It will haunt pro-Israel students on college campuses. It will challenge Arab allies of Israel in the Abraham Accords, who just wanted to trade with Israel and never signed up for defending a government there that is anti-Israeli Arab. It will stress those U.S. diplomats who have reflexively defended Israel as a Jewish democracy that shares America’s values, and it will send friends of Israel in Congress fleeing from any reporter asking if America should continue sending billions of dollars in aid to such a religious-extremist-inspired government. 

In my humble opinion, this Israeli shift to the right did not happen in a vacuum. Arab extremism, security issues, hangover effects of the 2nd intifada, all contributed to the growing popularity of security-focused zealots such as Ben Gvir, who advocates for Arab ethnic cleansing and who hangs a portrait in his home of Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli terrorist responsible for shooting 29 Palestinians in 1994 gathered outside a mosque to pray! This whack job will now have a cabinet position in Bibi’s government!

Is Israel one step closer to a theocracy with the election of Bibi “Nut-and-yahoos”? Is Israel a harbinger of the right-ward shift in the US and elsewhere? Will I ever get to the Jew news? Yes, yes, and finally, yes. So, now for your weekly serving of news for Jews, curated by me from multiple sources including The Forward, Keller, Times of Israel, and others:

  1. Israel votes: Secular democracy vs Jewish Theocracy? The more fateful shift marked by Tuesday’s vote is the elevation of the foundational principle of Israel as a Jewish state above that other foundational principle of Israel as a democratic state. The parties for which those two core values have equal weight, or for which the democratic imperative outweighs the country’s Jewish centrality, were soundly beaten, with Israel’s founding party Labor on the brink of obliteration and Meretz, at time of writing, wiped out. Click here for more.
  2. Elon Musk and the Twitter debacle fueling anti-semitism – In the week after the rapper who now goes by Ye lost most of his endorsements due to his antisemitic rants, and amid an apparent uptick in broader antisemitic content on the platform, the Anti-Defamation League met with Musk, the social media giant’s mercurial new owner, about keeping hate speech off the site. Three days later, all goodwill from the meeting has devolved, as anti-Jewish content on Twitter is experiencing a “prolific surge,” according to the Network Contagion Research Institute, a firm that monitors the spread of online hate and disinformation. The institute said Friday that “terms associated with Jew are being tweeted over 5,000 times per hour,” and that “the most engaged tweets are overtly antisemitic.” Ugh. If you are currently on Twitter, I suggest you unsubscribe. 
  3. New Jersey synagogue threat “neutralized” – The individual who threatened synagogues in New Jersey on Thursday has been identified and “neutralized,” officials said Friday. A man who holds “radical extremist views” was identified as being behind the threat and “no longer poses a threat to the community at this time,” the agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark office told state and federal law enforcement officials and hundreds of Jewish leaders during a conference call Friday morning, according to a report in The New York Times. Read the story.
  4. A timeline of Kyrie Irving’s antisemitism scandal: The seven-time NBA all-star shared a link to to a film rife with antisemitic conspiracies. That was a week ago. On Thursday afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets suspended him. In between, he danced and broke up with the ADL, took responsibility but refused to deny he is antisemitic — and then, after the suspension, finally apologized. Our sports reporter, Louis Keene, has the play-by-play. Read the story ➤
  5. ‘Armageddon Time’ gets its Jewish story right — so why does the movie feel so wrong? James Gray’s new film is modeled after his own childhood as the son of Ukrainian Jews in Queens. The film is gaining accolades from critics for its handling of the interracial friendship at its center, despite the fact that its single Black character is thinly fleshed out. “This is not a nuanced depiction of Black life in America,” writes the Forward’s Mira Fox. “It’s a bag of stereotypes, with a character so thinly developed it’s impossible to see anything but his hardships.” Read her review ➤
  6. 🇮🇱  “This to me felt like a doubling down of that tribalism” – Americans now living in Israel said this week’s election, with a strong showing for the far-right Itamar Ben-Gvir helping power Benjamin Netanyahu back to the premiership, reminded them of Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. “I want for our world a less tribal, less polarized political and social environment,” said one such immigrant, Ari Hoffman. (JTA)
  7. 🧑‍⚖️  The United States Postal Service unveiled a new stamp honoring the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, set to be released in 2023. The artist Roy Lichtenstein and author Toni Morrison are also getting stamps. (USA Today)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg stamp: USPS will feature late Supreme Court Justice in  2023 : NPR

That’s all folks! And hey, it never goes without saying, let’s be careful out there.

Brad out. 

The Jew News Review – October 29, 2022 – “Madness takes its toll…”

Shabbat shalom everyone! 

It’s a beautiful fall weekend here in leafy New England! Perfect weather for me to jump in my new electric vehicle and head west for the UMass Amherst homecoming and halloween celebrations. Stepping back into Mr Peabody’s wayback machine, I vividly recall the UMass campus turning into one amazing costume party, replete with goons, goblins, ghosts and whatever characters were topical at that time. Through the haze of whatever recreational drugs I was using at the time, I remember meeting a news reporter interviewing a telephone pole that resembled Mike Dukakis, white-gowned doctors carrying trays of blood-drenched organs, and lots of folks resembling characters from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and at least one very large person trying their best to look like Divine, the 300 pound transvestite from John Waters’ “Pink Flamingos”. That was then.

Its astounding, time is fleeting, madness takes its toll….

Today, if you really want to be horrified, all you have to do is watch too much news, or listen to Republicans prattle on about runaway crime in urban areas. Regarding the latter, interesting to note that violent crime rates have gone up in Red states while many urban areas have seen a slight dip in those statistics. The stats are funky, and not consistent state to state, but the latest FBI stats show that the violent crime rate in Oklahoma was greater than the rate in New York and California! But what is WAY up is how much Fox is promoting and highlighting crime on their newscasts, thereby creating a false impression of what is actually happening in order to persuade voters that Democrats are responsible for a wave of new crime. 

And it’s in this backdrop of bullshit that Paul Pelosi, Nancy’s husband, gets whacked by a MAGA whacko with a hammer in a home invasion. Madness takes it toll. While there has been an appropriate bi-partisan condemnation of this violent act, the moron who leads MAGA nation and who has been preaching violence against Nancy for years, our very own former disgraced President and orange turd, has yet to comment on the Pelosi incident. And while I find very little humor in this nasty news story, The Jew News Review was able to get this exclusive interview with the orange turd which you can watch via this link: click here for exclusive JNR interview.

Across the pond, however, there was a historic news story that our mainstream media seems to have ignored or just missed: the selection of Rishi Sunak to be the new United Kingdom Prime Minister. Andrew Sullivan, my favorite British-American blogger/writer, called this historic development, “The British Barack Obama” in his most recent Weekly Dish offering

Britain never tolerated slavery on its own territory and even pioneered its abolition, (though was obviously deeply complicit in it elsewhere in the world). But it was defined by empire in the way that America was defined by slavery, and nothing defined that empire more than India. (Among the ironies, it was the first ethnic-minority prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, who clinched the acquisition for Queen Victoria.)

And it is simply a remarkable fact that a grandson of that distant colonized country now runs the former colonial power. Imagine what Gandhi might have thought of that. Or Churchill for that matter. Sunak’s imperial heritage is actually wider: he has roots in Pakistan as well, and his grandparents lived in Tanzania (then Tanganyika) in British-run Africa, before they immigrated to the UK. His father, just like Obama’s, was born in Kenya.

So, congrats to Rishi, who gets my Mensch of the Week award. And good luck with turning the Tory mess around! I advise a “Jump to the Left”. 

Turning to Jew News, I wish I could say there was some good news to share, but it’s getting harder to be a Jew around here, and even harder if you live in Russia. Thanks to morons like the orange turd and his pal Ye, there has been a significant uptick in antisemitic incidents, leading to this horrific picture from Los Angeles, inspired by Ye.

And the news out of Russia is even worse. Former chief rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt on Thursday called on Russian Jews to flee the country after a top Russian defense official assailed the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement as a supremacist cult. In an article for the government-owned Argumenty i Fakty weekly newspaper calling for the “desatanization” of Ukraine, assistant secretary of the Russian Security Council Aleksey Pavlov had claimed that the country was home to hundreds of neo-pagan cults, including the Chabad-Lubavitch sect.

“An attack by the Russian government against Chabad, as well as the attacks against the Jewish Agency for Israel, are antisemitic acts against all of us,” said Goldschmidt, who fled Russia earlier this year after working in the country for decades. “We reiterate our call to all of our brothers and sisters still remaining in Russia and able to leave the country to do so,” he said. Feels like a time warp to me. 

And now, for the weekly roundup of other news for Jews:

  1. “A new era” marked by maritime deal with Lebanon – Israel and Lebanon’s landmark maritime border deal went into effect Thursday evening after a ceremony at a UN base near the border, ending years of conflict over the matter and repeated saber-rattling by the Hezbollah terror group. This is another indicator of a growing peace in the area, one of the positive outcomes of The Abraham Accords.  Read the story
  2. The World Series? Invented by a Jewish guy: Of course The Forward found a Jewish angle to the World Series, now in process with the Philly’s taking game 1. Baseball has been America’s pastime for time immemorial. But it was only at the turn of the 20th century that its grand annual event, the World Series, came into being — all thanks to Barney Dreyfuss, the immigrant owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dreyfuss conceived the series as a way to show off his team’s talents (and make more profit from them), and the Pirates won two World Series under his ownership. Alas, the Dreyfuss magic hasn’t quite extended to today’s Pirates: They finished last in their National League division. Read the story ➤
  3. 🎬  On culture: Anthony Hopkins plays an immigrant zayde from Ukraine who escaped the Holocaust in new movie – In “Armageddon Time,” which opens today Hopkins said the role allowed him to channel memories of his own Welsh grandfather. “He wanted me to go for lunch up to his house,” Hopkins recalled of a day in 1961. “I was too busy, too young. I said, ‘I’ve got to go now, see you soon.’ He turned around and waved and he was dead within two months. I always remember that. It’s a bit of a sword in my chest, that memory.” (APJTA)
  4. ✝️  Oy! To be a goy! –  Nearly half of U.S. adults say America should be a “Christian nation,” according to a new Pew Research poll, but they hold differing opinions about what that phrase means. The same survey found a majority wants churches to stay out of politics and think that Supreme Court Justices should not allow their religious beliefs to influence their decision-making. (JTA)
  5. Tree of Life 4 years later – This week marks the four-year anniversary of the massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history. Mark Oppenheimer, a Jewish journalist whose family hails from Squirrel Hill, has written a book about how the community recovered after the massacre. HBO aired a documentary called ‘A Tree of Life’ last night. If you missed the debut, it’s available to stream now. Here’s the story of how the film was made. In a new OpEd tied to the anniversary, Jonathan Jacoby argues that it’s a mistake to equate right-wing and left-wing antisemitism. The editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette during the massacre on how he decided to print the words of the Mourner’s Kaddish — in Hebrew — on the front page.
  6. 🎤  A Trump-supporting heckler threw a beer can at comedian Ariel Elias during her show two weeks ago, but Elias is getting the last laugh. After video of the incident went viral, Elias was invited on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where she performed a five-minute set full of jokes about her Jewish upbringing in Kentucky. “I’m Jewish and from Kentucky,” she said to applause. “That’s an insane origin story.”(JTA)
  7. Another MAGA schmuck story – 🤦  Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for Arizona governor, has been criticized for allowing white nationalists and antisemites into her campaign. Last month she formed a group for Jewish voters, but that backfired when she placed an ad in The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix that falsely implied a prominent local Orthodox rabbi had endorsed her. (Jewish Insider)

That’s all folks! Enjoy the weekend, and remember, be careful out there! If you run into any ghosts, goblins, witches or other scary things, just ask them to join you in dancing to “The Time Warp”…..

It’s just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
Put your hands on your hips
You bring your knees in tight

But it’s the pelvic thrust
That really drives you insane
Let’s do the Time Warp again
Let’s do the Time Warp again

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – October 22, 2022 – Tip of the iceberg?

Shabbat shalom everyone! The forecast in the Boston area calls for a beautiful fall weekend, so get out and enjoy the crisp fall air while you still can!

My shout out this week is to Liz Truss, the UK Prime Minister who set a new world record for having the shortest time serving as PM in the country’s long history. She came, she crashed the Pound, she did not conquer!

Gotta love the British humour though. In the midst of political and economic disaster, the country became fixated, as did a lot of the world, on wether Truss would outlast a head of lettuce! Seven days ago the Daily Star set up a webcam on a head of iceberg lettuce to see if it would have a longer shelf-life than the prime minister. To add to Truss’s humiliating resignation, the lettuce won!

Apparently, Liz was greener than her competition. When a lettuce outlasts a Prime Minister, we have truly reached the endive days.

In acknowledging its victory, the head was quoted, “After an unbeleafable campaign I am thrilled to have been crowned victorious in these chard times. However we must romaine cautious. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”… Love those Brits!

Joking aside, the follies perpetrated by the Tory clown show are symbolic of the crazy populism catching on around the globe, and have direct parallels to the whacko GOP here in our own country. It is pretty clear that if you untether your policies from reality (think Brexit, eg), the consequences could be disastrous, as the Brits just found out when the markets reacted with a dose of reality to the crazy unfunded tax cut plans proposed by Truss. So I was really happy to see Uncle Joe on the news this week taking credit for his economic policies. Here is a great summary from Heather Cox Richardson:

Biden emphasized today that the Democrats’ investment in the nation has not increased the federal deficit. Indeed, the opposite is true: today the administration announced that the deficit this year fell by $1.4 trillion. This was the largest-ever decline in the federal deficit. Last year’s drop was $350 billion. 

The deficit climbed every year of the Trump presidency, including in the years before the pandemic. Trump and the Republicans added $400 billion to the deficit, primarily because of their $2 trillion tax cut for the wealthy and for corporations.

According to Politifact, Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan have exploded deficits, while Democrats have brought deficits down. Reagan sent the deficit from $70 billion to $175 billion. George H.W. Bush took it to $300 billion. Bill Clinton—with help from Bush’s willingness to raise taxes—got the deficit to zero. George W. Bush took it back up to $1.2 trillion with unfunded wars. Barack Obama cut that back to $600 billion. And Trump’s tax cuts sent it skyrocketing again, even before pandemic spending sent it higher still.

Nuf said.

The only one having a worse week than Liz would be our very own orange turd-like vegetable and now disgraced former President. It’s been 5 years since the a-hole arrived in the oval, and even though it seemed that much of that time he and his troop of bandits and misfits would elude any accountability for their criminal actions, it now seems as though the law is finally catching up with the crooks:

On a lighter note, with the holidays coming up, I am recommending this delightful and topical gift, “Doomlings – A delightful card game for the end of the world”. If you are one of those people that can find a dark cloud in every silver lining, this game could be for you! Great for dinner parties, family, or if you just need a break from prepping your underground bunker!

Time for some Jew news? Of course it is! My mailbox is full of requests for more, so here you go:

  1. 🖼️  Downtown Phoenix is getting a Holocaust museum. The 17,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in late 2025 and include artwork by Robert Sutz, who has created more than 145 sculptural busts called “life masks” and pastel portraits of survivors, liberators, and righteous gentiles. (Hyperallergic)
  2. New video leaks of Trump disparaging Jewish Americans, repeating antisemitic tropes: A documentary filmmaker who interviewed the former preisdent last year released a clip that shows Trump asking whether the filmmaker was a “good Jewish character,” describing Persians as “very good salesmen” and complaining that Israeli Jews favored him more than Jews in the United States. Trump also talked about commuting the sentence of “the rabbi” from Iowa, referring to Sholom Rubashkin, who ran a kosher meat packing plant and was not in fact a rabbi. The video comes on the heels of Trump’s recent social media post warning American Jews to “get their act together… before it is too late!” Read the story ➤
  3. Right-wing Jewish group defends Trump’s latest tirade against American Jews – Morton Klein, the longtime president of the Zionist Organization of America, strongly defended former President Donald Trump’s recent warning to American Jews to “get their act together” or else face repercussions. Klein supported Trump’s assertion, made in a social media post earlier this week, as he responded to a backlash over his group’s plans to honor the former president. “I agree with him,” Klein said in an interview on Thursday. “We, Jews, are not supporting the people who are best for Jews in Israel. Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, described the statement as “an unveiled threat” and the White House deemed it “antisemitic.” Read the story
  4. 🇺🇦  Both Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz said they would continue Israel’s policy of not selling weapons to Ukraine if they become prime minister after the Nov. 1 election. Meanwhile, Natan Sharansky, the famous Soviet refusenik-turned-Israeli politician, chided Israel for being “the last country in the free world which is still afraid to irritate Putin.” (Times of IsraelHaaretz)
  5. 😲  Former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is a nitwit – Gabbard, who quit the Democratic Party last week, said President Joe Biden and Adolf Hitler “shared a mindset.” The comment came while Gabbard was campaigning for New Hampshire’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, a 2020 election denier. (The Daily Beast)
  6. Should there be a national park honoring the Jewish businessman who built Black schools in the South? Julius Rosenwald is most famous for helping to transform Sears into a retail giant — and becoming fantastically rich in the process. But Rosenwald, the son of German-Jewish immigrants, may have made a more lasting impact on the American landscape through the network of 5,000 schools he created in rural Black communities during Jim Crow. Now, a coalition is lobbying for the creation of a national park to recognize the schools, which produced alumni like Maya Angelou and the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Read the story ➤
  7. 🖊️ Local girl finally makes good – A Massachusetts bridge has been renamed for Cora Wilburn, believed to be the first female American Jewish novelist. The bridge is in Duxbury, where Wilburn lived in her adulthood; the name change comes after a 2021 antisemitism scandal in the town in which a high school football team was revealed to be using “Auschwitz” and “rabbi” as on-field calls. (JTA

That’s all folks! And remember, make good decisions out there, and let’s be careful!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – October 15, 2022 – Spectrum of Stupid

Shabbat shalom! Happy Sukkot to all! 

Shout out this week to the 12 people on the jury in Connecticut that awarded nearly $1 Billion to the families of the Sandy Hook massacre in the defamation law suit against right-wing conspiracy theorist and sub-human life form, Alex Jones. 

And speaking of right-wing conspiracies, in a truly bizarre political trend, Republican politicians and conservative influencers have been  claiming, according to the brilliantly stupid Rep. Lauren Boebert, that school districts “are putting litter boxes in schools for people who identify as cats.”  At least 20(!!!) conservative candidates and elected officials have claimed that K-12 schools are placing litter boxes on their school grounds to accommodate students who “identify as cats” or “furries”. You really can’t make this shit up. My question is, which bathroom do they get to use?

And while we are on the topic of stupid, a few comments on Kanye “Ye” West and his latest anti-semitic rant. The rapper tweeted that he wanted to go “death con 3 on Jewish people,” yet numerous major outlets called this “purported” antisemitism. Thanks to The Forward for calling out the Lame Stream Media on this story. After criticism began to build, Ye tweeted again: “who you think created cancel culture?” The statement implied that any disapproval of his antisemitism simply proved his point that Jews control culture. This is neither subtle nor shielded antisemitism. The fact that Ye tried to preempt accusations of antisemitism proves that the rapper himself understood the implications of his tweet.

Even so, The Wall Street Journal, in its article about the incident, referred to Ye’s comments as “purported” antisemitism. The New York Times originally said the tweets were “widely criticized as antisemitic” but did not definitively label them as such. The Associated Press said the tweets were “widely deemed antisemitic.” Reuters went with “alleged antisemitic posts,” despite the fact that the posts were still up and visible. Come on Lame Stream Media, you guys can do better than that.

My final “Spectrum of Stupidity” award this week goes to former Rep and now former Democrat, Tulsi Gabbard and Tech Bro billionaire and Putin apologist, Elon Musk. Both of these morons are doing their best to undermine bi-partisan support for our Ukraine policy. Gabbard, who is famous for sucking up to tyrants (she once visited with Assad in Syria) recently announced she was quitting the Democratic party for a host of reasons which included Democrats leading us into a potential nuclear war in Ukraine. And Musk recently claimed, and then denied, that he had a call with Putin in which he discussed a 5 point peace plan, essentially spouting off Putin’s talking points on his demands. Gabbard has been getting Tucker time, and Musk reaches millions of fellow tech bro followers, and the danger here is an undermining of the current bi-partisan Ukraine support, especially with mid-terms coming up soon. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but Musk is not qualified to be running or influencing the country’s foreign policy, and Gabbard has always been a bit on the coo-coo side. I am setting up a “Go Fund Me” page for a rocket ship that will take both of them to the moon on a one way trip.

And now for something not completely different, some news about Jews, compiled by yours truly from a smorgasbord of sources including The Forward, Times of Israel, Kveller, and many others. Enjoy!

  1. Extremist Israeli politician MK Ben Gvir pulls out gun during Sheikh Jarrah clash – Hot off the Times of Israel press, this right wing nut job was gaining strength in the Knesset, as conservative members of the Likud party lose out to more extreme members of Ben Gvir’s party. Ben Gvir is a dangerous, anti-Arab religious extremist who has softened his rhetoric only recently from espousing “death to the Arabs” to “death to the terrorists”. The story broke today that he brandished a gun during a tour of an East Jerusalem neighborhood amid intense clashes between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians Thursday night, drawing fire from political opponents. Ben Gvir did not use the weapon but called on police to use live fire on Arabs throwing stones, a night after threatening to “mow down” a group of Palestinians as he shouted at them during a visit to the same area. If this nut job continues to gain power and prominence in Israel, you can imagine what Arab-Israeli relations will be like in the years ahead. Fasten your seat belts. For more, click here
  2. U.S. Jewish groups face major dilemma as Israeli far right gains in election polls – In 2019, America’s Jewish establishment raised the alarm on Benjamin Netanyahu legitimizing the most extreme forces in Israeli politics. Three years on, with Itamar Ben-Gvir on the verge of power, their silence is deafening. This raises the stakes for American-Jewish leaders when it comes to a full-throated denunciation of Ben-Gvir: Doing so risks being seen as interfering in Israeli politics and an open conflict with Ben-Gvir’s political partner Netanyahu. Fortunately, some of Congress’s biggest Israel hawks have voiced their concerns. Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat and pillar of support for Israel in the House of Representatives, tweeted that he “urges Israeli political leaders from all sides of the political spectrum to ostracize extremists like Itamar Ben-Gvir whose outrageous views run contrary to Israel’s core principles of a democratic and Jewish state. These extremists undermine Israel’s interests and the U.S.-Israel relationship, which I and my colleagues have worked to strengthen.” Amen. For more, click here
  3. “Jew Free Zones” at UC Berkeley? Fake news! – Nine student groups at the UC Berkeley School of Law signed a resolution banning pro-Israel speakers from their events. They were falsely described as “Jew-Free Zones,” prompting outrage on social media, including a tweet from the world’s most famous female Jew, Barbra Streisand. The outrage was prompted by a Sept. 28 op-ed by Kenneth Marcus that appeared in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles entitled, “Berkeley Develops Jewish-Free Zones.” No bears and no forest (לא דובים ולא יער) is a Hebrew expression meaning, there’s no there there, other than a missed opportunity to have a real debate about a real issue. For more click here.
  4. Oy Gevalt! On this day in history (1926): A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” was published. The book, which has inspired myriad TV and film adaptations, remains a favorite of children’s literature — including for readers in Yiddish, who, as Seth Rogovoy wrote in the Forward in 2017, have had their own beloved translation since 2000. In “Vini-der-Pu,” translated by Leonard Wolf, “Pooh became Pu, Eeyore became Iya, and — your favorite and mine — Piglet became Khazerl,” Rogovoy wrote. But best of all was the translation of Pooh’s catchphrase: “‘Oh, bother,’ which verily leaps off the page as ‘Oy, gevalt.’”
  5. 😠  The Anti-Defamation League condemned Tucker Carlson’s decision to cleanse the interview he conducted with Kanye West of antisemitic remarks.“Tucker giving airtime to Kanye and trying to sanitize, or coach him through his antisemitism, is contemptible, and unfortunately par for the course with Carlson,” the ADL said in a statement. Other news agencies, including the Jew News Review, have condemned Tucker on many occasions, leading Editor of the JNR to conclude, “Someone should just punch Tucker in the face”. (CNNForward)
  6. ⛳  The number of golf courses in Israel is expected to double in the coming years – That’s not too tough when there is currently only one golf course in the whole country! Developers are planning a course in the southern desert resort town of Eilat. The country’s only current 18-hole golf course, in Caesarea, was built in 1961. Maybe one of these days “Tiger” Schwartz will be atop the leaderboard. (Times of Israel)
  7. Can matzah ball soup get Houston into the World Series? If the Astros make it to the World Series later this month, fans can thank team manager Dusty Baker — along with a fresh baked challah and several quarts of matzah ball soup.Baker stopped by Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen just before Yom Kippur ended to load up on food to help Jewish star Alex Bregman break the fast.“He said he wanted to do something really nice for Alex and he bought a substantial amount of food,” Ziggy Gruber told the JHV. “I thought that was quite noble of him. Bregman, who did play on Yom Kippur, enters the postseason with 23 home runs and 93 runs batted in. The two-time all-star and World Series champion had a bar mitzvah in 2007 at Congregation Albert in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Let’s call it a wrap. And hey, I am currently in quarantine as Sandy deals with Covid, so let’s continue to be careful out there. And if you haven’t done so already, get boosted!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – October 9, 2022 – Hackers and Lox Stars

Shabbat shalom everyone! 

Short entry today as I am off to visit family and running late. 

A story about lox in The Forward caught my eye this morning. Apparently a hacker decided to post an old story “The Raw Truth About Lox” on the Hacker News website, and low and behold, The Forward website saw an uptick in clicks in the tens of thousands! Not sure why there would be such an interest from the techie nerds of the world in this glorious salty fish, but whatever. My nephew Jared is convinced the Jews of the world have some kind of genetic pre-disposition toward salty fish, and based on my own personal observations, I think he may be right. Anyway, I have posted a link to the story here, and have also posted The Forward’s weekend reads, which of course is not a great replacement for my own curated news, but it will have to do.

“This is the strange truth of the modern American brunch: On any given Sunday morning, the majority of people who purchase “lox” to accompany their bagels and cream cheese are not, in fact, getting lox. They may ask for lox, the product may even be labeled as lox and they very well think they are enjoying lox, but what they are getting, instead, is smoked salmon.”

For link to the whole story, “Raw Truth About Lox” click here.

For link to The Forward Weekend reads, click here.

Have a great weekend everyone! And remember, stay vigilant and be safe out there. 

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – October 1, 2022 – “I feel the earth move”

Shabbat shalom! 

Mother nature struck Florida with a vengeance this week, leaving a horrifying path of destruction and devastation that is hard to fathom. The only good news (if you can call it that) to emerge from this disaster is that we did not have to put up with an orange moron throwing paper towels and taunting local politicians. Admittedly the bar is pretty low these days, but it appears as though Biden and DeSantis put aside their obvious differences, acted like adults and actually cooperated. I wish the best for Floridians affected by Ian, and hope all are safe and can eventually rebuild their lives.

Speaking of Mother Nature, an interesting fact I learned this week is that the earth actually shakes every 26 seconds and apparently, scientists have no explanation for this phenomenon. Discovered in the 1960’s, well before Carole King’s popular song, “I Feel the Earth Move” hit the charts in 1971, and well before I first met Sandy, scientists have ruled out either of those events having anything to do with real earth shaking. What they do know is that these microseismic recordings emanate from the Gulf of Guinea, just off Africa’s western coast, but to this day they still don’t know something just as important: why they are happening in the first place. There are theories, of course, ranging from volcanic activity to waves, but still no consensus. 

Another great mystery I learned about this week has to do with Yom Kippur which we will celebrate this week. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. Until that verdict, we refrain from eating, drinking, bathing, wearing perfumes or leather shoes, and lastly, no marital relations, although not sure after the non-bathing and washing part, that sex would be top of mind anyway. Now, here is where it starts to get weird, and mysterious. Another traditional Yom Kippur observance for Ashkenazi Jews over the last 1000 years or so is the practice of “Kapparot”, whereby every Yom Kippur Eve— observant men and women wave a chicken over their head. According to professor of classical rabbinic literature Reuven Kimelman, kapparot involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head three times and reciting a prayer to transfer sins to the bird. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor. Traditionally, men use roosters and women hens, though pregnant women use both in case they’re having a boy. The practice is controversial among rabbinical scholars, and even today, it continues to ruffle feathers (sorry), especially among animal rights activists. 

This could be me in a few years. Just need more time to grow out the beard.

Now, let’s get to the jew-cy news bits. The following is a smattering of items carefully curated by yours truly from various Jewish sources:

  1. In the path of Hurricane Ian, rabbis open their homes and safeguard Torahs: The storm has left some synagogues scrambling to prepare for Shabbat and, once again, turning to virtual services. “It certainly gives you a sense of reverence to see this kind of power displayed,” said Rabbi Bruce Diamond of Fort Myers. “And it reminds us of how everything hangs by a thread.” Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz of the Chabad of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers rode out the storm at home, not by choice but because the evacuation order had come during Rosh Hashanah, when Orthodox Jews refrain from using technology. “We couldn’t leave because we only found out after yontif and it was too late to leave,” Minkowicz said, using the Yiddish term for a Jewish holiday. Read the story ➤
  2. “The pastrami must be amazing”💰  The Justice Department charged three men who ran a New Jersey deli with fraud, after the store, which had less than $40,000 in annual sales, somehow achieved a market capitalization of more than $100 million. (New York Times)
  3. ✝️  An interfaith group voiced its concerns about the rise of Christian nationalism on Wednesday during a briefing on Capitol Hill – One of the organizers of the event was Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who said that the movement played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection and that he learned more when he read a book called “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.” (Religion News Service)
  4. The stock market’s in trouble for a lot of reasons. Could the Days of Awe be a contributing factor?  – Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services, went on CNBC to opine that the plunge in the market may come down to familiar “cycles and traditions,” some of them Jewish. (But no, I don’t think he’s blaming the Jews for the stock market, per se.) “Rosh Hashanah happens at sundown on Sunday,” Cashin said, “and when I was an Irish altar boy in Jersey City, I was told that that tradition is you sell on Rosh Hashanah to buy back on Yom Kippur, cause you wanna be without worldly goods. So I think that may be adding, believe it or not, to some of the mild selling pressure we’re seeing today.” (The Forward)
  5. Israel rejects annexation as West sanctions Russia, threatens any who back land grab – Israel joined a wide chorus rejecting Russia’s annexation of four occupied regions of Ukraine Friday, reiterating its full support for Kyiv’s sovereignty.In a statement issued shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties to incorporate the partially occupied regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia into the Russian Federation, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it would not recognize the move. “Israel supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, we won’t recognize the annexation of the four areas by Russia. Israel has repeated this clear position many times, including in recent days,” the ministry’s official statement read. (Times of Israel) 
  6. In step toward civil marriage, Jerusalem court accepts ‘Zoom weddings’ from Utah – A Jerusalem District Court ordered the Interior Ministry on Thursday to recognize marriages conducted over video-conferencing through the US state of Utah, in another step toward easing access to civil marriage in the State of Israel.Just before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the state of Utah reformed its marriage process, allowing ceremonies to be performed through video conferencing software, such as Zoom, as long as at least one of the people involved — including the officiant — was located physically in the state. (Times of Israel)

That’s all I have time for today. Have a great week everyone, remember to twirl that chicken three times, atone for all your sins, feel the earth move, and please continue to be careful out there!

I feel the earth
Under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down
I feel my heart start to trembling
Whenever (you’re around)

Brad out.

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.