The Jew News Review – January 1, 2022 – Happy New Year!

Shabbat shalom on this new year’s day to one and all! My partying may have peaked a bit early yesterday, but I was able to make it through the ball drop at midnight along with the rest of our family and friendly revellers. Otherwise, it was an early night for me and now a difficult morning dealing with the alcohol-related aftermath. 

So, I will be taking the day off for a little R&R and recovery and save whatever brain cells remain for my football picks in this week’s pool. But, before I head to the couch, here is one story regarding the Jewish history of the Times Square ball drop I thought you might enjoy. Turns out it was an immigrant Jewish iron worker, Jacob Starr, who designed the very first New Year’s Eve ball in 1907 (and personally lowered it himself). Three generations later, his granddaughter Tama Starr tells the story you can watch with this link Click here for more on the Jewish history of the Times Square Ball drop.

I wish you all a healthy and fantastic new year! And hey, let’s start it right and be careful out there.

Brad out. 

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The Jew News Review – December 25, 2021 – Traditions, Traditions!

Shabbat shalom everyone! Happy birthday to the world’s greatest mumsy, and happy holidays to one and all. 

This morning, in the rare stillness of our Vermont condo, I watched live coverage of the James Webb telescope launch into deep space. Pretty amazing human achievement! This Hubble upgrade will enable scientists to see and hear things we have never seen or heard before….to actually explore the origins of the universe! What a wondrous way to cap off one of the strangest years in my lifetime. Equally wonderful has been spending this last week with my family, including many nieces and nephews. If you ever want to restore your faith in the future, I suggest you rent out these kids for a week! Unfortunately, Max and his parents could not make the trip this year, and they were truly missed. For the last 20 plus years, this week or two skiing in God’s country has been an important and extremely fun tradition in the Hirsh Goverman and extended family, and this year was no exception. Puzzles, Ben and Jerry’s, snowflakes, hot cocoa bombs, extreme Lego, Hearts (Remi, you are a loser face), movies, bourbon, and of course skiing and trekking in the snowy mountains. One addition to the tradition this year was adding Fiddler on the Roof to the list of holiday watching, a list that also includes Love Actually and Die Hard. I know, sounds like a living cliche, a bunch of Jews sitting around watching Fiddler, but what a great movie! Hard to believe Norman Jewison was not a Jew! And a theme that could not be more relevant to the sorry state of our nation! But, no negativity this week, so let’s leave that topic for another week. And I will close out this week with a less than traditional photo that left me a bit speechless. I have no explanation as to what this Irish cement mixer/truck was doing in the ski lodge parking lot. Let’s just call it a holiday miracle. 

Remi standing in front of the Mystery Truck

One other important Jewish tradition for this holiday I will leave you with is the incredible connection between Jews and Chinese food on Christmas. You can read all about the history of that important cultural connection by clicking here.

And that’s all I have for the holiday week. Assuming I will not be suffering too much from a hangover after the new year holiday, I will be back with a year in review edition next week. 

And hey, this omicron is some serious shit, so let’s be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – December 18, 2021 – “Sense and Non-Sensibilities”

Shabbat shalom JNR community! What a week!

We are heading to the slopes of Vermont tomorrow for a much needed respite from the hectic day-to-day drudgery of retired life. I am hopeful that it will also be a week away from consuming the news cycle, and instead, shifting my diet to reading material my sister has been dutifully sending me along with some Ben and Jerry’s and game playing with my nieces and nephews. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week’s reflection and curation of the news for Jews.

Apologies to Jane Austen on this week’s subtitle. It’s a reference to the revelations from the explosive interviews conducted by Israeli journalist Barak Ravid with the orange turd that is creating so many headlines in Israel and around the world. Just how much credit should we be giving to the disgraced former President for the warming of relationships between Israel and its Arab neighbors? Can we see past our hateful scorn of this sub-human, non-sensible, person and recognize what many are calling historic progress for peace in the region? Can we see past other revelations in the same interview where he claims “Jews don’t care about Israel” and Jewish people use to have “absolute power over congress” and his head-line grabbing F-U to his “friend” Nutten-yahoo ? Nah, I certainly can’t and won’t. But, I am not going to pretend to be an expert in this area, so what does look like more than just symbolic progress is worth examining. Hence, there are a few articles I have added that will hopefully help make some sense on the topic. I also suggest you listen to a half hour podcast where Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian and Yonit Levi of Channel 12 Israel interview Barak Ravid. Click here for the podcast. 

In other more secular news, the January 6 Committee continues to uncover and release more substantive evidence that the orange turd and his boot lickers in congress and in the right wing media were directly responsible for the atrocious insurrection against our great country. That hard evidence of this treason and hypocrisy is surfacing on the lame stream media should not be a surprise to anyone with a normal brain, but I am sensing a subtle shift in the thinking of a portion of these sycophants that gives me some hope that the tide may finally be turning and it could help wash this national scum out to sea. Let’s hope the committee keeps up the good work, the DOJ gets a backbone and throws more of these a-holes in jail, and that the cleansing of this national scum doesn’t leave too messy a ring around the country’s bathtub. 

Before I get to the news for Jews, a final note on the continuing danger to our dear but dying democracy. If you haven’t read it yet, Barton Gelman’s piece in the Atlantic lays out in very clear and convincing terms that a coup is already under way. The piece, “Trump’s Next Coup has Already Begun” makes the case that we should not be focusing so much on voter rights, but on how the votes, once they are cast, are counted. Pretty goddamn scary stuff, which is why we need federal laws in place to protect the country from this Republican attack on our constitution. Read the story here.

Now, on with the Jew news show we go. Here are a few news items I thought you might find interesting, with links for more details. 

  1. ‘The president doesn’t like you guys now’: The inside story of Trump’s rage against Netanyahu – If you want to go deep on the orange turd’s relationship with Nutten-yahoo, read this new book by Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, which should be out in English shortly. It gives a behind-the-scenes look at what is now being revealed as a rocky U.S.-Israel relationship during the Trump administration, even as Washington helped negotiate deals between Israel and several Gulf Arab states. Read the story ➤ 
  2. Lamb schwarma tacos? A kosher Mexicali restaurant that seems like a mix of Chipotle and Taco Bell recently opened in Los Angeles. It’s part of a trend of kosher eateries based on ethnic cuisines including Chinese, Japanese, French and Italia that are also attracting young non-Jews. Kosher goes mainstream? Read more here (CNN).
  3. From the Culture Desk: Six decades of Bob Dylan’s art on exhibit in Miami – Although I am a huge Dylan fan, I never quite understood why he lent his name to a whiskey brand or did a Victoria Secrets commercial. I guess a true artist has many formats to express his/her art. In addition to these tacky commercial ventures, Dylan has also made paintings, collages and sculptures. More than 180 of these pieces are now on display, along with handwritten song lyrics and archival pieces at Miami’s Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum. See the art and read the story ➤
Elevated Train – Courtesy Bob Dylan
  1. What the left and the right got wrong about the Abraham Accords – This is another view on the orange turd’s impact on the middle east. This piece tries valiantly to balance actual achievement vs the horrid human that might have helped in their progress. Read the story here.
  2. On this week in history: Adolf Eichmann, one of of the architects of the Nazi’s “Final Solution,” was sentenced to death on Dec. 15, 1961 for crimes against humanity. Eichmann wrote a letter to Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi asking for clemency. Hours after that petition was denied, he was hanged, one of only two capital punishments carried out in Israel’s history. As mentioned in a previous JNR issue, Eichmann’s court case became the basis of a Superman comic book. Read the story here.

That’s all folks! 

And I am sure you don’t need a reminder about this omicron nonsense surging all over the place, but hey everyone, let’s be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – December 11, 2021 – The nature of nature, bagel battles, a camel beauty contest, and the unique relationship between Blacks and Jews

Shabbat shalom one and all! Quick shout out to our newest readers, Sandy Yaffi, a dear friend of me mumsy, and Dan and Ruth’s friends, the Tarlins and the Gardners. Welcome to the JNR Sandy, Dan, Lora, Neil and Beverlee!

Amidst the fog and rain of this weirdly warm winter day, and as I peer out my JNR office window at the life-affirming site of birds fluttering around our feeders, my thoughts switch to the death and destruction that occurred last night in the midwest where they are still pulling bodies from the rubble of homes, factories and warehouses devastated by tornados and storms that wreaked havoc across a wide swath of the country. It’s a reminder of the power of nature and the fragility of humanity in nature’s awesome shadow. And I am reminded of Blake’s Tyger, Tyger poem, “When the stars threw down their spears And water’d heaven with their tears: Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” Apparently the lord does work in mysterious ways, and I hope for the best for our neighbors in the midwest. 

Not to get too religious here, but I had a great meeting with our Rabbi last week. Hard to believe I just wrote that. It’s the first time I have been in a synagogue for something other than a funeral in a long time. I met with Rabbi Meszler to discuss our plans to launch our community service project, Mensches with Wrenches, and to pick his proverbial brain on the idea. It was great to get to know the Rabbi a bit more and learn about him as a person as well as better understand and appreciate his place in the community and his dedication to serving it. And staying on the Rabbinical theme, in The Forward this week, editor Jodi Rudoren reminds us of a special group of Rabbis, the “Augustine 17”, who were jailed in 1964 for their support of MLK and the civil rights movement. They jointly penned this famous letter on the back of a KKK protest brochure, which you can read here. More on this topic later, but for now, let’s get to the Jewy Newsy stuff, which I know you are all waiting for on the edge of your seats:

  1. Bagels in the news! A few stories this week regarding those delicious golden brown dough rings we all love so much. First, bagel wars are boiling over in LA where the idea of preserving the old fashion bagel methods has ignited a personal bagel battle. Two bagel-shop owners in Los Angeles are arguing with each other over whose delicious doughs are more authentically Jewish. The bagel wars have become so heated that it’s led to threats and – a shonda! – a couple of one-star reviews on Yelp. Read more about it here. And then, we have the great cream cheese supply chain issue plaguing the bagel industry, but hitting the New York schmearers particularly hard. Zabar’s estimates that it only has enough cream cheese to last 10 days. Could it be another Chanukah miracle? Read more here.
Zabar’s 10 day supply – will it last?
  1. Contestants in camel beauty pageant disqualified for using Botox – In my dogged pursuit to bring you only the news that matters the most to Jews, I ran across this gem regarding a Camel beauty contest. You read that right. And yes, this is real, and something I have just added to my bucket list! Saudi Arabia’s popular King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, which kicked off earlier this month, invites the breeders of the most beautiful camels to compete for some $66 million in prize money. Botox injections, face lifts and other cosmetic alterations to make the camels more attractive are strictly prohibited. Jurors decide the winner based on the shape of the camels’ heads, necks, humps, dress postures, and of course, personality. I am thinking of being the US agent for the event and bringing it to Westminster in 2023. 
Last year’s handsome winner, Dudley, was caught wearing dentures and disqualified
  1. Alex Edelman has tried cocaine, but not bacon – I am not a huge fan of stand up comedians, but this caught my eye, so I explored some of his bits on YouTube. Except for the yelling, he can be pretty funny! Edelman grew up Modern Orthodox and his religion has always been part of his act. But his new show dives deeper into issues of race and identity. He is a local boy, having grown up in Boston and apparently attended many bar mitzvahs in Sharon, MA! Here is a link to a bit he did on Conan’s show a few years ago. In his intro he says, “I am from a racist part of Boston called…..Boston.” Check it out if you have the time. Click here
  2. Antisemitism at Mount Holyoke College – The third such incident at the prestigious women’s school in Massachusetts this fall. “We join you in both anger and grief,” Sonya Stephens, the school’s president, said in a letter to the community after a prior incident, in October. “And condemn in the strongest terms this provocation and all symbols of hate.” Investigators believe all the incidents are the work of one student on campus, and let’s hope they nail the jerk sooner rather than later.For more, click here.
  3. Blacks and Jews, and the St. Augustine 17 – Mentioned earlier, the reason for resurrecting the St. Augustine 17 is due to the release of a relatively new documentary,”Shared Legacies,” a 2020 film about the Black-Jewish civil-rights alliance. To watch the trailer click here, it’s worth 5 minutes of your time. The film, written and directed by Shari Rogers, a psychologist and social activist out of Detroit, “is bursting with incredible interviews and fascinating footage about an era that seems starkly distant amid the divisions of today,” according to Forward Editor, Jodi Rudoren. The film tells the story of Kivie Kaplan, the Jewish businessman-philanthropist who was president of the NAACP, being inspired to civil-rights work by a vacation in Florida where he saw signs barring Jews and dogs from country clubs. It explains the resonance of the Exodus story for Black protesters and the connections both Jewish and Black leaders felt between Nazi Germany and Jim Crow.“We came as Jews who remember the millions of faceless people who stood quietly, watching the smoke rise from Hitler’s crematoria. We came because we know that, second only to silence, the greatest danger to man is loss of faith in man’s capacity to act.” Amen.

That’s all for now folks! And hey, as always, let’s be careful out there.

Brad out.

The view outside the JNR office window this morning


The Jew News Review – December 4, 2021 – Superman circumcised and a Bat Mitzvah for the ages

Shabbat shalom one and all! Quick shout out to my nephew Jake who landed his first college acceptance this week. Mazel Tov Jake! May those big envelopes keep rolling in! (it’s probably all email these days, so no more big envelopes?)

And Chappy Chanukah to all my fellow Hebrews! What a great holiday: gifts, greasy latkes, candle lighting, a few prayers over the Chanukiah. But I can’t help thinking that the holiday would have remained obscure at best if it weren’t for the coincidence of the Christian calendar. And what of the myths surrounding the holiday: The great Maccabees re-dedicating the temple and all that oil lasting eight days? A closer look at the history would probably reveal an internal civil war between the more Hellenic Jews and those Pharisees and Zealots getting a bit fed up with the Sadducees. But hey, lets not split Hanukah hairs. Regardless of what actually happened, the way it is celebrated and commemorated is where things get interesting—so keep dipping those ancient latkes in applesauce and down a few jelly doughnuts, and, unlike yours truly, try to avoid the horror of an expanding waistline and that creeping Mendoza line on the scale. 

Meanwhile, the news of the week continues its daily onslaught on our senses. The Orange Turd’s wake continues to create historical turbulence, as we now find the moral arc of history bending AWAY from justice and toward back alley abortions and the loss of freedoms courtesy of the Turd’s conservative judges on SCOTUS. The Republican party continues its moral decay and depravity and steady descent into the very inner rings of Dante’s Hell where hopefully they will rot for a few decades before being reborn with a revitalized sense of decency and a moral backbone. But hope is not a strategy, as my business professors would remind me, so please do whatever you can to support both democrats and democracy!

Now, what of the news for the Jews you may be asking? Ask and ye shall receive. Here are a few nuggets selected for your Jewish reading enjoyment:

  1. Superman was circumcised! This book, by Roy Schwartz, just won an award for most odd book title. Roy is also a contributing editor to The Forward. “Superman is the original superhero, an American icon, and arguably the most famous character in the world–and he’s Jewish! Introduced in June 1938, the Man of Steel was created by two Jewish teens, Jerry Siegel, the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe, and Joe Shuster, an immigrant. They based their hero’s origin story on Moses, his strength on Samson, his mission on the golem, and his nebbish secret identity on themselves.They made him a refugee fleeing catastrophe on the eve of World War II and sent him to tear Nazi tanks apart nearly two years before the US joined the war. In the following decades, Superman’s mostly Jewish writers, artists, and editors continued to borrow Jewish motifs for their stories, basing Krypton’s past on Genesis and Exodus, its society on Jewish culture, the trial of Lex Luthor on Adolf Eichmann’s, and a future holiday celebrating Superman on Passover.” If you want to learn more about the “Mensch of Steel” read this book with the award winning odd title. Link to buy book
  2. Chanukah finally in Hollywood? I don’t know about you, but I am often jealous of all the great goyim Christmas-themed movies compared to the dearth of comps on the Jewish side. My family used to watch Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol every year and my father would embarrassingly yell out the window at the newspaper boy to get him the turkey in the window of the butcher shop, and then to the bewilderment of the poor kid, yell out “An intelligent boy, a remarkable boy!” This ritual has given way to my family watching “Love Actually” and “Die Hard” every season as a tradition of our own. Well, now Hallmark and a few other studios are starting to get into the Chanukah movie biz, and this year there are more than a few offerings worthy of your consideration. Hallmark’s holiday movie “Eight Gifts of Hanukkah” airs this weekend. It’s being billed as the channel’s first film entirely about the Jewish festival, and stars Israeli actress Inbar Lavi and Canadian Jake Epstein, who also appeared in the 2019 film “Mistletoe & Menorahs.” Seriously.
  3. Antisemitism Blotter – I hate that every week I see more and more of these reports, but I also feel obligated to let everyone know, this shit is not getting better.  Chicago police have launched a hate-crimes investigation after someone scrawled racist and antisemitic graffiti on a synagogue … Near Miami, officers are searching for a suspect who vandalized a Jewish community center … and in Carlisle, Penn.,the authorities are trying to find out who’s responsible for placing Hitler stickers around the Jewish center at Dickinson College. (Chicago Sun-TimesWSVNJNS)
  4. A Holocaust Tree grows in Brooklyn, (or at least near Brooklyn) – I was always fascinated by the idea of planting trees in Israel to support its birth and development. I vaguely remember our Hebrew School collecting money for such donations. This is a great story of a tree that survived the holocaust, and its saplings now being spread around the world. And now New York City — home to the largest community of Holocaust survivors and their descendants of any city outside Israel — will also nurture a descendant of the original tree. Dr. Roger Pomerantz, a Jewish philanthropist who owns a farm in Pennsylvania that holds seven trees grown from cuttings of the original tree, has donated one to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City. “The Children’s Tree,” as it will be known, was unveiled to the public last week during a dedication ceremony held jointly by the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Battery Park City Authority. Currently 15 feet tall, the silver maple tree will have a permanent home in the park.
  5. A Bat Mitzvah delayed – Let’s end this weeks JNR edition on a positive note. Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords stood before the congregation in Tucson, Ariz., and kissed her tallit, preparing to chant from the Torah for the first time, Rabbi Stephanie Aaron placed her hand atop Giffords’ hand, her voice rising and falling along with Giffords’ own. It was an emotional moment two decades in the making. Giffords – whose Hebrew name is Gavriella, meaning “my strength is God” – is the granddaughter of a rabbi, descended from a long line of Lithuanian rabbis, but did not become bat mitzvah at the traditional age. She first thought about having an adult bat mitzvah in the early 2000s, but life – and a near-fatal shooting – got in the way. Here is a link to the full story. Full story, click here
U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords chanting from the Torah by the Forward

And that’s all for the week folks. As usual, remember to be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – November 27, 2021 – Arrrrr!

Shabbat shalom! And Happy Thanksgiving weekend! 

Chanukah is just around the corner, and since our family is holding our pirate themed Chanukah party today (Chanukah on the Chai Seas), and since our editorial staff is slightly under the weather and still recovering from a massive food coma, yours truly is taking the day off!

So, enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone!

And hey, this omicron variant is some serious shit, so don’t let your guards down and be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – November 20, 2021 – 400 years of bullshit, one helluva stupid law, and a missing menorah

Shabbat shalom one and all! 

It’s Thanksgiving week, historically one of my favorite holidays, since it is simply a weekend of being thankful by eating gobs of good food, watching the Detroit Lions lose, and spending time with family. A pretty good recipe for an enjoyable weekend. And, did you know that this year marks the 400th anniversary of the day a shipload of undocumented aliens came to Plymouth, met some unidentified friendly Indians who welcomed the Pilgrims to America, taught them how to live in this new place, sat down to dinner with them, then handed over America and disappeared? 

Well, with apologies to the Wampanoags, I really do enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, and usually the only guilt I feel is over the crazy amount of food I consume and the risk of my body weight crossing the Mendoza line in the wrong direction. And this year, to continue my steady drip of sarcasm, I am also thankful for the laws of Wisconsin that allowed a jury to clear a racially motivated vigilante teenager of murdering and injuring several people. Seriously, those laws need to be changed, but perhaps the most reprehensible aspect of this case is that it represents yet another data point in the long and sordid history of the right making heroes of white vigilantes who use violence against people of color and their white friends. Honestly, if Kyle Shittenhouse was a black man, do you think he would have been found innocent and then received accolades and job offers from Republicans?

But, we still live in one of the greatest countries on the planet, so let’s have a great Thanksgiving everyone! And let’s get to some good Jew news! So, here you go!

Kamala and hubby hanging a Mezuzah on the VP residence
  1. A Mensch with a hammer? You heard it here first! Kamala Harris and hubby Douglas Emhoff hung a mezuzah on the doorpost at the vice president’s residence. The scroll is on loan from The Temple, the oldest Jewish congregation in Atlanta, known for its involvement in the civil rights movement. Harris and Emhoff, who is Jewish, also selected a second silver mezuzah from the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California Berkeley to be hung inside. I don’t recall the history of our home’s mezuzah, but I still think I prefer Amy Klobuchar. Read the story > 
  2. Culture Vulture: Why ‘Checkout’ is the Israeli sitcom that we didn’t know we needed – Israel’s No. 1 comedy – which has echoes of “Superstore” – follows the employees and eccentric regulars at a grocery as they banter and snipe their way through daily life and workplace politics. It also includes confession booth-style interviews with the characters – think “The Office” or “Parks and Recreation.” Mira Fox, the Forward’s culture reporter, says the show is “tightly written with bits of sharp social commentary slipped in between ludicrous storylines and slapstick.” Watch the trailer and read her review >
  3. QAnon’s Jewish connection – QAnon conspiracy theorists traveled to Dallas earlier this month, claiming that JFK Jr. would return from the dead to Daley Plaza – where his father was assassinated – appear at a Rolling Stones concert, and proclaim former President Trump the “king of kings.” (Some are still awaiting his return at the grassy knoll.) Turns out, they were led there by a popular antisemitic social media influencer who calls himself the “Gematria General”because he uses Jewish numerological techniques to make his predictions. (Vice)
  4. Zucker-schmuck having trouble discerning hate speech from it’s opposite – Facebook rejected an ad for a class called “Outsmarting Antisemitism” being taught by Chabad. One rabbi said the response he got was that the ad was about “sensitive social issues” that could influence elections or pending legislation. “They have not yet figured out how to discern hate speech from its opposite and instead choose to shut down all conversations on the topic,” he said. Come on Mark, how about fine tuning those algorithms! (Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle)
  5. Ice Cream Watch – Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery has released three new flavors for Hanukkah: Halva with Cherries, Sufganiyot and Challah Bread Pudding. They’ve also partnered with TV host Andy Cohen, for a special run of “Peppermint Andy.” Proceeds will go to Doorways, an interfaith non-profit. (St. Louis Jewish Light
  6. How do you hide a nine foot Menorah? 🕎 A 9-foot menorah was stolen from outside the Chabad of Huntsville, Alabama. The same congregation was vandalized with antisemitic graffiti in 2020. But the Rabbi is doubling down and has announced, undaunted, that they will install menorahs all over the city. You go Moshe! (AP)
Menorah Stolen From Synagogue – WHNT.com
Image of the stolen Menorah – It disappeared shortly after Kyle was released

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

That’s all I’ve got. And hey, let’s stay safe out there.

Brad out. 

The Jew News Review – November 13, 2021 – The Metaverse is lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep

Shabbat shalom to you all! Quick shout out to new member, Steve Holtzman, who will be my partner in a new enterprise we will be launching soon, “Mensches with Wrenches”. More to come on this exciting new chapter in my career!

But today, I want to talk about the metaverse. You have probably been reading a bit about it, especially after Facebook’s Zucker-moron announced Meta as their new name. To his credit, Zuck-for-brains legitimately wants to dominate the virtual and augmented reality space, a frontier where he can push his own branded VR headgear and thereby own and dominate the channel. Immediately following Zucker-jerk’s announcement, Nike followed with one of their own. The Oregon-based company has filed several new trademarks this week that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual Nike-branded sneakers and apparel. For the elderly among us still trying to master Zoom, what this means is that in online gaming, shopping, and anywhere else you can go with your virtual “self” (think of it as a 3-D emoji, or “Bitmoji”) in virtual/digital worlds, you can now buy digital versions of Nike sneakers, clothing and other branded accessories to dress up your Bitmoji. In the video gaming world, it’s called buying skins. There are other more interesting applications, but the digital shopping space will surely be the first with large venture capital and entrepreneurs rushing to make their millions. Does your bitmoji need a new Gucci handbag?

Why am I raising this “nerdy” topic? As a technologist, I am more than a bit worried that we are already too immersed in screens, and two dimensional digital realities. The latest stats show that Americans spend over seven hours per day on screens of some form or another. And most are spending 2-3 hours on social media, which we all know is designed to appeal to our “lizard brain” as Jaron Lanier, one of the early founders of Virtual Reality stated on Kara Swishers “Sway” podcast the other day. (Click here for Sway podcast) Lanier posited that the goodness that can come from VR technology is that no matter how close to reality it may become, you will appreciate reality even more. So, put down those game controllers, delete your social media accounts, and take a walk in the woods today. According to Japanese scientists, a walk in the woods, or ‘shinrin-yoku’, provides preventive medical effects by relieving stress and recovering the immune system diminished by stress. You can’t get those effects in the virtual world.

The future according to Zuck-face. That’s me in the middle, before my shinrin-yoku therapy.

Speaking of reality, how great was it to hear the DOJ indicting one of the leading a-holes in the country, Steve Bannon? I would love to see that traitor behind bars, but you know he will become a martyr for the right as soon as that happens. But, let’s talk Jew News for the week. Chanukah is quickly approaching, and this year our themed party is “Chanukah on the Chai Seas”. Really looking forward to donning my pirate costume and downing several latkes. But, back to the news, here are some stories for the week:

  1. Shiva call: Colin Powell was not the only famous Shabbas Goy – My sister pointed this one out to me, and I missed posting it in last week’s JNR. This is a great piece and lesson about interfaith understanding. Colin Powell, who was buried a few weeks ago, grew up in a Jewish community in the Bronx, and in addition to other duties forbidden to observant Jews on Shabbat , he was given a quarter for each night he shut off the lights in the neighboring temple. The really interesting part of the article is the revelation that Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall also was a Shabbas Goy! And his writings reflect the learnings from that interesting history. For more, click here
  2. 770 Eastern Parkway: The most copied building in the world – Around the world, construction is underway on at least six more replicas of 770 Eastern Parkway, the Brooklyn-based headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement. And, when the building in Abuja, Nigeria, is finished, there will be at least one on every continent except Antarctica. Why, you may be asking, is this building so popular?  Click here to read more and find out!
  3. David Halbestram on the greatest Jewish Broadcasters of all time – A great retrospective and historical piece on the emergence of specialists in the sports broadcasting world. From the early days to post war television, Halbestram covers them all, and there are surprisingly so many, including Howard Cohen, aka Howard Cosell. “He described himself as, “arrogant, pompous, vain, verbose, a showoff.” Cosell was hardly an observant Jew, but he didn’t hide his ancestry. Many loathed him and others, particularly younger viewers, loved him no matter their faiths.” He also covers the emergence of Jewish women broadcasters as well.  For more, click here.
  4. Trust your therapist? You might think twice after watching this just released movie – Marty Markowitz thought he was just going to see a psychiatrist for a routine appointment. Was he ever wrong. Over 30 years, the doctor inserted himself into every aspect of Markowitz’s life. The story is so wild that it became the basis for a true-crime podcast and, now, a TV series starring Will Ferrell as Markowitz. And his psychiatrist is played by none other than the world’s most sexiest male (passed me over again) Paul Rudd.  For more, click here.
  5. Pelicans stopping by Israel for a quick brunch are biting into fishery profits – 🇮🇱  When Israeli officials opened their borders after a 19-month pandemic shutdown, I’m not sure this is what they had in mind: Thousands of pelicans are making a pit stop in the country. Apparently, Jews are not the only animal with a genetic pre-disposition to salty fish!  Read more here.
Where can you get a decent bagel and schmear around here?

That’s all I’ve got this week gang. Remember to take a walk in the woods, and whether you do or don’t, let’s be careful out there!

Brad out. 

The Jew News Review – November 6, 2021 – People are infrastructure too!

Shabbat shalom JNR peeps! 

A fall chill is in the Sharon air but I remain toasty in the JNR office, spinning some Steve Goodman on the turntable. Sandy and I just got our Covid booster shots yesterday, so my arm is a little sore but my mood is even more pained due to the email I was compelled to send this morning to The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). The group, formerly led by the now deceased Sheldon Adelson, has invited the disgraced former President and current Orange Turd to speak at their annual conference. Thankfully, only approximately 20% of our fair tribe admit to being Republicans, but still, a number that is about 20 points too high, IMHO. I politely reminded the knuckleheads at the RJC that perhaps they should rethink validating the treasonous acts of the world’s most horrible human being. 

But what a way to end this crazy week, with the passage of a bi-partisan infrastructure bill that should lay the foundations for a better, safer and prosperous nation! It would have been nice if the libs hadn’t shackled the bricks and mortar version with the Build Back Better human infrastructure version, but whatever. The tactic only cost one Governorship but maybe one positive outcome of the tactic will be a better Build Back Better law? Wishful thinking? 

The week also saw the exciting conclusion of the most Jewish Baseball World Series evah! Thankfully the Atlanta Braves whipped the Astros in game 6 and sent the Astros packing with their inflated Texas-sized egos between their legs. But the Jew crew clearly came to play: Max Fried gets special kudos for an amazing outing in an era where starting pitchers average under 5 innings per game. With six shutout frames, he didn’t just go deeper into the game than any pitcher in this year’s series, he got more outs than any pitcher without allowing a run in a World Series clincher since 1985. The game contained what might have been the most Jewish play in any Major League Baseball matchup evah! In the bottom of the second inning, Astros star third baseman Alex Bregman stepped up to the plate and sliced Fried’s second pitch to right field, where Braves outfielder Joc Pederson easily caught it for out number two. That play marked the first time in baseball history that 3 bar mitzvah boys were involved in a single play. I am thinking of establishing an NFT of the video clip! Now if we could only get Joc to leave the pearls at home…..

Now, what of the news of the Jews? I can hear you all impatiently mumbling something under your breaths, so mumble no more and enjoy these items selected once again by yours truly for your reading enjoyment:

  1. Royal Jewish Mitzvah – ♠️  In another world series, Jews were once again making history. Gershon Distenfeld, an Orthodox Jew from New Jersey, and a noted backgammon player, won the World Series of Poker and said he will donate his winnings. “My wife Aviva and I have been blessed with financial means and it’s a core value of ours to give both our money and our time to help make the world a better place,” he said. What a mench! (PokerNews)
  2. A Native American Jew speaks her mind on the The Braves’ ‘tomahawk chop’ –Last week we reported on Rabbi’s who didn’t find the practice offensive. This week, we post an opposing viewpoint. The Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians have both changed their names. But the popular fan chant in Atlanta lives on. “Rather than destroying a team’s traditions, Jews – who know all too well the dangers of stereotypes – can take part in transforming a destructive pop culture phenomenon into one that is healthy and positive,” writes Mahrinah Shije. Read the OpEd >
  3. This week included National Sandwich Day – One of my fond father memories is my dad’s love of a fatty frank (Hebrew National or Pearl, of course) encased in a fresh bulky roll, smothered with mustard and relish. MMMMMMM! check out this roundup of 9 super Jewish sammies curated by Molly Yeh, a Food Network host and Forward contributor. Click here for sammies.
  4. Fiddler turns 50! The movie adaptation of “Fiddler on the Roof” premiered 50 years ago this week. But no-one played a better Tevye than my son-in-law, Ian Worgaftik at his Avon High School production. For the right amount of money I am willing to provide a link to the famous video. Or, read about this story of a young woman who converted to Judaism after playing a role in the now famous play at her summer theater camp.  Click here for more.
  5. Old antisemitic tropes found new life in Phoenix – I hate that every week I read more reports of anti-Semitism on campus’s and just about everywhere around the globe. Here is another one. It’s getting scary out there. After a woman went on a rant about how Jews are profiting from unsafe vaccines at an Arizona school-board meeting last week, the board president shrugged it off, saying “this is not something we can do something about.” In this OpEd essay, Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, argues that was a missed opportunity. “What’s most shocking about this episode,” is not what the speaker said, Greenblatt notes, “but that not one single person at the meeting had the courage to stand up and denounce her words as hateful, hurtful and untrue.” Read the OpEd >
  6. Our “charming” new ambassador to Israel finally confirmed – 🇮🇱  The Senate confirmed Tom Nides as U.S. ambassador to Israel on Wednesday after Republican lawmakers lifted their hold on his nomination. Nides, a banker and former official in the Clinton and Obama administrations, ran Sen. Joe Lieberman’s vice presidential campaign in 2000, but we won’t hold that against him. Our senior political reporter, Jacob Kornbluh, says Nides “brings both political and diplomatic experience to the job, and has been characterized as ‘charming’ by people who have worked with him.” (JTA)

That’s all I have this week everyone. And hey, don’t let your guard down and continue to be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – October 30, 2021 – Hungarian Ghoul-ash, Jewglers, “This Zucks” and birthday wishes to the JNR

Shabbat shalom everyone! A quick shout out to the JNR, as we officially turned two years old last week. In honor of said anniversary, I will be putting together another order for the ever popular JNR swag. So, in case you are new to the forum, or missed the last order, fear not! There are always second chances in life and in JNR swag! More details to follow next week!

World famous JNR Swag

It’s a dreary and soggy morning here in Sharon, MA, but I won’t let the rainy weather dampen my sunny disposition. I started out feeling that some Steely Dan “Aja” on the turntable might match my mood, then on second thought, switched to The Eagles to try and hopefully “loosen my load”, as I continue to worry about the fate of our nation’s democracy at the hands of the domestic terrorists we historically and respectfully called “Republicans”. While the lame stream media continues to focus on the rifts within the Democratic party over the infrastructure sausage making, (as if there could ever be any unanimity on such sweeping legislation), the only thing Republicans want to talk about are contrived culture wars, and they seem hell bent on turning our democracy into something resembling Hungarian autocratic goulash (or should that be “ghoul-ash”?) I am confident the infrastructure sausage will be made, and it will probably taste pretty good, but hopefully not too rich to cause economic heartburn. Interest rates may be low now, but I am not one of those liberals who believes we should continue to spend trillions without getting the approval of the generations that follow who will have to pick up the tab. I would prefer we cancel all the human infrastructure programs if we could replace them with just one – universal health care – but that is politically impossible in this crazy F’d up country. End rant here.

On the Jew news front, nothing alarming jumped out at me this week. Israel announced more settlements, drawing the wrath of just about everyone interested in a two-state solution. The Knesset passed their own infrastructure bill which includes a new airport and lots of other transportation projects. And they continue to posture and spend defense funds to paint the Iranians as the boogey-people who constitute an existential threat to the jewish state. So, as I stated, nothing new or notable this week. Nevertheless, here is a sampling of some Jew news you may find interesting, entertaining, or both!

  1. “Jewglers” united in protest? “Jewglers” is one of many employee groups at Google, where there are also “Gayglers” (for LGBTQ+ employees) and “Greyglers” (for older ones, like me). The Jewglers’ 2,800 Jewish members mostly use its listserv to seek travel advice, share recipes and plan the company Hanukkah party. But over the past year, Jewish employees of the search giant have split as Jews in so many communities have, over politics surrounding Israel. An open letter published this month by Google and Amazon employees demanded the two companies withdraw a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with Israel. The day after the letter was made public, Google announced a $5.8 million commitment to combat antisemitism online. Frankly, this is just another example of how Israel’s Palestinian problem divides the community. But I love the “Jewglers” name, and included the story just for that reason alone. Enjoy the details here. 
  2. The “Last Jew in Afghanistan” follow up story – You read about it here first in the JNR, now you can read the full story of the dramatic rescue of this knucklehead who finally gave his ex-wife of 20 years a gett (divorce) in exchange for his dramatic rescue by a minivan with gunshots sounding in the distance. To read the full story, click here.
  3. Nazi Landlords in Maine? – 🏠 Not all is happy in “Vacationland” as this week landlords in Maine evicted a Black Jewish man for placing a mezuzah by his front door, an apparent violation of the lease. The Maine Human Rights Commission is slated to discuss the case Nov. 8, after an investigator found it likely a case of discrimination. Read all about here.(News Center Maine
  4. Meta? “This Zucks” should have been the new name for Facebook! Thanks to Kara Swisher for that name idea, but it looks like the shitheads at FB have landed on Meta, which does not translate well in Hebrew. Apparently the closest translation is the feminine form for “is dead”. Some business folks think the Google-like name change is one way to insulate Zuck from doing a perp walk. The tech giant does provide an important role in the world, if they would only act more responsibly and stop amplifying bad things, I might say something nice about them. But until then, The Zuck is dead to me, no matter how many Jewish charities he supports. For more on the story, click here.
  5. World Series Schmucks: Rabbis supporting “The Chop”? The tomahawk Chop — often called “the chop” — is a back-and-forth motion of the arm, accompanied by a sing-song war chant, and often cued by stadium music and a drumbeat. Native Americans have characterized it as both bigoted and an insensitive appropriation of their culture and all the more offensive in Georgia, where the U.S. government in the 19th century forced thousands of Native Americans off their land and onto the Trail of Tears — for many, a death march. But not so for Rabbi Ilan Feldman, head of Beth Jacob, an Orthodox synagogue in Atlanta, grew up listening to baseball games on a transistor radio and has been going to Braves games for decades. He said he would do the tomahawk chop “every time I have the chance.”“The whole point of the tomahawk Chop is that a Brave is a courageous warrior for a good cause,” Feldman said, “and therefore it’s honoring Braves, not dishonoring them. It’s saying ‘I want to be like a Brave.’” I don’t know about all of you, but despite my trying to resist the PC knee jerk reaction to this disgusting Atlanta fan chant, I think the custom sucks and should be banished. But despite that, I am hoping the Atlanta Cowards prevail over the Houston cheaters. For more on this story, click here.

That’s all I have this week. A big BOO! to all of you, and a reminder to be careful out there!

Brad out.