The Jew News Review – January 7, 2023 – Dog catches car

Shabbat shalom! Happy new year everyone! And welcome back Nathan who is returning home from a Birthright trip to Israel!

Tip of the kippah this morning to Kevin McCarthy who survived an insufferable 14 votes before finally figuring out a way to convince the MAGA nuts he is serious about dismantling liberal democracy. This is no exaggeration, as the MAGA nuts have clearly stated their intentions to do so and will use the national debt limit to get the concessions they are seeking. They believe that if we stop funding the government, the programs they hate, such as social security, the EPA, and others that were actually initiated by Republicans, will cease to exist. How ironic that in this stirring demonstration of democracy in action, we actually are witnessing the potential dismantling of said democracy by the same group of extremists who tried to take the government hostage two years ago to the day. This is a loathsome crew, led by the likes of Matt “punch my face please” Goetz, Lauren “super bitch” Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor “laser brain” Greene and other whack jobs who wouldn’t get elected to garbage collector in any state with an average IQ above that of a mongoloid. Sorry mongoloids and garbage collectors.

If there is any goodness in this democratic debacle, it was the eminence of, and the speech by, minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, who appears to have hired Lin-Manuel Miranda as his speech writer, going full alphabet with a clever A to Z soliloquy which included:

House Democrats will always put American values over autocracy, benevolence over bigotry, the Constitution over the cult, democracy over demagogues, economic opportunity over extremism, freedom over fascism, governing over gaslighting, hopefulness over hatred, inclusion over isolation, justice over judicial overreach, knowledge over kangaroo courts, liberty over limitation, maturity over Mar-a-Lago, normalcy over negativity, opportunity over obstruction, people over politics, quality of life issues over QAnon, reason over racism, substance over slander, triumph over tyranny, understanding over ugliness, voting rights over voter suppression, working families over the well-connected, xenial over xenophobia, “Yes we can” over “You can do it,” and zealous representation over zero-sum confrontation.

Sadly, the dog catching the car is an appropriate metaphor for what’s happening here in the USA as well as in Israel, where the parallels between the crazies in Nut-and-yahoos coalition and the MAGA nut jobs couldn’t be more scary. While it may be far too early to tell what will happen to Israel under its new stewardship, Itamar Ben-Gvir’s audacious visit this week to the Temple Mount, the site holy to both Muslims and Jews and flashpoint of so much tension and violence, seems to be a haunting harbinger. And we should all be deeply worried about the independence of Israel’s judiciary, about the new government’s threats to LGBTQ people and plans to redefine who is considered Jewish under Israeli law.

So, happy new year everyone! If you thought 2022 was a weird year, you ain’t seen nothing yet! This shit is going to get very real and luckily we all have a seat in the front row!

Now, what about some other news for the Jews this week? My email was flooded once again with your requests for more careful curations of news from the likes of The Forward, The Times of Israel, JTA, Kveller, Jewish Boston, and other fine sources of news for Jews! So, here you go:

  1. New Israel government slashes taxes on plastics – TEL AVIV (JTA) — Devora Zien’s tiny apartment in Bnei Brak runs like a factory, but, she admits, not a very smooth one. With 12 mouths to feed three times a day, single-use plasticware is a basic necessity, she says. So when Israel’s then-Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman increased taxes on disposables in 2021, Zien said she was “in total shock.” This week, Bezalel Smotrich, in his first move as finance minister, signed orders repealing the tax hikes on disposables and sugary drinks. Liberman’s tax on disposable dinnerware, as well as another set of taxes he imposed as finance minister on sugar-filled soft drinks, were viewed by many ultra-Orthodox Israelis as unfairly targeting their lifestyle and cynically using health and environmental considerations to single out their community.
  2. George Santos to star in “Fibber on the Roof” and other popular memes. In the “you can’t make this shit up” category, these memes have lit up social media:
  1. Pope Benedict said he believed in Jewish and Christian co-existence — but it took quite a while: Benedict, whose historic funeral unfolded last week in Vatican City, joined the Hitler Youth at 14 and when he became pontiff, lionized Pope Pius XII despite the latter’s inaction during the Holocaust. Benedict also reinstated a prayer that contained antisemitic references, though eventually removed the offending parts. His views on Judaism evolved and, in a 2011 book, he wrote that Judaism and Christianity should be seen as complementary faiths and energy should not be expended trying to convert Jews. Read the story ➤
  2. 😲  A Florida golf course was vandalized with racist and antisemitic messages, including a swastika and Star of David with a line through it …. Separately, a family in Stoneham, Massachusetts, found on their front lawn five swastikas made out of purple construction paper. “The anxiety just reached over me,” said the mom. (CBS 12Washington Post)
  3. The hottest Jewish trends for 2023 (and the 2022 fads we won’t miss)The Forward’s Irene Katz Connelly and Mira Fox gazed through their crystal matzo balls, and what did they find?Partying at delis: You might think pastrami on rye, smothered in Russian dressing, seems like a symbol of a bygone era, your zayde’s favorite order that’s passé in a gluten-free vegan world. But you’d be wrong — the deli is so hot right now. Not just the food, also the aesthetic. Fashion designer Batsheva Hay had her New York Fashion Week show at Ben’s Kosher Deli, Zabar’s sells high-end sweaters and Katz’s hosted a rave.Putting the ‘stud’ in Bible study: Apps like JDate and The Lox Club cater to Jews looking for love, but they’ve become so saturated that they sometimes don’t feel very Jewish anymore. So ditch the apps, our duo recommends, and try meeting your beshert the old fashioned way: at synagogue. Read the rest of Irene & Mira’s Tired/Wired take ➤
  4. Thank you Elon Musk! Here are the prominent antisemites who have been reinstated on Twitter (that we know of) – A prominent antisemitic conspiracy theorist, who believes a race of lizard people secretly holds positions of power across the globe, is once again on Twitter.  The account of David Icke, which has over 335,000 followers, is active for the first time since 2020. The change in status was discovered by Travis Brown, who runs a site dedicated to tracking the status of once-banned accounts. Icke joins an ignominious group of people who have expressed antisemitic beliefs and been banned from the social media site, only to see their accounts reinstated since the company was bought by Elon Musk in October. Musk has called himself a free speech absolutist, but has also told investors he would not allow Twitter to become a “hellscape.”
  5. How long before new TikTokers see Nazi content? 75 minutes, according to a Jan. 6 committee test – WASHINGTON (JTA) — The committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol wanted to test how fast it took social media to get to radical content. The answer, when it came to TikTok and Nazis, was just over an hour. It took TikTok 75 minutes to deliver Nazi content to a new user who did not seek it, the committee found, according to a report Thursday in Rolling Stone. The magazine is one of a number of publications reviewing the committee’s final release of documents as the U.S. House of Representatives transitions from Democratic to Republican control. Committee staffers were testing a theory that social media giants were reluctant to police right-wing extremist content in part because of pushback from then-President Donald Trump and his supporters who argue that such controls inhibit conservative speech.

That’s all folks, and hey, let’s not forget to be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – December 24, 2022 – Ring out the old, ring in the new: orange turd flushed, Soros buys tik tok, Twitter goes belly up, and other 2023 predictions!

Shabbat shalom everyone! And happy Chanukah on this Christmas eve day, and it’s a beautiful one here in sunny Palm Springs where the temps are expected to reach the 80’s! I do feel for all of you on the east coast suffering through the arctic blast bringing freezing cold to most of you, but hey, we have an extra bedroom if you need to escape. And this is me doing my best to channel my late snowbird father-in-law, who always called us from Florida when the snows were heavy in New England.

Our balcony overlooking Coachella Valley. It’s 81 degrees here in Palm Springs! Golf anyone?

Shout out today to 2022. What a year. We said goodbye to the Queen, hopefully said good bye to pandemic incivility, please, no more “Karens” or “Kens”, let’s put crypto everything in the rear view mirror, for god’s sake, no more Elon Musk and tweets about anything, hopefully we are done with China and tik tok algorithms feeding us pet videos, and will grey be passé in 2023? Are we through with Pete Davidson’s love life, and is it bad that I don’t know who he is? It took a war to patch up our alliances with Europe, the red tsunami predicted for US mid-terms turned into a pink puddle, while Israel had more elections in 2022 than it had in the previous few decades and finally decided to (Oy!) bring back Nut-and-yahoos for a 3rd term! Anti-semitism was up, the stock market was down, authoritarians tightened their grip, but democracy in the good old US of A survived and an act of treason might eventually catch up with a certain orange turd. I could go on, but let’s move on, and think about the year ahead!

2023 is just a week away and my crystal ball is glowing with predictions! My 2022 prognostications were a bust, going 0 for 5. But remember, as the great philosopher Poombah once said, “you got to put your behind in the past”, and with that bit of wisdom now behind us, I am proud to present, the annual JNR Oy Vey List for 2023. This being my best guess predictions of things to come in 2023 that will elicit dismay, frustration, grief or just a good ole “Oy”. Here are my predictions and predilections for 2023:

  1. George Soros acquires Tik Tok from the Chinese and renames it Tok Tikkun Olam – Soros, a businessman/philanthropist who made his fortune leveraging his General Theory of Reflexivity, buys Tik Tok in order to save America from the Chinese plot to destroy our minds with endless cat and dog videos. Extending his already generous philanthropy to the tech sector, Soros announces the new algorithms will provide an endless stream of “good deeds” to foster voluntarism and the spirit of Tikkun Olam around the world.  The acquisition was met with some resistance and skepticism from the right wing, who claimed Soros was using the company to launder Nazi loot, infiltrate Twitter with leftie bots, and to cover up his involvement in the Kennedy assassination.
  1. The Jew News Review goes viral – After being snubbed by the Palm Springs Film Festival’s decision to not accept Editor-in-Chief Brad Goverman’s JNR press credentials, friend of the blog, Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, offers to help ramp up JNR Substack subscriptions and amp up its Search Engine Optimization algorithms. The effort is a tremendous success resulting in thousands of new subscribers, and the JNR becomes the top Jewish News blog in Sharon, MA and Staunton, VA. Said the ever-so-humble JNR Editor-in-Chief, “Today Sharon and Staunton, next year in Jerusalem!
  1. The orange turd finally gets flushed – After two impeachments, one failed insurrection and many years of generally stinking up the world, the man who claimed he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and wouldn’t lose any voters” finally got a dose of accountability when the DOJ indicted him for multiple illegalities and otherwise deplorable acts against humanity. Immediately following his indictment, a new Non-fungible Token (NFT) was released by Parker Bros on behalf of the former, disgraced President. You can purchase the below NFT for $99 or role three doubles and get one for free!
  1. Twitter bids its last tweet – Elon Musk, aka “King Twit”, spent most of 2022 losing billions of dollars while watching his reputation go from saint to satan. It wasn’t a great year for Musk, who shit-posted his way into a revenue crisis, did a wink wink at Nazis, decimated his staff, and damaged his other more lucrative businesses in the process. The only billionaire who cratered more than Elan was disgraced cryptocurrency magnate Sam Bankman-Fried. After overpaying for the social media platform in a misguided effort to save free speech in America, boy genius brought more volatility than value to the effort and scared his advertisers away, ending the Twitter story with Chapter 11.
  1. The Zuck launches himself into orbit – Mark Zuckerberg, itching to enter the outer-space space alongside the likes of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, announces Metamissile, Meta’s orbital flight program. The inaugural passengers include William Shatner, Spaceballs producer Mel Brooks, and Zuckerberg’s Uncle Schlomo, a NASA enthusiast who always showed off his moon rocks at family seders. The shuttle, meant to land after two hours of orbital flight, never returns.

That’s all for this year! I will be taking next weekend off to celebrate the exciting start of 2023. I hope all your predictions come true and that 2023 is a great, healthy and prosperous new year for everyone! And hey, as my nephew Nick can attest to, it’s still a Covid world out there, so be safe everyone!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – December 17, 2022 – ChatGPT will not replace me

Shabbat shalom from sunny Palm Springs!

Shout out today to Sir Lindsey Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, who called for a moment of silence to mark 80 years since the UK recognized the Holocaust. This historic moment of silence originally occurred December 17, 1942, when then-foreign secretary Anthony Eden confirmed in a speech to the House of Commons that European Jews were being exterminated by Nazi Germany. And although the facts about Auschwitz, gas chambers and other atrocities were yet to be revealed, governments, including the USA, were well aware of the holocaust and ignored pleas by Jews in the following years to bomb the railway tracks leading to the camps. Nevertheless, it was a poignant moment in Parliament this week attended by a few survivors and their families, so a tip of the kippah to Sir Lindsey!

I received several inquiries this week regarding the latest Artificial Intelligence tool, ChatGPT, and whether it posed a risk to the JNR, and could ultimately replace me. Fear not dear readers, my future as the humble editor of this proclaimed literary jewel is not threatened by this latest advance in technology and I offer the following actual interaction with ChatGPT as confirmation and proof that you will have to put up with me for a while longer:

Sandy and I are off to her favorite Palm Springs spot, Sunnylands, this morning. Hence, I am under pressure to complete the JNR this morning and will have to offer up a shortcut version which is a link to The Forward’s weekend reading selection. Won’t be nearly as good as those selected by yours truly, but please cut me some slack and enjoy this alternative. It includes a story about the Israeli towns where the Maccabees actually roamed, four tips for making latkes, and a piece about whether recent antisemitism has people scared to put up Chanukah decorations. And if you’re feeling saturated (yes, with oil) on holiday content, you can also read about human composting (not kidding) and the white supremacists who are haunting online video games (also very serious, obviously).  Use this link to read about them all.

Have a great weekend everyone! And remember, be careful out there.

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – December 10, 2022 – Go Van Gogh

Shabbat shalom!

Shout out this week to my favorite football star, Kylian Mbappé! And apologies to all my British friends, but I will be cheering for the defending champs in today’s classic matchup which starts at 2pm. Allez les bleu! Allez les Bleus on est derrière vous! 

I had intended to start this week’s entry with a rant about the death of the GOP. After all, it’s not every week that a former, now disgraced US President and orange turd calls for the termination of all rules, even those found in the Constitution, as a way of mollifying his bruised, fragile, massive ego. No, I will not go there, as tempting as it may seem. Instead, I will provide you with this summary and link to Andrew Sullivan’s rant on the topic, which you can read at your leisure. 

Their reaction (GOP) to his call to terminate the Constitution was laughable in its cowardice. (The invaluable Will Saletan has a summary of their pathetic gestures here.) The only thing that has in any way damaged Trump has been the sanity and wisdom of some moderate Republican voters, most crucially in Georgia, who used the elections of 2020 and 2022 to vote against Trumpists, while still supporting other saner candidates.

Instead, and keeping with a “no negative energy” pledge, I want to share some good news. First, let’s celebrate a too close victory for common sense in Raphael Warnock’s victory over the dimwitted, walking insult to human dignity, Herschel Walker. But don’t celebrate too much, as Walker was able to get 1.7 million republican Georgians to think he was capable of chewing gum and representing them at the same time. Secondly, lets also celebrate the return of Brittney Griner in exchange for the Russian “Merchant of Death”, and hope that the Biden team can get Paul Whalen back as well without giving away the store. 

But for real happy news, let’s talk about impressionist art and the story of Van Gogh, the rescue dog. This heart warming rescue story has gone viral on social media platforms. If you are a Tic Toc person you probably get an endless stream of these algorithm-fed stories, but since I am not very present on these platforms, the story only came to me via one of the many Substack newsletters I receive. 

The story of the one-eared rescue dog named Van Gogh went viral for his uncanny ability to create impressionist art reminiscent of his human namesake – with a little help from peanut butter. The 7-year-old pit bull mix had previously been exploited by a dogfighting ring in North Carolina before being rescued by a shelter. Jaclyn Gartner runs a nonprofit called Happily Furever After Rescue, and she found Van Gogh’s story online. She brought him to her home in Connecticut, where she tried to find him a furever home. Initially there were no takers, so Gartner got creative. She put a few dollops of paint on a canvas and put the canvas in a plastic baggie, then coated the baggie with peanut butter. Van Gogh immediately began licking off the sweet treat, and in the process created beautiful impressionist art. After repeating this process a few times, Van Gogh created a gallery worth of masterpieces. Gartner staged an art show for Van Gogh, but only two people attended. When she posted about it on Facebook, requests for Van Gogh’s artwork began pouring in, raising thousands of dollars for Happily Furever After Rescue. One of the organization’s regular foster carers, Jessica Starowitz, volunteered to adopt him. Now Van Gogh lives happily with Starowitz and her family, and you can even find him on Instagram.

By the way, the human Van Gogh was well known to the Jewish community, and if you go to the High-tech ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ exhibition now touring the globe you will learn that it was a Jewish art collector, Paul Cassirer, that helped launch the Dutch painter to stardom. But that’s a story for another time, or one you can read more about here

Before I get to the carefully curated news for the Jews this week, a few words about Israeli politics. President Herzog granted Prime Minister-delegate Netanyahu a 10 day extension to tie things up with his coalition partners – but the agreements reached until now between said parties have already been a source of much dispute. From giving the authority of the Civil Administration in the West Bank to Smotrich, to supplying extremist Avi Maoz with access to the Ministry of Education, the Likud has complied to a list of demands that may be the key to keeping everyone happy – but are also potentially flammable. I am afraid our worst fears are being realized and there may be dark days ahead in Israel.

Now, what about all the news for Jews you may be asking? Where are all those carefully curated stories we look forward to week after week? Well, as the dying ducks say, your wading is over. Here you go:

  1. 🙏  Prince Harry said that dressing up in a Nazi costume at a party in 2005 was “probably one of the biggest mistakes of my life.” In the highly anticipated docuseries (yawn), Harry & Meghan, which debuted on Netflix on Thursday, Harry said that after the incident he met with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who was then chief rabbi of England. “I felt so ashamed afterwards,” he said of the costume. “All I wanted to do was make it right.” (Vanity Fair
  2. 🎭  A new stage musical is a very Jewish adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The plot of A Hanukkah Carol centers around Chava Kanipshin, a social media influencer who is visited by spirits of the past, present and future to reckon with her life’s work — namely, her pursuit of internet fame by posting mean and embarrassing videos of her friends and family — before it is too late. (NY Jewish Week) I, for one, will not be attending this stupid appropriation of Christian tradition. I am a huge fan of Magoo’s version of this holiday classic, but am very uncomfortable with a Jewish version, especially given Dickens’ portrayal of Jews in his works. 
  3. Why is there still a bust of Charles Lindbergh, antisemite in Rockefeller Center?Monuments to other problematic historical figures have been removed in the U.S., yet Charles Lindbergh remains in a prime NYC tourist spot, nearby the famous Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree. Is it time to take it down? After all, he was no casual anti-semite, he was unabashedly a Nazi sympathizer. In September 1941, Lindbergh, speaking on behalf of the isolationist America First Committee, singled out the Roosevelt administration, the British and the Jews for leading the U.S. into war against Nazi Germany. “Instead of agitating for war, Jews in this country should be opposing it in every way, for they will be the first to feel its consequences,” he said. “Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.” I am on the fence regarding removal of historical artifacts, but this one should at least be raised as an issue for discussion. 
  4. On this week in history (1980): John Lennon was assassinated. Many Jewish people played a crucial role in Lennon’s career, including the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, who discovered the Fab Four in Liverpool, and the New York radio host Murray Kaufman, who was an early and passionate supporter of the band. Lennon also sang in Hebrew as a part of a 1969 radio broadcast for Voice of Israel. Read his secret Jewish history ➤
  5. From the Tech files: Computers can write Torah now — should we be excited or terrified? Type in a single sentence like “Harry Potter stood up, tapped the bimah with his wand, and began to say kaddish for Sirius Black” into newly available artificial intelligence software, and you’ll get back an entire story about everyone’s favorite boy wizard. “In the time since I gained access to the current cutting-edge text-completion engine,” writes David Zvi Kalman, “I have seen it compose bar mitzvah speeches, Yehuda Amichai poems, proverbs, midrash, mystical texts, and even — sometimes — a little bit of Talmud.” Will AI be able to replace the Jew News Review? Impossible!  Read the story ➤
  6. 📚  The author of the 2006 Holocaust novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas has written a sequelAll the Broken Places. The first book sold 11 million copies, was turned into a movie, and is taught in classrooms all around the globe, though some Holocaust scholars think it should not be used in schools because it is a work of fiction and full of stereotypes. The author, John Boyne, said the new book is aimed at adults, and defended the original: “If they weren’t reading Striped Pajamas, it’s more likely they would be reading something that has no relevance to this subject at all.” (JTA)
  7. Coup attempts in Germany and the US confirm it: the key terror threat is the far right – A disrupted terror plot by armed would-be “citizens of the Reich” and the legitimizing of extreme racism by the de-facto leader of one of the US’s two governing parties – point to a rising global threat, one that is too often regarded as either too ridiculous or too marginal to be menacing. That threat lives almost entirely on the internet, its regular foot soldiers neither European nobility nor rap superstars but, says one who monitors it closely, “young, white, anti-immigrant neo-Nazis, networked in an online subculture that glorifies and generates terror”. Read more on this ugliness from Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian.

Yabba-dabbaduh-dubbadah that’s all folks! Have a great week, and let’s continue to be careful out there! Next week, we will be publishing from Palm Springs! Allez les blues!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – December 3, 2022 – Silence is complicity

Shabbat shalom everyone. 

It’s a rainy, dreary day here in Sharon, made even more dreary this morning by the USA being knocked out of the World Cup by the Netherlands, who were able to capitalize on defensive lapses by our boys. 

One of the things I love about writing this weekly blog is that it keeps me current on most things Jewish, and I get to share with all of you some of the profoundly good things that Jews have accomplished and continue to accomplish in the worlds of business, academia, entertainment, science and yes, even sports (there are 2 Jews on the USA World Cup team!). I try to include one or two news items each week that appeal to the younger generations and I usually include, not always by choice, some news item relating to anti-semitism. It bugs the shit out of me that anti-semitism continues to be a recurring theme in the news, but this is the world we live in. And while I will continue to not let it define this space, I cannot help but think that the meter has hit the danger zone and we are about to enter into a new era of concern, especially here in the land of the free and the home of the stupid. 

I don’t care how much good the orange turd might have done for Israel, his breaking bread with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes in Mar-a-Ego makes him complicit in whatever stupid anti-semitic acts follow. The orange turd’s mainstreaming of the fringe elements in the US has had a direct correlation with the record breaking incidents of anti-semitism reported by the Anti-Defamation League. According to the ADL, 2021 was the highest year on record for documented reports of harassment, vandalism and violence directed against Jews. The watchdog group has tracked these incidents since 1979, and it says 2022 will look a lot like last year. These record breaking numbers present as part of a consistent, five year upswing in the number of antisemitic incidents, unprecedented in the ADL’s three plus decades of data collection.

Elon Musk kicked Kanye West off Twitter on Friday “for incitement to violence,” after the rapper posted a picture that showed a swastika interlaced with a Star of David. The post came hours after an interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, in which West sparked outrage by declaring his “love” of Nazis and admiration for Adolf Hitler. The photo was captioned with the bitterly ironic words “Love everyone #lovespeech.”

I am having a hard time believing that in this enlightened day and age, we are still dealing with this level of stupidity and hatred. Yet here we are. Whether the orange turd is an anti-semite may be debatable, but what is not debatable is that the a-hole has not apologized nor condemned the kind of crap that Fuentes and Ye are exuding from their twisted and demented minds. President Biden put it well in his tweet: “Silence is complicity.”

Let’s move on to other news for the Jews, courtesy of yours truly and a careful curation of sources including The Forward, Times of Israel, IZZY, The Future of Jewish, JTA News, Unholy: Two Jews on the News, and other great sources:

  1. Slivovitz, a spirit with a cherished Jewish history, gets UNESCO World Heritage protection – L’chaim! L’chaim! Živjeli! (Croatian toast meaning “Let’s Live!”) Slivovitz, a plum brandy traditionally associated with Passover by many Ashkenazi Jews, has been added to the United Nations’ list of items with “intangible cultural heritage.” Serbians led the charge for the designation, but the spirit became particularly associated with Polish Jewry in the 19th century, as Jews became prominent in the field of alcohol production and the running of inns and taverns. They found special utility in slivovitz when it came to maintaining the Jewish laws around keeping kosher. I remember Passover’s at Bubbie and Zayde’s house always included a Denmark brandy called Cherry Kijafa, which tasted a bit like cough syrup. Click here for more.
  2.  How Marty Feldman became the great forgotten Jewish comic:  Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein will always hold a special place in my heart as it was one of my Dad’s favorites. (“What hump” he would say, hunching his back for a laugh) Today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of the actor best known as Igor in “Young Frankenstein.” There was so much more to Feldman than his eyes, which Mel Brooks once likened to “hard-boiled eggs that somebody painted eyeballs on and didn’t paint them on right.” Dan Epstein, critic for The Forward, takes a closer look at Feldman’s career and legacy. Read the story ➤
  3. 🤔  A Florida district said it has reversed its decision denying a mother’s request to give a Hanukkah presentation to her son’s fifth grade class. A school official had initially told the mom she could not make the presentation because of a law Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in March prohibiting discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades. Now, the school says she can come in — but has to clear her lesson with the principal first. Imagine if this guy was POTUS? (WFTS Tampa Bay
  4. This Israel is not going to be governed by Talmudic law:’ Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s former and future prime minister-designate, sought Wednesday to calm concern about the right-wing extremists in his incoming senior cabinet and their opposition to rights for Palestinians and LGBTQ people. “We don’t adopt the prohibition of rights to people who deserve it under Israeli law,” Netanyahu said to Bari Weiss on her Honestly podcast.  Read the story ➤ or listen to the podcast. I read a transcript of the podcast and was quite impressed with Bibi and his responses to Bari’s questions. But he has some major league crazies to deal with in his coalition, and despite all kinds of crazy concessions, he still hasn’t formed a government!
  5. 💸   Tel Aviv was dethroned as the world’s most expensive city, according to new rankings released Wednesday. New York and Singapore tied for the top spot; Tel Aviv is now third. (CNN
  6. On this week in history (2002): The Food Network aired the premiere of Barefoot Contessa starring Ina Garten. The show made Garten, who had worked on nuclear energy policy in the White House, a household name — and her devoted husband, Jeffrey, an internet sweetheart. The duo’s loving on-air dynamic earned them a spot on the Forward’s 2019 list of 24 power couples: The Jewish Edition. Sandra and I were overlooked for that list once again, but there is always next year! 
  7. The ‘Fabelmans’ is mesmerizing — before it goes off the rails – So says PJ Grisar, movie critic for The Forward. My mom and sister are seeing it today, so we will get the real critics opinion later. But according to Grisar, Spielberg’s latest is a Jewish boy’s dream movie, but “Its human spirit and largesse live up to his best work, but in the end, it hews too close to home to cohere. In its efforts to be comprehensive, it is more a dream than a well-engineered narrative — sumptuous, deeply felt and ultimately illogical.” Click here for more.

That’s all for the week! Stay warm, make good decisions, and be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – November 26, 2022 – World hic-Cup

Shabbat shalom! I hope everyone had a chance to kick back, enjoy some family and football, and are now completely recovered from tryptophan turkey comas and any other side effects induced from over consumption. 

I know when I mention football, most of us will immediately think NFL, Mac Jones and what the hell is wrong with the Patriots offense. But, the rest of the world is thinking Doha, Qatar and the World Cup, which is expected to draw over 3 billion viewers globally this year (the Super Bowl reaches about 100 million). Like the Olympics, the World Cup is held every four years in a different host country. And like the Olympics, politics are continuing to creep into the games at an increasing level. FIFA, the organizing body for the international game we Americans call “soccer”, has been under constant attack for bribery and corruption charges that usually involve countries paying large sums to “win” hosting bids. 

I was in Qatar on business back in 2010 when they submitted their bid for the games and I recall a high level of excitement in the country at that time, and it was certainly a much discussed topic with many of the business executives I met with. Another recollection I have from that business trip was the number of migrant workers and ex pats vs natural Qataris. The population of Qatar is about 3 million people, but 90% of those are migrant workers and/or ex pats! For example, when you arrive at the airport in Doha, the first thing you notice is the hundreds of Asians attending to all the services, and sprinkled in amongst them you see a few white-robed Qataris, standing around, really not doing much at all. And that scene is typical across all elements of Qatar society. Kind of weird. But back to politics.

Leading up to the World Cup this year, due to Qatar’s well documented mistreatment of migrant workers and the Muslim country’s rules hostile to LGBTQ rights, there has been a significant rise in athlete activism in response to these and other issues. For example, many players, including those from Team USA, UK, Germany and others, donned “One Love” armbands in support of LGBTQ rights until FIFA silenced that act by threatening yellow cards to any player who continued to wear them. Then on Nov. 23, Germany players covered their mouths with their hands during a team photo before their World Cup opener, a match against Japan at Khalifa International Stadium. “It was a sign, a message that we wanted to send out. We wanted to convey the message that FIFA is silencing us,” said head coach Hansi Flick.

The Danish team has designed their kits (uniforms) to send a message as well. According to their kit designer Hummel, “….we’ve toned down all the details for Denmark’s new World Cup jerseys, including our logo and iconic chevrons. We don’t wish to be visible during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives. We support the Danish national team all the way, but that isn’t the same as supporting Qatar as a host nation. We believe that sport should bring people together. And when it doesn’t, we want to make a statement.” In addition, Hummel described the all-black third kit as “the colour of mourning”, to honor the workers who reportedly died during stadium construction ahead of the tournament.

These actions may seem like trite responses but players feel that their uniforms offer the best method for sending messages since FIFA rules constrain other forms of protest. Personally, I support athlete activism and applaud the players for speaking out on this important world stage. But the real question is will this lead to any lasting change? Or are these actions mostly performative, and represent just a short political hiccup in one of the biggest money making sports events in the world? That question is still to be answered, but we have already seen changes take place that appear to be progress. For example, Qatar agreed to modify their labor laws to allow migrant workers to leave the country or change employers during their contract, and, they recently introduced a minimum wage. Qatar also agreed to suspend their Muslim rules regarding LGBTQ rights for same sex couples to hold hands in public! With billions watching, doesn’t this also send a message across the globe? All good stuff me thinks. 

Final words on World Cup 2022: USA! USA! USA! 

Now for the news of the Jews, carefully curated by yours truly from a pack of Jewy journals and podcasts including The Forward, JTA News, Two Jews on the News, Times of Israel, and others. Here is the weekly roundup:

  1. Terror bombings at Jerusalem bus stops – The seemingly well planned bombings resulted in the death of one Israeli teenager and spread angst across the city. Police suspected the explosions were caused by near-identical remotely detonated explosive devices hidden behind the bus stops in bushes. The devices were packed with nails to maximize casualties, according to police officials. The explosions came amid heightened tensions, following a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 29 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year. Ugh, not again. No organization has yet to claim responsibility, but Hamas has condoned the bombings. Click here for more.
  2. Chess cheat or whiz kid? American grandmaster Hans Niemann, appearing this week in Jerusalem in his first tournament since launching a $100 million lawsuit against the world chess champion who calls him a cheat, refused interviews and maintained an insistent silence as he played matches closely watched by spectators in person and online. But his US team captain at the FIDE World Team Championship being held till Friday in Jerusalem has spoken out in support of the 19-year-old player, who is currently embroiled in one of the most serious – and bizarre –  scandals to rock the world of chess. “In the case of Hans in over-the-board play, I’ve not seen evidence [of cheating],” said international chess master John Donaldson, captain of the USA team, in an interview with The Times of Israel. Click here for more.
  3. My dinner with anti-semites – The former disgraced President and orange turd hosted Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, two figures who have made repeated antisemitic statements, at his Mar-a-Ego resort on Tuesday night. Fuentes, who has been labeled a “white supremacist” by the Justice Department and first gained prominence after participating in the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, said in June that “Jews stood in the way” of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. West, who has said he is running for president in 2024, also said in an earlier Twitter post that he asked Trump at the dinner to be his running mate. In the video, West claims Trump started “screaming” at him over the idea of running for office and told him he would lose. You really can’t make this shit up! Click here for more.
  4. World Cup bagels yes, beer no – There are reportedly 20-30,000 Israelis attending the World Cup this year in Qatar, a Muslim country that previously did not allow Jews entry to the country. With such a large entourage of Israelis, a couple of clever Rabbis came up with a way to service the visitors with kosher food. Rabbi Marc Schneier, from New York, and Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, the Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s emissary to Istanbul, worked with Qatari officials to create a kosher catering program to provide for observant Jews who may attend the games. And despite a report that has echoed around the world claiming that Qatar banned the production of kosher food after promising it would be made available, the rabbis say all is still going as planned. The kitchen will be operational for the full 30 days of the World Cup tournament. Both rabbis said that if they see high demand, they hope to increase the offerings beyond just bagels. Click here for more.
  5. 🕍  The “Little Shul” that could, finally couldn’t – Known as “The Little Shul,” it was built as a two-decker in Lawrence Massachusetts, and was converted into a synagogue in 1919 by immigrants who lived and worked in the bustling Jewish neighborhood. Its last full-time rabbi died in 1950, and since then volunteers have run services. After decades of decline, the remaining congregants have made a decision: it’s time to close down. Enter Rabbi Idan Irelander, an Israeli-born musician who helped launch Congregation Ahavat Olam in North Andover last summer. Irelander and Ahavat Olam’s president Marc Freedman met with Ansha Sholum’s president, Frayda Koffman, and discussed its future. Irelander needed a Torah for his new congregation. Instead of one, he got two, and Koffman received a promise that once the new congregation found a permanent home, the old shul’s yahrzeit plaques would be hung on its walls, and the ark from Lawrence’s last shul would be moved to the new temple in North Andover.(Jewish Journal of Boston)
  6. 🎬  Harrison Ford still fighting Nazis – The famous actor will take on the Nazis once again in the forthcoming “Indiana Jones” sequel, due out in 2023. In previous installments, Nazis’ faces melted off after they pried open the Ark of the Covenant, and another Nazi crumbled to dust after he tried to drink from the Holy Grail. Let’s hope all Nazis suffer the same fate. (JTA)

That’s all I’ve got this week gang. It’s been a great weekend so far, and we have one more party to go! So, do your best to make good decisions, and remember, be careful out there. 

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – November 19, 2022 – Pardon me

Shabbat shalom! And a happy Thanksgiving week to all my JNR friends!

It was Abe Lincoln, historians note, who was the first President to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey, but apparently it was JFK who is credited with the first official White House pardoning. Unfortunately, that pardoned bird lived longer than JFK, who was assassinated 3 days later. And it was George H W Bush, who made pardoning the bird an official White House ceremony, although my own version of history believes that Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon counts as the first official pardon given to a real turkey. Ba-dum-bum-CHING!

This week began with Dave Chapelle hosting SNL and riffing on Ye and Kyrie Irving’s anti-semitic rants which raised the wrath of many Jews who believe it was not appropriate for Chapelle to go there and “normalize” some of the anti-semitic tropes we have been seeing and hearing way too often lately. As I watched Chapelle’s performance, I confess my stomach tightened for most of the gig, and I kept thinking to myself, “is he really going there?” I have no issue with, and typically enjoy a good stand-up comedy routine that pokes fun of ourselves, but I have always believed that in the comedy world, the de facto standard was that it was ok to make fun of your own group or identity, but bad form to make fun of others. But the usually edgy Chapelle went there and while the live audience seemed to enjoy it all, the fallout has ranged from those wanting to “cancel” Chapelle for further normalizing the stupid tropes, to those who feel we should take advantage of these moments to educate. Personally, I fall in the latter camp, but I could be biased against anything smelling like “cancel culture”, which has gotten way out of hand. 

I really enjoyed “SpokesJew” Jon Stewart on the topic, and thought you all might as well, so I have linked a 12 minute clip from his appearance with old friend Steve Colbert, where he provides his take on Chapelle’s monologue and it’s fallout. 

Starting with humor, Stewart defused the absurdity of the “Jews run everything” tropes by steering right into them. “I’m not on all the committees, and I don’t know who ended Kanye’s Adidas deal,” Stewart said. “I’m on oil prices and bagel flavors.” (Blueberry bagels were the work of a “rogue committee”, he claimed, and I couldn’t agree more!)

Later, he pivoted to a clear-eyed analysis of the best way to combat tropes of Jewish control: not by forcing an apology tour or silencing any murmurs of conspiracy, but by having frank and public discussions. “Penalizing somebody for having a thought, I don’t think it is the way to change their minds or gain understanding,” Stewart said, addressing Kyrie Irving’s suspension. “This is a grown-ass man. And the idea that you would say to him, ‘We’re gonna put you in a timeout. You have to sit in the corner and stare at the wall until you can no longer believe that the Jews control the international banking system.’ Like, we have to get past this in the country.

I know, I know. Enough already and get to the good stuff! What else is happening around the Jewish world? Inquiring Jews want to know! Well, your patience is appreciated, and here you go, a roundup of Jewish gems curated by yours truly from many sources including, but not limited to, The Forward, Times of Israel, Kveller, Izzy, Jewish Boston, and The Jewish Telegraph Agency:

  1. Republican Jews dump Trump – Further evidence the country is finally moving away from the disgraced former President came this week from the huge Republican Jewish Coalition convention taking place this weekend in the closet of a Las Vegas hotel. Trump is expected to address the event via Zoom after initially saying he wouldn’t be able to make it. Florida Governor Desantis is the emerging star of the event, with Nikki Haley and many Trump critics receiving more coveted spots on the speaking roster. Click here for more.
  2. SBF: Bernie Madoff Revisited? Just when the Bernie nonsense had drifted to the back burner, another Ponzi scheme led by a Jew is making headlines, this time in the crypto world. Cryptocurrency maverick Sam Bankman-Fried, who famously became a billionaire under 30, is immersed in a reversal of fortune so vast and abrupt it has hit record proportions. The story is so fantastic it should become an instant Netflix hit before we even know the extent of the fallout. The guy looks like Larry from the 3 Stooges and unfortunately, I am afraid he will now become the poster child for a new series of anti-semitic tropes. What makes this plot twist even more complicated is that SBF drew attention for his commitment to “effective altruism,” his membership in an organization called Giving What We Can, in which wage earners dedicate 10% to effective charities, and his public pledge to give away his fortune over his career. He was also one of the largest contributors to the Democratic party and candidates. Click here for more.
  3. Harvey Weinstein’s “Jew to Jew” appeal doesn’t work – Another bad Jew is getting airtime now with the release of the film “She Said”. The film, directed by Maria Schrader with stars Zoe Kazan as NYT reporter Jodi Kantor and Carey Mulligan as Megan Twohey, is an understated thriller that has drawn comparisons to “All the President’s Men” — and multiple subtle but powerful Jewish-themed subplots reveal the way Kantor’s Jewishness arose during, and at times intersected with, the investigation.  In one scene, the Kantor character notes that a Jewish member of Weinstein’s team tried to appeal to her “Jew to Jew.” In another, Kantor shares a moving moment with Weinstein’s longtime accountant, the child of Holocaust survivors, as they discuss the importance of speaking up about wrongdoing. Click here for more.
  4. 🏀  Educating Kyrie? As John Stewart said, I was not surprised by Kanye’s nonsense, but didn’t expect antisemitism from a guy named Irving! Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, was contacted by the Brooklyn Nets after Kyrie Irving was suspended for highlighting an antisemitic film. In a lengthy interview with The New York Times, Greenblatt said on Thursday that he had spoken with Irving’s relatives, but not the NBA star himself. “I would be willing to sit down with Kyrie this afternoon or at any point in time.” Good luck Jonathan! (New York Times)
  5. ✋  Jews under threat from all sides says FBI Director Christopher Wray – Wray told a Senate hearing on Thursday that the Jewish community is under threat “from all sides” and that “not only have they long been a target of foreign terrorist organizations,” but that Jews are also “the target of domestic violent extremists.” (Algemeiner). Like we didn’t already know it? Still tough to see this coming from the FBI.
  6. The Jews of Patagonia – Yes, you read that right. Patagonia, Argentina’s famously beautiful southern region, has been a haven for Israeli backpackers, vacationers from Buenos Aires and, in the 20th century, Nazi war criminals. What the scenic territory hasn’t had for nearly 40 years is a new synagogue. That has changed in the last year, as a group of Jews living in San Martín de los Andes have inaugurated the first-ever synagogue in their city. The synagogue is just the second Jewish institution in the 400,000-square-mile Patagonia region, and the first new synagogue in all of Argentina in years that is not affiliated with the growing Chabad-Lubavitch Orthodox movement. 
  7. World Cup in Qatar: Beer NO, Jews YES (but don’t wear your kipah) – The world cup began this weekend with many reports around corruption and boycotts due to the horrible human rights record of the host country. But Qatar, which does not normally allow Israelis into the country, will permit Israeli visitors during the 2022 World Cup, prompting the Israeli government to warn travelers who make the trip to “downplay” their “Israeli identity.”  As many as 20,000 Israelis are expected to attend beginning Sunday, but unless they are attending in a luxury box, beer has been taken off the menu much to the chagrin of sponsor Budweiser. A little diet pepsi, no ice, however, will be on the menu. 

That’s all folks! Don’t stuff yourselves with too much stuffing! And remember, make good decisions and be safe out there!

Brad out.

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.