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

Shabbat shalom! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brad out.

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

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

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

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

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

But back to ice cream.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brad out.

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

Shabbat shalom! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brad out.

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

Shabbat shalom! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – July 16, 2022 – Dibs on the ribs!

Shabbat shalom! 

Another gorgeous day here in New England, and a great day to launch our book club with a southern style backyard BBQ, a thematic food choice supporting this month’s selection, “Where the Crawdads Sing”, by Delia Owens. So, while gnawing on a few ribs and chowing down some peppered cornbread, we will be discussing the themes of the book, a major one being that intolerance is limiting and the more you accept that notion, the more you can grow as a person.

That theme resonated with me this week as I contemplated the throwing of the Presidential gauntlet by California Governor Gavin Newsome in the direction of the brute from Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis. The “telegenic” governor from California sent a not so subtle message to the “punchy populist” governor from Florida in the form of a TV advertisement on DeSantis’s home turf. “Freedom is under attack in your state,” Newsom declares in the ad, citing moves by Florida’s Republican leaders to ban books, limit classroom discussion of controversial topics, and roll back access to abortions. “I urge all of you [living in Florida] to join the fight, or join us in California.”

I love this potential matchup. It would be the ultimate in tribal warfare and could potentially rid the country of the orange turd once and for all, (although his stench will continue to stink up the country for decades). With old man Biden’s popularity stuck in Trumpian territory, no one else waiting in the wings, Gavin seems like a decent choice, a fresh, young, Kennedy-like candidate who could certainly motivate the base as well as the center, although he will be slammed for the homeless issue, and tax policies that are driving companies out of the State. Rather than slamming DeSantis for his anti-gay shenanigans, and letting the main stream media influence my judgement, I have checked my intolerance at the door and dug in a bit on DeSantis, and here is what I have learned: he is not just a smarter, more hard working Trump. In fact, he is not very Trump-ish at all. And while I can’t stand the guy, he is at least a credible candidate who will take our democracy and constitution seriously. For a more balanced review, here is a link to Andrew Sullivan’s Substack entry on the “DeSantis Dilemma”, where he basically argues that DeSantis is our best hope at being rid of the orange turd. Click here.

If books are not your thing, my sister pointed out a great new TV Series from Masterpiece Theater called “Hotel Portofino”. You will easily be seduced by the lush landscapes of this gorgeous part of Italy, or by the equally gorgeous cast showing us the privileged life of the 1920’s in this part of the world. Two thumbs up from Sandy and I. Very reminiscent of the Australian award winning 1950’s period piece we both loved, “A Place to Call Home”, offered on Acorn TV or Hulu, I think.

But by far, the most compelling and entertaining media these last several weeks have been the January 6 hearings. Watching these hearings makes me once again feel some pride in our government and it’s ability to actually come together and do something right that is above tribal politics. The committee will rightfully wrap things up next Thursday, and we can only hope the Justice Department will indict the turd and his enablers so we can see them all in orange. 

Now, how about some Jew news! And lots of it, including our dear President fist bumping his way through the middle east! Way to go Joe! Israel has welcomed US President Joe Biden with all due official pomp and circumstance, and he has been busy, paying a poignant visit to Yad Vashem, viewing Israel’s defense technology, and meeting with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Nutt-and-yahoo, and other dignitaries. But some analysts are scratching their heads trying to figure out why he is really there and what he hopes to accomplish with this trip to the Middle East. One of the stops on Biden’s itinerary is a rare evening appearance for the opening ceremonies of the Maccabiah games. Some 10,000 Jewish athletes and support staff have arrived in the Holy Land to participate in a variety of sporting events over the next three weeks. What’s Biden’s role there? But, the question on everyone’s mind is whether the trip will result in an expansion of the Abraham Accords to Saudi Arabia. Is this just media hype, or a realistic achievement? 

How interesting to see our human rights-minded President cozying up to Saudi’s Kashoggi killer, MBS, otherwise know as Mohammed “Bone Saw” bin Salman. Kidding aside, I am ok with Uncle Joe and MBS playing nice. We have cozied up to much more undesirable leaders in the past, and we really do need to lower the gas prices and get inflation under wraps. So, do what you must Joe, but make sure you come back with all your organs.

Now, for some other carefully curated news of the Jews, courtesy of The Forward, The Jewish Times, and other Jewishy sources. To wit:

  1. President Biden announced Friday that Saudi Arabia would soon allow direct flights from Israel – A small step toward normalizing relations between the two countries. The news came hours before Biden himself was to make that trip, as he visited an East Jerusalem hospital and Christian holy sites in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. “Isn’t it time for this occupation to end?” Abbas asked pointedly after the meeting. He called on Biden to remove the Palestine Liberation Organization from a U.S. list of terrorist groups and reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem and Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington that were shuttered by President Trump. “The key to peace and security in our region begins with the recognition of the state of Palestine,” Abbas added. “The opportunity for the two-state solution along the 1967 borders may be available for today only.” But Biden, who had upset many Palestinian activists with his blunt embrace of Zionism as he arrived in Israel on Wednesday, said: the ground is not ripe at this moment to restart negotiations.”
President Joe Biden met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday in the occupied West Bank….
  1. Joe Biden shook hands in Israel despite planning not to. Then a pop star left him hanging. (JTA) — For the first day of Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, the buzz about handshakes was that, despite a pandemic-related plan, he was giving them at all. That changed on Thursday afternoon. That’s when Yuval Dayan, an Israeli pop star, left the U.S. president hanging after Biden extended his hand to her. Dayan and another singer named Ran Danker had just performed a rendition of the classic song “Lu Yehi,” or “Let it Be,” at a ceremony marking Biden’s receipt of Israel’s highest civilian honor. Afterwards, Biden and Israeli president Isaac Herzog approached the artists to thank them.Danker took Biden’s outstretched hand, but Dayan bowed instead, clasping her hands together and smiling. What Biden didn’t know was that Dayan has committed to refrain from touching members of the opposite sex. She is famous in Israel in part for becoming more religiously observant, embracing the principle of shomer negiah, a prohibition on opposite-sex touching that some Orthodox Jews believe is required, as well as not performing on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.
  2. 💻  Follow up to the Mapping Project Boston controversy – “The Mapping Project,” a website that drew wide outrage for its website labeling hundreds of Jewish nonprofits, companies, individuals and police departments as complicit in “the colonization of Palestine,” uses a web-hosting company in Iceland. The Anti-Defamation League asked Iceland’s foreign minister this week to take down the site. (AP)
  3. 🇨🇦  Anti-semitism in Canada, eh? During a trial of a Canadian man accused of promoting hatred against Jews, the judge admonished prosecutors for failing to show how Nazism led to the Holocaust. Jewish groups are now calling on Canada to train judges on antisemitism. “Every Canadian should be appalled,” said Sam Goldstein of B’nai Brith. (Globe and Mail
  4. Biden and Lapid jointly pledge to deny Iran weapons, but they diverge on the details – The “Jerusalem Declaration” is the most concrete commitment to come out of Biden’s two-day visit to Israel. The document released on Thursday, the second day of Biden’s visit to Israel, is a 1,500-word statement titled “The Jerusalem Declaration on the US-Israel Strategic Partnership.” It states that the United States is committed “never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon” and is “prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome.” But after the leaders’ meeting Thursday, Biden and Lapid gave a joint press conference in which Biden said that in working to prevent a nuclear Iran, “I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome.” Lapid struck a different note, showing some of the daylight between Israel and the United States on the issue of what is widely understood to be the biggest threat in the region. “The Iranian regime should know that if they continue to deceive the world, they will pay a heavy price,” Lapid said. “Words will not stop them, Mr. President. Diplomacy will not stop them. The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force.”
  5. 🇷🇺  The world is watching the case of Brittney Griner, the WNBA star being held in a Russian prison after authorities found hashish oil in her luggage. To better understand what Russian President Vladimir Putin may do, people are turning to Naama Issachar, an American-Israeli who spent 10 months in a Russian prison for having cannabis, and is now speaking out for the first time since her release in 2020. (NBC News)
  6. 50 years ago, a Jewish Hall of Famer testified on behalf of a Black player seeking free agency – Hardly anyone in professional baseball wanted to stand up for Curt Flood, a Black outfielder who sued MLB in the early 1970s over a contract clause that tied players to teams indefinitely. Hank Greenberg, known as the “Hebrew Hammer,” was one of the few to stand up for Flood, who lost the lawsuit but paved the way for free agency. “I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes,” Flood wrote. Read the story ➤

That’s enough for now. And hey, this B5 variant is spreading like a California wildfire, and has already sickened my 2 nieces Molly and Carrie for a few days. So, let’s continue to be careful out there! Masks on!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – July 9, 2022 – My brain hurts

Shabbat shalom everyone!

Yours truly is hurting this morning from a little too much wine and scotch last night. It was a lovely evening with friends and family ending with a hearts card game and French accents. Quest-ce que c’est “hangover”?

So, this will be brief, and will end with a tip of the hat to John Keats:

My head hurts, and a drowsy numbness pains

         My sense, as though of too much Dalmore I had drunk,

Or emptied some dull rosé into my brains

         One scotch too many, and then I was sunk:

A stunningly beautiful day here in Sharon. Great day to celebrate my niece Natalie’s graduation/good-bye party, as she leaves for her west coast gig shortly. Another tip of the hat to Natalie and congratulations on this milestone and the many more ahead. 

I’ll be back next week in full JNR mode. Until then, stay safe out there.

Bye Bye BJ!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – July 2, 2022 – Happy 4th!

Shabbat shalom! Another crazy week in the news, but I am taking a break from it all, and enjoying my family in Virginia this weekend. I hope you all have a great holiday weekend!

The Declaration of Independence was actually finalized on July 2, but subsequent to that the congress spent 2 further days debating and revising the wording of the Declaration to remove its vigorous denunciation of the slave trade, finally approving it two days later on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

“The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Based on the Jan 6 hearings, we came very close to losing what’s left of our diminishing democracy by the devious hand of the orange turd and his enablers. I will leave you with this image, based on the compelling Hutchinson hearing this last week:

Let’s be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – June 25, 2022 – The Hound and the Fury

Shabbat shalom. Late edition this week due to a delayed Fathers Day celebration. Shout out to my great kids (and grandkid!) for a wonderful morning in Boston.

Another shout out today to Trumpet, who is the first blood hound to win “Best of Show” in the long history of the Westminster Kennel Club’s coveted show. The Westminster show began in 1877 and is now the 2nd longest continuous running sporting event in the country, behind only the Kentucky Derby. Trumpet beat out Winston, the French Bull Dog, and I for one, am glad of it, as I have always been a fan of the hounds.

Trumpet shown here tooting his victory horn. He celebrated with a steak at Tavern on the Green.

I am not, however, a fan of our Supremely Injudicious Court. Even though the SJC decision overturning Roe was not a surprise, I still felt like I had received a gut punch on hearing the news. No matter how you feel about when life begins, the notion that the state can control women’s bodies is pretty damn scary. I am pretty sure we won’t be seeing the kind of back alley abortions and deadly Lysol induced abortions of the pre-Roe era, but, at least half the states are expected to make abortions illegal, (some beginning with conception!) and many, like Texas, will pay a bounty to their citizens that turn in anyone performing or providing aide to an abortion inside or outside of Texas. That is F’d up. It is pretty shocking that our constitution, which was written by people who considered women to be property, is now being interpreted, at least in part by women, with a ruling that reverses a 49-year precedent in order to give us fewer rights! WTF!

In Israel, abortion is largely permitted if it is less than 24 full weeks, although it is not considered an absolute right, and instead is approved by a committee (two docs and a social worker) on a case-by-case basis only. Abortion was illegal in Israel until 1977, at which point the law changed to allow them under the following specific set of circumstances:

  • If the woman is younger than 18 or older than 40.
  • If the woman is unmarried or the pregnancy is not from the marriage.
  • If the pregnancy is the result of illegal or incestuous relations.
  • If the child is liable to be born with a physical or mental birth defect.
  • If continuing the pregnancy will endanger the woman’s life or cause her physical/emotional harm.

Jews worldwide are largely in favor of abortion, and recall last weeks JNR story about the Florida synagogue suing the State given that abortion is required under Jewish law if necessary to protect a woman’s health. The suit states that the ban “prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion.”

It is pretty clear from recent SJC decisions (Roe, Catholic School funding in Maine, Guns) that we are regressing and tilting the country toward states rights which will further divide the country. If you don’t care about separation of church and state, want to haul your concealed guns with you to the supermarket, don’t want to teach your kids about race or LGBQT issues, and want your women to stay at home and be good baby breeders, then you need to move to Texas, or any other red state for that matter. What if you are a parent of teenage girls? What should you advise them? Should they apply for and select only colleges located in a blue state? What other crazy shit will emerge from the wake of this horrible decision?

In an emotional news conference, an angered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quoted Israeli poet Ehud Manor’s “I Have No Other Land” (“Ein Li Eretz Aheret” in Hebrew), which she previously read during a speech in the wake of the January 6 attack:

I have no other country
even if my land is aflame
Just a word in Hebrew
pierces my veins and my soul –
With a painful body, with a hungry heart,
Here is my home.

I will not stay silent
because my country changed her face

I will not give up reminding her
And sing in her ears
until she will open her eyes

“Clearly, we hope the Supreme Court will open its eyes,” Pelosi concluded.

Life goes on. And in the “life is Tov” category, Sandy and I had the pleasure of attending Jewish Heritage Day at Fenway Park this last Wednesday with some favorite family members. Here we are pictured below in our new Hebrew Red Sox jerseys. We were on the Jumbo Tron at least 4 times and had a blast!

Top row: Ian, Lauren, Sandy, Me Bottom row: Aidan, Natalie, Nathan

Before I hit the couch for my afternoon schnooze, here are a few other news for Jews, not so carefully curated this week. Enjoy!

  1. UN concludes Israeli military killed Palestinian journalist-Israel continues to fight that claim – (JTA) – The United Nations Human Rights Office concluded that a Palestinian-American journalist was killed by Israeli security forces last month, and said Israel’s failure to conduct a criminal investigation into her death was “deeply disturbing.” In response, the Israel Defense Forces called the UN probe “biased” and reiterated its call for the Palestinian Authority to hand over the bullet that killed Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in early May. Still not a good look for our Israeli friends. Read the story
  2. The Hong Kong bagel wars are more intense than you could imagine – The Schragel’s vs. Mendel’s rivalry involves a legal dispute over ownership at the Joy Lox Club Ltd and who has claims to the legacy of a guy named Michael Mendel. Things got toasty recently when one bagel shop was accused of sending security guards to the other to intimidate customers. Meanwhile, a few Hong Kong residents have accused both stores of “offensive Jewish cosplay” because of their liberal use of bacon and pork products and schticky marketing. Read the story ➤ 
  3. ⚖️  A new study found that the Supreme Court has become the most pro-religion it’s been since at least the 1950s – Seven of the nine Justices on the Court are Catholic. Last Tuesday’s ruling allowing religious schools in Maine to receive public funds is the latest example of decisions eroding the separation of church and state. Religious groups win 85% of the time, according to a forthcoming study. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a dissenting opinion in this week’s case, wrote: “This Court continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the Framers fought to build.” (New York Times)Meanwhile, Orthodox leaders applauded Tuesday’s ruling as they hope to leverage the decision in other states where public dollars are currently not allowed to go toward religious school programs. But Rachel Laser, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the decision could amount to “religious coercion.” Read the story ➤
  4. 🇮🇱  Nov. 1 is emerging as the likely date for Israel’s upcoming elections – This would be the country’s fifth in three years. Meanwhile, some in the Knesset are trying to rush through legislation that would ban anyone who has been charged with serious crimes — like former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing corruption charges — from becoming prime minister. (Times of Israel)
  5. Your weird uncle department: 🤦‍♂️  Eric Greitens, a Jewish Republican running for Senate in Missouri, released a TV ad in which he hunts for “RINOs” — Republicans in name only — while carrying a shotgun. Greitens was formerly the governor of Missouri and resigned in 2018 amid revelations that an extramarital lover accused him of abuse and blackmail. (New York Times)
  6. Buy that property in Italy for 1$ – 🤔  Which European countries are best for Jews? A new, first-of-its-kind study offers unexpected answers. Italy and Hungary, where reports of antisemitism are relatively high, topped the chart. Belgium, Poland and France got the lowest marks. The European Jewish Association, which sponsored the survey, plans to  make individual recommendations to each country surveyed. (JTA)

That’s all for the week. The couch beckons. But hey, don’t forget to be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – June 18, 2022 – A Mel with a wrench

Shabbat shalom everyone! Quick shout out to our beloved Boston Celtics, a young but great basketball team that lost to a better team this year, but a Celtics team I am sure will bring us more joy and a championship flag or two in the near future. And happy Juneteenth, and happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. 

I miss my Dad, who passed back in 1999 (and was a great Celtics fan!) One of my many fond memories of him was working by his side for the many odd jobs he would do around the house. From his work in the trades, Mel had an old Grossman’s Lumber carpentry apron he would wear around his waist to hold nails or maybe a tool or two, and he would teach me the basics in carpentry and make me clean up after every job. He always tackled each project with infectious enthusiasm, and if I ever had any feelings about wanting to be somewhere else, they quickly faded. He often boasted about his keen ability to solve household problems with cunning efficiency and Yankee ingenuity, and every challenge to him was just another “Micky Mouse operation”. I never understood the reference back then as none of the jobs seemed that trivial to me. So, this is a posthumous “thanks Dad”, for teaching me the basics in carpentry, and in life. Your time here was too short, but your impact lives on. I hope this mensch with a wrench makes you proud.

Me, Dad and brother Bill

I have not been watching the January 6 hearings, but have read quite a bit about them. For those of you not following closely, here is my summary: Trump is an egomaniac sore loser a-hole, who, along with a circus clown bus of enablers almost toppled our democracy. The committee is very logically and methodically laying out the case for the DOJ that he is guilty of many crimes, and he and his sick-o-phants should all go to jail. I loved and recommend this essay from the conservative Andrew Sullivan, who believes it falls on the Republicans to save our asses from any further assaults on our democracy. Click here for the full essay, a short excerpt below:

And the truth is: we would not be where we are now without Donald Trump, and Donald Trump alone. He is unique in American history, a president who told us in advance he would never accept any election result that showed him losing, and then proved it. He tried to overturn the transfer of power to his successor by threats and violence. No president in history has ever done such a thing — betrayed and violated the core of our republic — from Washington’s extraordinary example onwards. The stain of Trump is as unique as it is indelible.

Shifting gears, I was struck by a number of Jew news items this week. One I want to highlight draws an interesting comparison between Pride celebrations in the USA vs Israel, and also exemplifies, in my humble opinion, the quintessence of our cultures. In Tel Aviv last Friday, a Gay Pride parade drew over 100,000 celebrants, who immediately and peaceably disassembled in order to make it home in time for lighting the Shabbat candles. Compare that to a Pride in the Park day celebration in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where police arrested 31 armed and shielded Patriot Front members, caught in the back of a U-Haul, apparently en route to the Pride in the Park celebration to do who knows what?! The news footage also shows armed men in military style fatigues lurking around the celebrants, just being intimidating jerks. What a country. 

But, there was also some good Jew news to share this week, and without any further delay, here are some of the more interesting ones to share this week:

  1. Stephen Curry wore a Hebrew sweatshirt at the NBA Finals – No, Curry isn’t Jewish. But during Friday’s Game 4 postgame press conference, following a Warriors victory, he did don a Hebrew sweatshirt for the cameras — one that matches his own Hebrew tattoos. It features the phrase “האהבה לא תבל לעולם אך”, which translates to “love never fails” — a reference to the New Testament passage 1 Corinthians 13:8 (though with the Hebrew letters written in the reverse order). It’s also one of Curry’s two Hebrew tattoos, which he shares with his wife. The sweatshirt also features an image of Curry’s wrist, visibly emblazoned with the same Hebrew tattoo. Curry’s second Hebrew tattoo is simply his last name rendered in Hebrew: “קרי”. 
  2. On this week in history: The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York on June 17, 1885. Shipped from France in pieces, the statue was reassembled and dedicated on Oct. 28 of the following year. Ten days later, the statue’s famous torch was snuffed, because Congress refused to allocate funds to keep it lit.What got the torch burning again was the intervention of M.B. Curtis, a Hungarian Jewish actor who declared he would pay for the torch to stay lit through the run of the play he was in. Eleven days after Curtis had the torch relit, Congress agreed to fund the torch in perpetuity, “ensuring,” as Grisar wrote, “Curtis’s distinction as the only individual American citizen to keep Lady Liberty lit.”
  1. On this week in history Part 2: The Magna Carta was signed 807 years ago, on June 15, 1215, and wasn’t so good for the Jews. Of the 63 clauses in the historic document, which laid out British rights and liberties, three touched on Jewish life. It included restrictions on Jews owning or working land; a provision ensuring that “much if not all” of the estates of the Jewish dead reverted to the crown; and, perhaps most egregiously, the establishment of Jews as chattel — or the personal possession — of the monarchy. King Edward I expelled all Jews from England 75 years after the Magna Carta was signed. God save the King?
  2. Who will greet Biden is Israel? I continue to follow the slow-motion train wreck that is the Bennett coalition – who might not hold on to the reigns long enough to greet President Joe Biden when he arrives in Israel in less than a month. Speculation is not if, but when the government will fall. And because of the way Israeli Parliament rules are written, Bennet could be replaced by Lapid or Nut-and-Yahoo. And there is now talk of Bennet forming a new coalition with the Likud. Politics does indeed make for strange bedfellows. Read the Story
  3. Synagogue sues over Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban: Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor of Boynton Beach claims the new law, which has been signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and is set to take effect on July 1, violates the religious rights of Jews. Given that abortion is required under Jewish law if necessary to protect a woman’s health, the suit states that the ban “prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion.” Read the story ➤
  4. WhatsApp’s reclusive founder has quietly become a megadonor to Jewish causes – WhatsApp’s inventor, a Ukrainian-born Jew whose creation made him one of the wealthiest people in the world, has kept conspicuously quiet throughout the conflict. Jan Koum, who controls a multi-billion-dollar charitable foundation, has not uttered a public word even as many other wealthy Ukrainians and Russians announce donations toward humanitarian relief efforts. But based on an examination of tax returns filed by Koum’s foundation before the war, the publicity-shy WhatsApp founder, who arrived in California as a teenager, is more entwined than meets the eye with the events rocking the country he left behind as a 16-year-old. His donations, only a sliver of which have been previously reported, include tens of millions of dollars to Jewish organizations now involved in relief efforts in Eastern Europe. Read the story.
  5. Massachusetts Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren and Ayanna Pressley, condemn pro-Palestinian project mapping Boston Jewish groups – This is a follow-up to last week’s news item regarding this disturbing anonymously funded group. Massachusetts’ two Democratic Senators have joined at least four Democrats in Congress, including one vocal critic of Israel, in speaking out against a Boston pro-Palestinian activist group’s initiative mapping “local institutional support for the colonization of Palestine,” saying the map, which includes the names, addresses and staff members of many Jewish organizations, could incite violence against the Jewish community. Read the story.

That’s enough! Dyanu!

And hey, it never goes without saying, but let’s be careful out there!

Brad out.

The Jew News Review – June 11, 2022 – Wow…

Shabbat shalom! Shout out this week to my nephew Jake who on Friday graduated High School, packed his bags, and started a cross country trip to the new family home in Staunton, Virginia. Congrats Jake! Watch out Virginia and Longwood University!

Wow. My jaw literally dropped listening to the opening remarks at the Jan 6 hearing on Thursday evening. Smart, succinct and clearly aimed at setting up the DOJ to file criminal actions against the disgraced former President. The orange turd should look good in an orange jump suit. Liz Cheney summed it up best for me when she directed this comment to her Republican colleagues “who are defending the indefensible,” as she put it. “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.” Mic drop.

I have recently started exploring outside my media bubble, and have been surprisingly pleased with many of the conservative bloggers and writers I am following. I highly recommend Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan, and Matt Taibbi for real and thoughtful positions that may be contrary to your own. What’s interesting is that they, and other conservatives in the blogosphere have been pretty quiet on the Jan 6 front, and are taking up a new distracting cause in going after some of the craziness in the Transgender community or trying to pivot to discussing the economy and rising crime rates. The latter are clearly legitimate issues that most Americans care deeply about, but for goodness sakes, you would think the existential threat to our democracy and the on-going threat from Trump world would get some of their attention? Here is what Bari Weiss had to say about the topic, “I want all this to be sorted out, but a confession: I have to force myself to follow this story still because I care more these days about other topics (the economy and rising crime). It seems like lots of Americans feel this way.”

While the recent focus by the right on Transgender issues may seem like a distraction, I actually think the conservatives have a point. The idea that our biological sex is a social construct is a bit ridiculous. And I am not in favor of allowing transgender folks to compete in sporting events of their identified sex. (see this NYT story on swimmer Lia Thomas”) Don’t get me wrong: I believe firmly in advocating for the rights, dignity and respectful treatment of all LGBTQ folks, but I am having a hard time wrapping my progressive brain around proper use of pronouns and providing a growing number of children with puberty blockers and calling it “gender affirming” therapy, a euphemism for a sex change. There seems to be a fairly radical wing of the LGBTQ+ world that has taken this extreme view which is causing a backlash against them even by members and leaders of the gay and lesbian community. Which is a bit ironic since it was the Gay and Lesbian community that fought so long and sacrificed so much for same sex marriage rights and to get the Bostock decision by the Supreme court that prevented employment discrimination. If you are interested, here is a link to a great podcast with Bari Weiss (a lesbian woman) and Andrew Sullivan (a gay man) going deep on the topic and questioning the legitimacy and media bias on this issue. Click here.

Enough. Let’s talk Jew news. And, as usual, there is been plenty of it. Israeli Prime Minister Bennett’s coalition government hangs by a tallis thread as important legislation, such as the renewal of Israeli law to settlers on the West Bank, gets mired in ugly politics. A single Knesset Minister, Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, is refusing to vote along party lines, leaving the coalition government short by one vote to pass anything. Here are a few other carefully curated headlines for your reading edification:

  1. Bazooka Joe Jewish? Chew on this story of the Jewish roots of Bazooka Bubble gum. Started as a tobacco company by Russian Jewish immigrant Morris Chigorinsky, the company was failing when his 4 sons decided to open a penny candy division, Topps Chewing Gum. The product sold well, but in 1953, Topps made an alteration to the design that proved to be a game changer: the inclusion of small comic strips starring Bazooka Joe, a swashbuckling kid who donned a black eye patch and got into various scrapes and adventures with his crew of streetwise companions. That blew the bubbles off their competitor Dubble Bubble!
  2. Avocados practicing Judaism? I always thought being Jewish was kind of hip and cool, but who knew that avocados would jump on the cool Jew bandwagon?Parents: Don’t let your children take out student loans to be studio artists.That’s because computers, which already have proven their ability to beat humans at playing chess and delivering junk mail, now can produce custom oil paintings — or photographs, or pictures in the style of your favorite Chinese dynasty— simply in response to a description. The algorithm enabling this phenomena has been around for a while, but recently Noam Zur, an Israeli who who identifies himself as “a proud Jewish orthodox,” asked the machine to produce such images as “Avocado mom and and avocado daughter, lighting Shabbat candles together” and “Avocado returns to the land of Israel after 2000 years of exile, oil painting” and “A Jewish avocado looking at the night sky” and, you get the point.
  1. ✝️  Jews in the Vatican – No, not my nieces and nephews who just visited the Vatican as tourists. The Pope hosted Yad Vashem Director Dani Dayan last Thursday. The first-of-its-kind meeting took place as a new book shines a light on Pope Pius XII’s silence during the Holocaust. (JTAForward)
  2. Buffalo Republican: Hitler is ‘the kind of leader we need today’ – This guys a real doozy. Last week, Carl Paladino, a congressional candidate in New York who has rallied against gun control legislation, shared a since-deleted Facebook post that promoted conspiracy theories about the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde and also about COVID-19 vaccines, CIA mind control and the assassinations of John Lennon and the Kennedys. He also made racist remarks about Michelle and Barack Obama, which he never rescinded. Click here for more.
  3. Boston Jews say a pro-Palestinian group’s map of local ‘Zionist leaders’ is a guide to antisemitism: A Jewish arts group. A Jewish high school. A Jewish newspaper. A pro-Palestinian collective aligned with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has listed all these and more on an interactive map that Jewish leaders in Massachusetts and beyond say is an effort to intimidate Jews — and puts them in danger. With its list of addresses and employees of these organizations, says Jeremy Burton of the Jewish Community Relations Council “they are choosing” to “essentially point the finger at the Jewish communal infrastructure of Greater Boston as responsible for every evil under the sun.” JTA ➤ 
  4. 📈  Young American Jews report feeling as “favorable” toward Palestinians as toward Israel – This is not a good trend. The data comes from new findings from the Pew Research Center. Jewish educators are working to confront this dramatic generational shift in attitude by urging young adults to appreciate subtlety when considering the Middle East. (Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle)

Probably enough for this week. Enjoy the weekend everyone, and hey, let’s keep our eyes on the road, and let’s all be safe out there.

Brad out.