Monthly Archives: February 2007

Who is a Jew?

This entry was posted in General on by .

Well, Ron Jeremy certainly, and on Beliefnet you can find a new interview in which the porn star discusses his Jewish background and his thoughts about Judaism and sexuality.

We’re all Jewish. [My family] comes from Russia and Poland, as most American Jews do. Out of all of us, only my grandmother was religious. My brother and I got bar mitzvahed, but we weren’t that religious. And as my joke goes, in my documentary I said, “After getting bar mitzvahed, I hardly ever went to temple–unless I wanted some free coffee and Danish.” I discovered that food tastes so much better when nobody’s paying for it.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that Thomas Jefferson might have been the first Jewish president.

Posted on February 28, 2007

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Purim Fun Round-up

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Purim’s coming and it’s time to have some fun!

Here are some terrific websites with lots of activities for kids: 

  • Toratots offers information about Purim celebrations around the world as well greeting cards, a Purim story (With a virtual grogger that goes off everytime you put your mouse over the word “Haman”!), coloring pages, games, a Purim shpiel and more.
  • Babaganewz‘s Purim Central has Purim Mad Libs, as well as mask templates, Purim ecards, a costume maker (think virtual paper dolls), Holiday Jewpardy and special Purim movies.
  • Are your kids planning great costumes? Enter them in the Chabad Kids! online costume contest. Chabad Kids! also has Purim videos, songs and stories, fun holiday games and puzzles, special Purim arts and crafts and kid-friendly Purim recipes.
  • Encourage your kids act out the Purim story with the fun Purim Play from Akhlah. The Akhlah Purim page also has Purim traditions, vocabulary, blessings, and recipes, as well as a Children’s Megillah, a quiz and a Purim timeline.

Posted on February 28, 2007

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

This Shtetl Ain’t Big Enough for the Two of Us…

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

In the mood for an old-fashioned Yiddish Western?

Click here to watch a short film called The Cowboy. 

Here’s some background on this unique Western from the National Center for Jewish Film:

Yes, it’s just your typical all-Yiddish shoot-‘em-up: a small boy falls out of a covered wagon on its way West and shows up years later as a quick trigger cowboy. When he is unjustly accused of theft, a gunfight breaks out to the strains of “Oyfn Pripitchik.” This spoof was made [in 1968] by adding a Yiddish dialogue to the Son of Oklahoma, a 1932 Hollywood Western.

Subtitles provided.

Thanks to alterkoker on our Culture discussion board for bringing this to our attention.

Posted on February 27, 2007

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Philip Roth Wins

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

Philip Roth has another award for his trophy case.

The AP reports:

Philip Roth has won yet another literary prize, this time the PEN/Faulkner award for “Everyman,” his short, bleak novel about illness and mortality…

Roth, who will receive $15,000, is the first three-time winner of the PEN/Faulkner, having received it in 1994 for “Operation Shylock” and in 2001 for “The Human Stain.” The PEN/Faulkner Award was founded in 1980. (MORE)

Posted on February 27, 2007

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Can a Jewish State Be Truly Democratic?

This entry was posted in General on by .

For those of you in the New York area looking for something to do tomorrow night (Feb 27), I’ll be moderating a discussion at the Skirball Center’s Ideas Cafe. The topic: Can a Jewish State Be Truly Democratic?

If you’re in the mood for some passionate debate, come on down. The program costs $10, includes wine and cheese, and starts at 8pm. The Skirball Center is at 10 East 66th Street.

Want to do some preparatory reading? Check out this article (“Arabs say Israel is not just for Jews”) from last week’s LA Times.

Posted on February 26, 2007

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Campus Wars

This entry was posted in History on by .

Today’s New York Times looks at the latest battle over the Middle East on college campuses: a documentary film, Obsesssion: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, which has been screened (and cancelled) at various New York area Hillels.

Posted on February 26, 2007

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The Book of Mensch

This entry was posted in Texts on by .

Hirhurim’s Gil Student has just published a review in the Jewish Press of Imrei Baruch (The Sayings of Baruch), a series of essays concerned with the ethical life that draws on biblical, rabbinic, and Hasidic texts.

The three volume set, by Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Baruch Simon, are in Hebrew and probably not on most of your reading lists, but I did want to note it because Gil alludes to a truth I can get behind:

If anyone has the right to write about the ethical life, it’s Rabbi Simon, a paradigmatic mensch who, when I sat in his class as a sixteen year-old a dozen years ago, displayed unquestionable Talmudic brilliance, but more importantly, an unparalleled capacity for kindness.

Posted on February 23, 2007

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Walter Benjamin’s Mix Tape

This entry was posted in General on by .

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Walter Benjamin, the great German Jewish intellectual, whose writings have become canonical in contemporary cultural studies.

Benjamin’s writings are difficult and obscure, but because they’re theoretically so well-suited for analyzing pop culture, they often come up in more popular — and fun — contexts than, say, Heidegger.

Case in point: here’s a great bit from Rob Sheffield’s new memoir Love is a Mix Tape

Walter Benjamin, in his prescient 1923 essay “One Way Street,” said a book was an outdated means of communication between two boxes of index cards. One professor goes through books, looking for tasty bits he can copy onto index cards. Then he types his index cards up into a book, so other professors can go through it and copy tasty bits onto their own index cards. Benjamin’s joke was: Why not just sell the index cards? I guess that’s why we trade mix tapes. We music fans love our classic albums, our seamless masterpieces, our Blonde on Blonde and our Talking Books. But we love to pluck songs off those albums and mix them up with other songs, plunging them back into the rest of the manic slipstream of rock and roll.

Posted on February 22, 2007

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The Inspired Kitchen

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

The latest installment of Adeena Sussman’s MJL food column “The Inspired Kitchenâ€? is now available. The newest recipe: Mandelbrot – the Jewish biscotti. Find out out how this recipe made it from Italy to your Bubbe’s kitchen.

Posted on February 22, 2007

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The Guru of Global Warming

This entry was posted in Texts on by .

If you haven’t yet peeked at David Plotz’s Slate feature Blogging the Bible, yesterday’s edition is a good place to start, as he covers three books in one post. Plus, I’m guessing I’m not the only one whose knowledge of Joel, Amos, and Obadiah is a bit lacking.

A taste:

Joel is the prophet of green, the oracle of Earth Day, the guru of global warming. His brief (four-chapter) book glows with images of nature — as destroyer, and as redeemer. It’s astonishingly beautiful.

And then comes the drama:

Wait a minute! My Christian Bible has only three chapters of Joel, but my Jewish Bible has four. What’s going on here?

Read the whole thing here.

Posted on February 21, 2007

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy