At MJL, we live, breathe, and even eat Jewish learning. Though we dedicate our entire day to bringing you interesting and educational Jewish-related materials, today we even spent our lunch break having a cultural learning experience that I feel compelled to share.
In a symbolic commemoration of a passage made by a courageous group of Jews about 16 years ago, our own Senior Editor, Meredith, threw caution to the wind and set out on a journey of her own, which took her from our little nook here on 35th and 8th all the way to 10th between 45th and 46th, and back of course.
Though her arrival was much less dramatic than the arrival of over 14,000 Ethiopians to Israel in 1991, in what became known as Operation Solomon, we welcomed her with open arms.
She came bearing the fruits of a successful journey, which wasn’t fruit at all; it was two delicious platters of Ethiopian cuisine. These platters were filled with plenty of Injera, a soft, unleavened, gray pancake, and several different vegetable stews. We enjoyed the food, but even more pleasing was that we learned about an often forgotten delegation of Jews.
(Matt Ring is the summer intern at MyJewishLearning.com)
Today is Tu B’av, the Jewish “Valentine’s Day.”
Tu B’Av, the 15th Day of Av, is both an ancient and modern holiday. Originally a post-biblical day of joy, it served as a matchmaking day for unmarried women in the second Temple period (before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.). Tu B’Av was almost unnoticed in the Jewish calendar for many centuries but it has been rejuvenated in recent decades, especially in the modern state of Israel. In its modern incarnation it is gradually becoming a Hebrew-Jewish Day of Love, slightly resembling Valentine’s Day in English-speaking countries. (MORE)
For some more reading on the holiday check out:
- Our own article on Love in Judaism.
- Tamar Fox of Faithhacker and an exploration of virginity in connection with Tu B’av.
- OyBay’s primer on the holiday.
- Ynet reports that only 21% of Israelis will celebrate the day.
- And in the spirit of the holiday’s origins, a call for better salaries for matchmakers.
Happy lovin’ to all.
- Is it OK to be â€œbuying out someone else’s mitzvahâ€? so you can do it yourself? (The Jerusalem Post)
- The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra â€œan institution that celebrates collective achievement and personal brillianceâ€¦a bridge between Israel and the world, breaching barriers of language, culture and customâ€? faces disbandment owing to lack of money. (Haaretz)
- The two leading organizations promoting immigration from North America to Israel, Jewish Agency and Nefesh Bâ€™Nefesh, are no longer allied, but instead are gearing up for a bitter competition over money. (The Jewish Week)
- Purses with a 100 shekel note and a phone number were dropped in various cities. In the Haredi town of Bnai Brak, all five were returned; in Beersheba, none of the five were. (Ynet)
Jewish life is seemingly apparent everywhere in New York City. From the numerous kosher restaurants, to those in Orthodox garb in the Diamond District, to the street signs. It’s also the home to the largest number of Jewish institutions–synagogues, communal organizations and JCCs in the country. It has a culture scene with Jewish rock and rap, hipster publications and trendy tee-shirts.
But sometimes, Judaism is simply the background for the everyday hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.
In Midwood, Brooklyn, As the World Turns films in a neighborhood that is about 75% Orthodox. But many of those do not know what takes place inside the walls:
Inside the studio, a woman might be hanging from a bell tower by her fingernails, while in the streets outside, the most dramatic scene is the group of elderly people holding court in the kosher Dunkin’ Donuts. (MORE)
In a totally different part of town, the Lower East Side, observers have noted that Chickie Pig’s–a pizza place known for it’s ham and sausage pizza, is located in the building of an old chevra kadisha (burial society) on Ludlow. How did they know? Just read the sign on top of the restaurant. (MORE)
Even when you’re not looking for it, Judaism is everywhere in this town.
- Reservists who fought in the Lebanon war, now a year later, give a more nuanced view of their experiences. Includes links to 4 other articles on Where Things Stand. (The Jerusalem Post)
- Two looks at the tense place which is Hebron, the first looking just at Jewish Hebron, the second at the â€œshared despairâ€? of the city as a whole. (Haaretz & The Washington Post)
- What, according to Gideon Levy is â€œThe most sacred site to Israelisâ€? (hint: itâ€™s not the Western Wall or the Cave of the Patriarchs). (Haaretz)
- The Reform movement attacks a proposed Israeli law that would prevent JNF lands (which are quire extensive) from being sold or rented to Israeli Arabs. â€œItâ€™s very hard to imagine any circumstance where a Jewish minority in any Diaspora country would accept with equanimity a bill that would forbid Jews from purchasing land,â€? said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. (The Forward)
Today’s Jewish philanthropic news centers around those who give $5 million or more. In recent years many organizations have focused their fundraising on bigger gifts that allow for the creation of new initiatives or can sustain programs for multiple years.
All too often, smaller donations are ignored by professional and lay leaders alike. However, most communal institutions will tell you that those small donations go a long way in supporting operating and programmatic expenses.
A few weeks ago, I found this touching piece that underscores the impact that smaller giving can have on the donors themselves.
Of course, Jews hold no monopoly on inter-denominational strife, but it was still eye-opening to read my friend Benjy Balint’s new article about the power struggle over the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Back in 1869, Mark Twain visited and noticed the denominations chanting, sometimes simultaneously, in their own languages: “It has been proven conclusively that they can not worship together around the grave of the Saviour of the World in peace.” And the cease-fire’s fragility persists to this day.
Five years ago, Ethiopians, exiled since 1658 to quarters on the roof, resented the placement of a Coptic priest’s chair there, and the ensuing brawl sent 11 monks–seven Ethiopians and four Copts–to the hospital. A couple of years later, Greek clerics tussled with Franciscans. (MORE)
Perhaps the most interesting part of the article (aside for Edmund Wilson’s assertion that the church “probably contains more bad taste, certainly more kinds of bad taste, than any other church in the world”) is one of the solutions to managing the divisions.
What do you do if Christian groups can’t figure out how to run a church? Put the Muslims in control: “To prevent denominational disputes, the very keys to the church have since the days of Saladin been entrusted to Muslims from the Nuseibeh and Joudeh families.”
Maybe we should ask the Hindus to solve the agunah problem.
I ended a week of fundraising travel with Daniel (yeah, we’ve gotta do that to keep the Jewish knowledge flowing your way) to find JTA’s headline, “Disappointed Steinhardt vows cuts and changes in funding.” The short of it:
Unhappy with the results of his $125 million investment in Jewish causes over the past 12 years, philanthropic trailblazer Michael Steinhardt says that he is scaling back and refocusing the efforts of his signature foundation…
In an extensive interview Wednesday at his Manhattan offices, Steinhardt told JTA that he will be narrowing his foundationâ€™s attention to three major areas: creating follow-up programs for birthright participants after they return home; building a $100 million Fund for the Jewish Future, also known as Areivim, to transform formal and informal Jewish education, and the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative…
Steinhardt has tapped the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Robert Aronson, to head the $100 million Areivim fund. The fund, which is co-chaired by Detroit billionaire William Davidson, will include 20 philanthropists who invest $5 million each. Steinhardt said that 13 have signed on so far.
The Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation is a major sustainer of ours here at MJL, so I’m not going to editorialize about this myself. This story could have huge significance for the world of Jewish learning and engagement, but as I did some research online this afternoon, I couldn’t find any other blogger or publication (other than JTA) that had weighed in. So I was curious — what do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Oh, and while you’re at it, why don’t you drop a coin into the fund for our little corner of the Jewish future?
One problem with writing, as opposed to speech, is that one can’t use voice inflections. This creates a particular issue for those who are frequent users of irony, satire, sarcasm, etc.
Well not a problem for those who use it, but perhaps those who “don’t get it,” and thus misconstrue generally smart or witty remarks.
Case in point:
Some stores are planning to open anywayâ€”these are Jews, let’s remember, and a buck’s a buckâ€”which has resulted in predictable outrage from the more Adonai-adoring elements of Israeli society. (MORE)
Before you too become outraged at the anti-Antisemitism of this, you should first note some of their other recent postings:
- Coverage of Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the newly noticed area between her breasts
- A video of the entire population of a Philippine prison doing the dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. (If you ask me, it looks too well choreographed to be true but is still rather amusing.)
Now don’t get me wrong. Gawker also covers serious topics, such alleged racial slurs uttered at the New York Times, the oversaturation of coverage devoted to Lindsey Lohan at other news outlets, and Apple’s iPhone woes.
But Gawker’s tone is irreverent, sardonic, and sometimes rude. Every single post. It’s what they do. Journalists might called it their niche.
But someone had to go take their mocking post a little too literally.
The latest installment of Adeena Sussmanâ€™s MJL food column â€œThe Inspired Kitchenâ€? is now available. The newest recipe: Israel-Style Kufta Kebab. Heat up your your grill and enjoy this flavorful Middle Eastern favorite.