Monthly Archives: September 2007

Recipe: Sweet & Savory Stuffed Prunes

This entry was posted in Culture, Holidays on by .

The holiday of Sukkot is associated with the fall harvest, and serving stuffed foods is a symbolic and flavorful way to represent the bounty of the season.

A departure from more traditional stuffed foods, these stuffed prunes combine sweet and savory, and make a wonderful start to a festive meal.

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Posted on September 26, 2007

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A MacArthur Mazal Tov

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

The wonderful Peter Cole — a poet, publisher, and translator — has received a MacArthur “genius” award. The fellowship, given out by the MacArthur Foundation, comes with a $500,000 prize.

About a year and a half ago, I spent 6 weeks in Jerusalem and discovered that I lived across the street from Peter, who is perhaps best-known for his translations of the medieval Hebrew poets Solomon Ibn Gabirol and Shmuel HaNagid.

After inviting myself over, I ended up writing a profile of Peter, his wife Adina Hoffman, and their amazing book press, Ibis Editions, for the Forward.

Here are two previous blog posts about Peter: one about his relationship with the Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali and one about Ibis Editions, which contains the profile I wrote for the Forward.

Most recently, Peter translated and edited The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492.

So Mazal Tov to Peter, a guardian and advocate of literature in all languages — and a kind, gracious man to boot.

Posted on September 26, 2007

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An Original Hipster

This entry was posted in Culture, Practices on by .

Jennifer Bleyer, founding editor of Heeb Magazine, has an essay on the continued meaning that the Jewish Catalog has for her and many of a younger generation. What she beautifully captures is the essence of a book that did what few initatives in the Jewish community have done–be relatable.

Richard Siegel, author of the catalog and former director of what is now the Foundation for Jewish Culture, says “People were searching for some access to a meaningful Jewish experience. This just opened up a world for them.” (MORE)

From articles on making your own shofar to a do-it-yourself tour of the Lower East Side, the catalog approaches Judaism in an innovative manner that has remained, well, timeless. 

Bleyer write, “The Catalog conveyed basic information on Judaism in a non-judgmental, folksy tone, as if it had been written by a patient friend.”

As we learn from fashion, retro is always cool and certain things never go out of style.  And dogearred copies of the Jewish Catalog will likely always have a spot on many bookshelves across the country.

Posted on September 25, 2007

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The Obama Show

This entry was posted in History on by .

I’ve been woefully under-engaged with the Democratic presidential campaigns, but last night I got a free ticket to Barack Obama’s Broadway fundraiser, which seemed as good a place as any to jump in.

Until now I’ve been cynical about Obama. I assumed he was this year’s Howard Dean, and I found Dean heartbreakingly disappointing during a Bryant Park rally back during the last election. Dean just didn’t seem fundamentally different from the rest of the politicians I’d heard in my life. Sure, he was against the war, but that came across as good luck — a nice prop in his masquerade as maverick.

But Obama, man…

He put up a damn good fight against the cynic in me. He sounded different, like a dreamer, and I shouldn’t be embarrassed to say that I might have been a little bit inspired. (How’s that for a stream of qualifiers?)

An example of Obama’s freshness: in speaking about the morale in America he said, “They’re willing to try anything. Even a black guy named Barack Obama.”

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but that struck me as pretty edgy for a presidential candidate to say. The obvious comment: “Americans don’t care about race.” But for the sake of humor and — most importantly — honesty, Obama noted his blackness AND America’s racist tendencies. Maybe I’m super-jaded, but that struck me as bold.

I have little knowledge of his positions on “the issues,” but based on last night — surprisingly — Obama might have my vote to lose.

Posted on September 25, 2007

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Taking shmita to a new level

This entry was posted in General, History on by .

Yesterday New Jersey officials confirmed that a swastika covering several acres was cut into a field in Washington Township. Police found the swastika, hand cut in a corn field, while doing a routine helicopter mission over the area.

 swastika.jpg

Perhaps one of the most bizare aspects of the case:

The on-duty sergeant for the Washington Township Police confirmed this is the third cornfield swastika to show up in this area off Hankins Road near U.S. Route 130. The first was in 1998 and much smaller. Then In 1999 a larger one was found. Those

Why haven’t there been any incidences in the past eight years? Apparently the field was instead being used to grow soybeans, which don’t grow as tall.

Posted on September 25, 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

Last Chance…

This entry was posted in General on by .

Today is your last chance to get a free subscription to the Forward when you make a tax-deductible donation to MyJewishLearning.com.

Yom Kippur has passed, so unfortunately, this act of tzedakah might not save you from the fires of hell (which, contrary to popular belief, Judaism does think about). But it will help us to provide you with high quality Jewish web-content (and give health insurance to our employees.

So here’s the deal (for the last time, really)…

If you donate $36 to MJL, you will receive a free six-month subscription to the Forward. If you donate $72 or more, you will receive a free one-year subscription to the Forward. If you’re already a Forward subscriber, your donation will renew your subscription.

You can donate safely and securely by clicking here.

Do it now!

Please.

Posted on September 25, 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

Sukkot in the News

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

-Doing Sukkot in Kauai. (Kauai Garden Island News)

-A look at the work of The Sukkah Project, which sends pre-fab sukkas all over the world — even to Iraq. (The Jewish Week)

-Marjorie Ingall pitches Sukkot as an ideal holiday for kids: “You string popcorn and cranberries, feeling self-important in your “Top Design� decorator role. You revel in the wild, mysterious jungle vibe of the woodsy branch-strewn, star-revealing roof. Your artwork is given pride of place on the walls. You get to eat outside, in your poncho or new fall jacket. There’s something out of bounds and transgressive-feeling about this holiday.� (The Forward)

-Rob Eshman, explains: “I do know a little about the spiritual and communal power of Burning Man. Because I have Sukkot.� (Jewish Journal)

-An official committee appointed by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has banned Jews from participating in Israel’s annual Sukkot parade. (Ynet)

-This sukkah will be much, much sweeter than yours. (Haaretz)

Posted on September 25, 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

Democracy in Bobov

This entry was posted in History on by .

My ancestors were Bobover hasidim, but my interest in this story comes mostly from the American in me.

This is an election in every sense of the word. There is a voter’s registry with a list of those eligible to vote; voters must present valid identification; the contenders are waging a fierce campaign; and the tension between the opposing camps is palpable. What makes this election unprecedented is the identity of the contenders: This election will determine which of two rabbinic leaders of the Bobov Hasidic sect has the most support among Bobov Hasidim.

One contender is Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam, son of Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, who revived the Bobov Hasidic dynasty in America after the Holocaust, but died in 2000. The other is Rabbi Mordechai David Unger, son-in-law of Rabbi Naftali Halberstam, who briefly succeeded Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, but then died two and a half years ago. (MORE)

There is no universal suffrage in this election, however. “The movement’s single yeshiva students were denied the right to vote in the current election, so voters are required to provide proof that they are married. “

Women are not mentioned in the article, but I’m guessing the 19th Amendment doesn’t apply in Borough Park.

Posted on September 24, 2007

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Poll: Wanna Shake the Lulav?

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

It’s almost Sukkot, which means that in a few days Chabad emissaries will take to the streets and not-so-covertly ask: You Jewish?

If the answer is “yes,” they’ll ask you if you want to shake the lulav — the holiday’s ritual du jour. As a general rule, I am a fan of Chabad; but as a general rule I’m also leery of public displays of religion and a little embarrassed by the tribalism of the “You Jewish?” question.

Last year I got particularly queezy when a Chabdnik rolled through my NYC subway car with added aggression and a parting shout-out to the imminent End of Days.

That being said, I will likely shake the lulav with Chabad at some point during the holiday. And I’ll appreciate the opportunity. So I’m curious: What do you guys think about this annual lulav-shaking agenda?

Posted on September 24, 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

Democracy in Israel

This entry was posted in History on by .

One of the key examples brought to question the integrity of Israeli democracy is the JNF’s policy of only selling (or leasing) land to Jews. The JNF owns approximately 13% of Israeli land, upon which about 70% of the Israeli population resides.

Well, this policy might be changing. YNet reports:

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) told the High Court on Monday that it was willing to reverse its practice of selling land to Jews only, on the condition it is compensated for land sold to non-Jews.

The decision comes in response to a petition against the JNF over its refusal to sell its lands to Arabs. The petition was filed in 2004 by a group of Arab Israeli citizens who were forbidden from bidding for land in the north put up for sale by the JNF.

MORE…

Posted on September 24, 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