Monthly Archives: October 2007

The Zookeeper’s Wife

This entry was posted in Culture, History on by .

Diane Ackerman’s book The Zookeeper’s Wife — which details how Jan and Antonina Zabinski, who ran the Warsaw Zoo, hid Jews during WWII — has been getting very good reviews. And they’re well-deserved.

zoo.jpg I read very little non-fiction and virtually no Holocaust literature (though, God knows, publishers send me a lot of it), and this book made me revisit both of these biases.

The relationship between the Zabinskis and animals — and the Nazis and animals — actually provides a new way into the story of the Holocaust, which given all the volumes devoted to the subject is no easy task.

For those of you in New York, I’ll be discussing The Zookeeper’s Wife with Ackerman at the 92nd Street Y this Monday night.

If you’re interested, you can get tickets here.

Posted on October 26, 2007

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Keeping up with the Brooks…

This entry was posted in History, Life on by .

in jail?

David Brooks, notorious for spending more than $10 million on his daughter’s bat mitzvah two years ago, was arrested Thursday on a 21-count indictment from federal prosecutors including charges of securities fraud, insider trading, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice. Apparently the funds for the party came from DHB Industries, the body amour company he used to run:

Brooks made headlines in November 2005, when he rented two floors of the Rainbow Room for the bat mitzvah of his daughter, Elizabeth.

He reportedly sent the company jet to fly Aerosmith in from Pittsburgh, paying them a cool $1 million. In return, they let his nephew play drums.

In honor of the band’s appearance, Brooks changed from a black leather suit into a magenta suede biker outfit covered with chains.

The indictment said the body-armor tycoon spent $122,000 of company cash on iPods and digital cameras for his guests. It also revealed he shelled out $20,000 for leather-bound invitations to his son’s bar mitzvah in 2000. (MORE)

Posted on October 26, 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

Seperate but equal doesn’t work

This entry was posted in History on by .

I’d like to believe that the findings from this investigation won’t prove the allegation true. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem too unrealistic that this might actually be happening.

From the Jerusalem Post:

Representatives from the Education Ministry are set to visit a religious girls’ school in Emmanuel to investigate whether or not the school is separating students based on ethnic backgrounds, Army Radio reported on Thursday.

Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

On Wednesday, Channel 2 revealed that the school’s classes were re-designed in order to separate between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi pupils.

Channel 2 also reported that drywall was installed in the building’s corridors and a fence was erected in the yard in order to prevent the two groups from meeting. (MORE)

Posted on October 26, 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

New Mag

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I just got an email about the launch of JLifestyle, a new Jewish magazine for the British set. We wish them the best of luck, of course, but I do hope the writing in the magazine is better than the writing in the announcement email.

It took me a while to wrap my head around: “JLifestyle is a full colour glossy publication aimed at the fastest growing and most vibrant Jewish communities in the UK and will be the only monthly glossy magazine distributed direct to 10,000 homes in these affluent communities as well as 2,000 copies distributed in other key locations. ”

You can preview the magazine here.

Posted on October 26, 2007

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Recipe: Braised Fennel with Raisins and Pine Nuts

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

It’s a little-known fact that many of the mainstays of Italian cuisine were in fact introduced by the Jewish community that has inhabited Rome for over 2,000 years. Vegetables such as artichokes and eggplant were ignored ingredients until they were noticed in the Cucina Hebraica (Jewish kitchen). More…

Posted on October 25, 2007

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Inventing Jewish Ritual

This entry was posted in Practices on by .

I just finished Vanessa Och’s book Inventing Jewish Ritual, which not only investigates the development, acceptance, and theory of new rituals, but goes through a few case studies of these new ceremonies.

ijr.gif

I admit, I was afraid this book was going to be hokey. Even for those of us who consider themselves to be modern, liberal Jews, some of these new ceremonies cross the line from spiritually innovative to weird.

But Ochs’s book was enlightening. Partly because she explains the scholarly approaches to studying material culture, change, and innovation. But mostly because her tone is candid and casual but highly informed. She presents the stories of ritual creation in a non-intimidating way.

One of my favorite explanations relates what is needed to invent ritual. She describes a “Jewish ritual toolbox.” Sounds a little silly at first. But she as writes, there are three compartments:

The first is text. While the basics are the bible, rabbinic literature and prayer, they can be reworked for “contemporary sensibilities and situations.”

The second is familiar ritual actions and objects. Smashing a glass, smelling spice, building temporary dwellings and prayer books, candles, shofars. By using already existing ritual, people feel ownership over their new rituals.

The third is “enduring core Jewish understandings.” Such as “the significance of preserving Jewish memory through study and all the ethical obligations held toward fellow Jews and all of humankind. A commitment to such core understandings is the compass that guides all Jewish innovation.”

It seems so straightforward, yet there is no way I would have understood ritual in this way without Och’s book.

The case studies go on to explain the creation niggunim (songs without words), Miriam’s Tambourine, Holocaust Torah, and wedding booklets.

With an open mind, this book is a fascinating read that gives insight into a practice rarely discussed.

Posted on October 24, 2007

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The Orthodox World

This entry was posted in History on by .

-Isi Leibler bemoans the fact that in the Israeli Orthodox world, “the voices of moderation are silent. Zealotry has become the order of the day.” What he calls the “increasing stranglehold of haredim on religious institutions” is partially to blame, as is the increasing disconnection of rabbis from the people. (The Jerusalem Post)

-Chanoch Daum, raised in the national-religious Orthodox world in Israel, and sent to the prestigious Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, has written a book which in part deals with how and why he chose to (mostly) leave the Orthodox world. (Haaretz)

-A look at the rise of egalitarian practices in Orthodoxy in Israel, and increased women’s participation, including dancing with Torah scrolls at Simhat Torah, being called to the Torah, giving sermons on the weekly portion and reciting Kaddish in public. But there is stiff resistance even in the non-Haredi world. (The Jerusalem Post)

-Blu Greenberg surveys the impact of feminism on Orthodoxy in the US, seeing the largest impact in the area of education. The article also looks at advances in ritual roles and the gradual move of women to become “part of the rabbinic staff�. (The Jerusalem Post)

-Modern Orthodox have put out a type of minisiddur or mega-bencher, “Shaarei Simcha – Gates of Joy: Traditional Prayers, Songs, and Modern Inclusive Rituals.� (The Jewish Week)

-Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance goes to war against the new ArtScroll Women’s Siddur in part because it says that women should not lead communal prayer after meals, even if no men are present, and should not say Kaddish and because there is “a belittling of women’s tefillah.�
 ArtScroll, which has been fabulously successful, merely shrugs. (The Jewish Week)

Posted on October 24, 2007

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Podhoretz: On Nepotism

This entry was posted in General on by .

The New York Times takes a look at the editorial transition at Commentary:

To some within the neoconservative movement, the announcement of John Podhoretz as the next editor of Commentary magazine — the same job his father, Norman, held for 35 years — is the best of all possible choices. It is a model of what Adam Bellow (son of the Nobel-winning novelist Saul) called the “new nepotism,� combining the “privileges of birth with the iron rule of merit.�

But to others the decision reeks of the “old nepotism,� in which the only credential that matters is the identity of your father — in Mr. Bellow’s cosmology, less like the Roosevelts than like Tori Spelling getting an acting job because her father was Aaron Spelling.

MORE… 

Posted on October 24, 2007

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Rabin Memorial Day

This entry was posted in History, Holidays on by .

Today is Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Day, which coincides with his yartzeit on the 12th of Cheshvan.

I’ve included some links for those interesting in learning more about the late prime minister and his legacy:

A Biography

His final speech

President Shimon Peres on Rabin

Posted on October 24, 2007

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A Counter History

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

I like blogging about deli, particularly the Second Avenue Deli. When I first moved to New York a few years ago, I lived in Stuyvesant Town. There weren’t too many kosher options in the area, and my favorite by far soon became Second Avenue. I’d sneak back from NYU in between classes to get a bowl of matzah ball soup. It would fill me up for hours.

Since then, I’ve moved and my neighborhood deli has changed. But I’m looking forward to the deli’s reopening next month. For the past two years I’ve kept an old delivery menu on my desk at home, just in case…
I hope you’ll enjoy this in depth profile of the restaurant and the family behind the pastrami in the New York Times as much as I did.

Posted on October 23, 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