Monthly Archives: December 2007

Russian Jews

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-A look at alleged attempts being made by the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv to persuade Russian emigrants to return from Israel to Russia. (Haaretz)

-What’s doing with the refuseniks Ida Nudel, Yosef Begun, and Yuli Edelstein? (J.)

-Sergey Kadinsky writes about how it has happened that Soviet-born Jews “do not have a clear identity in America,� and remain a divided community. (The Jewish Week)

Posted on December 14, 2007

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Politics & Literature

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

Should novels be political? I’m loving Daniel Handler’s answer in Jewcy’s Book Klatch:

“Political” is like “experimental,” “realistic” or thousands of other adjectives applied to fiction — I’m more convinced by an individual example. Mr. Orner’s last novel was so swell it made me think every novelist should be engaged specifically and directly with culture.

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union made me think, scratch that, the fantastical is the best way to get at large cultural ideas. Whenever I read David Markson I think, never mind, the novel’s over, this is the direction writing is going in. A great novel makes you think all novels should be like that, in the way that if I’m driving around with the windows down listening to Revolver or Purple Rain or Velvet Underground With Nico I can’t believe I ever listen to anything else. Until I go the opera and then I think pop music is ridiculous.

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Posted on December 14, 2007

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Israel News Update

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-The strike of Israel’s teachers, which began October 10, drags on amidst discussion of class size, works hours, and salary. (Haaretz)

-And as for the separate strike at universities, “For the first time in Israel’s history, there’s a real danger that the academic year will be canceled,” says Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh. (The Jerusalem Post)

-Ongoing discussions of breaking up Belgium along religious and ethnic lines are clear evidence of the impracticality of a binational state, says Calev Be-David. (The Jerusalem Post)

-Moshe Arens says that the Palestinian people’s suffering is “their own fault,� the Palestinian narrative of the War of Independence is “nothing but a fabric of lies,� and that Olmert’s goal of establishing a Palestinian state is “post-Zionism.� (Haaretz)

-Mr. Falah, a prominent political geographer, a tenured professor at the University of Akron, and a dual citizen of Israel and Canada, was arrested by the Shin Bet and held for 23 days. His story gives a stark “definition to the risks involved in studying the region,� as it took a major effort of other scholars in the field, and a court order, to get him released. (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

-The Israeli public has shown little interest in the Annapolis conference and “the overall public sentiment was negative, particularly regarding whether the conference achieved a basic clarification of the disagreements between Israel and the Palestinians, or advanced chances of peace.� (Haaretz)

-Turkey and Israel are currently examining an “infrastructure corridor” (underwater oil, gas, electricity water lines and optical fiber cables) from Turkey, to Haifa. Plans to include Turkish-held northern Cyprus in this are alarming the Greek-oriented Cyprus government. (Haaretz)

-Leonard Fein argues that at this point in time, “failure to move responsibly toward a two-state agreement would likely consign the idea to the ash heap of history, ensuring a future not less bloody than the past. (Forward)

Posted on December 12, 2007

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Kosher Frozen Diet TV Dinners? YES!

This entry was posted in Practices on by .

I just received a survey from the Orthodox Union (OU)’s kashrut department asking me what foods I’d like to see become kosher.

Here is the list of foods they asked me to rank:

Wrigley’s Gum
Ferrero Rocher
Power Bar
Kellogg’s Cereals
Lindt Chocolate
Tootsie Roll
Charm Pops
Carnation Good Start Formula
Gerber Baby Food
Boca Burgers
Wishbone Salad Spritzers
Torani Syrup
Smart Ones
Jenny Craig
Other pre-packaged diet meals
Doritos
Gatorade

My guess is that they wouldn’t name specific foods if something wasn’t already in the works or if the possibility of making these foods kosher was difficult.

Looking at the list, the future of the Jewish people seems pretty good.

Posted on December 11, 2007

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I guess we should update the blogroll.

This entry was posted in General, History on by .

Everyone’s got a blog these days. Jewish institutions, celebrities, and even fake characters like to journal what’s going on in their life. So why wouldn’t a crazy, nuclear-developing pseudo-dictator have one as well?

The New York Times featured an article yesterday about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s blog: www.ahmadinejad.ir. The site has everything from a notice to the American people to an autobiography about growing up poor in the slums of Iran, in addition to musings about the world political arena.

Plus every post begins with “In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.”

Like that doesn’t get old.

Posted on December 11, 2007

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Malamud: The Forgotten

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

From Lee Siegel’s NYT review of the new Bernard Malamud biography by Philip Davis:

Paradoxically, the farther he traveled from his familiar environment, the more confidence he seemed to acquire in returning to it in his fiction. And the more deeply he returned to his past in his imagination, the more confident he felt in strange new places. Though narrowly identified with “Jewish� writing, Malamud seemed to consider his own Jewishness as less an inherited tradition than a portable ethos, a means of accommodating the larger world outside his inherited traditions.

And:

…sometimes Davis isn’t defensive enough — particularly when it comes to Malamud’s faded status among the Jewish writers and critics who made the reputations of Bellow and Roth. Like an embarrasing old uncle, Malamud is barely referred to these days. On those few occasions when he is publicly admired, tribute usually comes in the form of sentimental commentary from younger, self-consciously Jewish writers, whose parochial picture of Malamud ironically confirms the denigrating comments Roth made a generation ago. Far more frequently, however, you find critics celebrating Bellow and Roth, above all, for their intelligence, and never mentioning Malamud.

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Posted on December 10, 2007

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Jewish Identity

This entry was posted in Culture, History on by .

-A conference wrestles with the question of whether there is an identity of the Southern Jew, and if so, “is that a geographic or a cultural distinction�? (The Atlanta Jewish Times)

-The play “The God of Vengeance� by Yiddish writer Sholom Asch, “sparked charges of anti-Semitism from the Jewish community,� got the producer and lead actor convicted on obscenity charges, and transgressed “perceptions of normative Jewish identity� in part by depicting a Jewish family that lives off prostitution. (The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide)

-Rabbi David Wolpe gives his take on the confusions surrounding the question: What makes for a Jewish writer? (Jewish Journal)

-Whether a veteran chooses to be buried in a Jewish cemetery or a military (and thus, usually, non-Halakhic) cemetery can say quite a bit about the person’s Jewish identity — which is the more important experience, being a vet or being a Jew? (Washington Jewish Week)

-A look at children with both Jewish and Chinese identities, adopted from China. (Cleveland Jewish News)

Posted on December 10, 2007

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Woody is Speechless

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

The Writers Guild strike is still going, and while after-work TV-watchers are plunged deeper into rerun land, at-work internet watchers are getting a treat: Speechless, a series of short films featuring an all-star cast minus the all-star scripts.

What would a Woody Allen film be like without a script? Now we know.

And make sure to watch Patricia Clarkson and Amy Ryan reading the phone book in Episode 16, too.

(via VSL)

Posted on December 10, 2007

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Eight Days of Yid Vid

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

I, like most people who sit in front of a computer all day long, enjoy a good viral video. And thanks to the good folks at The Forward, you don’t have to search YouTube for your Hanukkah fix.

They’ve included Israeli monkeys eating driedels, fake orthodox girls rapping, and NBA players saying “Happy Haunkkah.”

Why this stuff never gets old, I don’t know.

Posted on December 7, 2007

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Do they light it left to right?

This entry was posted in History on by .

If you’ve ever been to Israel as a tourist, it’s likely that you took a picture in front of this gigantic menorah at the Knesset. Well it’s not actually at the Knesset. It’s across the street. But not for much longer.

menorah.jpg

JTA, citing a story from Yediot Achronot, reports that the sculpture is being moved on the Knesset grounds to protect visitors. Not sure how that works, but I’m not one to question Israel on security matters. (MORE)

Posted on December 6, 2007

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