Monthly Archives: January 2008

Avenue Q In Israel

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

Ever wonder what happens when shows tour the globe? How do cultural references and idioms get translated?

Jewschool has an interesting answer and review of Avenue Q, now playing in Tel Aviv. For those that have seen the show, the adaptations made for the Israeli version including the replacement of Gary Coleman, Christmas Eve and the “one nightstand” are fascinating.

As Ben ‘BZ’ Dreyfus puts it, the show, “permeated with biblical and rabbinic references that have become part of the everyday language, convinced me that the Israeli Avenue Q is the true culmination of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda’s achievement. ” (MORE)

Posted on January 15, 2008

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Watch the Money

This entry was posted in History on by .

Leave it to the Federation of Silicon Valley to figure out how to use technology compellingly and effectively. 

This cute video does a great job of explaining what the Federation actually does with all that money.

Thanks to JTA for the head’s up!

Posted on January 15, 2008

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Antisemitism and Antizionism

This entry was posted in History on by .

-April Rosenblum, a 27-year-old progressive activist, has put out a remarkable pamphlet “Making Resistance to Antisemitism Part of All of Our Movements�. It speaks directly to leftists, including radicals, setting forth what antisemitism is and why it should be opposed. It does include some sharp critiques of American and Israeli policies. (Pintelyid)

-The Iranian Holocaust drama Zero Degree Turn, has been  lauded in the West. But, says Rachel Kantz and Miriam Nissimov, it is “nevertheless laden with problematic messages regarding Jews….fraught with anachronistic discrepancies, and blatantly falsifies the historical realities of the era…fails to address European anti-Semitism and the rise of the Zionist movement…likens Zionism to Nazism by placing them on the same immoral plane.� (The Jerusalem Post)

-The German scholar Matthias Küntzel argues that Muslim anti-Semitism had solid roots in Nazi propaganda. (The New York Times)

 

Posted on January 15, 2008

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Chabad in Hebron

This entry was posted in History on by .

Lazer Gurkow recently published an article on Chabad.org about the Lubavitch presence in Hebron. Gurkow notes the apparent irony of Chabad in Hebron.

Chabad usually focuses on outreach to non-observant Jews; yet the Jews in Hebron are “highly motivated in their ideology and deeply committed to their Judaism.” Who, then, does the Hebron Chabad House and its leader Rabbi Danny Cohen serve?

Rabbi Cohen gave me all the answer I needed in two simple words. The soldiers.

Hebron is guarded by hundreds of soldiers that rotate through the city on four month tours of duty. The Hebron Jewish community enjoys excellent relations with the soldiers. They provide food and drink, friendship and hospitality. (MORE)

I have often expressed my admiration for the work that Chabad does, but this is a little hard to swallow. The role of the Israeli army in Hebron is notably controversial. Hebron has 120,000 Palestinians and only 600 Jewish settlers; yet thousands of soldiers are needed there to keep the peace.

A few years ago, Breaking the Silence, an organization made up of soldiers who served in Hebron was formed to discuss the military abuses there, as well as the predicament of devoting so many military resources to a small settlement of — generally speaking — radicalized Jews.

One soldier involved in Breaking the Silence remarked: “What I understood finally, after six months, was that we were guarding the Palestinians from the Jews; we weren’t there to guard and protect the Jews. The Jews are the ones who threaten the Palestinians more in this area.”

Whether this is true all the time is irrelevant. It still sheds a dark light on Lazer Gurkow’s assertion that Chabad is in Hebron to serve the soldiers — when many of these soldiers are deeply ambivalent about being there to begin with.

Posted on January 14, 2008

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National Jewish Book Awards

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Congratulations to our friends at the Jewish Publication Society who won four National Jewish Book Awards last week.

Inventing Jewish Ritual by Vanessa Ochs, which I’ve blogged about, was the winner in the category of Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice.

The Power of Song and Other Sephardic Tales by Rita Roth was the winner in the category of Jewish Family Literature. Celebrating the Jewish Year edited by Paul Steinberg was named a Finalist in the category of Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice. A Shout in the Sunshine by Mara Cohen Ioannides was named a finalist in the category of Children’s Literature.

Other non-JPS winners include James L. Kugel, winner of the Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award for How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now and MJL contributer Sarah Gershman for The Bedtime Sh’ma: A Good Night Book.

For a list of all of the winners, click here.

Posted on January 14, 2008

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Jewish Ethics

This entry was posted in Practices on by .

-A look at a new national curriculum called Ethical Start, which is reframing the way JCC educators teach values to preschool children. (J.)

-There is help for parents wanting to instill derekh eretz into their kids. (NJ Jewish News)

-Various curators and other artists used genuine human body parts to put together the “Bodies: An Exhibition� show. Should Jews patronize the exhibit? (San Diego Jewish Journal)

Posted on January 14, 2008

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Ancient Texts

This entry was posted in Texts on by .

MJL is proud to introduce a new subsection on Ancient Texts. In it, you’ll find articles our articles apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, the Books of Maccabees, and a new article about the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Posted on January 12, 2008

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Eldridge Street Synagogue Reviewed

This entry was posted in History on by .

For more than 20 years, the Eldridge Street Project worked to restore the landmark Eldridge Street Synagogue on New York’s Lower East Side. Hundreds of people worked on this great task, and late last year the synagogue was reopened.

This week, New York Magazine’s blog Daily Intelligencer has a great video tour of the restored building as well as an architectural review.

We know that visiting the LES isn’t something that many of our readers can do easily, so enjoy.

Posted on January 10, 2008

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The Lesson of the Jews

This entry was posted in General on by .

This month’s issue of Esquire cites a funny — and oddly insightful — description of the Jewish condition from…um…Roseanne:

When you grow up Jewish, your parents are always telling you, Nobody’s better than you. Then, usually when you’re about sixteen, they start telling you that you’re no better than anybody else. That’s the whole thing about being Jewish: It’s too hot, but it’s too cold. You don’t want your kids to be certain of anything. If you’re certain of anything, that’s when you get into trouble. That’s the lesson of the Jews.

Posted on January 10, 2008

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The Real Ron Paul

This entry was posted in History on by .

Yesterday I wrote that no politician in his or her right mind would do anything “bad for the Jews.”

Not sure what this says about Ron Paul, but JTA is reporting that The New Republic found some pretty incendiary things the Texas libertarian said about Jews in his newsletters a few years ago:

The newsletters display an obsession with Israel; no other country is mentioned more often in the editions I saw, or with more vitriol, the magazine’s James Kirchick wrote. A 1987 issue of Paul’s Investment Letter called Israel “an aggressive, national socialist state,” and a 1990 newsletter discussed the “tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel in all countries who are willing to work [sic] for the Mossad in their area of expertise.”

Regarding the implication that the Mossad may have been behind the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, Paul wrote, “Whether it was a setup by the Israeli Mossad, as a Jewish friend of mine suspects, or was truly a retaliation by the Islamic fundamentalists, matters little.â€? (MORE)

Also check out the entire article in The New Republic.

Posted on January 9, 2008

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

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