Monthly Archives: February 2008

Take a Hint, JNF.

This entry was posted in Culture, History on by .

I was walking by a New York City store, when I saw something curious in the window. They looked like JNF tzedakah boxes. But they clearly weren’t.

Each had phrases that attempted to by funny, such as “I’m savin’ for some therapy!” or “I’m savin’ to quit my job!”

I picked up the cans and sure enough they were the exact same model as the good old JNF blue boxes. Same size, same shape, same placement of the hole at the bottom.

And perhaps my favorite was this one:jesusbank.jpg

Posted on February 20, 2008

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Gay Earthquake

This entry was posted in History on by .

Israel experienced an earthquake last Friday, registering at 5.3 on the Richter Scale. What caused this earthquake?

Whatever you do, don’t blame it on the rupture of geological faults.

The recent earthquake that was felt across Israel was the result of the “homosexual activity practiced in the country”, Knesset Member Shlomo Benizri said Wednesday.

During a special Knesset session on Israel’s preparedness for the possibility of another earthquake hitting the region, the Shas member said “the Gemara refers to earthquakes as disasters, but you are searching only for the practical solutions how to prevent and repair.

“But I no [sic] of another way to prevent earthquakes; the Gemara mentions a number of causes of earthquakes, one of which is homosexuality, which the Knesset legitimizes,” Benizri said.

MORE…

Posted on February 20, 2008

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In the West Bank

This entry was posted in History on by .

-Fatah is implementing “unprecedented internal reforms to democratize the ailing movement in the face of the electoral threat from political rivals such as Hamas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad,� who is not from Fatah. (Haaretz)

-Some experts believe “surprise roadblocks, Palestinian Authority-coordinated patrols, and more fences around Israeli settlements� could allow to significantly reduce the number of West Bank roadblocks and thus calm the atmosphere in the West Bank. (Haaretz)

-Sheldon Schreter argues that settlements “are not a security asset–they are a liability, a drain on our military.â€? (The Jerusalem Post)

-Although Israel has pledged not to expand settlements, about 2 dozen Israelis formerly of Gaza have moved into the small settlement of Maskiot deep in the West Bank, and the Maskiot leader said 28 families are waiting to move in when more trailer homes arrive. (Haaretz)

-Breslov hassidim and right-wing activists illegally enter the Joseph’s Tomb compound in Nablus two-to-three times a week. IDF forces arrest them, the courts release them so they can “ repeat their actions and endanger the lives of the soldiers stationed in the area.â€? (Ynet)

Posted on February 20, 2008

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The Jewish Body

This entry was posted in Practices on by .

-Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli has been named “Body of 2008” by British men’s magazine Arena. (Haaretz)

-A leisurely look at “Jewish penchant for beards as a cultural marker,â€? starting with how they contrasted with “the false blessing of eternal youthfulness” of biblical Egypt. (Commentary)

-William Kolbrener brings his knowledge of Jewish sources to make the most of raising a Down’s syndrome child, and learns how to reject categories. (Jewish Journal)

-A look at the spread of tora dojo, the unique martial art form known in the United States as the “Jewish karate.” (Haaretz)

Posted on February 19, 2008

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Guide for the Halachic Minyan

This entry was posted in Beliefs, Practices on by .

More and more Orthodox women are exploring the boundaries of their participation in communal Jewish prayer. An Israeli couple has put together a Guide for the Halachic Minyan, which not only highlights the halakha’s perspective on female participation in prayer services, but also offers a detailed account of specific prayers that women may, or may not lead.

The couple says in the guide: “According to Maimonides, both men and women are obligated in the Mitzvah of prayer. This guide’s goal is to indicate the parts of the prayer service that women may halachically lead. The guide is an outgrowth of deliberations conducted in the various prayer groups that have made it their aim to increase women’s participation in services, and it is the result of detailed study of the sources relating to holiday and Shabbat prayer.�

The entire guide can be found here.

Posted on February 19, 2008

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Shalem Education Project

This entry was posted in General on by .

From our friends at Keshet:

Regional Training Institutes for Jewish Educators
May 18-20, 2008 Atlanta, GA
July 13-15, 2008 Cleveland, OH

Keshet is proud to announce the inaugural Shalem Education Project Regional Training Institutes. The Institutes will train Jewish Educators and Youth Professionals to facilitate Jewish Safe Schools & Supportive Communities workshops for educators, teens, and lay leaders. Participants will learn:

- How to design and facilitate workshops on GLBT inclusion for faculty, staff, parents, and youth in Jewish educational institutions

- How to combat homophobia in Jewish youth culture

- How to use the Hineini DVD, Curriculum Guide, and other resources for GLBT-inclusive educational programs.
Institute participants will work with Keshet staff to develop outreach and implementation plans to bring Shalem Education Project trainings and resources to their home communities and institutions. Special sessions will address the specific needs of formal educators, youth group and camp professionals, and those working in Conservative movement affiliated institutions.

Expenses for attending the institute will be covered by Keshet. An online application is available here. You can also email andrea@keshetonline.org to receive one by mail or email.

Although acceptance is on a first come first served basis, priority will be given to those who work in Jewish educational or youth institutions.

Deadline for submitting applications for Atlanta is March 31, 2008 and for Cleveland the deadline is May 16, 2008.

Please contact Andrea Jacobs with any questions, 617.524.9227 x3 or andrea@keshetonline.org

Keshet is a grassroots organization dedicated to creating a fully inclusive Jewish community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Jews in Greater Boston and across the country.

We offer resources, training, and technical assistance for creating change in Jewish communities nationwide.

We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta and Cleveland!

Posted on February 18, 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

Foodie News

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

-On a per capita basis, Tel Aviv is the world’s 3rd largest sushi market. But a crisis looms. (Ynet)

-A look at the making in Israel of the sesame-based foods halvah and tehina. (Haaretz)

-Jews created the bundt pan, and you can now get it in a star-of-David form. (Nordicware)

-A Comprehensive Guide to Challah and Bread Baking. (Cleveland Jewish News)

-A look at what’s involved in preparing Kosher food in China, for export to the West. (LA Times)

-Masorti Rabbi Adam J. Frank argues that “OU and Israel’s rabbinate condone barbarityâ€? because they provide Kosher authorization for the “use of the animal restraint method known as “shackling and hoisting” during the kosher slaughter process.â€? He argues that it violates the law against unnecessary infliction of pain to animals. (The Jerusalem Post)

Posted on February 18, 2008

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Brain Death & Jewish Law

This entry was posted in Beliefs on by .

Jewish bioethicists, across the denominational spectrum, tend to consider that cessation of breathing (which is connected to brain stem activity) as the Jewish legal definition of death.

According to Orthodox rabbi and doctor Abraham Steinberg:

The talmudic and post‑talmudic sources do not require the cessation of the heartbeat for the determination of the moment of death…when it is clear that independent breathing can never return because of the irreversible death of the brainstem, the patient can be regarded as dead from the moment that brainstem death is established, even if the patient’s heart is still beating. (MORE)

The most significant practical ramification for this ruling has to do with organ donation, which –again — is today encouraged by rabbis both traditional and liberal.

But apparently there is still resistance to this definition of death from the Ultra-Orthodox community:

During a rabbinical conference held at a Dead Sea hotel MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni delivered a speech in which addressed the bill regarding brain-dead patients on respirators proposed by Otniel Schneller (Kadima), who was in attendance.

Rabbi Gafni objected to the position espoused by Schneller, who claimed that all gedolei Torah support the proposal. Rabbi Gafni said that in fact the opposite is true. Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita issued instructions to oppose the law, saying that according to halochoh as long as the heart continues to beat the patient is considered alive in every respect and it is strictly forbidden to deny medical treatment, and as such UTJ has decided to oppose the bill. (MORE)

Posted on February 18, 2008

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David Weiss Halivni

This entry was posted in Texts on by .

It’s well worth reading Yair Sheleg’s profile of Talmud scholar and recent Israel Prize recipient David Weiss Halivni. Among the interesting facts revealed by the article: Halivni studied in the same Hungarian heder as Elie Wiesel and the Satmar Rebbe.

The profile also illuminates the relationship between the traditionalist and reform-minded elements of the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary.

He says he never felt any tension between his Orthodox world and his work at JTS. “The group that led the seminary was Orthodox in its way of life. Nor were prayers mixed [with men and women together].” …

In 1983, Halivni announced his dramatic resignation from JTS, after it decided to ordain women for the rabbinate. In his letter of resignation he wrote: “It is my personal tragedy that the people I daven (pray) with I cannot talk to and the people I talk to I cannot daven with. However, when the chips are down I will always side with the people I daven with. For I can live without talking, I cannot live without davening.” (MORE)

(via FailedMessiah)

Posted on February 18, 2008

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Holocaust Humor: It’s okay to laugh.

This entry was posted in Culture, History on by .

Holocaust humor is a very sensitive topic, rightfully so. Many people are appalled by its existence, and this is a legitimate position.

But many people, more than you may think, find it rather humorous. They often won’t admit this publicly or in forums with unfamiliar people. But when the subject is carefully breached, and a smile comes across their faces, they know they’ve found good company.

Whether the infamous “Survivor” episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a recent video about Hitler and the Dallas Cowboys, or Anne Frank jokes, Holocaust humor exists. And people laugh at it.

A year after I visited Poland as part of a teen pilgrimage, I stumbled across the article (originally published in Moment magazine) which chronicles the movement of Holocaust humor. It argues that humor is a legitimate coping mechanism and a means of dealing with the incomprehensible tragedies of the Shoah, particularly for second generation survivors. Say Rabbi Moshe Waldocks, co-editor of The Big Book Of Jewish Humor:

In every joke is the hint of the hidden horror. This is not laughter through tears, it is laughter despite tears. Humor also punctures, wounds, shocks, and reveals. If they’re doing the job right, the prophet and the jester have similar roles. Both are making the comfortable uncomfortable. (MORE)

Thus, as the grandchild of survivors, I have come to understand that I can both laugh at the jokes and respectfully remember the legacy of those who died in two separate veins.

In this respect, I am eager to read a new book by cartoonist Sam Gross–We Have Ways of Making You Laugh: 120 Funny Swastika Cartoons.

The title says it all.

He says in an article in the Jewish Week that he wasn’t trying to offend people. He wanted to “demystify” the symbol. “There is no message other than this is a symbol and symbols really can’t hurt you.”

Judging by a few of the cartoons I’ve seen, this will be a hilarious read for those of us who enjoy this genre.

I’ve pre-ordered my copy. Have you?

Posted on February 15, 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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