Monthly Archives: March 2008

Who’s More Pro-Israel?

This entry was posted in History on by .

I spent this past weekend with 175 Jewish high school students from the New York region of USY. The educational theme of the conference focused on the upcoming presidential election and how do decide which candidate represents our values.

In one activity, we asked the kids to look at the position papers of Clinton, Obama, and McCain regarding Israel. The students were only allowed to look at the papers to inform their decision.

Both Clinton and Obama have specific pages on their websites detailing their stance toward Israel. However, the McCain website doesn’t mention Israel at all and simply speaks of “Fighting Against Violent Islamic Extremists and Terrorist Tactics.”

My students therefore thought that McCain didn’t care about Israel enough to give it its own section and obviously is less “pro-Israel” than either Obama or Clinton.

Now while some of the students were able to chime in about McCain’s commitment to Israel and the general Republican attitude to Israel, most of the kids were unaware of this connection.

Needless to say it was definitely an insightful discussion for all.

Posted on March 31, 2008

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Attitudes Toward the “Other”

This entry was posted in History on by .

-A majority of Israeli public feels religious and secular Jews ought to live in separate neighborhoods. (Ynet)

-A new poll looks at Arab and Jewish attitudes toward integration, with about half the Israeli Jewish public objecting to Arabs’ living in Jewish neighborhoods. (Haaretz)

-A new report asserts that Israeli Jews are becoming more racist toward Israeli Arabs. (Haaretz)

-Vivian Eden decries the scorn and disrespect that so many religious Jews in Israel have for the secular Jews. (Haaretz)

-And another religious woman describes “numerous humiliations� that occurred when she refused to move to the back of an Egged bus. And when she tried to argue the Jewish law, the Haredi man would not hear of it from her: “This is a religious ruling – one must not hear Torah lessons from a woman.� (Ynet)

Posted on March 31, 2008

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Iranian Jewry in Political Action

This entry was posted in History on by .

As our homepage article addresses, many Jews from Iran left the country after the 1979 revolution. Those that came to America are just now being mobilized to take part in politics with the help of 30 Years After, a new not-for-profit organization created by young Iranian American Jews to encourage political involvement. The Forward takes a look at this new group.

Posted on March 31, 2008

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Jewish Lessons for Bear Stearns

This entry was posted in General on by .

Is it possible that the collapse of Bear Stearns is comparable to the destruction of the Second Temple? That might be the kind of question that James Cayne, the chairman of Bear, is asking himself.

Bear’s precipitous fall hurt a lot of people, but there are few who are feeling the sting like Cayne, who just sold all of his shares in the company for $61 million.

That’s a serious chunk of change, but not when you consider that Cayne’s stock was worth more than $1 billion just one year ago. So how is Cayne spending his days now. The New York Times reports:

In the past weeks, together with his wife, Patricia Cayne, who is a student of Jewish religious traditions, Mr. Cayne has spent considerable time searching for comparable events in religious history to see what lessons can be learned from the collapse of his firm, said a person who has spoken to him recently.

MORE… 

Posted on March 28, 2008

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Translating Kafka

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

This year marks the 125th anniversary of Franz Kafka’s birth. Which is, of course, totally meaningless — unless you’re looking for a good marketing hook.

Apparently, Penguin Classics was. Last month, they commemorated this anniversary by publishing a new edition of Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Other Stories, translated by Michael Hofmann.

I commemorated this event by writing about the new translation is my Jerusalem Post column this month.

The two editions of The Metamorphosis that I previously owned describe Gregor Samsa’s new body as respectively “a gigantic insect” and “a monstrous vermin.” Hofmann opts for the more specific “monstrous cockroach.” What’s the difference? Hofmann would likely argue that by naming a particular type of insect, by helping the reader form a more particular image, he is facilitating the power of Kafka’s words. Others would argue that Kafka’s chosen word, ungeziefer, literally means “vermin” and was intentionally ambiguous. Focusing on entomological questions misses the point. Metamorphosis is hardly a science book. It’s purposely metaphorical and fantastical.

So should we care about this new translation?

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Posted on March 28, 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

Thin Mints and Jewish Identity

This entry was posted in History on by .

I came across this post from Izzy Grinspan over at Jewcy on the same day that my beloved Tagalong Girl Scout cookies showed up at my door.

Grinspan takes this quote from the Wall Street Journal on the decline of Girl Scouts:

Laurel Richie will be in charge of modernizing the image of the Girl Scouts, which is viewed by many as a rigid, old-fashioned organization focused on cookie fund-raisers and campouts. “Girls think of us as outdated,” says Kathy Cloninger, chief executive of Girl Scouts of the USA. “They have stereotypes of who we are that are not right.”

and turns it into this

Laurel Richie will be in charge of modernizing the image of [Judaism], which is viewed by many as a rigid, old-fashioned organization focused on [Israel] and [intermarriage]. “[Kids] think of us as outdated,” says Kathy Cloninger, chief executive of [Hillel]. “They have stereotypes of who we are that are not right.”

See what else Judaism and Girl Scouts have in common.

Posted on March 27, 2008

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The World of Jewish Education

This entry was posted in History on by .

-Photojournalist Zion Ozeri believes in using photography to teach Jewish values. (NJ Jewish Standard)

-The Center for Online Jewish studies has prepared 25 chapter curriculum and education resource guides, on topics as diverse as Music after the Holocaust, Jewish Lobbying, Jews and Migration, Influencing Culture, The Sense of Belonging, Judaism Americanized, and Prayer and Politics. (COJS)

-Baltimore’s four Reform congregations are combining to establish a citywide Reform supplemental high school program, offering evening classes for students from eighth through 12th grades. (Baltimore Jewish Times)

-At California colleges, Jewish studies is on the rise, aided by some major donations. (Jewish Journal)

-The Los Angeles area has 14 Jewish high schools, and now “more teens in Los Angeles are now enrolled in full-time Jewish education than in supplementary Jewish education.� The schools provide a remarkably broad range of sizes and religious orientation. (Jewish Journal)

Posted on March 27, 2008

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Fake Jew Arrested by FBI

This entry was posted in Practices on by .

UPDATE: It turns out this story has some major falsehoods attached to it. The FBI has since denied any involvement in this story. Click here for a full update.

“Who is a Jew?” is a question debated at the highest levels of the denominational hierarchy and the Israeli government. But on the community, short-term level, the question is usually answered through self-identification.

At the Shabbat minyan I attend, for example, we don’t ask people if their mother or father is Jewish before offering them an aliyah. If they show up to shul they’re counted in the minyan and seen as potential participants in the service.

Seems this isn’t unique to liberal Jewish congregations. Yeshiva World News reports:

The Lakewood Jewish community is shocked after learning that a “Frum� man living in the heart of Lakewood, was anything but Frum.

A source tells YWN, that a family has been living in the Forest Park area of Lakewood, NJ for the past few years, sent their kid to a Frum Yeshiva, Davened (prayed) three times a day, and was not even Jewish!

Apparently, a man posing as Mr. Natan Levi contacted “Partners In Torah� a few years back, and was interested in learning more about his “Jewish roots�. Naturally, the fabulous organization set him up with Chavrusas (study partners) to teach him all he wanted to know. The man seemed sincere that he wanted to become Frum (religious).

Eventually, the man was “Frum enough�, that he moved with his wife and kids from Kansas, and purchased a home in a prominent Development in the southern part of Lakewood, NJ. He enrolled one of his children in a Lakewood Yeshiva, and could be seen in Shul three times a day.

His charade came to a screeching halt last week – when the FBI suddenly arrived and whisked him away in handcuffs.

MORE…

Posted on March 26, 2008

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Another One of Israel’s Great Inventions

This entry was posted in History on by .

Israel is known for its technological innovations. In the fields of computers, medicine, and agriculture, the country has produced products that have revolutionized certain industries.

But does this count?

icq.jpg

Everyone remembers ICQ, the first widely-used instant messaging application that’s all but dead in most of the world now. The Israeli software company that developed the suite before it was purchased by AOL has just partnered with a big Israeli pharmacy company called CTS to release this ICQ toothpaste, which our tipster claims will “help P2P communication (person to person) while reducing bad breath.” (MORE from Gizmodo)

Posted on March 26, 2008

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Reform Aliyah

This entry was posted in History on by .

-A new documentary focuses on American Jews who visit Israel, “the type of American Jew for whom support of Israel is not a foregone conclusion.� (The Jerusalem Post)

-A look at the very small but growing number of Reform Jews making aliyah. (Haaretz)

-A look at Liran Avisar Gazit, a former commander in the Israel Defense Force and the Jewish Agency for Israel’s first “shlichat aliyahâ€? to the Reform movement. (Jewish Exponent)

-A look at Israel gap year programs (for a year between high school and college), whose participants are increasingly non-Orthodox. (Jewish Journal)

Posted on March 26, 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