Monthly Archives: April 2008

Passover is Coming

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

-On a technicality, as Judge rules that Israeli stores may display (and sell) bread during Passover. Howls — and debate — ensue. (The Jerusalem Post)

-In Russia’s third largest city, the blood libel returns. (Haaretz)

-Persian-style haroset, called halech, has only dates and walnuts, but “The preparations entail advance planning, hard labor (squeezing dates through a cloth diaper) and cooking for about 10 hours.� (Haaretz)

-Some suggestions for getting you and your family into a Pesach mood before the actual seders. (The Jewish Week)

-Tired of waiting for some wine to disappear from Elijah’s cup? $35 will solve the problem. (Jewish Journal)

-Bob and Jeri Lande, and Lisa Goldring, and others, tell how they use colorful gimmicks to enliven their Seders. (Washington Jewish Week)

-Matzah is on the front line of a London price war. (Jewish Chronicle)

-After 10 years of work, Archie Granot “has crafted a paper-cut Haggada, the only one of its kind. The work is 55 pages long, with every word of Hebrew text hand cut; each page stands as both an independent work of art and a single piece of a beautiful, thematically unified whole.� (The Jerusalem Post)

Posted on April 14, 2008

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Moses Rap

This entry was posted in General on by .

If you liked Haman Song, you’ll love the Passover-themed Moses Rap, the latest video from Bible Rapper Matt Bar.

I was actually teaching religious school with Matt when he wrote this piece–originally for sixth graders. It’s amazing to see the evolution of a little ditty he jotted down on scrap paper to this video:

Posted on April 14, 2008

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People or Religion

This entry was posted in Beliefs on by .

In honor of the debate I had with Ariel Beery this week about distinctions between Jewish Peoplehood and the Jewish Religion, I thought I’d poll you about your associations and affinities.

Posted on April 11, 2008

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Get Your Haggadot Here

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Looking for a haggadah for your seder? We’ve got you covered.

Tamar Fox at Jewcy has five helpful hints, my favorite being “Mix and Match.” One of the best seders I’ve ever been to had more than 30 haggadot laid out on the dinner table. People could take whichever ones they wanted and chimed into to the seder whenever they had something interesting from their haggadot to add. It kept the pace lively and the whole evening very interactive.

The Velveteen Rabbi (recently names one of the top 25 blogs by Time Magazine) has made her newly revised haggadah available online, as does the Reb Zalman Legacy Project and Barry Pollisar–the writer of many songs from Juno.

For kids, Uncle Eli’s Haggadah is done is poem form.

And for the snarky bunch, Slate has a 2-minute version. Better eat fast.

Posted on April 10, 2008

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What’s a shababnik?

This entry was posted in History on by .

I tend to think I have a fairly good grasp of Jewish lingo, but this YNet article on a real-life haredi West Side Story used a word I’d somehow never come across: Shababnik.

YNet defines this as “a yeshiva dropout.” FailedMessiah defines it as “a kid who hangs out on the streets and doesn’t learn.” According to a TalkBack post on YNet, a shababnik is “a person from a haredi family who thinks secular but for cultural reasons dresses with a Kippa and like a Hareidi.”

Two questions I haven’t answered yet: Can a girl be a shababnik or does it specifically refer to haredi young men? Where does the word come from?

Posted on April 10, 2008

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The West Bank

This entry was posted in History on by .

-The illegal Shvut Ami outpost, built in part on privately owned Palestinian land, has been evacuated nine times, and now settlers have again returned, overwhelming the Border Police stationed there. Says a settler leader in the area, “it doesn’t matter what the army and the Civil Administration say.â€? (Haaretz)

-Rimonim checkpoint is one of 50 roadblocks within the West Bank that Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised to open. For a Palestinian, the removal of the checkpoint — which sometimes stays closed for days at a time — “means no longer having to wonder whether soldiers will decide whether he can visit his aunt in Hizme.â€? Settlers believe that the price will be paid in their blood. (The Jewish Week)

-Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin criticized the commitment for removing 50 unmanned West Bank saying it would be harmful to Israel’s security. But Nomi Lalo of Machsom Watch says terrorists skirt around the barriers and instead enter Israel through gaps in the security barrier. (The Jerusalem Post)

-Vice Premier Haim Ramon has stated that all 450 homes in Ofra, the first settlement in Samaria, were built on privately owned Palestinian land. (Haaretz)

-The IDF has been collecting army-issued weapons held by Israelis living in the West Bank, as well as caches of weapons held in storage in the settlements. Settlers can apply for gun permits and purchase weapons, but settlers don’t like the process at all. (The Jerusalem Post)

Posted on April 10, 2008

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Praying for the State of Israel

This entry was posted in Practices on by .

I’m a few days late, but I must take serious issue with my good friend Ariel Beery’s recent Blogs of Zion post about the prayer for the State of Israel — and some communities that are revisiting its language and place in the service.

In a move that should shock no-one who understands the history of reform Judaism and its paradigm shift away from Judaism-as-a-lifestyle, the JTA is reporting that congregations have decided to stop or change their recitation of the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel.

So wasn’t I surprised when the JTA article begins with a discussion of Altshul, the traditional egalitarian (reform?) minyan in Park Slope, Brooklyn that I have been involved with since its inception.

Ariel seems to see all those communities mentioned in the article as distinctly “religiousâ€? or “spiritualâ€? — i.e. unconcerned with Jewish Peoplehood. Writes Ariel: “From a Zionist perspective, this move is further proof that a Judaism that is limited to the religious tradition of the Jews acts to tear apart our historical community.â€?

As a loyal member of Altshul, I have to say that Ariel is seriously mistaken in his diagnosis of who we are. Altshul does, indeed, hold a prayer service, but I’d venture to say that more of its members come for a sense of community and connection to other Jews than they do to commune with the Divine Spirit.

(In fact, I’ve described Altshul – in jest – as Hadar without soul.)

Ariel concludes his post with a bewildering statement that I’d love for him to explain:

In this case, the unwillingness of American Jewish ’spiritual folk’ to get their hands dirty suggests, I would argue, that they’re leaving us behind — that is, the Jewish People — in their own search for purity. But since they haven’t yet accepted the principal of conversion, they’re less like the early Christians and more like the Essenes — and if history is any indication, I’m not sure it’ll turn out so well for them either.

What principal of conversion have the “spiritual folk� (we Altshulers?) not accepted?

For the record, Altshul — as far as I know — continues to recite the prayer for the State of Israel.

Posted on April 9, 2008

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MJL Editorial Fellowship

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MyJewishLearning.com is proud to announce the creation of its Editorial Fellowship program. The inaugural two-year fellowship will begin in September 2008, concluding in August 2010.

The fellowship is open to recent college graduates interested in writing, editing, Jewish life, and new media.

MyJewishLearning.com, a transdenominational source of Jewish information, is currently undergoing a major site redesign, ramping up technological capacities and integrating new features, including video and an Ask-the-Expert function.

The Editorial Fellow will work closely with the site’s senior editors to shape MyJewishLearning.com’s editorial vision, solicit material from freelance writers, write and edit articles, and contribute daily to our popular blog Mixed Multitudes.

The Editorial Fellowship also includes significant professional development opportunities, including one free class each year at the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning, a book allowance, and monthly lunches with staff members from Jewish organizations, media outlets, and foundations, such as JTA, Jewish Funds For Justice, and the Samuel Bronfman Foundation.

Salary for the fellowship is $36,000, plus full health and dental insurance.

Qualified candidates should have strong writing and editing skills and an in-depth knowledge of Jewish history, culture, and tradition, as well as familiarity with the web and web publications.

To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample of no more than 1500 words to Meredith Lewis at meredith@myjewishlearning.com no later than May 15.

Posted on April 9, 2008

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Martha Stewart on Seder

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

When it comes to home living, no one knows more than Martha Stewart.

But apparently she’s also pretty well versed in Jewish customs and family engagement as she answers in her syndicated column this week “How can we make our Seder fun for kids while maintaining the sanctity of the celebration?”

But because the ceremony traditionally begins after sundown and often lasts well into the evening, it’s a long night for children. With a little planning, you can make your Seder engaging and enjoyable for young guests.

Start by including kids in the preparations. Let them help you make some of the foods, such as the haroset (a sweet chutneylike dish), and explain their relevance to the ceremony. (MORE)

I guess she studied with Wolfgang Puck.

Posted on April 9, 2008

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Israel’s Minorities

This entry was posted in History on by .

-In the wake of blast that severely injured 15-year-old youth belonging to their community, Messianic Jews speak out against ill treatment at hands of religious Jews. (Ynet)

-Israel is taking steps to confront the “epidemic” of polygamy in Bedouin society. (Haaretz)

-But some defend the practice. (Haaretz)

-A look at an organization which brings solar power to unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev. (The Jerusalem Post)

-Shahar Ilan worries that attempts to purge the Knesset of its Arab members “could lead to the formation of an Israeli Arab parliament, calling for autonomy or an uprising in Israel.� (Haaretz)

-But Avigdor Lieberman, chair of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, retorts, “Just as the Jews of Morocco are loyal to its king, Israel’s minority groups must be… loyal to the state and its values as a Jewish state.â€? (Haaretz)

-Arab college graduates are having much more difficulty finding work in their field than their Jewish counterparts. (Haaretz)

Posted on April 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