Monthly Archives: September 2008

Trouble in (Academic) Paradise

This entry was posted in History on by .

Israeli Arabs will distribute 20,000 booklets on the Nakba, the Palestinian version of 1948 events outside of schools in Arab areas throughout Israel. But even some Arab Israeli educators are critical. (Haaretz)

Activists seeks creation of a separate “Arab pedagogic council” for Arab-Israelis to “exercise genuine participation and decision-making power in education,â€? similar to what Haredi Jews have, but Education Ministry officials are not enthusiastic about the idea. (Jpost and Haaretz)

Here’s a look at how some Israeli Haredi high-school dropouts live. (Haaretz)

Three former students have filed police complaints of sexual harassment against Professor Eyal Ben-Ari. Has there been a “reign of terror” against female students at Hebrew University’s sociology department? (Haaretz)

Naomi Chazan decries the nonchalant attitude of academic authorities in Israel toward sexual harassment. (JPost)

The nine members of Hebrew University’s Committee on Gender Issues resigned to protest the university’s discrimination against women. (Haaretz)

Prof. Gannit Ankori, chair of the Art History Department at Hebrew University, has been involved in a trans-Atlantic battle to clear her name of the allegations by one of the subjects of her study, Kamal Boullata, a leading Palestinian artist and one of the only living Palestinian art historians, who accuses her “of the occupier’s cultural appropriation of the occupied.â€?(Haaretz)

Posted on September 19, 2008

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Legalize Mezuzot!

This entry was posted in History, Practices on by .

Rep. Jerrold Nadler is asking Congress to pass a law to allow Jews to hang a mezuzah on the door of houses that they already own.

A couple of years ago, Lynne Bloch and her husband — senior citizens, and my friend Helen Bloch’s parents — found that the mezuzah kept disappearing off the door of their Chicago condominium. They’d come home and it would be ripped off. They’d buy another one. It would get stolen, too.

Eventually, they found out that the people responsible were not some hoodlum kids trying to get rich quick (mezuzahs are expensive — and, more importantly, desecrating or trashing them is like throwing out a little piece of Torah, one of our most valued values) but the board of their condo association. Although Helen explained the situation to the board, they were too worried that having a tiny piece of parchment would disturb the Aryan design sensibility of…uh, the hallway. And so they kept waiting for her mother to leave the building, and stealing her mezuzah. One of those times was when they left for Helen’s father’s funeral, a resident of the building for decades. They came back and, bam! Condo board struck again.

A federal court recently ruled against the Bloches, and against mezuzot. The only way to overturn this is by enacting a federal law — which is exactly what Nadler plans to do.

Posted on September 19, 2008

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Move Over Tina Fey. Palin vs. Clinton has hit another level.

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

Update: Approximately an hour after I wrote this piece, Sarah Palin was disinvited from the rally.

Is Hillary Clinton Obama’s running mate? By watching the election coverage over the past few days, it almost looks like she is.

This past weekend, Saturday Night Live opened their season premiere with a HILARIOUS video on Palin and Clinton:

Back in the real world, a couple of weeks ago, Clinton had accepted an invitation to speak at a rally to protest Mahmoud Ahmadinajad’s upcoming visit to the UN.  Probably out of political pressure, the rallies organizers, namely Malcolm Hoenlein, felt they needed to bring a Republican to speak at the event as well (even though Clinton is a Senator from New York).

And guess who the Republicans decided to send?  You guessed it…Sarah Palin! Can you see Iran from Alaska as well?

Well, it seems like Hillary wasn’t very happy about this decision (not that I would blame her).  As explained perfectly in the SNL skit, Clinton does not want to be associated with Palin in the slightest.  As a result, Clinton has canceled her appearance at the rally.

Now, we are in that really awkward stage where no one really knows what to do.  The rally organizers are in a really tough spot.  They unintentionally made this nonpartisan event partisan by inviting Palin.

So, they could either disinvite Palin (a move that would piss off a lot of Republicans), or they could invite someone from the Obama camp, further perverting an event that shouldn’t have been partisan in the first place.

One organization, JStreet,  a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization, has started an online petition asking the organizers of the event to disinvite Palin.  I just received an e-mail that claims that over 17,000 people have already signed it.

Posted on September 18, 2008

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Jewish Treasures in the Attic

This entry was posted in Culture, Texts on by .

Everyone has tzochkes around their house. Some more than others. One of the things I’ve inherited over the years from a good family friend is a set of figurines from Israel. Supposedly made from bullet shells from the War of Independence, the figures were made to represent biblical characters.deborah teppich bible

Two years ago, I googled the only clue that I had as to their origin, a tag that read “Original TEPPICH.” Nothing came up and I stored them away in a small display case.ahasveros teppich bible

Recently, my mother shipped the dolls to me to display in my new home. I again googled “Teppich” and “Israel,” and now I found a few webpages.

Hans Teppich was a 20th century Israeli artist, born in Germany, who was known for his brass work. As it turns out the dolls aren’t made of bullets. That was a rumor started by American art dealers. But the figurines I have are originals, not the knock-offs made by many of Teppich’s employees. They date to the 1950s and 60s.

My collection includes the following characters: two Sarahs, Tamar, a dancer, Joseph, King David, Solomon, Deborah, Smadar, Joshua, Shulamit, Esther, and Ahashveros.

While not an Antiques Roadshow jackpot, it’s a pleasant discovery. They will soon have a prominent display location in the house.

Posted on September 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

Rosh Hashanah Dinner Challenge

This entry was posted in Culture, Holidays on by .

Our friends over at The Jew & the Carrot are holding a contest to see who can create the greenest Rosh Hashanah dinner menu.

Prizes for the winner include some great Jewish cook books. Check it:

The Assignment:Get creative as you green your Rosh Hashanah dinner table!

The Requirements:A description of your sustainable  ideas, tips and techniques, accompanying photo(s), and any/all recipes you make.  Don’t forget to include information about who you are!

The Details:Email your submissions by October 3, 2008 to editor [@] jcarrot.org
First prize winner will receive a copy of Aromas of Aleppoa stunning, hardcover cookbook of Syrian Jewish cuisine by Poopa Dweck.
Second prize winner will receive a copy of The Weekend Baker – a collection of delicious, stress-free baked good recipes.
The top three submissions will be featured (with much fanfare) on The Jew & The Carrot.

Posted on September 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

Glam Doilies

This entry was posted in Beliefs, Culture on by .

Confession time: I grew up a Conservative Jew, and although I’m Orthodox now — or Hasidic, or Biala, or hairy, or whatever you want to call it — I have more than a passing tinge of nostalgia for old-school Conservative services. Those slow jams where we all tried to chant like Barbra Streisand. The barrister’s robes that the rabbi and cantor wear. The fact that there was a cantor in the first place.

But there’s one thing that totally outranks every Orthodox tradition there is, and that’s doilies.

not your grandma's doily...except it is

Yesterday, just to the left of where you’re reading, I saw an ad for GlamDoily.com, and you know I had to follow it. It led me to an amazing — amazing — collection of classic and seasonal doilies. There’s even a mantilla collection.

Yes, I’m serious. Chalk it up to my Kim Novak fixation (she used to date a Jew — Sammy Davis, Jr.), or just call me old fashioned, but I think doilies are a sign of decor, sophistication, and elegance. Nothing says “proper” like “tea party,” and nothing says “tea party” like a die-cut paper coffee coaster straight out of spring 1956. Orthodox women cover their hair like pros — and the turban chique of Sephardic Israeli woman that Rav Ovadia Yosef advocates is stylin’ as anything, and gravity-defying, tying them meticulously tight, so as not to reveal a single strand — but I loved the feeling of having a yarmulke in my back pocket, slipping it on as I slipped into synagogue just like Clark Kent and the proverbial phone booth, and the move in Conservative Judaism toward people wearing yarmulkes either all the time or none of the time kind of dampens the transformation. I’m totally in favor of women wearing yarmulkes, if it helps put them in a holy or devotional mood….but nothing says “Quell those unholy thoughts, I’m in synagogue” like a straight-up doily.

Audrey Hepburn would wear a doily. Nora Charles would wear a doily. Madonna would wear a doily….although let’s not think very hard about how she would wear it, or where on her person it would go.

GlamDoily even has a juniors section. In my synagogue growing up, only married women had to wear doilies (my sister wore a yarmulke for her Bat Mitzvah, which gave some of the elder members a conniption or two), and so this got us in the office talking. Was it for people who held according to the Rambam that all Jewish women of any age have to cover their hair? Despite one naysayer who insisted that it was trying to tap into the Bat Mitzvah gift market, I’m thinking positively. And proactively. Whoever’s in charge of GlamDoily.com, I salute you for attempting to cover all the bases….except for the base of bad style.

Posted on September 18, 2008

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Maybe Barack Obama is Jewish.

This entry was posted in History on by .

Today’s Jewel of Elul is written by Barack Obama. Need we say more?

Just as the courageous Zionists who established the State of Israel were energized by Theodore Herzl’s dictum, so do Americans draw inspiration from the notion that determination can turn our dreams into reality.

As someone who grew up without a strong sense of roots, I have always been drawn to the belief – embedded in the long journey of the Jewish people – that you could sustain a spiritual, emotional, and cultural identity in the face of impossible odds. And I deeply understood the Zionist idea – that there is always a homeland at the center of our story.

For America’s Founders, that story was based on a set of ideals – freedom and equality, justice and opportunity. Generations of Americans have worked to build a more perfect union that lives up to those ideals. And time and again, Americans have come together to meet great challenges at home while working to repair the world abroad.

Today, we face another defining moment. We must reclaim that basic American Dream for all Americans – the idea that if you work hard, you can support a family; that if you get sick, there will be health care you can afford; that you can retire with the dignity and security you have earned; and that every American can get a world-class education. Abroad, we must advance peace in a dangerous world and achieve a clean energy future that breaks our dependence on foreign oil, while securing our planet. Americans also stand firm in our friendship with the Israeli people and our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.

As Israelis take stock of their remarkable achievements over the last 60 years – and as Jews everywhere reflect with reverence on this treasured past while looking to an uncertain future – Americans are united in our determination to help Israel achieve lasting peace and security. These are dreams we can achieve if we are willing to come together and work for them.

Senator Barack Obama is the 2008 Democratic Presidential nominee. www.barackobama.com

Jewels of Elul, Barack Obama

Posted on September 18, 2008

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I Asked You Once, I Asked You Twice…

This entry was posted in Culture, Life on by .

Maurice Sendak, one of the greatest authors of our time, is turning 80–and, according to the New York Times, is just as tortured as ever, and every bit as imaginative. The man who gave voice to my rage as a child in Where the Wild Things Are, fear in Outside Over There, and who wrote about going out into the greater world in We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy went through a hard year, after a triple-bypass surgery that “left him too weak to work” and the death of his companion of over 50 years. In the wake of that passing, the Times reporter asked Sendak:

Was there anything he had never been asked? He paused for a few moments and answered, “Well, that I’m gay.”

He says he never told his parents because he thought they’d be ashamed, and now wishes he had. He never came out publicly because, as a gay man doing children’s books in the ’50s and ’60s, he would have been crucified. Even now, I’m afraid that a man who made my childhood a more comforting and imaginative place to be is going to be a bullseye for a new regime that didn’t ban books, but might have.

The Advocate’s Popnography column has a brief tribute, and a great photograph (above).

Posted on September 17, 2008

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Review: NYC International Pickle Day

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

I wrote last Friday about how excited I was to go to the Pickle Festival on the Lower East Side.

On Sunday morning, I purposely didn’t eat any breakfast, hoping to keep my stomach empty enough to amply fill it with pickles.  When I got down to Orchard St., however, I was somewhat disappointed.

For one, the festival was pretty small.  I really don’t get why.  There are so many pickle companies out there and the festival organizers could have done a better job at getting some of them out.  After all, the festival did claim to be international (As a Canadian, I would have loved to have had a Strub pickle).

The problem with the festival was that there were very few booths and only one company giving out free pickles.  Another was selling pickles on a stick for $1, but for the most part, the booths were only giving out incredibly small pieces of pickle on a toothpick.  Apart from that, the booths were only selling their pre-packaged products.

Overall, the festival lacked substance and felt more like a very small farmer’s market than a pickle festival.  The fact is that there is so much potential for this day to be awesome.  Sunday, though, was just plain mediocre.

Posted on September 17, 2008

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Getting Your Rosh Hashanah On

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Not to alarm you or anything, but the High Holidays are coming up. My fam and I haven’t figured out what, erm, time zone we’ll be in, but if you’re more coordinated than we are (let’s hope so), you should be on the lookout for tickets. If you’re in New York, BangItOut has a handy guide to places and prices (and any available student discounts!), and if you’re in a smaller community, chances are there’s a Chabad offering a free or pay-what-you-wish service somewhere.

And if you’re looking for a 3-minute guide to running a Rosh Hashanah meal, don’t forget about Todd and God.

Posted on September 17, 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