Monthly Archives: February 2009

More Secret Nazis

This entry was posted in History on by .

Okay, from the so-creepy-you-could-stay-awake-forever file — remember how last week, a Latin American town with an abnormally high birthrate of blond-haired, blue-eyed twins ended up being one of the final resting places for Dr. Mengele?

cairo, the new ex-nazi top hangoutNever one to be one-upped by breaking a story, the New York Times has done some digging of its own and come up with some documents and an old hotel room belonging to Aribert Ferdinand Heim, the most-wanted Nazi war criminal, known for being both one of the infamous concentration camp Doctors of Death and a member of the Waffen-SS.

At the time of his death, Heim was living in Cairo. He’d converted to Islam, changed his name to Tarek Hussein Farid, and inculcated himself with the locals, who, apparently, found him a pleasant enough man, although many said (in retrospect, remember — Heim died 17 years ago) that they suspected him of being a former Nazi. No one had any idea just how much he’d done, however — or how much he was still doing.

This is the truly sleep-exducing part. For the final decade or so of his life, Heim did massive amounts of research — much of which the Times has put online here — trying to document that the Jews are not really Jews but are in fact “Altaic Khazars,” originally Russian (although, somehow, Hungarians and Finns are worked in) and trying to steal the identity of the poor actual Jews, who have all been driven underground. With this information he had caught the ear of no less than the Vatican, to which he was sending all of his “research” as it was completed….

This is seriously reminiscent of a Michael Chabon novel. Not the one you’re thinking of, probably, but The Gentlemen of the Road, his post-Yiddish Policemen genre-fiction indulgence (it was published on science fiction/fantasy label Del Rey, and almost deliberately kept from being a bestseller) which is a weird, research-intensive historical fiction trip into an ancient nomadic Turkish kingdom, all of whose subjects converted to Judaism. (Don’t worry, folks — there is swordplay, too.) Strangest of all, Gentlemen was originally serialized in — wait for it — the New York Times.

Conspiracy theories, anyone?

Posted on February 6, 2009

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Stuff White People Like Doesn’t Apply To Us

This entry was posted in History on by .

I’m not sure I’m actually ready to write about the links that I’m about to post. I think it’s an issue that most Jews have thought about, if not extensively. But to put it into words is a lot tougher.

What I’m talking about is Black-Jewish relations.

The blog, We Are Respectable Negroes, has started a Black-Jewish dialogue with help from Bethlehem Shoals and Dr. LawyerIndianChief (who mentioned the title of this post in his original piece), from the basketball blog which I so often refer to, FreeDarko.

There have been two posts (at least that I can find, maybe I’m wrong) so far. One is by Dr. LIC (Jewish) and the other is be WARN contributor, Chauncey DeVega.

While I said that I don’t know what I have to say about the subject, I can comment on what I read from them. What I found so interesting about the two posts is that they did not focus (especially DeVega) so much on how much the two groups have in common, but rather, they talked about how unsimilar we are.

There is so much effort to try to show the common grounds between the Black and Jews as a response to the racism/anti-Semitism that gets shot back in forth between the two.

But really, it’s a fabrication. Do Jews and Blacks actually have things in common that other people can’t relate to? Sure we have been persecuted in the past. But in my day to day thoughts and doings, I don’t think about how much I have been persecuted over the past 3000 years.blackjews.jpg

That does not mean that we as Jews should hate Blacks. On the contrary. If there is anything we have in common it is that we can understand what it means to be treated with disrespect (even if we don’t think about it on a day to day basis).

For the most part, we’re the same. But that isn’t a Black-Jewish thing. That’s a humanity thing. Jewish pride and Black pride is the same thing as any group or ethnicity feeling pride for themselves.

DeVega references a time when he was 10 where a Jewish kid in his class called him the N-word, the only time he was called that in his entire life.

He then mentions that he was totally in love with three Jewish girls when he was in high school. Where he is confused is how he reconciles both of these stories.

What I would say to him is: Don’t. You can’t reconcile those two stories. Just because your racist elementary school peer and the cute high school girl are proud of the same things and probably associate themselves with the same people, Israel, etc., it does not mean they speak for each other.

Just like Tyra Banks (sorry to use the most stereotypical famous Black woman) doesn’t speak for the Black man who tried to mess with me on the street just because I was white. They are both proud Black people but their actions speak differently than their beliefs.

That’s where the common ground is. Understanding that no one individual speaks for an entire group, whether they have some positive to say or negative. Dialogue can help understand the other side, but then again, Dr. LIC and Shoals don’t speak for me, nor would they want to.

…and I thought I didn’t have anything to say on the subject.

Posted on February 5, 2009

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On being tangentially Jewish.

This entry was posted in Culture, Practices on by .

A truly baffling video advertisement for the 92Y Tribeca, where I host a monthly poetry & music open mic. It was directed by Michael Showalter, stars Paul Rudd, and has a spot from Eugene Mirman, the landlord on “Flight of the Conchords” (and, I’m sure, a bunch of other comedy people I should know but don’t). The ad has nothing to do with Judaism, which makes sense, because the 92Y, in these hard financial times, is appealing to their non-Jewish side of things — I’m sure you’ve seen their Google ads featuring Toni Morrison and Kurt Vonnegut [zt"l].

In any case, it’s very Stella/State humor, which is to say, it’s reeeally subtle — I’m totally down with surrealism and Dada, but this isn’t quite surreal, it just has nothing to do with anything. Sub-surrealism? Semidada?

Posted on February 5, 2009

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Tu Bishvat

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

David Seidenberg has put together a diverse collection of Tu Bishvat resources, including a 17th century blessing for a Tu Bishvat Seder.

Some Tu Bishvat resource supplements available for download. (Rabbis for Human Rights)

If Moses or Rabbi Akiva were to make a sudden appearance “and see how Tu Bishvat is celebrated, … neither Moses nor Akiva would have any idea what was going on or why.� And that’s good, says Reuven Hammer. (Jerusalem Post)

tree.jpg

Seeing “many trees are standing miserable and dehydrated�, Dr. Adi Wolfson suggests that Israelis forgo planting even more trees, and instead “encourage the preservation of a forest�. (Ynet News)

For more articles and preparation for Tu Bishvat, check out the MJL homepage.

Posted on February 4, 2009

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Jewish Food Tourney: #2 Lox & Bagels vs #3 Challah

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

I’m going to have to stop predicting who will win these matchups. The voters are highly unpredictable. I wonder if there is a correlation between voting patterns and what time of day/week it is. For example, if you vote in the morning, are you less likely to vote for something like Brisket?

But this is an interesting match. In #2 Lox & Bagels, you have bread with fish in the middle. While #3 Challah is just bread. challah.jpg

But it is no ordinary bread. In a battle of breads, challah kills bagels. That isn’t even a question in my mind. But the issue here is whether or not the lox (and cream cheese if you so desire) makes up for the inferior bread.

Nothing says Sunday brunch with bubbe like Lox & Bagels. Then again, nothing says Shabbat dinner with bubbe like fresh Challah.

Thanks to everyone who voted in the last match. We more than doubled our previous record for most votes. The winner of this match will play #4 Latkes in the finals.


Posted on February 2, 2009

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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