Monthly Archives: May 2009

Best of the Rest

This entry was posted in General on by .

It’s been a short week. With Memorial Day on Monday and tomorrow being Shavuot, we only have a three day work week here. So what’s new on MyJewishLearning?

Everything that was on the homepage. That’s what’s new. You didn’t miss a thing. That is, unless you didn’t go on our homepage (For shame…)

So in case you missed it: We have a new recipe for strawberry rhubarb blintzes. So you know, it just took me 4 attempts to correctly spell ruhbarb…rhubarb.

There was some heated debate about the merits of gefilte fish, especially with our new article about the history of the Shabbat table staple.

Finally, Ken Gordon wrote an article about the shock he faced when he found out that he has a Yiddish name rather than a Hebrew name. Next week, he will be co-authoring a piece with me about the difficulties of having two first names.

Posted on May 28, 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

Israel, Settlements, and the Diaspora

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

Does pressure on the Israeli government from diaspora Jews have any chance of actually making a difference? (Ha’aretz)

Yossi Verter sees Netanyahu “facing a difficult choice: Accept U.S. stipulations and risk a coalition crisis, or turn a deaf ear and head for a rift with Israel’s most important ally.” (Ha’aretz)

Hillary Clinton has publicly taken a hard line against settlement construction, including a call to freeze building for natural growth. (Ha’aretz)

Israel is said to have become the major source of dissent in the Jewish world, “bringing with it real threats to Jewish peoplehood and community.” (Ha’aretz)

Obama for Israel is: a friend or an enemy? (Ha’aretz)

Today’s Israeli ambassador to Washington wears many kippot, and there’s “absolutely no room for mistakes and no time to learn on the job” (Jerusalem Post)

Posted on May 28, 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

The Omer: A Slideshow Presentation

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Seven weeks. What has happened to me in the past seven weeks? I’ve gotten two new toothbrushes. I’ve showered 42 times. I’ve watched a lot of basketball. I’ve played very little basketball.

You see, the Omer can be fun. I’ve never really thought much of it in the past. I usually forget to count by the third day and then I’m over it. But this year, on the MyJewishLearning homepage, we have had some funny pictures to correspond with each day in order to make the counting easier and more enjoyable. It worked for me.

With Shavuot coming tonight, I thought it would be a good chance to look back at these 49 days with the help of a slideshow. Just press on the picture below and you can see why Scottie Pippen will forever be associated with Lag B’Omer.

Chag Sameach!

Posted on May 28, 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

Ten Cheesecake Recipes Plus Some Other Excellent Ideas

This entry was posted in Culture, Holidays on by .

I’m going to be at Camp Ramah for Shavuot which means I’ll probably be eating less than stellar food. This is a huge disappointment, considering that Shavuot is the best time to be a milchegatarian. There might be cheesecake, but I’m not getting my hopes up. Anyway, even though I won’t get any, I present you with ten amazing cheesecake recipes and two other cheesy treats. Think of me when you chow down.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares
From Smitten Kitchen

Cherry Blossom Strawberry Cheesecake
From Tartelette

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Orange Mini Cheesecakes with Grand Marnier Cream
From Pinch My Salt

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Pomegranate and Fig Cheesecake
From The Very Best Cheesecakes

Bailey’s Cheesecake
From BBC GoodFood

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Roasted Sweet Potato Cheesecake With Maple Cream
From Sunset Recipes

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Double Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirled Brownies
From Blonde Ambition in the Kitchen

Tall and Creamy Meyer Lemon Cheesecake
From Tender Crumb

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Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake
From Joy the Baker
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Mini Carrot Cake Cheesecakes with Cream Cheese Icing
From RecipeGirl
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If you want cheese, but feel like skipping the cake, try making a leek and cheese pie.

powered by ifood.tv

Or make some Cheese Grits, recipe courtesy of Alton Brown. Yummy!

Happy Shavuot!

Posted on May 28, 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

DeLeon Rocks the Boat

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

One of the reasons I love Deleon so much is that they are a band that doesn’t just play Sephardic music — they use Sephardic music and the Ladino language as a starting point to write original songs, dip into different genres (samba, rhumba, alt-rock, retro-Meat Puppets style, and Joey Bishop-influenced lounge are just a few) and make a whole cultural mess that is derivative of, and resembles, nothing else in the universe.

This is their new video. And it is one more reason why we love them.

Posted on May 28, 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

Why Stay Up All Night Studying Torah?

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Tonight, Jews across the world will pull an all-nighter. Some will sit in synagogue all night long; others will “shul-crawl,” going from one synagogue to another; others will sit in their homes, nibbling on cheese-cake and trying not to fall asleep on their couches; others  will camp out on Mt. Tamalpais, re-living the ancient Israelites’ experience of receiving the Torah; while others still are undecided about how and where – but are excited to greet the dawn.

Why is it customary to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot by staying up all night, engaging in, of all things, the learning of Torah? After all, aside from all of the current data on the benefits of sleep, don’t we remember Hector’s wise statement, in Book VII of Homer’s Iliad, that “it is a good thing to give way to the night-time?”

Here are three reasons for you to mull over tonight, between 2 and 3am – hopefully with a good pint of ice-cream at your side.

I.  Studying Torah at night is a Jewish value. It is not unique to Shavuot. Maimonides, in his Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Talmud Torah Chapter 3:13, writes:

“Even though it is a mitzvah to learn both during the day and at night, one gains the majority of wisdom at night; therefore, anyone who wants to merit the Crown of Torah should be careful each night, and should not lose even one to sleep, food and drink, conversation, and the like – rather, one should engage in the study of Torah and words of wisdom.”

There is something special about studying Torah at night. Yehuda Arye Leib Alter, in his work Sefat Emet, writes that the Jewish people are like fish, who, though they are always surrounded by water, constantly need water to be nourished. “The water is nothing but Torah,” the Talmud in Baba Kama 82a says, and, through its nightly study, we attempt quench that which cannot be quenched. On Shavuot night, then, the night on which we commemorate receiving the Torah, we stay up all night, modeling that which we will do on many nights to come.

Continue reading

Posted on May 28, 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

A Vast Conspiracy

This entry was posted in Beliefs on by .

A couple weeks back, I jokingly shared a link to a site teaching you how to properly fight off a golem. All in good fun I thought. What could go wrong? Looking back, my innocence is frightening.

I say this because, today, I believe there to be nothing less than an internet conspiracy to commit genocide against Jewish mythical creatures. At first, I thought it was just a harmless joke at the expense of golems. No harm, no foul. But now I see that the situation is much, much worse.

EHow.com, a website that claims to tell you how to do just about anything, offers an explanation on how to spot a dybbuk. Sure, that seems harmless enough. Some people might want to be able to identify a dybbuk when they see one. It’s a lot like bird watchers. You wanna know what you are seeing.

But EHow goes too far. They aren’t content with their lessons on how to spot a dybbuk. No, no, no. They want more. After they teach you how to spot one, they teach you how to perform an exorcism on the human body that the dybbuk is controlling!

Describe it however you’d like. Where I come from, that is a call for mass murder.

Resist Dybbuks! Resist!

Posted on May 27, 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

Unwise Thursdays

This entry was posted in Beliefs, Israel on by .

Moment Magazine has a feature each month where they ask rabbis of various movements and constituencies to respond to a question. This month, they asked “How Should Jews Treat Their Arabs Neighbors?”

Most of the answers, were what one would expect–with respect that we give all human beings.

Except for this one:
I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.

The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).

The first Israeli prime minister who declares that he will follow the Old Testament will finally bring peace to the Middle East. First, the Arabs will stop using children as shields. Second, they will stop taking hostages knowing that we will not be intimidated. Third, with their holy sites destroyed, they will stop believing that G-d is on their side. Result: no civilian casualties, no children in the line of fire, no false sense of righteousness, in fact, no war.

Zero tolerance for stone throwing, for rockets, for kidnapping will mean that the state has achieved sovereignty. Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.
Rabbi Manis Friedman
Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies
St. Paul, MN

Posted on May 27, 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

Punk Torah: Alive & on Fire

This entry was posted in Culture, Texts on by .

The new site Punk Torah is live today! A few weeks ago, Patrick A — the lead singer of the band Can Can — started doing Punk Rock Parsha, a weekly video podcast about the week’s Torah portion from a punk perspective.

As the podcast built up steam, Patrick has also delivered rants about anti-Orthodox diatribes (in spite of the fact that he isn’t Orthodox by a longshot), Shabbos poems, and Judaism in the year 5000.

In recent weeks, the spillover of new Punk Torahs has seemed to hint that it’s building up into something…and, well, this is it. In the introduction, Patrick declares, “If you love G_d, Torah, and the Jewish people…but are really tired of the crap that comes along with it, then keep reading.”

The mission statement continues: “We think of synagogues as the Jewish night club…a place where you go and relax for the first time all week. Take a load off, make a new friend, sing, drink, dance…whatever moves you! Somewhere along the way, the Jewish People lost sight of that.”

The site has sections for both the weekly parsha and random other videos, and then there are sporadic other features — including one on YIDCore, who are quite possibly the most talented Australian Jewish punk band to ever play through the entire “Fiddler on the Roof” soundtrack…and, uh, an interview with me. It covers Never Mind the Goldbergs, of course, but also delves into Muslim punks, Hasidic underground culture, and why Jews are always outsiders.

But, really, the most amazing thing there so far is a poem/rant from Michael S. who

I don’t want to quote it, because I’m mentioned and it might be namedropping, but it makes me believe so strongly in everything we’re doing, so much that I can’t not write it:

They talk about their mortgages.
We stand there nodding our heads, trying to interject and talk about the concert we went to the night before, the religious ecstasy of watching another human being bare their soul in front of other people.
They wear khakis and polo shirts.
I wear my tzizits, a t-shirt and jeans.
They like pastels.
I have tattoos.

So we temple shop. We go to services everywhere we can. We stand around with the other “adults” and wait for the opportunity to name drop some underground bands. We mention Matthue Roth or Y-Love, G_dcast, the religious orientation of Benjamin Grimm*, looking for a glimmer of recognition, a slight nod from another weirdo like us, hoping against hope that someone will hear us, someone will recognize the passwords to this secret club that we didn’t even know we belong to and show us the clubhouse we didn’t even know existed.

Read the rest on PunkTorah.com >

Posted on May 27, 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

What to Read When Bored Watching Baseball

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

Baseball has something for everyone. For the casual fan, it is fun to go to the ballpark because it is relatively easy to determine who is winning and you really don’t have to watch most of the game. Leaving for two innings to walk around the park is totally permissible. Missing an entire quarter at a basketball game? You’re a bad fan.

But baseball is also perfect for the nerdy, stat loving type. There is so much strategy in any baseball game, with every pitch, swing, run, etc. thought about and analysed, that you have to be a real intellectual to fully appreciate every aspect of the game.

With that reasoning, I’m pretty sure blogs were invented for baseball. There is so much pointless, mindless information that you can research, research and research, that it is no surprise that there are some pretty absurd baseball blogs out there.

Case in point: Jews on First. Believe it or not, this blog is actually an official affiliate of Major League Baseball.

What does this blog discuss? Well, beyond the occasional homage to a past baseball great, the blog gives a daily report on how every Jewish player in the big leagues did the night before.

Absurd? Yes? Necessarily? Oh dear God no. Will I read it? Did God make the world in seven days (ie. undetermined)?

Denis Leary-Mel Gibson

Posted on May 26, 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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