Yearly Archives: 2010

A Stay at the Talmud Hotel in Taiwan

This entry was posted in Culture, Texts on by .

Way back in 2007 I wrote a blog post about the weird Chinese trend of loving all things Jewish. Kind of the reverse of Jewish girls getting yin-yang tattoos is Chinese people buying books called The Eight Most Valuable Business Secrets of the Jewish. I ended that blog post with the following sentence: Am I crazy or does it seem like the Chinese are doing pretty well figuring out how to “be the best and make a huge company” without the help of me and my silly old Talmud?

Well now it’s time for me to eat my words, because it turns out they DO love the Talmud in China (well, Taiwan, anyway). They love it so much, they made a Talmud Hotel.


Talmud Business Hotel Taichung Provides A Unique Travel Experience For Both Business and Leisure Visitors.
Talmud Business Hotel Taichung is a Business hotel that is named after a holy book contains a collection of ancient rabbinic writings on Jewish law and traditions. The word Talmud has the following meanings: “Instruction, Learning, Teach and Study”. Inspired by the Talmud theory, the owner uses red interior to add a splash of fashion and professionalism. In each room, there’s also a copy of “Talmud-Business Success Bible” for anyone who would like to experience the Talmud way of becoming successful.

If I was going to make a Talmud-inspired hotel (and I really can’t imagine a situation where I would do that, but just go with me here) I’m pretty sure the décor would be a lot more blacks and browns. There would be a constant stream of people arguing with each other in the lobby, and you would worry about whether Rabbi Eliezer was going to show up and mess up the hot water. And you wouldn’t get a complete set of Talmud for staying there, because you could never fit it in your suitcase.

Posted on December 30, 2010

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Get ‘Em While They’re…Hot?

This entry was posted in Life on by .

With 2010 coming to an end, it’s time to go out and buy some new calendars for your fridge door. If you happen to live in the Ithaca, New York area, you should pop buy the Cornell University Hillel. There, you can get one of the more unique calendars of the year.

There have been “Nice Jewish Boy” calendars before. There have even been more sexually risque Jewish calendars before. But I think this one takes the cake.

For just $10, you can get yourself a “Nice Jewish Greek Boys of Cornell” calendar, featuring twelve of Cornell’s top Jewish frat boys.

It almost seems like this would be fake. But you just know that one Saturday night, a bunch of frat boys were sitting around together watching Harold & Kumar, and one guy was like, “Yo dudes, wouldn’t it be crazy if we made a calendar that we could sell to girls?” And, of course, everyone agreed. At no point in this conversation did any of them bring up the fact that few girls were interested in them in person, let alone on their fridge.

Nevertheless, this calendar is real and it is for sale.

I will not be buying one.

(H/T Lifecyclist)

Posted on December 30, 2010

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Chuck Norris and a Mezuzah

This entry was posted in Culture, Practices on by .

A little while ago we told you about Mezuzazine — an amazing little ‘zine about the strange and wonderful commandment from the Torah to put a mezuzah on the doorpost of your house.

Today David, the person behind Mezuzazine, sent me this in the email. It’s by far my favorite Chuck Norris Fact, and the latest in a line of urban legends about the action film star:


According to David, there are still 50 copies of the ‘zine available. They’re only $1, and all the remaining copies will come with this free Chuck mini-poster. (Not to mention a bunch of awesome articles, including a short story by me, an article by Rabbi Jason, and a feature by Daniel Sieradski’s mother.)

The zine (and the idea of putting up a mezuzah) cut across the spectrum of Jewish belief. But, really, it just shows you how cool and random and creative you can get with a specific mitzvah, even if you’re a 70-year-old (!!) action hero.

Email David at mezuzazine@gmail.com, or check out the website and get a copy of your own.

Posted on December 30, 2010

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Celebrities on JDate

This entry was posted in Life on by .

I manage my best friend’s JDate profile, which means that when he recently got a message from a 51 year old woman, I got to read said message first (in short: date my daughter! Please!). In my capacity as his JDate manager, I have browsed many a profile and seen some pretty weird things. I have not, however, seen Jesse McCartney’s profile, though apparently he does have one.

(Did you know who Jesse McCartney is? Don’t feel bad, I didn’t either until ten minutes ago.)

Here’s Jesse explaining his unique JDate woes:

Jesse’s not alone. Gossip Girl star Chase Crawford is also on JDate. I wonder if they get matched with the same sketchy girls my best friend does.

Posted on December 29, 2010

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New Year’s Shabbat Ideas

This entry was posted in Holidays, Practices on by .

Yesterday, I wrote about how much New Year’s Eve can suck when it falls on a Friday night. But instead of just complaining about it, I decided to get off my butt and come up with a couple of ideas that can make your New Year’s Shabbat really fun and enjoyable. And no…playing Monopoly is not an option.

1) Have a Passover Seder: Okay, here me out. What do people love more than anything else on New Year’s than to get drunk? Well, maybe four full glasses of wine will get you started. And since it’s not actually Passover, if you feel like eating bread, who’s gonna stop you? There’s singing, eating and drinking. But most of all, there is the afikomen! Imagine how much fun you will have with a drunken game of Afikomen!

2) Put on a Play: I’m not talking about renting out a theatre or a synagogue dining hall. With little preparation, you can transform your living room into a nice little space for you and your friends to put on Romeo & Juliet. The more improvised it is, the better.

3) Go Caroling: Right, right. Christmas is over, I know. But Shabbat has so many good songs–and your neighborhood needs to hear them! My advice would be to choose the short ones over the long ones so the neighbors get more bang for their buck. D’ror Yikra is great and all, but a little tiresome by the end.

4) Build a Fort: Forts are trendy these days–probably the trendiest they’ve been since the Civil War. Give me one reason why you wouldn’t want to see the clock strike midnight while you are huddled under sheets and couch cushions?  The best part about this idea is that it works if you have friends over or if you want to spend New Year’s alone. Forts are ALWAYS fun.

Hope those ideas help. And someone PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE host a Passover Seder on Friday night.

Posted on December 29, 2010

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The Most Processed Food of All

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

I’ve been getting steadily more obsessed — via reading the book Kosher Nation and my wife working at a restaurant, mostly — with the food we eat and how it gets here. Last week, a kosher-inspector friend was telling me about a commercial (non-Jewish) ketchup factory. It’s the messiest building you’ve ever been to, he said. But they keep the mess out of the food. So it’s kosher.

We try to avoid eating too many processed foods. Granted, it’s easier to stick your dinner into a microwave than to take a bunch of foods and cook it yourself, but the other choice is healthy, there won’t be a zillion preservatives, and the end product doesn’t taste of your toil and sweat (um, maybe that’s an argument in favor of processed food).

According to the science and science fiction blog io9, there’s a new technology under development at Cornell University that lets you design your own ideal food — and then it “prints” that food into existence.

So maybe that little turkey-and-celery square sitting there doesn’t look much like actual turkey and celery. It also doesn’t look, uh, “good.” They’re working on taste first, and appearance later, I guess. But the actual dynamics of the machine are pretty simple, according to the article:

The contraption will allow people to load vials of liquified food into the printer as inks. They can then set a ‘recipe’ that will make the printer arrange the liquified ingredients in a particular way. The printer will do the rest, presumably while the person chugs a bottle of pepto-bismol and puts their head between their knees.

What does this mean for kosher food? Well, if we imagine that it will ever get (a) made, (b) mainstreamed, and (c) used by the general public, it could be potentially really cool. For one thing, if we assume that every “ink” is available in a kosher version — and why shouldn’t they?, if they’re all essential tastes like “bitter” or “juicy” or “that bright-red Chinese restaurant sauce” — then EVERY FOOD COULD BE MADE KOSHER. And not just a lame generic version, either, like Hydrox instead of Oreos. Imagine a chef like Anthony Bourdain would make up a recipe, my non-kosher friends would try it out, and then they’d email the recipe right over. And I could eat it.

Or, also likely, none of the liquid inks will be available in kosher form. And we’ll just have one more thing that we can’t eat.

But we’ll always have broccoli, my dear friends.

Posted on December 29, 2010

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New Year’s On Shabbat

This entry was posted in Holidays, Practices on by .

The solar system doesn’t want me to party. It doesn’t want you to party either. If it did, it would somehow avoid putting New Year’s Eve on a Friday night.

It’s been worse. I’m sure many of you Shomer Shabbat people remember that the new millennium was brought in on Shabbat. This is also known as the only time the TV was ever allowed on in my house on Shabbat ever (we turned it on before and didn’t change the channel)–and that was mostly because we wanted to be fully prepared in case the world was about to end.

Then again, that wasn’t my worse Friday night New Year’s Eve. Back when I was in high school, I was stuck in Toronto at my uncle’s house for Shabbat New Year’s Eve. There, I had no friends (still don’t), and went to bed at 11. That was a New Year’s to forget.

But this year, I’m being proactive. I realized a while back that New Year’s was falling on Shabbat. I needed to figure out a plan for me to both have a good time and not break Shabbat. That’s why at week’s end, I’ll be heading up north to my friend’s cottage deep in the frozen tundra of Canada. That way I can party like it’s 2011 (I’m a cool bro in his 20s, after all), and not be condemned to eternal damnation. I mean, who wants to spend $50 at a bar (and that’s a bargain!) when I can hang out in the wildnerness?

It should be a really fun time. My only regret is that I won’t be able to see Snooki drop from a ball in Times Square. In my reality TV obsessed head, that’s like missing Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

Posted on December 28, 2010

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A Modest Proposal: Avoid Travel

This entry was posted in Life on by .

Yesterday morning I was at airport at five in the morning. After a grueling security line, I was instructed to walk through the infamous backscatter. I asked for a pat down instead, and was then subjected to…well, I don’t know what to call it. Something between a physical and a third date. The woman who—what is the correct term? felt me up? performed the search?—was employed by the TSA and is now intimately familiar with my butt seemed pretty angry that I had opted out of the backscatter.

It was ultimately not a particularly big deal—I didn’t feel violated, just embarrassed, more for the TSA employee than for me. But as it was happening, I was thinking about how immodest the whole situation was. And it turns out I’m not the only one. A Washington Post article explores how religious people with strong feelings about modesty have struggled with the backscatter and the pat-down, and how many are opting to drive rather than face these security measures:

Ever since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a trip to the airport has been fraught for Muslims, who sometimes feel they are being profiled as potential terrorists because of their religion. The addition of full-body scanners, which many say violate Islam’s requirements of modesty, has increased the discomfort.

Muslims aren’t alone in their antipathy toward the new security measures. Followers of other religions, including Sikhs and some Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians, also say the scanners and pat-downs make them uncomfortable or breach the tenets of their faiths.

But Muslim women have been particularly reluctant to subject themselves to the scanners, which reveal the contours of the human body in glaring detail.

The article mentions how the terrorists dressed in western clothing, but now anyone in traditional Muslim garb like a hijab gets stopped and aggressively searched. Hm. It seems we may have strayed a bit from that whole civil liberties thing…

Posted on December 27, 2010

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A Sad Blog

This entry was posted in Life on by .

At first I was skeptical. No one wants to read an entire blog just about people who have died, right? Seems like kind of a buzzkill. But I’ve been converted into a believer.

The new blog over at JTA, “The Eulogizer,” written by Alan Abbey, is exactly what it sounds like. Abbey sifts through the news to find Jews, both famous and less famous, who have recently died. He then blogs eulogies for them.

It might seem strange to talk about someone’s life in an informal setting like a blog. But Abbey’s writing style is refreshingly laid back while also being respectful for the dead. And as an added bonus to us, we get to learn about some pretty awesome Jews.

Just read this example:

Marvin Levin, a real estate developer who wore a wire in his cowboy boots during a major FBI anti-corruption sting of California’s state government in the 1980s, died Nov. 19 at 76.

In the wake of the FBI investigation, several lawmakers, state leaders, legislative staffers and a lobbyist werecharged, and the hard feelings have yet to subside. Some of the reader comments (later removed) on a newspaper article recounting Levin’s life and death were scorching.

Levin was an invaluable informant in the sting, which ended in 1988 when investigators raided offices in the state Capitol. Levin’s boot-borne tape recorder had taped dozens of meetings with politicians and legislative staffers. The sheriff and undersheriff of Yolo County, California, also were convicted after they attempted to extort money from Levin for a re-election campaign.

Levin told The Los Angeles Times in 1988 that he was motivated to end Sacramento corruption because he had experienced it firsthand and “somebody had to.” All he received for his efforts were $1,800 to cover expenses, including a paint job for his 1978 Buick and the cowboy boots purchased at the behest of the FBI because they didn’t think he was “flashy enough.” But the activity cost him dearly; his wife said he had three heart attacks.

Levin was one of three children of Jewish refugees from Russia. His father was a storekeeper. He moved to Florida nine years ago.

Pretty cool stuff. Check out “The Eulogizer” any chance you can get.

Posted on December 27, 2010

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SHI 360’s New Song for the Carmel Fires

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

I’m in New York right now and buried under snow, but Israel is still trying to recover from the tragic fires that consumed lives, land and trees in the Carmel region.

The Israeli-Moroccan hip-hop artist SHI 360 released this video to let people know what’s going on, and how they can help.

The video features Shi’s new song “Hopeful,” about growing up in the Carmel forest. They’re also selling t-shirts and posters to raise money. Check it out.

Posted on December 27, 2010

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