Monthly Archives: January 2010

Best of the Week

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

As of ten minutes ago, I was really happy with the amount of views our Christmas in Calgary video had on YouTube. That is, until I searched for “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus. Not only does the official video have 78 million hits, but there are at least nine other knockoffs that have over one million views. We need to hire Miley for a video. That’s just an insane amount of views.

We’re all Tu Bishvat, all the time. That is until Sunday. If you need some last minute dinner ideas for tonight or tomorrow, why not add some fruit to your dinner table?

While we’re on the subject of fruit, how about you use your leftover fruit to make some edible art?

Todd called. He said he wants you to watch his video. Oh, and God would be cool with it too.

Shabbat Shalom!

Posted on January 29, 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

Poll: Purim Costumes

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

While we here at MJL may be focusing a good amount of attention on Tu Bishvat, which is tomorrow, we have another Jewish holiday coming up in a very short time.

That’s right. Purim is less than a month away. What does that mean? It means that Passover is two months away. What does that mean? Shavuot is seven weeks after that. And don’t get me started about Lag Ba’Omer. That’s coming up faster than you can say “Wait, when is Tisha B’Av again?”

Back to Purim though. I’ve mentioned over and over again that I’m not a man who enjoys wearing a costume. And I’ll probably talk about it again over the next month (I know you can’t wait). But that doesn’t mean that I have to be a Debbie Downer and ruin the fun for everyone else.

Some people like dressing up for Purim. Are you one of them?

Posted on January 29, 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

No Orthodox Glory Holes

This entry was posted in Beliefs, Life on by .

Aliza Hausman just posted a great video by Ma Nishtana about mythbusting that whole Jews have sex through a hole in the sheet thing. It’s kind of awesome.

Alternately, you can watch the Jew in the City’s answer, though I find it significantly less satisfying:

Or you can check out my own explanation, from my days at Jewcy.

Now that you know for sure that hole in the sheet are out, you may feel comfortable shelling out more money for really good sheets. Frette is having a sale, and some of their $900 sheets are marked down to less than $300. Or, you can just look for bamboo or otherwise organic sheets at department stores or in catalogues. I really like these organic flannel sheets from Gaiam (on sale for under $100). If you get them for me, I promise never to cut holes in them. Ever.

Posted on January 29, 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

Wise Fridays: Love and Honor

This entry was posted in Beliefs on by .

wise fridays: sharpen the reception on your WiFri

This is what the Holy One said to Israel: My children, what do I seek from you? I seek no more than that you love one another and honor one another. –Tanna d’Bai Eliyahu

Find more Wise Fridays wisdom on MJL.

Posted on January 29, 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

Melissa Broder’s Pen Pal # 2

This entry was posted in Beliefs on by .

In her last posts, Melissa Broder conducted a “Jewish vs. Goyish litmus test” for the year in review, shared the B-Sides of her forthcoming When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother (Feb. 6), and imagined being in Hebrew School with John Stewart, Bob Dylan, and Rahm Emanuel, and wrote her pen pal, Esther Schwebel.

Dear god,jewish_authors_blog2.jpg

Help me remember to approach you laughing, like our friend Tevye the milkman.

Researchers are investigating the science of happiness. PBS is documenting the findings, and they involve California.

Help me remember that I don’t need to sit perfect lotus at an Ojai mountain retreat, to know the nearness of you. I pray on subways.

Help me remember Topanga Canyon is no holier than Jay Street; that Yoga Journal and Us Weekly are both magazines.

Somehow, my people found you in ghettos, eating miltz and schmaltz. Later you blessed them with cole slaw and corned beef.

This summer I ate meat on the sly for a week. Bless me too.

Yours truly,
Melissa

when_you_say_one_thing.JPG
Melissa Broder is the author of When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother. She is the curator of the Polestar Poetry Series and the Chief Editor of La Petite Zine. She is the winner of the Jerome Lowell Dejur Award and the Stark Prize for Poetry. Broder received her BA from Tufts University and is currently in the MFA program at the CCNY. By day, she works as a literary publicist. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including: Opium, Shampoo, Conte and The Del Sol Review. She lives in Brooklyn. Visit her website at http://www.melissabroder.com/. She has been blogging all week for MyJewishLearning and the Jewish Book Council.

Posted on January 29, 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

Does Drew Brees Have A Speech Impediment?

This entry was posted in Holidays, Texts on by .

Super Bowl fever is upon us (make sure you to get vaccinated. We wouldn’t want to spread it to the children). This year’s game, if you haven’t been paying attention, features the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. And, at the risk of angering my Peyton Manning-loving boss, I’ve thrown all my support towards the Saints.

The Saints are led by their quarterback, Drew Brees, who has taken on a pretty great nickname, Bresus. But even with the obvious Christian undertones of the nickname, the New Orleans Jewish community has embraced it, and even Jewified it. They are, you guessed it, Jews (Drews) for Bresus.

Thanks to The Sporting Blog, I found a pretty amazing version of Dayeinu, from the Kosher Cajun New York Deli & Grocery in Metairie, LA. If you’re a Saints fan, make sure to sing this at your seder this year:

Had he receded the floodwater and not given us our team back
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us our team and not provided a Payton
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he provided a Payton and not signed a Bresus
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he signed a Bresus and not drafted a Bush
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he drafted a Bush and not found a Colston in the 7th round
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he found a Colston in the 7th round and not provided the 2006 season
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he provided the 2006 season and not a win on Monday night home opener
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he a win on Monday night home opener and not a NFC South title
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us a NFC South title and not a trip to Chicago
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us a trip to Chicago and not given us two seasons to remind us they are still the Saints
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us two seasons to remind us they are still the Saints and not given us 2009 season
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us the 2009 season and not provided 10 straight wins
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he provided 10 straight wins and not a win on Monday night against New England
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us a win on Monday night against New England and not a NFC South title
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us a NFC title and not home field in the playoffs
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us home field in the playoffs and not a NFC Championship
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us a NFC Championship and not a Super Bowl versus a Manning
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us a Super Bowl versus a Manning and not a Super Bowl Title
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

Had he given us a Super Bowl Title and not the world largest victory parade Mardi Gras!
Dayenu, It would have been enough for us

He has provided all of these things and for this we are grateful.

Become a black and gold convert.
Join Drews for Bresus today
Bless You Boys

Posted on January 28, 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

Melissa Broder’s Pen Pal # 1

This entry was posted in Culture, Life on by .

In her last posts, Melissa Broder conducted a “Jewish vs. Goyish litmus test” for the year in review, shared the B-Sides of her forthcoming When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother (Feb. 6), and imagined being in Hebrew School with John Stewart, Bob Dylan, and Rahm Emanuel. She is guest-blogging all week for MyJewishLearning and the Jewish Book Council.

Dear Esther Schwebel,jewish_authors_blog2.jpg

Where are you?

It was supposed to be an exchange program, but you could never come to my part of the world, the triple-treif land of cheesesteak-munchers.

I was Jewish only on high holidays and by hair iron, and I found myself in Boro Park asking your mother if schul meant school, calling your littlest brother a girl, turning on all the wrong lights.

It seemed like you had 20 siblings. On Friday afternoon the youngest ones tore toilet paper and unwrapped every kosher Twinkie in the box. There was whole roast chicken and kasha, though you were on a new all-cake diet. Thin was in everywhere, even Boro Park. You were trying, but not very hard.

Over kosher pizza you told me you had never kissed a boy, not so much as even held hands. What did you do at a Bar Mitzvah party? There was no Electric Slide, Humpty-Hump, Roger Rabbit, or Doin’ the Butt.

But here’s what there was: sepia shadows in double candlelight, sweet wine in silver kiddush cups, whispered gossip at the mikvah, hardcover books, radio static on Sundays, braided raisin challah, plum-cheeked girls named Ariella and Liat.

broder.JPGI could have stayed there forever and grown happy-fat. I could have written pen pal letters to treify girls from Philadelphia, and on the back scrawled: Don’t look under the stamp! Under the stamp, I could have written: Nosybody!

I could have sat separate every Saturday; surfed a current in the air with my eyes shut. I could have called that current god. I could have a blessing for everything. I could have served cholent.

Esther Schwebel, how many children do you have by now?

Yours truly,
Melissa

when_you_say_one_thing.JPG
Melissa Broder is the author of When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother. She is the curator of the Polestar Poetry Series and the Chief Editor of La Petite Zine. She is the winner of the Jerome Lowell Dejur Award and the Stark Prize for Poetry. Broder received her BA from Tufts University and is currently in the MFA program at the CCNY. By day, she works as a literary publicist. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including: Opium, Shampoo, Conte and The Del Sol Review. She lives in Brooklyn. Visit her website at http://www.melissabroder.com/. She will be blogging all week for MyJewishLearning and the Jewish Book Council.

Posted on January 28, 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

Israeli Business Roundup

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

A look at Israel’s successes in developing robotic fighting and unmanned vehicles for the battlefield, including drones and “the Guardium unmanned ground vehicle, which now drives itself along the Gaza and Lebanese borders.” (Wall Street Journal)

Israel is in the last stages of accession to the OECD, but there are serious obstacles to be overcome in the area of bribery, intellectual property rights, and “Israel’s definition of its territory in collating economic data.” (New York Times)

A look at the efforts of TAMID Israel Investment Group to connect Israel’s economy and American business-minded students at U. of Michigan. (Jewish Journal)

A major effort to simplifying business licensing in Israel has run into a dispute over whether Israel’s Shabbat-closing laws should actually be enforced. (YNet)

David Brooks argues that Israel’s remarkable economic and technological success brings with it certain risks. (New York Times)

Posted on January 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

Interview: Nick Kroll

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

There are a lot of funny, up and coming, Jewish comedians out there right now. However, you’d be pressed to find one who is funnier than Nick Kroll. A former contributing writer for Chappelle’s Show and Human Giant (including being featured in my favorite sketch from that show) and actor on Cavemen, Kroll is currently starring in FX’s The League and offering his voice for HBO’s The Life & Times of Tim.

Even with that busy schedule, Kroll was able to sit down and answer a couple of questions for Mixed Multitudes.

nick krollJeremy Moses: I read that your first “acting” role was playing Pharaoh in your elementary school’s depiction of the Exodus. Have you had any other Jewish acting jobs since then?

Nick Kroll: I was the rabbi in a my synagogue’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. I don’t think you can get more jew-y than that.

You co-authored the book Bar Mitzvah Disco and contributed to the book Camp Camp. Why do you think those books work so well? Why is Jewish adolescence so funny?

I think all adolescence is funny. That time of being super awkward in your early teens is universal and that is why people (not only Jews) responded to those books.

What was the most awkward situation you ever had either at a bar mitzvah party or at camp?

I’ve been told that I talk in my sleep. I was recently reminded that one night at camp, I shot up in bed and screamed “Mr. referee, please don’t be the equalizing factor!” For some reason, I’m very formal and polite, yet forceful in my dreams.

On your show The League, there are a good amount of Jewish jokes (the biggest one that comes to mind is the theme song of the Shiva Bowl being sung to Hava Nagila), yet you’re the only Jewish cast member. Since the show is mostly improvised, how much of a role did you have in the insertion of the Jewish jokes onto the show?

I don’t insert Jewish jokes. I just say what comes to my mind. There is nothing intentional in what jokes get to air from me or the writers or the director. The Hava Nagila song came from Jeff Schaffer’s (co-creator of The League) high school buddies.

The League was renewed for a second season. Can you reveal any scoops as to where the show will be going in its sophomore year?

I wish I could reveal scoops but unfortunately, I’m not a 1930’s reporter who says “WHAT A SCOOP!” I have no idea what is to come but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be hilarious.

Possibly my favorite thing you do is The Oh, Hello Show (featured below) with SNL writer John Mulaney, where you portray two divorced, Upper West Side elderly men. Who are the influences for those particular characters? Do you have a crazy, Upper West Side uncle or something?

John and I have always loved these types of guys. Growing up watching Woody Allen movies helped but really, living in New York City, seeing these fellas every day was the inspiration. One day, we were in The Strand, a bookstore in New York, where you basically have to have a PBS tote bag to get in, and we saw two old guys buying Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda. We followed them, listened to them talking and began mimicking them. Eventually, we decided we should do something with them as opposed to just talking like them to each other.

I’m a big fan of comedian Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. When you were on it, you talked a lot about Judaism and the complaints that Marc gets for acting too Jewish. In your humble opinion, which comedian, besides you of course, do you think embraces their Jewishness the most?

I honestly could care less about who embraces or doesn’t embrace their Judaism. All I am interested in is people being as funny as they can be talking about whatever makes them tick. If that happens to be a Jewish subject matter than good on you. If it happens to be about micro-penises, then kudos to that too.

Finally, 2009 was a successful year for you, even being named to Comedy Central’s Hot List. What does 2010 have in store?

I’m very excited about 2010. I have a bunch of very small parts in some very funny movies that I hope I won’t get cut out of. I’m in Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell, Get Him to the Greek with Jonah Hill and Russell Brand (AND DIDDY!) and a few others. We’re doing a second season of The League and I’m the voice of Stu on the HBO animated show The Life and Times of Tim which premieres on Friday Feb. 19th w/ Ricky Gervais’ new show, HBO Funny or Die Collaboration and Bill Maher. It’s gonna be a really amazing comedy lineup. And now, I’m gonna go dry heave from that shameless self promotion.

Oh Hello: Video Club with Boogie Weinstein from OH HELLO SHOW on Vimeo.

 

Posted on January 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

Back to the Garden

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

This essay is reprinted with the permission of Clal-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

With Tu Bishvat coming up, I’ve been thinking about trees–it is the New Year for trees, and in Israel the holiday is celebrated by planting trees. Living in New York City, I don’t think too much about things that grow from the ground. But that’s been changing, because in the last few years, my father has taught me to be a gardener.

jewish gardening Gardening has given me another perspective on food and how it gets from the ground to the table. I grew up in Connecticut and now live in Manhattan, where it’s easy to think that vegetables come from Fairway or Food Emporium, and that they really do grow with that shiny spray stuff on them.

I’ve never been a nature girl and wanted nothing to do with my father’s garden for many years. But I became interested about five years ago, and my father welcomed me into his garden. He taught me how to smell the soil to see if it is good, how squash should be planted close together in a circle and then thinned out, how cucumbers should be planted near a fence because their tendrils need to climb, and that parsley can last until January or February if it’s covered at night when the frost hits.

Gardening together, we worried about what would happen if there was no rain or too much rain. We worried when we had to cut down an old, rotten tree that had shaded our garden–what would happen to the plants without shade? Many times, we were together in the garden urging the plants to grow or just watching them, and talking about how each plant was doing.

My father taught me that I had to get my hands in the dirt. He said if I wore gloves I wouldn’t be able to feel it. He taught me to feel my own connection to the earth. It took time to get used to that. I was constantly on the lookout for worms, snakes, and bugs, but once I stopped screaming each time I saw one, I couldn’t wait to wake up early in the morning, go to the garden, and see what had happened the previous night.

My father showed me how to hill and weed the plants, and I began to feel like a kid again, covered from head to toe in dirt. My heart jumped when I saw the seeds push their way up through the soil. I ran screaming into the house when we began harvesting the plants to show my mother the first bunch of carrots, the first tomatoes, and ears of corn. I began to understand why my father was always in his garden, and I wanted to be there, too, in the dirt. If there wasn’t something to be hilled, weeded, or planted, I was disappointed.

Back in New York, I call my father and we discuss the garden. Even when I am not there, the garden is a part of my life.

Before becoming a gardener, when I would recite a bracha (blessing) over food, it didn’t contain much meaning for me. Since I knit and know the amount of work that goes into making a garment, I can relate to the blessing recited in the morning when one gets dressed: “Blessed are you, Sovereign of the Universe, who dresses the naked.” But I think the fact that I couldn’t connect to an experience made it hard for me to consistently recite the brachot (blessings) over food.

And then the garden got me thinking about figure eights. The more I gardened, the more I saw and felt the growing process, the more I saw how brachot are related to experience, and how experience is related to brachot and how they are inseparable. I understood how brachot and experience constantly flow back and forth into and out of each other. I think that’s probably what the rabbis had in mind when they created brachot.

My experience with brachot has been enriched because I made the connection that the rabbis were trying to teach. I don’t mean to say that one must have a deep mystical experience in order to recite a bracha. That’s not possible every time and one doesn’t need to have my type of direct experience either.

I want my brachot, which are really an acknowledgement and don’t need to always be formal, to sustain me, to relate to my own experience, and I want my experiences to make me want to acknowledge them with brachot.

This year, I plan on celebrating Tu Bishvat at a seder, a Kabbalistic invention that is modeled on the Passover seder. I’ll have four cups of wine and different types of fruit. Even though I’ll be far from the garden and trees, I know that reciting the various blessings over wine and fruits will bring me back into the garden, and I hope it will bring me to a deeper, newer understanding of the land and its fruits.

Janet R. Kirchheimer is the author of How to Spot One of Us, and a Teaching Fellow at Clal.

Posted on January 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