Monthly Archives: June 2010

More Sports (With Some Jews)

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We are coming up on a year now since my Sacramento Kings drafted Omri Casspi, the greatest Jewish basketball player in the world (you heard me Jordan Farmar). And this Thursday, at the 2010 NBA Draft, the Jewish world will be looking out to see if Duke’s Jon Scheyer can become the third Jew in the NBA.

On Friday, if you want the lowdown on the aftermath of the Scheyer Draft (as it will forever be known), my recommendation would be to check out DandyKoufax.com (because DandyKoufax.biz was taken). While there are certainly other Jewish sports blogs out there, you will be hard pressed to find a funnier one.

My personal favorite post so far on this newish blog is the link to an interview with Blue Jays minor league player, Randy Schwartz (pictured right). The question that is on everyone’s mind is, just because Schwartz has a Jewish last name, does that mean he is necessarily Jewish (I’m looking at you Whoopi Goldberg)? But as Mr. Dandy so eloquently put it: “guilty until proven innocent.” Good point Dandy.

So if you want to read the latest rumors on Yossi Benayoun, Jordan Farmar or Shahar Peer, check out the Dandy. Also, start rooting for Jon Scheyer now. It’s gonna be an epic evening on Thursday.

Posted on June 22, 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

Floatilla Consensus

This entry was posted in Israel on by .

Hey, it turns out there’s one thing we can all agree on when it comes to the Floatilla disaster: the media are unfairly portraying…something! My new favorite blog, The Awl, has coverage of a bunch of pro and anti-Israeli gatherings in Brooklyn, and ends with this somewhat depressing/somewhat profound assessment:

The most strikingly bizarre thing about the whole messy affair is where the two sides agreed. When I asked Hikind about the response in his district to the flotilla incident, he responded that “everyone was upset.” Naturally. But they were mainly peeved about the “one-sided coverage.” He cited CNN’s unfair blame of Israel in the immediate aftermath, as the facts where still trickling out. Inside the church, Lee prefaced her footage as images the Israeli government tried to block. They “didn’t want the world to know.” Likewise, Brooks saw his role as combating dangerous myths about Israel perpetrated in—where else?—the media.

Both sides’ outsized ire toward the media—an industry that we are told is increasingly dying, fractured, and decidedly not authoritative—seemed odd, given the actual issues at stake. But I can see how people in the city who care passionately about Israel-Palestine, or have loved ones one either side, might be overwhelmed by futility. The easiest option is probably to hurl insults at cable news.

And so I left with a bit of renewed gratitude that I don’t, in my daily life, have to deal with a right-wing Israeli government, or Hezbollah rockets, or a U.S. funded IDF, or a nuclear Iran. I only have to contend with Wolf Blitzer.

Posted on June 22, 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

Best of the Week

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With the week winding down, here are some things you might have missed at MyJewishLearning.com

With camps rolling out the red carpets for their campers and staff this month, College Humor’s Amir Blumenfeld looks back at why he regrets going to math camp instead of a Jewish one.

Russian Jewish immigrants in America are a unique segment of the Jewish population. The Radical Jewish Traveler went to meet some of them.

We launched a brand new section on Jews and television. It’s very, very cool, with some very informative articles.

Stuffed grape leaves are much easier to make than you would think. Check out our very tasty recipe.

Finally, this week, the AJPA handed MyJewishLearning.com the Most Outstanding Website award. We tend to agree with them.

Posted on June 18, 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

Apology Not Accepted

This entry was posted in Life on by .

Today on my lunch break I passed a woman talking loudly on her cell phone. She was obviously upset and she said into the phone, “You know what, I don’t care that she apologized, it doesn’t matter!”

We’ve all had that thought, haven’t we? You are hurt by someone, and they make the effort to apologize, but it really doesn’t make you feel any better. And even though you said, “Thank you” or “I accept your apology” it doesn’t change how mad or hurt or vengeful you feel about whatever prompted the apology. Sometimes (rarely, in my experience) an apology makes a big difference. Someone does a good job of showing remorse, pledges not to do it again, and you feel better. The situation seems to have been resolved. Those are good apologies, but they’re rare.

The reality is that whatever caused someone to need to apologize put some wrinkle in the relationship. And sometimes (often?) smoothing out that wrinkle is impossible. What’s done is done. If the wrinkle can be undone and is undone, then great, problem solved. But if it can’t, even the most sincere apology probably isn’t going to make much of a difference.

In the past couple of days apologies have been in the news, because the CEO of BP went before congress to apologize, but no one actually cared what he said, because the oil is still leaking and the problem is almost surrealy enormous. And then the moron from Texas went and apologized to the CEO for the “shakedown”…and then had to apologize for his apology. And at this point no one is happy. Why? Because nothing changed back after an apology was made. We’re still living in this world where a CEO can’t fix a huge ecological disaster his company caused, and a representative to the US Congress can’t deny the fact that he was making excuses for his unbelievably stupid behavior.

According to Maimonides, an apology/act of repentance isn’t really complete until someone has encountered the same situation that they initially messed up with, and responded appropriately, as opposed to falling into the same trap they first fell into. Now when you think about it, that means that the vast majority of the time, the apologies we make are not complete. By nature of not facing the exact scenario another time around (and really, how often does that happen?) we haven’t really proven our apology to be true. And that makes sense, because we all know that apologies mostly don’t work. Right?

Posted on June 18, 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

A Community of Immigrants

This entry was posted in History on by .

This week, Allison Amend wrote about old Western general stores and Jews in odd places. She is the author of the novel Stations West. She will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning’s Author Blog series.

I’m currently attending my brother’s wedding. It’s a destination wedding (in Hawaii, where the bride is from), and is therefore small. Only the couple’s closest friends and family are invited. Everyone attending the wedding has flown in, and we are all staying in beach-side bungalows. We are, in effect, forming our own community.

My mother mentioned that one of the themes she found most interesting in Stations West was the formation of family. As immigrants, the characters in the novel are starting from scratch, without the benefit of (or the burden of, depending on your family) relations. What I found interesting about the characters was that, in the absence of blood relations, they created their own family, with ties every bit as strong.

As much as Judaism stresses family, we have been forced so many times to create ad hoc families and communities. In nascent Oklahoma, the small communities of people who decided to call themselves Jews (there were others who lived lives unattached to the ethnicity and religion—Oklahoma history, as elsewhere, is unsure where to categorize these people) often lacked a religious leader. Several communities would share a rabbi; some went without. The rites and rituals were observed as people remembered them, and were sometimes a hodge-podge of various locational variations. When a rabbi did come to town, several ceremonies were performed at the same time. A bar mitzvah/wedding/Shavuot celebration would not have been strange. And because these communities were so small, people of disparate levels of dedication to the faith, different countries of origin, and different levels of education were forced to worship together.

“Shylocks of Oklahoma City Have State by the Throat.” The Guthrie Daily Leader. 1 Nov. 1912: 1. The Jews of Oklahoma. Henry J. Tobias. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980. 59. Print.

The community formed in Oklahoma was large enough, in some places, such as Tulsa and Oklahoma City, as to be significant segment of the larger society. Especially between world wars, the Oklahoma Jewish community served as a rich voting block. Politicians courted Jewish votes and businesses actively advertised in Jewish papers. This, more than anything else to me, proves a level of assimilation into the culture of the Southwest: the existence of such a community as evidenced by its own source of news, with enough souls to command political clout.

jewish names
The Daily Oklahoman. 27 Mar. 1921: 4. The Jews of Oklahoma. Henry J. Tobias. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980. 59. Print.

My brother gets married on Saturday. The ceremony will be secular, officiated by one of their friends, and a new community of immigrants (although temporary) will be there to witness and wish them well.

Allison Amend has been blogging all week for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning’s Author Blog series. Her first novel, Stations West, is now available.

Posted on June 18, 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 Friday: Enduring Arguments

This entry was posted in Life, Texts on by .

wise fridays: sharpen the     reception on  your WiFri

“Every dispute that is for a heavenly cause will ultimately endure.”

Pirkei Avot, 5:17

“The greatest danger is to believe that your dispute is for a heavenly cause–for then it will endure and endure.”

Rabbi Israel Salanter

Find more Wise Fridays wisdom on MJL.

Posted on June 18, 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

A$$-Related Jewish Jewelry

This entry was posted in Culture, Texts on by .

One of my favorite bloggers posted recently about a Kabbalah bracelet she thinks is hot. Bossy wrote:

Bossy admits to not knowing very much about the Jewish religion or this Kabbalah stuff — for instance the 72 Names of God, and how one of those names is featured on the pendant hanging from the bracelet, which is supposed to provide specific insights to the wearer — but anyway, perhaps it is pretentious to wear something you know nothing about which is why Bossy doesn’t have one (yet), but can’t Bossy just like the thing because it’s sexy?

In the picture it’s kind of hard to see what the damn thing says, but from the words I could see I was able to search in the online concordance and find out it’s a quote from Genesis 49:22, The JPS translation of that verse is “Joseph is a wild ass, a wild ass by a spring–-wild colts on a hillside.” Other translations offer, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring, its branches run over a wall.” The bracelet also does feature one of the Kabbalistic names of God, Aleph Lamed Daled, which, according to Yehuda Berg’s (he of the Kabbalah Centre) book The 72 Names of God: Technology for the Soul, is the name that’s good at warding off the evil eye. (Berg sent us a review copy of his book–this is not something I would purchase.)

Now, can anyone explain why warding off the evil eye goes with that quote about either wild asses or fruitful boughs?

Also, I hate all things Kabbalah related, but it’s hard to argue that the bracelet isn’t totally hot. Can someone make me one that has a different quote on the pendant? How about this awesome ass-related line from next week’s parashah, “Look, I am the ass that you have been riding all along until this day!” (Numbers 22:30)

Posted on June 17, 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

MyJewishLearning.com–Outstanding Website

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We are happy to report that MyJewishLearning.com was just awarded the Most Outstanding Website Award from the American Jewish Press Association.

This is a huge honor for us and we are really proud to share the news with all of you. We’d like to thank all the people who work so hard to keep our site running, from the full (and part-time) staff, to our freelancers, and most importantly, to all our readers.

We’ve made major improvements on our site based off of your feedback to make a Jewish education website that is engaging, inviting and insightful. We’re glad to see that we are succeeding in this venture.

We hope we can continue bringing you great content in the future.

Bring on the champagne! (Note: There is no champagne.)

Posted on June 17, 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

Get Your Peanuts Out of My Chickpeas!

This entry was posted in Culture, Israel on by .

I love it when hummus is in the news. Partially this is because I love hummus. I had hummus for breakfast this morning (seriously). At any given time, there are 3-5 tubs if hummus in my refrigerator (number of people living in my apartment: 3).

Most of the time, when I buy hummus I go for something relatively simple. I love Sabra brand, and I tend to buy their lemon, garlic, or pine nut flavors, all of which are very true to my ideal hummus. Not fancy, but delicious. I do, sometimes, buy some of the other flavors offered by Sabra (roasted red pepper, jalapeno, carmelized onions) but I understand that the more stuff you add to hummus the less hummus-y it becomes. (Also, I think I should note that in Sabra brand usually just puts their flavor stuff on top of the hummus, not incorporated into the hummus, so it doesn’t usually make that much of a difference anyway.)

I bring this up because the New York Times has an article today about the blasphemy of flavored hummus:

“BACK home, they would shoot me in the head for doing this to hummus,” Majdi Wadi said as he waited to board a flight to Los Angeles, where he would meet with Costco executives to pitch his company’s roster of 14 flavored hummus varieties, including artichoke-garlic and spinach.

By “home,” Mr. Wadi meant Kuwait, where he was born, and Jordan, from which he immigrated in 1994, places where hummus is usually a purée of chickpeas, sesame paste, lemon, garlic and not much else.

And then it goes on to say that flavored hummus is all the rage in America because we’re cretins who, as soon as we find something we like, have to add our own disgusting twist to it, like sun-dried tomatoes, or guacamole.

Whatever. I think the whole ‘who owns hummus’ argument is tired and stupid. It’s a middle eastern food that has been adapted to Western palates. You know what else Americans eat that’s entirely inauthentic? Chinese food. Nobody cares.

BUT. This article contains one very disturbing paragraph:

In 2000, Holy Land introduced hummus flecked with jalapeño. More recently, the company, which makes about 100,000 plastic tubs of hummus each month for the Midwest market, rolled out guacamole-flavored hummus. By August, its blend of hummus and peanut butter will hit the shelves. “That one is for my daughter, Noor,” Mr. Wadi said. “She didn’t think she liked hummus. Then we stirred in peanut butter.”

Peanut butter and hummus??!! NOOOOOOOoooooooooo! We have been down this road before! It is not good. The texture is WRONG.

Listen, Mr. Wadi. Maybe your daughter doesn’t like hummus. THAT’S OKAY. I think you should love her exactly the way she is. I happen to agree with you that it’s hard to imagine how someone could not like hummus, but that’s no reason to throw peanut butter in the mix. What if she doesn’t like her math class? Are you going to spread her arithmetic with a thin layer of peanut butter?

I know there’s oil rushing into the gulf, and wars raging, and a heat wave, and a million other problems, so can’t we just all agree to keep our hummus safe?

Posted on June 17, 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

All Look Same

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Thing #147 that Black folks and Jewish folks have in common: We all look the same to everybody else.

In this new web video, Matisyahu does that deadpan he does so well. And Simcha Levenberg, who plays the other Matisyahu (and wrote and directed the clip) is a national treasure.

And, in case you missed Matisyahu on Jay Leno last night, here’s the link.

Posted on June 17, 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

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