Monthly Archives: August 2010

Fun Videos for Rosh Hashanah

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

T-minus eight days until Rosh Hashanah. In that time, I have to pack up all my things, get them in a moving truck, unpack my things, set up my new apartment and sleep. Then, I’ll still have about seven days until Rosh Hashanah. What ever will I do with my time once I’m done moving?

I’ll probably go for a walk or something. Maybe watch some TV, call some old friends. Go home for the holidays. You know, the norm.

But I’ll also find some time to watch some of MJL’s best viral videos.

First, we have an episode from The Adventures of Todd & God. I remember the first time I ever heard of this series. I didn’t even work for MJL. I was sitting in my Jewish Studies class in college and my professor was going on and on about how great this video was. He literally assigned homework to a bunch of 20 somethings students to watch this video on YouTube. I aced that class, if you were wondering.

Next, we have a video from our ongoing comedy series. Jon Friedman, a writer and blogger at Late Night With Jimmy Fallon sat down to tell us the story of his Rosh Hashanah experiences when he was 17 years old. I won’t give it away but let’s just say that Friedman is a more common last name than he thought it was.

Posted on August 31, 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

iHappy Rosh Hashanah

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Okay — maybe you look at more email forwards and cheesy Facebook photos than I do. (It’s not that hard to achieve, I assure you. Between getting Jewniverse ready, re-watching the awesome new G-dcast video, and keeping on top of office gossip, I barely have time to read my own email.)

So — yeah — maybe you are cooler than I am.

But my grandmother-in-law is cooler than you are.

Check out this Rosh Hashanah card that she emailed us. Yes, my grandmother-in-law uses email. She escaped the Holocaust by walking barefoot through Siberia and she has an email account. And she has an iPhone. An iPhone! My cell phone can barely still be held together with a rubber band and some chewing gum.

Happy New Year, everyone. And may all your computational devices taste as good as hers.

Posted on August 31, 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

Jewish Ear Juice

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

My ears are delicious. I have that on good authority because I was told it this very weekend (sorry, TMI?). So when I read an article in ynet about a Chinese product called Jew’s Ear Juice, I thought to myself, “Who has been stealing my ear juice and smuggling it to China?” But it turns out the drink is made from a black mushroom that looks like an ear. And in China, Judaism is seen as a synonym for success. So ear juice from a Jew really means successful mushroom sauce. And that makes perfect sense.

Posted on August 30, 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

Environmental & Energy Issues in Israel

This entry was posted in Israel, Practices on by .

A mere 0.5% of Israel’s energy comes from renewables. Why? (Ha’aretz)

It is argued that Israel faces a looming electricity shortage crisis, because of failure to build the necessary production facilities. Despite a 2001 goal of 20% production from private hands by 2009, by 2009, it was only 3%. (Ha’aretz)

Preventing the further collapse of seaside cliffs in Israel requires remedial action over large sections of the coast in Netanya, Herzliya and Ashkelon —and a lot of money. (Ha’aretz)

An environmental group urged the Israeli government to close down a baptism site at the lower Jordan River visited by 100,000 tourists annually, until water quality standards for tourists and pilgrims bathing at the holy site can be met. (Ha’aretz)

The past five years “has been the worst uninterrupted period of aridity for 80 years.” But steps to cope, such as abolishing the water subsidy for farmers, are stalled. (Ha’aretz)

Posted on August 30, 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 Sweet New Year

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

Stacey Ballis‘ newest book, Good Enough to Eat, will be available September 7th. Check back all week for more delicious posts from Stacey for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning‘s Author Blog series.

When people ask me what I love most about being Jewish, the images flash before my eyes.

Succulent slices of slow cooked brisket, moist with rich tomato-y gravy. Latkes, crisp on the outside, melting in the middle, with applesauce and sour cream. Light as air matzo balls, floating in a pool of golden chicken soup, dense sweet noodle kugel.

I mean, yes, of course I love being a part of a religion that allows so many different ways to worship, that holds such a long tradition of philanthropy and artistry, that has such interesting traditions and rituals. Even though I have never been particularly observant, I chose Brandeis as an undergraduate in large part because the school represented the best of educational excellence and social activism. Getting all the Jewish holidays off didn’t hurt my feelings, either. But while my matriculation there did wonders for my Yiddish vocabulary, it didn’t make me any less secular. For me, someone whose upbringing always felt a little bit Jew-ish, as opposed to really Jewish, food is where I have always felt most connected to my people and my history.

Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t non-practicing, we just found our own style. We may not have belonged to a temple, but my sister and I were both bat mitzvahed, we just did it with a private tutor instead of Hebrew school and with a borrowed torah at our weekend place instead of on a traditional bimah. And for mine, a Chinese buffet luncheon to follow.

We share the major holidays with friends and family, choosing readings from books in the living room over synagogue services. Our Passover seders may be brief, but they have deep meaning and we take them seriously, adding our own traditions over the years. But always, the celebration centers on food.

In my writing, my heroines have always been Jewish, at varying levels of observancy, but always connected to the culinary history of our people. In my new book, Good Enough to Eat, Melanie Hoffman is a chef specializing in healthy gourmet food, and during the course of the book we see her make a pilgrimage to the Holocaust Museum, speak at a JUF luncheon, and make brisket for her boyfriend’s family seder. Even though the character is only half-Jewish, and non-observant in the religious sense, she is connected to her heritage through her cooking. Because for me, and by proxy, my characters, food, both the specifics of traditional recipes, and the generic feeling of gathering friends and family around the table, is always something of a Jewish experience at its core. Breaking of bread, or matzo where appropriate, sharing of stories, the sense of unity created around a dinner table, this is where I feel the most direct link to our shared past. I have always believed that when a people have been forced to work hard at maintaining community, bringing people together for meals becomes an essential part of how you keep faith.

Rosh Hashanah has always been one of my favorite holidays. Chicago weather tends to be lovely, the first inkling of fall in the air, crisp and cool but not yet cold. We usually spend it with our best family friends, once we were two couples and five kids, now there are seven couples and seven grandkids with another on the way! We have spent the day walking the Botanical Gardens or at a local state park. We have gone to the zoo, or been out in the country. We have gone apple picking for the apples we later dip in local honey as part of the holiday meal. I associate the holiday with love and laughter and the great outdoors, and an amazing dinner!

One new tradition I used in my book The Spinster Sisters is to not make personal New Year’s resolutions, but to make resolutions for your friends and family. You can resolve that your sister should sign up for the guitar lessons she has always wanted to take, or that your parents should finally visit Israel, or that your brother should apply for graduate school. By resolving these lovely things for them, you may give them the spark they need to fulfill some of their dreams.

As you look to the Jewish New Year, I hope you take a moment to be grateful for your blessings, and remember to bring sweetness into the coming year.

Good Enough to Eat will be available next week. Check back on Wednesday for Stacey’s next post for the JBC/MJL Author Blog series.

Posted on August 30, 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

This entry was posted in General on by .

With the week coming to a close, let’s take a look at what went on at MyJewishLearning over the past few days…

Ken Gordon took on the task of trying to make his very own shofar. Needless to say, it was a smelly time.

Did you know that in ancient times, there were actually four new years? Does that seem like three too many? Maybe this article can help explain.

Learn all about the mysterious Book of Life and the role is plays in the high holiday season.

There are many symbolic foods that we eat on Rosh Hashanah. It’s also a great excuse to try out some great new holiday-themed recipes.

Posted on August 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

Madoff Music

This entry was posted in Culture, Practices on by .

Yeah? You thought were done with Bernie Madoff? Well think again! Because we are only getting started.

This week, Six Points announced its fellows for 2010. And let me tell you, they do not disappoint. To prove this, you have to look no further than the project of Alicia Jo Rabins, of Girls in Trouble fame.

Why don’t we have to look any further? Because she has created a experimental rock opera called A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff. YEAH! A freaking rock opera about Bernie Madoff. Not only that, but the plot of the show will be through the lens of Jewish texts about business ethics (please say she used our section on the subject as a guide).

This is nuts. Crazy.

I wish there was some audio or video that I could show you but for now, you will just have to trust me that this will be amazing.

But as Matthue pointed out to me, just because we don’t have any video of a singing Bernie Madoff, there is some footage of conniving, nerdy Jews trying to take over the world on the internet for you to see.

That’s right. Here is the trailer for the new Facebook movie about Mark Zuckerberg.

Posted on August 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

Baxter the Pig: The Simple Son

This entry was posted in Beliefs on by .

Earlier this week Laurel Snyder blogged on writing a book about inclusion and diversity and the job of being Jewish. She is the author of the picture book Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher.

Once I saw David Goldin’s wonderful pictures of Baxter, I immediately fell in love with the little pig. Then I began to imagine where his further adventures might take him. But trying to write a sequel actually feels pretty difficult to me.

I mean, is Baxter actually becoming Jewish? How far can I take that?

The thing about Baxter is that he’s clueless, a total outsider, and so he has the advantage of being able to ask any question without feeling bad about himself for not knowing something. Baxter doesn’t feel ashamed of his lack of Hebrew. Why should he? Think of him as a toddler—a non-Jewish toddler, wandering through a Jewish world. He’s the ultimate simple son!

So in some sense, any Jewish experience he has will be fun, and educational.

In Baxter’s Hole-y Hut, I imagine Baxter might be confused to discover a building with a roof full of holes, and so (being a helpful pig) take to hammering a solid roof on the thing, only to be scolded in the morning. In this way he (and the reader) might learn how to make a sukkah (and why it’s made that way).

In Baxter and the Magical Clothesline, Baxter might try to dry his undergarments, and then baxter, the pig who wanted to be kosherfind he’s stumbled into an eruv. Of course, Baxter would have no idea what that was, and try over and over again to grasp the concept (with which I’m struggling myself, to be honest).

In Baxter’s Big Bat Mitzvah, Baxter might be informed (by a 12-year-old girl) about the importance of proper attire, and forget his studies in the hunt for a lovely gown, only to find himself floundering on the big day.

In Fast, Baxter, Fast! I think Baxter probably gets invited to celebrate Yom Kippur, and accepts the invitation, though he thinks he’s being invited to a race. When he shows up in a track suit, antics ensue.

And in Baxter, the Loveliest Queen, our porcine friend attends a Purim party (as Esther), where everyone thinks he’s a kid in a pig suit.

Other suggestions that have been made are that Baxter should try his luck at Jewish overnight camp, and that he should visit Israel. But my brilliant friend Jenn has suggested the best sequel so far, which takes things in a whole new direction: Moishe, the Brisket That Wished to Be Treif.

What about you—any suggestions for the next Baxter book?

Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher comes out this week. Laurel Snyder has been blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning‘s Author Blog.

Posted on August 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

High Holidays With Rush

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

How will you be celebrating your Rosh Hashanah?

I’m going to be heading up to Canada to celebrate with my family, eating a lot of good food and going to a lot of synagogue. Sounds like a normal day to me. But there are other ways to celebrate the day…especially if you aren’t particularly observant (or don’t even celebrate the holiday).

This year, VH1 will be celebrating the Jewish new year, with Rush Hashanah, a day of programming exclusively dedicated to the Canadian rock classic rock band, Rush.

From Blabbermouth.net:

When sundown hits, RUSH comes out to play this Rosh Hashanah. VH1 Classic celebrates the Jewish New Year with “Rush Hashanah” starting at sundown on Wednesday, September 8 at 7 p.m. for 24 hours straight. Tune in to the award-winning VH1 rock doc “Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage” for an up-close-and-personal look at the Canadian musicians and jam to their “Rush In Rio” concert. Take an in-depth look at classic albums “2112” and “Moving Pictures” premiering at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT and get even more RUSH when “That Metal Show” hosts Eddie, Don and Jim sit down with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.

That is a good amount of Rush. But I say they skip that all together and just put this scene from I Love You, Man on repeat. Jason Segal’s facial expressions will never get old.

Posted on August 26, 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