Does the word “mitzvah” mean “good deed”? Is it a commandment? Can it be both?
The London-based initiative Mitzvah Day answer the question, and then answer is pretty straightforward: Pick a project and start helping people. Here’s a video that explains it better, courtesy of U2:
(And if you fast-forward to about 2:55 in the video, you’ll see British Prime Minister Tony Blair pronounce the word “mitzvah” more awkwardly than anyone else in history.)
Mitzvah Day started in the UK, but it’s an international effort. Friend-of-MJL Karoline Henriques is in Israel. This Friday, she’ll be teaming up with Leket, Israel’s National Food Bank–as she puts it, “pickin’ some fruits and doin’ some good!” I can’t think of a better way to save the world. (Except, maybe, by eating them yourself. Um, never mind.) Want to help? In Israel? Leave a message in the comments!
My life has been very Harry Potter oriented lately. With the seventh movie coming out this Friday, I thought it would be a good time to refresh my memory of the entire series. Thanks to jury duty, I was able to roll through the first two books. Now, I’m about half way through #3. But I’m going to want to see this movie sooner rather than later, so I’ll probably just watch the movies of 4-6.
But this Harry Potter binge has led to some awkward moments. I was talking to someone last week and they mentioned that they have a full time, live in nanny in their house. My response was, “I sure hope you treat her better than the Malfoys treated Dobby!” (blank stares)
So when I saw this picture over at Tablet (taken in Ramle, Israel), I thought it was only appropriate for me to share. Not that it is necessarily cool (I’m sure there are plenty of people named Harry Potter), but there are not that many dead Harry Potters who were buried in Israel.
I’m telling you. You-Know-Who is back, and hiding in Israel!
We’re all kvelling here at Kveller and MyJewishLearning over the newest addition to the family.
Our managing editor, Meredith Lewis, gave birth to a beautiful (and I’m not just saying that, the kid is darn handsome) boy last week.
We haven’t heard the birth story yet, only that it’s all too fresh for her to even think about submitting it to our birth story contest. Which, by the way, you should all think about entering, for a chance to win some great prizes from JDub Records–and to share your story with an audience of great Jewish parents and friends who will coo and awe over your story and your amazing luckiness (and then ask if they can borrow your great new CDs).
Congrats, Meredith! We’ll miss you here for the next few months.
“Maybe Y-Love and Shyne could team up with Matisyahu and do a protest against crappy Jewish music.”
It’s been over a week since the New York Times profile on Shyne becoming an Orthodox Jew was published, and it’s still in the site’s Most-Emailed Articles section. Now Frum Satire has taken to the streets of Brooklyn to interview actual black Orthodox Jews to see whether they think Shyne’s devotion is legit. (Note: Actual black Orthodox Jews not included.) I don’t know if there are too many in-jokes in the video to post here, but it’s too damn funny not to.
Also, this video of Shyne in yeshiva has been around forever, but I think it hasn’t gotten circulated because it was just too surreal for words. But this video is Frum Satire at his best — doing little more than repeating the kooky and irrational things that Orthodox Jews say, and showing us just how kooky and irrational it is.
This morning, I walked into Starbucks and rudely (it was the morning) demanded that they provide me with their largest cup of their Thanksgiving blend. They said, “Sure! As long as you can give me $2.50.”
Giving away that $2.50 was the best decision I made all day.
But what if I told you that you could make an even better decision and it would cost you less than a venti coffee at Starbucks?
Last year, we held a micro-fundraising campaign asking our readers to donate $2 to MJL. The results were better than any of us could have guessed. But this year we want to do even better.
Our goal is to reach $18,000. And we will not be able to reach it without your help.
So please donate to MJL. It’s only $2. That’s less than a subway ride in New York.
At this year’s General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America, clear signs of the “tricky terrain” between the generations–and some efforts to bridge it. (Forward)
But Rabbi Elie Kaunfer thinks that this pitting of the “older establishment” against the “younger non-establishment” oversimplifies a more complex dynamic, in part because “it assumes that the “establishment” is a monolithic entity to be accepted or rejected.” (Jewish Week)
But are the generations able to “collude” to keep the American Jewish enterprise going? Can they, like Abraham and Isaac, walk together toward a common goal? (NJ Jewish News)
Federations are looking to use social service projects as a way to connect with youth. (Forward)
When young Jewish leaders form their own start-up groups and/or alternative prayer services, “are they rejecting the organized community, or seeking to strengthen it?” (Jewish Week)
I have a friend who works with the US government on Guam. One day he was talking to a woman who mentioned that the name of Mt. Lamlam, the highest point on Guam, comes from Hebrew. This was mystifying to my friend, who speaks beautiful Hebrew and could easily recognize that Lamlam doesn’t come from the Hebrew. Why make such a bizarre claim?
When I lived in Nashville I also experienced this a few times, both with Hebrew and with Aramaic. People would trot out any old word they wanted, and/or they’d speak gibberish/in tongues and claim that it was either Hebrew or Aramaic. I sometimes felt like I was on candid camera, trying to spot the crazy people labeling anything they wanted Hebrew.
Turns out, this misappropriation of Hebrew is much older than I thought. According to a post on language hat, it goes back at least to the Renaissance, where linguists would try to find connections between their native tongues and Hebrew, because they assumed that Hebrew was the original language, spoken in the Garden of Eden.
John Davies, who revised the translation of the Bible into Welsh, wrote a Welsh grammar in 1621, in which he claimed that Welsh bore similarities to Hebrew due to the former’s great “purity” (since all languages come from Hebrew, of course). What’s interesting is that he actually quoted some genuine linguistic similarities between Welsh and Hebrew that separate them both from Latin and Greek: lack of nominal case-marking, for example.
He also showed that Hebrew and Welsh poetry are quite similar to one another.
I have a strong tendency towards ‘I don’t swim in your toilet so don’t pee in my pool’ when this kind of thing comes up. Welsh didn’t descend from Hebrew. Neither does the word Lamlam.That doesn’t make Welsh any less awesome or Mt Lamlam any less impressive.
If you’re interested in the actual history of Hebrew, I recommend this comprehensive site.
Wow, these early Shabbats just creep up on you! Shabbat before 4:30? Where did the summer go?
Print these articles off. Read them at shul. Thank me later.
The perfect way to get rid of the leftover apples from the Fall. Make your own applesauce for Hanukkah.
Patrilineal descent is a divisive issue within the Jewish community. Read more about the Reform movement’s 1983 decision.
Here is a new video that we made on how to properly do Hagbah and Gelilah. A good watch even if you think you know everything there is to know already.
Ever wonder why you’re supposed to light Hanukkah candles in your window sill? The rabbis provide answers.
Just when you thought there were no more books to read after you finished the Tanakh, you find out, “NO! What’s this Apocrypha?!?!?!?” Find out here.
“Shemiah said: Shun authority.” Just what does this mean? That a man should not on his own place a crown upon his head. But others may do so.
Find more Wise Fridays wisdom on MJL.
Continuing my trend of writing about think that I never thought about before and are somewhat shocking: BUST magazine has a great and strange interview with a professional dominatrix. I guess I’m a tad naïve about this stuff, but I wasn’t picturing the life of a dominatrix as being quite as, well–bat-shit insane, to be quite honest.
Anyway, the interview isn’t very long, and the second to last question is “Any other crazy stories?” I actually don’t feel comfortable posting the whole response here because it’s unbelievably graphic, but the part that’s interesting/relevant to Mixed Multitudes readers is this:
I also have a guy- who I actually just saw this afternoon- who is a Hasidic Jew whose fetish is being spat on and force-fed non kosher food. I get a lot of Hasids; I’d say 60% are into being peed on, and half of those don’t shower before they go home. I have a lot of stories about people who are sexually repressed by religion; those are the most outlandish fetishists.
Being force-fed non-kosher food is a fetish for a handful of observant Jews. This should not surprise me in the least, I guess, but something about it is still kind of shocking/funny/sad to me. I have nothing profound to say about it, other than that I think it’s interesting (and yes, I recognize that’s hardly profound).