Monthly Archives: March 2011

Best of the Week

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Let’s do this. Don’t have any weekend plans? Are you a slow reader? Then print off all of these links and you can stay preoccupied for a little while.

Wouldn’t you know it? We have a cool list of the dos and don’ts of welcoming a convert to the Jewish community. In a nutshell, avoid rudeness. Be friendly.

Purim is a week from tomorrow night. Read all about why Purim is now instead of in November, or any other time of the year for that matter.

That’s right, Purim is on a Saturday night. No need to wake up early on Sunday morning (except to read the megillah a second time). So feel free to get crazy by making this amazing candy infused vodka.

Sticking with the theme of screwing with people who have stomach issues, did you know that it is traditional to eat chickpeas on Purim? Find out why.

Okay, that’s all for now. Have a good weekend peeps!

Posted on March 11, 2011

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: Abolish Wars

This entry was posted in History, Texts on by .

wise fridays: sharpen the     reception on  your WiFri

“It is hard to do justice to the originality of men who, in the eighth century BCE, untutored by the horrors of two world wars with poison gas and atom bombs, and without the frightening prospect of still more fearful weapons of destruction, insisted that war is evil and must some day be abolished, and that all peoples must learn to dwell together in peace.”

Walter Kaufmann

Find more Wise Fridays wisdom on MJL.

Posted on March 11, 2011

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

Colbert Wants To Be A Jew

This entry was posted in Life on by .

Yesterday, was Ash Wednesday, which officially brought in Lent. Not sure how familiar all of you are with Lent. Personally, I know very little. I do know however, that many people give up certain things for Lent–like alcohol, snacks, television, etc. It’s kind of like the Omer.

Last night on the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert, a well known Catholic, in a pretty hilarious bit, joked that for Lent, he would be giving up Catholicism. Feeling empty without religion, he promptly converted to Judaism by donning a kippah. Then, because he was still observing Lent, he decided that as a Jew, he would give up not eating bacon.

To paraphrase Colbert, good thing he is now a Jew, or this bit might be misconstrued as anti-Semitic.

Posted on March 10, 2011

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

The Opposite of a Scandal

This entry was posted in History on by .

As far as I can tell, there are two kinds of scandals. There’s the “I can’t believe that someone who seemed so sane would do something so ill-advised” scandal, and there’s the “I always suspected that person was wackadoo and would one day prove it” kind of scandal.” When Tiger Woods turned out to have a thing for strippers and porn stars, that was the first kind of scandal. When Lindsey Lohan allegedly steals a necklace, that’s the second kind of scandal. The second is not even really a scandal, it’s just a news event that would be scandalous if it happened to someone else, but isn’t because it’s happening to Lindsay Lohan…or in this case, Eva Braun.

Did you know Eva Braun once dressed up in blackface for a costume (she was being Al Jolson from the Jazz Singer)? It’s true! Now, if it was anyone else you might be disgusted and horrified at her insensitivity etc etc. But it’s Eva Braun. She was Hitler’s girlfriend. So, it’s the least surprising piece of information ever.

Sorry, was that boring? Would you like to see the portrait of Hitler that Braun had on her living room wall?

You’re welcome.

Posted on March 10, 2011

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

Everybody’s Jewish

This entry was posted in Culture on by .

People who are apparently Jewish, or at least Jew-ish according to the latest news cycle:

Valerie Jarrett
Charlie Sheen
John Galliano’s attorney

People I would like to have revealed as Jewish or at least Jew-ish in the next news cycle:
Sandra Bullock
Daniel Craig
Tina Fey
Justin Bieber
Willow Smith

Posted on March 9, 2011

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

New Maccabeats Video

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

What, you didn’t think we would post this video?

You remember the Maccabeats. They are that Yeshiva University acapella  group that became huge YouTube stars in December after their Hanukkah music video went viral (it’s been viewed over four million times). So you and I shouldn’t be surprised that they’ve returned with a brand new song and video now that Purim is a little over a week away.

Not gonna lie. The first time I watched this yesterday, I was underwhelmed. But you know what? I watched it again just a couple of minutes ago, and it’s definitely going to grow on me. Not bad, Maccabeats. Not bad at all.

Not that they need my support in the slightest. The video was posted yesterday and already has over 100,000 views. Who is their marketing guy and does he want to work for us?

Posted on March 9, 2011

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 Megillah Costume

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

What are you dressing up as for Purim?megillah costume

If you’re Julie Seltzer — Torah (and megillah) scribe, MJL writer, and challah baker — then the answer is probably pretty self-evident: You’d go as a megillah, the scroll containing the Purim story, as she did last year.

But what you might not necessarily expect is the exactness, preciseness, and — oh, let’s just say it — the utter geekiness with which she would self-design her costume. Take a second glance at her blouse to the left: Seltzer has inscribed every word of the megillah on her costume, from Achashverosh to Zeresh and everything in between. (Her tights, if you’ll notice, are a list of the ten sons of Haman, the only part of the megillah that suddenly gets broken up into two columns.)

Now, Seltzer’s clothing, she claims, is not a 100% kosher parchment scroll (and, she claims in her write-up of the outfit last year, is “laden, I am sure, with many mistakes”). But if there exists in the World to Come the concept of an “A for effort,” this is the best megillah we’ve seen in a long time — although we can’t wait to see what she’s come up with this year to top it.

Check out a ton of close-ups from the costume here.

Posted on March 8, 2011

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Origins of Jewish Humor

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I don’t live in the same city as the rest of my family. And while I try to talk to my brothers every so often to catch up for real, we do stay in somewhat constant contact by sending each other funny videos and articles that we’ve found online (don’t tell them but most of the time I’ve already the things they are sending me).

So when both of my brothers separately sent me this article, presumably because they wanted me to blog about it, I felt like I was obliged. Plus, it’s actually pretty interesting.

As you can see from the title of this post, someone has claimed to have traced the origins of Jewish humor as we know it today. Not surprisingly, the story starts off as a sad one. In the 17th Century, Cossacks murdered approximately 300,000 Jews in Ukraine during the Chmielnicki Massacres.

After the massacres, many local rabbis concluded that the Jewish community was being punished by God for all of their sins. To rectify the issue, they banned all forms of humor in the shtetls…except for one.

According to Berkely professor Mel Gordon, the ‘badkhn’ was allowed to remain as a form of comedy. Who was the badkhn? According to the Jerusalem Post:

His humor was biting, even vicious. He would tell a bride she was ugly, make jokes about the groom’s dead mother and round things off by belittling the guests for giving such worthless gifts. Much of the badkhn’s humor was grotesque, even scatological.

Looking at our Jewish Humor Bank, I’m going to have to go with Jackie Mason as the ultimate example of the badkhn (for good and for bad). Watch this just see how angry and biting the man is.

Posted on March 7, 2011

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Steal This Matzah

This entry was posted in Culture, Holidays on by .

Over at the Awl there’s an awesome post about something called Moonstrips which are apparently awesome and made of matzah (I am already skeptical). After discovering Moonstrips the author headed over to the Streit’s factory, still on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, to procure some from their in-house store. The store was open, but there was no one there to collect his money, so he left approximately what he owed, and took off with his supposedly delicious treats.

The whole, “no one was there to take my money” aspect of the story is cute, but really I’m stuck on the “Moonstrips are matzos but they are not plain and tasteless and cardboardy. They are delicious” part. I mean, really? I want proof.

Posted on March 7, 2011

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Purim for Puppets

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Our friends at Kveller.com have launched their new Purim video. It’s an awesome little piece that shows you the four mitzvot of Purim, and it does it by using two puppets. There’s Dingo, a civilized chap who always does everything exactly according to the books, and Joey, a mischievous kangaroo who always tries to do the right thing…but he doesn’t always do it in the easiest way.

All puppetry was done by our friends Ora Fruchter and Christopher Scheer at Yellow Sneaker Productions, who also have a bunch of other cool stuff that I’ll be blogging about or Jewniversing when I get around to it, which hopefully will be pretty soon. And it was directed by Liz Nord, who made our awesome Sukkot video and who does some pretty amazing stuff on her own, too.

We’re pretty happy with it. And it’s Adar, which is definitely the time for being happy, so that all worked out. Whew!

Posted on March 7, 2011

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