Category Archives: Israel

Obama, AIPAC & Republicans

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The text of President Obama’s Middle-East address. (Los Angeles Times)

Akiva Eldar: “No American president or presidential candidate has ever told this large Jewish audience of supporters of Israel the truth”–including the fact that Americans will not support Netanyahu’s demand that the IDF control Palestinian territory. (Ha’aretz)

Although the “AIPAC crowd was strikingly appreciative,” David Horovitz points out that the speech included what many Israelis will regard as a problematic formulation that “there is a reason why the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations.” (Jerusalem Post)

Jewish Republicans aren’t thrilled with Palin. (Chicago Jewish News)

And the Republican Jewish Coalition seems pretty alarmed about Ron Paul too. (Jewish Week)

Meet Fred Karger, the first Jewish presidential candidate for the Republican party. (Jerusalem Post)

Posted on May 23, 2011

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What’s The Hebrew For Community?

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Just yesterday, Tamar and I were sitting around the office discussing the merits of talking about our favorite television shows on this blog. Of course, the answer is all about context. I’m not just going to rant to you about how all of you should watch Parks & Recreation and how no one watches it, and how if it gets cancelled I will blame each and every single one of you. I would never do that. Because where is the Judaism in all of that?

So there you go. I’m never going to talk about Parks & Rec or Community. The two best comedies on television (apologies to Mayim Bialik and The Big Bang Theory).

Wait! Hold the phone! I found a connection!

I remember when I first fell in love with Community. It wasn’t right away.  I was not blown away by the pilot. However, at the end of their second season, during the final credits, they got me hooked. When Abed and Troy did their improved Spanish rap song, I knew right then and there, that this show was doing something fresh and original.

Still no connection to Judaism you say? Well, two guys in Israel (as far as I can tell, they aren’t on a television show or anything, but prove me wrong), did their own Hebrew version of the rap. It’s pretty amazing too.

So which one do you think is better? The original or the Hebrew parody?

Posted on May 17, 2011

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Do You “Like” My Name?

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A couple in Israel recently decided to name one of their children Like, because of liking things on facebook. They have two other children. One is named Dvash (which means honey) and the other is named Pie (as in strawberry rhubarb).

I might be the only person in the world who doesn’t have an issue with Gwenyth Paltrow naming her kid Apple, but I was horrified by the whole Monroe and Moroccan disaster, and I have to take a stand here and say that this is an absolute shanda. I understand wanting a unique name for your child, but this is not an acceptable option. But perhaps I should be more succinct: DISLIKE.

Also, if you’re looking for some Jewish baby names, try Kveller.com.

Posted on May 16, 2011

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Roger Waters Is A Wimp

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There has been a small, but growing trend among some musicians and bands to refuse to play in Israel because of the country’s policies towards Palestinians. This, of course, is part of a larger boycott movement against Israel from the far left that generally targets products made in Israel or owned by major Israel supporters.

So far, the most prominent musician to boycott playing in Israel has been Roger Waters, the former lead singer of the overrated (YEAH I SAID IT) Pink Floyd (Honestly, the only Floyd song I can still bear to listen to is Learning to Fly. That song is the bomb). Of course, the movement isn’t gaining that much traction, with artists like Justin Bieber still coming to play in Israel as part of their world tours.

The latest group to come to Israel to perform is 80s rock band, Deep Purple. But beyond playing, Deep Purple isn’t keeping its mouth shut about the music boycott either. In a press conference leading up to their weekend shows in Caesaria, Ian Paice, Deep Purple’s drummer, called anyone who refuses to play in Israel a wimp.

Yeah, Roger Waters. That’s right. Some guy from Deep Purple thinks you’re a wimp. You got a response? No? Because you’re too busy playing mediocre music that you wrote 40 years ago while on acid? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Your music sucks.

Posted on May 12, 2011

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Civilized Discourse

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Do the Zionist left and Zionist right really have to keep demonizing each other? (Forward)

Says Rabbi Reuven Hammer “I am also appalled when I hear people–Jews or non-Jews–using the term “Nazi” to describe anyone or any actions. To hear Israeli policemen castigated as Nazis, as we do all too often, is beyond the pale. To call anyone a Hitler is to show a lack of sensitivity and a lack of understanding of what Hitler stood for.” (Jerusalem Post)

Rabbis and Jewish professionals increasingly are being faced with a dilemma over discussing divisive topics–especially regarding Israel , and indeed “People fear for their jobs, their professional lives if they have these conversations.” (Jewish Week)

David Newman is increasingly concerned about that Israeli society “is losing its ability to express views in an open fashion.” (Jerusalem Post)

Even in community Jewish day schools is found “the constant disagreements about the definition of “pro-Israel”…a culture in which students and teachers were criticized, even ostracized, for their positions about how to express their support.” (Forward)

Rob Eshman points to an event which did indeed, provide a pointed, but civil discourse. Part of the solution: no questions from the audience. (Jewish Journal)

But J.J. Goldberg has some real issues with pressing other people to act civilly. (Forward)

Posted on April 29, 2011

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Defending Justin Bieber

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Say it aint so Justin! Or better yet, never say never Justin!

You know Justin Bieber, right? The greatest singer alive? The future President of the United States, even though he was born and raised in Canada? My hero? Well, he’s in a little bit of trouble right now and we need to help him out.

My boy Justin is currently on a world tour and has made a stop in Israel. Because Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn’t have a busy schedule in the slightest, the two of them were supposed to meet. Then, as circumstances sometimes get in the way, the two ended up cancelling their ever-so-important meeting.

But why? What were these circumstances that got in the way of the most influential meeting of all time? As it turns out, and this is just according to local news in Israel, the Prime Minister’s office cancelled the meeting after Bieber’s people refused to allow kids to be present at the meeting.

That wouldn’t make the news normally. I’m sure Bieber is so used to getting hounded by teenage girls that the meeting would quickly deteriorate into a screaming frenzy. This probably happens all the time.

Only one problem. The kids he refused to meet with were from Sderot! Oh no! No one says no to kids from Sderot! That is about a big a Jewish no-no as you can do.

But again, the Biebs is on top of it. His spokespeople have said that it was nothing personal and certainly not political. In fact, he has already invited a bunch of kids from Sderot to come to his concert–a move they say was made prior to the cancelled meeting.

Hey people! Cut my boy Justin some slack. He can make butterflies come back to life.

Posted on April 13, 2011

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Today Could Have Gone Better

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For many years my homepage on my computer was the Jerusalem Post, not because I found them to be the world’s best or most accurate news source, but because I had friends and family in Israel, and Jpost would immediately note if there had been a bombing in Israel, and how many had been killed. But there have been a few years of relative quiet when it comes to bombs that kill Israeli civilians, and so Jpost is no longer the first thing I see in the morning when I turn on my computer.

Today there was a bombing in Jerusalem for the first time in four years, and I briefly considered changing my homepage back to Jpost. I won’t, but I’m so sad that it’s even something I considered.

This is maybe a good time to revisit one of my all-time favorite poems, The Diameter of the Bomb by Yehuda Amichai:

The Diameter of the Bomb

The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
with four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
and one graveyard. But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of God and
beyond, making
a circle with no end and no God.

–Yehuda Amichai

On a related note: Three kids playing soccer and a grandfather were killed by Israeli rockets in Gaza yesterday. They were not the intended targets, but I’m not sure Netanyahu could have sounded any less sorry when he said, “It is regrettable that Hamas continues to intentionally rain down dozens of rockets on Israeli civilians even as it uses civilians as human shields.”

Posted on March 23, 2011

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Who Qualifies For Hillel?

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Back when I was in college, my roommates were pretty involved with Hillel. And from what I got from them, there has always been a debate in Hillel about much should the organization try to reach out to Jews on the periphery, or even more specifically, Jews who are bothered by pro-Israel advocacy on campus.

For one, Hillel is a proud Zionist organization. But at the same time, they claim to represent the needs of Jewish students, from all walks of life. So what are they supposed to do?

Recently, Brandeis Hillel took a somewhat controversial move by denying membership to Jewish Voice for Peace–a leftist student group on campus. While the group claims to be pro-Israel, they also are supportive of the boycott of Israeli products. According to JTA, Brandeis Hillel believed that the group’s actions and words did not fit under the umbrella of the organization.

Now what do you guys think? Do you think it’s inappropriate for Hillel to place judgment on a group of self-identifying Jews just because of their political beliefs?

Or is Brandeis Hillel right in essentially saying that being pro-Israel and being Jewish are one and the same? And if you stray off too far from the path, then you can no longer be included–much like the Jewish community feels about Jews for Jesus, for example.

I can’t say that I have a strong opinion on this, but I’m leaning towards Brandeis Hillel being in the wrong here. If Hillel was just a pro-Israel group, that would be one thing. But that’s not all they do. And Hillel is on campus to make Jews feel comfortable–no matter how deplorable we find their political views.

I dunno, though. I’m just one guy. Feel free to comment.

Posted on March 21, 2011

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Jewish Languages: What’s Trending?

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“Yeshivish” is a normal form of discourse for many Orthodox Jews in America–but could it become a new language? (Forward)

Daven is the Yiddish word meaning to pray, and there’s no end of theories on where the word came from. (On the Main Line)

Says Rabbi Shlomo Riskin: “When I speak to God, I speak to him in Yiddish, because that’s how I heard God-talk from my grandmother.” (Jerusalem Post)

A look at “Zubi!: The Real Hebrew You Were Never Taught in School,” the new phrase book of Israeli slang for English speakers. (Forward)

Israel’s Hebrew Language Academy is looking for Hebrew words for terms like “compost” and “composter” and other environmental terminology. (Ha’aretz)

Type designer Scott-Martin Kosofsky explains the creation of Le Bé, his new digitization of a beautiful 16th-century Hebrew typeface. (Tablet)

Do Israelis Speak Hebrew or Israeli? (New English Review)

Posted on March 2, 2011

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