HEBREW SCHOOL: Broward County residents packed a school board meeting to debate a planned Hebrew-language charter school, The Florida Jewish News reports. Some have expressed concerns that the proposed public school would inappropriately feature religious content. “My older brother learned Hebrew in a [public] high school in New York, and I was originally excited about this one,” said Broward School Board member Eleanor Sobel. “But your principal is an Orthodox rabbi, and your original location was going to be a synagogue. You’ve brought this [controversy] on yourselves by dressing your school in religion! The only way we can know what’s really going on is if we have a mole in your school!”
DRAFT DODGERS: The New York Jewish Week looks at the growing phenomenon of Israelis trying to get out of military duty. “It’s worrisome,” Meretz Knesset member Ran Cohen tells the Jewish Week. “Serving in the army used to be the clearest example of domestic solidarity. The fact that it’s not longer attractive indicates a weakening of Israeli society.”
TYPING AWAY: As she turns 91, Cleveland Jewish News columnist Violet Spevack explains that she intends to keep typing away.
SHUL POLITICS: A court ruled in favor of the board of directors of a synagogue that has been a battleground between its Conservative and Orthodox congregants, Boston’s Jewish Advocate reports.
ELLISON VS. FOXMAN: Rep. Keith Ellison’s remarks comparing the 9/11 attacks to the Reichstag fire and the ensuing flap with the Anti-Defamation League drew disparate responses from two Jewish weeklies. The comments drew a strong rebuke from the ADL’s Abraham Foxman, which, in turn, prompted the Minnesota Democrat’s aides to complain that the condemnation came right after the congressman had agreed with the ADL’s Washington office to express regret for his remarks. The New Jersey Jewish News editorializes: “If Ellison’s account is accurate, it seems he was dealt a pretty poor hand by the Jewish watchdog group.” The editorial goes on to warn that Jewish groups should be careful to “maintain the distinction between a politician’s misguided hyperbole and genuine anti-Semitism.” But Jonathan Tobin, executive editor of Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent, criticizes Ellison’s “clever spin” that shifted the focus from his remarks to the ADL. Tobin concludes: “Foxman had been dead right about Ellison.”
TEFILLIN-TUBE: The Texas Jewish Post reports on Rabbi Zvi Drizin’s YouTube video to promote tefillin use. “I was laying tefillin in my office and it occurred to me this was a chance to share the mitzvah. We live in a world where we make choices every day; nowhere is that more obvious than on the Internet. It’s a medium that, while it has plenty we don’t need in life, can also be used for good,” the Chabad of Dallas rabbi tells the paper.
BASEBALL BEEN BERRY BERRY GOOD TO ME: The Jewish Telegraphic Agency catches up with a 29-year-old guy who has managed to snag 4,000 baseballs at Major League ballparks.
HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD?: The current issue of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal focuses on philanthropy. It features an article on Hollywood’s Jewish philanthropy; a look at the giving habits of the city’s Israeli, Russian and Iranian immigrants, and an interview with local mega-donor Eli Broad.
CANNABIS CONFESSIONS: London’s Jewish Chronicle notes the following admission from Rabbi Julia Neuberger, a member of the House of Lords who was recently appointed to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Cabinet: “I have the really embarrassing confession to make of saying I don’t know whether I took cannabis or not, because I don’t know whether the hash brownie somebody gave me in my university years actually had any in it or not.”
Also in the JC: Ziggy, a cat from Israel that inadvertently made its way to Britain via a 10-day sea voyage in a crate of plastic goods, has found a new home in Blackpool.