YOFFIE OFF-BALANCE: New Jersey Jewish News editor Andrew Silow-Carroll offers a characteristically thoughtful analysis of Reform movement leader Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s headline-grabbing speech to the Islamic Society of North America. On the one hand, he hails Yoffie as “American Jewry’s Daniel, boldly strolling into lions’ dens.” But Silow-Carroll also suggests that in Yoffie’s speech, much of which was devoted to decrying anti-Muslim bigotry, “the balance — between reconciliation and admonishment — seemed off.” Silow-Carroll writes:
Yoffie seemed to buy into a theme of victimization among Muslims and to take on faith what a New York Times article on the convention called, with little substantiation, “growing intolerance” toward Islam and its practitioners.
ENDOGAMY BITES: Writing in Columbus’s New Standard, Oberlin psychology professor Noam Shpancer argues that Jews need to get over their aversion to intermarriage. At various points in the article, he calls the Ten Commandments “a hallowed traditional dish that, upon reflection, quickly loses much of its appeal”; holds up to “critical scrutiny” the shared belief of both sides of the intermarriage debate in “the surpassing value of preserving Judaism”; and explains that intermarriages “embody a more promising future strategy for humanity.” He concludes: “At the end of the day, Judaism lives in, and for, individual living people. It is not a sacred end in itself.” So that’s what the covenant was all about?
THE PLACES WE PRAY: The New York Jewish Week reports that this Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, plenty of Jews will be praying outside of synagogue buildings — “from mountain ranges to Chinese restaurants.”
Also in The Jewish Week: The latest on the Brooklyn Arabic academy controversy (the school’s foes don’t have a friend in Ed Koch), and a Crown Heights Lubavitcher serves as an honorary marshal of this year’s West Indian parade.
INTERVIEW WITH A MISANTHROPE: “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiaism” creator Larry David curses out an editor from Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent. The comedy genius also reveals some tidbits about his own Jewish identity: “I’m not one of these guys that goes, ‘Hey, I’m a Jew. I’m a Jew. I’m a Jew.’” Apparently, he just plays one on TV.
Also in the Jewish Exponent: The paper’s editorialist is weary of 9/11 weariness.
DORCHESTER CALLING: A Dorchester community center that now serves a largely black population is trying to track down and reconnect with the Jews who used the building many decades ago, Boston’s Jewish Advocate reports.
‘BENTSH IT LIKE BECKHAM’: The L.A. Jewish Journal’s Tom Tugend writes about the heritage of the city’s new quarter-Jewish soccer star, David Beckham. The soccer star, whose grandfather was Jewish, has a verse from the Song of Songs tattooed on his arm in Hebrew script, which apparently co-exists harmoniously with the large cross inked on his chest. Tugend calls his article a “service to the Los Angeles Jewish community”:
At this very moment, we should think, subcommittees at The Jewish Federation, the Wiesenthal Center, Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee and American Jewish Congress are busy inscribing plaques for upcoming fundraisers, honoring the greatest One-Fourth Jewish Athlete of the Year.
Also in the Journal: Editor Rob Eshman isn’t a fan of the new Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel Lobby” book. He writes: “My suggestion is that you read the book as scholars will read it decades from now: not for its insights into American foreign policy, but for how respectable scholars can twist facts and spurn logic to lead societies down darkening corridors of hate.”
SOCCER SPATS: The upcoming soccer match between England and Israel has no shortage of detractors, from anti-Israel boycott advocates to Orthodox Jews angry that its being played on the Jewish Sabbath, London’s Jewish Chronicle reports.
Also in the J.C.: Tory politician Boris Johnson wants to take on one of British Jewry’s least-favorite elected officials, London Mayor Ken Livingstone. Johnson may be pro-Israel, but he has some baggage of his own.