OUR MAN IN MESOPOTAMIA: The Jewish Journal of Boston North profiles Rabbi Andrew Shulman of Malden, Mass., currently the U.S. military’s only Jewish chaplain in Iraq. He counsels soldiers who are far from home, and occasionally helps the military make sense of Judaism. “[T]here’s the time I got called to testify for a soldier stationed at a small patrol base in Baghdad, who claimed that Judaism forbade him from washing pots in which pork products had been cooked,” Shulman writes. “I had to inform his superiors that, regrettably, this claim was not true. (He may have confused us with Muslims.) We later discovered the guy wasn’t even Jewish — he was just looking for a creative way to get out of work. Unfortunately for him, he picked the wrong religion to pretend to belong to.”
FAIR AND BALANCED?: New Jersey Jewish News editor Andrew Silow Carroll detects a hawkish tilt in the daily Mideast e-mail bulletin put out by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
MATISYAHU SCREAMS: Ex-Lubavitcher reggae star Matisyahu finds a spiritual sweet spot in a shul of screaming Hasidim. “I’m really saying the words, trying to break through. To me that really fits with the essence of what the chasidic movement was really about” originally, Matisyahu tells The Jewish Week. “Being unconventional and breaking out of your boundaries in any way you can.”
Also in The New York Hasidic — er, Jewish — Week: A judge’s recent ruling may enable two rival factions of the Satmar Hasidic sect — each loyal to a different Teitelbaum brother — to finally go their separate ways. “It’s quiet, peaceful, everyone taking their usual seats in their own respective shuls, their children take their seats in their own respective schools, and life goes on,” Rabbi Hertz Frankel, principal of Brooklyn’s Bais Rochel D’Satmar tells the Jewish Week.
OCONOMOWOC MINYAN: A diverse small-town havurah group connects with a traveling Orthodox rabbi. The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle has the story of the shidduch.
BOVINE AID FOR ISRAEL: Texas longhorn cattle may be dispatched to Israel to deal with the problem of invasive plant species in the Negev and Galilee, Houston’s Jewish Herald-Voice reports.
UNHAPPY CAMPERS: Jewish former campers have raised $5 million to try to save their beloved Camp Swig from being sold, but a non-Jewish group has offered a million more. The Reform movement, which owns the camp, tells San Francisco’s J. that they’re selling to the highest bidder — Jewish or not.
HANDS OFF HANUKKAH!: The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent’s Jonathan Tobin isn’t pleased that some in the Jewish community are using the oil-laden Festival of Lights as an opportunity to push environmental awareness. “The holiday hijackers are at it again! First, Passover was transformed from an inspiring commemoration of the birth of the Jewish nation during the Exodus from Egypt into a catch-all festival that celebrates the rights of every afflicted minority and fashionable cause imaginable,” Tobin writes. “Now, it’s Chanukah’s turn.”
SHE REALLY LOVED CHINESE FOOD: The family of a late widow who left 10 million British pounds to the proprietors of a Chinese restaurant is insisting in court that she was mentally frail and didn’t know what she was doing. London’s Jewish Chronicle reports that the woman “was particularly fond of beansprouts and Chinese pickled leeks.”
Also in the J.C.: Jewish and Muslim students found common cause after the Oxford Union invited David Irving and the British National Party’s Nick Griffin to speak; anti-Israel boycotters in Scotland are targeting an Edinburgh hotel, despite its insistence that it’s not Israeli-owned; and candidates for the leadership of Britain’s Union of Jewish Students are debating how best to fight antisemitism and anti-Israel activism.
FAST JEWESS: The Australian Jewish News reports that Sarah Newman, “one of the few women competing in the male-dominated sport of motorcycle racing,” is hanging up her helmet.
BOSTON SEEMED HAPPY WITH SIX: The L.A. Jewish Journal’s Amy Klein (a former Forward staffer) seems disappointed that only six Angelenos made this year’s Forward 50. But Boston’s Jewish Advocate seemed satisfied with the same number from their city. (And the Advocate even used fuzzy math to get to that number, counting native Bostonians who’ve made their names elsewhere.) In the same issue of the Journal, Klein also explores the mysterious allure of Hanukkah gelt.