ALTERNATIVE AIPAC?: The New York Jewish Week reports on the impending launch of a new Israel lobby. Jewish doves are flocking together to form the “J-Street Project,” which, the newspaper reports, “is expected to raise money for congressional candidates who advocate a stronger U.S. leadership role in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and multilateral solutions to the region’s problems.”
‘THIS FARCE ISN’T FUNNY’: The editors of The New York Jewish Week say it’s time for the federal prosecution of two former Aipac staffers to end.
FRANK COMEDY?: The New Jersey Jewish News speaks with two 26-year-olds who wrote a musical comedy whose central conceit was that Anne Frank’s sister, Margot, kept her own diary that told a decidedly different story than the one written by her famous sibling.
ANNALS OF MATZO-MAKING: Being the great-granddaughter of the founder of America’s most famous Jewish food company doesn’t stop the kids in school from teasing a girl for having a funny name like “Manischewitz.” “When I was small, I just wanted to be like everyone else,” Laura Manischewitz Alpern tells The New Jersey Jewish News, which interviews her about her new book “Manischewitz: The Matzo Family — The Making of an American Icon.” The tome tells the story of the storied company through “a narrative that blends fact and fiction,” as the paper puts it.
‘HAYMISH’ HOCKEY: Floor hockey is no longer just for yeshiva bokhers now that the Hockey Association of Yeshiva Middle Schools (HAYMISH) has launched a girls division. The New Jersey Jewish Standard knows the score.
SEGREGATING THE SEXES: A co-ed Baltimore yeshiva splits into two single-sex schools in a bid to boost enrollment. The Baltimore Jewish Times has the tale of two campuses to be.
SPEKTOR AT 60: Singer-songwriter-pianist Regina Spektor — whose latest album went gold and featured her sporting a Star of David pendant on its cover — is performing at the Israel at 60 celebration on the National Mall, The Washington Jewish Week reports.
FINKELSTEIN SPEAKS: In the 1960s, it took several years for Students for a Democratic Society to go completely bonkers. The new edition — re-launched in 2006 — is trying to make better time down that road. According to The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, a recent speaking appearance by Hezbollah booster and ex-academic Norman Finkelstein at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was sponsored by the campus chapter of SDS, along with the Muslim Student Association, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Student Labor Action Coalition. (I wonder what Hezbollah’s record is on labor issues?)
SAYING SORRY: A group of Kansas City Christians took out an ad in a local newspaper apologizing for the “anti-Semitic past which inflamed the Crusades, pogroms, forced conversions, unspeakable depravations and annihilations.” The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle reports that the ad ran on March 20, in recognition of Purim. “I felt that the time had come for us to seek to meet with the Jewish people and ask the Lord to forgive us and seek to restore relationships with the Jewish community,” the ad’s initiator, Marilyn Lake Griffin, director of Ministries of New Life, tells the Chronicle.
HUNDRED-YEAR HERALD: Houston’s Jewish Herald-Voice turns 100.
AT YOUR SERVICE: A Scottsdale, Ariz., Jewish community campus has dropped its ban on… Jewish religious services. The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix has the story of the Jewish facility that’s now open for davening.
FENCE AROUND THE TORAH: The San Diego Jewish Journal profiles an Orthodox Jewish teen who has followed her fencing dreams to an Episcopalian boarding school and is now making a bid for the Olympics.
POLITICS IN THE PULPIT: In the wake of the recent controversy over the polemical pronouncements of Obama’s former pastor, the L.A. Jewish Journal interviews some local rabbis on the topic of preaching politics from the pulpit — and recalls an 1861 incident in which a Baltimore Reform rabbi was run out of town by an angry mob after he spoke against slavery.
WEIRD SCIENCE: The heads of the Jewish studies program at California State University-Long Beach have written a letter scoring their campus administration for allegedly failing to speak out against psychology professor Kevin MacDonald, whose evolutionary theories about Jewish behavior have found favor with antisemites. The L.A. Jewish Journal has the story.
ASK ABBY: San Francisco’s J. has some questions for Dear Abby.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE ‘BECKS’ OF YESTERYEAR?: London’s Jewish Chronicle investigates the disappearance of the “becks” — a term which, apparently, describes individuals belonging to a subculture of somewhat materialistic Jewish youths who hung out and kibitzed in big groups on the streets of British cities during the 1980s and 1990s. One theory is that they were driven off the street by “yobs” — Brit-speak for loutish young people, derived from an inversion of the word “boy.” “Becks,” the J.C. notes, is thought by some to be derived from the name “Rebecca,” though it is a gender-neutral descriptor. Gotta love that class-conscious British slang! (I also dig Aussie slang; last year I wrote about how Jews in the “Land Down Under” were under attack from “sledgers” and “hoons.”)
CONMAN WITH CHUTZPAH: A conman who has been dubbed the “Shekel Scammer” is preying on Orthodox Jews on London’s subway. One of his routines, according to London’s Jewish Chronicle: He tells his victims that he’s an Israeli who needs to buy life-saving medicine for his son, but that he only has shekels. He asks them to exchange their British money for his shekels, but when they get to the ATM, he confesses that he actually doesn’t have cash on him, but will mail it to them when he gets back to Israel. Needless to say, the victims never get their money back. The most galling part of the racket is the way the conman begins his conversation with his visibly Jewish marks: He tells them they “did not look Jewish.”
CAKE FIGHT: Jewish newspapers on two continents are reporting on the story of a woman in her 80s who was injured after a fracas with staff of a kosher bakery in Melbourne, Australia. According to The Australian Jewish News, the woman contends that she was pushed and kicked after she asked about the ingredients the bakery uses. The bakery workers dispute her account and counter that she made antisemitic remarks and threw tzedakah boxes at a bakery worker. According to London’s Jewish Chronicle, the woman is Jewish and denies making antisemitic remarks.
CONSERVATIVE CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM: Several synagogues in Montreal and Toronto are moving toward severing their ties with the American-dominated United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism over the movement’s increasingly liberal policies on the religious roles of women and gays. “[W]e find the chasm between Conservative Judaism in the United States and Conservative Judaism here to be growing larger and wider,” Rabbi Steven Saltzman of Toronto’s Adath Israel Congregation tells The Canadian Jewish News.