YESHIVA BIDDING WARS: The New York Jewish Week reports on how local Modern Orthodox yeshivas have begun offering merit scholarships to compete for top students — a trend that has some saying the new policies ape those of elite secular schools and could ultimately undermine the focus on need-based financial aid.
BOYCOTT BEIJING: While China may be making arrangements for kosher kitchens to draw Jewish tourists to the Olympics, two leading Modern Orthodox rabbis argue in The New York Jewish Week that the communist regime’s policies toward Sudan and Tibet make the Games treyf. Rabbis Irving “Yitz” Greenberg and Haskell Lookstein say that Jews should not attend the Beijing Olympics. “We remember all too well how Nazi Germany sought to attract visitors to the 1936 Olympics in order to distract attention from its persecution of the Jews,” they write. “Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, called the 1936 games ‘a victory for the German cause.’ The Chinese government is hoping for a propaganda victory of its own.”
COMIC DAVENING: One can imagine bored kids hiding comic books inside their Siddurs during Saturday morning services. Now, Brooklyn’s Jewish Press reports, there’s a Siddur that is a comic book.
WHAT WOULD NOAH DO?: The Washington Jewish Week reports on a small sect of philosemites that is focused on upholding the seven laws that, according to Jewish tradition, God expects the non-Jewish descendants of Noah to keep. Meet the Noahides.
FIVE DECADES OF MAHJONG: The St. Louis Jewish Light checks in with a group of local women who have been playing mahjong together for 50 years.
SAVAGE BACKLASH: An interfaith coalition of Kansas City residents is pushing to have hateful right-wing radio host Michael Savage pulled off the air. The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle reports on the Jewish community’s response.
‘J-STREET JIVE’: JStreet, Washington’s new dovish Israel policy lobby, has already drawn its fair share of boosters and critics. Count the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent’s Jonathan Tobin among the second camp. “[T]he notion underlying the whole initiative is based on belief in a creature as mythical as the unicorn: Palestinian peaceniks,” Tobin writes. In The New York Jewish Week, Hannah Rosenthal, former executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, expresses considerably more enthusiasm for the project, writing, “The progressive voice in our community has been far too quiet on Israel for far too long.”
NOT MUSIC TO HIS EARS: A Jewish music aficionado was sitting in a church enjoying a concert based on Christian liturgy — until he read the translation of the lyrics. The Baltimore Jewish Times reports on a contemporary crucifixion controversy.
THE THREE D’S: Writing in the L.A. Jewish Journal, a Methodist bishop and an activist for Afghanistan — both recently returned from a trip to Israel — say that “the destructive D words of Divorce, Dissolution and Divestment” aren’t the right approach to dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
WHERE’S THE MATZO?: San Francisco’s J reports on the local impact of the nationwide matzo shortage of 2008. Down the coast, the L.A. Jewish Journal finds that while area chain supermarkets may be out of matzo, no such scarcity exists in Jewish specialty stores.
AUSSIES RIDE AGAIN… IN BEERSHEVA: Beersheva has a new ornament — a statue of a leaping Australian horseman. The Australian Jewish News reports that the statue commemorates a 1917 victory of an Australian light horse unit in Beersheva that “set in train a series of events that included the liberation of Jerusalem, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate in Palestine and ultimately the establishment of the State of Israel.” Israeli President Shimon Peres and a slew of Israeli and Australian officials are expected to be present at a ceremony inaugurating the statue.
YORK’S ANTI-ANTI ISRAEL STUDENTS: According to a new survey, students at Toronto’s York University are overwhelmingly irked that their student government is using their fees to fund pro-Palestinian activism. The Canadian Jewish News has the story.
HUCK’S HARDLINE: Former GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee told an audience at a Montreal synagogue that he doesn’t think Israel should be pressured into giving up land. “It is foolish to ask Israel, with its tiny piece of real estate, to give it up to those who are avowed to destroying the nation of Israel,” he said. “It makes no sense at all.” The Canadian Jewish News was on the scene.
BOB GELDOF, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER: Asked whether he was proud of his Jewish ancestry, rocker turned international humanitarian Bob Geldof told Manchester’s Jewish Telegraph, “I could not give a f****** sh**.” Geldof was being interviewed prior to giving a speech at the Manchester Jewish Federation’s annual dinner. In the speech, he recounted a conversation he once had with his Jewish agent in which he said, “I was a quarter Catholic, a quarter Protestant, a quarter Jewish and a quarter nothing — the nothing won.”
RED KEN SPEAKS: London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who has had a rocky relationship with his city’s Jewish community, in part due to his outspoken criticism of Israel, tells London’s Jewish Chronicle that he’s being treated unfairly.