Love It. Fear It. Smear It.
Is 'Halachic' Going Mainstream?
Sitting Shiva for Spot?
A 'Crazy' Look at Paris Strip Palace
Boycotting Israel and My Olive Tapenade
From Esperanza to Shprintze
Israeli Gas Masks Help Get You High(er)
Was Adolf Hitler Leader or Follower?
Why My Daughter Isn't Bilingual — Yet
Preaching Lost Art of Fermentation
'Homegrown' Story of West Coast Jews
Remembering Mike Wallace
Sisters in Skivvies on the Lower East Side
An Anthem for LGBT Youth
Jewish Gangsters at the Mob Museum
Mayim's Most Important Role
‘Cabaret’ Comes to Tel Aviv
A Transsexual at Yeshiva University
'Strange' Evolution of Legendary Song
Kehinde Wiley Paints Israelis in Color
Nudge, Nudge. Wink, Wink.
Sweating in the Cleveland Schvitz
Berlin Film Festival Gets Serious, Mostly
Addicted to Aggadah
Why Do Men Write All the Baby Manuals?
Jewish Oscar Winners, From Allen to Zinner
Cleveland Rocks — Not Really
Raised Christian, But Jewish by Birth
Be My Israeli Valentine
The Jew and Hitler's Bug
Academy Awards Slideshow
Oscar Wins for ‘The Artist’; ‘Footnote’ Shut Out
The Jewess of 'Downton Abbey'?
The Allure of the Burka
Who Will Light Up Jewish Kids Lit?
Leonard Cohen's Old Whine in a New Bottle
Stephen Colbert vs. Maurice Sendak
X-Rated Dispute in Knesset
A Fraught Journey To Judaism
Bringing Real Bagels to the Motor City
Saying Mazel Tov in Mandarin
Strange Origins of David Cronenberg's 'A Dangerous Method'
How Jews Stayed in Good Spirits During Prohibition
The Word 'Jew' Has Fallen Out of Favor
Last Song of Hitler's Favorite Crooner
Making Foodie Resolutions for New Year
For the Glove of the Game
Adrienne Cooper Embodied Progressive Spirit
TV Ripped My Son From Reality
How Authentic Is ‘Porgy and Bess’?
Sandra Bernhard Shows Her Softer Side
Gimme Some New Time Religion
Tintin and the Anti-Semites
Gimme Some Old Time Gossip
Jewish Cookies Santa Would Love
The Hanukkah Bush and Christmas Dreidel
Gay people were behind the rise of the Nazi party during World War II. And now, they’re trying to suppress a book about their role.
If you believe the right-wing web site World Net Daily, this isn’t wingnut fiction, but historical fact. And independent-media site AlterNet is reporting that World Net Daily is not only continuing to sell “The Pink Swastika” — a widely discredited book promoting the gay-Nazi “theory” — but is capitalizing on recent controversy “by claiming that the gay community is trying to silence the book’s ‘findings.’”
Sounds like Nick Brooks has been watching too much TV. While police grilled him about the murder of his swimsuit-designer girlfriend, Sylvie Cachay, found strangled in a bathtub at the Meatpacking District’s tony, members-only Soho House, the 24-year-old blabbered that “I watch the show ‘Oz.’ I’ve seen what happens in jail,” according to the NY Daily News. “I’m Jewish and I’m worried about getting beat up by white supremacists.” In the HBO prison drama Oz, the white supremacist gang – based on the real-life Aryan Brotherhood - is led by inmate Vernon Schillinger, played by J.K. Simmons, according to Ask.com.
“Brooks’ panicky statements were released after he pleaded not guilty in a clear voice to second-degree murder, a charge that could mean 25 years to life in a real prison if he is convicted,” the News reports. “How long can I get for something like this,” Brooks also asked detectives after his arrest, according to newly-released police statements cited by the New York Post. “Will I get bail? I have money in a trust fund, but I have to get the money in person,” he announced. “Should I pay someone for protection while I’m in?” the paranoid-sounding Brooks asked detectives during the drive to Central Booking, according to the police statements quoted in the Post.
Phew! It turns out you can oppose the so-called Ground Zero mosque and can keep your Justin Bieber poster. After a boycott of several days, the singer is back in the good graces of Andy Sullivan, an activist who launched the anti-Bieber campaign based on pro-mosque comments the 16-year-old allegedly made in an interview with Tiger Beat, a magazine for teenage girls.
If Tiger Beat seems like an odd place for Bieber to make a political statement — then again, what wouldn’t? — you have more sense than Sullivan, who later discovered he’d been duped by CelebJihad.com, a self-described “satirical website” that reported on the supposed interview.
Rishon LeZion, the second Jewish town established in the Land of Israel, is today the benchmark of the civilized Israeli locale. The streets are clean, recycling is commonplace, and people push a little less in the line for the bus than in nearby Tel Aviv. But in the last few weeks, somebody has been causing a real stink there.
Wherever we are, keeping us from the filthy sewage flowing underground are just blocks of metal – sewage lids. And in Rishon LeZion, someone has been stealing them. Not just the odd one. According to local media reports some 180 sewage lids have been illegally removed during the last two months.
A joint Hindu-Jewish crusade against the abuse of European Roma issued a statement Monday calling on European leaders to stop treating the ethnic group as “pariahs.”
Rabbi Jonathan Freirich, a California- and Nevada-based rabbi, and Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, argue that European governments repeatedly scapegoat Roma, also known as Gypsies; the two religious leaders also note European governments – namely France – tend to blame Roma for social unrest.
Has the U.S. Army set a double standard by refusing to allow an Orthodox rabbi to serve as a chaplain because he won’t shave his beard?
Menachem Stern’s lawyers think so. Attorneys Nathan and Alyza D. Lewin told the Washington Post that the Army “has granted a waiver to two Sikh captains and an enlisted man, who were permitted to wear a turban and beard in uniform, and an unnamed, bearded Muslim officer who has served as a surgical intern at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.”
Some pretty bizarre ideas seem to be circulating Egypt at the moment. On New Year’s Eve a suicide bomber killed 22 people at the Coptic church in Alexandria. President Hosni Mubarak was quoted saying that the attack bore the hallmark of “foreign hands” seeking to destabilize Egypt. But who could have been prepared for what came next? Yesterday we learned that a coalition of Egyptian lawyers accused Israel of being behind the attack.
“The Mossad carried out the operation in a natural reaction to the latest uncovering of an Israeli espionage network,” lawyers charged at a memorial rally for the victims organized by the Egyptian Bar Association, according to the Jerusalem Post..
Jewish-born hip hop star Shyne tells the Forward that he spent his nine-year prison stint “wrapping tefillin.” Could he soon be rapping about tefillin? Freed from U.S. detention 15 months ago for injuring three people when he opened fire in a Manhattan nightclub in 1999, the 34-year-old Belize native now resides in Jerusalem as Moses Michael Levi and spends 12 hours a day studying religion with Hasidim. While he made a name for himself rapping about scantily clad women in the song “Bad Boyz” and for his professional relationship to Sean Combs (Combs and then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez were at the club the night of the shooting), today his adherence to Jewish modesty laws means he doesn’t even shake women’s hands.
Shyne is planning a world tour to coincide with the release of two albums, “Messiah” and “Gangland,” on April 5. He spoke with the Forward about his views on Judaism, rap music and helping Israel.
You have been strictly observant for seven years, but your move toward Orthodox practice was triggered earlier - before you went to prison when you were worried that your first album, “Shyne,” might get shelved. Tell us about that.
What do you get when Russian pogroms are set in the world of urban dance competitions? A breakdancing Tevye.
A spoof trailer and mash-up of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “You Got Served” features the Fiddler cast dancing to Ludacris and Method Man.
Watch the video for some new moves
Greek clerics may blame us for wrecking their country’s economy, as the Forward reported last week. But in China, Jews are hailed as “very smart, very clever, and very good at business,” according to Newsweek.
“The apparent affection for Jewishness has led to a surprising trend in publishing over the last few years: books purporting to reveal the business secrets of the Talmud that capitalize on the widespread impression among Chinese that attributes of Judaism lead to success in the financial arts,” the magazine reports. Business-book shelves are dominated by titles like “Crack the Talmud: 101 Jewish Business Rules”, “The Illustrated Jewish Wisdom Book”, and “Know All of the Money-Making Stories of the Talmud”; a Talmud hotel in Taiwan even implies guests can absorb the holy book’s wisdom through osmosis. “Inspired by the Talmud theory, the owner uses red interior to add a splash of fashion and professionalism,” exclaims the hotel’s web site. “In each room, there’s also a copy of Talmud-Business Success Bible for anyone who would like to experience the Talmud way of becoming successful.”
Using your iPhone to place a note inside the Western Wall sounds terrific, except for squeezing the mobile device into one of those crannies.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which administers the wall, has a better idea: A new iPhone app that “allows users to send e-mails to be placed in the crevices of the old wall, a Jewish custom,” according to the Associated Press. The messages won’t just be symbolic gestures; “both the notes that are received through the website and those that are received on the new iPhone application are printed out and are physically placed between the stones of the Western Wall,” the Foundation’s Mimi Schler told the Forward in an e-mail.
The app “streams live from the site around the clock,” the AP reports, except on the Sabbath and holidays, when transmissions are forbidden. “It also includes a compass that allows users to pray in the direction of Jerusalem, another Jewish practice.” The Western Wall rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, welcomed the initiative, according to Israel news site ArutzSheva. “The Western Wall has been in the heart of every Jew in the world for 2,000 years,” he said. “It is only natural that in the technological age there will be ways to express the love and devotion of the Jewish people to the Western Wall and to Jerusalem. We hope that the new application will strengthen the younger generation’s bond to the Kotel.”
Kadima lawmaker Otniel Schneller blamed immigrants to Israel from the Former Soviet Union for the national upsurge in drunk driving. He said that “they brought their drinking habits over from there.”
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat tried to stop him, but Schneller continued on to say that prior to this immigration “the problem of drunk driving did not exist in Israel” and claim: “It is one of the symptoms of this welcome immigration.”
There’s plenty of demagoguery and victimization of different ethnic groups in Israeli politics, and one reading of Schneller is that he’s guilty of these sins. The other is that he’s an expert presenting an informed view of a cultural shift who is getting battered for sounding non-PC.
In a popularity contest among U.S. religious groups, Jews would win, according to a newly published book.
That finding – that “Jews are the most broadly popular religious group in America today” – is contained in “American Grace: How Religion Unites and Divides,” and is based on the book’s survey of 3,000 Americans of all religious backgrounds.
“The most popular religious group in America today is Jews…What’s so interesting about that is that it was only a generation ago or two generations ago when Jewish-Americans would have been viewed as at the bottom of the heap,” said one of the book’s co-authors, Notre Dame political scientist David Campbell, in a radio interview on “The Marc Steiner Show.” “They are the ones who were viewed as being alien or foreign. That’s no longer the case, and that gives us hope that those at the bottom now can actually climb.”
Despite the ostensibly good news, leaders of the Anti-Defamation League and Simon Wiesenthal Center greeted the findings with skepticism, though they didn’t dispute them. Both Abraham Foxman of the ADL and Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center pointed to recent anti-Semitic statements by prominent journalists – Rick Sanchez of CNN and former White House correspondent Helen Thomas – to show that anti-Jewish sentiment remains a threat.
America’s population of Israeli expats has grown significantly in the last decade, according to new numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The figures show that just over 140,000 U.S. residents were born in Israel, a 30 percent increase over the figure from 2000, when an Israeli population of 109,720 was reported in the U.S. Among Israelis currently living in the United States, 90,179 have American citizenship, according to the Census.
As with almost any study involving demography and Israel, the Census numbers will generate a debate with Israeli government officials and others likely to suggest that the actual figures are much higher. A 2003 article in Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot cited a study by the Israeli foreign ministry that put the number of Israelis in America at half a million. A JTA report on the new Census findings noted that the Israeli Leadership Council, a group based in Los Angeles, puts the number of Israelis at 250,000 in that city alone. Substantial numbers of Israelis also live in the metropolitan areas of New York City, Boston, Miami and San Francisco.
The toy of choice this season for boys under 10 is the Beyblade (pronounced “Babe Laid”) Metal Fusion Super Vortex Battle Set from Japan. But the marketing glitz masks the simple and traditional game beneath the plastic and chrome.
Complete with its own “Let It Rip!” video at the toy’s website and instructional videos at the manufacturers YouTube channel, Beyblade has all the new media support you might associate with some sort of viral online game app.
But, despite the rhetoric, Beyblade Metal Fusion is merely a plastic forum within which spinning tops compete to be the last one spinning. Rather than relying on finger twists, there are various small contraptions to impart mechanical spin to the selection of shining plastic tops. These latter have fanciful names such as “Storm Pegasus” and are deemed to have different spinning characteristics based on their four constituent parts: face bolt, fusion wheel, spin track and performance tip.
Fatally injured in a motorcycle crash on December 20, Avi Cohen, arguably Israel’s greatest ever soccer player, died on December 28, aged 54.
The first Israeli to play in England, Cohen moved to Liverpool in 1979 when they were Europe’s premier team. Although he never established himself in the first team he was famous for being chosen for the game against Southampton on September 20, 1980 — Yom Kippur. To the anger of the Israeli press and the mixed but general disappointment of soccer-supporting British Jews he took the opposite route from American baseball legends Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax and decided to play.
This Yom Kippur game always overshadowed what was a trailblazing but ultimately unspectacular career. He was personally dependable without standing out and, as a defender, his job was accomplished without making a splash. Coming before soccer players commanded vast salaries and also before Israel’s national team was strong enough to compete on a world level, Cohen ended his career with neither fortune nor glory. His ability is evidenced by a cluster of medals that his teams won, even when supporters might struggle to remember his involvement.
The idea that household appliances and electronic gadgetry should be adapted to fit the increasingly techno-centric lifestyles of Sabbath-observant Jews has always seemed a tad counter-intuitive. Shabbat, of course, means abstinence from light switching, button pressing, knob turning and any other action that initiates electricity from sundown Friday until Saturday night. But we live in an age of convenience. If an elevator can be tweaked so you don’t have to slog down the stairs on your way to shul Saturday morning, why not?
E-readers, however, pose an entirely new challenge, writes The Atlantic’s Uri Friedman. Unable to watch television, surf the Internet or go shopping, many observant Jews devote their Shabbats to reading. But print publishing, some argue, is on the verge of extinction. All reading – novels, textbooks, newspapers – might one day be digital.
“E-readers are problematic,” Friedman notes, “not only because they are electronic but also because some rabbis consider turning pages on the device – which causes words to dissolve and then resurface – an act of writing, also forbidden on the Sabbath.”
Nearly seven decades after the fact, the history of Germany during the Nazi years continues to metastasize. The New York Times reports that German Foreign Ministry documents have opened a chilling new window on the mass murder of Jews. “What is coming to light now — and causing a major debate in Germany over the past few weeks — is the active involvement by Nazi Germany’s civil servants,” writes reporter Judy Dempsey.
For decades, she recounts, “bodies like the Foreign Ministry and the Finance Ministry managed to make the public believe they had been relatively ‘clean’ during the Nazi years. They pointed to their continuing efficiency as a source of pride.” But in 2003, an obituary about a German diplomat named Franz Nusslein omitted his long war-crimes sentence for a role in the murder of Czech citizens, the Times writes. Anger over such “whitewashed obituaries” cascaded into protests that led to a commissioned study of the ministry’s past. The result – “Das Amt und die Vergangenheit,” or “The Ministry and the Past” – was published this autumn. “It became a best seller, shocking a public used to looking up at its diplomats as gentlemen who would never dirty their hands,” Dempsey writes.
Three months after the Forward reported that early registration had launched for Hebrew domain names in Israel, the process has finally opened up to the public. As of December 26, reports YNetNews, the Israel Internet Association (ISOC-IL) will allow anyone to register domain names in Hebrew with the “il” suffix – www.שלום.co.il, for example – through the ISOC web site.
Up to now, “Hebrew domains were available in the pre-public phase only for government offices, corporations, and registered companies,” according to YNetNews. The change is more than cosmetic, writes Haaretz; domain names with Hebrew characters will allow many more Hebrew-speaking surfers to participate in online conversations. “As the new technologies are universalized into a global language, it would seem that Hebrew has been excluded from internet-speak,” writes tech correspondent Sefi Krupsky. “English terms have often been adopted wholesale, without having to go through the process of Hebraicization.” As a result, Krupsky says, Israelis who lack proficiency in other languages have been unable to fully participate in life online. But “Hebrew-loving technophiles can rejoice at the news that the Israeli Internet Association is now allowing domain name registration in the holy language,” he writes.
To generate some buzz for his latest movie, “127 Hours” star James Franco is making use of a secret weapon - his sweet old Jewish grandma.
A likely Oscar nominee for the film, Franco released a short home video on Christmas Day featuring his grandmother, who joins the actor while wearing a Santa hat. “I’m the Number One Santa,” Franco’s grandmother says.
“That’s weird,” the actor responds, “because you’re - you’re Jewish.”
“Part Jewish,” she counters, before the pair move on to their main point of business: telling fans to check out his newest movie.
Having established her nice-old-lady status, Franco asks his grandmother what she thinks of moviegoers hesitant to see the film, which is based on the true story of a hiker who gets trapped under a boulder and must amputate his own arm to escape. Released in November, the film received enthusiastic reviews but has made some potential viewers queasy over its climactic scene. Franco’s grandmother, however, won’t stand for such sensitivities. “I think you’re a bunch of …!” she shouts at the camera, using an obscenity unprintable on a family-friendly blog such as this.
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