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
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.
It’s hard to put a price on the heroism of Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who helped save more than a thousand Jews from the Nazis. But you can, apparently, place a value on his legendary lists. A New York State Supreme Court judge has ruled that Orange County memorabilia dealer Gary Zimet can proceed with plans to sell one of the rosters, the (UK) Daily Telegraph reports.
Zimet – whose Washingtonville, NY-based company, Moments In Time, specializes in “autographs, documents, manuscripts, signed photographs, and other original historic memorabilia,” according to its web site – says the document could be worth about $2 million, YNetNews reports. An heir to Schindler’s widow Emilie had sued Zimet in May; Marta Rosenberg claimed that selling the document would violate her copyrights. But Sunday’s ruling by Supreme Court Justice Louis York lifted the temporary ban on Zimet’s planned sale. The ruling was “a real victory,” said Zimet, who claims the 13-page document is one of Schindler’s originals.
Back in March, the Forward asked the Village Voice’s Elizabeth Dwoskin, who penned the weekly’s highly publicized New York’s Ten Worst Landlordsroundup, if there was anything that made Jews particularly bad property owners; Semites like Rabbi Moishe Indig, Vantage Properties’ Neil Rubler, and alleged Orthodox bully Jacob Bernat populated the list. At the time, Dwoskin said “there’s no big picture” around religion.
But Dwoskin herself raised a similar question in a Voice cover story this month. ‘How can a religious person justify being a slumlord?” blared the headline. One of the writers Dwoskin sought out for answers was Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the “rabbi in residence” at progressive activists Jewish Funds for Justice and author of “There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition” (2009). “A lot of [Jews] just bifurcate their lives,” she told Dwoskin in a pointed interview. “There is a difference in their head between their religious lives and their business lives.”
Much has been made about how much weight Natalie Portman, 29, and her co-stars had to lose for their roles in Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.” But for Portman, at least, the scale is about to go in the opposite direction — and with good reason.
Reps for the Israeli-born actress told People magazine that she is pregnant, and engaged to French ballet dancer choreographer Benjamin Millepied, who helped train her to dance the lead role in the film’s production of “Swan Lake.”
Maybe they felt left out after seeing those dueling holiday bus ads by believers and atheists. After pro-Palestinian group Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign bought ads on local buses alleging “Israeli war crimes,” a group calling itself the American Freedom Defense Initiative countered by buying its own ads with messages like “One Billion Dollars to Hamas: Your Taxpayer dollars at Work,” according to JTA. Both campaigns are slated to begin next week.
In the meantime, reports the Seattle Times, leaders of four Jewish organizations yesterday asked local officials to reconsider decisions allowing SMAC’s ads, saying local Jews “have good reason to fear it could lead to crimes against them.” According to the Times, Hilary Bernstein, Pacific Northwest community director of the Anti-Defamation League, told officials the ads “actually pose a public-safety threat.” Rob Jacobs, Northwest regional director of pro-Israel media advocates StandWithUs, said Jewish representatives reminded officials that “synagogues and schools have upgraded security in recent years after their buildings were defaced, a man frightened students as he screamed ‘Heil Hitler!’ on the Seattle Hebrew Academy campus and another man shot six women, one fatally, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle,” according to the Times.
Greece’s fiscal and social problems have complex roots – unless you’re Greek Orthodox bishop Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus, whose explanation takes just three words to summarize: Blame the Jews.
Semites such as “Rockefeller, Rothschild and Soros control the international banking system that controls globalization,” the Metropolite said this week on Greece’s most-watched morning TV show, according to JTA. There is “a conspiracy to enslave Greece and Christian Orthodoxy” by Zionists, Jewish bankers like Baron Rothschild, and Freemasons,” the clergyman said. He also accused “international Zionism” of trying to destroy the family unit by “promoting one-parent families and same-sex marriages.”
Shopping in Israel can be an intensely irritating experience. There’s the line-jumping, the willingness of checkout staff to keep customers waiting while they chat with each other or on cell phones, and the hard-sell for things you don’t need just before you pay. Then there’s the overcharging – not the while-you’re-not-looking kind, but the we’re-waving-it-in-your-face-but-you-can’t-protest kind.
In the States, you pay the price displayed in the store. If something is $9.99 you get your penny coin as change. But in Israel, while things are commonly marked 9.99 shekels, 99.95 shekels, etc., the coins needed for change don’t exist. The smallest denomination of coin is 0.10 shekel, so you often end up paying more than you should.
Talk about a bad typo. On a recent episode of “Fox & Friends,” Elie Wiesel was described as a “Holocaust Winner.” Sure, the ticker label was just a mixed-up combination of “Nobel prize winner” and “Holocaust survivor,” but considering Wiesel was on the show to talk about human rights abuses, it was a pretty unfortunate mistake. While that blunder was fixed right away, there’s not much they can do to fix host Gretchen Carlson’s botched pronunciation of Gilad Shalit’s name. Better luck next time, Gretchen.
Crossposted from Haaretz
“Dawson’s Creek” actor James Van Der Beek and his wife Kimberly Brook said Wednesday that their newborn baby daughter Olivia was named after an olive tree in Israel which served as a romantic spot during their courtship.
“There’s an olive tree in Israel that’s special to us. We spent time under it when we first met in Israel, then we went back to this tree when I was pregnant,” Kimberly said in an interview published in the weekly tabloid People magazine, which also revealed photos of the happy couple with their baby girl.
It’s a stereotype turned on its head. If Israeli researchers are right, the public sector may be more dog-eat-dog than the corporate world.
Haifa University researchers have concluded that employees from the public sector are more likely to use “forceful influence tactics” to get their own way, while in the private sector people are more likely to use their “emotional intelligence.”
The study also found that in the private sector, emotional intelligence on the part of management helps staff to form and keep positive attitudes toward their company, and stave off burnout, intentions to leave and the tendency to neglect work. The impact of emotional intelligence in the public sector, on the other hand, was not as strong.
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