What is it with Israelis and names inspired by Facebook?
Six months after we brought you the story of an Israeli couple who named their newborn daughter “Like,” the weekend edition of Yediot Aharonot reports that a 32-year-old Israeli man has legally changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg.
Education is a serious matter for Jews. But the Forward’s upcoming special section on education will also take a lighter look at learning — and you can be part of it.
Tell us your most ridiculous, hilarious, or cringe-worthy moment in Hebrew school. We’ll pick the 10 funniest submissions; the winners will appear in the February 3 issue of the Forward, and online. Post your nominations here, or email TopTen@forward.com, and be sure to include your contact information. Names will not be changed to protect the embarrassed!
Not many works on the American Library Association’s list of frequently challenged books — a distinguished roster including “The Great Gatsby,” “Catcher in the Rye,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Beloved” — include cartoons. But “Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics From an Unpleasant Age”, an acclaimed compilation whose clear-eyed, candid cartoons confront adolescent traumas, is at the center of a battle between a Maine parent and her local school board, the state’s Sun-Journal newspaper reported this week.
“There’s sexual content and foul language. I want the correct approach to this book. (Having it in the library) is a very lazy way to teach criminal behavior,” said Becky Patterson, the parent who objected to the book’s availability in the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School library. “It’s very demoralizing to little girls.”
The book’s editor, Eisner-nominated cartoonist Ariel Schrag, is one of 18 artists featured in the Yeshiva University Museum exhibit “Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women”, which I curated and the Forward is sponsoring.
A rabbi in North Carolina is letting people know — in a big way — about the biblical injunction to welcome the stranger.
Tired of the same old Nutcracker? Looking for a new — and Jewish — twist on that holiday classic? Look no further than “The Jewish Nutcracker, A Maccabee Celebration” in San Francisco.
World Dance Fusion is presenting this holiday season a performance that unites the Tchaikovsky’s score with a fusion of various international dance genres. Katy Alaniz Rous has choreographed the story of the Maccabees’ fight for religious freedom and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, blending dance forms such as Flamenco, Chinese, Persian, Kathak, Afro-Hatian and Capoeira. The production is meant to reflect the diversity of the world’s Jewish population.
It is no secret that Elizabeth Taylor loved jewelry. The fact that her signature fragrance was called White Diamonds was a big hint, as was the fact that she always appeared in public laden with baubles and bangles (the real kind).
So, it may not come as a shock that the auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels netted a cool $116 million, some of which will benefit the late screen legend’s Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The final tally was, however, a surprise for Christie’s, which thought the jewelry would bring in only $20 million.
Dr. Fred Goldman, who celebrated his 100th birthday on December 11, is still going strong — not by relaxing in retirement, but by working. Goldman is the oldest licensed physician practicing medicine in Ohio.
The doctor still works three full days a week, seeing patients in his non-computerized office (he calls it “the dump”), and in their homes. “If they’re sick and can’t leave home, I go to see them,” he told a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer.
XBiz, a newswire for the adult entertainment industry, has reported that the Israel-based Haredi website Behadrei Hadarim was hacked during the night between December 12 and 13 by someone who replaced its usual content with pornography.
The site (whose name means “in secret” or “in private” — perhaps an allusion to the fact that some Haredim consider public use of the internet unseemly) was temporarily shut down following many calls of complaint.
What would be your attitude toward someone who had plotted to kill you? I can’t help thinking that I’d be more than a little broiges.
You would imagine that the stakes are upped a little when the target of the murder plot is the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Shas party. After all, his would-be murderer was planning his death as an act of terrorism, and Yosef famously said in 2001 that it is “forbidden to be merciful” to Palestinian terrorists. People initially presumed that the “them” referred to Palestinians in general, but he then clarified that he meant Arab terrorists.
Never in the field of human barbery has so much been written by so many, about so few… hairs.
But it’s not only the Forward that has gone stark raving beard bonkers, over at religiondispatches.org they’ve taken some time off from theological niceties and geopolitical necessities to give Forward columnist Jay Michaelson some time to weigh into Beard-Gate.
The Washington Post explains how Matis no longer feels the need for rules, Billboard bemoans the loss of the first “chassidic reggae superstar” and Gawker leads with the Onion-esque stance that shaving off his beard is a publicity stunt.
Ironically, The Onion’s A.V. Club merely notes that Matis’s strange phrase to the effect that “you haven’t seen the last of my facial hair” might mean that his mustache might come calling at your door in 2012.
Seems like Matis might no longer qualify for the International Facial Hair Festival, which is a shame.
UPDATED DEC 15
“Dreidel’s my hobby / Don’t let it get wobbly”
As Amy Klein feared the season of Hanukkah videos has begun. The new Maccabeats video featuring Mayim Bialik and Barack Obama is out (see below). Surely their boy band glow, Noah Jacobson jollities and Uri Westrich video mavening is really just a one year thing, allowing the boys to finally call it a day and go to accountancy school — but both Bialik and Obama are sexier than anyone on last year’s video, so maybe not.
The Fountainheads are always good for happiness in the face of despair and this dark festival season is no exception. They are still dancing on mountaintops as they “Light Up the Night” but their cute Matrix dress-up is either 10 years out of date or brilliantly prophetic.
Over at Heeb Dan Sieradski is appalled at Jew-Z’s Hanukkah production: “Jew-Z’s Groove”. Sieradski doesn’t specify which of the stereotypes offend him but clearly it’s both the song AND the video that are guilty because he wants to punch people responsible for either, “in the f–king face.”
But I know — because I know what you’re like — that you’ve been waiting to see what the JNF could come up with. Because if any Jewish organization has a phat beat and an uncanny instinct for what the kids love, it’s the (Canadian?) JNF. So, below, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Latkes of all sizes, it’s the JNF and the Magen Boys.
Here’s the JNF and Magen Boys getting, umm, hip?
Here’s the new Maccabeats video with the shout-out from President Obama at the end.
Remember that little cardboard or plastic (and if you are even older, metal) tzedakah box that you used to drop coins into at home or at Hebrew school? Well, so does the American Jewish World Service, which is using it as the inspiration for a new design competition to be launched in January.
“Where Do You Give? Reimagining Tzedakah for the 21st Century” is both an icon design contest and an educational program. It involves a blog about tzedakah practice, an interactive educational experience for middle school students and their parents, and two national design competitions — one for adults 18 years old and up, and one for middle school and high school students.
Parents of students who attend the public-religious Ohel Meir school in Afula in northern Israel are demanding that it be spiritually purified following a Muslim wedding that took place there. They are up in arms that the wedding was allowed to happen in the hall where the school’s Torah scrolls are kept, and are threatening to keep their children out of the school synagogue until a purification ceremony is carried out.
“We’re talking about a serious event that should never have happened,” one parent told the Israeli news website Walla! “I am not prepared to let my child pray in a space in which a Muslim wedding took place…this was an impure act.” One father said that he thought a delegation of rabbis needed to enter the school synagogue and perform a special prayer service in order to purify it.
Reggae star Matisyahu has shaved his long beard, posted photos of his startling new look on Twitter, and is now saying that he is disavowing the Hasidic life he has led for the past decade.
Tuesday morning, with the photos, he tweeted a somewhat cryptic line that seemed to explain at least part of his new look:
At the break of day I look for you at sunrise, when the tide comes in I lose my disguise.
Later in the day he posted on his blog a statement indicating the magnitude of the change:
This morning I posted a photo of myself on Twitter. No more Chassidic reggae superstar.
Israel’s government may kill two birds with one stone by converting as many as eight army bases into residential living areas.
The plan, still under discussion among the treasury, defense ministry and Israel Land Administration, would initially turn four bases into apartment complexes, in a move that could eventually create up to 40,000 new housing units in the greater Tel Aviv area. The plan addresses two sources of local protest: anxiety among residents who’ve seen real estate prices sky-rocket in recent years because of a housing shortage, and concerns among army officials over a treasury proposal to cuts its budget by 3 billion shekels (about $795 million) annually.
As 2011 draws to a close, children writing to Santa Claus aren’t the only ones making lists. Editors everywhere are furiously compiling the annual news round-ups that give us a chance to look back and smile — or cringe — at the year’s bests and worsts, in every category from books to fashion and beyond.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been hard at work, too, compiling something much more chilling — a list of the top ten anti-Israel and anti-Jewish slurs from 2011. It won’t fill you with holiday cheer, but it’s worth reading. A statement from the center, followed by the full list, appears below.
Fashionistas were out in force last week at the opening of the first Carolina Herrera store in Israel. The Jerusalem Post reports that they drank champagne and ate hors d’oeuvres as they shmoozed and checked out the merchandise in the spacious and tastefully appointed space on the top floor of the Ramat Aviv Mall in the tony suburb just north of Tel Aviv.
It’s not yet clear whether anyone other than the ultra-wealthy women in “The Riches,” Israel’s reality-TV knock-off of “The Real Housewives,” will shop in the flagship store packed with accessories from the CH Carolina Herrera lifestyle line, as well as pieces from the designer’s Fall/Winter 2011-12 line.
It seems that Bibi is feeling the need to connect with the Word of God these days. Last Friday, Israel’s prime minister announced at a ceremony marking thirty days since the passing of his late father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, that he has established a regular Bible study meeting in his official residence in Jerusalem.
The study sessions, which Netanyahu dedicated to the memory of Ben-Artzi, are actually a resurrection of a practice of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and also of Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Netanyahu mentioned in a speech Sunday marking the 38th anniversary of Ben-Gurion’s death that Ben-Artzi, a noted poet and Bible scholar, used to attend the study meetings hosted by Ben-Gurion.
Check out this video. What’s the story? Any guesses? It looks like a video of a garbage processing plant, or maybe a recycling project.
In fact, as the noisy truck starts to tip out its load, so begins the newest bizarre religious ritual in Israel.
Amnon Yitzhak, the charismatic outreach rabbi, decided to hold a ceremony in Jerusalem destroying televisions to make the point that they are a corrupting influence, brining harmful secular values to the lives of viewers. Part of the ritual destruction was held opposite the offices of the Israel Broadcasting Authority headquarters in Jerusalem.
Four Jewish friends from London’s East End were the first Brits ever to hang ten. A recently discovered, long-forgotten home movie from 1929 showing Lewis Rosenberg, Harry Rochlin and Fred and Ben Elvey standing up on a homemade surf board on the waves of Holywell Bay in Cornwall has been authenticated as the earliest evidence of the sport in England.
Inspired by a newsreel they saw of Australian surfers, the teens decided they wanted to try the sport out for themselves. Rosenberg carved a 7-foot board out of balsa wood, and the group headed out to the seaside.
A reporter for the UK’s The Jewish Chronicle who has viewed the film reports: “The soundless black-and-white film, recorded on fragile 9.5mm stock on one of the first home movie cameras, captures the excitement of one of the boys, sticking his head out of the train window, grinning, pipe in mouth as he heads for the coast…The friends smile and pose for the camera. At the beach they lie flat on the surfboard, and attempt to ride the waves standing, often falling and splashing back into the sea.”