The Shmooze

Rabbi Wins Buenos Aires Parliamentary Election in Landslide

By Ben Sales

In the metropolitan area where Adolf Eichmann once hid, a rabbi is now a member of parliament.

Rabbi Sergio Bergman, representing the center-right PRO Party Buenos Aires’s municipal election, won 45% of the vote in a race featuring 10 candidates, according to the JTA. He garnered more than three times the votes of his runner up, who received 14%.

Bergman, 49, is the rabbi of the traditional Congregacion Israelita Argentina in the Argentinean capital. Argentina is home to Latin America’s largest Jewish community. Bergman is also the founder of Active Memory, a group committed to commemorating the 1994 bombing of AMIA, a large Buenos Aires Jewish community center. Because he is an influential spiritual leader in the city, a Buenos Aires court forbade the title “rabbi” from appearing on the ballot.

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Domestic or Imported? Israeli Supermarkets Locked in Diaper Duel

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStokphoto

At first it was about what went in one end, and now it’s about what comes out the other. Israel’s cottage cheese revolution has turned into a diaper war.

With Israeli consumers up in arms over the high price of food and basic necessities, the country’s Finance and Industry and Trade and Labor ministries are pointing fingers at the overly centralized production of animal feed, and at hidden costs of agreements between supermarkets and vendors that end up being passed on to consumers. There is also grumbling about the fact that Israelis pay more for some imported food items, like breakfast cereal, than do consumers for the same products in other Western countries.

But the biggest fuss lately surrounding all this sticker shock has been over disposable baby diapers. Just as supermarket chains recently waged a no-holds-barred price war over cottage cheese to keep shoppers coming in the doors, so are they now taking off their gloves in the fight to attract that captive audience made up of parents of children yet to be potty trained.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Mega Supermarkets, Kimberly-Clark, Israel, Diapers, Huggies, Cottage Cheese, Turkey

Dreidel-as-Metaphor: Long Island Rabbi Caught in Sex Scandal, NY Post Reports

By Michael Kaminer

Wikimedia

When is a dreidel not a dreidel? When it’s a stand-in for male genitalia in a tabloid story on a rabbi’s sexual escapades.

According to today’s New York Post, Rabbi Avraham Rabinowich — vice president of the Long Island Board of Rabbis, and head of the Bellmore Jewish Center — was “caught with his dreidel out in a string of sordid sex tapes, according to sensational Manhattan court records.”

Rabinowich “allegedly made appointments with prostitutes on the Sabbath shortly after services,” the Post reports. “He was then caught on camera in a hotel room enjoying some hard-core, commandment-breaking action, according to blockbuster court papers filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Dreidel, New York Post, Bellmore Jewish Center, Amora Rabinowich, Avraham Rabinowich, Prostitution

The Latest in Settler Tourism: Hiking the West Bank

By Nathan Jeffay

The summer vacation has started in Israel and people are flocking to attractions — theme parks, hotels, shows and festivals. But like most things here, tourism can be politically-loaded. Increasingly frustrated that they are having little luck expanding settlements, settlers and settler sympathizers are increasingly trying to make their mark on the parts of the West Bank that lie outside settlement fences.

In this mission, hiking has become a key issue. There’s a strong push in settler circles to walk the West Bank to stake an ownership claim. It’s essentially a statement that, in their view, the Jewish West Bank doesn’t stop at the edge of settlements. Favorite destinations are those that highlight that there is Jewish history in the West Bank.

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Explosive Implants May Be the Latest Form of Terrorism

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStock Photo

That attractive, buxom woman you spot at the airport may just be the bomb. Literally.

There is a chance that the implants in her enhanced breasts could be made not of silicone or saline, but rather from the plastic explosive PETN. And that guy who looks like he is packing a few extra pounds in the tummy or tush? It may not be from guzzling too many beers, but instead from agreeing to have a package of the explosive sewn into his abdominal cavity or buttocks.

Slate reports that the Department of Homeland Security has issued an alert to foreign governments that its intelligence services have picked up Internet chatter between al-Qaida followers about identifying doctors who would perform the necessary surgery for the bomb implantation. It was reported that the U.S. government even has evidence of doctors giving advice on, and offering to do, the operations.

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Making Friends: China Grants Israeli Ambassador Honorary Citizenship

By Renee Ghert-Zand

While so many countries are shunning Israel these days, China is going against the grain by officially and ceremoniously recognizing its ties with the Jewish State.

Ynet reported that on Wednesday, the Israeli ambassador to China, Amos Nadai, was granted honorary citizenship to Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province in western China. This is the first time such an honor was bestowed on a foreign ambassador. Nadai has been Israel’s ambassador to China since August 2007.

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Palestine Scores: Next Stop, World Cup?

By Dan Friedman

Palestine scored its first ever goal in a home World Cup qualifier on July 3. And it was better than Beckham.

At Al Ram on the West Bank, Palestine drew 1-1 with nomadic Afghanistan which, when combined with the 2-0 win over the Afghanis in the first match (played in Tajikistan), put the Palestinian team through to the next round of the Asian preliminary qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Watch Hussam Wadi’s Historic Goal:


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Why We Love Super Sam Fuld (So What If He's Only Part-Jewish?)

By Aaron Yellin

Getty Images

When we talk about Jewish athletes in American professional sports, we’re dealing with a very small spectrum. The only athletes at or near the top of their sports seem to be those Jews in baseball — where Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler have all-star caliber talent.

But another name is creeping not just into the Jewish baseball discussion, but into the broader baseball discourse as well. And though he finished a modest 23rd in all-star voting for American League outfielders, the fact that Sam Fuld managed to get 1 million votes is a testament to what he’s been able to accomplish this year for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Fuld’s fascinating rise to prominence in 2011 is the subject of quite a few features, including a recent one by Ben McGrath in the The New Yorker. The Rays outfielder certainly makes for an interesting story. Fuld, whose small stature only adds to his underdog persona, spent much of his early career in obscurity with the Cubs. He was a late-season call-up in 2007, 2009, and 2010, but didn’t get a real chance to shine until he was traded to the Rays before the 2011 season and named their fourth outfielder. And just as Manny Ramirez’s steroid downfall forced him out of the game, Fuld was forced into it.

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Voting Boosts Stress Levels, Israeli Study Finds

By Nathan Jeffay

iStockphoto

Relax, while you still can — next year is going to be a stressful one. As America gears up for presidential elections in 2012, an Israeli research team claims to have proved that voting is so stressful that it actually causes hormonal changes in voters.

Scholars from the University of Haifa and Ben Gurion University of the Negev have found that before voting, people experience high levels of cortisol — a hormone released to help the body cope with threats when a person is under pressure. The findings were just made available to journalists by the researchers.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Stress, Polls, Israel, Hormones, Elections, Voting

Natalie Portman Names Son ‘Aleph’

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Getty Images

She’s an A-list actress who’s given her son an A-list name. According to reports, the Jerusalem-born Natalie Portman has named her son Aleph, after the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

In Kabbalah, Aleph represents the oneness of God.

In her native Israel, Natalie Portman (nee Natalie Hershlag) is a national treasure.

So it’s fitting that her son’s name was first reported in the Israeli newspaper “Israel Hayom.” Portman and fiancé Benjamin Millepied have kept a very low profile since having their son in June, and haven’t confirmed reports about the name.

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‘LaunchBox’ Wins ‘Next Big Jewish Idea’ Competition

By Ben Sales

She had to compete against an interactive Jewish history website for kids, a service-learning trip for b’nai-mitzvah and a financial education program, but Batsheva Frankel will receive a $100,000 grant from the Los Angeles Jewish Federation for her new program, “LaunchBox.”

LaunchBox, an initiative to send to families in Los Angeles boxes containing tools and educational resources for doing a range of mitzvot, will receive the grant as a prize for winning the L.A. Federation’s Next Big Jewish Idea competition. The competition, which launched in January, called for contestants to submit an idea for a program that would “strengthen and benefit the greater Los Angeles Jewish community,” according to its website. It attracted more than 350 submissions.

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A Deaf Holocaust Survivor’s Harrowing Tale

By Penina Kessler

Leave your headphones at home.

Charlotte Friedman, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor, tells her story for the first time in a two part video series produced by Jewish.TV, the multimedia branch of Chabad.org. The twist? Friedman, who is deaf, conducted the interview entirely in American Sign Language.

The videos are part of a joint effort between Jewish Deaf Multimedia and Rabbi Joshua Soudakoff to reach out to the Jewish deaf community.

Friedman’s tale of escape from a Dutch internment camp is especially astonishing given that many deaf people were tortured and killed by the Nazis.

Friedman recounts her childhood in Germany, including how her parents managed to provide her with an education despite her impairment and the enactment of the Nuremberg laws. She also discusses how she crossed paths with another persecuted Jewish girl hiding out in Amsterdam — Anne Frank. Her parents befriended Anne Frank’s parents, but the bonds were broken when the Friedmans left for America.

Though she chatters away on many other subjects, when asked about her remarkable endurance, Friedman simply states: “I was very lucky.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Chabad.org, Anne Frank, Amsterdam, American Sign Language, Holocaust

Introducing ‘Tajew’: Taboo, Jewish Edition

By Penina Kessler

It’s boxed Judaism, plus shipping and handling.

Two friends have turned their faith into a money-making venture, the Boston Herald reports.

Seth Burstein and Ian Framson were playing Taboo, the popular Hasbro game, when it struck them: “Dude, we should make a game called Tajew and have all of the clues related to Judaism,” Burstein told the Herald.

The duo reportedly vetted their ideas for the game by mining Burstein’s rabbi brother and Framson’s grandmother for guess words, some of which include “anoint”, “ark”, and “Adon Olam.”

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Former Klan Leader Exploring GOP Presidential Bid

By Ben Sales

Wikimedia

A field crowded with governors, senators and a past speaker of the house may be welcoming a man with a more unique qualification: David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Duke is embarking on a tour of 25 states to see whether he could go all the way to the White House, according to the Daily Beast. A former congressman from Louisiana, Duke won nearly 40% of the vote in his 1991 bid to be Louisiana’s governor and served as his district’s Republican executive-committee chairman until 2000.

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A Luxury Tour of Hitler’s Old Haunts, Now Accepting Reservations

By Michael Kaminer

There’s nothing like a carefree luxury vacation where you visit Dachau, eat a Bavarian dinner at the beer hall where Hitler unveiled the 25-point Nazi party program, and drop by Wannsee, the elegant lakeside residence where the Holocaust was planned.

At least that’s the idea behind Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: The Face of Evil, an eight-day, $3,200 “historical tour” which “covers the entire sobering story of Nazi Germany — from the Nazi party’s birth in the smoky beerhalls of 1919 Munich to the Third Reich’s protracted death, amidst the ruins and despair of 1945 Berlin,” according to the website of U.K. tour operator Historical Trips.

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LUSH Soap Brand Boycotted for Ties to Pro-Palestinian Group

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Those of us who like to like to soften our skin are being asked to toughen our stance against one of the largest purveyors of natural soaps and cosmetics. The pro-Israel organization United With Israel is calling on people to boycott LUSH products in response to the company’s financial support of OneWorld.

OneWorld is the organization that produced the “Freedom for Palestine” music video recently endorsed by the British band Coldplay but then removed it from the band’s Facebook page in response to public outcry against what was said to be the song’s historically revisionist narrative.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Soap, United With Israel, Palestine, OneWorld, LUSH, Israel, Edgar Davidson, Daphne Anson, Cosmetics, Boycott

Should Kate Moss Get a New Wedding Dress?

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Wikicommons

Despite her Jewish last name, Kate Moss is not a Member of the Tribe.

Proof positive? At her faux-secret wedding, she will reportedly be wearing a wedding dress designed by John Galliano, who, as you’ll recall, was caught on tape during a drunken, anti-Semitic rant.

She may be a supermodel, but that’s no guarantee of good taste.


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Jews and Arabs Partner for Football 4 Peace

By Nathan Jeffay

School’s out here in Israel, and today some 60 sports coaches arrived in Netanya from the UK and Germany to prepare for a most remarkable summer camp. They are partnering with 100 local coaches to help 1,500 youngsters with their soccer skills. The youngsters — Jews and Arabs, boys and girls — will train and play together for most of next week, building up to a final tournament.

Some 40 communities and regional councils will participate in the camp. Jewish and Arab communities are partnered and the participants are divided into small mixed groups. Part of the time is spent in a Jewish community and part in an Arab one, all participants meet at the final festival, next Thursday. Teams will be judged on fair play, not just results.

The program is called Football 4 Peace, and the message inculcated in all participants is that just as they can play together, they can live together. But it goes deeper than that. It’s also about Jews and Arabs on teams together learning that between them anything is possible. “Players that trust one another play well together,” says Football 4 Peace’s statement of values. “Learning to have faith in the capacities of others to carry out their roles and responsibilities dutifully and mutually, in ways that also contribute to the well being of team-mates, is an essential ingredient of good sportsmanship.”

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David Duchovny’s Hot (Hebrew) Cable Commercial

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

David Duchovny doesn’t appear to know Hebrew, which is part of what’s amusing about the actor’s latest TV commercial.

The “Californication” star is now appearing on Israeli television in ads for Hot, one of the country’s major cable providers. The commercial, which appears to have been filmed in Tel Aviv, begins with Duchovny missing an Israeli pal’s wedding — apparently because he’s been held up by female fans Eden and Merav, who’ve been watching him constantly via their Hot cable package. “Instead of being at my best friend’s wedding, I’m here all day on your TV,” he kvetches to the two women, who are apparently admirers of his Showtime series. (Don’t try to understand the logic; it’s a TV commercial.)

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Jewish Deli-Inspired Sunglasses? All the Stars Are Wearing Them

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Corey Shapiro likes his food salty and his eyewear sweet. Ever loyal to his roots in the ‘hood, the young personal eyewear consultant to the stars has designed custom shades inspired by his native Montreal’s Snowdon Deli. Big names like Lady Gaga, Cee Lo Green, Snoop Dogg and Perez Hilton may never have eaten the pastrami there, but they owe their hot looks to this Formica palace.

Never again will the Snowdon Deli be considered chopped liver in comparison to Schwartz’s. The latter’s Montreal smoked meat may be world famous, but now everyone knows there is a direct connection between the Snowdon Deli and the celebrity universe.

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