Rabbi Yael Buechler
Wondering how to address that whole Passover nail situation? Midrash Manicures has a new interpretation of the ten plagues that will make any fashionista happy — and spark meaningful Seder conversation.
Rabbi Yael Buechler’s modern ten plagues include everything from Ebola to NFL scandals, to the war on women. And the parents among you may be happy to see that “Frozen”s Olaf is duly represented.
“[I’m] always looking for new and meaningful ways to help people engage with the Haggadah,” Buechler wrote in an email. “How can we in modern times connect with the concept of the ten plagues that afflicted the Egyptians? What plagues are we experiencing in modern society? From the lighthearted plague of Frozen paraphernalia, to the serious and deadly plagues of Ebola and gun violence, [I] want to expand the conversation at Seders worldwide.”
Buechler has also created a handy dandy PDF document that you can print out and share at your Seder table (and nail salon).
Below are questions that Buechler suggests as starting points for a constructive holiday table discussion. Add the required four cups of wine to the mix and you’ve got the perfect recipe for that annual Passover family blowout.
“There’s a fierce battle between politicians over a woman’s right to choose. Where do you stand on this issue?”
“Ray Rice initially received a two-game suspension for domestic violence. What do you think of the NFL’s response to this scandal?”
“This top-grossing animated film continues to plague our sound waves, lunch boxes, and Purim costumes. Which song is most stuck in your head?”
“Most men need one woman to keep ‘em straight — I need four — and these are all nurses, Dr. Mark Kris, an honoree at the 31st Annual Calvary Hospital Gala, told the 400 black tie guests at The Pierre.
The lead physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering — IBM Watson Collaboration Attending Physician Memorial Hospital, recipient of the Annie Blount Stores Award said, “Those of you in healthcare know who is the ‘Crazy Glue’ — the nurses— and I stand here today to a great degree because of them.”
Frank Calamari, President & CEO Calvary Hospital, its Chairman of the Board Dr. “Thomas Fahey, Jr., and Calvary Fund Chairman of the Board and a past honoree Steven Golub — extolled Calvary’s unwavering tradition of loving care of its patients. A film video showcased the tender treatment of 93-year old Trina Kruger who had taken up ceramics while at Calvary. During dinner, her daughter, Sandy Reiburn, a past buyer in the garment arena, showed me a stunning one-of-a-kind pocketbook her mother had constructed of designer labels.
Barbara Nitzberg, Director of Public Affairs and Community Relations at Calvary, told me: “We have three Jewish chaplains at Calvary: Rabbi Rachmiel Rothberger, Rabbi Harold Stern, and Rabbi M.Ed. Shmuel Zuckerman.
Confused by the whole Jay Z/Beyoncé/Solange elevator spat? Here’s an easy way to make sense of it. Just imagine Jay Z as Jacob, Beyoncé as Rachel and Solange as Leah. Here’s how it would have gone down in Bible times:
1. “And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice.”
Bey and Jay first meet, they sing, they’re hot, it’s awesome.
2. “And Leah’s eyes were weak; but Rachel was of beautiful form and fair to look upon.”
Little sister Solange may be an indie princess, but Beyoncé is a queen. Beyoncé and Jay Z get hitched. But lo and behold…
3. “And it came to pass in the morning that, behold, it was Leah.”
Solange is everywhere. Jay Z can’t turn his head without catching a glimpse of her. The wrong sister.
4. “And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel.”
‘Does your sister have to follow us everywhere?’ — Elevator street fight ensues.
5. “And Rachel said: ‘With mighty wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed.”
6. “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her.”
Have you ever scrolled through Buzzfeed thinking, ‘If only this could be a little more Jewish?”
Someone in the wide netherworld of the Internet has heard your prayers and answered them. The result is BuzzTorah, a spoof of the news site that launched a thousand listicles created by Yeshiva University students.
The website self-describes as a “Torah and Jewish Life website featuring quick and comprehensive content like lists, pictures, GIFs, and short articles. We believe the internet can be a strong tool capable of affecting change and spreading Jewish values.”
Some of the content — like “7 Charosets from Around the World” — could actually be featured on Buzzfeed, which has been known to publish a Jewish-themed article or two (“35 Signs You Were Raised By a Jewish Mother,”, “32 Things Jewish Girls Can’t Resist, “ and “The Official Ranking of the 51 Hottest Jewish Men in Hollywood,” being recent examples).
But BuzzTorah’s appeal comes from the posts that most average BuzzFeed users wouldn’t quite relate to. “5 Rashis You Don’t Want to Miss This Week,” for example, is touted as “Rashi always has great stuff to say. Here, we choose 5 of his commentaries that you don’t want to miss.”
The Orthodox-geared website ironically gained mass attention when Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, himself a member of the tribe, tweeted out a link on April 4.
BuzzTorah http://t.co/83U8UpOlBY— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) April 4, 2014
@BuzzFeedBen I'm becoming skeptical of BuzzTorah though. A proper Jewish listicle site should only use multiples of 18.— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) April 4, 2014
Once you’ve delved into Rashi’s mind, you might want to know where he came from. For that, try “15 Ancient Cities of our Sages Revisited”.
Is your mom bugging you about those Skittles you’ve been chowing down on? Show her “9 Greatest Things to Become Kosher in the 21st Century,” (and get some new snack ideas in one fell swoop.)
The list(icle) goes on and on.
The most-tagged topics on Twitter generally involve Justin Bieber and other celebrities, but at least for one day, the Jewish Publication Society hopes to elevate Torah into the top 10.
In honor of Shavuot, the Philadelphia-based JPS is introducing a new tool that breaks up blocks of text into Tweet-size chunks, then posts them with a #Torah hashtag. The publisher is asking supporters to post favorite chapters or verses on Twitter on June 7, just before the start of Shavuot, when Jews celebrate receiving the Torah at Sinai.
To help #Torah’s prospects, JPS is offering free e-book versions of its 1917 Tanakh to those who sign up on its Web site.
Who knew he was so dedicated?
Ashton Kutcher reads the Torah every Saturday. That’s what Natalie Portman said of her co-star in the upcoming romantic comedy “No Strings Attached” during a recent interview.
Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, noted that Kutcher taught her more about Judaism that anyone else in her life.
For generations, scholars and cheder students have lugged around the Tanakh, the bedrock tome of Judaism, otherwise known as the Hebrew Bible. For some years now, they’ve also had access via their laptops to online versions.
On September 8, the Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim – the three subsections of the Tanakh – will join the interactive digital revolution as the Tagged Tanakh, becomes an online platform for bible commentary and research as well as plain old reading.
The site, administered by the Jewish Publication Society (publisher of the most popular English-language translation of the Hebrew Bible), will be a “place to conserve and share commentaries and people’s responses and interpretations of commentaries,” J.T. Waldman, director of Interactive Media for JPS, told Publisher’s Weekly yesterday.
There is intrigue across Israel’s Haredi community, after the sector’s media has reported on what seems to be a case of serial sefer Torah theft.
Several communities in and around the central-Israel city of Lod have had scrolls stolen in recent weeks. The criminals were seemingly not opportunists, but rather individuals or gangs who had carefully planned their crimes. They showed detailed knowledge of the synagogues they stole from and how the scrolls are stored and secured. In many cases, there were no signs of break-ins and a key was seemingly used to gain entry.
Even stranger, in some cases the parchments were cut away from the rollers on which they are mounted and the rollers were left behind.
The crimes raise many questions. Why sefer Torah scrolls? Why in these particular synagogues in one of the least affluent parts of Israel? What are the thieves planning to do with them — is there really a serious black market in such items? Why damage the scrolls to take them?
Calling all amateur detectives.
Dear Rabbi: Thanks for the double-bar-mitzvah Saturdays, the two-shift High Holy Day services, the grief counseling, Hebrew school teaching, Torah study leading, hospital visiting, song leading and sermon writing, but seriously now — do us both a favor: Take a vacation.
An article in the New York Times reports that recent research has shown the same thing again and again: Members of the clergy are not doing well. Their rates of obesity, hypertension and depression are above average, and they are using more antidepressants and dying younger than they were 10 years ago. Most discouraging of all, many wish they could leave their roles as spiritual leaders. (But I thought you loved teaching me to chant my Torah portion! Alas.)
Noah built an ark. Rabbi Shaul Shimon Deutsch built a Borough Park taxidermy museum in a brownstone and filled it, he claims, with every animal mentioned in the Torah — 350 specimens in all.
An article in The Brooklyn Ink details Torah Animal World, which will be complete once Deutsch puts the finishing touches on an annex for sacrificial animals. (He’s already open for business though and has drawn some 35,000 annual visitors — hordes of Orthodox yeshiva students along with a smattering of Amish and other Christians.)
Michoel Streicher, a 50-year-old mentally ill Orthodox cantor who was popular (in certain circles) in the 1990s and calls himself “The Michael Jackson of Jewish music,” was sentenced yesterday to one to three years in prison for stealing $36,000 from a fan, according to the Daily News.
The victim, 55-year-old Judy Burstein, gave Streicher the cash after he’d led her to believe he was a rabbi who would use it to purchase a special Torah for her home.
The article says that Streicher was forced to return the money at his sentencing hearing.
His lawyer, Eric Franz, said Streicher, who has 11 children, suffers from “severe” psychological problems and asked the judge to spare him jail time.
Steve Green, the president of crafts store chain Hobby Lobby, loves the Bible. How much? Somewhere in the realm of 30 million dollars.
A devoted Pentecostal Christian, Green wants to use his family’s sizeable fortune to create a 300,000 square foot National Bible Museum that brings to life the history of his favorite book. Green’s already impressive private collection contains 30,000 items and is valued between $20 million to $40 million.
Five torahs valued at up to $50,000 a piece were stolen from a synagogue in Brooklyn yesterday morning, saddening congregants and the area’s Jewish community. Police said the burglar may have entered the Karlsburg Synagogue (also known as the Khal Yirei Hashem Synagogue) in the Borough Park neighborhood through either an open or unlocked window. Two silver crowns and two silver breastplates stored with the scrolls were also taken.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind and City Councilman David G. Greenfield announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the robber.
The iPad, the newest of Apple’s technological materials, can now be used to delve into an oldie but a goodie: the Torah.
On the iPad, rustybrick.com advertises, the Torah’s 248 columns, or amudim, can be “magically stitched together.” The application enables the user to easily find the weekly Torah portion complete with bookmarks and a virtual yad. With the ability to shift to sections with the flick of a finger, it is much easier than rolling a scroll.
I just called my bookie, and I’ve never been so proud to be a Jew! She gave me good odds on the new sport in town: Predicting the percentage of sermons this Shabbat that will focus on Olympic snowboarding star Torah Bright. (I’m betting on 97% or more.)
Honestly, have you seen any sight more stirring than the ‘Go Torah!’ signs arrayed on the mountaintop? The screams of delight that filled my house woke the neighbor’s dog, because we lost control when Torah threw down her massive run to win the gold medal. I don’t care that she’s an Aussie — I felt like singing the Hatikvah!
Yes, she’s a Mormon whose parents adored the name Torah, but I see clues that she has a Yiddishe neshama. For instance, The New York Times describes her signature trick as “a switch backside 720, a perplexing double rotation with a blind landing that flummoxes all her competitors.” Now, that’s a description of Kaballah if I ever heard one!