It’s Chanukah time! We have funny Rabbis, cats stuck on roofs in Jerusalem, peanut allergies and stupid peanut peddling former Presidents, stupid Israeli bird brains (literally), introspective posts about therapy, Jewish child naming traditions and destiny, chanukah gift ideas from Montana or from New York, introspective posts about the challenges of aging and the search for happiness – possibly inspired by a folk dancing accident that broke both (!!) his wrists – refuah shlema Jack…
I guess I should apologize for my lateness. It’s Chanukkah time and I was, you know, busy. Rabbi Yonah who organizes our Jewlicious Festival was in town and along with my usual workload, I got behind schedule. I have to say that after doing this twice, I take my hat off to all of those involved in Haveil Havalim for all the work they do, week in, week out to bring you all a quick glimpse of the goings on in the Jewish blogosphere. Anyhow, thanks for your patience and without further ado, here is this week’s HH197!
Parshat Hashavuah – Vayeshev
The story of Joseph teaches us the ramifications of favoritism, sibling rivalry and the power of forgiveness according to Ilana Davita. Velveteen Rabbi takes a more esoteric approach with a post that begins with a Vayeshev inspired poem and goes on to discuss the Quranic version of the Joseph story as well as “Joseph’s literal and metaphorical descents” in relation to the position of the sun in the Northern hemisphere. I told you it was esoteric!
Oh my holy h@shem! Benji Lovitt discovers that Israelis are not the world leaders in customer service! Stop the presses! Stop the presses I say! Whatever, enjoy Festivus in Israel Benji. And if you want a more idealistic perspective on Israel, do by all means check out Israel Chronicles’ 60th post, in honor of the State of Israel’s 60th anniversary, titled What does Israel mean to me? Here’s a hint… she mentions nothing about bad customer service. Or Festivus and the Airing of Grievances.
Grievances? You want grievances? Batya hates Jerusalem Light Rail construction induced chronic traffic. Yet she still finds the time to say a bracha (blessing) thanking H@shem for her continued ability to walk to Jerusalem Central Bus Station. She doesn’t find the time to call me and have maybe a nice cup of tea while she’s at the shuk, but that’s ok. G*d always takes precedence. She also noted the traffic at Herodian when she went to visit. In another post, Batya observes that King Herod, whatever else he was, was a better planner than former Mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert. Well, she says other stuff too and includes videos and photos, but I’m trying to make this flow, so just click on the links if you want to read/see more.
In further contrast to Israel Chronicle’s rosy disposition, we have Chaim over at Freedom’s Cost is taking “A Hard Look at Ehud, Ehud, Tzippi, Bibi and Company” and it’s safe to say that he doesn’t like what he sees. I may not personally agree with everything he says, but his post is well written, detailed and pretty fair. Definitely worth a read. It won’t affect me though as I’m voting for the Indian Immigrant party. Unless the Ethiopians put together a list again…
So there’s a new right-wing party in Israel called the Jewish Home Party. It’s made up of a confusing union of smaller right wing parties whose members seem to be vying for position and honor. Esser Agaroth tries to explain and concludes “Will a Sanhedrin be accepted, a king appointed, and work begun on the Mizbe’ah (altar) and Miqdash (Temple), thus canceling the need to participate in this [not even good enough to be called] “Hellenist process?”” I don’t know that we’re ready for that yet, but I’m open to pretty much anything that would spare me from having to figure out this confusing mess of party politics, influence peddling and just plain old balagan! I have to give Esser Agaroth props for trying to sort it all out.
Obama’s election shows an America that is moving to the left while in Israel, a presumed victory for Netanyahu in the upcoming Israeli elections shows a populace moving to the right. The question then posed by Yid with a Lid – who will dominate? Will the next Israeli government be able to resist American pressure to make painful concessions while Israelis have no confidence in a fractured Palestinian government incapable and/or unwilling to reign in its Qassams and suicide bombers? Will Iran be appeased at the expense of Israeli security? Stay tuned for the next episode of “Showdown at the Middle East Coral” where the fun never ends!
Speaking of fun, Jacob Da Jew shows us a picture of Tzipi Livni and her Bush. Uh… President Bush that is. The two are kind of embracing and readers are invited to submit a caption. The winner of the contest is guaranteed to have their names or the names of their children permanently deleted from all Shadchan databases.
Yisrael Medad quotes some dude who says that coexistence between Arabs and Jews is impossible and that no way is any part of Jerusalem going to be given up. What horrible hard core right wing Jew or Israeli said this? Uh… well, no. It was actually Ahmed Qurei, head of the Palestinian negotiating team outlining his plans for a Judenrein Palestine. No Jews, but peaceful. Well… Martin Luther King Jr. is not the only one with a dream. Now we go from dreams to delusion. Yisrael Medad on Arutz Sheva takes the author of a report by the IDF Military Advocate General’s Office to task for suggesting that rocket fire from civilian areas ought not be responded to with artillery. Care ought to be taken to avoid collateral damage, but he thinks its idiotic to give terrorists carte blanche to attack Israel, as long as they are attacking from crowded civilian areas.
Soccer Dad wrote about these new billboards he saw – they were ads by the Palestine Authority asking Israelis to approve a land-for-peace deal and signed by 57 Arab and Muslim states (not including Iran). Hmmm. As the Qassam’s rain on Sderot, as Iran maintains its bellicose stance, as Shaheeds continue to be universally celebrated and as the State of Israel’s legitimacy continues to be rejected in both the West Bank and Hamas controlled Gaza, Soccer Dad is decidedly skeptical – do you really blame him? So Mahmoud Abbas? Thanks for reaching out and all, but clever marketing can only get you so far. Maybe what the PA needs is a viral video with hot babes in it or something.
Or maybe the PA can help release Gilad Shalit? Israel has made some pretty steep sacrifices in effectuating the release of captured soldiers. LB over at Occidental Israeli suggests however that Israel may be shooting itself in the foot by negotiating with terrorists and that the idea of getting our boys back at any price may no longer be an appropriate policy – even though abandoning it may be painful. I don’t have the answers but the argument presented is thought provoking in a world where Samir Kuntar is hailed as a hero and is a free man while Gilad Shalit continues to languish in captivity.
Now we segue to Moms – the key to peace in the Middle East. Mitchell Bard notes the existence of Mother-centric organizations critical of government policies in Israel on both the right and on the left of the political spectrum, but he invokes Golda Meir in expressing disappointment in the lack of similar organizations amongst the Palestinians. Mothers should not be eager about the weaponization of their children – when Palestinian mothers step up and say Challas! (enough!) then maybe we can have a hope for peace in the Middle East. Whatever… just as long as mothers of every race and creed do not ever ask Material Maidel to babysit their infants. Ever. Or even talk about them.
Judeopundit notes Al Jazeera’s report that “Palestinian groups admitted that they had been using the truce to train and better arm themselves.” Duh. But what to make of this report published in Hebrew in the Israeli daily Maariv that certain unnamed Arab states, fearful of Iran’s growing regional influence, are urging Israel to “Cut off the Heads of Hamas’ Leaders.” I know that sounds kind of harsh, but when you factor in that Hamas may have gotten $2 million in support from Lashkar e Taibe, and may have trained members of the group that killed nearly 200 people in Mumbai… well, you can read the details on Daled Amos.
Such tzores we have! None of this would have been an issue if they would have let the Jews settle in Alaska in 1938. But of course, no one wanted Jews then. Daled Amos notes opposition and resistance to the plan from a society still harboring anti-Semitic sentiment, President Roosevelt and even American Jewish Congress head Rabbi Stephen Wise who didn’t want to alleviate his European coreligionists’ peril at the expense of American Jewish comfort. And then the Holocaust happened. Doh! Maybe we should have been looking at other worlds? I know the question of who is a Jew is complicated enough as is just in Israel, but throw aliens into the mix and, wo nelly – an issue of galactic proportions arises. Well, at least that’s the common theme of this Book Review by Eric Siegmund of “Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Not everything in Israel is about Jerusalem and/or Tel Aviv. Nad-ned takes us on a tour of the Amal school, near Be’er Sheva, that provides education to the children of the residents of the Pezura – an area of about 175,000 mostly barren, dusty acres where one can find the 7 recognized Bedouin Villages and another 50,000 unlicensed Bedouin buildings with no running water, electricity or infrastructure of any kind. We meet the principal, Khalil Elkorm who discusses some of the challenges he faces and has to overcome teaching 650 students from this oft neglected region.
Finally, Barbara gives us an image of things to come as she discusses “Durban II,” planned for April in Geneva. Durban I took place in 2001. Meant to be an anti-racism summit, it quickly degenerated into an Israel-bashing session of the very worst kind. Durban II looks to be following in its predecessor’s footsteps. Barbara lays it all out and we’ll wait and see which nations will and which nations won’t participate in what Canada’s Prime Minister Stepeh Harper called “anti-Semitic and anti-Western hate fest dressed up as antiracism.”
Jews and Judaism
The big news of the year of course is the Bernard Madoff scandal. eJewish Philanthropy did a great job dishing out the info and updates as they became public. The Rebbetzin’s Husband tried to understand how an otherwise upstanding person like Madoff could cause such a thing to happen. His experience visiting incarcerated Jews in prison seems to have helped.
The Real Shaliach wrote a post that kind of answered the very question it posed. He noted that “We are living in a microwave generation. We need gratification, we need it now, and we need it easy. When we learn a maamar or sicha, the first thing is, “how does it speak to me? What lesson can I learn out of it?”” He concludes by noting that real “chassidus” comes from sweat and hard work. Clearly, I’m not much of a Chassid because other than his final point, I didn’t really understand what the heck he was talking about. As a Sephardic “Yiddle” I guess I’m not hip with the insider Lubavitch lingo. You read the post and if you understand it, by all means feel free to explain it to me as if I was 4 years old…
Not only am I not a Chassid, but I guess I’m not a Chareidi either. Yechezkel discusses how one defines a “Chareidi” and the halacha on counting Jews in light of the upcoming census. Uh… because you can’t count Jews according to halacha. You know, like when you’re counting the folks who showed up for Shacharit to see if you have a minyan yet and can recite kadish? You can’t go “1, 2, 3, 4…” etc. You have to do it differently ie “1 kippa, 2 kippas…” or something like that. OK clearly some of you are like “What’s he taking about? What’s Shacharit?” Just read the blog post – if only because it contains the one funny accounting joke I have ever heard.
Not only am I not a Chassid or a Chareidi but I am also not a Christian. Neither is Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, “Chief Rabbi” of Efrat (Israel has no official Chief Rabbi in Efrat). But Ellen over at Shiloh Musings reports that he did recently open “Ohr Torah Stone’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding & Cooperation” – billed as the “first Orthodox Jewish center to theologically dialogue with Christians.” Some of Riskin’s recent kind of odd statements and actions make one wonder if maybe he’s hanging out a bit too much with his new evangelical buddies. Some of the Christian must have rubbed off on him or something. I’m all for interfaith dialog and all but seriously…
Also, I’m not a homosexual. The Torah says that when a man lays with another man as he would with a woman he is engaging in an activity that is an abomination. Other abominations? Eating shrimp. Also, violating the Sabbath is a capital crime. So is being a rebellious child. Yet we don’t freak out about rebellious, shrimp eating sabbath violating Jews in our midst as much as we do about you know, the gays. The Rebbetzin’s Husband has written a sensitive post, inspired by the 7th anniversary of the film Trembling Before G-d. “Trembling is a documentary interviewing homosexual Jews who feel a closeness to Judaism and who are trying, in various ways, to live halachic lives… or who have given up because of their alienation.” Rebbetzin’s Husband calls for treating the issue with greater sensitivity. His post, written from an Orthodox perspective, advocates tolerance and compassion instead of shunning, rejection and hatred.
Am I angst ridden? Not too often – but then as a visibly white guy despite my North African Berber origins, I don’t suffer the same sense of angst that say an African American or Japanese convert to Judaism might feel from time to time. Angst and racism are discussed by Schvach in the context of two non-white converts and their blog posts on the subject. Interesting commentary!
Another thing I’m not is a self-hating Jew. Well, at least I hope I’m not… so please don’t nominate me for Yid with a Lid’s 2nd Annual Self-Hating Jew Awards. Oy. I’m not sure the Chafets Chayim would approve, but what do I know? I’m a non-chassidic blogger after all. Pretty much everything I write is narishkeit.
Speaking of narishkeit, Heshy at Frum Satire looks for some possible Shomer Negiah loopholes for those who can’t handle the pent up sexual energy that comes from the prohibition against touching members of the opposite sex prior to marriage. His suggestion that using “biah” – an act of sexual intercourse – in order to acquire a woman as per Kedoshim is a bad one because without the magic phrase, harei at mekudeshet li (you are betrothed to me), all you’re doing is good old fashioned pre-marital booty bumping and so there’s no loophole. His other suggestions – Saran Wrap, toys, a sheet with a hole in it etc. also fail as loopholes. The only real solution is to receive a heter, special permission, from a Rabbi, to perhaps hire an outlet for your distracting sexual energy. Or, if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion, you can always, you know… get married already Heshy.
I don’t mean to give Heshy a hard time. He is a nice Jewish guy after all. If I rebuke him, it’s only as per Barbara’s reminder that I do so out of love. However, Shtetl Fabulous notes diminishing participation by any kind of Jewish guys in Liberal Jewish institutions. Jewish guys lag behind Jewish gals “in many measures of identity including number of Jewish friends, solidarity with Israel and synagogue affiliation.” Jewish Gals also rule with respect to enrollment at HUC. Why is this happening? Is it the fall of patriarchy? The abandonment of traditional roles? Shtetl fabulous concludes by calling for Jewish Community organizations to tear down barriers and help foster a more relevant Judaism. I don’t know if I agree. Actually, I don’t agree at all. I’m all for greater inclusiveness but we have to have some fundamental standards. I think bridging the gap between young adults, be they male or female, and the Jewish community, can happen through greater and more creative education. No need to reinvent Judaism – just how we relate to it or allow ourselves to relate to it.
Remember John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban? After 7 years in prison, his family is asking that he be released because “others detained and/or charged in the “War on Terror” under similar or more serious circumstances have been released after serving less time.” Daled Amos points out that Jonathan Pollard, who did not provide services to the Taliban or to any enemy of the state, is still in jail after 24 years.
Speaking of Terror and Jews, several bloggers mentioned that astounding idiot and hateful little man Richard Silverstein due to one of his business-as-usual posts wherein he saw fit to distinguish the attacks on the Chabad House in Mumbai as anti-Israel and not anti-Semitic. I’m not going to go into his convoluted logic and self-serving rhetoric. If you want to mire yourself in the muck then by all means visit Letters of Thought’s In Response to Richard Silverstein, Israellycool’s Silverstein Outdoes Himself and Jewcy writer David Toube’s â€œIâ€™m Only Seeing It Nowâ€: Some Leftists Begin to Grasp the Anti-Semitic Nature of Jihadism. Silverstein is, as a prominent left-wing blogger friend of mine noted, “a mental midget” not deserving of any attention at all. That’s why, despite repeated unbelievably vile personal attacks against me, I have a “No Silverstein” rule on Jewlicious – but this is Haveil Havalim so I have no choice. As for the latest Richard Silverstein is a Kapo blog, I hate stupid Nazi analogies. Silverstein is not a Kapo. I mean, wasn’t it the Kapos that blew up the crematoria in Auschwitz? Now pardon me while I scrub myself down in the shower.
This concludes the HH#197. You may submit your blog article for the next edition of Haveil Havalim using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page. Next week’s Haveil Havalim will be hosted by Material Maidel who I am sure will be more punctual than I.