8/30/06

What? There are Six Jewish Lifeguards?



The Times writes today about a controversy in Jones Beach, "Some Jewish Lifeguards Claim Bias at Jones Beach".


For decades, the elite Jones Beach lifeguard corps has presided over the renowned stretch of Long Island shoreline as an unwavering symbol of safety and courage. With their tanned, toned physiques perched atop their stands, the lifeguards are seen as models of fitness and efficiency on team rescues, protecting bathers, enforcing safety rules and working together to save lives.

But this summer their ranks have been roiled by a growing controversy over complaints from a group of Jewish lifeguards who say they have been harassed, unfairly disciplined and made the subject of a police investigation instigated by beach administrators.

The administrators and other officials with the state, which runs Jones Beach, acknowledged criminal investigations and disciplinary actions taken against several of the guards involved, citing suspicions of fraud and other infractions. But they vehemently denied the bias charges...
My reaction -- there is some struggle over union power going on over there. But before we sort all that out, wait a minute, I have a question. I know there are Jewish lifeguards at Jewish summer camps. I once was one at Camp Avnet in Long Beach. My brother and sister were lifeguards in a Jewish summer camp in the five towns. But lifeguards on the beach in Atlantic Beach or Long Beach were rarely Jewish. I knew of just one case in Atlantic Beach, a neighbor of ours on Bermuda Street.

Now the Times brings us a story about six Jewish lifeguards at Jones Beach. I think that itself is the story. "What? There are Six Jewish Lifeguards?"

8/29/06

TIME.com: Thoroughly Modern Mikvahs


Complete with a photo spread - looks like five star accomodations for ritual immersions have arrived.

TIME.com: Thoroughly Modern Mikvahs: ...Cohen agrees. Having submerged three times while intoning a short prayer, she returned to the prep room in a fluffy white robe, droplets still on her cheeks. 'I'm looking forward to seeing my husband,' she said. But on the other hand, she laughed, 'It's such a pleasure to hang out here. Who would want to go home?'

The Wounded Rabbi

Cross-Currents -- Media Manipulation Far and Near: "Media manipulate, though, in myriad ways. Sometimes even with good, if misguided, intentions, sometimes even unintentionally, and sometimes even in our own backyard."

Ordinarily I'd ignore what passes for a literate op-ed that I don't agree with.

But here Mr. Shafran compares the attempts at media manipulation by the Hezbollah with what he thinks is "media manipulation" by the Jewish Week.

Wait. Let me get this straight. Our real enemy Hezbollah tries to lie in the media. I agree with Shafran. That is despicable.

And now Shafran says that we should compare that chicanery with the Jewish Week story on a synagogue in NYC.

Here is the Shafran worldview. Hezbollah=Synagogue in NYC. Both are his enemies. Both are manipulating the media. Both are evil.

Here is a gem from Mr. Shafran:

"The answer lies in the fact of journalism’s dirty little secret: Those who manufacture the product have personal opinions and hopes that they are not always able to prevent from informing their reportage. That is manifestly true in the larger journalistic world and, it has become amply clear by now, in the Jewish one no less."
Yes the larger journalistic world and the Jewish one are both contaminated by personal opinions. And don't forget KOE on the UWS of Manhattan is just like Hezbollah. They both are enemies trying to manipulate the biased media.

But listen to what he says, rabosei. He insinuates that the Jewish Week is like Hezbollah. He suggests that those true enemies of the Jewish people who launch rockets to kill us -- they are the same as the Jewish Week. Oy.

Why, you ask, does Mr. Shafran make such bizarre comparisons? How does this man's mind work?

He has been schooled in the classic ploy called the "wounded bully". When a bully is discovered outright, one method he uses to cover himself is to claim to be hurt, to elicit sympathy and to take away the attention from the discovery of his bullying behavior.

Where is the bullying in this instance? The NY Times asked Rabbi Bleich about the new woman leader of KOE and he blasted her as a schismatic. It is a given. This woman will be relentlessly attacked by the right wing Orthodox.

And then there will be the passive bullying. No RWO rabbi will congratulate her. None will offer her help or chizuk.

Why exactly should we pity this rabbi? Well he tells us it is because the whole world is distorting the news to hurt him. The Jewish Week and the NY Times are saying that KOE is Orthodox and a woman is its spiritual leader.

Imagine! Such lies! Pity the poor bully.

It is Elul and time for introspection. Perhaps it is time for Shafran and other Orthodox public spokesmen to stand up and repent of their bullying.

The Torah teaches ways of peace, not ways of hurling insults, denigrating fellow Jews and then claiming to be the victim and asking for pity.

8/27/06

Bob Dylan and Rav Soloveitchik

Google gives us lyrics to the song Jokerman set against artwork from throughout history and interspersed with performance footage to create this compelling clip from the Infidels album.

Note well the refrain, "Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune." And of course we know that nightingale in Polish is Soloveitchik.

8/25/06

Holo-cussed in Iranian Exhibit


Iran Exhibits Anti-Jewish Art - New York Times

TEHRAN, Aug. 24 - The title of the show is "Holocaust International Cartoon Contest," or "Holocust," as the show's organizers spell the word in promotional material. But the content has little to do with the events of World War II and Nazi Germany.

There is instead a drawing of a Jew with a very large nose, a nose so large it obscures his entire head. Across his chest is the word Holocaust. Another drawing shows a vampire wearing a big Star of David drinking the blood of Palestinians. A third shows Ariel Sharon dressed in a Nazi uniform, emblazoned not with swastikas but with the Star of David.

The cartoons are among more than 200 on display in the Palestinian Contemporary Art Museum in central Tehran in a show that opened this month and is to run until the middle of September.
This is supposed to be the Iranian response to the cartoon controversy of earlier this year. Makes no sense to me.

8/24/06

Two Singing Jews

Tzvee and Yair singing at Sima and Jonathan's wedding.

Ben & Jerry's: Minnesota eggs are not "kosher"

Ben & Jerry's sours on Minnesota egg supplier:

An animal welfare campaign scored a major hit Wednesday when it pressured Ben & Jerry's Homemade, makers of Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia ice cream, to dump a Minnesota egg producer accused of mistreating its chickens.
The campaign by the Humane Society of the United States became an embarrassment for Ben & Jerry's when a news report surfaced this week that the company bought the eggs for its ice cream and frozen yogurt -- about 2 million pounds a year -- from Michael Foods Inc.

Michael Foods became a Humane Society target over animal welfare violations sparked by a video taken inside a Michael Foods plant.

A day after the story appeared, Ben & Jerry's CEO, Walt Freese, told the Associated Press that dropping Michael Foods "seemed like the right thing to do."

A spokesman for Michael Foods said late Wednesday that the company had no comment.

The undercover video, shot last winter in Wakefield, Neb., shows dead and dying chickens stuck in cages. Some of the images show small cages shared by seven or more birds. A narrator says birds died of starvation and thirst. The images have become the centerpiece of the campaign to stop an industry practice of using "battery caged" hens for egg production.

8/23/06

Hitler's Cross Restaurant Opens Near Mumbai

Customers leave after visiting 'Hitler's Cross' at Kharghar, New Bombay, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Bombay, India, Wednesday. (AP)

[Thanks to Mimi for the article.]

Update 8/24: Owners promise to change the name of the restaurant... Himmler's House of Pancakes?

New Restaurant Bears Hitler's Name

By AIJAZ ANSARI, AP ONLINE
BOMBAY, India (AP) - When Hitler's Cross restaurant opened four days ago in a Bombay suburb, local politicians and movie industry types were on hand to celebrate beneath the posters of the Nazi leader and swastikas.
The owner insisted then - and still does - that the name and theme of his new eatery is only meant to attract attention, even if it has outraged Bombay's Jewish community.
``It's really made people very upset that a person responsible for the massacre of 6 million Jews can be glorified,'' Elijah Jacob, one of the community's leaders, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
But owner Puneet Sablok has refused to back down, and apart from Bombay's 4,500 Jews, there's been little controversy in India, where Holocaust awareness is limited, Hitler is regarded as just another historical figure and swastikas are an ancient Hindu symbol, displayed all over to bring luck. There are just 5,500 Jews in all of India.
``It's just to attract people. There is no intention to hurt anyone,'' said Sablok about his spacious restaurant, which serves pastries, pizza and salad in Navi Mumbai, a northern suburb of Bombay, which is also known as Mumbai.
Those objecting to the restaurant plan to ask the local government to force a name change, said Daniel Zonshine, Israel's consul general in Bombay.
``Instead of Hitler's name being an example of extreme evil, this is like giving legitimacy to Hitler. It's not right to advertise his name in public,'' Zonshine said.
But while India is ordinarily sensitive to causing religious offense - recently taking action to bar ``The Da Vinci Code'' movie and cartoon drawings of the prophet Muhammad - at least one local leader said the name Hitler didn't bother him.
``People are unnecessarily making this into an issue,'' said Sudhir Jadhav, a local ruling party leader. ``We have no plans to protest outside the restaurant or ask him to change the name.''
Diners were also quite happy eating in Hitler's Cross.
``Hitler was a bad man, but what's wrong with having food here?'' said Ashwini Phadnis, 22, a microbiology student as she tucked away a piece of chocolate cake.
Engineering student Anand Dhillon sat with friends, sipping soft drinks. ``I think the name is quite interesting. Tomorrow if someone keeps a name like Saddam Mutton Shop or George Bush Footwear, there's nothing wrong with that, is there?'' he shrugged.
08-23-06 15:08 EDT

Becky Phillips: There Are Too Atheists in Foxholes

Anonymous writes to us about our Team Tzvee charter member, Becky Phillips, "Becky has a short article in Newsweek's Periscope section. The article also appears on beliefnet."

There are no atheists in foxholes," the old saw goes. The line, attributed to a WWII chaplain, has since been uttered countless times by grunts, chaplains and news anchors. But an increasingly vocal group of activists and soldiers—atheist soldiers—disagrees. "It's a denial of our contributions," says Master Sgt. Kathleen Johnson, who founded the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers and who will be deployed to Iraq this fall. "A lot of people manage to serve without having to call on a higher power."

Steven Colbert makes the matter funny -- suggesting that we stuff our foxholes with Atheists... and more.

8/22/06

Meanspirited Cheap Shot in the NYTIMES: Woman Appointed to Lead UWS Shul is Sowing the Seeds of Schism

In an alliterative flourish quoted by the NYTimes an UES Rabbi takes to task Dina Najman at KOE, his new competition on the UWS saying, Those who are pushing for female rabbis in the Orthodox movement are sowing the seeds of schism, said Rabbi J. David Bleich.

Gosh. I would expect a mature polite rabbi to wish his new younger colleague good luck and offer her his counsel and support. Or at least to say nothing at all.

Who then has decided to sow the seeds of schism?

Related to this, see my previous post, When Women Write the Checks.

8/18/06

Breaking News: Yeshiva University Supports Israel. See the Video.







The music and pictures are heartwarming.
Update: I'm told viewers consider this video boring and longwinded.

Video: Outrageous Orange Ad "Born to Play"

This is in Hebrew so it must be for Israeli TV but it's on the NYC subway which I don't understand. But is demonstrates the neverending struggle between chutzpah and modesty.

8/15/06

Video: Inside the Dimona Nuclear Plant



Every now and then it helps to recall...that we are the only source of our own survival as a nation. We are strong and we are smart and we are determined. Amen. And yes, G-d is on our side.

8/14/06

Love Letter to Israel from Lebanon

The real Lebanese are truly grateful to Israel -- hear it from the Lebanese POV. Thanks Neal for the link.

Metula News Agency:

Moreover, Hassan Nasrallah’s organization has not lost 200 combatants, as Tsahal claims. This figure only concerns the combats taking place on the border and even then the Israelis underestimate it, for a reason that escapes me, by about a hundred militiamen eliminated. The real count of Hezbollah’s casualties, that includes those dead in Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, Baalbek and their other camps, rocket and missile launchers and arms and munition depots amounts to 1,100 supplementary Hezbollah militiamen who have definitively ceased to terrorize and humiliate my country.

8/13/06

I'll stand together with 73% of Israeli Jews - proud of the government and the IDF


Olmert under fire over cease-fire Jerusalem Post

The JP is not known for its love of EO. And yet buried deep in this story is one clear fact of the matter:

A Dahaf Institute poll in Yediot Aharonot found, however, that only 17% of Israelis, including just 13% of Israeli Jews believed that Israel would lose the war, while 37% of Israelis and 40% of Israeli Jews believed Israel would win. The poll reported that 66% of Israelis and 73% of Israeli Jews approved of Olmert's management of the war.
And I must say that JP writers like Caroline Glick -- she must be on the Hezbollah payroll to publish a rant that calls this war, "An unmitigated disaster."

8/10/06

The Train Wreck of American Jewish Idealism

Thane,

You wrote a column, "Soul-searching reflections from the Jewish left" in the Wall Street Journal. Buddy, what is your problem? Jews in America never had and never will have an impact on Israeli politics or policies. Neither the left, nor the right. The American Jewish community's intellectual leaders are nothing more than armchair blowhards. The American Jewish community's political leaders are simply jet-set-machers.

I see the world differently from you. Yes I do see the decline of a powerless idealism. But I don't feel gloomy or cynical about the dissipation of the vapors of the right, left or center.

We are entering a new state. It is called realism. Some of us embraced it early-on, right after 9/11. Some of us are just now waking up.

Let's just say that for many there are stages of grieving over the loss of idealism. Like Kuber-Ross says, there are five:

Denial (this isn't happening to us!)
Anger (why is this happening to us?)
Bargaining (we promise we'll be better if...)
Depression (we don't care anymore)
Acceptance (we're ready for whatever comes)
Thane, you are in stage four - depression - or cynicism in your case. We will welcome you when you reach stage five - the acceptance of reality.

Tzvee

Red State Jews

By THANE ROSENBAUM
August 9, 2006; Page A10; Wall Street Journal

This is a soul-searching moment for the Jewish left. Actually, for many Jewish liberals, navigating the gloomy politics of the Middle East is like walking with two left feet.

I would know. For six years I was the literary editor of Tikkun magazine, a leading voice for progressive Jewish politics that never avoided subjecting Israel to moral scrutiny. I also teach human rights at a Jesuit university, imparting the lessons of reciprocal grievances and the moral necessity to regard all people with dignity and mutual respect. And I am deeply sensitive to Palestinian pain, and mortified when innocent civilians are used as human shields and then cynically martyred as casualties of war.

Yet, since 9/11 and the second intifada, where suicide bombings and beheadings have become the calling cards of Arab diplomacy, and with Hamas and Hezbollah emerging as elected entities that, paradoxically, reject the first principles of liberal democracy, I feel a great deal of moral anguish. Perhaps I have been naive all along.

And I am not alone. Many Jews are in my position -- the children and grandchildren of labor leaders,socialists, pacifists, humanitarians, antiwar protestors -- instinctively leaning left, rejecting war, unwilling to demonize, and insisting that violence only breeds more violence. Most of all we share the profound belief that killing, humiliation and the infliction of unnecessary pain are not Jewish attributes.

However, the world as we know it today -- post-Holocaust, post-9/11, post-sanity -- is not cooperating. Given the realities of the new Middle East, perhaps it is time for a reality check. For this reason, many Jewish liberals are surrendering to the mindset that there are no solutions other than to allow Israel to defend itself -- with whatever means necessary. Unfortunately, the inevitability of Israel coincides with the inevitability of anti-Semitism.

This is what more politically conservative Jews and hardcore Zionists maintained from the outset. And it was this nightmare that the Jewish left always refused to imagine. So we lay awake at night, afraid to sleep. Surely the Arabs were tired, too. Surely they would want to improve their societies and educate their children rather than strap bombs on to them.

If the Palestinians didn't want that for themselves, if building a nation was not their priority, then peace in exchange for territories was nothing but a pipe dream. It was all wish-fulfillment, morally and practically necessary, yet ultimately motivated by a weary Israeli society -- the harsh reality of Arab animus, the spiritual toll that the occupation had taken on a Jewish state battered by negative world opinion.

Despite the deep cynicism, however, Israel knew that it must try. It would have to set aside nearly 60 years of hard-won experience, starting from the very first days of its independence, and believe that the Arab world had softened, would become more welcoming neighbors, and would stop chanting: "Not inour backyardd -- the Middle East is for Arabs only."

It is true that Israel has entered into peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan that have brought some measure of historic stability to the region. But with Israel having withdrawn from Lebanon and Gaza, and with Israeli public opinion virtually united in favor of near-total withdrawal from the West Bank, why are rockets being launched at Israel now, why are their soldiers being kidnapped if the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and the intentions of Hamas and Hezbollah, stand for something other than the total destruction of Israel? And if Palestinians and the Lebanese are electing terrorists and giving them the portfolio of statesmen, then what message is being sent to moderate voices, what incentives are there to negotiate, and how can any of this sobering news be recast in a more favorable light?

The Jewish left is now in shambles. Peace Now advocates have lost their momentum, and, in some sense,their moral clarity. Opinion polls in Israel are showing near unanimous support for stronger incursionsinto Lebanon. And until kidnapped soldiers are returned and acts of terror curtailed, any further conversations about the future of the West Bank have been set aside.

Not unlike the deep divisions between the values of red- and blue-state America, world Jewry isbeing forcedd to reconsider all of its underlying assumptions about peace in the Middle East. The recent disastrous events in Lebanon and Gaza have inadvertently created a newly united Jewish consciousness --bringing right and left together into one deeply cynical red state.

8/6/06

Video: Goodbye Joe Lieberman

I like Joe Lieberman. He's a democrat. I'm a democrat. He's an Orthodox Jew. I'm an Orthodox Jew. Wow those are strong correlations in my book.

So why would I not vote for him if I lived in the state of Conn.? He supports Bush's war in Iraq and I don't.

But there is one more thing. He has no sense of humor and I do. Ned Lamont came on -- but JL refused to appear on the comedy show, the Colbert Report, as you will see.

Note please: Colbert is ignorant of Jewish practice. Jews do not set an empty chair at the Passover Seder for Elijah. Some Jews used to set an empty chair for Soviet Jews back in the 70's. But hey, Colbert does not claim to be an expert on Judaism. He's just a great parody act of Bill O'Reilly -- the neanderthal host of a Fox TV News show.

Here is the video.

8/3/06

Tzvee Invites Mel Gibson Over for a Shabbos Meal

Tzvee has invited actor Mel Gibson for a visit as part of his “journey of understanding” following an anti-Semitic tirade during a California traffic stop.

“I have followed with great interest the events of the past several days and take your recent public apology very seriously,” Tzvee said in his August 3 blog. “In that spirit, I would like to invite you to visit us in Teaneck, NJ for a real home-cooked Shabbos dinner.”

He added: “We hope that you will consider this offer in good faith and look forward to the opportunity of participating in your journey of understanding.”

Gibson, 50, was charged yesterday with driving under the influence of alcohol and having an elevated blood-alcohol level and an open container of liquor in his car when he was pulled over last week.

Gibson reportedly told the arresting deputy: “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” and asked him: “Are you a Jew?”

Gibson has apologised twice. In his latest statement he addressed the Jewish community, apologising for his “vitriolic and harmful words”.

Gibson has had a troubled relationship with Jewish organisations since his 2004 blockbuster The Passion Of The Christ, which some criticised for portraying Jews as responsible for the death of Jesus. Supporters say the movie followed the Gospel story.

Tzvee added that he is a big fan of Gibson since the release of that Aramaic film. "It is amazing that a film in the ancient language of the Targum and the Talmud could be such a success," Tzvee said. He promised Mel that after Kiddush they would sing some favorite Aramaic shabbos zemiros (songs) which he was sure would please Gibson.

There has been no reply yet from the Gibson organization.

Mel Gibson T-Shirt Designs (Courtesy of Defamer)

Rabbi Steinsaltz Proclaims New Prayers

The virtuosi ought to create new prayers. When they do they should also pray that the rabbis stop offering diplomatic, political and military advice -- areas in which they are uninformed -- and start proclaiming more needed prayers like this one. We presume the Rabbis know a lot about prayers. They regulate them and they spend much time engaged in reciting them every day.

JTA - Breaking News: Steinsaltz: Ramp up Tisha B’Av prayers

A leading Talmud scholar called for Jews to intensify prayers for Israel on Tisha B’Av.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz composed a sample prayer that asks God to save Israelis “from the sword of their enemy, safeguard them from death, protect them from danger and shelter them from fear.”

Given the often contentious media coverage of Israel, it also urges God to shine “the light of discernment on those who give credence to lies, and enlighten those who listen to libelous dogmas.”

Tisha B’Av, which began at sundown Wednesday and runs until sundown Thursday, commemorates the destruction of the biblical temples and other calamities that have befallen Jews throughout the ages, believed to have occurred on the same day.