Jackie Hoffman, beloved in theatrical circles for her take-no-prisoners approach to musical comedy (sample lyric: “fuck you for asking me to do a show for free! / fuck you and your benefit for charity”), is at once an ideal and a challenging performer for such a series. Undeniably funny and with a deep understanding of Judaism (she’s the black sheep of an Orthodox family), she knows she can draw a typical Jewish audience in with songs criticizing Jewish Buddhists (“Inner peace and joy are overrated / come back to the fold of the most-hated”) and pushy mothers on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. But when her paean to Shavuot includes lines like “Ten Commandments God gave to us so that we won’t sin again / Ten Commandments I break every day by eating pork and Christian men,” you know this isn’t your typical JCC fare.
While the publicity around this series carefully avoided the word “feminism,” I couldn’t help but watch Hoffman’s show and wonder if there was a feminist message to be divined from the woman who counts among her achievements “convincing the Hispanic security guards and bus boys of this city to use condoms” and openly resents the successes of co-stars she deems less deserving.
Jackie Hoffman doesn’t care if you find a feminist message — or any message — in her performances. And that in itself may be the embodiment of a feminist victory.
Now that January is here, and the Israeli election is just a few weeks away, it’s time for… JANUARY MADNESS!!!! You may recall March Madness from 2006, or February Madness from 2009. Now, Jewschool and Mah Rabu are excited to announce our third Israeli elections prediction pool!
How to Enter: Go to the January Madness link and put in your predictions for how many seats each of the 34 parties will win. All predictions must be non-negative integers (0 is allowed), and your predictions must add up to 120. Entrance is free, but there is a suggested donation of $10 to the organization of your choice dedicated to making Israel the best it can be. Israeli citizens are encouraged to vote in the actual election as well.
Prizes: The winner gets a copy of The Comic Torah, which one Jewschool contributor has called “the perfect match for the zany lunacy and unbridled blood lust of today’s Israeli politics”. Second place gets a copy of Ghettoblaster by So Called, because the Yiddish Hip-Hop Accordion Party wouldn’t be out of place in the Knesset elections.
The Rules (for the real election): The 34 parties have submitted ordered lists of candidates. Here are the full lists in Hebrew, and partial lists in English. On election day (January 22), Israeli citizens will go to polling places in and near Israel, and vote for a party (not for individual candidates). All parties that win at least 2% of the vote will win seats in the Knesset, proportional to their share of the vote. For example, suppose the Pirate Party wins 1% of the vote, One Future wins 33%, and Kulanu Haverim wins 66%. Then the Pirate Party wins no seats in the Knesset (since it was below the 2% threshold), and the other parties will proportionally split the 120 Knesset seats: One Future gets 40 seats (so the top 40 candidates on its list are elected), and Kulanu Haverim gets 80 seats. If vacancies arise later in the term, there are no special elections – the next candidate on the party’s list (e.g. #81 on the Kulanu Haverim list) enters the Knesset. It is mathematically possible for all 34 parties to win seats in the Knesset, but experts say it is unlikely.
The Rules (for the January Madness pool): The deadline to enter is Monday, January 21, 2013, at 11:59 pm Israel Standard Time (4:59 pm EST). When the final election results are published, each entry will receive a score based on how many Knesset seats were predicted correctly. For example, suppose the results are as in the above example (Kulanu Haverim 80, One Future 40). I predicted 60 seats for One Future, 50 for Kulanu Haverim, and 10 for Da’am Workers Party. Then my score is 90, since I correctly predicted 40 seats for One Future and 50 seats for Kulanu Haverim.
Ties will be broken based on two tiebreaker questions:
1) Of the parties that do NOT win seats in the Knesset, which will come closest?
2) Which party will get the FEWEST votes?
The tiebreakers will be resolved in this order: exact match on question 1; exact match on question 2; closest on question 1 (if you picked a party that DOES win seats, you’re out of consideration for this one); closest on question 2.
In the coming weeks, we’ll put up a post with a handy guide to all the parties, and links to their websites.
If you have other questions, post them in the comments. Good luck!!!!
If one needs further proof about the “Beinartization” of the global Jewish community, then African asylum seekers are the issue to watch. The right-ward drift of the Jewish citizenry of Israel, which is deeply unsympathetic to 61,000 non-Jewish asylum seekers in their country, is presently in sharp relief to American Jewry’s sensibilities on the issue.
That said, it took the anti-refugee riots in Tel Aviv to sparkstatements by the major establishment mouthpieces, like the ADL, JCPA, Jewish federations. That progressive voices were the first out of the gate shouldn’t surprise us, like the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center, Americans for Peace Now and New Israel Fund.
But the issue seems to have an enduring hold on the passions of some North Americans — notably young Jewish activists and culture creators. Some new faces, some familiar. At the time of my initial inquiries, each were unaware of the work each other was doing. But common between them is an entrepreneurial spirit, a depth of first-hand social awareness of Israeli shortcomings, and a frustration against what each of them see as Israeli politicians’ desecration of Jewish values.
Click through to meet Dan Sieradski, Maya Paley and Miriam Libicki.
Its 48 hours before Pesach, and having read ”The Year of Living Biblically”, I’m preparing a lamb to meet its end so that I can smear its blood on the lintel of my door… What’s that? I don’t have to do that? Okay, the neighbors will be so relieved…
I will still have to rid myself of my chametz, however, as I can not possess or own any during Pesach. Before I engage in Bedikas Chametz, the search for chametz, I simply open my pantry- BAM! Bits of cereal at the bottom of the box. Legumes of all shapes and sizes, pasta and so on and so forth. On to the fridge. I half-eaten kugel from last week. Some fruit salad. Cheese slices. Egg Beaters.
Anyone else find themselves snarfing down whatever odds and ends remain the week before Pesach? Some people hate Passover cuisine. After a week of leftover crumbs, I’m ready to tear into Matzah. Whatever is sealed, I sell through a duly appointed process involving a Rabbi, pretzel logic and a certain number of he-goats and zuzim.
Those who do not avail themselves of the Rabbinic end-around of selling it on contract for a week with an option to an agreeable gentile have three options. 1. Keep your chametz and incur the wrath of the almighty and the sneers of neighbors. 2. BURN IT!
WOO HOO! Let’s burn everything in sight! It’s like Black Rock but with Bread! Its PAN-demonium! After all, we wont have another huge bonfire for 40 days when its Lag B’omer so let’s have a Biscuit Inferno! Cue the Music!
But wait, isn’t burning things bad, like crossing streams in ghostbusters? And can’t we do something with that stuff? There may be some excellent items sitting around. A bag of flour. A whole cake. A loaf of bread. Peanut Butter. Perfectly good food. Option 3: Donate.
In the Hagaddah we’re instructed Kol Difcheen- let all who are hungry come and eat. So how about it then? Donate your Chametz. You wont miss it. Fine, keep that bottle of Blanton’s, but the rest? Drop it at your local food pantry. Many congregations have a system set up for this. And in Israel, Modi’in’s Biur Hametz Project is coordinating the distribution of hametz to needy African refugees and migrant workers. That sounds so much more sensible.
It could be given to other as well. In Morocco, it was apparently the custom to give Hametz to one’s Arab or Berber neighbors. The Muslim neighbors would then repay the favor by supplying the pastries for the Mimouna festival at the end of Pesach. Such a healthy symbiotic way to coexist. Maybe that’s fantasy and maybe there’s a broader lesson. But in the interim, donate your your Hametz. To paraphrase Monty Python, BRING OUT YOUR BREAD! (to which the matza replies, I’m not quite bread yet…)
Eli Valley’s latest comic is up! And below is the man himself explaining his choice of equating 1950s horror comics with Israeli hasbara and the scare tactics of establishment fundraising. (Bnai Brith, he’s looking at you…)
In the Forward today, Eli Valley gives you the only haggadah supplement you’ll need — one about freedom, peoplehood and the next generation. What with all the charity-motivated supplements filling up our inboxes, here’s one without a donation card attached! (Click to view full-size.)
Kudos to EV’slatest comfort zone-negating comic aimed at the ugly recesses of establishment Jewry’s view of Jews, Judaism, Israel and all those arrayed to wipe us out. Without the specter of Helen Thomases under the bed, would the previous generation of Jews have cared to be Jewish? Or would they, like our generation, opt-in and opt-out as merited by compelling relevance (or lack thereof) to our lives? And in searching for a way to make Jewish life compelling against a competitive array of interesting options, would Abe Foxman really mount an anti-Semite’s head as a beacon for all young Jews to see?
I’m constantly amazed at the sheer creativity that shows up, looking for a handout, on Kickstarter.com, the fundraising web site I used to finance the first printing of The Comic Torah. (In case you’re wondering, the book is at the printer’s, waiting to be bound.)
Three new projects with a Jewish angle. A Jewish cartoonist whose humor shaped two generations of Jews. A Palestinian art project with Israeli collaboration. And an iPhone app for one of New York’s most Jewish neighborhoods.
Like most of their Kickstarter peers, offer ample rewards and thanks for two-figure donors. So check them out.
This post came our way courtesy of Alan Jay Sufrin, singer/guitarist/bassist/keyboardist for the band Stereo Sinai. He’s also the official shofar blower at Congregation Anshe Shalom in Chicago this year (and is tremendously excited about it). Here he is with his newest instrument in the recording booth.
[T]he tale seems kind of goyish. But hey, Superman was invented by several Jews and much has been written postulating how Jewish legends and archetypes influenced the creation of his character. And we are instructed to sound shofar in times of crisis, just like Mal is.
Which reminds me of a joke that my friend tells way too much — as illustrated by the illimitable comic artist Mat Tonti. What do pirates say to each other on Rosh Hashanah?
Being a comic book nerd is hard enough when people think you have no social life. But is it un-American? Phyllis Chesler seems to think so.
In her latest article, Chesler cites how Wonder Woman’s new costume shows American submission to the evils of globalization. Chesler says Wonder Woman’s getup is “non-American, and therefore anti-American” because it is no longer red, white and blue; for her, this is a sign that “many Americans are ashamed of their own country.”
Is she reading the same comic book as me?
Chesler claims to be a feminist and writes that Wonder Woman “ fought evil in fabulous female form” that was “half-naked, dressed in a low cut bodice, high, sexy boots, and a short ice-skater’s skirt.” This is a great example to set for my niece: ff you want to fight evil, make sure to bring the stripper boots. Wonder Woman’s original costume made her into a sex symbol–but as long as the costume was red, white and blue, Chesler had no problem. Welcome to America, people, where the women are beautiful and wear nothing.
She adds that “Wonder Woman was conceived as a counter to the bloody ‘masculinity’ of most American comic books,” and rhapsodizes on how the series shows women as “natural leaders who could rule the world.” But in the comic, Wonder Woman was shoe-horned into being the Chick for two more popular male characters. In some continuities, she ends up de-powered and running a flower shop. Behold your feminist goddess.
For me, Wonder Woman was the girl who got to look pretty next to the real heroes, Batman and Superman. I never wanted to dress like her or be her, because she seemed so ridiculous. It’s neither empowering nor liberating to force women to dress a certain way for men, be it modestly or immodestly. Freedom is about loving your body and dressing in a way that makes you feel comfortable, not about submitting to chauvinist societal norms.
DC Comics has decided to re-brand Wonder Woman as a more universal symbol. That makes her anti-American? As forward-thinking people, we should be dancing on the rooftops to see a woman being de-sexualized and commanding respect. Wonder Woman doesn’t look like she’s fighting crime in a bathing suit anymore, there to make men star at her body. She looks like a sleek, sexy, crime fighter who is fantastic, practical and less silly. She may not wear the American flag, but she represents the best of America: strong, intelligent women who fight for justice. She can finally be my hero. For a formerly Orthodox girl who dreamed of flying, this represents a turning point. You can be modest and still save the world.
One thing Wonder Woman wouldn’t like is criticizing women for “slumming” in foreign dress, calling it “their native, imprisoning clothing,” as Chesler writes. Respect for other cultures has always been a heroic virtue. Yes, many women wear more modest clothes when entering a more religious environment, but many non-Jewish men (including Superman in one memorable comic) wear yarmulkes in traditional Jewish homes. It’s called mutual respect. Comic books emphasize these universal values, and Ms. Chesler does a disservice to the genre by politicizing it.
I will end with a review from “The Simpsons’” Comic Book Guy himself: “Worst. Article. Ever!”
I came across this on facespace and thought it was quite interesting. The artist, Jason Kipp, resides in MN and I love his style. He’s looking for page sponsors – for $90 you not only help him complete the graph’, you get two faces of your choice drawn into crowd scenes. Geeky cool.
The Jewish Literary Salon in Krakow, Poland - one of the many complex Jewish projects in contemporary Poland
In Dan Sieradski’s recent web project 31 Days, 31 Ideas, cartoonist and rootsman thinker EliValley suggests that the American Jewish community create “Birthright Diaspora.” Awkwardly conceived as a 10-day immersion in a Jewish diasporic site, the manifesto suggests that by creating a program in which Israeli and American Jews visit “global” Jewish communities located far from their own, their Jewish identities will transform into something better. Valley writes:
It’s time to expand our notions of positive Jewish identity and at long last move beyond an ideology that fretfully masquerades self-hatred as Jewish empowerment. By digging through centuries of global Jewish life, Birthright Diaspora will help transform Jewish self-awareness and break the dichotomy of “hero” and “victim” that has handicapped internal Jewish intellectual inquiry for decades. The goal is not merely widespread immersion experiences in global Jewish communities but a renewed understanding of Diaspora as a Birthright that forms the roots of Jewish consciousness. If implemented effectively, Birthright Diaspora can lead to an existential transformation in the way Jews and Israelis view themselves and the world.
It is a heartfelt manifesto, and what it lacks in theoretical precision it regains in passion. For many years now, there has been an emphasis on the next big “program” that will contribute to the strengthening of what we have come to call Jewish Identity and Community. Various ideological camps, including Jewschool, have claimed that by funding the notion of “global Jewish Peoplehood,” Jewish identity and community will bz’h undergo the type of “existential transformation” that Valley describes.
I am confident that longing for this type of existential transformation is a red herring, or even more troubling, a fantasy of our own power. By denying the reality that the Jewish Diaspora has geographically contracted and remained intact, our cultural activists continue to accept a model of a “shackled” community that pivots off a vague notion that, as Valley writes, “in the Jewish world, the interconnectivity often manifests itself through ripples emanating from the perceived center of Jewish life in Jerusalem.” More »