Filmmaker Alexander Bodin Saphir presents on the rescue of the Danish Jews at OresundsLimmud 2013
On March 5, our almost-a-minyan who comprise the steering team of Limmud Oresund 2013 was holding the penultimate meeting prior to our second annual Limmud day of Jewish learning and culture. Over 160 people had pre-registered, and we were concerned about logistics: Would there be enough space for a Limmud that had doubled in size since last year? Had we ordered enough food for lunches and snacks? Did Folkuniversitet, an adult education school that was again openomg its facility to us free of chage, have a room large enough for all participants to close out the day together with singing, learning, thanking the volunteers, and tasting the cholent made during a morning session?
The result is Wake the f**k up, a new video reminding us to vote (for Obama) that is getting a lot of attention and play on the youtubes.
I don’t personally feel it any great accomplishment of craft or cleverness, but is noteworthy in that JCER is now officially a Super PAC, has funding from George Soros and is using its funding to offer campaigns rooted in Jewish culture as a counterpoint to the Adelson cash flooding the election. Its also noteworthy in that it is circulating virally (voluntarily) rather than mass-cast on the airwaves. Its not Ezekial 25:17, but it has about the same amount of profanity (you have been warned) and is just as entertaining.Watch it here.
I don’t know these people at all. I just stumbled across this on Facebook. But I’m charmed and want to make sure they get the additional two grand they need in the next day to make this go. Don’t be a hazzer! Contribute!
It is no secret that Jews like a good debate. It’s a deeply ingrained part of our culture. I once heard Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz say that as much as the Talmud (a repository of disagreements and debates) is a product of Jewish culture, it has as much of an influence in shaping Jewish culture. We call an honest debate in Judaism a machloket l’shem shamayim, a disagreement for the sake of heaven. In other words, we don’t have to agree with someone’s opposing viewpoint, but we do have to respect the person.
Matt Abelson, a JTS rabbinical student, recently completed his year of study in Jerusalem. Perhaps one of the most challenging years in rabbinical school for a whole host of reasons, it is nearly impossible to return from the experience unchanged. Abelson wrote a post in which he slams the Encounter program for encouraging students to disengage from traditional Zionist ideology when it comes to their relationship with Israel. This is a “problem” that has been gaining increased attention in the last few years. It is a tense subject for many. As I have mentioned at other times on this blog, there were figures who sought to end my own career before it even began because, despite not even knowing me in real life, they decided I was anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic. I responded to Rabbi Daniel Gordis here when he brought up the issue last year.
I do not have a problem with the fact that Matt Abelson has a problem with Encounter. I do have a problem with how he misrepresents their program. I won’t go into those details here, because I already responded to his blog post there (I included my comment below the fold). I also have a problem with the notion of shirking the responsibility for responsible debate because an issue elicits strong emotion. However, I do want to pose the question, is it an acceptable response to “opt out” of a difficult discussion because it makes you uncomfortable? Go and check out his post and come back here to comment. More »
If you have not done so already, please read the lasttwo posts from Jewschool, and then come back here.
[Waiting for you to finish reading...]
Thanks for coming back.
The subject of both of the posts I just asked you to read are intended to be eye-catching and possibly even intentionally offensive. However, the Ms. Holocaust Survivor event, was titled provocatively while the content of the event was empowering and kind. As we look at the buy-us-dinner fundraising idea from the self-proclaimed voice of the Jewish blogosphere you don’t quite get over that initial bad taste in your mouth.
Taking a deep dive into the Jewlicious fundraising ideas, and the lackluster apology/excuses of its editor, we all feel just a bit dirty.
Clearly, as was pointed out in the comments of the Jewlicious post by the same editor making the excuses, we at Jewschool love to drive traffic by talking in-side baseball. However, I am an avid fan of the sport and dabble just a bit in media criticism. And the shameful attempt to pass the buck on this sexist, misogynistic and other “big-boy words” project, could be called a two down, bottom of the 9th kind of moment. More »
I know it might seem a little … how did someone on Twitter put it? “Gross.” However, we will not accept a donation from anyone with ulterior motives, and Michelle and Jessica will at all times be accompanied by a burly chaperon. No donations will be accepted without a prior interview and all meetings will take place in public. I know this offer seemed provocative, and it is, but it’s not sleazy. What’s really provocative is the notion that charging a Jewish philanthropist $5,000-$7,500 for a chance to speak to intelligent and articulate young Jews is actually a good deal compared to whatever outreach they are doing now. That’s totally fucking outrageous if you ask me.
Dude, this whole thing isn’t objectionable because of the possibility that someone might try to have sex with these women (I’m not going to mince words here). It’s objectionable because that’s what they’re supposed to want. It’s transparently obvious that Jewlicious is selling these women on the basis of their sex appeal. As Naomi Zeveloff points out (from that same Sisterhood post):
Strangely, the site doesn’t link to the work of either of these “capable, intelligent and fierce” women, leaving one to guess that it’s not their dazzling resumes that might be of interest to potential donors, but the photos at the top of the post.
It’s nice of her to say “strangely,” but let’s be honest: this kind of thing is only strange to people who’ve never heard of sexism. To anyone with any understanding of patriarchy , this kind of stunt is depressingly normal.
Ah, Sweden. Birthplace of Ikea. Home of Abba. Case-study in government use of social media gone terribly wrong.
It seems that the Swedish Tourism Board thought that turning over the official @Sweden Twitter Account to regular folks from around the country would be a great way to expose the rest of the world to all the country has to offer. I’m not sure how long the Curators of Sweden program has been running, but it got a boost of publicity this morning when the current curator, Sonja Abrahamsson, tweeted the following:
Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?
I can’t be the only one reminded of Henry Blodget’s similar question on Business Insider at the end of last month, although there’s clearly a difference between tweets from someone who self-identifies as an under-educated woman from a little isty-bitsy village and the CEO of a respected publication. But I’ve got to wonder myself if there’s something about this moment that’s bringing “the Jewish question” back into public discourse.
I have to admit musician Gotye’s hit “Somebody That I Used to Know” has been stuck in my head for a week. And it’s inspired a host of covers and parodies. Below is a tongue in cheek cover of a cover in Hebrew. In it, Roi Lavi and the Good Guys reproduce a six-on-one-guitar cover of the song by Walk Off the Earth. Original videos below the fold.
On Wednesday, The National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP)-the folks who brought you Shabbat Across America and Read Hebrew America- picked the winners of its first-ever “Jewish Treats: Jewish Influencer Awards,” announcing the recipients as part of Social Media Week. The award is based on the “creative and strategic use of social media.”
It should not surprise me that this is what it looks like: white, Orthodox dudes (and white skinned folks overall-nary a Jew of color in sight), people espousing the awesomeness of frumkeit-I believe the kids call it kiruv-and representing “mainstream” to right wing Jewish organizations.
A colleague sent me this list; if it hadn’t been in the Huffington Post, I doubt I would have found out about it at all. NJOP is not a diverse, lefty, or secular organization, they have an specific agenda (which of course, everyone does), and it’s expressed here. This is who NJOP has decided are leaders, who gets to represent the Jewish community, who is Jewish enough and in the right way.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it’s lacking in religious, political and racial diversity, and because of the wide spread readership of the Huffington Post, a lot of folks have probably seen it. It’s a sad example, with the exception of Esther Kustanowitz and Chaviva Galatz, of how a certain part of the American community represents itself to the larger world.
Where’s the list of the most creative and influential lefty/radical/progressive/ queer/feminist/non or post denominational/secular, etc. Jewish social media personalities? Who would be on yours?
New York — Matisyahu, a Jewish kid who “found” Torah Judaism through reggae and lost his ability to trim his facial hair, reported today via Twitter that he shaved.
Jewish News services the world over sent news alerts, alerting their followers that the “musician” who has made a fortune “utilizing” another culture’s music for the “benefit” of the Jewish people shaved.
It would appear that by cleaning himself of his facial hair he has lost his magical powers to assume the musical styling of the Islands as well as his ability to be a role model for other lost Jews.
This modern day Samson story doesn’t end well for this mediocre musician. While reaction is mixed, his blatant abuse of his religion and the plagiarizing of another for his career is most likely over. Few are upset about this, yet there will be many who use this as further proof that young American Jews do not have the same connection to their traditions as previous generations.
[Editor's Note: We cut the rest of this article because it isn't news. For the sake of the holiness code move on. This guy made bad music with lame ass messaging based in a lack-luster Jewish indoctrination education.]
As many know, Mobius, activist and founder of this blog, is known for his outspoken views ending on the Occupation and more recently for his leadership in Jewish slice of the the #Occupy movement (among his prodigious other accomplishments).
In a somewhat surreal turn of events, earlier this week as police evicted Sieradski and the rest of #occupy wall street from Zucotti Park, the Electronic Intifada denounced him for being a tool of the Zionist PR machine. Got that? They associated him with his twitter and real-life debate partner, William Daroff, who proudly clams that title. Clearly, having posed together for a photo makes them philosophical bunk mates. Confused yet? It gets better.
Not only this, but he is, or was, and now is again- FOR the #Occupation. Of course- and apparently Electronic Intifada is as well. But not THAT occupation. And Mobius is not entitled to be thus as he hasn’t been nearly outspoken enough about his views. Which E.I. is against because, well, he’s so clearly in bed with the rightwing Zionists. And Muppets.
Which they’re for- no wait, against.. Okay, I’m confused. Blame the Jews!
And btw, since we’re off the topic, the Muppets also deserve a state of their own too. Who doesn’t anymore (except Kurds, Boriquenas and American Indians)? Personally, I believe the @Muppets should be free to live everywhere. As long as its not in my backyard because my 6th cousins are moving in as soon as UNESCO declares their right to return to my #basement. I also wish to denounce those who would deny them the right to both have the state of #Muppestine and the right to denounce such states on principle! Really, this totally made sense when explained by the Electric Meyhem.
Somewhere I hear Bill Murray turning to Harold Ramis and saying, “Wait, I thought you said the Occupation was baaaaad.” DOWN! with the evil #occupiers of the anti-zionist non-entity! No wait- FREE Palestine! End the #Occupation! Muppets! No, wait, we support the occupiers just not the #occupation! Reverse that. We are with the 6 million! Wherever we stand, it is in opposition to the opposition of the opposition of the occupation, except when we’re not. And then we are.
At least the Palestinian Solidarity movement got its support of #occupy straight on one point, and that was… failing to make a clear point. Nice work and way to muddy the waters for the enemies of progress. Thanks for the giggles! But not really.
In an op-ed piece reworked from a speech delivered at the Jewish Federations General Assembly in Denver, Rabbi Elie Kaunfer of Mechon Hadar writes that:
Jews, like all people, are searching for meaning, substance and connection. The more we are inundated with e-mails, status updates and tweets, the more we want to go deeper. Our souls are calling out for engagement; our hearts are crying out to be opened.
Judaism, at its core, is a response to that yearning, an answer to that call. What are we “continuing” with our calls for “continuity”? Why does Judaism need a future? Because Judaism offers a system, a covenantal language, a heritage and tradition that responds to the human need for meaning, substance and connection. It is our system, our language, our heritage; it is relevant, and that is the reason that we need a Jewish future.
We Jews have a word for the pathway to meaning, substance and connection. It is called Torah. I don’t just mean the Torah scroll that sits alone in the ark, or even just the words of the five books of Moses. I mean the sum total of Jewish sources and texts — the wisdom stored up in our textual heritage.
Truth be told, not the biggest hiddush (original insight) but seriously brave considering the original audience. The Federation pretty much wrote the book of Jewish continuity for continuity’s sake. I was, however, especially happy to read this article after an experience this last Friday night which speaks loudly toward what Kaunfer is getting at. More »
Above, the Chilean Federation of Jewish Students protests discrimination.
Over at New Voices Magazine (my day job), we launched a new blog this week that Jewschoolers might be interested in. It’s called the Global Jewish Voiceand it’s a way to jump-start a wider conversation that we normally have at New Voices. While New Voices is normally American or Israeli (and occasionally Canadian) in scope, the Global Jewish Voice is a fully international conversation about the lives of Jewish students and young adults.
The blog is staffed by 10 writers reporting on their lives on campus, in the workplace and at home. They are writing in from every corner of the globe, including Israel, the US, Chile, Spain, China, Canada, the UK and–no joke–Serbia. The blog’s student editor is based in Portland, Ore. There’s also an open submission policy.
This could quickly turn to riots – we need to get the hell out of here. We don’t even have bulletproof vests – any jerk in the street can knife me and disappear. I started to walk toward the trucks and my phone blinks again, this time from a Facebook message: “Shlomo gave us grades! I got a 91! I think he is good after all, he probably didn’t even check that well… how much did you get?”
Meanwhile in Chile, sometimes the struggle is more symbolic of living Jewishly in a non-Jewish world. University student Maxamilliano Grass is on the vanguard of Jewish student activism and pro-Israel work in a country with 75,000 Jews—and over 400,000 Palestinians: More »
Who says there are no paying jobs left in journalism?
By day, I’m the editor of New Voices, the national Jewish student magazine, and the director of the 40-years-young organization that publishes it, the Jewish Student Press Service. Since the JSPS was founded (New Voices itself is 20 years old), we’ve been a home for independent Jewish journalism–written and published entirely by college students.
We operate on the most shoestring of budgets, but occasionally, we get the exciting the chance to actually hire someone. In this case, I’m looking for 10 someones! If you know a student journalist who might be interested in this, let me know in the comments or by emailing me at david(at)newvoices.org.
Here’s my full pitch:
Jewish Student Journalists: We Want to Pay You!
New Voices Magazine, the national Jewish student magazine, is seeking student journalists to do paid reporting from their campuses this fall! More »
This guestpost is by RhetoricWatch. Though operating under a pseudonym here, RhetoricWatch is a professional in the field of Jewish journalism.
Before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear: The Tea Party is not a terrorist organization.
I don’t agree with its ideas, tactics or policy suggestions, and I’m worried about its seemingly rising influence in this country, which seems anti-intellectual, simplistic and detached from reality. Moreover, its rhetoric–which at times seems nativist and racist–is feeding a current of hatred and fear in this country that troubles me.
But none of this makes the Tea party comparable to Hezbollah. Not even close.
Alas, that is the Tea Party… If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission.
Remember, Friedman is referring to the same Hezbollah that has launched many deadly attacks on Israel, that calls for Israel’s destruction as a state, that advocates extremist Muslim rule in the Middle East and that openly praised the killing of 200 US Marines in 1983. The Tea Party’s rhetoric may be bad, but it’s nowhere near that bad.
It surprises me all the more that it’s Friedman writing this. Friedman, who made a name for himself covering the Lebanese-Israeli conflict. Friedman, who writes about Israel and its terrorist enemies frequently and who focuses his columns on trying to avoid the extreme positions that some in Israel and the Middle East take. He should know better.
It’s not even a good analogy. Unlike the Tea Party, which is (as Friedman noted) a faction within the Republican party – and a small one at that – Hezbollah is a major political party in Lebanon. It is a faction in the ruling coalition, but it has representation in parliament and seats in the cabinet. Oh, and it’s also a violent terrorist organization – if I forgot to mention that before.
A better analogy, I think, would be to Yisrael Beiteinu, a hard-right – and nonviolent – political party. It is also independent, unlike the Tea Party, but like the Tea Party it advocates anti-democratic and counterproductive policy in Israel – combined with extremist rhetoric.
One major and consistent complaint that the left in the US has had against the Tea Party is that it cheapens tragic events like the Holocaust by making outlandish comparisons. This is a valid concern, and one worth caring about. But if we’re going to harshly criticize right-wing pundits for such comparisons, we need to call out left-wing pundits for bad comparisons as well.
Tom Friedman can and should criticize the Tea Party. He shouldn’t compare it to Hezbollah.
Anat Hoffman being arrested last July for carrying a Torah scroll at the Western Wall. Credit: Chana Karmann-Lente
In an interview with Anat Hoffman at the New Voices Magazine Northwestern University Blog [full disclosure: I'm the Web Editor at New Voices], Hoffman speaks directly to the intense frustration with Israel I’m having this week as the country consistently shows off just how distinctly they misunderstand what the meaning of “democracy” is. Meanwhile, the term “Jewish democracy” keeps getting thrown around.
Hoffman, the director the Israel Religious Action Center–the Israeli Reform movement’s legal action arm–says in the interview:
“There’s no word in Hebrew for pluralism,” Hoffman says. “The word for ‘integrity’ is only a couple years old and ‘accountability’ has only been around for nine months. These are signs that the basic tenets of democracy and civil rights haven’t made Aliyah to Israel yet.”
I’ve met Hoffman. She’s a funny person about dark topics in that way that Israelis somehow manage to be.
I’m a big fan of Jewschool, though until today my name hasn’t graced it’s fine pages. Back in 2005, when I was working for B’nai Jeshurun, reading it made me feel connected to a rising cohort of committed activists in the Jewish world. Secret agent activists, working to change what they could with an inside/outside strategy. Sure, y’all were a bit clannish, and I still didn’t get all the UWS or Park Slope references, but I remember feeling part of something important.
That’s one of the ways that online communities function when they work - they create strong bonds and lasting impact even among participants who aren’t even contributing or making themselves known. Jewschool might have a smaller readership at this moment than at its peak, but the foundations laid by Mobius/Orthodox Anarchist/Daniel Sieradski have led to great things.
Enter RepairLabs. Created by Repair the World, it represents a particular kind of online community in formation; a community of practice. Where Repair’s overall mission is to support and expand the role of service in Jewish life, RepairLabs is to support the staff at Jewish nonprofits that actually operate service programs. As editor of the site, my job is to contribute to the formation of what might be a new identity: the Jewish Service or Jewish Service Learning professional.
To accomplish this, a little bit of identity surgery is required. In my years interacting with the Jewish world, I’ve met many staff members who only identified with a particular organization, not with employment in the Jewish ‘sector.’ Contrast that with many Federation executives who move around with some frequency, and know full well that they are ‘Federation executives.’
A similar instance might be with Jews doing environmental work (Adama, Hazon, COEJL, Teva, etc.) My impression is that they see themselves as working in the Jewish environmental world, a somewhat developed niche. Many of those staff people engage in Jewish Service Learning, or Immersive Jewish Service Learning. Do they see themselves as ‘JSL professionals’ who might someday be working for another JSL program?
I hope that someday RepairLabs can function as a community hub for a sector of the Jewish professional world. We’re trying to entice folks with resources, articles, and info about upcoming events in the sector. Consider this an initial effort to crowdsource some of our thinking. But the most important offering has yet to come: the wisdom and enthusiasm of a real community.
Are you a JSL or IJSL professional? Is that designation even helpful? What resources can a capacity building effort like RepairLabs provide? Do you have any experiences with cultivating a community of practice that might be useful here?
(Full disclosure: Dan S. currently works for Repair the World, and he introduced me to that fine organization, leading to my current gig at RepairLabs. RepairLabs wouldn’t exist without all the amazing content from Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Rabbi Brent Spodek, Amy Schrager, Perry Teicher, and Beth Steinhorn.)