Culture, Justice, Mishegas, Politics, Religion

Jewschool's Picks for Best of 2007


Since we’ve now completed another year, it’s time for our annual, highly idiosyncratic, completely unscientific, best–of round up. Happy (secular) new year from all of us here at Jewschool!
Best JBlog
Despite actually having been founded in 2006, we’re still giving our vote to The Jew and the Carrot. It’s really taken off this year and there have been so many themes they’ve covered that we wished we thought of, but now can leave it to he experts. Maybe we just love Hazon.
Best Book
Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon got it by a nose, but there were quite a few runners up, so let’s also mention:
Foreskin’s Lament by Sholom Auslander
Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer
The Price of Whiteness by Eric Goldstein
And let’s throw in Chabon’s other book for this year Gentlemen of the Road – er, because I personally liked it better than Yiddish Policemen. *ahem*

Best Nonfiction Book

We applaud this for being more than just a book. Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Call for Justice, which includes over 35 essays, is just one of many steps in mobilizing progressive Jews working for social justice and environmental responsibility with a goal to inspire, educate, and organize all those dedicated to the ongoing task of tikkun olam. (See the website for upcoming launch parties across the country)

Best New Magazine

Habitus: A Diaspora Journal
Best Album:
We Can Rise by Chana Rothman (one of the first albums to be released on the new on Oyhoo Records, owned by Michael Dorf, founder of The Knitting Factory and the upcoming CityWinery). Check her out at Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live on Wed. Jan. 16.
Best Wackjob Pretending to be Billie Holiday But Making Great Music Anyway
Amy Winehouse, especially for Back in Black
Best Song (tied)
The Narrator’s “Surfjew.” I don’t even know what the words are — I can’t make them out, except something about being 13 years old, and the chorus. But the shit rocks. Check the mp3 here
The Owls’ “Isaac Bashevis Singer.” How many times do you get a pretty little song about someone who gave his Nobel acceptance speech in Yiddish?
Best Musician
Ben Ellman (tremendous sax/woodwind/mouthorgan player) for his awesome contributions to Galactic and Galactic’s “From the Corner to the Block,” one of the best hip hop albums of the year.
Best Children’s Book and CD
The Bedtime Shema
Best Comedy Album
JDub‘s first album with Michael Showalter, Sandwiches and Cats.
Best Movies (tied)
The Ten, the latest installment from David Wain and the cast of Wet Hot American Summer/The State/etc., which features 10 short films, each on about one of the 10 commandments
Borat (which came out November 2006 and kept its momentum well into 2007). Seriously, folks – the outtakes on the DVD and various news stories about him getting sued were just as entertaining the original film in the theater.
Best Organization
Encounter, an educational organization dedicated to providing Jewish diaspora leaders from across the religious and political spectrum with exposure to Palestinian life. Motivated by the relentless Jewish pursuit of hokhma (wisdom) and binah (understanding), Encounter programs bring participants on journeys to engage with Palestinians face-to-face and witness realities first hand.
The UJC, for supporting Encounter via Bikkurim and for starting a new fund specifically to improve the quality of life for Israeli Arabs. Yes, giving awards to the UJC is a little out of the ordinary for us, but never let it be said we don’t give praise where it’s due!
Best Conference
Jewish Funds for Justice’s K’hilot K’doshot: Holy Congregations, Just Communities that took place last February in California. It’s clear that we need more strategic change than food drives and soup kitchen visits. These folks are actually making this vision a reality, and helping redefine what it means to be a Jewish leader today.
Shonda of the Year
There were so many of these it was really very hard to pick, but we settled on two biggies:
1) Abe Foxman/ The ADL refusing to acknowledge the Armenian genocide
2) Even though this scandal actually began its public life in 2006, Rubashkins/AgriProcessors has been so consistently inventive in finding new ways to be naval b’reshut torah (a scoundrel within the boundaries of Torah), and to be perfectly frank, really NOT b’reshut (within the bounds of Torah), but being able to drag the OU after it in protecting its interests, when clearly their treatment of workers is NOT b’reshut Torah, their treatment of animals is NOT b’reshut Torah, and their kashrut… well, that remains to be seen, but we highly doubt it’s b’reshut Torah. For all this and more, we award Rubashkins/ AgriProcessors its very own award: The Worst Ongoing Scandal Award.
Following up with that, we also invent a new award for Heksher Tzedek: biggest cause with a misspelled name to provide hope for the Jews in 2008. Get it in gear and get moving y’all!
Best Jewschool Post
Revolution for the Hell of It
Best Event The Eight. Quite a global undertaking and one of only a few really significant cultural events of an overtly global scope that we can think of
Biggest Disappointment
Continued settler violence against Palestinians and aid workers in Hebron
Most Stupid Pronouncement by Institutional Jewish Organization
American Jewish Committee’s paper attacking progressive Jews as “barely concealing their genocidal contempt” for their fellow Jews. It happened just at the end of 2006, but the response came in 2007.
Blinding Flash of the Obvious Finally Reaching the Mainstream Radar Years After Everybody Else Got the Memo
Indie minyanim
Coolest Random Thing
Jen Taylor Friedman (with whom we were already smitten for her Tefillin Barbie), scribing the first Torah known to be written by a woman
Topic of the Year: Food
From the schechting of the goat at the Hazon food conference, to the growing eco-kashrut movement, from increasing awareness of the necessity to eat local and organic to “kosher” being the most popular claim found on product labels in 2007, (beating out “All Natural” and “No Additives or Preservatives,”), and let’s not forget the triumphant return of the 2nd Ave Deli, yep, we Jews know what we like, and as usual, it was food
Best News
Josh Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo. Talking Points Memo is one of the most informative sources of real, actual journalism out there, a site Josh Marshall started after the Brooks Brothers riot of 2000 helped seal the stolen election for Bush and has continued to build into something incredible
Best Political commentary
David Sirota at Center for American Progress and Jon Tasini over at

Best Businessmentch

Adam Neiman, president of No Sweat Apparel. No Sweat rolled out fair trade, organic apparel that was made in a union factory… in Bethelem. And got massive props all around for it.
Best Advance Towards Equality
JTS and AJU (formerly UJ) changing their policies to begin admitting gay and lesbian rabbinical students. Props to Keshet and Dror Yikra, Elizabeth Richman, and Sarah Friedson.
We here at Jewschool also want to give out our best founder award to Daniel Sieradski. Mobius not only founded, built and nurtured this site, but has become a greatly in–demand speaker for his creativity and vision in building ways young (or not) Jews can connect with one another, and build not one, but many authentic Judaisms. He spoke at the GA, he’s fearless, and by the way, he also passed on the torch this year for Jewschool, to us. We can’t say enough nice things about him. Thanks for everything, big props!
And, hey! Thank you! For another year of Jewschool, thanks to all of you, our readers, who write, complain, criticize, comment, send us tidbits, and keep us honest. Thanks for another year! See you in 2008!

10 thoughts on “Jewschool's Picks for Best of 2007

  1. great list. Sirota’s not at CAP right now though, he runs a policy shop called Progressive States Network. He also blogs for Working Assets blog.
    Great list though, guys!

  2. That song is hilarious…i’m surprised they didn’t mention him being vegetarian.
    Nu, who’s writing the parody about Glatshteyn?

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