A New Read on Jewish Life
Updated: 6 hours 9 minutes ago
This fall, Hillary Clinton may very well be chosen to be our nation’s biggest boss. If it happens, the historic nature of this event is likely to impact people of all genders in a lot of different ways, both consciously and not. How will America deal with a female commander-in-chief? What might be in store for Clinton, and for us, if she wins the election? Perhaps another sector still grappling with patriarchal notions of leadership can illuminate some of these questions. So: What can we learn about having a female president from women who’ve broken the stained-glass ceiling?
I polled a number of friends—female rabbis, male rabbis, and congregant-types of many genders—to hear about their experiences of female rabbinic leadership. I didn’t tell most of them that I was working on a piece about the possibility of a woman POTUS. It didn’t surprise me that a lot of the things people mentioned are things I’ve had to deal with myself, but as the answers came in, it was hard to miss the parallels to the criticism that Clinton’s faced over the years, too.
Retired U.S. Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn, who was rumored to have been considered a VP candidate to Donald Trump, caused an uproar over the weekend when he retweeted an anti-Semitic message that blamed the recent Wikileaks release of DNC emails on Jews.
“The corrupt Democratic machine will do and say anything to get #NeverHillary into power. This is a new low,” tweeted Flynn, who linked his message to another tweet: “>CNN implicated. ‘The USSR is to blame!’ … Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore.” Reported Politico:
Why I Struggle To Observe The Three Weeks, the Mourning Between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and Tisha B'Av
Sunday, July 24, marked the beginning of The Three Weeks, one of the most morose periods of the Jewish calendar that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, and many other tragedies. In Hebrew, this annual 21-day mourning period is called Bein HaMetzarim, or “between the days of distress,” beginning with the Seventeenth of Tammuz (July 23), when the walls of Jerusalem were when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by first the Babylonians, and ending on Tisha B’Av (August 13), when the Temples were destroyed.
In observant circles, the period is marked with a suspension on listening to music with instrumental accompaniment, a temporary ban on vacation travel (excluding Israel), and, according to Ashkenazi custom, not eating meat for the first nine days of Av. (For everyone else, it’s simply no meat during the week that Tisha B’Av actually falls), The purpose of these practices is to be able to fully understand and digest the magnitude of our loss of land, Temple, and centralized social and religious life. But as a Jew of Color, I can’t really say that I get it, or connect to it.
As the MLB trade deadline draws nearer, and GM’s across the league decide to buy, sell, or (groan) stay put, it’s also the time of year to call up mega-prospects that baseball insiders have been salivating over since they were in high school. For the Houston Astros, that mega-prospect is Alex Bregman, a 22-year-old shortstop extraordinaire and proud Jew from New Mexico. Following a 13-3 win over the Angels on Sunday, the second-place Astros announced that Bregman would be joining the team’s Major League roster.
Bregman, the son of two lawyers, grew up attending Congregation Albert in Albequerque (the oldest synagogue in New Mexico). His father played baseball at the University of New Mexico, and Bregman’s grandfather, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, once served as general counsel for the Washington Senators, an expansion club that is now the Texas Rangers. And in case you thought that the sports buck stopped there, Bregman’s great-grandfather was a boxing promoter who hawked tickets for Joe Louis’ fights, among others.
The Syrian American Council Faces Many Challenges as it Makes Its Anti-Assad Case in Washington, D.C.
Few political movements have a harder case to make to the world, or to the American public and its leaders, than Syria’s secular opposition. And few movements have more reason to feel discouraged or abandoned right now. An organization like the Syrian American Council, for example, faces a morass in both Syria and Washington, D.C., pleading the ever-imperiled case for supporting democracy in Syria even as the conflict worsens and attention to situation flags in the U.S.
The once-powerful nationalist and non-Islamist rebellion is now fighting the Assad regime, ISIS, Russia, Iran, and jihadist anti-regime groups, like Jabhat al-Nusra. A collection of non-jihadist rebel groups was recently encircled by the Syrian army in their former stronghold in Aleppo, and are coping with a number of steep geopolitical hurdles outside the country: the perception of Assad as a partner in fighting terrorism, the widespread conflation of the Syrian opposition with Sunni jihadism, a U.S. administration wary of antagonizing the pro-Assad Iranian regime and seemingly set on brokering the opposition’s surrender, and a U.S. and western public allergic to anything that even smacks of expanded involvement in the Middle East.
Sitting with me in the van to the airport on my way to Cleveland was a German family. Our driver turned the radio on, and a top-of-the-hour news update rehearsed the familiar litany of American woe. First, an excerpt from a somber speech by President Barack Obama discussing the latest episode of gun violence in Baton Rouge. Next, a reply from Donald Trump, days away from receiving the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, who attacked the president on Twitter for turning the country into “a divided crime scene.” Rounding it out was an item about the Cleveland Police Department’s worry that demonstrators outside the Republican National Convention would take advantage of Ohio’s concealed carry law by arming themselves to the teeth. Listening in the back seat of the van to this recitation of carnage and absurdism, my thoughts drifted immediately to a friend of mine, the Washington correspondent for a major German daily, with whom I had been emailing earlier in the week. He could make a name for himself as a sort of reverse William Shirer, I would tell him, only half-jokingly, chronicling for a German readership the rise of fascism in America.
July 19, 2016 should go down in history as the date the Republican Party deservedly died—“political Jonestown” as the novelist Thomas Mallon called it earlier this month. For that was when the GOP finally nominated Donald Trump for president, officially sanctioning the idea that the fate of the free world ought to be entrusted to an aspiring authoritarian reality television show host. Mallon is an ingenious novelist of historical American political fiction, but I doubt even he could have dreamed up a scenario so bleak as the travesty that unfolded in Cleveland last week, one that, as an agitated observer of the Trump phenomenon, I felt compelled to witness from the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena, or “the Q” as it is affectionately called.
The recent spate of political fear-mongering and police violence in this country has left me such in an angry stupor (and I live in L.A., where there are beaches!), that I almost forgot that it’s about to be the Olympics. And I love the Olympics, even these Rio games with all of its specters: the rise of Zika in Rio, the corruption and poverty being swept under the rug, the semi-banning of Russian athletes from the games for doping. (And honestly, this time next year, when we’ve been annexed by Putin after he’s proclaimed himself Tsar of the World, this will be a moot point.)
I’m especially excited about our delightful, unbeatable (did I just jinx it?), and fabulously diverse U.S. women’s gymnastic team, which includes: the incredible Simone Biles, who, short of catastrophic injury, will almost certainly win the gold in the all-around; returning champion Gabby Douglas; newcomers Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian; and of course, Tablet’s own golden girl who captured American’s heart—and Olympic gold—with her peppy “Hava Nagilah”-set floor routine in the 2012 London games, as her hilariously anxious Jewish parents watched from the stands.
On June 24, Royal Tokaji—one of the most renowned wineries in Hungary’s famed Tokaj region—unveiled two plaques on the exterior of its winery in Mád. The copper plaques honor the Zimmermanns, a prominent Jewish family who owned the property before World War II. The Zimmermanns’ wines were well-known throughout Europe from the mid-1800s on, and bottles of their sweet Tokaji aszú dating from the late 19th century can still net thousands of dollars at auctions.
It took a year of hard negotiations before the winery agreed to acknowledge this Jewish family publicly. Only about a dozen people were present for the ceremony: a couple associates of Royal Tokaji and eight descendants of Zsuzsanna Zimmermann—a Hungarian-American Holocaust survivor who was deported with her mother, Blanka Zimmermann, from one of the winery’s two buildings in 1944. The ceremony was modest; in the end, nothing but two white tablecloths thrown on the plaques indicated that a memorial celebration would take place in front of the adjoining buildings of Royal Tokaji later that day.
Eliaz Cohen can hardly forget his annual school trips to Hebron as a teenager. One excursion, around the age of 13 or 14, was especially memorable. Cohen and his classmates from the bourgeois settlement of Elkana in western Samaria were meeting with Elyakim Haetzni, a secular leader in the settlement movement.
“He posed a question to us,” Cohen remembered recently. “Imagine you had a girlfriend. How would you react if someone else wanted to go out with her? All the more so, imagine she were your wife!”
On July 18, 1994, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires—the country’s largest Jewish organization—was bombed, killing 85 and wounded hundreds more. According to The New Yorker, it was “the bloodiest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history.” (This occurred just two years after the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was attacked by a suicide bomber, who killed 29 and wounded close to 250.)
To this day, no one has been formally convicted in connection with the AMIA attack, with many in Argentina and around the world charging members of Argentine government with incompetence, and conspiracy. Fingers have also pointed at Hezbollah, which allegedly executed the attack “at the will of the Tehran government.” This week, an arrest was ordered, reported JTA:
Thus begins the next stage of Lil’ Dicky’s career—with a tweet:
my new manager is @scooterbraun, i wonder if i'll ever get him to show me his dick or anything cool like that, that requires a lot of trust
Beginning today, The Scroll will feature a weekly interview by author and comedian Periel Aschenbrand with one unique Jew doing fabulous things, with questions both personal and professional enough to give us a good, if slanted window into each subject: What makes you tick? What makes you cringe? What makes you laugh? Tell me about the men in your life. Who did your nose job?
We’re calling the column “The Chosen Ones,” a hat tip of sorts to the interviewees: unique, driven, sassy members of the tribe whose acumen—be it in the fashion, writing, or art worlds (and beyond)—have impacted the ways in which we experience and find joy in the world.
The Chosen Ones is a weekly column by author and comedian Periel Aschenbrand, who interviews Jews doing fabulous things.
You’d never guess it by talking to her, but Sigal Avin is having what we call “a moment.”
Every summer, the whole of Israel is set to a smash anthem, which generally takes the form of a kitschy Mizrahi pop song. Last year it was “Derech HaShalom,” a love song about a man who picks up a woman in a cafe on a hot night for a one-night stand; in 2013, it was “Tel Aviv,” written for the city’s Gay Pride parade, about how Tel Aviv is full of hot men. This year, the surprise hit is a satirical love ballad, also in the style of Mizrahi pop, about a man who hops from one woman to the other … and then onto a grouper (yes, the fish).
“Sweeter Than Life” (“Metuka MeHachaim”), the deliberately cringe-inducing lyrics tell the tale of an easily distracted man propelled from one fling to another by love at first sight, promising to give each sweetheart “everything she doesn’t have.”
At a Republican primary debate in January, when his candidacy was still considered something between a fluke and a joke, Donald Trump proclaimed, “I will gladly accept the mantle of anger.” On Thursday night, in accepting the Republican party’s presidential nomination, he became the very avatar of that anger.
In a fiery speech devoid of humor and hope, the mogul turned reality star turned politician outlined a grim American landscape that would have been unrecognizable to previous GOP presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. In place of their sunny conservatism and can-do optimism, Trump offered resignation, condemnation, and shadowy conspiracism.
Star Trek Beyond opens in movie theaters July 22. Yes, a half century after Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy hit the airwaves, after five TV series and 12 movies, the enterprise (and The Enterprise) is still going strong. And much of the popularity of the series, and the loyalty of its fans, can be traced to the real social issues that it tackles, beneath the overlay of warp coils, dilithium crystals, and tachyon pulses. One such issue, which resonates powerfully with my rabbinic work, played a major role in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and concerned a simulation known as the Kobayashi Maru.
Every cadet in Starfleet Academy had to face the Kobayashi Maru, but until Jim Kirk, no one had beaten it. In the simulation, the cadet pilots a starship that receives a distress call. Following all the proper protocol, the cadet responds to the emergency only to be attacked on multiple fronts by unexpected enemies and faced with the inevitable destruction of his ship. It is a classic no-win scenario. In The Wrath of Khan, Kirk explains that as he doesn’t believe in no-win situations, he characteristically reprogrammed the simulation the night before he was to take it, “cheating” in order to come out on top. (This incident was later dramatized in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot, Star Trek.)
After completing my biography of Woody Allen, I had a dream that I presented him with a copy of my book and said to him, “You will be very happy with this.” In another dream, he was sleeping and I put my face alongside his. I awoke with a feeling of peacefulness.
These dreams will surely support the feeling among some critics that I fell in love with Woody Allen. Actually there is love and admiration in the book, but plenty of criticism as well. I thought that he was cruel to Mia Farrow when he left nude pictures of Soon-Yi for her to see; that he had a deep-seated ambivalence toward women because of a mother who hit him every day when he was a child; that a good number of his films are terrible—and that almost every good or terrific film is followed by one or two or three lousy ones. For truly wretched, check out Interiors, September, Another Woman, Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Whatever Works, Hollywood Ending, Irrational Man, and Shadows and Fog.
Frankie Cosmos is far from a household name at this stage in her career. The Jewish singer-songwriter released her second studio album, Next Thing, in April to wide critical acclaim, with Pitchfork touting “her ability to transform minute-long songs into experiences that resemble hours of intimate impressionistic conversation.”
Of course, to be saddled with wide critical claim is to be saddled with greater expectations, a wider audience, and a greater pressure to succeed. For rising stars, those are the kind of added elements that can tank a promising career; for Cosmos, it’s something she can just ask mom and dad about. Frankie Cosmos, whose real name is Greta Kline, is the 22-year-old daughter of actor-couple Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates, no strangers to fame themselves.
Last night for a few minutes
As a kid when the TV bathed
Gal Gadot is the First Solo Lead in 'Wonder Woman' Franchise's History. Oh, and the Director is Female, too.
Wonder Woman is coming to the big screen once again, and this time, she’s got top billing.
Gal Gadot, the 31-year-old former Israeli army combat trainer and all-around Tablet sweetheart, will reprise her role as the Amazonian warrior-goddess—and her human alter ego, Diana Prince—in what looks poised to be the next big blockbuster superhero franchise.