A New Read on Jewish Life
Updated: 1 week 14 hours ago
This morning, four Israelis were murdered during morning prayers at their synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem, when two Palestinians reportedly attacked the worshipers with knives, axes and guns. At least eight others were wounded in the assault, many seriously, including local police who engaged the assailants in a gun fight and ultimately dispatched them. The attackers have been identified as cousins Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, residents of East Jerusalem.
Yosef Pasternak, who was at the synagogue during the assault, told Israel Radio that “I saw people lying on the floor, blood everywhere. People were trying to fight with [the attackers] but they didn’t have much of a chance.” Another witness recalled how “two people came out with their faces half missing, looking like they’d been attacked with knives.” A medical volunteer at the scene told Bloomberg that the attackers cut off the arm of a worshiper who was wearing tefillin (phylacteries), a ritual object worn by Jews during morning prayers.
First the chicken is cooked in water, tomato paste, and spices, then the spiced cooking liquid is used to make delicious red rice. Clever, huh? And there is more: While the rice is cooking, the chicken is shredded; slowly sautéed with onions, almonds, and raisins; and then served over the rice. Grandma’s cooking at its best! Save any leftover red rice—it makes a delicious side for beef, chicken, and fish dishes.
4 chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks)
The idea that hardline Hamas political leaders like Mousa Abu Marzook and Khaled Meshal who order violence in the name of jihad are also canny businessmen who have assembled financial empires that would be the envy of pinstriped businessmen in London, Paris, or New York may strike most readers as unfamiliar, or perhaps as a form of science fiction or propaganda. But in the Middle East, otherworldly religious or political rhetoric and earthly profits do not necessarily contradict each other. In fact, they often go hand in hand.
Nor is the combination of political and military roles with business empires unique to Hamas, or to other Islamist organizations. When I started my job as the Israeli Military Governor of Tyre district during the first Lebanese war and asked to meet with the local police chief, I was told, “He is available only during the morning hours. In the afternoons he takes care of his businesses.” “Businesses?” I wondered. “Yes,” said my informant, “he has a supermarket chain.”
In my last column, I discussed the rabbis’ edict that converting to Judaism in order to marry a Jew is forbidden. The principle behind the rabbis’ thinking was that, if you are going to take up the considerable responsibility of following Jewish law and sharing the Jewish fate, you must do so only out of a desire to serve God and not to obtain any personal benefit—even one as altruistic as marrying someone you love. In this week’s Daf Yomi reading, this same principle was invoked in a different context, when the rabbis considered the possible motives that might lead a man to contract a levirate marriage with his yevama, his deceased brother’s wife.
As the editor-in-chief of the Israeli culinary magazine Al Hashulchan since its inception in 1991, and the author of the 2008 cookbook The Book of New Israeli Food, Janna Gur is Israel’s unofficial culinary ambassador to the world. “Gur is one of the people who influenced Israeli culinary art and advanced it the most,” Gerda Glezer, editor of Walla!Food, told me. But in her new cookbook, Jewish Soul Food: From Minsk to Marrakesh, Gur shifts her focus from modern Israeli cooking to the traditional Jewish cooking in the Diaspora that preceded it.
“I was so involved in celebrating our brave new culinary world that I regarded Jewish cuisines as a means to an end—a playing field for Israeli chefs, fertile ground on which the nascent Israeli cuisine could thrive,” Gur writes in her new book. Now, she looks back at the world of Jewish cooking as an end in itself, including more than 100 recipes from places as diverse as Hungary, Algeria, Georgia, and Iraq.
Frazier Glenn Miller, the suspect in the shooting of three people at two different Jewish locations in Overland Park, Kan., is a former KKK leader, a well-documented white supremacist, and, at one point, was a protected FBI informant. Now Miller, who faces a capital murder charge following the April shooting rampage, confirms what many have long suspected: He was targeting Jews, which was why he opened fire in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and then drove to Village Shalom, a Jewish retirement home nearby, where he continued shooting.
The three people he killed weren’t Jewish, they just happened to be at those locations that day—a twisted irony that can’t be lost on the hate-filled Miller. The first two victims were identified as William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson Reat Griffin Underwood, a high-school freshman who was reportedly at the JCC to audition for a local singing competition. The third victim was identified as Terri LaManno, 53, a Kansas City resident and mother of two who worked as an occupational therapist at the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired. She was visiting her mother, a resident at Village Shalom, when Miller opened fire.
Readers of Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, Judy Blume’s 1977 book about a young American girl growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust, were likely drawn into Sally’s world within the book’s first few pages. The book tells the story of the 10-year-old, who moves with her mother, brother, and grandmother from a New Jersey suburb to Miami Beach in 1947, where she becomes consumed by the idea that Adolf Hitler may have also relocated to sunny Florida and is living as one of her neighbors.
The book vividly portrayed Miami in the late 1940s, where Sally’s troubles and triumphs were enmeshed with her surroundings. Now, thanks to WLRN’s Alicia Zuckerman, you can dive right into Sally’s world with an audio tour of Miami narrated by Blume herself.
Josh Pastner, the university of Memphis Men’s Basketball coach, is one of the most promising young coaches in the NCAA. Since he became head coach of the Tigers in 2009, the program has made the past four NCAA tournaments and has won two Conference USA regular season titles. The 37-year-old is also an active member of the Jewish Coaches’ Association, and won the JCA’s annual prize, the Red Auerbach Award, in 2011 at the group’s annual Final Four bagel brunch.
Pastner is also known as one of the best recruiters in college basketball—alongside Yanni Hufnagel at the University of California, Berkeley—and in 2013, ESPN ranked his recruiting class as the third-best in the entire nation.
On Nov. 1, my daughter Josie became a bat mitzvah.
I am still walking on air, and now I am about to kvell and humblebrag and spew nachas all over you. If this is not agreeable to you, please go read about Jewish and Muslim fundamentalist extremism, Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, or anti-Semitic attacks in France. I won’t be offended. This column is the equivalent of my vacation slides.
The cause of the Kurds is the cause of the left. At least, it used to be, in the dimly remembered past when the left was recognizably still the left. An example: a collective letter to The New York Review of Books, May 29, 1975, under the title, “Plight of the Kurds.” The contention: “The situation in Kurdistan has taken a tragic turn.” The conclusion: “The signers of this appeal affirm the right to self-determination of the Kurdish people: they deplore the Iraqi military offensive which has as its aim the liquidation of the Kurdish national movement, and they call upon international organizations and the forces of democracy to intervene in order to prevent a massacre.” The signatories, among others: Stanley Hoffmann, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Pierre Vidal-Naquet.
And even today the cause of the Kurds is the cause of the left. Not the left as a whole, but a definite stream within it. Evidence from the present: a collective letter to the French newspaper Le Monde, Sept. 16, 2014, under the title, “Let Us Help Kurdistan Protect Yezidis and Christians, Our Values Depend on It.” The contention: “Iraqi Kurdistan has received hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons fleeing the massacres of the jihadists of the Islamic State. Among them are tens of thousands of Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks, and members of other religious minorities who have lived for centuries in the lands of Upper Mesopotamia and who, after having survived the persecutions and massacres of the Ottoman Empire and the bloody dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, are at present threatened in their existence.” “This is why we demand: the intensification of humanitarian aide.” Also: “the delivery of weapons.” The principal signatories: two former Socialist prime ministers, a former Socialist foreign minister, the current Socialist mayor of Paris, and Bernard Kouchner, one of the founders of Doctors Without Borders and himself a former foreign minister.
Eig joins Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to discuss the questionable methods the team used to convince women to take early versions of the pill, the particular prejudices Pincus (a Jew) and Rock (a Catholic) faced in their careers, and whether the pill has liberated women or led to the destruction of the family unit.
Two and a half years after Maurice Sendak’s death, perhaps the most significant part of the beloved children’s author’s estate—his rare book collection—remains the subject of an ugly legal battle. The Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia this week filed a lawsuit against the executors of Sendak’s estate as well as the Maurice Sendak Foundation over the multi-million dollar collection, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Sendak’s will reportedly dictated that not only should his works remain on display at the Rosenbach museum, the institution, which had put on more than 70 shows featuring his literary and artistic creations and to which he had become a major donor, should get a portion of his book collection as well. The fine print, though, required the museum and his estate negotiate the details of the arrangement.
Last month we published an article by Doron Ben-Atar, a professor of History at Fordham University, in which he detailed the Kafkaesque proceedings the university initiated against him after he spoke out against the American Studies Association’s academic boycott of Israel, a Title IX investigation he alleged was secretive and politically motivated. Glenn Hendler, chair of the English department at Fordham University, submitted a response to Ben-Atar’s article, which we’ve published here. Ben-Atar’s reply to the response is printed below.
Fordham History professor Doron Ben-Atar has managed to become a minor cause celebre following the October 13 publication in Tablet of his article about being “investigated on secret charges,” ostensibly because of his opposition to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions. As part of his publicity campaign, he also published an official letter describing the results of a Fordham administrator’s investigation.
This week the National Portrait Gallery in London announced the winners of one of the world’s most prestigious portrait photography awards. Among the usual intimate family portraits, eerie shots of twins, dystopic depictions of urban poverty and suburban malaise, portraits of political officials—including a particularly unsettling close-up of Silvio Berlusconi—and politically engaged photographs of the victims and survivors of war-torn communities, is an image of a young, red-headed Orthodox Jewish girl. The photograph, “Chayla in Shul,” won this year’s John Kobal New Work Award, given each year to a promising photographer under age 30. Laura Pannack, a British photographer and graduate of London’s esteemed Central Saint Martins College of Art, was awarded the £4,000 ($6,250) prize and a prestigious commission to photograph a member of the U.K. film industry for the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.
Culled from more than 4,000 international submissions by roughly 1,800 photographers, 59 portraits were chosen by the judges to be included in this year’s exhibition, which draws more than 200,000 people to the National Portrait Gallery each year. The show opened Thursday and runs through February 22.
Informally billed as “The world’s largest kiddush,” the two-day kosher food mega-expo known as Kosherfest was celebrating quite the victory this year: Israel’s famed Marzipan Bakery is coming to America.
The legendary Jerusalem-based bakery has regularly inspired otherwise sane people to bring an extra suitcase or two for the express purpose of filling them with the kind of gooey rugelach that, apparently, you can’t get anywhere else in the world. It’s not uncommon to witness departure scenes at JFK Airport that include this panicked refrain: “And don’t forget to bring me Marzipan!” When a concerned-looking passerby stopped by Marzipan’s booth at this week’s event to ask Dalia Schwab, the company’s director of business development, if her wares were gluten-free, Schwab didn’t hesitate: “We’ve got everything,” she deadpanned. “Eggs, sugar, oil: you name it.”
Yesterday, one of America’s top diplomats did something decidedly undiplomatic. At the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Berlin Conference on Anti-Semitism, Samantha Power used her keynote address to call out the nations of Europe for failing to attend, just as anti-Jewish incidents have spiked across the continent. “When leaders show up, nations take notice,” the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said. “It is also why, frankly, it is deeply concerning that even as anti-Semitism is rising in Europe, a third fewer countries are participating in the 2014 conference than took part in the 2004 conference, and only one in three of the countries that sent a foreign minister or other cabinet level official in 2004 has sent one at that level to this conference.”
Just to make sure the world got the message, Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning human rights activist and close adviser to President Obama, chose this portion of her speech to blast out to her 120,000 Twitter followers after she delivered it:
My wife and I send our daughter to a non-Orthodox Jewish day school. It is costly but excellent, giving us a community we cherish and our child an education we believe will help her grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
To hear the pundits tell it, we’re in the minority: While Orthodox day-school attendance is ever on the rise, the rest of us Jews—lox-gobbling, Roth-reading, shul-shunning schlubs—now make up only about 13 percent of the total day-school population. And, at least according to one usually astute observer of Jewish life, it’s not only a passing trend; it’s evidence of the demise of all of liberal Jewry. In other words, it’s very a sad story.
A Soviet Émigré Remembers the Concentration Camp Visit That Led Her To Start Lighting Shabbat Candles
Toward the end of a semester abroad at a Belgian university, I went with a group of fellow college students—most of them not Jewish—to visit Breedonk, a concentration camp 30 miles away. The trip was planned as part of our study-abroad program, and I didn’t give it much thought until we walked through the entrance. It was empty and eerie. There was a train car that had been used to transport prisoners into the camp. We spent over two hours wandering the grounds, going into dimly lit barracks and walking in circles on the outside paths.
Visiting the camp, I suddenly felt a connection to the Holocaust—and to other Jews—that I never felt on American soil. Learning about the atrocities in the same place where they happened helped spark my own connection to Judaism, and made me want to celebrate my own Jewish roots. I’d always been proud to be Jewish, but I never made time to observe holidays or follow traditions.
On short notice, I boarded a train from Boston to New York last Wednesday to attend the funeral of a man who had recently become a friend, and who forever opened up my thinking about the boundaries of the Jewish people. Rabbi Hailu Moshe Paris, born in Ethiopia on October 17, 1933, was a gifted teacher, a role model, and the intellectual leader of a black Jewish community spread across many American cities.
I met him in 2009, through a lecture I gave about Ethiopian Jewry at a black synagogue in Chicago. After my talk, Lorand Kenon, visiting from Brooklyn, introduced herself and bought a copy of my book for Rabbi Paris. Weeks later, she called me in Boston to say the rabbi would like to meet me. Wheelchair-bound, he lived in an Orthodox nursing home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Passover is heading uptown this year. Much-maligned former Real Housewives of New York star Jill Zarin, wife of Lower East Side fabric czar Bobby Zarin, is the new (first?) face of Streit’s Matzo, another iconic Lower East Side Jewish institution. Page Six reports Zarin has a whopping seven-figure deal with the company. Because nothing says Exodus like a former reality TV star.
This isn’t Zarin’s first foray into the business of Jewishness. She took a break from feuding with co-star (and fellow MOT) Bethenny Frankel to write a book called Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Family, Real Love with her sister and mother in 2011. “The Jewish Mother knows what she wants,” the book explains, “and what you should want too.”