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Artist Orli Auslander’s Provocative Solo Show

Sexism, misogyny, and religion take center stage in bold new exhibit

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Image from 'I Feel Bad' series.(Orli Auslander)

Artist Orli Auslander grew up in a traditional Middle Eastern household in London, in a Bukharian Jewish family in which boys were favored over girls. The effects of growing up in this environment ripples through all of her work. It’s evident in her wood carvings in which she burns the Hebrew blessing Shelo Asani Isha, which thanks God for not making one a woman, into the wood; in her series of comics detailing all the things she feels bad about; and in her graphic novel, Vagina Money: a True Story, about a woman who gets a tampon stuck inside her.

Her newest series consists of darkly humorous dioramas depicting scenes of women who spontaneously combusted after the dual forces of sexism and misogyny became too much to bear. They’re on display in Auslander’s first solo show, “Pretty/Ugly,” which opened last weekend at Woodstock Framing Gallery in Woodstock, N.Y., near where she lives with her husband, the writer Shalom Auslander, and their children. (more…)

Brussels Jewish Museum Shooting Suspect Arrested in France

29-year-old detained in Marseille with video claiming responsibility for attack

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French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (R) speaks alongside Belgian Interior Minister Joelle Milquet (L) during a joint press conference in Paris, on June 1, 2014, dedicated to the recent shooting at a Jewish museum in Brussels. (THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images))

A suspect has been arrested in the May 24 shooting at the Brussels Jewish Museum in which three people were killed and a fourth was was critically wounded. Reuters reports that 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche was arrested in France “on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and possession of weapons, all in the context of terrorist activity” after being flagged by authorities during a routine customs search at a bus station.

Mehdi Nemmouche was detained on Friday after a random check at a bus terminal in the French city of Marseille showed he was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle, another gun and ammunition similar to those used in the shooting last weekend, French and Belgian prosecutors said.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters Nemmouche had been carrying a video where a voice resembling his own claims responsibility for the shootings.

Belgium is reportedly seeking Nemmouche’s extradition from France, where he is a citizen. (more…)

Yair Lapid Calls for Recognition of Non-Orthodox Judaism

Israeli leader also accuses settlers of ‘a distortion of the essence of Judaism’

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Yair Lapid, leader of Israel's Yesh Atid party. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Last weekend, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid delivered a speech that drew little attention in Israel, but which dealt with a subject of pressing concern to American Jews: the recognition of non-Orthodox movements in Israel. In an impassioned address at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, Lapid, the leader of the Yesh Atid party, recommitted himself to fighting for “equality between the different streams of Judaism in conversion, in marriage, in divorce, in budgetary subsidies, [and] in access to holy places.” After all, he added, “in practice, most Israelis are Reform and Conservative, and just don’t know it.”

“No one can claim ownership over the Jewish God,” he told the assembled activists and dignitaries, which included Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the executive director of the Movement for Progressive Judaism. “An old and petty politics cannot circumscribe something that is eternal like the Jewish identity,” Lapid continued. “This is simply wrong and it must be stopped.” (more…)

Samuel L. Jackson’s Israel Moment

World’s coolest man tweets selfie at parade, Internet goes wild

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Samuel L. Jackson attends the Museum Of The Moving Image 28th Annual Salute Honoring Kevin Spacey on April 9, 2014 in New York City. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

Samuel L. Jackson, wearing a gray t-shirt and a silly hat that only Samuel L. Jackson could make look cool, was walking down Fifth Avenue yesterday when he saw a throng of people marching in a parade to celebrate Israel. Being Samuel L. Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson did the sort of thing that had made Samuel L. Jackson the godfather of badassery, namely turning around, taking a cool selfie, and posting it to Twitter.

What happened next will not amaze you: almost immediately, a flurry of followers began yowling, most of them sounding like that unbalanced character in a Samuel L. Jackson movie that prompts Samuel L. Jackson to shoot off that angry look and then tear into a super-cool monologue rich with catchphrases. (more…)

Streisand’s Private Mall Gets a New Shopkeeper

The American Jewish experience as told by Babs’ grand tchotchke collection

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Furniture and clothing belonging to Barbra Streisand from the auction 'The Collection of Barbra Streisand' on October 12, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Looking for something to do this weekend? If you’re a theater-type person of a certain age (as I typed that sentence, I realized I had no idea of what that age might be,) and you haven’t seen Jonathan Tolin’s comic masterpiece Buyer and Cellar yet, then run, don’t walk to the Barrow Street Theater in Manhattan (or Google it to find when the touring production is coming to a stage near you) and see actor Barrett Foa step into the role of Alex, the struggling actor hired to be the only employee of a very special shopping mall with only one customer.

That customer is none other than the empress herself, the one and only Miss Barbra Streisand. The mall is the street of “shops” (including a snack bar with a soft-serve frozen yogurt machine) that she built in the basement of her Americana-influenced Malibu retreat (which the devilishly clever Tolins observes was almost completely ripped off from the set of the 1950 Judy Garland vehicle Summer Stock) to house her extensive collections of vintage clothes, antique dolls, and other accumulated tschotschkerai. (more…)

Parents: Gamers Bullying Jewish Students Online

Chicago Public Schools investigating anti-Semitic messages on ‘Clash of Clans’

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Image from 'Clash of Clans.'(Wikia)

Are eighth graders in Chicago using a video game to bully a Jewish classmate? That’s what one parent is alleging.

Chicago Public School officials are investigating whether eighth grade students at Ogden International School of Chicago used the online game “Clash of Clans”—a strategy game in which members of a particular ‘clan’ attack players from other clans and loot their villages—to target a Jewish student, the Chicago Sun Times reports. According to Lisa Wolfe Clemente, the mother of a 14-year-old student at Ogden, her son’s classmates created a team called “Jew Incinerator,” of which they wrote: “We are a friendly group of racists with one goal- put all Jews into an army camp until disposed of.” Another of the team’s online messages read: “Heil! Throw Jews into ovens for a cause.”

Clemente said that her son had been verbally targeted by classmates for six months. She didn’t report the problem to the school until two weeks ago, when her younger son was invited to join the Clash of Clans group online, the Sun-Times reports. That’s when she saw the anti-Semitic messages being written by older students. (more…)

Rolling Stones Push Back Concert for Shavuot

Wednesday’s Tel Aviv show will start later to accommodate observant fans

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Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger performs in Lisbon on May 29, 2014. (PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Rolling Stones are performing in Israel next week, and they’re going out of their way to accommodate fans in the Holy Land. The band is playing in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, June 4 (tickets are still available), which tour organizers probably didn’t realize was the second night of Shavuot. To help make it possible for observant fans—who are unable to drive or spend money during holidays—they’ve pushed back the concert’s start time from 7:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., Religion News Service reports.

“Following many requests from the public, particularly the observant public, to delay the starting hour for the performance, the City of Tel Aviv, together with the production team, decided to change the starting time,” the promoter said in a press release.

The municipality had to agree due to after-hours noise pollution laws.

(more…)

The Most Popular Bar Mitzvah Dancer in Boston

Dave Heard makes $450 a simcha while trying to make it to Broadway

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(Shutterstock)

The best thing on the Internet today, without a doubt, is the Boston Globe’s profile of Dave Heard, a 32-year-old Broadway-aspiring dancer and personal trainer with a surprising weekend business: bar mitzvahs. The in-demand bar mitzvah entertainer (“motivator,” to be exact) spends his Saturday nights pumping up the crowd, dancing with moms, and making shy sure seventh graders have the time of their lives.

Heard has worked more than 100 bar and bat mitzvahs, where he can make up to $450 a gig. And from the glowing reviews of bar mitzvah-goers, it sounds like he’s worth every penny.

Heard has studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and toured internationally with “Hairspray” and “Dreamgirls.” But he’s 32 already, and he knows that if he’s going to make it to the Broadway stage, he needs to get there soon. He’d love to play Simba in “The Lion King,” or the Ugandan doctor in “The Book of Mormon.” But this Saturday night found him earning a living at an event space in Foxborough, tripping the light fantastic with the bat mitzvah girl’s mother, Robin Milstein, 50, of Needham. (more…)

Is This The Best Bagel in New York City?

GQ anoints Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side the city’s best

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(Shutterstock)

Bagels are really having a New York moment. Mile End’s new bagel joint, Black Seed Bagels, has a line down Elizabeth St. nearly every day of the week, and the newly opened Baz Bagels on Grand St. is doing its part to keep Jewish food trendy. Still, there’s something to be said for classics—at least according to a new GQ ranking of the best bagels in New York City. (more…)

Gretchen Wieners: Where Is She Now?

A decade after Mean Girls, following up on the film’s token Jewish character

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Mean Girls' Gretchen Wieners, third from left. (Paramount Pictures)

Attention must be paid to Gretchen Wieners, the oft-overlooked middle member (and token Jewish girl) of the Plastics, the titular quartet of Mean Girls, Tina Fey’s teen classic, which turns 10 this month. Regina George, the meanest of the mean, has become a byword for a certain kind of feminine tyranny and catapulted her portrayer, Rachel McAdams to stardom. Amanda Seyfried, as the dimwitted Karen Smith, whose psychic breasts could tell when it’s raining, has also become a major star. Lindsay Lohan, as audience stand-in and protagonist Cady Heron, has become…whatever Lindsay Lohan has become.

But what of Gretchen, who suffered so many indignities at the hands of her so-called friends? Gretchen Wieners, who was not allowed to wear hoop earrings because Regina said they were her thing and when her parents gave her a pair of “really expensive white-gold hoops for Hanukkah” had to pretend she didn’t even like them? Gretchen Wieners, who fell to the gym floor with a painful thud during the school-wide trust exercise even though she can’t help it if she’s popular! Whatever became of Gretchen Wieners? (more…)

Peres and Abbas’ Vatican Date Set For June 8

Pope Francis hosting prayer session for the Israeli and Palestinian presidents

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Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomes Pope Francis at the President's Residence, on May 26, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Mark Neyman/GPO via Getty Images)

Pope Francis, while leading Mass in Bethlehem last weekend, extended an unexpected invitation to Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas—that the two leaders join him at the Vatican for an afternoon prayer. Both men agreed, and now the Vatican has set the date for the peace prayer: June 8, the AP reports.

Unprecedented though this gathering may be, if the Pope’s visit to Israel is any indication, the day’s focus will be prayer, and not politics. According to the AP, the Pope “stressed that he is not seeking to jumpstart peace negotiations, but merely bring the two sides together to pray.” (more…)

New Charges Against Kansas City JCC Shooter

Frazier Glenn Miller already faced capital murder charges in the April attack

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Crowds pass by a makeshift memorial following an interfaith service honoring victims of Sunday's shootings on April 17, 2014 at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, in Overland Park, Kansas. (Julie Denesha/Getty Images)

Frazier Glenn Miller, the 72-year-old former KKK leader accused of last month’s Kansas City shootings in which three people were killed at two separate Jewish institutions, appeared in court this week to acknowledge additional charges against him in connection with the shooting, Reuters reports. Frazier Glenn Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, had already been charged with capital murder in the deaths of Reat Underwood, 14, and his grandfather William Corporon, 69, outside the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, and first-degree premeditated murder in the death of Terri LaManno, 53, who was shot minutes later outside Village Shalom Jewish retirement home. Now, according to Reuters, Miller faces the additional charges of “attempted first-degree murder of three men, aggravated assault against a woman, and for discharging a firearm in an occupied building.”

He’s being held on $10 million bail, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for November 12-14. (more…)

Israeli Parents Crying Foul Over New Diaper Ads

Huggies’ cheeky new denim diaper ad campaign causing a stir in Israel

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(Shutterstock)

I subscribe to the “I’ll know it when I see it” school of thought when it comes to kiddie porn. I learned this about myself quite recently—today, in fact—while looking at an ad campaign for Huggies diapers that has caused quite a to-do in Israel.

The campaign includes a TV spot (and I have Don Draper to thank for teaching me the vernacular needed to discuss this matter properly) that shows toddler-aged boys and girls vamping in Huggies’ latest innovation—denim-patterned diapers. It also includes billboards that feature the same tots in their version of come hither poses. The tag reads: Huggies Jeans—the most important item in the wardrobe.

As the parent of a toddler, I agree, in part: diapers are vital. Their being pseudo denim is not. (more…)

Nazi Salute Gets Man Banned From London Area

Yelled ‘Heil Hitler’ by kosher restaurant on Holocaust Remembrance Day

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Golders Green district of London. (Wikimedia/geograph.org.uk)

Shouting “Heil Hitler” and giving a Nazi salute outside a crowded kosher restaurant on Holocaust Remembrance Day might not be the best idea. Miroslav Ondrus, a 33-year-old Slovakian man living in London, learned that the hard way—he was convicted of religious harassment, sentenced to 180 hours of community service, and banned from London’s NW11 district after doing just that, Haaretz reports.

Ondrus admitted two charges of racially or religiously aggravated harassment and one charge of assault by beating for approaching Neville Kesselman and Gary Ost and performing the Nazi salute outside the White House Express in Golders Green Road on April 29 this year.

He also admitted to assaulting restaurant manager Solomon Tangi, whom he picked up and shook violently.

(more…)

IDF Soldier Suspended Over Nakba Day Shooting

Non-combat soldier suspected of firing rubber bullets without authorization

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Palestinians wave flags as they attend the funeral procession of Musaab Nuwarah, 20, and and Mohammed Udeh, 17, a day after they were shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes outside the Israeli-run Ofer prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 16, 2014. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

An Israeli soldier from a communications unit has been suspended following an investigation into the deaths of two Palestinian teenagers during a Nakba Day demonstration last week, Reuters reports. “No apparent evidence linked the soldier to either fatality, though, in the incident outside Israel’s Ofer prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah,” Reuters reports. “The soldier was suspected of firing rubber bullets, not live ammunition, the reports said.”

An Israeli military spokesman declined comment on the reports, saying “the incident is still under investigation by military police.” The media reports said a military tribunal had clamped a gag order on other details of the case.

The military said on May 20 that a preliminary investigation indicated that security personnel had fired rubber bullets but not live ammunition during the clashes.

(more…)

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