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De Blasio Brings His Message to Crown Heights in Yiddish

Though few of the NYC neighborhood’s Jewish residents speak only Yiddish

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Yesterday a video was posted online of an NYPD van informing Crown Heights residents of Mayor Bill De Blasio’s new “Vision Zero” plan, which seeks to reduce traffic fatalities. The loudspeaker blares the message first in English, then in Yiddish, in what is no doubt part of the mayor’s efforts to reach wider communities.

But Crown Heights is a funny place to reach out to in Yiddish. Though the Brooklyn neighborhood is home to a large Orthodox Jewish community, for most of the residents English, and not Yiddish, is in fact their primary language. According to census data, a total of 3,109 Crown Heights residents reported speaking Yiddish at home, with only 386 of those respondents reporting that they speak English less than ‘very well.’ (more…)

Dear Matt Weiner: Free the Jew!

Why Mad Men needs to bring Ginsberg into the fullness of its American story

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Michael Ginsberg. (Mad Men)

Mad Men, the show that is almost never on despite everyone talking about it always, is actually on again. Although only for another five weeks, as AMC, with their patented passive-aggressiveness, have chosen to break the final season up into two parts with probably about a decade in people-years between them. Already one can feel narrative threads beginning to wrap up (what is the deal with Megan and that creepy house in the Hills? You can almost see “Kill the Pigs!” scrawled on the wood-paneled walls in her blood.)

This being Mad Men, however, we know more about what won’t happen than what will: Don won’t find a sense of peace, stability, or contentment with himself and what he’s achieved; Peggy and Joan won’t ever truly be treated as equals by the stodgy and increasingly irrelevant males with whom they are forced to do business; Roger will not go gracefully into old age; Betty will not secretly turn out to be Betty Friedan; Pete, despite the wishes of a thousand fan-fiction forums, will not ride off into the sunset with the mysterious Bob Benson (although knowing Pete, Bob would have had to drive.) I’m beyond expecting Matthew Weiner to take the considerations of the fans who just want to see the people they’ve followed assiduously for the past seven years to snatch just a little bit of happiness from the decaying jaws of their own impotence.

But I have one request—and I’d like Mr. Weiner to take it seriously, as a MOT: can we please see a little more of Michael Ginsburg before the dying of the light? (more…)

Starbucks Might Buy Part of SodaStream

U.S. coffee conglomerate in talks for a stake in the Israeli carbonated company

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(SodaStream)

Starbucks is in advanced talks to acquire 10 percent of the Israeli seltzer-making company SodaStream, Globes reports. SodaStream was in the news recently when Scarlett Johansson became their spokesperson facing criticism about the company’s factory operated in the West Bank.

The move would likely be beneficial for the Israeli company—despite SodaStream’s success in Europe, its machines are only found in 1 percent of American homes. (more…)

Daniel Libeskind’s Holocaust Memorial Message

The architect addressed students at FIT’s Yom HaShoah commemoration

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Daniel Libeskind speaking at FIT on April 24, 2014. (Lorenzo Ciniglio)

“A building is a place where voices whisper,” Daniel Libeskind, the architect who designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin, told a rapt audience at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s 13th annual Holocaust Remembrance Day event yesterday. “When you listen closely, structures speak—they even sing.”

Libeskind, who has brought his signature jarring curves, unexpected lines, and bold shapes to the Danish Jewish Museum, the Felix Nussbaum Museum, and the Military History Museum in Dresden, is the son of Holocaust survivors, and his work heavily mines themes of memory and remembrance. (more…)

Steimatzky Bookstore Saved From Bankruptcy

Israel’s largest and oldest bookseller sold to investment company

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(Steimatzky)

Steimatzky, Israel’s largest and oldest bookstore chain (it was founded in 1925), has just barely escaped bankruptcy. Arledan Investments, the owner of Keter Publishing House Ltd., bought the company yesterday from Markstone, the private equity group which had owned it since 2005, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Steimatzky, which controls the majority of Israel’s book market—alongside its competitor Tzomet Sfarim—had been losing tens of millions of shekels annually. The deal, whose value was not made public, comes on the heels of a rocky month for Steimatzky. A plan was reportedly in the works to sell the chain to Yediot Books, but it fell through. Shortly afterwards, Markstone injected money into the struggling chain to ensure book suppliers would be paid.

Now, according to Steimatzky’s CEO Iris Barel, Arledan will work to “consolidate the company’s position as the country’s leading bookseller and content provider, and will continue to develop its business in the coming years.”

Previous: Steimatzky Tells Israelis to Bring a Book to Bed

The Jewish Poet Who Slept in Hitler’s Bedroom

A 1988 family trip to Poland offered Jerome Rothenberg rich material for art

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Adolf Hitler speaking from the balcony of his room at Wroclaw's Hotel Monopol, where poet Jerome Rothenberg would later stay in 1988. (Wratislava.net)

At a dinner following a very fine public reading in Syracuse last week, the distinguished poet Jerome Rothenberg told the story of how he once slept in Hitler’s bed—or, at least, in his bedroom.

It happened in 1988, when Rothenberg visited Poland, the country from which his parents emigrated to the United States in 1920. He was accompanied by his wife Diane and their son, who was then 19, and en route from Krakow to Wroclaw the family stopped at Auschwitz. “Our son wouldn’t get out of the car,” Rothenberg told the table.

It was raining when they arrived in Wroclaw, in southwest Poland, and checked in to the Monopol Hotel. Instead of the suite they had reserved, however, the hotel at first could only come up with two separate rooms. Then, finally, the desk clerks said they had found a suite that was free. “An elderly bellhop took our bags and led the way,” Rothenberg recounted. “At the suite he threw open the doors, then he turned to us and said: ‘You know who slept here? Hitler!’” (more…)

NYU Students Get Mock Eviction Notices

Students for Justice in Palestine delivered the flyers to campus dorm rooms

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(New York University)

Mock eviction notices were delivered to students living in New York University dorm rooms this morning. “We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition in three days,” the notices, which were delivered by the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, read. “If you do not vacate the premises by midnight on 25 April, 2014 we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings.”

The New York Post and the Times of Israel report that Jewish students were targeted with the flyers, which are intended to resemble eviction notices delivered to Palestinian homes in parts of Israel. Students for Justice in Palestine denied the claim on their website, saying they distributed more than 2,000 flyers throughout two dormitories. (more…)

Israel To Teach About Holocaust in Kindergarten

Education Ministry releases new curriculum in advance of Yom HaShoah

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Entrance to Auschwitz. (JACEK BEDNARCZYK/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli schoolchildren will start learning about the Holocaust in kindergarten as part of a new curriculum released by the country’s Education Ministry. JTA reports that the kindergarten curriculum was designed by a team including experts from Yad Vashem, educators, and psychologists.

According to the Education Ministry’s website, which announced the new curriculum in advance of Yom HaShoah on Sunday, “The education system is working to educate children starting from a young age about the legacy of the nation, its history and culture, and about her holidays and memorial days, as an integral part of the educational experience.” (more…)

Katy Perry Does Bar Mitzvahs Now, Too

The pop star dresses up as bar mitzvah DJ Yosef Shulem in new music video

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Katy Perry as bar mitzvah DJ Yosef Shalom in her new music video.(YouTube)

Pop star and diva extraordinaire Katy Perry has traded in her notorious neon-blue hair and food-inspired outfits for an even more perplexing get-up: tacky bar mitzvah DJ. In the “ridiculous” music video video for her new single “Birthday,” Perry goes to real birthday parties dressed as five of the ‘world’s worst birthday party entertainers.’ One, apparently, is bar mitzvah emcee Yosef Shulem. (more…)

Read Students’ Letters to Holocaust Survivors

A seventh-grade class responds to our feature on survivors living in poverty

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(Jason Florio)

In January, Tablet published a multimedia presentation on the lives of nine Holocaust survivors living in difficult conditions in the New York area. Many of our readers wanted to know how they could help. But one reader, Carolyn Martone, was moved to respond in another way. She is a teacher at the Cathedral Chapel School in Los Angeles, and she’d recently started her 7th-graders on their study of the Holocaust, reading Elie Wiesel’s Night together and visiting the Museum of Tolerance.

Our article helped give “a voice and a face” to the people they were reading about, she said—so much so that Martone decided to have her students write letters to the survivors. In anticipation of Yom HaShoah on Sunday, following are a few uncorrected excerpts from their 30 letters, which were sent along to the addressees. (more…)

Seth Meyers Is ‘Jewish Enough’ For the Jews

The comedian explains he’s not actually Jewish, everyone just thinks he is

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I had a friend in college who everyone thought was Jewish, and for a time, I did too. Then I asked a mutual acquaintance, just to be sure. “He’s Jewish, right?” I inquired nonchalantly. Her response: “No, but isn’t that so odd?” Seth Meyers, newly minted host of the Late Night show on NBC, is one of those odd people who everyone assumes must be Jewish, but actually isn’t. Last night, reflecting on a yarmulke he’d recently received as a gift from a guest, Meyers set the record straight.

“I’m not Jewish,” he told the audience. “Not everybody thinks I’m Jewish, but every single Jewish person thinks that I’m Jewish. And it’s not their fault because they think that–they come to that conclusion–because of my face and my name and everything about me.” This sometimes puts him in an awkward position. “I don’t want to say, ‘oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club,” he said, “and I love the idea of being Jewish.”

You can watch the entire monologue–which includes the story of how Meyers came to be accepted by his genuinely Jewish in-laws–below: (more…)

American Journalist Held in Ukraine Freed

Vice reporter Simon Ostrovsky was taken by pro-Russian forces in Slovyansk

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Simon Ostrovsky en route to Donetsk after being freed in Ukraine on April 24, 2014. (Jean-François Bélanger/CBC)

Vice reporter Simon Ostrovsky has been released after being held for two days by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk. CBC News reports that the journalist is en route to Donetsk.

“The CBC’s Nahlah Ayed, reporting from Donetsk, said Bélanger was driving in a CBC car when he spotted Ostrovsky walking along on a street “with his belongings in a plastic bag.”

Bélanger stopped, got Ostrovsky into the car, and headed toward Donetsk.”

(more…)

Five Hasidic Men Arrested in Brooklyn Beating

Assault charges filed in December attack of gay black man in Williamsburg

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Five Hasidic men were charged today in the December beating of Taj Patterson, a 22-year-old student who was attacked while leaving a party in Williamsburg, the New York Times reports. While the NYPD initially investigated the attack as a bias crime—Patterson, who is gay and black, alleged he was assaulted by a group of ultra-Orthodox men who shouted anti-gay slurs at him—the suspects were ultimately charged with assault, gang assault and unlawful imprisonment.

The five men charged, all of whom pleaded not-guilty and were released on bail, were named as Aharon Hollender, 28, Abraham Winkler, 39, Mayer Herskovic, 21, Pinchas Braver, 19, and Joseph Fried, 25. The Daily News reports that at least two of the men charged were members of the Williamsburg Safety Patrol Unit, known as the Shomrim, a Jewish neighborhood watch group. (more…)

Israel Halts Peace Talks After PA-Hamas Pact

What it all means for the peace process

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press meeting on April 22, 2014 in Ramallah, West Bank. (Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

In response to the unity deal between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the Israeli Cabinet has just voted to freeze peace talks. The vote was unanimous and included moderate Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni. The move comes after the Fatah-Hamas pact came under criticism from the United States and reflects a broad consensus in Israel that by joining forces with Hamas—which is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union and whose charter advocates the destruction of Israel and murder of Jews—PA President Mahmoud Abbas has jeopardized chances of reaching a two-state agreement.

What this augers for the long-term prospects of the peace process remains to be seen. (more…)

Kansas City Shooting Suspect Was Protected FBI Informant

Exposed fellow white nationalists in 1987 for lesser prison term and new name

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Frazier Glenn Cross, Jr., also known as F. Glenn Miller, appears at his arraignment on capital murder and first-degree murder charges at the Fred Allenbrand Criminal Justice Complex Adult Detention Center on April 15, 2014 in New Century, Kansas. (David Eulitt-Pool/Getty Images)

Frazier Glenn Miller, the 72-year-old suspect in this month’s Kansas City shootings, in which three people were killed, was a well-known anti-Semite and former Ku Klux Klan leader with a long, public history of hate. He was also, ABC News reports today, an FBI informant who struck a deal with authorities in the late 1980s in which he gave up information about fellow white nationalists for a reduced prison sentence, along with protection and a new name upon his release in 1990.

On April 30, 1987, Miller—who was wanted by U.S. Marshals after disappearing while appealing a conviction for criminal contempt—was discovered in a trailer with “hand grenades, automatic rifles, pistols and flak jackets,” and forced out by authorities. Facing a sentence of 20 years, he agreed to a plea deal with the FBI. (more…)

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