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The Legend of Sam Fuld Grows

Jewish Rays left fielder has the stats, and knows them, too

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Sam Fuld makes a trademark grab earlier this month.(J. Meric/Getty Images)

When you are as likable as Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Sam Fuld—Stanford-educated, known for diving plays in the outfield, and, oh yeah, nearly hitting for the cycle and for a time leading the league in batting average—you are bound to get wider notice, and, duly, he got his Times profile yesterday. Fuld, 29, was seen as a largely irrelevant throw-in among the players the Chicago Cubs sent to Tampa for pitcher Matt Garza, according to Jonah Keri, who just published a book about the Rays. But with the sudden retirement of Manny Ramirez, a spot emerged for Fuld to become the hottest player (batting .348, with seven stolen bases) on one of baseball’s hottest teams (they’ve won eight of their last 11).

What’s remarkable about Fuld, as both the Times notes and Keri noted in a podcast he presciently did with him in January, is that he is both exactly the sort of player whom statistically savvy organizations like the Rays are looking for—above-average on defense, smart at base-running, able to work the count—and is himself a statistically savvy guy who has pursued a masters in statistics and who interned at top sports stats outfit Stats LLC, charting pitches for velocity, location, and pitch-type. “As monotonous as that sounds, I actually enjoyed it a lot,” he told Keri. “I just sat around in this room with about 20 other like-minded guys who enjoyed doing what I did.” Funny, that’s how I spend my day.

The Times doesn’t mention Fuld’s religion, noting only, “Fuld is also the kind of player [Rays general manager Andrew] Friedman wanted to be as an outfielder at Tulane, with similar sensibilities.” And actually, on his podcast, Keri doesn’t either, although I know that Keri, himself a Member of the Tribe, is aware of Fuld’s background. Keri does mention that the Rays very much see Fuld as someone they would like to keep in their organization after he retires from playing, much like, Keri says, Gabe Kapler—also a Jewish ballplayer.

What else? Oh, right: Legend of Sam Fuld. Or, more precisely: #legendofsamfuld has become a popular Twitter hashtag, adorning sayings that are reminiscent of Chuck Norris jokes. “Sam Fuld once struck out just to see how it felt,” reads one. “He didn’t like it. AT ALL. #LegendofSamFuld.” Here’s my favorite: “Manny who? #LegendofSamFuld.” Indeed.

Sam Fuld’s Value to the Rays Goes Beyond Numbers [NYT]
The Jonah Keri Podcast, Episode 16 [Jonah Keri]
Related: The Extra 2% [Amazon]
Earlier: Sam Fuld, Your New Baseball Hero

Daybreak: Good Friday in Syria?

Plus Pollard implores Obama, the next flotilla, and more in the news

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Israeli soldiers prepare to meet and board last year’s flotilla.(Pool/Getty images)

• This will likely be the biggest day for protests yet in Syria. [NYT]

• A report from the bitter clash on the streets of Tel Aviv between the leftist intellectuals who want a two-state plan and their counter-protesters. [NYT]

• Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, who has been imprisoned for 25 years, sent a letter to President Obama through President Shimon Peres asking for his release on Passover. [Ynet]

• Israel told the United Nations that the Gaza-bound flotilla prepared for a May launch has ties to “Hamas and other terrorist organizations.” [Haaretz]

• Prominent Israeli historian Tom Segev discusses how the Eichmann Trial 50 years ago altered Israeli perceptions of themselves. [LAT]

• This very brief profile of Prime Minister Netanyahu, written for Time’s annual “most influential people in the world” list, ain’t half-bad. [Time]

Sundown: Islamists Emerge in Jordan

Plus regrets, Eichmann had a few, and more

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Ultra-conservative Salafis protest in Jordan last month.(Salah Malkawi/Getty Images)

• Jordan’s Islamists step to the fore of the country’s protests. [Time]

• Israeli officials warned this afternoon of a planned imminent Hezbollah attack on Israeli interests abroad. [JPost]

• Before he was captured by the Mossad, tried in Israel, and put to death, Adolf Eichmann longed to return from Argentina to Germany as a national hero, according to a new German book. Too bad. [Reuters/Ynet]

• A monument to Jewish military chaplains at Arlington National Cemetery may be in the works. [AP/WP]

• Contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg on Sister Mary Schmuck and all the other Schmucks in the world. [Atlantic]

• Heartwarming story about how a Holocaust survivors database reunited two cousins. [AP/WP]

The half-hour-long new Beastie Boys video, loaded with cameos, dropped today. Below is part 1; to watch the other two, go here.

Evelyn Einstein, Granddaughter, 70

Shiva Stars

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Evelyn Einstein in 1960.(AP/NYT)

Like “Huppah Dreams,” our weekly series which picks the most interestingly Jewish announcement in the Weddings/Celebrations section, “Shiva Stars” will selected the most interestingly Jewish obituary from the past week’s New York Times. This is not intended to make light of the dead, but rather to celebrate their lives. However, if you feel it crosses a line, let us know in the comments. Not that you needed us to tell you that.

Each Thursday, we select the most interestingly Jewish obituary from the past week. Today, it is Evelyn Einstein, 70, granddaughter of a certain Albert, who despite obvious mental gifts and allegiance to certain causes (she was arrested in 1960 for protesting the House Un-American Activities Committee), lived a liminal existence that included stints of homelessness. Being Einstein’s granddaughter turned out to produce a severe anxiety of influence, in unexpected ways: “It’s not so easy being an Einstein,” she once said. “When I was in school at Berkeley in the ’60s, I could never tell if men wanted to be with me because of me, or my name. To say, you know, ‘I had an Einstein.’” (One such man, her husband, was an anthropology professor who tried to prove the existence of Bigfoot—unsuccessfully, we can presume.)

Yet her lineage was important to her, if her battle, at the end of her life, to fight Hebrew University’s infamous marketing of Einstein’s image, is any indication. “What does a bobblehead doll have to do with a literary estate?” she asked.

Evelyn Einstein Dies at 70; Shaped by a Link to Fame [NYT]
Earlier: E=Lawsuit Squared

And We Don’t Feel Fine

Today on Tablet

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Bruce Riedel, a leading expert on jihadism, finds that Western anti-Semitism has been imported into sensationalistic end-of-world books popular in the Islamic world. Combine Jew-Israel-apocalypse connection with the willingness of some Sunni Muslims and even more Shia Muslims—including the Islamic Republic of Iran—to actively push these narratives, and you have a pretty volatile intellectual situation brewing.

Pulp Fictions

Eva Braun To Address JCC

No, really

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Eva Braun.(Life)

In Tenafly, New Jersey! See for yourself.

(H/t Eddy Portnoy.)

Statehood Threat Looming, Talks Called For

Can they pick up where they left off?

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Today in Tel Aviv, a right-wing protester (R) argues with a left-wing one (L) who also happens to be the daughter of Moshe Dayan.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images))

When we checked in a week ago on the poker hand that the Mideast peace process has evolved into, the Palestinian Authority’s pledge to take their case for statehood to the U.N. General Assembly in September was most plausibly seen less as its actual Plan A and more as a threat—and, perhaps, a bluff—designed to prod concessions from the Americans and the Israelis. A week later, this blockbuster report from the White House finds the Americans and Israelis practically tripping over each other to offer a peace plan first, though there is cause to believe that the U.S. may yet fall on the side of not offering one (though Secretary of State Clinton seems to be doing all she can to make it a foregone conclusion), and there is also cause to believe that when Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress next month—at the invitation of Republican Speaker John Boehner (cue electioneering music)—he may not offer a particularly bold plan while thousands of miles away from his actual constituents.

For now, the Palestinian plan has been articulated as follows: No violent uprising (since international opinion is particularly important right now) and the strategy of taking its case come September to the actually binding U.N. Security Council, which basically amounts to a dare for the Obama administration, which clearly wants a Palestinian state and could use good P.R. in the Arab world but has also insisted statehood must come after negotiations with Israel, to veto it. (more…)

Hasidic Enclave Is America’s Poorest City

The spotlight shines on Kiryas Joel, N.Y.

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A street in Kiryas Joel, New York.(Richard Perry/NYT)

The Times has a feature today on Kiryas Joel, New York, the ultra-Orthodox Satmar enclave (about an hour’s drive north-north-east of New York City) that is the American town with a population of over 10,000 with the largest percentage of residents living below the poverty line. The debate over it is reminiscent of the argument in Israel that widespread Haredi poverty is sapping the state’s resources.

The data is simple: A religious injunction against birth control leads to lots of children, which leads both to lots of mouths to feed and lots of women taken out of the workforce; and another religious injunction encouraging religious study leads many men to spend most of their time in relatively un-remunerative activity (many also only speak Yiddish, further limiting their economic capability). “I wouldn’t call it a poor community,” says the village administrator. “I would call it a community with a lot of income-related challenges.” That’s the sort of euphemism with Internet meme potential! (more…)

The Jews Who Came In From the Cold

Today on Tablet

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Contributing editor Joan Nathan’s explorations into Jewish cuisines take her into the realm of history today in Tablet Magazine, as she traces Jewish habitation of the vast eastern Russian land of Siberia as far back as the 17th century. But don’t worry: Food comes up eventually, and it turns out Siberian Jews may have the perfect Passover breakfast dish for you.

Trans Siberian

Slain Photographer’s Work Appeared Here

Chris Hondros, of Getty Images, was killed in Libya yesterday

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Jubilant Egyptians on February 11.(All photos by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Reading about the deaths of two photographers covering the Libyan civil war, one of the names rang familiar. It did not take long before I realized this was because I had typed it several times. Chris Hondros worked for Getty Images, of which Tablet Magazine is a subscriber, and his photographs appeared in these digital pages more than a dozen times. He helped us cover the planned Islamic center near Ground Zero and the attendant controversy; Mayor Michael Bloomberg being, well, Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Chabadniks praying in Brooklyn; the Mezvinsky-Clinton nuptials (!); extremists protesting President Obama; and, most dramatically, Egyptians taking to Tahrir Square to unseat President Hosni Mubarak.

You can trace his movements through his photographs, an unintended yet vivid diary (to learn more about him, his love of chess and classical music, and to see some exemplary photographs, go here). He documented much of the past decade’s American history, including John Kerry’s presidential campaign, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was in Israel and Lebanon in the summer of 2006, following the war.

An Israeli infantryman returning from Lebanon, August 2006.

(more…)

Daybreak: Obama Vs. Bibi

Plus before Syrian and after Egyptian blood, and more in the news

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President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu last September.(Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

• The backstory on President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s antagonism, and why each may wish to be the first to offer a peace plan. [NYT]

• Tomorrow will be “Great Friday” in Syria. Expect much blood and possibly a real impact. [NYT]

• The three-week Egyptian upheaval took at least 846 lives, according to a government fact-finding mission. [AP/WP]

• What motivated Richard Goldstone’s mea culpa op-ed? [NYT]

• Turkish President Abdullah Gul takes to the Op-Ed Page to insist that his country’s mediation could hold the key to Mideast peace. [NYT]

• Give the Move Over AIPAC folks credit: Much of their rank and file was displeased with the invitation to Helen Thomas, and she has duly pulled out. (Of course, even inviting her in the first place … .) [JPost]

Sundown: Adios, Galliano

Plus the Irvine 11, a White House trip, and more

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John Galliano last fall.(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Happy Passover! The Scroll will be dark until Thursday morning. Enjoy the holiday.

• John Galliano was fired from John Galliano. In other news, Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. [JTA]

• The State Department has been financing Syrian opposition groups, according to cables newly made public by WikiLeaks. [WP]

• Palestinian Christians may have trouble getting to East Jerusalem’s holy sites during Easter. [Babylon & Beyond]

• The Cal-Irvine students being prosecuted for interrupting Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren last year pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and disruption of a meeting. [LAT]

• Tablet Magazine copy editor Siân Gibby discussed her recent article on adapting to Jewish food on The Brian Lehrer Show. [WNYC]

• Forty-first most influential American rabbi Andy Bachman tells of his day at the White House. [Water Over Rocks]

Mmm, Moses.

We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live

Today on Tablet

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Today in Tablet Magazine, contributing editor Josh Lambert’s weekly round-up of forthcoming books of note focuses on books about, well, books.

On the Bookshelf

A Grey Lady Dayenu

It has been quite enough

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From the 15th-century Washington Haggadah, with puppy.(NYT)

Had the New York Times merely published an article on Passover iPhone applications the same day Tablet Magazine did, it would have been enough.

Had the Times published an article on Passover apps the same day Tablet did, but not published an article on San Francisco’s Distillery No. 209’s kosher-for-Passover gin a day after Tablet did, it would have been enough.

Had the Times published an article on San Francisco’s Distillery No. 209’s kosher-for-Passover gin a day after Tablet did, but not published an article on the Washington Haggadah exhibit nearly a week after Tablet did, it would have been enough.

Had the Times published an article on the Washington Haggadah exhibit almost a week after Tablet did, but not published an article on the debate over whether quinoa is kosher for Passover several days after Tablet did, it would have been enough.

Anyway, the Times piece on the Washington Haggadah, by Edward Rothstein, is actually quite good—give it some of your time. But if you want a more original Haggadah, you might wish to try the version we put together last year with contributors as diffuse as writer Andre Aciman, boxer Dmitriy Salita, and the artist Andrea Dezsö. Our friends at Nextbook Press have posted an interesting excerpt from its latest book, Sacred Trash, about all the different Haggadot structures found among the papers in the Cairo Geniza. And you can find all of our Passover coverage—some of which covers topics the Times hasn’t even subsequently reported on!—at this one handy page.

iPassover [Tablet Magazine]
To Get Easter and Passover Celebrations Right, Use an App [NYT]
Refill [Tablet Magazine]
Gin and Passover: No Longer Contradictory [NYT]
National Treasure [Tablet Magazine]
Put Yourself in the Story of Passover [NYT]
Off the Table [Tablet Magazine]
For Passover, Quinoa is Popular, But Kosher? [NYT]
The Tablet Haggadah

A Chillaxed Seder

Today on Tablet

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Today in Tablet Magazine, parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall has some advice for all the moms preparing for another Passover. She suggests going lo-fi and being happy with it. Seems sensible.

Passover Perfect

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