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The Angel Who Went to Schechter

Erin Heatherton’s journey to Victoria’s Secret

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Erin Heatherton last November.(Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

The 2011 Victoria’s Secret swimsuit catalog, which I shouldn’t have to tell you was just published, featured a familiar face for some Jewish day school alums. Turns out Erin Heatherton, the 5’11″ Victoria’s Secret Angel from Skokie, Illinois, attended Chicago’s Solomon Schechter Day School for junior high. (Through her agency, Heatherton declined to comment for this blogpost.)

The 21-year-old, who until being discovered in Miami a few years ago went by her given name, Erin Heather Bubley, was hired by Victoria’s Secret in 2008 and is currently under contract with the brand as a spokesmodel, and last year joined the elite rank of Victoria’s Secret Angels, the brand’s ‘supermodel’ category. (You can find a full list of all Victoria’s Secret models here. You know, for research.) (more…)

Rogovin, Socially Conscious Photographer, Dies

Buffalo’s poor were his subject and muse

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Milton Rogovin, Appalachia (diptych), 1987.(The J. Paul Getty Museum)

Legendary social documentary photographer Milton Rogovin died yesterday at 101. Born in Brooklyn in 1909 to Lithuanian Jewish immigrants and raised during the Depression, his impoverished childhood (the family dry goods store went belly up) left a deep impression. As was often the case with lefty activist Jewish photographers of his generation, Rogovin turned to the camera in order to draw attention to the problems of society, highlighting the struggle of daily toil in modest, often arduous circumstances. His passion for workers’ rights and his belief in the underlying human dignity of all people caught the eye of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Army service during World War II notwithstanding, he was called before it and refused to testify; he was summarily discredited in 1952 (It did not help that he was a poet.) Labeled Buffalo’s “Number One Red,” he was ostracized even as he continued to champion the rights of the unemployed, marginalized, and urban poor, remaining involved in left-wing causes while he trained as a photographer.

In an era of white (and, yes, Jewish) flight, he trawled Buffalo’s inner city to document the ordinary lives of working-class people. One of his most ambitious series, “Lower West Side” (1972-77), “Lower West Side Revisited” (1984-1986), “Lower West Side Triptychs” (1972-94) and “Lower West Side Quartets” (1972-2002), documented more than a hundred families in a compact and ethnically diverse section of his hometown, in a series of sequential portraits made over 30 years (the New York Times‘s Lens blog featured him in 2009). He completed the project in 2003, at the age of 94. Throughout his life, Rogovin focused his camera on the inequities of society by drawing attention to those he referred to as the “forgotten ones.” Here’s to remembering.

Milton Rogovin, Photographer, Dies at 101 [NYT]
Related: Showcase: Milton Rogovin [Lens]

Democracy in Arabia

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Traveling in Morocco, Mideast columnist Lee Smith takes the temperature of the region today in Tablet Magazine. The mood has been altered by two events of the Past week: Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution—”for the first time in Arab history a people rose up to send their ruler packing,” as Smith summarizes it—and Secretary of State Clinton’s speech in Qatar calling on Arab leaders to liberalize. “What is more depressing,” Smith writes,

is that while we believe poverty, hopelessness, and despair may pave the way for extremist elements and terrorist groups, we know that democracy has empowered them where repression sidelines them. Even avid Bush partisans cannot ignore the fact that the gospel of democratization propagated by Bush and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, during the president’s second term helped bring Hamas to power in Gaza and strengthened Hezbollah’s hand in Lebanon.

There is a reason why a famous Arab dictum has it that 100 years of tyranny is preferable to one day of chaos. It is meant to remind us of the nature of man the political animal who cannot foresee the consequences of his actions.

False Accounting

Lieberman Will Retire

First Jewish national candidate is four-term senator

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Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Independent of Connecticut, last month.(Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Joseph I. Lieberman, who in 2000 became the only Jew to run on a national ticket when Democratic candidate Al Gore selected him as his running mate, announced he will not seek a fifth term as senator from Connecticut in 2012, after which his tenure will run out.

The ascension a decade ago of the relatively unknown Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, as vice-presidential candidate had the effect of educating much of the country about various facets of Judaism (consider this contemporaneous USA Today primer, which makes for a really entertaining read today). After the 2000 loss, he became polarizing among Democrats: He unsuccessfully ran for the 2004 nomination as a staunch backer of the Iraq War; then, having lost the 2006 Senate primary, he switched his allegiance to Independent and won re-election; in 2008, he supported his longtime friend and ideological ally (on foreign affairs) John McCain; and finally, in late 2009, many liberals felt he flip-flopped on and substantially weakened the health care reform bill—contributing editor Victor Navasky argued in Tablet Magazine that Lieberman had “betrayed his Jewish heritage.” For a great wellspring of Lieberman-hate (it goes back longer than I had realized), see here.

More recently, Lieberman shepherded the successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” One of 12 Jewish senators, should he not be replaced by a landsmen, then California, the most populous state, would also be the only to be represented by two Jews in the senior chamber. Time to start scrounging for someone we can groom!

No Fifth Term for Lieberman [NYT]
Related: Lieberman’s Betrayal [Tablet Magazine]
Who is Joe Lieberman? [USA Today]
Good Riddance, Joe Lieberman [Slate]
Earlier: Is Joe Lieberman Too Jewish?
How To Explain Joe Lieberman: He’s Just Kinda Dumb!

Daybreak: U.S. Hand Weak in Lebanon

Plus Medvedev gets warm welcome in Jericho, and more in the news

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Presidents Medvedev and Abbas.(Thaer Ganaim/PPO via Getty Images)

• Turkey has taken a more active role mediating the current Lebanese mess than the United States: Such is the new global reality of U.S. limitation. [NYT]

• Russian President Medvedev visited the West Bank and expressed Russian support for a Palestinian state, and was eagerly cheered. [NYT]

• An appeals court may have saved one Satmar rabbi ten years in jail, ruling that one count of incest, involving an incident somewhere in Belgium, Israel, or points in between, could not be brought stateside. Ugh. [NY Post]

• Speaking of which, Brooklyn is a magical place—like Marrakesh!—where Jews and Muslims live side-by-side in peace. [Guardian/Le Monde/Vos Iz Neias?]

• Arab leaders look on Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution with fear even as duplicates in their countries seem unlikely, at least in the short-term. [NYT]

• Don Kirshner, who produced songs by Carole King and Phil Spector at the Brill Building, died at 76. [NYT]

Sundown: Bibi and Barak’s Bond

Plus Giamatti wins Globe as Jew, and more

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(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

• The chief thing uniting Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who just bolted Labor to stay in Bibi’s government, is, Aluf Benn writes, an “activist view” against Iran that insists on leaving the military option firmly on the table. [Haaretz]

• Last night, Paul Giamatti won the Golden Globe for Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) for his role in super-Jewy Barney’s Version. [Hollywood Outbreak]

• The other daily magazine of Jewish life and culture profiles Reboot, the organization for Jews rediscovering their Jewishness. [NYT]

• On Sarah Palin’s missed opportunity. [Goldblog]

• This Israeli dance troupe made up of five Orthodox men is just waiting for The Full Monty treatment. [NYT]

• TheJMom.com is literally every Jewish boy’s worst nightmare. No but like literally. [Jewcy]

Real Jew Gwyneth Paltrow plays non-Jew Taylor Swift playing a bar mitzvah (on SNL).

Miss Rabinowitz Bows Out

But our Nebraskan correspondent still has something to celebrate

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Loren Galler Rabinowitz, who went down to defeat.(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Well, despite our best efforts, Loren Galler Rabinowitz, a.k.a. Miss Massachusetts, a.k.a. the first Jewish Miss America finalist since Bess Myerson won the crown in 1945, didn’t get very far in the pageant Saturday night. She was unceremoniously cut, along with 35 other hopefuls, after an opening segment in which each contestant appeared at the microphone to introduce herself with a deliciously inane factoid about her home state (my favorites: Miss Rhode Island’s perky boast about her state having the “most Dunkin’ Donuts per capita in the country” and Miss Iowa’s gloriously irony-free exultation, following a tidbit about ethanol production, “My state gives you gas!”) .

With Rabinowitz out of the running, I was able to watch the rest through my usual jaundiced view, and thank God. Fifteen semi-finalists were selected to participate in the swimwear competition; these were culled to twelve before the talent portion of the evening. None of the talents showcased the solving of theorums or the composition of essays or the display of actual competence in the fields of dance or vocal performance (although the ventriloquist act was pretty good). Eventually, Miss Nebraska, Teresa Scanlan, was named the winner. She is the first woman representing my home state ever to be crowned Miss America.

For her talent, she played “Chopsticks” on the piano. (more…)

Second Singer

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Today in Tablet Magazine, books critic Adam Kirsch reviews the newly reissued The Brothers Ashkenazi, by Israel Julius Singer (brother of Isaac Bashevis), and finds it a sort of eerily prophetic Gone With The Wind of Eastern European Jewry.

Prescient

What Is Your Funniest Nightmare?

Contribute to Liana Finck’s ‘Tell Mitzi’ column

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(Liana Finck/Tablet Magazine)

Did you catch Liana Finck’s second installment of “Tell Mitzi” yesterday? She responded to various readers’ New Year resolutions, most especially one, appropriately, that had to do with magazines.

Now it’s time for you to help her out again. This week, Liana wants to know: What are your funniest nightmares? Leave ‘em in the comments, and maybe she will respond to yours in next week’s “Tell Mitzi.”

Related: Paper Plans [Tablet Magazine]

Out and Proud

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Tevi Troy, a George W. Bush aide and then official, writes in the wake of the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that public Jews should eschew the strategy of laying low on the subject of their Jewishness, and instead should be vigilant about drawing attention to and condemning anti-Semitism.

Standing Tall

Stuxnet Sux (for Iran)

New details emerge about computer worm

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The nuclear facility at Bushehr, in August.(IIPA via Getty Images)

In case you missed it, the New York Times reported this weekend that Stuxnet, the computer worm that has apparently wreaked great havoc on Iran’s nuclear program, was the result of a years-long Israeli-American collaboration, and works in ways that resemble the methods of the casino-robbers in Ocean’s 11. (For a skeptical analysis of the article, see here.) Over the weekend, a Norwegian paper quoted diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks that reported that, from Iran’s perspective “a race exists between the bomb and financial collapse.” The Los Angeles Times reports that Stuxnet heralds a seachange, “a tipping point,” says one expert, “that will usher in a cyber-defense revolution in military affairs”(Richard Clarke is also interviewed). Michael Tanji wrote much the same thing last October in Tablet Magazine. Your other required reading is Yossi Melman on Stuxnet, also from October, and Melman last week, on departing Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who presumably played a major role in the Stuxnet success.

“I believe that Stuxnet is an Israeli-made worm with the help of the CIA and Germany’s BND,” Melman writes in, “unlike with bombing the Syrian reactor, which was 100 percent Israeli intelligence-gathering, Israeli independent decision-making, and above all Israeli execution. By the way,” he adds, “I was the first one who wrote that Stuxnet was aimed to hit Natanz. At the time others wrote that it was directed at Bushehr” (Bushehr being the site of the recognized power plant, Natanz being the site of the reported enrichment facility). True!

WikiLeaks: Iran Developing Nuclear Bomb With Help of More Than 30 Countries [Reuters/Haaretz]
Iran’s Nuclear Program and a New Era of Cyber War[LAT]
The New York Times Fails To Deliver Stuxnet’s Creator [Forbes]
Related: Israeli Test on Worm Called Crucial in Iran Nuclear Delay [NYT]
Uncloaked [Tablet Magazine]
Coded [Tablet Magazine]
Modern Warfare, Too
Earlier: How Stuxnet Came To Be

Oh, Sister

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Today in Tablet Magazine, parenting columnist Marjorie Ingll praises the All-of-a-Kind Family series of young adult novels on its sixtieth anniversary, noting that it greatly resembled the Little House on the Prairie series, except the prairie was the Lower East Side.

We Are Family

Who Is Our New NFL Team?

With surprising Patriots loss, the slot is open

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Tom Brady on Sunday.(Elsa/Getty Images)

Tablet Magazine’s Washington Redskins washed out at 6-10 (although it should be noted they went 2-0 against the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, the two teams that will play Sunday in the NFC Championship Game). Tablet Magazine’s New York Giants, at 10-6, were the first team to miss the playoffs. And Tablet Magazine’s New England Patriots—the team with the best record (14-2), the best advanced stats, and (so everyone said) the best chance to win Super Bowl VL, is out, too, having, on Sunday, been upset at home, 28-21, by their division rival New York Jets.

I certainly don’t have an original take on all the off-field drama—which included obvious, gregarious sniping from the Jets and buttoned-up non-sniping (and occasional subtle sniping) from the Pats—except to comment that breaching unofficial rules of decorum is how underdogs succeed every day in pursuits far more consequential than sports. As for the game itself, much needed to go right for the Jets, and it basically all did: Solid, safe throws from quarterback Mark Sanchez; a couple big plays from their star wide receivers; exemplary special teams play that saw the Jets enjoy an outrageous field-position advantage; and, above all, a defense that forced Pats QB Tom Brady into only his fifth interception of the year, but, more importantly, was on the Pats’ normally elusive pass-catchers like yellow on yellow rice, frustrating New England’s vaunted aerial attack, leaving the relatively immobile Brady patting the ball in the pocket with nowhere to go with it. The Jets’ linemen accomplished five sacks, but these were uniformly coverage sacks, with credit going primarily to the Jets’ defensive backs, their cornerbacks and safetys, who comprised a truly stunning 11 of 45 active roster members Sunday. Which is to say, credit most of all Coach Rex Ryan, the normally blitz-happy big ball of personality who let the personality show (at one point costing his team 15 yards due to an excessive celebration penalty) but wisely kept the blitzes in check. The regular season was confirmation that Pats Coach Bill Belichick belongs in the pantheon with the greats. This playoff game was confirmation that, on any given Sunday, with the right tools, a great coach can be outcoached by a very good one. (more…)

Like Nixon, But Less of a Crook

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Yesterday’s surprise news that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak bolted the historic Labor Party while staying in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government means it’s a good time to learn more about the former prime minister. If you know him just from American reports, you think of him as a highly successful soldier (one of the three most decorated in IDF history) turned ultra-competent administrator, Israeli diplomat-in-chief, and close professional and even personal acquaintance of Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates.

What you may not know, and what top Haaretz reporters Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff explain today in Tablet Magazine, is that, in addition to the above distinctions, Barak is “Israel’s most widely loathed public figure,” broadly viewed as aloof, corrupt, and partly responsible for numerous Israeli errors over the past decade or two, including the failure to make peace at Camp David and the Second Intifada.

Nine Lives

U.N. Files Sealed Indictment in Lebanese Killing

Hezbollah grabs more power to Israel’s north

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Posters of departing Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Tripoli, Lebanon.(Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

Yesterday, a U.N. prosecutor indicted suspects on a sealed list for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri following a Security Council-backed investigation. President Obama praised the filing. It may be months before the suspects are formally revealed and a year before any trial is held, but ever since Hezbollah preemptively toppled the Lebanese government last week, with the president now delaying talks on a new coalition until regional players can meet and sort through the mess, who the suspects actually are seems secondary. (For what it’s worth, sources report that the indictments focus on Hezbollah operatives, but also include Grand Ayatollah Khamanei, Iran’s leader, who allegedly ordered Hariri’s murder.)

Hezbollah fears reprisals from the country’s Sunni minority as well as a blow to its reputation as patriotic for Lebanon if the indictments finger its own operatives for the killing of the Sunni former leader of the country—an operation originally thought to be sponsored by Syria but now believed to have been the doing of the Iran-sponsored indigenous Shiite group. Hezbollah broke with the (now on-his-way-out) prime minister, Saad Hariri, a U.S. ally—he was literally at the White House when Hezbollah made its move last week—after he refused to boycott the U.N. findings. As The New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright poignantly notes, Saad is Rafik’s son. (more…)

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