Today on Tablet

Trouble in the lone star state, love for the tastebuds, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, columnist Michelle Goldberg reports that the Texas House is a testing ground for Jew-baiting as a political tactic. Joan Nathan makes mouths water as she discovers unexpected dishes being served across the country. Alexander Gelfand enjoys—and is perplex by—Elie Wiesel in concert. The Scroll wonders how you roast chestnuts on an open fire in the city.

Q & A with Authors Sarah Rose and Joel Derfner

The stars of Sundance’s ‘Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys’

Sarah Rose and Joel Derfner(Sundance)

Sarah Rose and Joel Derfner have been best friends since they met in a Harvard dining hall 17 years ago. Both are Jewish, writers, and live in New York. (I probably only needed to say “writers” and you would’ve figured out the rest.) And now both of these authors — her book is For All the Tea in China and his is Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever and What Ended Up Happening Instead — are featured on a new Sundance Channel reality show, Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, which is about gay men and the straight women devoted to one another (It’s way more platonic than what went down between David and Jonathan).

Though the show follows three other gay-hetero pairings, the couples aren’t forced to awkwardly interact, throw dinner parties and bitch slap each other so Sarah and Joel’s arc is devoid of typical reality show drama. Instead theirs is about love – one has found it, the other desperately seeks it. But there’s a twist. It’s the curly, red headed gay man who is getting married in Iowa and the attractive woman who is still looking. Actually, that’s doesn’t sound like a twist. That’s just life as a Jewish woman in New York.

Sarah and Joel kindly (and quite humorously) agreed to take us through their journey on the show.

How did you guys first become involved in Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys?

Sarah: Joel is a composer and a friend from the musical theatre world – Jack Lechner, the executive producer – suggested Joel audition because of his book Swish. I was the natural choice for the Girl who likes Joel (who likes boys).

Joel: They realized that nobody on The A-List (aka Bravo’s Real Gay Housewives of New York) was Jewish, so they had to rush to fill the vacuum.

How do you guys feel, as stereotypically neurotic Jewish New York writers about having your lives broadcast on television?

Daybreak: Wikileaks Comes for Israel

Plus, a Jewish American baby boom, and more in the news


• Julian Assange said in an interview that Wikileaks will release thousands of documents related to Israel—particular the Dubai assassination and the second Lebanon war. [Al Jazeera]

• Despite earlier estimates that show a decline, the Jewish population of the US has actually increased 20% since 1990, says a new study. [Brandeis]

• A pair of alleged Torah thieves was arrested in Jerusalem. [JPost]

• Rahm is officially in the race for Chicago mayor. “The candidate in 2009 and 2010 did not abandon his status as a resident of Chicago, and so remained a resident of Chicago,” wrote the hearing officer. [NYT]

• Settlements in the West Bank are experiencing a building boom [NYT]

• Israel is making some strange friends in Europe. [NYT]

Sundown: Finally, Someone Wins

Plus, the mystery of the Jewish surname, and more

(Fox via Mediaite)

• According to Fox News, Eli Wiesel is a “Holocaust Winner.” According to Tablet Magazine, Fox News needs new interns. [Mediaite]

• Landon Cohen just signed. That makes the Pats officially Tablet’s team. Oh, wait, “It’s a Jewish last name and I don’t know how I got it.” [ESPN]

• Alan Dershowitz examines Bishop Desmond Tutu’s difficulties with, in his words, “a peculiar people.” If Dershowitz isn’t your cup of tea (he gently scolded me once, with reason, and I never recovered) read Sudanese human rights activist Simon Deng on the subject. [Hudson New York]

• Former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey has written to President Obama asking him to convert Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time served. [JPost]

• Bolivia has formally recognized Palestine as an independent state. [Haaretz]

• Minority Affairs Minister Avishav Braverman said in a speech that Israel is becoming Iran. Maybe Iran could become Israel too in a remake of Freaky Friday. [Ynet]

The Eternal Conundrum

Barney Frank is very funny, but why?


Making the rounds right now is a video of high ranking Rep. Barney Frank being extremely funny and sassy while mocking a reporter from CNS (the question concerns the showering habits of gay men). Of course, this made us wonder, where is this coming from? Which stereotype applies? Does Frank’s funny spring from being gay or Jewish? In the comedy arms race who gets to claim the congressman for their stockpiles?
Watch below and decide for yourself.

The Hebrew Beatles?

No. 66 on our song list marks the birth of Israeli rock


To most American Jews, the Israeli pop anthem “Yo Ya”—number 66 in Jody Rosen and Ari Y. Kelman’s monumental list of the 100 greatest Jewish songs of all time—is a sort of musical falafel, a savory, imported bit of culture that one is glad to have sampled once or twice but that is never a part of anyone’s steady diet. In Israel, however, the song and the band behind it—known in Israel as Kaveret and elsewhere as Poogy—are on par with Agnon, Amichai, and other cultural giants. This is because Kaveret, it is safe to say, invented Israeli rock n’ roll.

“Who’s Angrier?”

Luzer Twersky responds to his critics

Luzer Twersky in 2009(Evan Abramson)

Last week Josh Gleason reported for Vox Tablet on Luzer Twersky, a young man who spent the first twenty three years of his life in Satmar communities, only to break away two years ago. We got a lot of feedback on the piece, some praising, some extremely critical.

Mr. Twersky response, which he posted in the comments, is below.

To all of you who have expressed your support for your fellow human being, Thank you. It’s nice to know that there are still people out there who are capable of empathizing with a person whose views they don’t necessarily agree with. Your comments gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. May the feeling you gave me be upon you, and if you believe God exists and likes and rewards those who make other people feel good, then…

To those who decided to enter a “Who’s Angrier?” contest with me, sorry to break it to you, I win.

Nothin’ But a Hounddog

The King is no Big Mama

(Tablet Magazine)

Behold No. 46 on our monumental list of the 100 greatest Jewish songs of all time, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s “Hound Dog.” The two songwriters were teenagers when they composed this rock n’ roll classic, which explains the naughty lyrics (click on the link above to learn what a “hound dog” really means). But if you think Elvis has the definitive version, you don’t know Big Mama Thornton, who rocked the tune to the top of the Rhythm and Blues charts four years before the King started shaking his hips. Here she is, for your viewing pleasure.

Today on Tablet

Two ways to spend December 25th


Today in Tablet Magazine, Esther Schor spends her Christmas working in a shelter. For those planning a more traditional holiday, Allison Hoffman has the low down on your options. The Scroll likes to think that in China they eat matzoh ball soup and brisket on Christmas.

A Very Special Message

David Mamet draws a cartoon


David Mamet is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. He is the author of Nextbook Press’ The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self Hatred and the Jews

Related: Jewish Christmas

Daybreak: The Old Die Free

Plus, my big fat Greek Jewish conspiracy, and more in the news


• Heinrich Boere, convicted Nazi war criminal, lost his appeal in a German court. He may still avoid prison due to his age. [Radio Netherlands]

• A 54 year old man accused of anti-Semitic vandalism at Indiana University has been fired by the school. [Vosizneiaz]

• Another great Op-ed wondering why we keep Henry Kissinger around and mourning that Richard Holbrooke isn’t. [Politico]

• Speaking of which, Mort Zuckerman thinks Hank is getting a bum rap. [NYT]

• A high-level priest in the Greek Orthodox Church explained on the country’s largest television channel that Jews were to blame for Greece’s financial problems, one-parent families, same-sex marriage, globalization, and Hitler, among other things. [JPost]

• Hate crimes in Los Angeles County dropped overall, but increased against Jews 50% [LAT]

• Eric Schmertz, labor negotiator, is dead. He was 84. [NYT]

Sundown: The Old Guard Makes Their Move

Plus, the Kissinger ball falls in Bloomberg’s court, and more

(Photo: Shimon Gifter for VIN News)

• Two old school pro-settlement members of Likud are floating around an idea where Israel will withdraw large numbers of settlers and replacing them with soldiers. We’ll be watching this one.[Haaretz]

• Today, a New York press conference meant to shame “pig” Henry Kissinger into apologizing for his recent remarks turned interesting. Assemblyman Dov Hikind made a pivot and called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to return the Henry A. Kissinger Prize Hizzoner won earlier this year. [Vosisneias]

• Jewcy has a list of their 10 favorite books of the year. Ten of something is pretty good, sure. It’s not 100 though. [Jewcy]

• The Jewish Federations of North America will donate $2.4 million to help with the forest fire recovery. [JTA]

• Democratic Rep Ron Klein vows to protect Israel foreign aid from Republican trimming in the new House. [JPost]

• Can Jews read E-Books on Shabbat? The answer within! [Atlantic]

The Tablet-Official Greatest Jewish Song of All Time.

Bibi to Formally Ask for Pollard’s Freedom

Without haggling, convicted spy could gain freedom

(Getty Images)

It’s time to re-read Gil Troy’s piece on Jonathan Pollard, because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that he would formally ask President Obama to pardon the convicted spy, who is now spending his twenty-fifth year in prison. Huge deal. Israel has never publicly asked for clemency. Instead, as he told former deputy defense secretary Lawrence Korb and Esther Pollard just yesterday, he had six times broached the subject in private with Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, but was worried that a public request would in fact hurt Pollard’s chances for freedom.

So what happened? As Marc Tracy noted on November 22nd, a swell of momentum has been building since September. (more…)

Better than Hallelujah?

Taking issue with our song list’s Leonard Cohen selection

(Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

To me, Jody Rosen and Ari Y. Kelman’s stellar  list of 100 great Jewish songs was not meant to be taken as gospel. Rather, like all great best-of lists, it is an invitation to a discussion about the artists and the songs we find most meaningful, and the qualities, not always immediately perceptible, that make them Jewish.

As an obsessive fan and future biographer of Leonard Cohen, the list got me thinking about which one of the poet laureate of Jewish theology’s songs is most befitting for inclusion in a top 100 countdown. Rosen and Kelman selected “Hallelujah”; while certainly a strong choice—it is, by far, Cohen’s most popular work, and the lyrics involve David and Samson, Bathesheba and Delilah, and other biblical flavorings—it’s not one I would make. While a musical masterpiece, “Hallelujah,” I believe, is one of Cohen’s least Jewish songs.

What Would Tevye Do?

Mr. Manners on finding the love of a Jewish woman

The senior members of the rally(Photo: Ofer Amram)

Last night, 200 protesters traveled to the Israeli city of Bat Yam to reasonably argue, “Any Jewish woman who goes with an Arab should be killed; any Jew who sells his home to an Arab should be killed. “

“These Arabs, they speak Hebrew, they look just like us and they tempt our women,” said Moshe Ben-Zikri, a community administrator in Jerusalem. “Some guy named Arafat says his name is Ofer, and so on. Our girls don’t know these guys are Arab and they fall victim to them and families are destroyed.”

How reasonable! It’s the old Pepsi challenge—when two men look the same, speak the same language, are both circumcised and you don’t know their name, a Jewish woman will choose the Arab man one million percent of the time. Possibly even more often.

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