Sundown: Bad Timing for the Festival of Lights

Plus degenerate art has its day, and more

The scene tonight in Carmel Forest.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

• The AP reports that Israeli firemen are used to this being a busy time of year due to Hanukkah. This is officially the most unfortunately timed article ever written. [AP/WP]

• Israel has asked the United States and several other countries for aid in fighting the forest fires that continue to rage in the north. [Haaretz]

• Uh-oh. Orthodox-black tensions in Balmer. [Baltimore Sun]

• Former Tablet Magazine intern Dina Mann has written a children’s e-book, Chanukah not Hanukah. That’s right: Our interns write books. [MeeGenius]

• Leon Wieseltier remembers the late Stephen Solarz. [TNR]

• Art rescued from Nazi salons des refusés now gets its own exhibit in Berlin. [NYT]

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dancing with rabbis. It would be sad indeed if, with his term near its very end, the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California has lost its shock-value.

The P.A., the Jews, and the Western Wall

Ambassador hinted at rejectionism to Tablet Magazine


The latest mini-feud in the Grand Israeli-Palestinian Feud was precipitated by a Palestinian Authority paper that rejected a historic connection between the Western Wall—so named because it was the Western wall of the Jews’ ancient Temple—and the Jews. (The P.A. since removed the article from its Website, though not before strong condemnations came from both Israel and the United States.)

The episode brought to mind the following exchange in contributing editor David Samuels’s interview with Maen Rashid Areikat, the P.A.’s ambassador to the United States, in which Areikat waffles on the same question even in the face of the Encyclopedia Britannica article detailing the connection: (more…)

‘Rock of Ages’

‘Anander Mol, Anander Veig,’ day by day

(Brian Scott/Boondesign)

Every day of Hanukkah, we will publish a track from Marc Weidenbaum’s holiday-inspired album of remixes, Anander Mol, Anander Veig, along with its original version. Today: “Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages).”

Here is the original track:

Here is the remix:

Original by: Dov Rosenblatt, Rosi Golan, and Deena Goodman
Remix by: Mark Rushton (Iowa City, Iowa)

A Wallet Not Your Own

Rodger Kamenetz interprets your dreams

(Ravi Joshi/Tablet Magazine)

Rodger Kamenetz, author of Nextbook Press’s Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka, is also a dream therapist. This week, between the two Torah portions in which Joseph interprets dreams, Kamenetz responds to questions about dreams submitted by Tablet Magazine readers.

I dreamt that I found the wallet of a friend while standing in a lobby of a building. The most notable feature of the wallet is that the address was plainly visible and the address was 44th Street. The address was of great interest to me; however, I do not know why. The wallet was in a satchel and at the bottom of the bag were ponytail holders and swimming goggles. I tried to give the items back to the owner, but I woke up before I knew whether I had contacted them to return the items. I remembered the dream clearly when I woke up, which I seldom do.

–Marcy (more…)

Israel Is Sustaining Its Worst Fire Ever

Blazes in the north have killed at least 40

Beit Oren, Israel, earlier today.(Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

If you hadn’t heard, there is a massive and deadly fire currently raging in Israel’s northern forests, not too far from Haifa. Most tragically, 40 prison guards traveling in a bus were killed in the blaze. Numerous kibbutzes have been evacuated, as has the University of Haifa. Officials said they did not expect the fire would be contained by this evening.

Israel Calls for Urgent Help Fighting Lethal Fire [NYT]

Because Nothing Says ‘Soccer’ Like ‘Qatar’

2022 World Cup host pledges to allow Israel in

The Qatari emir and FIFA head Sepp Blatter.(Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)

The 2022 World Cup Finals will be held in sunny (sunny, sunny), Qatar. It is an, um, interesting call on the part of FIFA, the world’s soccer governing body (which also handed the 2018 World Cup Finals to Russia), given that Qatar is a Gulf country smaller than Connecticut whose national team has never qualified for the Finals and whose average June and July temperature is 106 degrees Fahrenheit. (They are planning to air-condition outdoor stadiums—no, really. Your oil money at work!) The decision might be said to confirm the impression that FIFA makes the NCAA look like a transparent, corruption-free organization. But of course, the real question is: What if Israel’s team—which, admittedly, has also never qualified for the Finals—manages to earn a berth in the 2022 Finals? Will Qatar, which suspended its ties with Israel during Operation Cast Lead, permit Israel to play?

Answer: Yes. As a condition of the bid, Qatar pledged to allow all FIFA teams to play (also to allow people to drink alcohol).

That’s good. Now if only Qatar could also improve its dismal record on women’s rights, then maybe in 2022 every decent person won’t feel obligated to boycott World Cup viewing.

After the jump: Qatar’s official bid video, which really has to be seen to be believed. (more…)

The Shadow of the Shoah

Today on Tablet


There are two articles today in Tablet Magazine concerning the Holocaust and literature. In one, columnist Shalom Auslander mimics the genre to satirize (and perhaps escape?) the anxiety of influence it exerts over his writing: “He knew, most of all,” it concludes, “that he was sick of writing about the goddamned Holocaust.”

In the other, I review a provocative new study of Holocaust literature by critic Ruth Franklin, and argue that it is of a piece with arguments she has made—concerning realism, concerning empathetic power—about contemporary novels about contemporary upper-middle-class America.

Though I can’t speak for Auslander, it seems to me that we would both like to see literature about the Holocaust graded on the same continuum as literature about, well, absolutely anything else. One day, maybe.

Croak and Dagger
Higher Truth

The Fayyad Enigma

What is the Palestinian prime minister driving at?

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.(Foreign Policy)

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is back in the news, pledging that the Palestinians remain on the schedule first set over a year ago and will be ready for statehood by August 2011. Fayyad is on the record opposing unilateral statehood, but that doesn’t mean statebuilding isn’t effective leverage when it comes to peace negotiations.
Actually, the public relations might be intended most of all for the United States, if Fayyad’s new Foreign Policy article is any indication. “Building a Palestinian state was never intended to replace the political process, but to reinforce, and benefit, from it,” he insists. And yet: “We want to have lasting peace with Israel. But you can’t get to that point if everything you do is unidirectionally negative; we must create positive facts on the ground, and a sense of real mutual respect must begin to develop.” (more…)

Daybreak: New Jerusalem Building Okayed

Plus what WikiLeaks told us today, and more in the news

A Jewish settlement on the outskirs of an Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

• Israel approved 625 new East Jerusalem houses, which the Palestinian Authority quickly condemned. [Haaretz]

• New WikiLeaks revelations show American concern over the rising power of Israeli organized crime. [JPost]

• Yet more revelations show that Ireland refused use of its territory for the American transfer of weapons to Israel during Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-9 Gaza conflict. [JPost]

• Of course, the revelations themselves are all just an Israeli plot, if you ask both Iran’s regime and now the deputy of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party. [JPost]

• A profile of David Sarnat, whose Jewish Community Legacy Project is helping towns with small Jewish populations across the country maintain necessary communal institutions. [NYT]

• People were really upset with Steve Martin and Deborah Solomon’s conversation at the 92nd Street Y, and now 92Y is offering refunds, and now it’s actually news. Whatta town! [NYT]

Sundown: Happy Hanukkah!

Plus Hamas, Pakistan, latkes, and more

(Joyce Naltchayan/AFP/Getty Images)

Happy Hanukkah, Chappy Chanukkah, or however else you prefer to spell it.

• Hamas’s top Gaza figure said the group would abide by any peace treaty President Abbas negotiates if it is approved by a global Palestinian referendum. So all we have to do now is write that treaty. [WSJ]

• After the 2008 attack on the Mumbai Chabad house, Pakistani spies contacted Israeli spies to help protect Jewish sites in India on the condition that the connections remain secret, WikiLeaks revealed. Oops. [Reuters/Haaretz]

• Latkes-as-crackers. [NYT]

• This is actually an unusually novel take on the whole Hanukkah vs. Christmas in an ex-intermarriage debate. [Dadwagon]

• Samuel Cohen, inventor of the neutron bomb, died at 89. [NYT]

• The CBS radio reporter got off with probation for marijuana possession. His wife, an Israeli reporter, wasn’t charged. [Washington City Paper]

A German Hanukkah song! Music is great for overcoming cognitive dissonance.

Kafka in Brooklyn

By way of Iceland

From Metamorphosis.(BAM)

Metamorphosis is a story on two levels,” Gísli Örn Garðarsson, the play’s co-director and star, wrote to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where the performance was staged. “Although it is very dramatic and frightening, it is also surprisingly comic.” Last night’s U.S. debut of an Icelandic production of Metamorphosis certainly had the Czech master’s grimly comic mark, and is not to be missed before it exits the stage this Sunday.

Among other things, the clever set design reflected this tension, playing with an XYZ plane that challenged gravity to the points of laughter and awe. A house on two levels, the space occupied by the famous Gregor Samsa (played by Garðarsson) allows the otherwise business-as-usual man to embrace his spidery locomotion, suspended over the family’s classically normal living room. (more…)

Celebrating the Oil Without the Grease

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, Melissa Petitto has some recipes—complete with video!—for Hanukkah treats that adhere to the holiday’s inherent oiliness, but in a healthier way.

Sweet and Light

Remembering What You Dreamt

Rodger Kamenetz interprets your dreams

(Ravi Joshi/Tablet Magazine)

Rodger Kamenetz, author of Nextbook Press’s Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka, is also a dream therapist. This week, between the two Torah portions in which Joseph interprets dreams, Kamenetz responds to questions about dreams submitted by Tablet Magazine readers.

I can honestly say I have no dreams. I am a nocturnal epileptic and so have many fits throughout the night. Am I or am I not having dreams?

–Charlie (more…)

The Birthright Book

And where you can attend a reading

(Nextbook Press)

Today marks the publication of Nextbook Press’s What We Brought Back: Jewish Life After Birthright, a collection of reflections—of all kinds; essays, photographs, poems—by young Jews who have gone on Taglit-Birthright trips to Israel. A special congratulations to the volume’s editor, Wayne Hoffman, Nextbook Press’s deputy editor.

And! Do you live in San Francisco, Chicago, or New York City? Then Tablet Magazine is sponsoring a reading at a bookstore or bar near you sometime in the next six weeks. (Yes, yes, we’re even schlepping to Brooklyn.) Details after the jump. (more…)

The Unbearable Dumbness of Dreidel

How does this game possibly make any sense?

The Spinagogue. Two dreidels enter; one dreidel leaves. Or something.(Modern Tribe)

Hanukkah starts tonight, and Major League Dreidel is offering something called a Spinagogue, which is sort of a stadium for dreidel-spinning. The Spinagogue encourages you to aim to make your dreidel move impressively or in specific directions, or simply to make it spin for a really long time. Setting aside the obviously-made-by-and-for-people-who-are-high video (after the jump), there is actually something ingenious about it, in that it divorces the dreidel itself—the ceremonial Hanukkah spinning top—from the game that is basically synonymous with it. (Yeshiva U. also did this, yesterday setting a new Guinness World Record by simultaneously spinning 618 dreidels.)

Because—and here’s my point—has anyone actually ever successfully played the game? You know the rules. You put your gelt in the center and take turns spinning. Get a gimel, you get the pot. Get a nun, nothing happens. get a hei, you get half the pot. Get a shin, you put back in the pot (depending on various rules I’ve played) one of your gelts, half your gelt, or all your gelt. (more…)

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