Sundown: Cuba Un-Libre

Plus a very classy mining tycoon, and more

Leonardo Farkas (Klein).(Victor Ruiz Caballero/NYT)

• A powerful ethnic lobby distorted U.S. policy regarding Israel in contravention of U.S. and Israeli interests: The Cubans. [Ben Smith]

• Requisite trend piece about the safe-for-Hasidic Internet, including the requisite puns like Koogle (which is real), Yideotube (also real), and Yajew! (I made that up). [LAT]

• The third-most-wanted alleged Nazi genocidaire, Samuel Kunz, died at 89. He was at Belzec. [Haaretz]

• Leonardo Farkas Klein is the pictured Chilean mining magnate. He “boasts of having five Hummers, a private jet, a Caribbean island getaway, a wristwatch designed for him by Cartier at the request of Prince Albert of Monaco, even a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead convertible he says he paid $2.2 million for.” [NYT]

• The new head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is Rep. Steve Israel, of New York. [JTA]

• A jury found a man guilty of murdering Chandra Levy, the Gary Condit intern who went missing in the summer of 2001. [CNN]

The Playoff Hunt Heats Up

How our teams fared yesterday

The Giants’ starting and back-up QBs last night.(The author)

The greatest NFL rivalry of the past ten years has been the New England Patriots versus the Indianapolis Colts—indeed it is the greatest situational (as opposed to divisional) rivalry since either or both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders battled for the opportunity to represent the American Football Conference in the Super Bowl for nine straight years in the 1970/80s (the still-strong Steelers, incidentally, crushed the perky Raiders this weekend). As for Colts-Pats? Tablet Magazine’s team, the Patriots, pulled this one out, 31-28.

The Pats have to feel good about the victory—but not that good. They were playing at home—where quarterback Tom Brady has now won a record-tying 25 consecutive regular season games (the last time he lost in Foxboro, Massachusetts, in the regular season, it was 2006)—against a team so injury-depleted that there have been jokes about there being something in the water in Indianapolis. Moreover, they won only when Colts QB Peyton Manning, driving up the field with a chance to go ahead as time ran out—much like last year’s legendary game, which the Colts did win on Manning’s three fourth-quarter touchdown throws—launched a somewhat inexplicable interception (especially inexplicable given that a field goal would have pushed the game to overtime, so the Colts should have been playing it at least somewhat safe). On the other hand, they beat Peyton Manning. Period. True, the Colts have been mortal this year—they are only 6-4, and actually not even in their division’s lead. But Manning can always beat you. And beating him makes it that much more likely that if these two teams, clearly among the top five in their conference and maybe in all the NFL as well, meet again in the playoffs, it will again be in Foxboro, Brady’s preferred place of employment. (more…)

Ingall’s Caldecott

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall reviews some of the year’s best Jewish-themed children’s picture books.

Children of the Book

Obama Impotent in the Mideast

Hugely unpopular, he has little to offer, and everyone knows it

President Obama on Saturday.(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Ben Smith’s story on the situation in Israel is a must-read—it’s the product of a week in the region, and it is quite insightful. Bottom line: Basically everyone on all sides agree that President Obama’s vigorous efforts to move the peace process forward have failed—at best, farcically; at worst, tragically.

The American president has been diminished, even in an era without active hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians. His demands on the parties appear to shrink each month, with the path to a grand peace settlement narrowing to the vanishing point. The lack of Israeli faith in him and his process has them using the talks to extract more tangible security assurances—the jets. And though America remains beloved, Obama is about as popular here as he is in Oklahoma. A Jerusalem Post poll in May found nine percent of Israelis consider Obama “pro-Israel,” while 48 percent say he’s “pro-Palestinian.” …

Many senior Israeli leaders have concluded that Hillary Clinton and John McCain were right about Obama’s naiveté and inexperience.


This Is Your Brain on Sephardic Music

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, on this week’s Vox Tablet podcast, Sara Ivry discusses Sephardic music, including a new compilation album, with Rob Weisberg, the host of WFMU’s Transpacific Sound Paradise.

Sephardic Sounds

Jewish Bowling Haiku? Jewish Bowling Haiku

Win a pair of tickets to our party


Next Tuesday, November 30, at Brooklyn Bowl, a very short walk from the Bedford L stop in Williamsburg, comedian Eugene Mirman, Soulico, The Sway Machinery, and a whole lotta Jews looking to start Hanukkah off right will be bowling and partying at JDub Records’ Festival of Strikes, co-sponsored by Tablet Magazine.

Wanna go? Wanna go for free? We have a few pairs of tickets. so howsabout we have a Jewish bowling haiku or limerick contest? Write your favorite Jewish-bowling themed haiku or limerick, and either leave it the comments; Tweet it @tabletmag; put it in the Facebook comments of this post; or email it to We will announce the winners (who will be able to pick up their tickets at the door) and, of course, publish their poems next Monday.

Oh, and top this:

One chef made his latkes with butter,
Using no oil, like some sort of nutter,
The potatoes did fry,
But I can’t tell a lie,
The result went straight to the gutter.

Bowling similes count! (And a Hanukkah reference is not required.)

Festival of Strikes [Tablet Magazine]

Smushing Hanukkah

Festival of Lights meets Feiler Faster Thesis!


Over the weekend, the New York Times published a not-so-modest proposal in favor of families’ feeling liberated to schedule their holiday celebrations flexibly to make life easier. “When so much of life is about relaxing customs in favor of convenience—podcasting your favorite TV show or telecommuting; early voting or the e-mail wedding invitation—why not free holidays from their timeworn shackles and welcome them into the digital age?” he asks. The author’s specific example comes from his own family, which observes Thanksgiving on Friday and, on Saturday, “we celebrate all eight nights of Hanukkah in one madcap afternoon.”

You could argue that the above is a classic articulation of the principles laid out in the Feiler Faster Thesis, the doctrine, named for author Bruce Feiler, who is credited with fashioning it, which broadly implies that the pace of day-to-day life is sped up in the “digital age” of “telecommuting,” 24/7 news-cycles, and the like. The resonance makes sense given that the author of the article is, well, Bruce Feiler.

Still, with Thanksgiving only a few days away and Hanukkah in just over a week, it probably bears reminding that there are … eight days of Hanukkah.

Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

Time-Shifting Holidays [NYT]

The Writer Who Doesn’t Write

Today on Tablet


Tuck your napkin into your shirt, grab your knife and fork, and dig in to contributing editor Rachel Shukert’s takedown of Fran Lebowitz, who is the subject of a Martin Scorcese-directed documentary that airs on HBO tonight. Today in Tablet Magazine, Shukert identifies Lebowitz as “official mascot for Vanity Fair” (which is indisputable) and as a member of “New York’s great triumvirate of Overrated Jewish Lesbians,” which consists of “Le(i)bow(v)itzes Fran and Annie” and Susan Sontag (on her and her alone Shukert and I will have to disagree). And Shukert writes:

There is one area in which Fran Lebowitz has by all measures succeeded brilliantly, one that Scorsese’s film, which consists almost entirely of uninterrupted images of her, gives us plenty of time to ponder. Fran Lebowitz has perfected her look. Her boulevardier wardrobe, her trademark cigarette/sneer, her unruly Beethoven bob: She has precisely distilled, or perhaps invented, our idea of what a “sardonic New York literary curmudgeon” should look like and has stuck to it faithfully for decades. This tastefully nihilistic pose has been her fortune and, perhaps perversely, also her undoing as an artist. “I’m not interested in other people, so I don’t expect them to be interested in me,” she claims. Fair enough (if somewhat specious), except that the single requirement of the art of writing—to say nothing of the art of conversation—is exactly that.

There is much more where that came from. Bon appetit.


Bibi Reportedly Seeking Pollard’s Release

Freeze deal could see spy go free

Jonathan Pollard.(alleged)

Will Jonathan Pollard be released as a condition of Israel extending its settlement freeze? The Jerusalem Post reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu asked for the release of the American sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 after being convicted of spying for Israel as part of the 90-day freeze extension deal that his cabinet has still not approved.

Momentum has been building toward this point: In September, as talks of extending the freeze were first broached, Pollard’s release was raised as maybe being part of a deal; then, last month, in a big step, former deputy defense secretary Lawrence Korb alleged that Pollard’s harsh sentence was partly the result of a strong anti-Israel bias on the part of his former boss, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. This revelation allowed smart people like Gil Troy to make an even more persuasive case for Pollard’s release in places like Tablet Magazine. And the past week has seen a flurry of activity: Last Thursday, 39 Democratic congressmen, including prominent ones like Barney Frank and Anthony Weiner, asked Obama to communte Pollard’s sentence; on Saturday, Pollard’s father co-wrote an op-ed pleading for leniency. Neither the letter nor the op-ed nor, hardly, anyone argue that Pollard (who was honorarily made an Israeli citizen) was not guilty; they argue that his sentence is at this point overly harsh, including in comparison to those of similar convictions. (more…)

Daybreak: Abbas Insists On E. J’lem Freeze

Plus Jewish groups START to talk about arms control, and more in the news

President Abbas yesterday.(Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

• President Abbas pledged not to return to talks unless construction is frozen in East Jerusalem; the prior freeze, and the current deal, concern the West Bank but not disputed parts of the city. [NYT]

• A preliminary probe found circumstantial evidence linking Hezbollah to former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination, according to one report. A U.N. tribunal is expected to issue indictments soon, which could cause havoc in Lebanon if Hezbollah is implicated. [WP]

• Yehuda Kolko, a teacher in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community suspected of mass molestation, was arrested in Brooklyn over the weekend. [The Jewish Star]

• Two Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, urged the Senate to pass the START arms control treaty signed by President Obama and favored by most Democrats. They argue it is important to the U.S.-Russia relationship, which is in turn important to countering Iran. [Laura Rozen]

• A former Knesset member for Kadima says the time is right for a new Likud-Kadima governing coalition. [JPost]

• Norris Church Mailer, Norman’s widow who recently published a memoir of their time together, died at 61. [NYT]

Sundown: Cyber-Torah

Plus the freeze in writing, and more

(Carmel Zucker/NYT)

• Teaching Torah for b’nai mitzvot students … over the Internet! The latest trend piece from the other daily magazine of Jewish life and culture. [NYT]

• The Israeli Air Force responded to the rockets of the past 24 hours with three strikes in Gaza. Injuries were reported. [LAT]

•On the way: A written U.S.-Israel freeze agreement. [Haaretz]

• A remarkable story, begging to be turned into a 12,000-word New Yorker feature: A 50-year-old Jewish real estate lawyer who is the son of a scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the University of Chicago was convicted of impersonating a different Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, a professor at NYU. [City Room]

• There is a fascinating Israeli campaign to introduce anti-sex trafficking laws that criminalize the consumer. [Ms. Blog]

• A prominent New York lawyer wants a day off of a trial following the birth of his grandkid—but only if it’s a grandson and there is a bris. “Look, the Jewish religion is sexist. It just is. But I didn’t make the rules!” [WSJ Law Blog]

Jon Stewart and I have had our differences. But when he decides to actually take a position—as here, on Glenn Beck’s documentary about George Soros—he does himself proud, and is funny as hell.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Manchurian Lunatic
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

Exodus Flicks on the Way

May we suggest a couple of tunes?

(Len Small/Tablet Magazine)

Vulture reports that Hollywood is producing two movies about the Exodus (and not the Bob Marley album). At Warner Brothers, a couple of cult sci-fi screenwriters wrote the script to a film co-produced by Friend-of-Tablet-Magazine Matti Leshem. And at 20th Century Fox, there is something in the pipeline called Untitled Moses Project, which is also the name of a 1980s Milwaukee hardcore band (I’m kidding, I think).

In case you weren’t sure where I was going with this, the Vulture post is entitled, “Everything’s Coming Up Moses”—which was also the name of the Rachel Shukert-authored Passover pageant that Tablet Magazine produced this past spring. Perhaps one of the Hollywood big shots would consider the inclusion of the title track in their film?

Everything’s Coming Up Moses: Hollywood Readies Two Exodus Movies [Vulture]
Related: Everything’s Coming Up Moses [Tablet Magazine]

What Sephardic Music Sounds Like

Your Vox Tablet preview

(Eric Molinsky)

The term “Sephardic music” might bring to mind something like this:

But according to Erez Safar, creator of the annual Sephardic Music Festival in New York (always held during Hanukkah; the sixth one is coming up), it can also sound like this:

Safar’s label, Shemspeed, has put out the first ever Sephardic Music Festival Compilation CD. For an overview and assessment, check out Monday’s Vox Tablet podcast, when host Sara Ivry will discuss the album with Rob Weisberg, host of WFMU New York’s popular world music radio program Transpacific Sound Paradise.

Wrestling with History

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, in Liel Leibovitz’s weekly parsha column, he compares Jacob’s grappling with the angel to modern-day Armenians’ grappling with history.

Angel Dust


Photo of the day


French photographer Sacha Goldberger took awesome pictures of her 91-year-old Hungarian grandmother. The hero-pose isn’t unearned: During the Holocaust, she saved the lives of ten people. There’s more where this came from.

Grandma’s Superhero Therapy [My Modern Met]

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