Sundown: Fire Hurting Israel’s Image

Plus R.I.P. Elaine, and more

Elaine Kaufman.(NYT)

• The continuing fire is being perceived as a P.R. snafu, as foreign governments are amazed that Israel cannot handle the blaze. [Ynet]

• Jeff Goldberg is certainly frustrated: “Israel is a rich country. The fact that it doesn’t possess adequate firefighting equipment is its own fault.” [Jeffrey Goldberg]

• Contributing editor David Samuels defends Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks. [Atlantic]

• Senior writer Allison Hoffman talks Jewish activism at 92Y Tribeca this Sunday. [Pursue Action]

• The Park Slope Food Co-op feuds with a Williamsburg kosher food company. Nearly every one of Tablet Magazine’s readers is interested in at least one aspect of the previous sentence, right? [NY Daily News]

• You know that Maccabeats YouTube video that has surely been emailed to you and that I’m not posting? Here are the stories behind it. [New Voices]

Elaine Kaufman died at 81. Here is Elaine’s:

From On High

Your Vox Tablet preview


Thinking about the origins of the Ten Commandments can be fun:

But according to journalist David Hazony, the commandments themselves are woefully under-valued and insufficiently understood by religious and non-religious thinkers alike. By his measure, they offer deep and valuable insights into how to form just societies and lead redemptive lives. He makes that argument in his new book, The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life, as well as in conversation with host Sara Ivry on Monday’s episode of Vox Tablet.

Jewish Films, Jews in Films


Today in Tablet Magazine, senior writer Allison Hoffman looks at two new films ostensibly about Jews—Black Swan and Barney’s Version—and explains the difference between making a film with Jewish characters and making a fundamentally Jewish film.

Double Bill

The Mysterious Cowboy

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 see a man I never met, but even so, I know him well. He was well known in his day and still has instant recognition when pictures are shown of him. He’s riding a horse toward me and he is someone I have been very fond of since the age of 10. It appears to be an old western town (Wild West) and my father and grandfather (mom’s dad) are there, too. I adored my father and grandfather. Oddly, I do not see any of my female relatives, especially my maternal grandmother and aunts, or any of my uncles on both sides of the family. I feel as though I was being kissed by this man when he gets off his horse. Then suddenly he jumps back on it and rides off at great speed.

–Alyssa (more…)

‘Die Goldene Chasene’ and ‘Sivivon Sov Sov Sov’

‘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. Bonus: Today, around 2:20, Weidenbaum will be discussing the album on WNYC, so tune in! Today: “Die Goldene Chasene” and “Sivivon Sov Sov Sov.”

Here is the original track for “Die Goldene Chasen”:

And here is the “Die Goldene Chasen remix”:

Here is the original track for “Sivivon Sov Sov Sov”:

And here is the “Sivivon Sov Sov Sov” remix:

Original “Die Goldene Chasene” by: Dave Tarras (Permission from Shanachie/Yazoo Records)
Remix by: xntrxx, aka Harro van Duijn (Etten-Leur, Netherlands)

Original “Sivivon Sov Sov Sov” by: Alicia Jo Rabins
Remix by: Paula Daunt (Berlin, Germany)

Yo La Tengo’s Eternal Hanukkah

Hoboken’s own rock out with The Feelies and other friends

(Photos by Andrew Russeth)

“You don’t know how long it has taken us in rehearsal to pretend to be disorganized,” Yo La Tengo frontman Ira Kaplan informed the tiny audience at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey, last night. Kaplan would make a great grandfather: When not creating astonishing (and astonishingly loud and wild) noise on his guitar or keyboard, he was peppering the proceedings with just that sort of neo-Borscht Belt humor, grinning gregariously, his kind face framed by an only somewhat-receded curly Jewfro. It was the second night of the band’s eight-night Hanukkah set, which they have done every year since 2001 (except last year). They are the local kids made good: Maxwell’s, which looks like just another restaurant on just another corner of just another Jersey town—which, basically, is exactly what it is—is where they played their first concert, which just so happened to have been 26 years ago yesterday (are they aware, I wonder, that yesterday also marked the 27th anniversary of Phish’s first show?).

So Yo La Tengo at Maxwell’s dates back 26 years, but Yo La Tengo during Hanukkah at Maxwell’s dates back only nine. As such, the self-conscious nostalgia is practically built into the evening (nostalgia, that ultimate escapist comfort, must have been on everyone’s mind during the first Hanukkah show in December 2001), and both the Gen-X band and their mostly Gen-X fans, who were predominantly early-middle-aged and laughed at comedian Jim Gaffigan’s jokes about the gym and a high preponderance of whom sported earplugs, did not disappoint. There is no back room at Maxwell’s: Performers climbed onto the stage from the room, and disappeared into the crowd after performing. An electric menorah, correctly lit right-to-left, two candles glowing dark turquoise, sat on an amp in the back, stage right. (more…)

The Meshugguners

And other great all-time Jewish-American team names


Sure, getting to choose your all-time Jewish-American team from an illustrated selection of history’s Jewish basketball kings is great, if we may say so ourselves. But some of you had the most fun, it seems, in the naming of your team! Here’s a Hanukkah suggestion: Park your kids in front of the computer and explain to them the true meaning of Dolph Schayes; while they’re distracted, take the money you would have spent on presents and buy yourself FreeDarko’s new book, The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History; and meanwhile, come up with the cleverest team name you can, and post it in the comments.

Below, some of our favorite team name suggestions from Deadspin, the sports Website that graciously linked to our little game and that is widely known for having pretty much the funniest commenters on the Internet.


Gimme a Fast Break!

UCLA Hockey Rules!

The Meshugguners

The Growth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem

Today on Tablet


Benny Morris knows all about the Palestinian refugee issue: As much as any single person, the Israeli historian is responsible for establishing that most of the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who fled their homes during the 1947-8 conflict did so because of Israeli military attacks. Today in Tablet Magazine, he points to the millions of refugees today—some originals, most their descendants—and argues that the continued predominance of a belief in the “Right of Return” among the Palestinian leadership, both the radicals in Gaza and the more-moderates in the West Bank, has doomed the two-state solution, at least for the foreseeable future. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Morris says,

might sign off on “an end to the conflict” and “no more demands”—and most likely be assassinated by Arab extremists in consequence—but a majority of Palestinians, and certainly a large minority of them, would continue the struggle, rendering the agreement no more than a wind-blown piece of paper.

Er, happy Friday?

Bleak House

Cast Lead

What the Gaza operation and dreidels have in common

(Len Small/Tablet Magazine)

Israelispeak is the way Israelis and the Israeli media use Hebrew. Behind the literal meaning, there’s an additional web of suggestion, doublespeak, and cultural innuendo that too often gets lost in translation. Every Friday, we reveal what is really being said. To view all the entries in this series, click here.

Go shopping online, and you’ll find items like “hard cast lead smokeless cowboy bullets” and “quality cast lead handgun bullets.” In English, we tend to think of munitions as being cast in lead, a linguistic quirk that lent a decidedly militant aura to the name that the Israeli army gave to its incursion into Gaza in the winter of 2008 and 2009: Operation Cast Lead.

But that was, to a large extent, the opposite of the intention of the operation’s Hebrew name, Oferet Yetzuka. Far from calling up images of deadly metal, the Hebrew phrase is intimately associated with—believe it or not—the dreidel. (more…)

Daybreak: Leaks Help U.S. Case Against Iran

Plus Israel still fights fire and Turkey helps, and more in the news

Carmel Forest this morning.(Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

• The WikiLeaks revelation that nearly everyone in the region agrees on the question of Iran has given the United States extra leverage for next week’s nuclear talks. [WP]

• The fire continues. [NYT]

• In a rare display of mutual graciousness between two adversaries, Turkey lent planes to help fight the fire, and Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Prime Minister Erdogan. [JPost]

• In 2008, Lebanon’s defense minister advised the United States on how best to attack Hezbollah, and told it to tell Israel. Thank you, WikiLeaks! [LAT]

• White House adviser David Axelrod reiterated the administration’s strong support for Israel’s security and for the peace process. [JPost]

• Sari Nusseibeh and Amos Oz have a nice chat. [NYT]

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]

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