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The Great Intern Search

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Reminder! Tablet Magazine is looking for interns for our spring term, which runs from the beginning of the new year through May.

If you have experience in journalism and are familiar with the landscape of American Jewish life, we’d love to hear from you. We are hiring interns to work either two or three days a week at our office in New York City. Interns will contribute blog posts and full features as well as assist the editorial staff with research and administrative tasks. They will be paid stipends. If you’re interested, please send a cover letter, a résumé, and three writing clips to mtracy@tabletmag.com, by Friday, December 3. We look forward to hearing from you.

J Street Controversy at Columbia

And a collegiate mock checkpoint

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I miss college.(Bwog)

Columbia University, no stranger to Mideast-related to-dos at least since 2005’s Columbia Unbecoming controversy, has recently had a few “incidents,” as my friends and I used to jokingly call them when we were undergrads there.

The biggest saw the campus Hillel pressure the Manhattan university’s J Street affiliate into cancelling its co-sponsorship of a talk that John Ging, the head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency’s Gaza operations who is an outspoken critic of the blockade, gave at Barnard, the university’s all-women college, even as J Street U’s national director introduced Ging at the event. (Part of the issue—and I cannot stress enough that this sort of technicality is de rigeur at Columbia—is that the affiliate is actually under the Hillel umbrella.) Via New Voices, some Columbia/Barnard alumni, including several rabbis, wrote the Hillel director protesting the withdrawal of the co-sponsorship.

On a lesser and lighter note, Bwog, the campus blog, reports that Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine set up a mock Israeli checkpoint on the steps of Low Library in the center of campus last week, complete with “Israeli guards” with cardboard guns and blindfolded “Palestinians.” Several Hillel groups protested, and handed out a flyer entitled, “It’s Complicated, Let’s Talk,” which ought to be Columbia’s official motto.

Columbia Student Groups Drops Sponsorship of Gaza Talk Under Pressure [Forward]
Checkpoint on Low [Bwog]
Related: Columbia’s Own Middle East War [NY Mag]

‘We Swat, We Sweat Together’

Your best ping pong haikus

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(American Jewish Historical Society/Flickr)

As one contest opens, another closes. Yesterday, we announced ourJewish bowling poetry competition. Today, we end our ping pong haiku face-off. Soon to come in our ongoing series of Jews, sports, and verse: Jewish polo, Jewish fox-hunting, and Jewish Quidditch.

Anyway! The competition was fierce, but Matthew Siegel, Mary Bilyeu, and Alex Solaño (whose haikus are also Jonathan Safran Foer-themed) can raise their figurative paddles high. They each win a copy of Eli Horowitz and Roger Bennett’s new book, Everything You Know Is Pong: How Mighty Table Tennis Shapes Our World.

Congratulations! Poems after the jump. (more…)

It Takes a Nation

Today on Tablet

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Subliminal, Israel’s biggest hip-hop star, is profiled by Yoav Fromer today in Tablet Magazine. Born Yaakov “Kobi” Shimoni to immigrants from Tunisia and Iran, the 31-year-old isn’t literally a political conservative, but his message is unabashedly patriotic and nostalgic:

Subliminal’s self-proclaimed “Zionist hip-hop” has always followed an inverted model. (He half-jokingly told me, “I am the establishment.”) While Public Enemy called on listeners to “fight the power,” Subliminal instead decided to join it. “This is Israel, not America,” he explained. “If I see a cop chasing someone down the street, odds are, you will see me running along to help out the cop.”

Here is a new, unreleased track, “Fuego,” that Subliminal made available to us:

Message

Davening in Indonesia

Your latest lost Jews

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The 62-foot-tall menorah outside Manado, Indonesia. It may be the world’s biggest.(Ed Wray/NYT)

The New York Times has another charming entry in its long-running series of what Slate’s Jack Shafer has termed “hey-folks-we’ve-found-some-Jews-living-in-a-strange-place” series (Tablet Magazine has also published its share of contributions). This time it’s Manado, on one of the northern islands of Indonesia, otherwise known as the country with the most Muslims living in it.

The explanation? A colony of Dutch Jewish merchants here dated at least to the 19th century; their descendants practiced the faith until Indonesia achieved independence in 1949, at which point most converted to Islam or Christianity for safety’s sake; about a decade ago, during an argument (what else?), somebody’s great-aunt (who else?) let slip what several other elders knew: That many Manado residents are descended from Jews. The Chabad rabbi in Singapore was notified (who else?), and he did the rest. “We’re just trying to be good Jews,” says Toar Palilinigan, a.k.a., Yaakov Baruch. “But if you compare us to Jews in Jerusalem or Brooklyn, we’re not there yet.” Oh, I dunno about that. (more…)

Daybreak: Stuxnet Strikes!

Plus new referendum law, anti-Semitism in Britain, and more in the news

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The reactor at Bushehr, last month.(Majid Asgaripour/AFP/Getty Images)

• Iran’s nuclear program has been temporarily shut down due to rare and unexpected centrifuge problems. The Stuxnet computer worm, for which Israel is suspected, is suspected. [WP]

• The Knesset passed a law, supported by Prime Minister Netanyahu, requiring a referendum before Israel cedes land it annexed, which means East Jerusalem and the Golan. It will make it more difficult for Israel to negotiate land swaps involving those territories. [NYT]

• Iran’s parliament made moves to impeach President Ahmadinejad; the grand ayatollah stopped them. But clearly there are some legitimacy problems and general dissatisfaction. [WSJ]

• More than 40 Saudi-sponsored part-time schools in Britain are programmatically teaching anti-Semitism and homophobia, a BBC documentary revealed. [NYT]

• A profile of David Nyer, the Orthodox resident of Monsey, New York, who has been a prime mover behind the recent efforts to free Jonathan Pollard. [JTA]

• Israel honored its 3,000,001st tourist of the year (a record). Perhaps inevitably, he is a pastor leading a Christian evangelical tour from Brazil. [JTA/Jewish Journal]

Sundown: Cuba Un-Libre

Plus a very classy mining tycoon, and more

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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

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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

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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

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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.

(more…)

This Is Your Brain on Sephardic Music

Today on Tablet

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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

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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 dklein@tabletmag.com. 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!

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(debbyaremdesigns/Flickr)

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

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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.

Boulevardier

Bibi Reportedly Seeking Pollard’s Release

Freeze deal could see spy go free

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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…)

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