Hot Wives Break Up With Prominent Nebbishes

In other news, there is no Santa Claus

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Noah Baumbach in 2007.(Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

First, they came for director Darren Aronofsky and actress Rachel Weisz, who also starred in by far his worst movie, The Fountain. Then, yesterday, they came for director Noah Baumbach and actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, who also starred in by far his worst movie, Margot at the Wedding. Tomorrow: Who knows? Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts? Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor? Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann? Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher? Andy Samberg and Joanna Newsom? You and your out-of-your-league, possibly goyishe girlfriend? None of us are safe.

Jennifer Jason Leigh Files For Divorce After Five Years [Us Weekly]

Daybreak: Jerusalem Eviction Stirs Emotions

Plus Iranian enrichment back on track, and more in the news

The disputed house.(Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

• Six months after losing a legal battle (a distant relative sold the property without their knowledge), a Palestinian family in a mostly Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem was evicted yesterday; Jewish settlers promptly moved in. [NYT]

• Contra yesterday’s news, Iran apparently figured out a new way to ramp up uranium enrichment. [LAT]

• Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the about-to-be-head of the Foreign Relations Committee, for praising Fidel Castro for saying nice things about Jews and Israel. [Haaretz]

• An 88-year-old Canadian Jewish woman was reunited with the 85-year-old Polish man who saved her during the Holocaust. Only in Queens. [NY1]

• An Israeli professor floats appointing Robert Wexler, a former Democratic congressman with close ties to the Obama administration, as the new U.S. envoy when George Mitchell steps down. [JPost]

• Jennifer Grey defeated Bristol Palin in the finals of this season’s Dancing With The Stars. Grey once starred in a movie about dancing. [Arts Beat]

Sundown: Mumbai Victims Sue Pakistan Intel

Plus the settlers’ favorite former Alaska governor, and more

Sarah Palin last month.(Randy Snyder/Getty Image)

• The family of the Chabadniks killed during the 2008 Mumbai attack are suing Pakistan’s military intelligence agency for wrongful death in U.S. federal court. They allege (as many have) that the agency works closely with the terrorist group that launched the attacks. [JTA]

• The IDF uses Facebook to find draft dodgers. [Fast Company]

• Settlers. Love. Palin. [Ben Smith]

• The link between Prime Minister Netanyahu and George W. Bush is an author and political adviser named Ron Dermer. [Politico]

• The United States has reportedly put the freeze-extension deal in writing, as Netanyahu has demanded. [JTA]

• Three experts say America should publish a “declaration of principles” concerning the Mideast peace process. More getting things down on paper. [IHT]

Below: An Iranian weightlifter appears on a platform along with an Israeli weightlifter, while “Hatikvah” is played. For this (via Kaplan’s Korner), he has been banned from weightlifting for life.

Conservatives Alter Approach to Intermarriage

From conversion to ‘openness’


Sue Fishkoff reports that the Conservative movement in America, while strictly maintaining its concrete rules against intermarriage—most rabbis won’t officiate interfaith weddings, for example—are switching tack from opposing intermarriage in every conceivable way to accepting it as part of a larger effort to bring both members of such couples closer to Judaism. It appears the shift is somewhat the result of a ground-up agitation, with Men’s Clubs, which tend to favor openness, winning over the institutional establishment, which is inclined to insist on conversion.

Like other Conservative rabbis, [Rabbi Carl Wolkin of Northbrook, Illinois,] will not officiate at an interfaith wedding, but he wants the couple to know they are wanted in the congregation as they explore their Jewish future. That message has been blurred too often in the Conservative world, which hurts the movement, he says.

If that seems like no news to you, then you haven’t been paying attention.

Conservative Movement Tipping Toward Openness to Children of Intermarried [JTA]

What Happened in the Ghetto

Today on Tablet


Today in Tablet Magazine, books critic Adam Kirsch reviews The Boy: A Holocaust Story, a new book ostensibly about the iconic photograph of a terrified Jewish boy being taken to a camp, but really about the Warsaw Ghetto, the SS, and the heroism of two remarkable survivors.

Caught on Film

The Great Intern Search

Apply to work at Tablet Magazine


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, by Friday, December 3. We look forward to hearing from you.

J Street Controversy at Columbia

And a collegiate mock checkpoint

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

(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


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:


Davening in Indonesia

Your latest lost Jews

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

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

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.


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