Salita, on Home Turf, Wins Comeback

Brighton Beach brawl ends in decision for rabbi-in-training

Franklin Gonzalez takes a punch from Dmitriy Salita.(All photos by Kate Abbey-Lambertz.)

Wednesday night, Dmitriy “Star of David” Salita (31-1-1, 16 KOs) pulled out a tough victory by decision against Franklin Gonzalez (13-6, 9 KOs) at Brighton Beach’s Oceana Hall. (You can watch the fight tonight on The Jewish Channel.) Nine months ago, the Ukrainian-born Orthodox rabbi-in training was trounced by Amir Khan in England. He later told Tablet Magazine that the extremely hostile crowd was to blame and received some friendly advice: Fight in Brooklyn next time.

The sold-out event, billed as “Redemption,” featured a very Brooklyn crowd, which waited through seven preliminary fights for the main bout. The audience, many wearing yarmulkes, some shouting in Spanish and English at the opening boxers, all agreed not only that Salita would win, but that he had to win. Where they differed was why. (more…)

Daybreak: Obama Takes Charge

Plus: Abbas’ reluctance, Palestinian dissent, and more in the news

President Obama out front.(Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

• This week’s generally successful direct talks perhaps above all represented the United States—and particularly President Obama—showing how powerful it remains. [Politico]

• Speaking of which, the United States is reportedly pressuring President Abbas not to leave the talks even should West Bank building start up when the freeze expires later this month. [Haaretz]

• Meanwhile, the problem with Hamas’ attacks (and pledged attacks), beyond them themselves, is that they represent broader division among the Palestinian people over the attractiveness of peace talks, including among Palestinian Authority leadership. [WSJ]

• Want your West Bank microcosm? It’s Hebron. [LAT]

• Influential columnist Ari Shavit asks whether we should be aiming for an interim deal rather than a comprehensive, final one. [Haaretz]

• Four Orthodox members of a Shomrim Patrol were shot last night in Boro Park; all survived. [NYT]

Sundown: Progress

Valley on Valley, Hitch on faith, and more

Abbas and Netanyahu shake hands at the State Department.(Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images)

• Today’s direct talks went well: President Abbas agreed to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s U.S.-backed proposal to meet every two weeks (starting on September 14 in the Mideast). I’ll have more on all this tomorrow. [Politico]

• The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research has already found upwards of 15,000 volumes in Chaim Grade’s old apartment. [Arts Beat]

Forward cartoonist Eli Valley discusses his life and work. [The Comics Journal]

• Christopher Hitchens further elaborates on the topic of praying (and not praying) for him. [VF]

• Reza Aslan and Bernard Avishai call on President Obama to do all in his power to prevent Israel from taking military action against Iran. [IHT]

• Buzz Bissinger asks: Who are the two Jewish pitchers who won the Cy Young Award? Peruse his whole feed to find the answer. [@buzzbissinger]

Pekar’s ‘Jewish Review’ Collaborator Made a Stir

Writer’s widow resented Seibel

The late, great Harvey Pekar.(Wikipedia)

We learn much about the final days of comics writer Harvey Pekar (whom Vanessa Davis graphically eulogized in Tablet Magazine) from a New York Times feature. When he died in July, I noted that among Pekar’s final works published while he was still alive was his column, written by him and drawn by Tara Seibel, in the most recent Jewish Review of Books. In fact, Seibel, a 37-year-old artist based in Pekar’s Cleveland, plays a prominent role in the article, as Pekar’s wife, Joyce Brabner, apparently clashed with her and, even more, resented her and her husband’s relationship (which by all accounts did not cross any red lines).

The Times reports:

Ms. Seibel made no secret of her admiration for the pioneering comic work of Mr. Pekar, whom she described as “a 70-year-old hipster who loved listening to the Beastie Boys in the car.” In turn he provided her with stories that she illustrated for publications like Chicago Newcity, The Austin Chronicle and The Jewish Review of Books.

Ms. Seibel was also one of four artists whom Mr. Pekar invited to work on the Pekar Project, which starting in 2009 was an effort to translate his work and persona to the Internet. … (more…)

‘In The Afterlife We Have To Be Married?’

Your Vox Tablet preview

(Eric Molinsky)

On next week’s Vox Tablet podcast (which we’re actually posting tomorrow so you can enjoy it over Labor Day weekend), host Sara Ivry goes a-wandering through the century-old Mount Carmel Cemetery with Andy Bachman, the rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. Together, they talk about how shifts in American Jewish life are playing out in our attitudes toward death and burial. It’s a heavy conversation at times (as befits the High Holiday season), but it has its share of lighter moments as well, like this digression into television references to the afterlife.

The Macaroons Sing ‘Apples and Honey’

Not your grandpa’s Rosh Hashanah song


The video for our friends The Macaroons’ “Apples and Honey” dropped today. (“Dropped.” Look at me, talking like the youth.) Check out the delightful song, which I think sounds like Matthew Sweet (thus dating myself yet again), and the charming video, which is sure to entertain your tykes this holiday season. And please note the brief appearance of Lady Gala: Just like her namesake, she wears no pants!

You can also come see the band in concert (and say hi to me! I’ll be introducing them!) on September 26th, at 11 am, at the Tablet Magazine/JDub/Congregation Beth Elohim Sukkot street fair in Park Slope, Brooklyn (on Garfield Place between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West).

Happy 90210 Day

Where the Jews go to school

Navid Shirazi, who actually attends West Beverly in the new show.(90210pedia)

Today is National 90210 Day (check your calendar), which is only an official holiday for those of who grew up watching Beverly Hills, 90210 and thinking it was an accurate representation of life on the West Coast. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 after college, I learned that Beverly Hills High, which the original hit Fox show was based on, was actually populated by Persian Jews, not WASPs from Minneapolis à la Brenda (Shannon Doherty) and Brandon (Jason Priestly).

Though the rebooted version of the series, which airs on the CW, does include an Iranian character, Navid Shirazi (pictured!), back in the old days the Tribe was represented solely by Andrea Zuckerman, who, naturally, was smart, nerdy, and had curly hair and glasses. She was the editor of the school newspaper and came from “wrong” (read: Lower-middle-class) side of the tracks, and was played by the Jewish actress Gabrielle Carteris, who though tasked with playing a high school sophomore was actually old enough to lie about her age on JDate (had it existed).

Also Jewish in real life but less obviously so on the show were Ian Ziering, who played the superficial ladies’ man Steve Sanders, and, of course, Tori Spelling, who played the virginal Donna Martin. Spelling earned the role based on talent alone; it had nothing to do with her father, the show’s producer, Aaron Spelling.

Hapoelim of the World, Unite!

Tel Aviv soccer club enters the Champions League


In the seaside suburb of Tel Aviv where I grew up, there were few insults more devastating to a young man’s pride than being called a fan of Hapoel. My friends and family all rooted for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel’s chief rival. Maccabi is the soccer team of champions: With gold-and-azure jerseys, a Star of David for an emblem, and a name that evoked the proud warriors of Jewish antiquity, we had no doubt that the Maccabis were the ones to follow. Hapoel, by contrast, literally means “the worker”; add to that the red shirts and the socialist ties (check out its logo), and you have a young, zealous Zionist sports fan’s worst nightmare.

But last week, as I heard of Hapoel Tel Aviv’s advancement to the prestigious group stage of the UEFA Champions League—the annual tournament that pits Europe’s 32 greatest clubs against each other—I was delighted to discover that the silly prejudices of my youth have faded away. I was thrilled for Hapoel, and proud to see an Israeli soccer club enjoy such a sensational achievement. (more…)

Today on Tablet

Al-Qaida’s first American attack, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, investigative reporter Peter Lance has a blockbuster showing that the murder of ultra-nationalist Meir Kahane in New York in 1990 may have been backed by al-Qaida. Music columnist Alexander Gelfand profiles Galeet Dardashti, whose music is inspired by her Persian Jewish heritage. Part 5 of Toby Perl Freilich’s documentary on the kibbutz movement drops. The Scroll has plenty of material to work with between peace in the Middle East and Top Chef.

No Jews In Space

This week on ‘Top Chef D.C.’


“Amanda left yesterday,” Kevin helpfully reminds us. “I didn’t think she’d make it this far.” So there are no more Jews, but as long as Top Chef D.C. goes on, so will these round-ups. And we have, like, three or four more episodes in D.C. to go. Right, guys?

Wrong! “There’s one more challenge in D.C., before the finale,” someone says. Wait, what? They’re leaving D.C.? Have they really run out of gimmicky political and indelibly local things to do? (Realizes they’ve done The Palm, the C.I.A., Capitol Hill, Ethiopian food, the Chesapeake Bay, Nationals Stadium, and even Bethesda.) Okay, fair enough. You have to watch a bit more to find out where they are headed after this episode, though. Or you could just keep reading. (more…)

Daybreak: Hard Not To Feel the Hope

Plus Israel’s Gorbachev, and more

The leaders of the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and the United States last night.(NYT)

• Talks today at the State Department. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas seemed equal parts insistent and conciliatory in speeches at last night’s banquet. [NYT]

• Obama, meanwhile, pledged his “full weight” behind the peace effort while asserting that the United States “cannot impose a solution.” [Politico]

• The figure driving much of the optimism and short timeframe is actually Netanyahu, who believes that he—with his hawkish bona fides back home—is the one who can actually get peace done. Columnist Aluf Benn compared him to Mikhail Gorbachev. [NYT]

• As the Palestinian Authority exerted great effort to find and arrest those behind the murder of four Israeli settlers, two Israelis were wounded in a shooting in Ramallah, in an attack also claimed by Hamas (which has accused the P.A. of overly harsh raids). [NYT]

• Former negotiators Hussein Agha and Robert Malley argue that Palestinian leadership is in an unfairly weaker position vis-à-vis Israel. [WP]

• Tom Segev’s new biography shows, with documents from his estate, that famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was a Mossad agent. [Haaretz]

Sundown: Bibi Talks A New Talk

Plus the U.S. advertises in Israel, and more

At the White House today.(Stephen Crowley/NYT)

• “President Abbas,” Prime Minister Netanyahu will say tonight, “you are my partner in peace.” He will also concede the legitimacy of Palestinian claims to the land. [Haaretz/JTA]

• The U.S. government is funding an ad campaign in Israel touting moderate Palestinians as partners for peace. It seems fine, and then you stop to think about it, and it actually seems kind of weird, and worse. No? [UPI]

• Just how Jewish is Michael Bloomberg? [WSJ via Just ASC]

• The Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America will investigate Rabbi Marc Schneier’s reputed dalliances with many, many women, only several of them his wives. [New York Jewish Week]

• Berlin: A capital of Israeli music. History is, like, ironic, y’know? [PRI’s The World]

• Today, contributing editor Joan Nathan wrote about food and Rosh Hashanah for a daily magazine of Jewish life and culture. Plus, she wrote that great piece for us! [NYT]

Jewcy’s Jason Diamond found he doesn’t like: Jennifer Grey’s. Here she is, gloriously and gloriously pre-nose job, opposite the ultimate sheygets himself, in Dirty Dancing‘s best scene (that’s right I said it).

U.S. Destroys Iranian Force

Islamic Republic fails to put up much of a fight

USA Basketball dominating Iran.(Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

With four players scoring double-digits (and with the Minnesota Timberwolves’s Kevin Love stepping up for 13 points and 6 rebounds in only 11 minutes), the United States national basketball team crushed Iran’s 88-51 in the preliminary round of the 2010 FIBA World Championships, in Turkey. 33 of Iran’s 51 points were scored by just two players, Hamed Haddadi and Arsalan Kazemi, proving that just maybe the Islamic Republic’s main threats are located in a relatively small number of reachable places.

Especially since Israel did not qualify, I think it’s safe to say that Tablet Magazine’s official 2010 FIBA World Championships team just cruised to a 4-0 record and will play (and defeat) Tunisia tomorrow in the final game of the preliminary round. Make Kevin Love, not war!

The Queen of Wasilla

Conservatives see Palin as the new Esther


From Vanity Fair’s blockbuster new profile:

The e-mail came from pastor Lou Engle, a prominent right-wing activist who identifies himself as a prayer warrior and is a central figure in dominionist theology. (Dominionists believe that, until Jesus Christ returns to earth, society should be governed exclusively by God’s law as revealed through a literal reading of Scripture.) In the e-mail, Engle compared Palin to the biblical Queen Esther. “This is an Esther moment in your life,” he wrote. “Esther hid her identity until Mordecai challenged her to risk everything for such a time as this. Your identity is ‘Sarah Barracuda.’ Esther removed corruption from the Persian government and Haman fell. She didn’t have experience, she had grace and favor. Sarah, don’t hide your identity tonight.”

(In case you’re wondering, this makes John McCain Ahasuerus and William Kristol Mordecai. Haman is obviously Obama. Oh and Vashti is Joe Lieberman, clearly. Except Obama won, right? Now I’m confused.)

More broadly, the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate has been reaching out to Jews by hosting Jews for Sarah Shabbat dinners. “Meeting Sarah Palin turns out to be not the kind of celebrity thrill one experiences by meeting, say, a member of the Rolling Stones,” Benyamin Korn writes. “My wife and I found her unpretentious and gracious both, with an un-politician-like sincerity.” Me, I just want to know how you kept your dinner down! Ah, I’m just playing. (No I’m not.)

“Maybe it’s not just Palin’s right-wing politics that gets secular Jews so riled up,” wonders John Podhoretz. “Maybe it’s also that Palin, that idiot [his word, not mine!], may actually know more about Judaism and feel no discomfort about emulating Jewish traditions and Jewish particularism in the way that they seem to.” Or maybe it is that she tried to become the vice president despite being as qualified for the job as you or I? Or maybe it is that her right-wing politics differ markedly from the left-wing politics of secular Jews who are left-wing, as opposed to the secular Jews who are right-wing whom Podhoretz seems to think don’t exist? Anything is possible!

Sarah Palin the Sound and the Fury [VF]
Sarah Palin Celebrates Shabbat and Offers Echoes of Esther [NY Sun]

Our Favorite Senator Backs Park51

Utah’s Hatch says owners have right to build

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).(Wikipedia)

Here’s man bites dog for you: A prominent, conservative Republican senator has come out strongly against blocking the planned lower Manhattan Islamic center. “If the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so,” the senator said, adding, “there’s a huge, I think, lack of support throughout the country for Islam to build that mosque there, but that should not make a difference if they decide to do it. I’d be the first to stand up for their rights.”

Who is the senator? It’s Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), last seen in these digital pages singing about Hanukkah. In addition to his respect for private property, Muslims, the Constitution, and everything else, Hatch cited past instances in which his Mormon faith has been threatened with similar discrimination.

Because it’s been nine months since it was last in your head … here’s “Eight Days of Hanukkah”!

Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

Republican Orrin Hatch Stands Up For Cordoba House [TPM]
Related: Eight Days of Hanukkah [Tablet Magazine]

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.