Sundown: Jihard

Plus Mathis requests God’s forgiveness, and more

Johnny Mathis.(

• Name Fox News’ imaginary Ground Zero Muslim gay bar! Oh and here is the winner. [The Daily Dish]

• Former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) dies in a plane crash; AIPAC mourns him and his “steadfast commitment to America’s alliance with the Jewish state year after year.” [JTA]

• After initially refusing it, New York City buses will bear an anti-Cordoba House ad juxtaposing a plane flying toward the burning Twin Towers with the proposed Islamic Center. [Ynet]

• Richard Cohen takes noted hipster periodical The Economist to task for eliding Sayyid Qutb’s rampant anti-Semitism. [WP]

• Thomas Friedman chastises Nicholas Kristof in public, in secret. [Jeffrey Goldberg]

• From here on out, The Scroll will refer to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as “the bouncer from Kishinev.” [Foreign Policy]

Johnny Mathis will receive an award from the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation in commemoration of his 1959 recording of “Kol Nidre.” Here it is:

LeBron Consults Shady Kabbalist Rabbi

In related news, I hate LeBron

LeBron and Rabbi Pinto, holding hands.(TMZ)

Capping off a summer of brilliant PR moves, LeBron James has hired Rabbi Yishayahu Yosef Pinto, a Hebrew-only-speaking, 37-year-old rabbi-to-the-minor-stars who also may be a sketchy businessman who may also have been somewhat involved in the suspicious death of a wealthy Bobover Hasid real-estate maven. Apparently James paid Pinto six figures for “spiritual guidance” during a merchandising meeting. This is sort of like the whole Amar’e Stoudemire thing, except without the charm and good intentions. Nice Yankees shirt, by the way.

King James Goes Old Testament, LeBron Hires Rabbi [TMZ]
Related: Charismatic Moroccan Kabbalish Draws Crowds and Questions [Forward]
Earlier: Celebrity Rabbi Maybe Related to Death

Klezmer Is Popular Again!

Hentoff sends collection skyrocketing


Never doubt the power of the printed word. On Saturday, the legendary Nat Hentoff raved over a 3-CD set of classic Yiddish tracks called Cantors, Klezmorim and Crooners 1905-1953 in the Wall Street Journal. (“A typical lyric: ‘What an improvement in our lives. No more problems, never harried. We are happily unmarried. I am a boarder at my wife’s.’ ”) Two days later, on Monday morning, the set had leaped to number 4 overall on (in between James Taylor and Cheryl Crow, for your information).

With due respect to Mr. Hentoff and Amazon’s hive mind, though, Tablet Magazine has long been on the case. In November, music columnist Alexander Gelfand reviewed the set. “It’s enough,” he wrote, “to give you some sense of the tremendous diversity of Jewish cultural expression during the 78 era, which stretched from the late 19th century—a full 25 years before the advent of radio—to the early 1950s, a span that saw the efflorescence of Yiddish theater, the rise of ‘hebe’ dialect humor, and the eager engagement of a rapidly assimilating immigrant community with American culture at large.”

And last month, Marissa Brostoff noted that one of the singers featured on the set, Moishe Oysher, is having a moment of his own.

Listen to an excerpt from “Chasidic in America” from the collection. Yes, the dude is singing, “Oy vey!”

Klezmer Comp Makes Amazon’s Top 5 [Variety]
Time-Travelers From a Golden Age [WSJ]
Related: Treasure Trove [Tablet Magazine]
Singing Sensation [Tablet Magazine]

The Rabbi Is In

Ask Joseph Telushkin your questions

(Random House)

In a moral quandary? Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Nextbook Press’s forthcoming Hillel: If Not Now, When?, will help you find the answers just in time for the High Holidays. Send your questions to by August 28, and the rabbi will answer the most compelling submissions in Tablet Magazine before Yom Kippur.

Hillel: If Not Now, When? [Nextbook Press]

Israeli Minister Mocks To-Be-Deported Kids

Shas chairman refers to ‘field trip’

Interior Minister Yishai last month.(David Buimovitch/AFP/Getty Images)

Last Friday, Liel Leibovitz reported in Tablet Magazine on the Israeli government’s plans to expel approximately 400 children of illegal foreign workers. “It is hard to exaggerate the wickedness of this decision, and its fundamental negation of both the spirit and the letter of Judaism,” Liel argued. He made a convincing case—not only for the policy’s cruelty, but for its impracticality, and finally for its betrayal of what Zionism should be.

Liel persuaded me. But there are probably reasonable people who could differ with him.

There is reasonable, though, and then there is Eli Yishai. The chairman of the ultra-religious Shas Party, as interior minister Yishai is actually in charge of effecting these kids’ deportations. So what is his response? “The children need to be told that their field trip has ended,” he said yesterday. “Is one of them going to stand up and cry?”

Presumably Yishai is cranky—or, if you will, being an asshole—because the 400 deportations actually represent a compromise: He had wanted an additional 800 kids to be forced out.

Yishai: The Field Trip Is Over for Foreign Workers’ Kids [JPost]
Related: Strangers in a Strange Land [Tablet Magazine]

Today on Tablet

The origins of Islam, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Patricia Crone reviews a new book that argues that, at its outset, Islam was a religion unusually tolerant of other faiths. Books critic Adam Kirsch takes on the famed Herman the Jew. It’s a new (Jewish) month, so Ethan Friedman has a new (Jewish) crossword. The Scroll always strives for limited ecumenicism.

The Top 10 Jewish-American Athletes

Why now? Why not now?

Sandy Koufax holding one ball for each of his no-hitters.(Jewish Journal)

Honorable Mention: Amar’e Stoudemire

10. Kerri Strug
9. Al Rosen
8. Sarah Hughes
7. Barney Ross
6. Benny Leonard
5. Dolph Schayes
4. Sid Luckman
3. Mark Spitz
2. Hank Greenberg
1. Sandy Koufax

Daybreak: Aid to Lebanon Threatened

Plus Barak and Bibi compete with commissions, and more in the news


• Powerful U.S. lawmakers appear serious about halting further military aid to Lebanon in the wake of last week’s border skirmish. [WSJ]

• U.S. envoy George Mitchell is in the region to push talks. For a day. [JPost]

• Lebanon is preparing to accuse 150 people of spying for Israel and to present its case to the U.N. Security Council. [JPost]

• Israeli worries nixed the U.S. sale of a long-range missile system and certain other military toys to Saudi Arabia, though F-15 fighter planes will still change hands. [Ynet]

• In his testimony before the Turkel Commission, Defense Minister Ehud Barak demonstrated a heroic level of knowledge of the details of the military’s flotilla operation. [Haaretz]

• After U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon raised the possibility of involving the IDF in the brokered flotilla probe, Prime Minister Netanyahu threatened to back Israel out. [Arutz Sheva]

Sundown: Bibi on The Flotilla Fiasco

Plus Ashton visits Abraham, and more

Netanyahu testifying today.(Ronen Zvulun - Pool/Getty Images)

• Before Israel’s internal Turkel Commission, Prime Minister Netanyahu testified that top Turkish officials were uninterested in cooperating to stop the Gaza Flotilla. [NYT]

• Ashton Kutcher traveled to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, drawing the ire of the left-wing blogosphere. He was in the area as a guest of the Kabbalah Center of Tel Aviv, drawing the ire of everyone else. [Promised Land]

• Britain’s chief rabbi said he was “dismayed” by Prime Minister David Cameron’s comparison of Gaza to “a prison camp” in front of a group of Turkish businessmen. [JPost]

• Thomas Friedman encourages “constructive criticism” of Israel that does not shirk from holding it accountable while recognizing the realities of its regional context. [NYT]

• An important rabbi in the Religious Zionist movement banned overdrawing from bank accounts, something to do with not collecting interest. Plus you know they always get you with those fine-print fees. [Ynet]

• Vox Tablet interlocutor Francine Prose calls Hans Keilson a “genius” and his two reissued novels “masterpieces.” (Adam Kirsch reviewed them last week.) [NYT Book Review]

Today is the 15th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death.

‘Mazel Tov to A-Rod!’

Your inevitable fake Amar’e Twitter feed


The First Law of Twitter Dynamics states that any authentic celebrity Twitter feed produces an equal and opposite parody Twitter feed. And so Amar’e Stoudemire’s @Amareisreal—which he used to document his recent sojourn in the Holy Land—has in its way given birth to @Amareisntreal. I don’t want to spoil it for you; it’s well done enough (and short enough) that you should give it a quick read.

Earlier: Amar’e Stoudemire’s Excellent Adventure

Why Not To Name Your Child After Hitler

And the long, broken tradition of Jewish Adolphs

Harpo Marx.(Wikipedia)

Here is a tip, based on the recent experience of New Jersey couple Heath and Deborah Campbell: If you name your child Adolf Hitler, the authorities will take him away from you. Here is a further tip: If you would like to name your child Adolf Hitler and would not like the authorities to find out and take him away from you, do not ask the local supermarket to make a birthday cake with his full name on it.

Incidentally, one of Hitler’s more overlooked crimes (justifiably, sure) is that he turned a perfectly good German first name into something unacceptable. Jews named Adolph (apparently they tended to choose the “-ph” over the “-f”?) included such luminaries as Adolph Ochs, who bought the New York Times and whose Sulzberger family owns the paper to this day; Adolph Gottlieb, a top abstractionist painter; and Adolph Marx, known to you and me as Harpo. Reports of Adolf Eichmann’s Jewishness, on the other hand, are greatly exaggerated.

N.J. Parents Lose Custody of Adolf Hitler [JTA]

Cantor Moves Against Lebanon Aid

Top Jewish GOPer cites last week’s incident

Lebanese soldiers last week.(Ali Diya/AFP/Getty Images)

Prompted by last week’s Lebanon-provoked skirmish, which left dead two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist, and an Israeli reserves officer, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), the second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives and the only Jewish Republican federal lawmaker, announced that he will seek to block $100 million in planned U.S. funding to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Noting the $720 million in military aid since 2006, Cantor said, “The days of ignoring the LAF’s provocations against Israel and protection of Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon are over. Lebanon cannot have it both ways.”

Last week, in Tablet Magazine, Maariv columnist Yoav Fromer made much the same argument: That the “calculated risk” of U.S. military aid to Lebanon—it is intended to shore up the central government, bring stability to the tenuous multiethnic nation, and tamp down Hezbollah’s influence—is being used against Israel. “About 60 percent of the Lebanese army and a third of its officer corps are Shiites,” Fromer wrote,

whose communal champion is Hezbollah. In case of another Hezbollah war with Israel—an ever-increasing possibility—it seems highly improbable that thousands of Shiite soldiers deployed throughout southern Lebanon and well equipped with brand-new U.S. weapons will sit still, as U.S. policymakers have assumed. Instead, what Tuesday’s events suggest is that they will pick up their U.S. weapons, and turn them against one of the closest U.S. allies.

Congressman Cantor Backs Halt to U.S. Military Aid to Lebanon [Arutz Sheva]
Earlier: What Happened in the North

Zakaria Returns ADL Award in Protest

Plus Muslims in the DoD, under the bed, and perhaps elsewhere

Fareed Zakaria.(Wikipedia)

The Cordoba House news over the weekend (besides the Times report that it is far from the only mosque drawing opposition in the country) was that, prompted by the mosque flap, Fareed Zakaria, the prominent columnist, editor, and television host who was brought up in a secular Muslim Indian family, returned a First Amendment-related award that the Anti-Defamation League had given him in 2005. “I cannot in good conscience hold onto the award or the honorarium that came with it and am returning both,” he wrote Abraham Foxman in a public letter. “I hope that it might add to the many voices that have urged you to reconsider and reverse your position on this issue.”

Generally, opponents of the ADL’s stance applauded the move and proponents tsk-tsked it—the ADL described itself as “saddened, stunned and somewhat speechless.” Andrew Silow-Carroll provides a different take: That, instead of cutting ties with the organization, Zakaria should have used the leverage he had with it (due to his award) in order to try to persuade it, from within, to change its mind.

Meanwhile, contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg notes that we actually have far bigger fish to fry than an Islamic center near Ground Zero; there are Islamic prayer sessions in the Pentagon. How dare Muslim soldiers and officers pray in such a similarly hallowed place while going about their daily business of protecting the rest of our asses from further attacks?

CNN Host Zakaria Returns ADL Award Over Mosque [JTA/Jewish Chronicle]
Zakaria and the ADL: Mosque Madness! [Just ASC]
Muslims Infiltrate Pentagon! Judeo-Christian Civilization Collapses! [Jeffrey Goldberg]
Related: Across Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Opposition [NYT]

Today on Tablet

An urban bumpkin, Shukert reads, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall visits the age-old debate: City or suburb? In today’s Vox Tablet podcast, contributing editor Rachel Shukert reads from her new memoir, of her time in Europe during her 20s, called Everything Is Going to Be Great. As always, Josh Lambert offers his weekly preview of forthcoming books of interest. And, equally as always, The Scroll will be serving it up all day.

Engaged to the End

Tony Judt dies at 62

Tony Judt.(NYT)

Tony Judt, the brilliant left-wing public intellectual and New York University professor, died Friday evening. Born to a family of London Jews in 1948, he gained perhaps broadest fame in the final year of his life, which saw him continue to produce some of his best intellectual work as well as branch out, beautifully, into the category of first-rate memoir, all while rapidly dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

One imagines him most remembered for those memoirs; for his magnificent studies of mid-20th-century French intellectuals, Past Imperfect and The Burden of Responsibility; and for what was by all accounts his hefty masterpiece, 2005’s Postwar. (For my money—and for yours, too, if you are a New York Review of Books subscriber or an owner of his 2008 collection, Reappraisals—his best essay was his homage to Leszek Kolakowski, his intellectual hero.)

Additionally, Judt will be remembered as perhaps the most eloquent advocate of a so-called one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. More precisely, in an extremely buzzed-about 2003 NYRB essay, “Israel: The Alternative”, he predicted that the failure of the Oslo peace process (for which he blamed both sides), continued Israeli settlement-building, and demographic trends would lead either to ethnic cleansing or to a single state. The one-time enthusiastic Zionist had declared the Zionist dream, essentially, dead. “The very idea is an unpromising mix of realism and utopia, hardly an auspicious place to begin,” he argued of the bi-national state. “But the alternatives are far, far worse.” (more…)

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