Column Subject Enters the Comment Thread

Our cyberbullying article attracts L.A. father

(Photoillustration: Len Small/Tablet Magazine; photos: iStockphoto)

A funny thing happened in the comments section of Marjorie Ingall’s column yesterday, in which she and Liel Leibovitz argued over a recent case involving a school suspension over cyberbullying. Evan Cohen—the father who sued his daughter’s Los Angeles school for suspending her for posting a mean video about a classmate on YouTube—waded into the fray. And then Marjorie and Liel stepped in, too, and, well, it pretty much goes from there (40 comments and counting).

You should check out the whole conversation, and even contribute—but be civil, please. Evan Cohen’s defense is after the jump.


Killing Hitler

An old Jew tells a joke


Inglorious Basterds, the comedy.

How Does Kristol Do It?

Guy’s on like 80 million boards, which all say the same thing

William Kristol.(Fox News)

“When intellectuals cannot do anything else,” Dissent founder Irving Howe once quipped, “they start a magazine.” Similarly, when hawkish, predominantly Jewish foreign policy experts who are friends with or indeed are Bill Kristol cannot do anything else, they start a think tank. You can trace this back pretty far—to 1993’s New Citizenship Project (chaired by Kristol), which gave birth to the Project for the New American Century (also chaired by Kristol); he didn’t found the Ethics and Public Policy Center, but he serves on its advisory board, as well as that of Elizabeth Cheney’s Keep America Safe.

Which brings us to March of last year. Then, Kristol co-founded the Foreign Policy Initiative, whose goal is to promote, among other things, “robust support for America’s democratic allies and opposition to rogue regimes that threaten American interests.”

Which brings us to yesterday, when—who else?—Kristol co-founded the Emergency Committee for Israel, which “seeks … to educate the public about the serious challenges to Israel’s security and about what elected officials in this country are doing,” which is to say, it seeks to support a democratic ally and oppose the rogue regimes that threaten it. (more…)

Farmar Heads to Jersey

And Scheyer could play for another Evil Empire

Farmar battles for the ball in the 2010 NBA Finals.(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jordan Farmar—currently the only Jewish NBA player who is not the Sacramento Kings’ Israeli forward Omri Casspisigned a three-year, $12 million contract with the New Jersey Nets. This is exciting for several reasons:

• It brings him to the Tristate Area (Jewish Heritage Night every night!);

• The Nets were, literally, the league’s worst team last season, which means Farmar will get much more playing time than he did on the Los Angeles Lakers, which were, literally, the league’s best team last season;

• Next season is the first season that the Nets will not be playing in the inconvenient Meadowlands, but instead at the much-more-accessible stadium in downtown Newark;

• If things go according to plan, the Nets will be playing in a brand-new Brooklyn stadium while Farmar is still under contract;

• The Nets’ owners are a Russian billionaire playboy and the biggest hip-hop star of all time.

Meanwhile, undrafted Duke graduate Jon Scheyer has signed on to play summer ball with … the Miami Heat. Yes, that Miami Heat. (more…)

Today on Tablet

Hebrew month, two letters


Today in Tablet Magazine, we’re giving you the whole day to work on Ethan Friedman’s Av-themed crossword puzzle, because you’re going to need it. And The Scroll is going to need the whole day to cover all the crazy stuff going on in the news.

’Til Burial Do Us Part?

A Brooklyn temple seeks an interfaith cemetery

Prague’s famous Jewish cemetery.(Flickr)

A bidding war over a Brooklyn cemetery could end up providing a local solution to a much more widespread conundrum: Where should the members of interfaith families be buried?

On July 15, the New York State Cemetery Board will decide who can purchase and develop Canarsie Cemetery. The bidders include two other Brooklyn institutions: Cypress Hills Cemetery and Green-Wood Cemetery. If Green-Wood gets the 13-acre land, they plan to designate a portion of plots for Congregation Beth Elohim, a Reform temple in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, which hopes to create a place where interfaith couples can be buried. (more…)

Daybreak: Conversions Bill Moves Closer to Law

Plus IDF cleared on flotilla, another boat approaches, and more in the news

The Libyan-sponsored ship, docked in Greece.(Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)

• The controversial conversion bill passed parliamentary committee yesterday. One American rabbi warned that it “delegitimizes most of American Jewry.” [WP]

• The IDF’s probe into the flotilla incident found several errors, notably of intelligence, but ultimately determined it was justified in killing the nine civilians under the circumstances. [NYT]

• Meanwhile, the IDF prepares for a Libyan-sponsored humanitarian boat, with the Foreign Ministry urging it to wait to interdict the boat until it reaches Gaza’s territorial waters. [Haaretz]

• An Iranian nuclear scientist who mysteriously disappeared from Saudi Arabia last year turned up last night at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, D.C., which houses the Iranian interests section. [Laura Rozen]

• Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), Syrian-Israeli peace mediator? [JTA]

• Israel is on a record-setting tourism pace this year. [JTA]

Sundown: Yet Another Israel Group

Plus yet another mah-jongg article, and yet more

Mah-jongg tiles.(Wikipedia)

• There’s a new hawkish group, the Emergency Committee for Israel. “We’re the pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community,” says Bill Kristol, who is involved, as is former McCain adviser Michael Goldfarb. [Politico]

• This is literally an article about five Jewish women from the Five Towns and how they like to play mah-jongg. [NYT]

• The ethics of transgender dating in the Orthodox community. [NYT Magazine]

• New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that investigating the planned mosque at Ground Zero would be un-American. [AP/Vos Iz Neias?]

• That guy is totally wearing a Yom Kippur on his head! [Jezebel]

• Congratulations to Susan Cernerk and Robert Giampietro. Rob helped design our site! [NYT]

Some perverbs for the evening.

Apple Briefly Bans App Over Jewish Joke

A pretty funny one, too!


Here’s a fun story we got wind of. Apple, which is notorious for banning applications from its iPhone store for arbitrary (or worse) reasons, initially barred a joke-telling application called “The Comic Fortune Cookie.” According to Rick Cipes, proprietor of Outrageous App, Apple singled out one joke, a particularly Jewish one, for constituting “objectionable content.” “I fired off a rant, with a lot of explanation points, basically saying how this joke has been in circulation for 50 years,” Cipes e-mails, “and I am former journalist who is going to stop at nothing and make their lives miserable until they reversed their decision, blah, blah.” Anyway, all’s well that ends well: You can download the app, for free, onto your iPhone or compatible iPod.

Wait, what’s that? You want to hear the joke itself? The old Henny Youngman favorite is after the jump. (more…)

Fugs Co-Founder Kupferberg Passes

The brilliant, acerbic Tuli was 86

Tuli Kupferberg.(Steve Ben Israel)

More sad news today: Tuli Kupferberg, the classic counter-cultural figure who achieved greatest fame for co-founding the satirical band The Fugs, has died at 86. This according to journalist Jon Kalish, who heard the news from a neighbor of Kupferberg’s.

Earlier this year, Kalish profiled Kupferberg on our Vox Tablet podcast series. Though blind, Kupferberg was then preparing the release of a new Fugs album and continuing to update his YouTube page with his “Daily Perverbs.”

Kupferberg was born to a Yiddish-speaking family in New York. He quickly disowned the Jewish religion (he was reportedly expelled from Hebrew School), but was deeply engaged with Jewish and Yiddish culture until the end, Kalish reported.

According to his Wikipedia page, Kupferberg is the person who, in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, “jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown”—except it was the neighboring Manhattan Bridge.

On the podcast, you can hear excerpts from several of Kupferberg’s songs. One goes like this:

Backwards Jewish soldiers
Strolling back from war
Hug your Gentile brothers
As you’ve done before
Presidents and premiers perish
Empires rise and fall
But hearts of all compassion
Still might save us all

Related: Fugging Around [Tablet Magazine]

The ‘Rabba-Rouser’

‘New York’ profiles Avi Weiss

Rabbi Avi Weiss in 2005.(New York)

Weiss, of the Bronx’s Modern Orthodox Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (and Newsweek’s 18th most influential American rabbi) made waves earlier this year when he granted the brand-new title of “rabba” to Sara Hurwitz, the woman he had ordained the previous year under the (also brand-new) title of “maharat.” New York‘s feature does two things especially well: It shows how Weiss’s controversial move was the re-naming of the position, from maharat to rabba, rather than the ordination itself (the Orthodox organization Agudath Israel has called him a “rabba-rouser”); and it situates this latest provocation in the 64-year-old Weiss’s four-decade career of pushing the envelope.

Weiss’s stands mostly concerned matters like the Soviet refuseniks and the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. However, author Abigail Pogrebin, a Tablet Magazine contributor, adds, “Within the Orthodox community, Weiss has been equally disruptive, agitating for what he calls an ‘open Orthodoxy,’ which he believes can be inclusive without breaching the tradition’s stringent parameters.”

The Rabbi and the Rabba [NY Mag]
Earlier: Top Rabbi

Harvey Pekar Dies

Comic book writer was ‘poet laureate of Cleveland’

Pekar last year.(Chronicle-Telegram)

R.I.P. Harvey Pekar. The Jewish comic book writer whose autobiographical series, American Splendor, was made into a 2003 film starring Paul Giamatti, has died at 70. There are no details on the cause of death; Pekar was known to have suffered high blood pressure, prostate cancer, and other ailments.

In what was probably his final published work, at least while alive, Pekar and collaborator Tara Seibel wrote and drew a strip in the latest Jewish Review of Books.

Here is Pekar meeting television host Anthony Bourdain in what must be remembered as his natural habitat: A homely-but-charming, snowbound neighborhood of Cleveland.

Police: Cult Comic Book Writer Dead at 70 in Ohio [AP/WP]
Cleveland Comic Book Author Harvey Pekar Dead at 70 [Chronicle-Telegram]

Today on Tablet

Singing of Babylon, cyber-bullying, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Jewlia Eisenberg, whose band Charming Hostess has made music inspired by ancient Babylonian Jewish bowls, is the guest on this week’s Vox Tablet podcast. Marjorie Ingall gives roughly half of her parenting column to her editor, Liel Leibovitz, as the two of them—the media expert and the mom—debate the inevitability (or not) of cyber-bullying. Josh Lambert provides his weekly round-up of Jewish books of interest, including a new biography of Saul Alinsky and the latest from Tablet Magazine contributing editor Rachel Shukert. Finally, The Scroll has its daily round-up of just about everything.


Obama backs Bibi on direct talks

Netanyahu and Obama last week.(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s been quite some time since the U.S.-Israeli relationship felt like the old normal. But after last week, which featured Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Oval Office photo-op—not to be confused with March’s secretive and desperate and frank conversation, nor early June’s almost-meeting which was cancelled when the flotilla happened—it seems that Netanyahu and President Obama have reached some sort of equilibrium. Frenemies, call them.

It would be foolish to believe that the bad blood between the two men, the product of specific events to occur on their watches as well as each man’s opposing politics and temperaments, has simply gone away. One doesn’t see Obama inviting Bibi to a White Sox game the next time he’s stateside; and as for a trip to Israel, well, that’s not in the cards this year. But, as you know if you have a frenemy (and who doesn’t?), you may distrust your frenemy, or worse, on the inside; but to the outside world, and for all practical effects, your frenemy is basically your friend. (more…)

Daybreak: Polanski Is A Free Man

Plus Lebanon simmering, and more

Roman Polanski last year.(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

• The Swiss government denied the U.S. extradition request for filmmaker Roman Polanski, who survived the Krakow ghetto. Switzerland blamed its lack of access to confidential testimony related to his sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. [LAT/AP]

• The U.S. and Israeli Reform and Conservative movements are furious at today’s vote on a bill that would give exclusive conversion authority to Israel’s Chief (Orthodox) Rabbinate. [Haaretz]

• Lebanon reinforced its troops in its south with 5,000 more. [WP]

• Meanwhile, Lebanese newspapers are reporting that the July 2006 conflict with Israel is “not over.” [Ynet]

• In a move that resembles 1979’s “morality police,” the Iranian regime is sending 1,000 clerics to Tehran schools to enforce against political dissent. Last month, the teaching of music was banned in Iranian schools. [NYT]

• Congratulations to España, which won the World Cup yesterday in its first-ever final game appearance. [ESPN]

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