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Edenic Camp Opens Upstate

First Jewish green summer solace

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Today marks the opening of the ambitiously named Eden Village Camp, in Putnam Valley, New York (about 50 miles north of the City, in Putnam County). Billing itself “The Green Dream of Jewish Summer Camp,” it says it is a “first-of-its-kind non-profit Jewish environmental overnight camp for 3rd –12th graders.”

According to an email blast, the camp benefited from a competitive $1.1 million Foundation for Jewish Camp and Jim Joseph Foundation grant; the site and a $1.6 million renovation from UJA-Federation of New York; Natan; and hundreds of individual donors.

Israel’s Top Diplomat

Lieberman is F.M., but Barak may as well be

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Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Secretary of State Clinton last week.(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Here’s a further wrinkle to the Israeli government’s already byzantine coalition politics: While Prime Minister Netanyahu needs Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu to shore up his right flank at home, abroad he needs to project a more moderate image; and so, reports the Forward’s Nathan Guttman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak—leader of the more moderate and venerable Labor Party, and a former prime minister—is Israel’s de facto top diplomat.

When Lieberman traveled stateside earlier this month, he stayed in New York, mostly buttering up the Russian Jewish community (as Allison Hoffman reported). Barak headed to Washington, D.C., and met with top officials.

Adds Guttman:

Washington’s warm embrace of Israel’s defense minister stands in stark contrast to the public display of chill that came out of the White House during Netanyahu’s last two visits, which were both scheduled in the evening, without photo-ops or press availabilities. Then, there is the almost nonexistent contact that administration officials have had with Lieberman, Israel’s actual foreign minister.

But it is not just U.S. difficulties with these two officials that puts Barak in his current role. According to David Makovsky, director of the project on the Middle East peace process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Obama administration is actively attracted to work with Barak in particular, because he is seen as someone who “understands that time is not on Israel’s side” when it comes to negotiations with the Palestinians.

Israel’s Stealth F.M.: Barak, Not Lieberman, Tasked With Weighty Issues [Forward]
Earlier: Lieberman Nixes Palestinian State in ’12
Lieberman, in New York, Meets With Russian Jews

Today on Tablet

Jewish gangleader, Mideast roundtable, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Lee Smith gives his column to some friends—including Elliott Abrams and Robert Malley—to opine about the Obama administration’s work in the Mideast so far. More tomorrow! Dvora Meyers profiles Benjy Melendez, a descendant of conversos who in the ‘60s founded the violent South Bronx street gang the Ghetto Brothers but now places his religion, which he interprets only from the Tanakh, in the center of his life. Last night, the Three Weeks, which culminate in Tisha B’Av, began; here is everything you need to know. The Scroll always wants to know!

Which Squad You Should Root For

Now that the U.S. is gone from the World Cup

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The Dutch team celebrates. Go Orange!(Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

There are eight teams left in the World Cup Finals. Which should be Tablet Magazine’s official team, since Tablet Magazine’s original official team was defeated Saturday? Let’s have a look at the nominees:

Uruguay. Harbored Nazis after the war.

Ghana. They (in soccer, a side are described with plural verbs) defeated Tablet Magazine’s official team, so by a certain logic they now claim that mantle. Plus, they have John Pantsil, who in the last World Cup waved an Israeli flag after scoring a goal, in honor of his then-team, Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Argentina. Harbored Nazis.

Paraguay. Harbored Nazis. Harbors Hamas.

Netherlands. Compared to most other Western European countries (ahem, France?), they resented Nazi persecution and slaughter of their Jews. Plus, Anne Frank lived there!

Germany. I mean.

Spain.

Brazil. You can’t root for Brazil: That’s like rooting for the Yankees or the Lakers! Plus, they harbored Nazis.

For now, Tablet Magazine is officially supporting the Netherlands, which is playing Brazil, and Ghana, which is playing Uruguay, both on Friday. We’ll revisit the matter after the quarter-finals. Happy watching!

Earlier: U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Daybreak: Spies Targeted Jewish Donor

Plus Kagan discusses Chinese food, and more in the news

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Spy target Alan Patricof.(Portfolio.com)

• A confirmed target of that Russian spy ring was Alan Patricof, a (Jewish) venture capitalist who is close with Secretary of State Clinton and a prominent Democratic fundraiser, particularly in New York. [Politico]

• Turkey says it won’t appoint a new Israeli ambassador until Israel apologizes for the nine civilian deaths aboard the flotilla. [WP]

• When asked at her confirmation hearing where she was on Christmas Day (when a man tried to bomb an airplane), Elena Kagan replied: “Like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.” [JPost]

• President Obama and Saudi King Abdullah met at the White House. The topic of Israel was broached, though there were no breakthroughs. [WP]

• Thomas Friedman praises the West Bank state-building led by Prime Minister Fayyad and suggests that, when they meet next week, Obama urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to cede certain cities to the P.A. [NYT]

• Following hard upon his 25th anniversary on the show, Larry King is closing up Larry King Live, whose ratings have been in decline. He will remain a CNN contributor. [NYT]

Sundown: Drake Smacks Down Matisyahu

Plus, what’s new with the Palestinians, and a Talmudic inquiry

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• Drake, the rising Canadian Jewish star of hip hop, told Jimmy Kimmel last week exactly how he felt about that other Jewish hip-hop guy, Matisyahu: “He’s so blatantly Jewish, with the payes, and the hat.” Piped up Kimmel: “It’s like a costume!” This would be the place to point out that rappers have not historically eschewed the wearing of costumes—though to be fair, Drake showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in what appeared to be a baby-blue Christmas sweater. But Drake, isn’t that a costume if you’re Jewish? [Heeb]

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen argues that Hamas is inflicting more harm on the people of Gaza than Israel is: “Maybe the blockade ought to end—but so, too, should anyone’s dreamy idea of Hamas.” Mr. Cohen, are you trying to take away my lovely Hamas dreams? What’s next, bunnies? [WaPo]

• The AP takes a look at Mahmoud Abbas’ new strategy of cozying up to American Jewish leaders. [AP]

• As we noted this morning, the Three Weeks begin tonight, which means, for many observant Jews, no music. Do Simon and Garfunkel get an exemption?

How To Punish Anti-Semitism

Hate a Jew, get a sandwich

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(Flickr)

The Riverfront Times, St. Louis’ alt-weekly, has happened upon the perfect sentence-cum-education-session for anti-Semitic offenders: Send ‘em to a deli! “As part of his court-ordered punishment for alleged anti-Semitic remarks during a traffic stop, Mel Gibson recently paid a visit to Protzel’s Deli,” the paper writes, tongue firmly in cheek, in its best-of issue.

His sentencing included sampling a smorgasbord of Protzel’s classic deli sandwiches: corned beef, pastrami, brisket, tongue, whitefish salad, reuben. When he asked, “Do these come on white bread?” security guards tensed, but the Protzel family simply continued loading a platter with knishes and kosher pickles. Gibson was then asked to identify by sight and smell delicacies including kugel, challah and gefilte fish, and culinary curios such as Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda.

Guys, we can build on this.

Don’t forget to debate St. Louis’ best deli in the comments. Hell, let’s open it up to the entire Midwest. I hear Manny’s is pretty good.

Protzel’s Delicatessen [Riverfront Times]

Lemon Squeeze

An old Jew tells a joke

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In the words of Jay-Z, this might offend our political connects.

Lieberman Nixes Palestinian State in ‘12

Inside Israel’s insane coalition politics

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Foreign Minister Lieberman last month.(Maya Hitij - Pool/Getty Images)

The big news out of Israel today is Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s declaration, “I’m an optimistic person, but there is absolutely no chance of reaching a Palestinian state by 2012.” Keep in mind that much-beloved (though also controversial) Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has floated the notion that, in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority will have developed enough of an infrastructure to declare unilateral independence by the end of 2011. “We will make every effort to reach a solution because time is not on anyone’s side,” was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s indirect response to Lieberman’s statement.

The other context in which to understand Lieberman’s comments is Israel’s complicated coalition politics. (more…)

Nachman Gets a Stamp

Rabbi is subject of forthcoming Nextbook Press book

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The new stamp.(Vos Iz Neias?)

Israel issued a new stamp to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. The Rav’s Hasidic followers make a pilgrimage to his grave, in Uman, Ukraine, every year; the stamp itself is based on a painting by the current Breslov rabbi, who in turn based it on a 1922 photograph of mourners.

Nextbook Press’s Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratzslav and Franz Kafka, by Rodger Kamenetz, drops in October.

New Stamp Honors Rabbi Nachman of Breslov [Ynet]
Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratzslav and Franz Kafka [Nextbook Press]

Boca Survivors to Get More Reparations

But what about their neighbors who freed them?

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The entrance to the Lodz ghetto.(Wikipedia)

As many as 16,000 Holocaust survivors in Boca Raton—the south Florida city where your parents or grandparents probably live—may be eligible for additional pensions from Germany after a German court ruled that applications to receive compensation for slave labor in the ghettos should be “liberalized.” Florida agencies will receive nearly $4.5 million from a German fund this year as a result of the ruling—a whopping 40 percent increase from last year.

I am all in favor of reparations for survivors—especially since, scandalously, one in four American ones lives below the poverty line. That said, I found it interesting that Col. Ellis Robinson (Ret.), a longtime Jewish Boca resident and (if I may say so) truly spectacular grandfather, is not also eligible for some Holocaust-based cash. The colonel was not a survivor of the camps; rather, as an officer who landed at Normandy, freed Paris, fought in the Ardennes, and crossed the Rhine at Remagen under General Patton, he helped free them.

So, I asked the colonel: Why isn’t he getting some cash now for his services?

He responded in an email: “Was glad to do it … FREE OF CHARGE.”

Former Nazi Slave Laborers Seek Payment from Germany [South Florida Sun Sentinel]
16,000 Floridians Get a Shot at Holocaust Pensions [UPI/Vos Iz Neias?]

Today on Tablet

The Jews’ Jesus, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, contributing editor Robin Cembalest looks at depictions of Jesus in contemporary Jewish art, with an accompanying slideshow. In 1967, the Egyptians and the Soviets failed to halt Israel’s full nuclear development; Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez ask if Israel and the United States can learn from these countries’ mistakes vis-à-vis Iran. Books critic Adam Kirsch finds many extenuations for belief in God in a new anthology of liberal Jewish theology. The Scroll thinks it is very Jewish to disagree on what it means to be Jewish.

Top Rabbi

Chabad’s Krinsky is number one; and 49 more

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Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, center, late last year.(Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

Mazel tov to Yehuda Krinsky, whom Newsweek named the most influential rabbi in America in its annual list. The Chabad-Lubavitch leader—“the contemporary face of the Hasidic branch”—improved on his number 4 showing in last year’s list. Coming in second is Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the head of the Reform movement, who jumped an impressive six spots from last year. (Yoffie recently announced that he will retire in two years.) Rounding out the top five are Martin Hier, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Mark Charendoff, of the Jewish Funders Network; and the politically-minded David Saperstein (who was last year’s number one), of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

A special in-the-family pat on the back to Joseph Telushkin, who held steady at spot 15. Telushkin’s biography of Hillel is being published by Nextbook Press in September.

Some more notable winners (and some losers) from the list—which is the brainchild of Sony Pictures’s Michael Lynton and “his pal” Gary Ginsberg, and which is strictly subjective—after the jump. (more…)

Daybreak: A’jad Sets New Obstacles to Talks

Plus Russian intelligence, and more in the news

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Boris, Natasha, and Fearless Leader.(Wikipedia)

• As “punishment” for the new sanctions, Iranian President Ahmadinejad put onerous new conditions on further nuclear talks. [LAT]

• Turkey has banned IDF flights in its airspace and will not invite Israel to its military exercises. [NYT]

• Elena Kagan vowed to be a “modest” and “deferential” justice during the first day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings. [NYT]

• Israeli police announced the April arrest of seven Palestinian men accused of plotting attacks against Jews and Christians in Israel, Somalia, and elsewhere. [NYT]

• Not clear yet if there’s a Jewish angle, but holy crap Russian spies! [NYT]

• The “Three Weeks” of mourning begin tonight; it marks the day the Babylonian king entered Jerusalem on his way to destroying the Temple (the first time). [Arutz Sheva]

Sundown: The Anti-Zionism of the Muslim Liberals

Plus Rabbi Schneier steps out, and more

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Rabbi Marc Schneier, ladies’ man.(Foundation for Ethical Understanding)

• Columnist Jackson Diehl argues that the Obama administration’s relative silence on human rights and its distancing from Israel has made anti-Zionism (sometimes with an anti-Semitic edge) the go-to rhetorical device for Muslim democrats who otherwise might be important American allies. [WP]

• A profile of the American Council for Judaism, which urges the separation of church and state—church being the synagogue and the state being Israel. [NYT]

• Onetime Labor Party minister Yossi Beilin argues that Jordan should be allowed to enrich its own uranium. [NYT]

• Barry Rubin argues that the Obama administration, wittingly or not, is propping up Hamas’s rule in Gaza. [JPost]

• Marc Schneier, the impeccably first-named rabbi to the stars, is splitting from his fourth wife; he has been seen around town with a woman a couple decades his junior. [Page Six]

• Walter Shorenstein, a presidential adviser, top Democratic donor, and prominent San Francisco real estate maven, died at 95. [NYT]

A teaser trailer for The Social Network, the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg), has dropped. If it feels a bit like Aaron Sorkin wrote the thing, well, um, he did!

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