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Don’t Forget What’s On Sunday

Hint: Call your mother!

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Sylvia Fine, a.k.a. The Nanny’s mother.(Wikipedia)

Mother’s Day is Sunday! (Consider yourself reminded. You’re welcome.) By pure coincidence, although probably not, last month Real Housewife of New York Jill Zarin published a maternally themed book called Secrets of a Jewish Mother.

Honestly, though—that is, not only because she’s my boss—what you really should read is Tablet Magazine Editor Alana Newhouse’s 2007 obituary for the Jewish Mother. Alana writes:

Between the 1920s and ’70s, the Jewish Mother emerged as a hallmark of American humor, a nearly foolproof ingredient for comedic success. As the bridge between the piety of Old World roots and the allure of New World desires, she embodied the essential conflict—and thus comedic potential—of acculturation. In her early years, she ruled every medium in American popular culture, with starring roles in the first family sitcom on both radio and television (Gertrude Berg’s Meet the Goldbergs) and in Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, the first feature film to include spoken dialogue. Indeed, the “historic first sound in any film,” as Antler notes, was a conversation between a Jewish mother and her child.

But the Jewish Mother’s career recently hit a rough patch from which she seemed unable to recover (see: Drescher, Fran). Although eyewitnesses have reported seeing small audiences of nervous WASPs giggling at the my-son-the-doctor!-would-it-kill-you-to-put-on-a-sweater?-oy-vey routine, critics and advocates alike agree that the past decade has seen almost no new, genuinely funny jokes about the Jewish Mother. …

… many real-life American women today are actually parenting like the stereotype, earning denigration as hover mothers, helicopters, smother mothers and more. The stereotype isn’t a stereotype anymore: We’re all Jewish mothers now.

And it’s not funny.

And, on that note, happy Mom’s Day! Promise I’ll comb my hair.

Secrets of a Jewish Mother [Amazon]
Jewish Mother, R.I.P. [Forward]

Daybreak: Guess Who Invited Us To Dinner?

Plus Clegg primed for power, and more in the news

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Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki earlier this week.(Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

• Iran’s foreign minister hosted diplomats have all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council—including a U.S. representative (though not the top one)—for dinner at the Iranian mission’s Fifth Avenue house. [WP]

• In Britain, the Conservative Party gained a plurality but not a majority of seats—opening the door to a coalition government with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats (and a Lib Dem-run, maybe less Israel-friendly Foreign Ministry). [NYT]

• Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren is insisting to everyone that the lack of cameras or ceremony when Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the White House in March was, in fact, not a snub. [JTA]

• Because of increased building, particularly in Jerusalem, conditions on the ground have never been more challenging for establishing an eventual peace, according to a report. [WP]

• In Jerusalem, “there was not one party on Thursday but two”: The Palestine Writers Festival and the International Writers Festival of Israel both took place. [NYT]

• Max Palevsky, who amassed a fortune funding the start-up that became Intel and later was one of America’s biggest political fundraisers, died at 85. [NYT]

Sundown: West Bank Fire Was Intentional

Plus Pinsky and the Boss, and more

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The Boss.(Wikipedia)

• Israeli officials concluded that a fire at a West Bank mosque earlier this week—which the Palestinian Authority blamed on Jewish settlers—in fact likely was caused by arson. [AP/Haaretz]

• Later this month, Netanyahu will become the first Israeli prime minister to visit Canada since Yitzhak Rabin. [Arutz Sheva]

• Manhattan’s Union Square will be the site of a massive Sukkah competition this September. [Sukkah City]

• More on the new Dubai Murder Mystery suspects: One is an Israeli citizen who is wanted in New Zealand for passport fraud. [Haaretz]

• A New York-style deli settles down in the relatively exotic realm of … Tel Aviv. [Forward]

• Tonight, the unofficial poet laureate of New Jersey Bruce Springsteen and the onetime official poet laureate of the United States (and Nextbook Press author) Robert Pinsky will discuss Pinsky’s poem “Jersey Rain”. You get three guesses as to which state this event is taking place in. [INJersey]

‘And my machine, she’s a dud/She’s stuck in the mud/Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.’

Diagnosing Jerusalem Syndrome

It really does exist!

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Homer in Jerusalem.(IGN TV)

Jerusalem Syndrome is actually a real thing. Visitors (and, less frequently, locals) really do occasionally find themselves believing they are characters from the Bible or messengers from God. Most frequent sufferers? Protestant tourists from the United States and Scandinavia. But Jews are not immune, either.

So whence the disorder? “Those who succumb are unable to deal with the concrete reality of Jerusalem today,” wrote the Israeli psychiatrist who coined it.

A gap appears between their subconscious idealistic image of Jerusalem and the city as it appears in reality. One might view their psychotic state and, in particular, the need to preach their universal message as an attempt to bridge the gap between these two representations of Jerusalem.

So, basically, if you go to Jerusalem wanting to make the imperfect city into a perfect utopia, then you suffer from Jerusalem Syndrome? Sounds a lot like George Mitchell to me! Ba-zing!

Jerusalem: The City That Drives People Mad [JTA]

I Want A Divorce!

An old Jew tells a joke

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Holy hell.

Latin Immigrants Are The Twelfth Tribe

And we have an official NBA team!

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Amar’e Stoudemire, in ‘Los Suns’ jersey, last night.(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Those who oppose Arizona’s notorious new immigration law have argued that it is unconstitutional; discriminatory against all immigrants; and especially draconian when it comes to Latinos and Latin-Americans. In one of the most dramatic (and attention-grabbing) shows of protest, last night the NBA’s Phoenix Suns wore jerseys that said “Los Suns” in their playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs (they won).

Whatever my personal views, I felt The Scroll should not take a position on the law so long as it did not directly affect the Jews. But! Suns forward Amar’e Stoudemire disabused me of my people’s innocence on Twitter yesterday (via Deadspin). Quoth Amar’e:

Stoudemire’s Twitter handle, incidentally, is Amereisreal, which is one quick letter switch away from Amare Israel. Clearly one of the NBA’s great philo-Semites.

And you know what that means, folks? The most prominent Jewish baller whose team remains in the playoffs is Los Angeles Laker guard Jordan Farmar. But I think that the Phoenix Suns are now Tablet Magazine’s official NBA team!!! (They even have the same orange hue as our official NCAA team, the Tennessee Volunteers.) ¡Vaya Suns!

Amar’e Is Against Arizona’s Immigration Bill Because The Jews Have Suffered Enough [Deadspin]

Daniel Handler Mixes A Drink

Getting ready for Dawn 2010

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Daniel Handler will be among the presenters at Dawn 2010, the Tablet-sponsored late-night cultural arts festival going down in honor of Shavuot on the evening of Saturday, May 15 in San Francisco. Handler, who is best known for writing the A Series of Unfortunate Events books under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket, will be presenting on cocktails. In fact, it’s entirely possible he’ll be drinking them, too. He told me:

Bryan Ranere, bartender extraordinaire, will be joining me onstage as we examine the intersection between Jewish culture and cocktail culture, by presenting various Jewish issues and anxieties and mixing the cocktail that will allay them. Volunteers from the audience will be invited onstage to sample the cocktails and the anxieties. I never like to promise that a good time will be had by all, but I will promise that I will have a very, very good time.

When asked if he’s ever stayed up late on Shavuot to study before, he replied, “To ‘study’? I can’t tell if that’s a euphemism.”

Well, first time for everything, then! He is most looking forward, he said, to “swooning in the presence of Sandra Bernhard, lurking in a corner with Gary Shteyngart, and seeing if I recognize anyone from Camp Swig.”

Israel Refuses Entry to Famed Clown

And Spain isn’t laughing

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An unhappy clown.(Flickr)

Ivan Prado might be “the most famous clown in Spain”—whatta title!—but that wasn’t enough to prevent Israel’s security force from barring his entry to Israel. Prado arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airpot last month along with a female “Spanish national of Arab origin,” with plans to travel to Ramallah for an international clown festival (!). After interviewing him and his companion repeatedly about possible connections to terrorist organizations, Shin Bet decided to refuse their entry to the country. It’s now turned into a minor diplomatic incident with Spain.

Shin Bet Deports Spain’s Most Famous Clown Upon Arrival in Israel [Haaretz]

Today on Tablet

Lights, camera, funding, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Staff Writer Marissa Brostoff reports on the battle to fund the annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in light of money shortfalls and a controversial documentary about the dead pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie. Shalom Auslander knows which other daily activity most resembles writing, and it ain’t pretty. Ellen Umansky profiles Alain Cohen, a Tunisian-Jewish chef who has set up a popular kosher joint in L.A. The Scroll desperately wants to try his (presumably non-pork) andouille sausage.

Typical American Jews Speak About Israel

Why did NYT reporter schlep to Michigan?

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The New York Times today did what it does every month or two and published an article about Jews that is all but guaranteed to shoot to the top of its Most Emailed list (if it hasn’t already). This one is about a familiar topic: The disconnect between American Jews and Jewish-American institutional leaders on the subject of Israel. The leaders have vociferously criticized the Obama administration for its harsh treatment of Israel in the past couple months; but many American Jews find themselves agreeing with the criticisms and aligning with upstart J Street, prominently featured in the article. While Obama’s approval rating has probably plummeted among the leaders, it has been basically constant among all American Jews. The article reports:

A newly outspoken wing of Israel supporters has begun to challenge the old-school reflexive support of the country’s policies, suggesting that one does not have to be slavish to Israeli policies to love Israel.

The article concerns all American Jews, but it is datelined “FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich.” In other words, the Times’s religion correspondent traveled to this Detroit suburb for the piece. He gathered a focus group consisting of non-participating members of Birmingham Temple, a secular humanistic synagogue there, in order to ask them about Israel and get a response from “the demographic middle.” I was curious why the author went here, and not somewhere else. Are Farmington Hills and Birmingham Temple representative of American Jews generally? Unrepresentative? Turns out, probably a bit of both. (more…)

Daybreak: Bibi and George Break Bread

Plus a new Dubai murder development! and more in the news

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Netanyahu and Mitchell yesterday.(Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv via Getty Images)

• Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. envoy George Mitchell met yesterday (and will meet today) to discuss the proximity talks’ ground rules. President Abbas will have his chance to agree to them Saturday. [WP]

• Sorry I missed this yesterday, but an editorial notes that the administration’s pressure on Israel accomplished little to nothing, and calls on it to focus on getting the two sides talking to each other. [WP]

• British elections are today. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg tells a reporter that he cares deeply for British and Israeli Jews; is against cultural sanctions and Britain’s participation in Durban 2; but also questions the Gaza blockade. [Haaretz]

• There are five more suspects in the Dubai murder of Hamas weapons man Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, so 32 total. Plus, there might be a New Zealand connection! [WSJ]

• Comments from the new head of the International Atomic Energy Association seem to presage a firmer stance on Iran. [WP]

• The Czech Republic’s foreign minister told President Peres that Israel should follow Czechoslovakia’s two-state lead. Oh, okay! [JPost]

Sundown: NYT On The Jews. Discuss.

Plus the Jordan Riverbed, and more

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The Jordan River.(Flickr)

• Four people have probably already emailed this to you, but the Times reports on the Israel-related disconnect between American Jews and American-Jewish institutional leaders. The article fails to mention J Street, though. Just kidding! [NYT]

• In a similar vein, J.J. Goldberg argues that the silent majority of American Jews is getting drowned out. [Haaretz]

• An environmental group warns that the stretch of the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea is in danger of drying out. Between Israel, Jordan, and Syria, 98 percent of river water is diverted. [JTA]

• Yuri Foreman: The ESPN profile. [ESPN]

• Prime KO, a Japanese joint on the Upper West Side “where kosher aspires to be cool,” opens. [City Room]

• Jewish Funds for Justice, which initiated a Gulf Coast charity after Hurricane Katrina, is asking for donations related to the oil spill. [Jewish Funds for Justice]

Check out Deputy Editor Gabe Sanders’s interview with Chilean-American author Ariel Dorfman from the PEN festival.

What To Say Before Eating Turkey

For when you can’t recall the right brucha

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An iBless Food screenshot.(Macworld)

Yup, for that, too. iBless Food is an iPhone application that tells you which Jewish prayer to say before eating a given type of food. And lets you hear ‘em!

I want an app that tells me to just say the Motzi and be done with it.

What’s The Blessing for Sushi? There’s an App for That … iBless Food [appModo]

Marital Relations

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A sex joke, but not too dirty. At least in the usual sense.

The Ties That Bind

Where the U.S.-Israel alliance remains strong

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Gates and Barak, best friends forever!(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

U.S.-Israel relations have been a bit of a roller coaster of late. First, after the East Jerusalem settlement announcement coincided with Vice President Biden’s visit, things went way down; now, following the “charm offensive,” they seem to be back up. And who knows what tomorrow will bring.

However, notes a valuable Wall Street Journal report, throughout this whole time, relations between the two countries’ defense and intelligence establishments have been consistent—consistently improving. The United States is selling Israel ever more sophisticated military technology. Intelligence-sharing has increased, particularly where halting Iranian arms shipments is concerned. And Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are basically BFFs at this point.

Three main factors explain the close cooperation:

• Even if you buy into the concept of “linkage” (and Tablet Magazine’s Lee Smith believes you shouldn’t), the two countries’ interests, particularly vis-à-vis Iran and its proxies in Damascus and Hezbollah, remain largely aligned.

• A stable region depends on the perception that the United States has Israel’s back; if Israel appears overly weak, that is more likely to invite attacks from its enemies.

• Israel is less likely to take military action against Iran—which many U.S. military and diplomatic leaders don’t want to see happen—if it feels its security is guaranteed by America.

The two-track nature of the alliance is reminiscent of what happened a couple months ago, while Israel was sustaining a bad bout of P.R. due to the general belief that it had assassinated Hamas weapons man Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. No matter what the diplomats were saying, it seemed pretty clear that military and (especially) intelligence ties wouldn’t suffer. And, apparently, they didn’t.

U.S.-Israel Ties Remain Intact [WSJ]
Related: Linked In [Tablet Magazine]

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