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Sundown: Goldstein Versus Goldstone

Plus kids in government, Nimoy’s exit, and more

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• Richard Goldstone responds to an article in which South Africa’s chief rabbi Warren Goldstein wrote that he believes the judge should be able to attend his grandson’s bar mitzvah despite the fact that “he has done so much wrong in the world,” saying: “I was dismayed that the chief rabbi would so brazenly politicise the occasion.” [Business Day]

• The legendary Leonard Nimoy, 79, announced his retirement from show business. [Before It's News]

• The Christian Broadcasting Network features an interview with photojournalist David Rubinger, who has documented much of Israel’s history and describes the face of the first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion as “Like granite.” [CBN]

• Israel’s national museum unveiled a restored Renaissance-era Hebrew manuscript documenting Jewish law and adorned with gold and gems. [AP]

• Los Angeles’s South Robertson Neighborhood Council has elected Orthodox 15-year-old Rachel Lester, the youngest elected public representative in the city. [JTA]

• Virginia has recalled a license plate reading “14CV88,” allegedly a coded reference to Hitler. That may sound paranoid, but check out the photo of the truck that boasted it. [AP via VIN]

Has a New Flood Drowned the Land

Your daily poetry fix

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In 11th century Spain, where the great Hebrew poet Yehuda Halevi composed many of his masterworks, poetry was, for the educated classes, the language of everyday life. In his biography of Halevi, published this year by Nextbook Press, Hillel Halkin describes the young Halevi improvising poetry (about the pleasures of wine, of course) in a busy tavern—which, Halkin explains, would not have been an unusual way to spend an evening. “If calling an age ‘poetic’ refers, not to some supposed collective sublimity or imaginativeness of mind, but, more mundanely, to the widespread use of poetry in ordinary life as a medium of communication and social exchange, the young man was born in one of the most historically poetic of ages,” Halkin writes. “Poems were an everyday vehicle for the expression of emotion; for the sending of messages and requests; for the carrying of news from one encampment to another; for the recording and remembering of unusual events; for the wooing of the opposite sex; for the enhancement of celebrations; for the flattering of authority; for the vaunting of one’s exploits; for the praising of one’s friends and the derogation of one’s enemies, and the like.”

21st century America is a little bit different. For most of us, poetry is something outside of the everyday—but to celebrate National Poetry Month, Tablet is trying to be a bit more like medieval Spain by including a Halevi poem, in Halkin’s new translation, on the Scroll each afternoon. In today’s poem, Halevi speaks of the traumatic suddenness of his departure from Spain when he set out for Jerusalem: “I had no time to kiss my friends or family a last farewell.” Enjoy your daily drink of Andalusian wine below—or download and print out a pocket-sized version here. Plus, check out a bonus poetry feature from our archives, and don’t forget to enter Nextbook Press and Tablet Magazine’s Yehuda Halevi poetry contest!

Has a new Flood drowned the alnd
And left no patch of dry ground,
Neither bird, beast, nor man?
Has nothing remained?
A strip of bare sand
Would be balm for the mind;
The dreariest plain,
A pleasure to scan.
But all that is seen
Is a ship and the span
Of the sea and the sky, and Leviathan
As he churns up the brine,
Which grips the ship as the hand
Of a thief grips his find.
Let it foam! My heart bounds
As I near the Lord’s shrine.

Indian Princess

An old Jew tells a joke

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A step up from “pull my finger.”

Hitler at Fault for More of Our Problems

Book blames Nazis for Islamic anti-Semitism

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Hitler at the opening ceremonies for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.(Getty Images)

Although, as Liel Liebovitz wrote in his article on Hitler as internet meme (a phenomenon that may be a thing of the past, as the production company behind Downfall, the much-spoofed film that sparked the trend, has filed copyright claims and removed most videos from YouTube), “we know—we feel!—that there could never really be another Hitler to terrify and enrage us so purely as the original once had,” more evidence continues to stoke our furies against the one true Führer.

In his recent book Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, Jeffrey Herf claims that “The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians would have been over long ago were it not for the uncompromising, religiously inspired hatred of the Jews that was articulated and given assistance by Nazi propagandists and continued after the war by Islamists of various sorts.” One example comes from a 1942 message broadcast to the Middle East in which Hitler announced: “Your only hope for rescue is the destruction of the Jews before they destroy you!” The transcript for this and 6,000 other broadcasts were held as classified by Washington until 1977, and two years ago Herf became the first scholar to examine them.

Roots of Islamic Fundamentalism Lie in Nazi Propaganda for Arab World, Book Claims [Telegraph]

Tablet Now Available on Kindle

Read us everywhere you go!

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(Photoillustration by Tablet Magazine; photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)

If you’re anything like us, you want to read Tablet all the time: on the subway, in the bathtub, everywhere you happen to be. And now—hallelujah!—you can: Tablet is now available on Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader. For a small monthly fee, you can subscribe to our RSS feed, and get all of our articles and features delivered straight to your hands, looking as sharp and beautiful as ever. Even better, the feed will update any time we post new content to the site, so you’ll never miss anything. Technology, we tell you, is a wonder. Click here to make it happen.

Brainstorming the Future of British Jewish Life

Help the homeless, save the planet, and note history of fish and chips

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Fish and chips, which apparently Jews introduced to the United Kingdom.(iStockphoto)

The British Jewish Chronicle asked some locals for suggestions on improving the community. A few of the ideas fit right in with the trends of the moment—one rabbi suggests a comprehensive online community, another proposes the Sabbath as an example of green living. One writer made us groan with his suggestion that we put more emphasis on our food and embrace a “Jews did it first!” attitude: “Fishmongers should remind us that it was Jews who first brought fish and chips to the UK.” But a few voices brought up some intriguing innovations.

Journalist Keren David wants to see synagogue membership fees replaced by a “communal income tax” to support social services, education, cemeteries, and other needs. She cites Amsterdam as an example, where, she says, Jews who opt in “are charged a proportion of their annual income to join—three per cent for the richest members, less for lower incomes.” Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, sees a sukkah/homeless shelter/soup kitchen in London’s Trafalgar Square: “Could we take a symbol of our own homelessness, and turn it into a shelter for those who need no symbolic reminders of what it means to have no home?” Keith Kahn-Harris, another research expert, envisions taking the trend toward multi-denominational Judaism a step further and incorporating members of other religions: “Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and others should collaborate to build a space that can serve for worship and community activities. This would allow different groups to pool resources, and improve the often strained relations between religions.” While this is a cool idea, and not entirely without precedent, his acknowledgment that “There would, of course, be difficulties in making this kind of community” may be understating the case.

But to us, the most striking idea comes from Neil Bradman of The Centre for Genetic Anthropology, and it’s more of a plea than a suggestion. Bradman laments the disparity between rabbinical dictates and the actual lives of Jews. We are all too familiar with the tendency of religiously inclined folks to say one thing and do another behind closed doors, and even growing up in a rabbinical family, we vividly remember “parking around the corner” at synagogue to avoid the appearance of breaking the Sabbath. “Let us strike a blow for honesty. If this is the way we wish to live, let us appoint rabbis who say it is acceptable to do so,” writes Bradman. “It is a game of ‘we pretend to respect you and you pretend to be respected’. It is unhealthy and it breeds hypocrisy.” Here, here.

We Need to Transform the Community. This is How. [JC]

Degenerateness is in the Eye of the Beholder

New site from Berlin documents the fate of art condemned by Nazis

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After eight years of research, Berlin’s Free University has just launched a new internet database of more than 21,000 artworks declared “degenerate” by the Nazis. 1937, the Nazis seized art they found “contrary to Aryan ideals” from German museums and displayed it shoddily along with “racist slogans denigrating the artists for ‘insulting German womanhood’ and revealing ‘sick minds.’” Artists of these condemned pieces include Marc Chagall, Max Beckman, and Wassily Kandinsky. Wherever possible, the site will offer information on a work’s siege, and, if it survived, let viewers know where it ended up.

We’re not sure whether the archive will include film, as the English version hasn’t yet launched (but should be coming soon). In the meantime, a glimpse into the delightfully “degenerate” world of filmmaker Hans Richter in his piece “One More Ghost Before Breakfast,” the original sound version of which was destroyed by the Nazis:

‘Degenerate Art’ Database Shows 21,000 Works Seized by Nazis [Bloomberg]

On Tablet Today

Tastes and TV from Israel, the meaning of mikvahs, and more

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Ze’ev Avrahami recalls his and his neighbors’ evacuation from the Israeli settlement Yamit in the Sinai in 1982. Joan Nathan leads a food tour through Israel—including swank spots for sweetbreads, a Bedouin cooking school, and the outdoor market Mahane Yehudah—and shares some recipes. Allison Kaplan Sommer reports on Hatufim (Prisoners), a controversial Israeli television show about returning POWs. Ruth Ellen Gruber explores a new exhibition on mikvahs (Jewish ritual baths) in Austria, which marks the reopening of the country’s oldest mikvah. And of course, we promise to keep you entertained here on The Scroll.

Daybreak: Mideast Conflict a Boon to Iran?

Plus rockets, rejection, and more in the news

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Gen. James Jones, the national security adviser, at the White House last month.(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

• President Obama’s security adviser called attention to an ulterior motive/critical impetus for resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians—it’s strengthening a nuclear Iran. [Haaretz]

• Bernard Simon, who served as public relations director for B’nai B’rith International for 20 years and was held hostage when the organization was seized by radical Muslim group in 1977, died this week at 89; his son, David Simon, is the creator of HBO’s The Wire and Treme. [WPost]

• A rocket apparently aimed at Eilat in southern Israel exploded in Jordan; officials are examining possible origins. [Ynet]

• This may sound familiar, but Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has “officially rejected” Obama’s demand to suspend construction in east Jerusalem, just in time for the latest visit from U.S. envoy George Mitchell. [AP]

Sundown: Unkosher Jews and a Kosher Christian

Plus one gate opens and another closes in Jerusalem

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(iStockphoto)

• In the Los Angeles version of the NYC eatery Traif, a Jewish chef and his partner have opened a new restaurant called Animal in Fairfax, a heavily Orthodox neighborhood, where “they manage to incorporate pork into pretty much everything.” [New Yorker (subscription only)]

• Also in confusing news from L.A., the Jewish Journal interviews mega-pastor Joel Osteen (who doesn’t eat pork!). [JJ]

• The Jaffa Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City has been reopened after two months of renovation as part of a $4 billion project, which, shockingly, has caused tension between Israel and the Palestinians. [AP]

• Elswehere in that city, despite a Jewish tradition that it’s good luck to give money to the needy at the Western Wall, security forces have resorted to posting pictures of known panhandlers for exclusion from the area, where they have been gathering in increasing numbers. “[W]e already know them by heart. Some people even dream about them from time to time,” said one guard. [Ynet]

• Gay Israelis struggle with ways to start a family, with increasing numbers turning to U.S. women as surrogate mothers. [MinnPost]

Zion! Do You Wonder

Your daily poetry fix

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In 11th century Spain, where the great Hebrew poet Yehuda Halevi composed many of his masterworks, poetry was, for the educated classes, the language of everyday life. In his biography of Halevi, published this year by Nextbook Press, Hillel Halkin describes the young Halevi improvising poetry (about the pleasures of wine, of course) in a busy tavern—which, Halkin explains, would not have been an unusual way to spend an evening. “If calling an age ‘poetic’ refers, not to some supposed collective sublimity or imaginativeness of mind, but, more mundanely, to the widespread use of poetry in ordinary life as a medium of communication and social exchange, the young man was born in one of the most historically poetic of ages,” Halkin writes. “Poems were an everyday vehicle for the expression of emotion; for the sending of messages and requests; for the carrying of news from one encampment to another; for the recording and remembering of unusual events; for the wooing of the opposite sex; for the enhancement of celebrations; for the flattering of authority; for the vaunting of one’s exploits; for the praising of one’s friends and the derogation of one’s enemies, and the like.”

20th century America is a little bit different. For most of us, poetry is something outside of the everyday—but to celebrate National Poetry Month, Tablet is trying to be a bit more like medieval Spain by including a Halevi poem, in Halkin’s new translation, on the Scroll each afternoon. Today’s poem is an ode to Jerusalem that, Halkin points out, several centuries later was a favorite of the Jewish-born German Romantic poet Heinrich Heine. Enjoy your daily drink of Andalusian wine below—or download and print out a pocket-sized version here. Plus, check out a bonus poetry feature from our archives, and don’t forget to enter Nextbook Press and Tablet Magazine’s Yehuda Halevi poetry contest!

Zion! Do you wonder how and where your captives
Are now, and if they think of you, the far-flocked
remnants?
From north and south, east, west, and all directions,
Near and far, they send their greetings
As I send mine, captured by my longings
To weep like Hermon’s dew upon your mountains.
Mourning your lowliness, I am the wail of jackals;
Dreaming your sons’ return, the song of lute strings.
My heart stirs for Peniel, and for Bethel, and all those
places
With their pure traces of God’s presence, where your
gates,
Facing the portals of the highest heavens,
Stand opened by your Maker. You He illumines
Not with the sun, or moon, or stars, but with the rays
Of His own glory. Gladly I would choose
To pour my soul out where your chosen ones
Stood in a downpour of God’s effluence.
You are the throne of the Lord, His royal house –
How then are slaves enthroned in your lords’ houses?
If only I could wander past the way points
Where God appeared to your appointed and your
seers,
And, flying to you with a bird’s wings,
Shake woeful head, remembering the throes
Of your dismemberment, my face
Pressed to your earth, cherishing its soil and stones –
Yes, even so, the graves of patriarchs.
Wondrous in Hebron at your choicest tombs,
I would cross Gilead, and Carmel’s woods,
And stop to marvel at your lofty peaks
Across the Jordan, on which, illustrious,
Lie buried the two greatest of your teachers.
Your very air’s alive with souls;
Your earth breathes incense and your rivers
Run with balm. I would rejoice
To walk with my bare feet, in tatters,
Upon the ruins of your Sanctuaries,
In which, before it was removed from us,
The Holy Ark stood guarded by its Cherubs
Posted at the innermost of chambers –
And then, all worldly pomp cast off, I’d curse
The fate that did defile your peerless pilgrims.
How could I eat or drink, seeing the dogs
Make off with the remains of your proud lions?
How find the daylight sweet when my two eyes
Were forced to witness crows feast on your eagles?

Enough, desist from me, O cup of sorrows,
Drained to the dregs of all its bitterness!
Zion! God’s love, combined with Beauty’s grace,
Has bound to you the souls of all Your friends,
So that they joy when you’re at peace
And weep when you’re all wounds and wilderness.
Imprisoned, they yearn for you, each from his place
Turning to bow in prayer to your gates –
Your many flocks, dispersed to distant hills
Yet ever mindful of their vows
To re-ascend to you and reach your heights,
As the palm tree, rising above all else,
Is scaled by the bold climber. Who compares
To you? Not ancient Babylon, nor Greece:
What are all their empty oracles
Beside your Prophets and the breastplates of your priests?
The heathen kingdoms lapse, collapse, and pass,
But you remain forever, crowned for the ages.
God makes His home in you: Blesséd are those
Who dwell with Him, residing in your courts.
Blesséd is he who comes, and waits, and sees
The rising sun illuminate your dawns,
In which your steadfast share the happiness
Of your lost Youth, restored as it once was.

Did Mike Bloomberg Declare Hitler’s Birthday Jewish Heritage Day?

Nope, despite confused media alert

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(Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Yesterday’s square on the calendar of Jewish symbolism was fully booked. It was Hitler’s birthday, a date many of us might prefer not to be aware of but which has sunk into our collective consciousness as a dark, smoky holiday of sorts. This year, it also happened to be Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day.

So why would New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg decide to also proclaim the date Jewish American Heritage Day, as a media alert from organizers of Jewish American Heritage Month announced?

Turns out, he didn’t.

A spokesman for the mayor, after initially confirming the proclamation, finally and definitively stated that no such announcement was made. “The only proclamation we have is about May being Jewish American Heritage Month,” said Evelyn Erskine in the mayor’s press office.

“It was just a miscommunication,” Abby Schwartz, the national coordinator of Jewish American Heritage Month, said when contacted by Tablet Magazine. She’d also announced the apparently nonexistent proclamation at a press event yesterday at a Manhattan synagogue. “We were having the event that day and somewhere along the line it got miscommunicated about Jewish American Heritage Day,” Schwartz told Tablet. “That is not accurate and I recant it.”

Biographer Followed in Subject’s Footsteps

Hillel Halkin tells Liel Liebovitz of his ‘Halevian’ decision

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Hillel Halkin, author of Nextbook Press biography of Yehuda Halevi, talked to Tablet’s own Liel Liebovitz for Alef, the new online magazine from Birthright NEXT. Halevi, says Halkin, along with being a poet, physician, and philosopher, was “the first Diaspora Jew to insist that life in Exile was so psychologically and morally intolerable that it had to be abandoned at all costs.”

Halkin describes his own decision to move to Israel from the U.S. in 1970 as “very much a Halevian one.” Although he wasn’t nearly as familiar with his future subject then, looking back he can’t help but relate: “For Halevi, living in the Land of Israel was a matter of inner necessity. It was something he had to do for his own integrity, and the failure to do it left him feeling incomplete and inconsistent. Judaism was for him above all a religion of action—and living in the Land of Israel was the ultimate act, the abstention from which undermined the meaning of all else.”

Interested in hearing more? Halkin’s book tour begins tomorrow. Check out the schedule here.

Jerusalem Bound [Alef]

‘This Is How Jews Interact’

The ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’ reunion

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As we’ve mentioned, the Matchmaking mamele is leaving sunny LA and bringing her Sophie Portnoy act to New York, where she faces an uphill battle against the city’s lopsided single female-to-male ratio. But on last night’s reunion episode, she revealed a potential strategy: imports. In a little exchange with Justin Shenkarow, the former child actor she dubbed the “angry Hobbit,” Stanger announced that she thought Shenkarow would be a hit in Manhattan. “It’s the land of the Jewish midget!” she exulted to Bravo’s ever-cheerful interlocutor, Andy Cohen. Shenkarow, beamed in via Skype, responded with a bit of Oedipal drama, calling Patti “a hairy troll.” Cohen warned him that insulting Patti might not make her more inclined to find him a date. “Oh, no,” Shenkarow replied, in a reassuring tone. “This is how Jews interact.”

So, really, that’s it until next season. But if you’re jonesing for a fix, check out this little red-carpet interview, in which Patti reveals her plans to go after the Arab-royalty market, where multiple wives mean multiple commissions.

Click here for previous coverage of this season’s Millionaire Matchmaker.

Israelis Freak Out Over iPad Ban

Local techies see the device as akin to food, shelter

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(David Gannon/AFP/Getty Images)

A lot of people are really pissed off by Israel’s iPad ban, although we ourselves are kind of excited that it occasioned this sentence, from Time: “Not since Adam and Eve has the appearance of an Apple in the Holy Land caused such uproar.” One El-Al stewardess who had her device confiscated may have been overstating the case when she said, “I feel as though I live in a fourth-world country,” as though being deprived of a computer that doesn’t even have a keyboard were akin to scrabbling for berries in the jungle.

Israel’s stated reason for the ban is that the iPad “does not conform to the European standards used in Israel.” A technology attorney put it well, calling the excuse “really annoying. It was a nonsense explanation.” Some have speculated that the real cause might be the protection of the monopoly of iDigital, “Apple’s sole official Israeli importer,” owned by President Shimon Peres’s son, or concern that the fancy computer might interfere with military frequencies.

One techie fears ominous implications: “Now it’s the iPad. What’s next?” The way we see it, Israel is just protecting its citizens from the early adopter curse, as defined by Rob Walker in the New York Times Magazine: “What these people are likely to get for their consumption daring is a chance to experience every single glitch or flaw that will be tweaked and patched in the months ahead. Also the guarantee that they’re paying full price.”

Techie Mystery: Why Did Israel Ban the iPad? [Time]

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