Everything’s Coming Up Moses!

Come see Tablet’s Passover musical


Come one, come all—or at least as many as can fit into the Laurie Beechman Theatre—next Thursday, March 25th, for the debut performance of Everything’s Coming Up Moses. The (mostly) original musical, presented by Tablet Magazine, comes from the truly unique brain of contributing editor Rachel Shukert. There’s no possible way I could improve upon the description the Beechman gives:

Lift the staff! Part the sea! We got nothing to do but be free! Everything’s Coming Up Moses is a musical retelling of the Exodus as seen through the larger-than-life journey of Moses, the original pushy stage mother. Through an irresistible blend of Broadway razzle-dazzle, old-fashioned show biz moxie and soon-to-be musical classics like Some Hebrews, Mose’s Turn and of course, the title number, Moses tirelessly shepherds the Children of Israel to the Promised Land—whether they like it or not.

With Broadway stars Seth Rudetsky as Moses, Matt Cavenaugh as Pharaoh, and special guest (and contributing editor) David Rakoff as God!

It’s going down at the Beechman, on 42nd St. and 9th Avenue in Manhattan. There is a $15 cover, plus a $15 food/beverage minimum (what, you should starve?). For reservations, call 212.695.6909.

Comment on Israel Is Free

Which is maybe why there’s so much of it!

Netanyahu earlier this week.(Jim Hollander - Pool/Getty Images)

Opinions! Everyone seems to have one. Can you believe, for example, that some people actually prefer vanilla to chocolate? And other people actually liked Avatar? And then there’s that whole whatever-you-want-to-call-it between Israel and the United States right now. People have opinions on that too! Here are some notable ones:

• Tablet Magazine Mideast columnist Lee Smith thinks (as he wrote on The Scroll) that President Obama’s lashing out at the Israelis only makes him look weak. [Slate]

• Tablet Magazine contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg sees in the Israeli government’s incoherence—first announcing the settlements, then apologizing for doing so—evidence that Prime Minister Netanyahu has lost control of his weak coalition. Previously, Goldberg reported that Obama is trying to shake that coalition up further so that moderate Tzipi Livni can become prime minister. And we should listen to him: he is, after all, quite close to his fellow Tablet Magazine contributing editor Barack Obama. [Atlantic]

Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy praises the Obama administration’s “tough love” for Israel. [Haaretz]

• Prominent Palestinian official and intellectual Mustafa Barghouti sees America as a “hostage” to “the last colonial system in modern history.” [LAT]

• Aluf Benn predicts that both Obama’s and Netanyahu’s reputations will take hits by the end of all this. [Haaretz]

• Fred Kaplan sees Obama’s harsh stance as ultimately more supportive of Israel than the most ardent pro-Israel cheerleading could ever be. [Slate]

• Oh, and Netanyahu’s brother-in-law thinks Obama is an anti-Semite. A Kenya-born one, no doubt. [Laura Rozen]

Tablet Wins Digital ASME For Best Podcast

You like us, you really like us!


Excuse the excitement and bragging, but we just got a text from our editors attending the Digital American Society of Magazine Editors awards ceremony, and: our Vox Tablet podcast series has won the National Magazine Award for Best Podcast! This is our first ASME win. A special congratulations to Senior Editor Sara Ivry and Audio Executive Producer Julie Subrin.

We will now be good sports and digitally shake the hands of the other excellent nominees: Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, and IEEE Spectrum.

And feel free to give a listen to those podcasts we submitted to the nominating committee. In case you haven’t heard, they’re award-winning!

“Remembrance Day”: Gregory Warner reports from Rwanda on commemorating the country’s 1994 genocide, with Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day as a template.

“The Queens of Bollywood”: Eric Molinsky discusses the early days of India’s Bollywood movie factories, when most of the leading ladies—from Rose Ezra to Ruby Myers—were Baghdadi Jews.

“Blessed Bluegrass”: Jon Kalish profiles Orthodox bluegrass musician Jerry Wicentowski, whose observance prevents him from weekend gigs, but not from virtuosic guitar work.

Earlier: Tablet is a National Magazine Award Finalist!

Did Anne Frank Tell Stories at the Camp?

Controversy over new memoir


A new memoir by a Bergen-Belsen survivor reports that her fellow prisoner distracted young children at the German concentration camp by regaling them with fairy tales. Berthe Meijer’s Life After Anne Frank casts Frank’s actions as of a piece with her remarkable (and remarkably precocious) story-telling abilities.

But now Hannah Pick-Goslar, a childhood friend of Frank’s who also survived Bergen-Belsen, has come forward to dispute the memoir’s account. “In that condition, you almost died,” she told a reporter. “You had no strength to tell stories.”

I guess I’d like to know whether this is true or not. But please let’s not lose sight of the Diary, which really does justify its considerable hype. I’m constantly amazed by how many people have never actually read it. If you’re one of them, then have I got a book recommendation for you!

Below: Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel plays his song, “Holland, 1945.”

Memoir’s Glimpse of Anne Frank Draws Skepticism [AP/NYT]
Anne Frank Told Fables To Children [AP/HuffPo]

What Petraeus Actually Said

General thinks Israel is merely one factor in region

Gen. Petraeus testifying yesterday.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

According to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Vice President Biden did not, as some had alleged, tell Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israeli settlements endangered U.S. troops. But what about the venerable General David Petraeus, who heads the U.S. military’s Central Command (which is responsible for Central Asia and most of the Middle East)? He reportedly requested that the Palestinian territories be added to CENTCOM’s purview, on the grounds that events there were intimately linked to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We don’t need to guess what exactly Petraeus thinks, because he was quite candid yesterday before a Senate committee. He disclosed that adding the territories to CENTCOM has been discussed but never formally requested. And he argued:

The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the [area of responsibility]. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world.

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hezbullah and Hamas.

In other words: Everything is connected, but Petraeus does not perceive the Palestinian conflict as having an overwhelming effect on other conflicts.

Military journalist and historian Max Boot confirms that Petraeus never made this request. Speaking to a military source, Boot reports that Petraeus really does believe what he told the committee and that he does not think the settlement question creates the U.S. military’s biggest challenges over there. “In other words,” Boot concludes, “the current crisis in Israeli-U.S. relations cannot be laid at the American military’s door.”

Is General Petraeus Behind Obama’s Dressing Down of Israel? [Contentions]
The Petraeus Briefing: Biden’s Embarassment Is Not the Whole Story [Foreign Policy]
Petraeus Throws Support to Mitchell Peace Efforts [Laura Rozen]
Earlier: Did Biden Link Israel to the Troops’ Safety?

Today on Tablet

Islamic Zionism, davening in Barbados, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Sheik Abdul Hadi Palazzi, the head of a prominent Italian Muslim organization, shows that the Quran establishes Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land—that, yes, “Allah is a Zionist.” You’re darn right there is a Barbados Jewish community: Alexander Gelfand reports. Eddy Portnoy remembers 1920s Yiddish poet Shmuel Nadler, who turned Communist, was publicly denounced by his brother, and was eventually captured and killed in Vichy. On the subject of Vichy, The Scroll would recommend The Sorrow and the Pity, but it’s currently not in the mood to see a four-hour documentary about Nazis.

Go, Vols!

Root for Bruce Pearl’s Tennesee in March Madness

Coach Bruce Pearl of Tennessee. Awesome, right?(Baltimore Sun)

The NCAA Tournament begins today. And Tablet Magazine’s official team* is playing in the final game of the day. At 9:45 p.m., the sixth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers will face the 11th-seeded San Diego State Aztecs in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Vols are our official team because they are coached by Bruce Pearl, the highest-profile Jewish college basketball coach working today. Pearl, soon to complete his fifth season in Knoxville (though hopefully not too soon!), also coached the U.S. team at the 2009 Maccabiah Games in Israel. Despite a spate of injuries, Tennessee finished the season ranked 15th in the country and third in the Southeastern Conference.

Tennessee was put in the toughest region: If they win all their games and the favorites win theirs, they’ll next play three-seed Georgetown, two-seed Ohio State (which many consider a championship contender), and tournament favorite Kansas. March Madness, people, March Madness! Go, Vols!

* A motion for Tablet Magazine’s official team to be “whoever’s playing Duke” was, sad to say, struck down at a staff meeting. But for the record: Mike Krzyzewski (“Coach K”) is not a Jew.

Daybreak: The Crisis That Isn’t

Plus death by Gaza rocket and more in the news


• While describing the East Jerusalem construction announcement as “not helpful,” President Obama denied that U.S.-Israel relations are in crisis. [JPost]

• Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren makes a similar description and the same denial in this op-ed. But he also stands by Israeli building in East Jerusalem. [NYT]

• Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas now says he won’t engage in proximity talks without a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem. [LAT]

• A Thai farm worker in Israel was killed by a Gaza rocket, the first such death since the January 2009 Gaza conflict. [LAT]

• Forty-nine percent of Americans believe Israel must stop building settlements; 22 percent think they should be allowed to continue. [Laura Rozen]

• The situation has U.S. officials mulling the prospect of their proposing the specific contours of direct peace negotiations, likely after several months of proximity talks. [NYT]

Sundown: Busting Bunkers?

Plus Bibi’s boy, to live and die in East Jerusalem, and more

King Abdullah II (with Joe Biden).(Salah Malkawi/Getty Images)

• The U.S. military transported hundreds of “bunker-buster” bombs, which can burrow underground and destroy (for example) secret Iranian nuclear-weapon facilities, to its Indian Ocean airbase. [Haaretz]

• The Israeli leadership is taking steps to resolve its tensions with America. [NYT]

• Jordanian King Abdullah II accused Israel of trying to cleanse Jerusalem of Arabs. [Haaretz]

• Mazel tov to Avner Netanyahu, the 15-year-old son of Israel’s prime minister: After winning the Jerusalem competition last month, he won the Israel-wide Bible Quiz. He will compete in the world championships, in Jerusalem, in several weeks. [Arutz Sheva]

• The New York Times’s two Pulitzer Prize-winning op-ed columnists, Thomas L. Friedman and Maureen Dowd, both wrote about Israel today (and generally took the administration’s side). [NYT/NYT]

• Do you actually want to live in one of those planned East Jerusalem homes? Here’s how. [Slate]

Jam band Phish, two of whose four members are Jewish, announced its summer tour yesterday. They’ll be hitting many cities; here they are covering Talking Heads’s “Cities”.

Run, Steve Levy, Run!

The last best hope for a Jewish N.Y. governor

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy.(Suffolk County)

With Democratic Gov. David A. Paterson still clinging to power despite a pretty damning scandal involving his alleged intervention in an aide’s assault case, Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch likely won’t get the chance to cure the two-year-long drought in New York—the republic’s most Jewish state!—of not having a Jewish chief executive.

But on the Republican side, there’s now a chance. Some Republicans who are dissatisfied with the current prohibitive favorite for their nomination—that would be Rep. Rick Lazio, best remembered as Hillary Clinton’s original Senate opponent in 2000—have inquired as to whether Lazio’s fellow Long Islander Steve Levy, the Suffolk County executive, is interested in running for the GOP nod.

Levy is—how shall I put this?—a Democrat. But this is the same state whose main city has elected a lifelong Democrat who turned Republican, and then turned independent, as mayor. Three times. Besides, for us, Levy will be of neither the Republicans nor the Democrats, but rather of the Tribe. (OK, so his mother’s Italian. We’re trying here.)

GOP Sounds Out a Democrat as Governor [NYT]
Earlier: NYT Story Opens Door for Ravitch [NYT]
Paterson Won’t Run; Is Ravitch Next? [NYT]

Israel, Stateside

How the controversy has played in America

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) last month.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Last week’s construction announcement in Israel has rippled through a political system halfway across the world. While most Republicans and many Democrats have criticized the administration, some have backed it and turned their criticism toward Israel. Anyway, the Obama Administration has its uses for that criticism, too: It may just help buttress its credibility in the Mideast as a genuinely honest broker. Below, several ways the controversy over Israel has played out in America:

• The most prominent elected U.S. official to criticize the Obama administration was Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia). He is the House Minority Whip, a GOP rising star, and the son of an Israeli. [JPost]

• In private, many pro-Israel Jewish politicians have expressed sympathy with Obama and frustration with Israel; at the same time, many have been reluctant to espouse these views all that publicly. [Laura Rozen]

• AIPAC asked its supporters to spread the word that the Obama administration went too far in its criticism of “our partner Israel.” The group’s annual conference begins Sunday in Washington, D.C. [Ben Smith]

• Sarah Palin, who has studied this issue long and hard from her perch on the Council of Foreign Relations, called for a “reset” of U.S.-Israel relations. [Ben Smith] (more…)

‘Exodus’ Hits Twitter


Rabbi Oren Hayon: the man behind Tweet the Exodus.(Wall Street Journal)

What’s perhaps most impressive about Tweet the Exodus is that the group of rabbis, led by Rabbi Oren Hayon, behind it have set up not just a central feed containing provocative quotations, entertaining links, and, eventually, the story of the Jews’ departure from Egypt, but that they’ve set up a whole bunch of other accounts to represent players in the main story. So, @Young Miriam updates us: “Waiting to see what happens to my brother…” @The_Israelites remarks, “Did you hear something? It sounded like a crying baby.” And @Slavedrivers: “I love the smell of braided leather in the morning!”

Tweet the Exodus’s second entry reads, “In every generation, one is obliged to see oneself as if one personally came forth from Egypt.” In this age of online living, I can think of no more appropriate way to fulfill that demand.

Tweet The Exodus
Passover Meets Twitter [WSJ]

No Tzedakah, No Love

This week in ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’

Doug: ‘looks fade, and dumb is forever.’(Bravo TV.)

Unfortunately, Allison Hoffman’s television was struck by one of the many loosened trees from last weekend’s nor’easter, so yours truly—Tablet Magazine Art Director by day, caped superhero by night—will fill you in on last night’s episode of the glory that is Millionaire Matchmaker. For previous coverage, go here.

I’d never watched Millionaire Matchmaker before; most of my knowledge of the show comes from commercials during Top Chef (which, if you didn’t see, is headed for D.C.). Is Patti Stanger going to be a bossy yenta? Or is she an awe-inspiring matchmaker who makes so many Shidduchim—official couple recommendations—that she deserves her own gold-foil version of the Book of Life? How many matches would she need? I ask my wife, who replies, “You should Google Shidduch, I think you need three,” before returning to her phone call with her mother, with whom she is discussing the competitive world of Temple preschool applications, leaving me to wonder: Is Patti a genuine shadchan (I just found that word using Google), or just a nudge?

Patti begins by reviewing the videos for her clients. DVDs, rather; back when I used a matchmaker, you see, I had to choose between VHS and BETA. The first client is Douglas (above), an eco-clothing designer who is looking for a man that will follow him around all day, like a puppy. We know Douglas is concerned with the environment because he drives a Prius. I know I am concerned about Judaism because I watched Waltz With Bashir. I’m already over him. Patti quickly diagnoses Douglas as narcissistic and scolds him: “Looks fade, and dumb is forever.” OK, Patti, I liked that one.

Douglas goes on his “master date” with David from Guam, who is clearly too nice for him. They start with a hot-air balloon ride. That’s a point against Patti—what kind of Jewish matchmaker would let them do something so dangerous? There’s a lot of hot air in that balloon, and they also used some of it to float! Get it? Later, Douglas chastises David for wanting to order beef and pressures him to order chicken. Douglas continues to insult his date to his face and later admits he doesn’t know exactly why “meat that comes from red animals is much more damaging to the environment.” Cut to Michael Pollan quietly weeping into his pillow.

Nicole, the other millionaire client, also has some eco-business, and also drives a Prius, so now I’m thinking everyone in L.A. just adds “eco-” to their job title. Nicole is South African and has the accent to match. Patti thinks she’s too masculine and plans to give her a signal at the mixer if she forgets she has a “va-jay-jay.” Patti then describes what her rules are for a first date: “You can kiss but you can’t put it in any hole.” There should be a little “bzang!” sound effect every time Patti blows your mind with one of those snappy comments.

During the show’s amazingly vapid and stale mixer, the men that approach Nicole can’t figure out where she’s from, and I feel ashamed as a North American man. Really, gents, you can only think to discuss her accent? Are you actually trying to make her uncomfortable? After a painfully shallow dinner party, Nicole chooses Bruce, the “eco-friendly James Bond.”

Bruce and Nicole take a Toxic Tour, though I have to wonder about the eco-friendliness of two people using a bus to tour Los Angeles. After, at dinner, Bruce can’t understand if Nicole is saying Baroque or Barack, because American guys can’t understand foreign accents. At the end of the date, he leans over for a kiss, and she awkwardly laughs in his face. That’s flat-out mean. Like, junior-high mean!

After my wife patiently endured my pausing and multiple rewinds, she asked me to search one more term: Tzedakah. These two Millionaires hang an eco-shingle on their door, but when it comes to giving, they can’t seem to step out beyond their driveway. I will say that Patti has taught me more about righteously fulfilling obligations by attempting to give some charity to these mostly unlikable characters. But I don’t predict any inscriptions in the Book of Life this week.

Today on Tablet

Israel in China (not just on Sunday nights), and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Matthew Fishbane previews Israel’s plans for World Expo 2010, to be held in Shanghai later this year. Joshua Cohen looks at the fascinating ways in which different Jews through history, religious and secular, have kept time. Check the latest goings-on in The Frozen Exodus, the novel we’re serializing. In honor of a new show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Jill Singer offers a retrospective of the work, so far, of Jewish South African William Kentridge. Even though we’re on the Internet and all, The Scroll prefers the Met.

A Very Jewish St. Patrick’s Day

And why not?

Yup, Daniel Day-Lewis (Paris, last month) is part Jewish.(Francois Durand/Getty Images)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, to all our Irish friends! There have been not a few prominent figures who fell in the sweet middle spot of the Venn diagram between Irish people and—to use the common euphemism—readers of Tablet Magazine. And even more have wished they fell there! (See, for example, Abie’s Irish Rose, the popular 1920s play about Abie Levy and his wife, Rosemary Levy, née Murphy.) I’m not making this up—even if the most famous Irish Jew was made up (that would be Leopold Bloom, the star of James Joyce’s Ulysses, whom we celebrate on a different day).

I asked Jonathan Wilson, author of a great New York Times Magazine article on Ireland’s Jewish community, to suggest some favorite, real-life Irish Jews. He offered a few; intern Jenny Merkin came through with a few more.

• Robert Briscoe, Dublin’s first Jewish mayor (also a member of the Irish Republican Army);
• His son, Ben, another Dublin mayor;
• Chaim Herzog, the Belfast-born president of Israel from 1983 to 1993;
• Speaking of Herzog, Wilson said, “my Auntie Pearl who once dated him!”;
• Yitzah HaLevi Herzog, Israel’s first chief rabbi (and, naturally, Chaim’s father), had been Ireland’s chief rabbi;
• Daniel Day-Lewis (mother);
• Sen. John Kerry—remember, he learned during his presidential campaign that his grandfather was a Czech Jew;
• Liam Neeson: not actually a Jew. But he played Oskar Schindler … who was not actually a Jew. So an honorary Jew, twice removed.

So, have a happy St. Patrick’s Day. We’d say several cliché things now, and wish you several more, but instead we merely suggest you click on and print out this St. Patrick’s Day Bingo card and see how well you do.

The Fading World of Leopold Bloom [New York Times Magazine]
Related: Bloomsday Meets Second Avenue [Tablet Magazine]

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