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Daybreak: China Hops Onboard

Violence in Gaza and Berlin, and more in the news

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A Gazan and a stun grenade, Tuesday.(NYT)

• All five veto-bearing U.N. Security Council members—yes, Russia and China too!—agreed to substantively engage on new Iran sanctions. This is fairly big news. [Laura Rozen]

• Over the first part of Passover, there were skirmishes along the Gaza border, resulting in several Palestinian injuries. [NYT]

• As even proximity talks stall, Israel in theory continues to contemplate a four-month East Jerusalem construction freeze in exchange for direct negotiations. [JPost]

• Around a dozen Hezbollah members will appear before a U.N. probe investigating the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. [WSJ]

• Two separate, violent anti-Semitic incidents on the Berlin subway system have alarmed Jewish leaders there. [World Jewish Congress/Vos Iz Neias?]

• Mormons have Seders, too? What a world. [Ynet]

Early Sundown: Freeze This!

Plus Jesus and ‘The Simpsons,’ and more

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Homer and Bart at the Western Wall(Fox.)

Barring big breaking news, The Scroll will be dark until Thursday morning. Chag Sameach!

• Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Cabinet rejected U.S. calls to cease building in East Jerusalem. [NYT]

• Despite what you’ve always been told, Jesus’s Last Supper was (probably) not a Seder. [Slate]

• Palace intrigue! Reported internal disputation over Israel within the Obama Administration. [Laura Rozen]

• Thomas L. Friedman on the necessity—not preferability—of peace in the Mideast. [NYT]

• Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan advocates against sanctions on Iran. [Haaretz]

• The Simpsons are going to Israel! (Actually, they went, last night; Sacha Baron Cohen voiced the Israeli tour guide.)

A Seder Musical Spectacular

Watch ‘Everything’s Coming Up Moses’

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Need something to spice up tonight’s Seder? May we suggest a viewing of select numbers from Everything’s Coming Up Moses, the Passover-themed musical (loosely inspired by Gypsy) written by Rachel Shukert and sponsored by Tablet Magazine? Or better yet: Howabout a sing-a-long! (Select lyrics here.)

The title song!

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“You Gotta Make A Living”!

“Some Hebrews”!

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If you still can’t get enough—Lord knows we can’t—even more clips are here.

Everything’s Coming Up Moses [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: Everything Came Up Moses

Today on Tablet

Graphic Jew, alterna-Seder, and more

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From ‘The Golem’s Mighty Swing’(Multiversity Comics)

Today in Tablet Magazine, acclaimed graphic novelist James Sturm, whose Market Day depicts 24 hours in the life of a Jew in 19th century Europe, stars in our weekly Vox Tablet podcast. Marjorie Ingall has an alternative Seder plate to make explaining the symbology easier to kids. Week 5 of Steve Stern’s serialized novel The Frozen Rabbi kicks off. And The Scroll has only a couple more posts to go before it takes a couple days off for the yontiffs.

Tennessee’s Season Comes to Proud End

Vols lose just shy of Final Four

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Coach Bruce Pearl yesterday(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

For the Tennessee Volunteers—Tablet Magazine’s official team—the weekend, in St. Louis, began with a bang, and, sad to say, ended with a whimper.

Friday was fantastic. Tennessee, pitted against Player of the Year candidate Evan Turner and his Big Ten champion Ohio State Buckeyes, eked out a 76-73 victory through tough, smart play. In doing so, the Vols achieved their first Elite Eight appearance in program history.

But, yesterday afternoon, the Vols’ championship dreams came crashing down as Michigan State, playing without their injured star point guard, secured an almost-last-second 70-69 win to make their second consecutive Final Four.

Still, there is no way to count Tennesee’s season—and especially its postseason—as anything other than a success. So congratulations to Coach Pearl and his Volunteers!

Meanwhile, the Duke Blue Devils, featuring Jewish guard Jon Scheyer, are indeed headed to Indianapolis next weekend for the Final Four. Haaretz published a profile of Scheyer last week (rumor is that if no NBA team drafts him, he may head to Israel’s league). You can read it, as long as you don’t find yourself rooting for Duke afterwards.

In an Unpredictable Tournament, Duke’s Scheyer is One Player To Count On [Haaretz]
Earlier: Tablet’s Vols Reach the Sweet Sixteen
Tennessee Vols Advance
Go, Vols!

Daybreak: Who’s Got Israel’s Back?

Plus Iran’s sanctions, Obama’s Seder, and more in the news

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• The United States, which generally protects Israel at the U.N. Security Council with its veto, may abstain on a resolution concerning East Jerusalem construction. [JPost]

• An analysis concludes that the Israeli-U.S. dispute occurred due to different perceptions of Jerusalem’s importance and the Palestinians’ capacity for self-rule. [NYT]

• First on the agenda at the G-8 summit today in Canada is Iran sanctions. [Ynet]

• The Arab League may consider normalization with Israel in exchange for peace. [Reuters/NYT]

• The most in-depth article yet on the dispute over that single house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. [LAT]

• You probably saw it, since it was the Most Emailed article like all day yesterday, but: the White House Seder is an Obama tradition. [NYT]

Sundown: Tanks Enter Gaza

Plus dirty soup, matzo (basket)ball, and more

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(Flickr)

• After two Israeli soldiers were killed inside Gaza, near the border, IDF tanks reportedly entered the Strip. [Ynet]

• The United States and Russia agreed to a mutual nuclear arms reduction pact. [JPost]

• Rumors have surfaced that White House economic adviser Larry Summers will depart by the end of the year. [Fox Business]

• A store in Montreal’s Mont Royal neighborhood is selling what it claims is actual Nazi soap made out of actual … Nazi victim. [CBC/Vos Iz Neias?]

• Sink the matzo ball in the hoop. Do it! [Ultimate Matzoh Balls]

• iPesach.

My Own Personal Exodus

Girls in Trouble hits the road

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We are commanded to see ourselves as if we personally escaped from Egypt. That means we all perform the Exodus every Passover.

This year, Girls in Trouble (my four-piece band, which plays original art-pop songs about the women of Torah) is performing this mitzvah a new way: as a band. Yes, we are physically enacting the Exodus: strapping unrisen dough to our backs (well, loading a minivan full of matzah and instruments), leaving the familiar streets of New York City, crossing the Hudson River, and setting out to travel the wide Midwest. And we’re going to take you with us, with videos and blogs posted right here!

Tour is always a bit of an Exodus story. You leave the familiar with a mix of excitement and dread, and you never know what you’ll find out there. The band becomes a little tribe, with its own culture and jokes, and you keep each other safe as you wander from one place to the next. We’ll be sleeping on friends of friends’ couches, having Seder with generous strangers, and setting up our mini Tabernacle of amps, guitar stands, and instruments in clubs and cafes: Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Columbus, Bloomington, St. Louis, Chicago, Evanston, Detroit, and Toronto.

Oh, and food should be interesting on this tour: half the band is keeping kosher for Passover, and the other half is raw and vegan.

The word “Egypt” in Hebrew is Mitzrayim, which means “narrow place”. Mitzrayim means something different every year. Whatever it is that restricts us, that holds us back from breathing deeply, from finding joy, from living sustainably, from seeing the big picture—that’s our Egypt. And this is our moment to walk away. And you never know what you’ll find on the other side.

We wish you courage and strength in your personal Exodus, and we hope you’ll join us on ours. And send your friends to the shows!

Girls in Trouble [MySpace]
Female Trouble [Tablet Magazine]

Everything Came Up Moses

Tablet’s Passover musical premieres

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A scene from last night’s climactic act.(Len Small.)

The Laurie Beechman Theatre on 42nd Street was packed last night for Tablet Magazine’s production of Everything’s Coming Up Moses, a re-telling of the Passover story as inspired by the legendary musical Gypsy. It was massively fun: The performers were outrageously talented and evinced the exact right irony-to-earnestness quotient. The music was, obviously, unbeatable. And contributing editor Rachel Shukert’s book and lyrics were hilarious and witty—really just inspired. Check out the lyrics to four of the songs: “Some Hebrews,” “Little Pascal Lamb,” “You Gotta Make a Living,” and, of course, the title number.

Everything’s Coming Up Moses [Tablet Magazine]

Cantor’s Bullet a Stray

Jewish Republican wasn’t targeted

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Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) last month.(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Remember how the campaign office of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) was shot at? And remember how he then said he had been targeted because he is Jewish (the only Republican Jew in the House or Senate, in fact)? Yeah, not so much. According to police, the bullet that went through an office window early Tuesday morning was a stray bullet from unrelated gunfire; in fact, the office contains no outward indication that it is Cantor’s.

The whole thing has taken on political undertones, as Cantor responded angrily to some Democratic lawmakers who have received death threats since the health-care law was passed. “Any suggestion that a leader in this body would incite threats or acts against other members is akin to saying that I would endanger myself, my wife or my children,” he said.

Police Say Gunfire That Hit Cantor’s Office Was Random [WP.com]
Related: U.S. Congressman Cantor: I’ve Been Threatened Because I’m Jewish [Haaretz]
Earlier: Cantor’s Richmond Office Shot At

Getting Psyched for Matzoh Balls

How do you like yours?

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Our friends at JDub Records alert us to the new video from the Macaroons for their song, “Matzoh Ball.” It’s really something of a delight. And it opens onto the age-old question, never more appropriate than right now: Do you prefer your matzoh balls soft, hard, or somewhere in between? This is why we have a comments section, people!

New Video: Matzah Ball (Don’t Kick It) [JDub Records]

It’s Not Easy Being Casspi

My brief encounter with Israel’s first NBA player

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Casspi after Wednesday’s game(Andrew Russeth.)

Wednesday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Nets pulled out a victory—a convincing one, in fact—over the Sacramento Kings, bringing their record to 8-63. They have 11 more games this year; if they win none of them, then I will have witnessed the final victory of the worst team in the history of the National Basketball Association.

But I wasn’t there to see history happen. I was there to see Omri Casspi, the Kings’ rookie forward, who is the first Israeli ever to play in the NBA. Casspi (CASS-pee), not yet 22, is already a mini-juggernaut: private meeting with NBA Commissioner David Stern; Sports Illustrated profile; Nike ad. The whole megillah, as we like to say.

I don’t buy the theory that Jews (and really Jewish men) are especially obsessed with Jewish athletes to compensate for deep-seated insecurities: Jews know they can play sports (Hank Greenberg, Mark Spitz); and win a war in spectacular fashion (1967); and even, failing those, succeed without any trace of virility (Woody Allen). I think it’s more just the old-fashioned hobby of Jew-spotting. And that’s why I was there: following the New York Knicks’ successful Jewish Heritage Night, which they held when the Kings came to Madison Square Garden, Wednesday night at the Izod Center was Jewish Family Night. I would get to meet Casspi, as well as featured guests Dmitriy Salita (boxer—and Tablet Magazine contributor!) and Dolph Schayes, the legendary (and actually really good!) American Jewish NBA player in the 1960s.

But Casspi’s more than Jewish: He’s Israeli. The Israeli Tourism Ministry was the event’s sponsor. The flags that the conspicuous number of observant Jews in the stands flew bore Stars of David, not and Stripes. Wednesday night was about a more specific brand of Jewish pride. A brand I’m not sure I understand. (more…)

Today on Tablet

The Seder sausage-making, and more

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Today in Tablet Magazine, Joshua J. Friedman puts together an interactive collage so you can teach yourself just how disparate texts and sources came together to form today’s Seder ritual. Liel Leibovitz notes that this week’s haftorah takes a stand for observing the spirit of the law over fetishizing orthodox stricture. The Scroll takes the same stand against strict rules and conventions: it is, after all, a blog.

Daybreak: Opening the Cabinet

Plus Petraeus denies ‘linkage,’ and more in the news

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Petraeus testifying last week.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

• Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with his seven closest Cabinet members today to discuss responding to the U.S. demand that he limit building in East Jerusalem. [NYT]

• The U.S. also reportedly told Israel to hand over more West Bank land—including the Abu Dis area adjacent to Jerusalem—to Palestinian control. [Ynet]

• A new poll finds that 9 percent of Israeli Jews believe the Obama Administration is “pro-Israel,” while 48 percent think it “pro-Palestinian.” [JPost]

• Palestinian Authority police have a tricky needle to thread: They must gain credibility over those whose laws they enforce, even while ultimate sovereignty belongs not to them but to the Israeli military. [LAT]

• Gen. David Petraeus further said that reports prior to his testimony last week significantly overstated how much he has linked the Palestinian conflict to U.S. national security interests elsewhere in the region. [JTA]

• A candidate in a Democratic Congressional primary outside Philadelphia has returned money donated by J Street and asked the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group to withdraw its endorsement. [JTA]

Sundown: Rep. Cantor Points to His Heritage

Plus Bibi’s missing counter-offer, and more

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WTF?(Flickr)

• Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), whose Richmond campaign office was shot at earlier this week, said he has received threats because he is Jewish. [Haaretz]

• President Obama won’t approve the end-of-Passover prayer, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” until both sides agree on the exact wording. These things are complicated. [Frum Follies]

• A columnist faults Prime Minister Netanyahu for not offering an alternate concession in order to stave off U.S. pressure over East Jerusalem settlements. [Haaretz]

• U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates asserted that the stalled peace process does affect “U.S. national security interests in the region,” though not necessarily directly. [Ynet]

• “WTF (What the Fish) is Gefilte!” A Passover conversation with Russ & Daughters. [Bon Appetit Daily]

• Because everyone else has linked to it, here’s a Hasidic band covering Lady Gaga. [The Gloss]

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