Sundown: Kerry Praises Syria, Assad

Plus Brooklyn matzah brei, the Yiddish-gefilte link, and more


• After meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, reports that the country “is an essential player for bringing peace and stability to the region.” [Haaretz]

• Really interesting revelation: How your ancestors prepared their gefilte fish probably correlated with which dialect of Yiddish they spoke. [Forward]

• France and Israel’s “break-up”: a model for the United States and Israel’s? [NYT]

• Mile End, Brooklyn’s Montreal-style deli, is serving up matzo brei. [Twitter]

• A consideration of Raul Hilberg, whose histories of the Holocaust inspired Hannah Arendt (much to his chagrin). [The Nation]

• (Jewish) singer Amy Winehouse’s single “Rehab” … in Yiddish:

The Poodle and the Great Dane

An old Jew tells a joke


On most days, starting today, The Scroll is going to run a video from the folks at Old Jews Telling Jokes. If you’re unfamiliar with this delightful essay, just know that it has the most accurate name in the history of the Internet.

Today: Steve “Shecky” Platt tells the one about the poodle and the Great Dane.

It Oughta Be Kosher!

This Passover, help yourself to some cookie dough

Cookie dough (presumably not Pesadik).(Flickr)

Look, this isn’t going to be one of those rants about corn syrup. Every person who’s ever had to keep kosher for Passover has at some point wondered why things with corn syrup in them—which is to say, things made with corn (which, if you believe Michael Pollan, is pretty much everything)—are not Pesadik. Well, because corn has been known to go into the making of bread, and corn used to be tilled in the same soil as wheat, which also made bread, and bread, and bread-like things, should not be eaten during Passover. Because what you are supposed to be doing is re-enacting—indeed, you are re-living—the experience of those Jews who could not wait for their dough to rise and so ate matzoh while fleeing from slavery, etc., etc. If you want to throw corn into the prohibited pile along with bread and pizza and the like, then OK. Anything to get Coca-Cola to produce Coke with real sugar once a year.

Cookie dough—normal cookie dough, not special, kosher-for-Passover cookie dough—is another matter, though. It is of course chametz, since it invariably contains flour or wheat or something used to make cookies, and said materials invariably were made wet for over the 18-minute limit. To be honest, most cookie dough, particularly of the store-bought variety, probably contains corn syrup, too. And don’t tell me about corn syrup—I know all about corn syrup.

But, c’mon! Think this through! Cookie dough should be kosher for Passover. It is the very definition of what ought to be kosher for Passover: would-be bread that specifically hasn’t been baked. It is the precise sort of thing you would grab for a nosh if you didn’t have enough time to prepare properly—because, maybe, oh, I dunno, you were fleeing Pharaoh! Eating cookie dough on Passover? It shouldn’t just be countenanced—it should be encouraged! We should be slathering it onto the afikomen for dessert!

This is all by way of saying I had some cookie dough ice cream last night. And you should know I made a sacrifice in doing so: I specifically and deliberately did not eat cookies-and-cream ice cream—which I prefer!—because, after all, it’s Passover, and once we were slaves, and now we are free.

A Permanent Remembrance

Holocaust survivors sit for stunning portraits

The entrance to Auschwitz.(Wikimedia Commons)

A Polish photographer has taken highly stylized, low-lit portraits of Holocaust survivors—while there are still Holocaust survivors around to photograph. The New York Times’s Lens blog has 10 and an accompanying post.

“What I find striking about the Nazi camps statistics is their impersonality, the namelessness of the victims,” the photographer, Maciek Nabrdalik, tells the Times. “This series is an attempt to give them faces and to breathe individuality and humanity into the detached historical accounts.”

Check these out.

One Last Sitting for Holocaust Survivors [Lens]

Why Is This Tour Different From All Others?

Pittsburgh and Cleveland with Girls in Trouble


Alicia Jo Rabins is filing periodic dispatches for The Scroll while Girls in Trouble, her four-piece band that plays original art-pop songs about the women of Torah, tours the Midwest. The first installment is here.

“Do not oppress the stranger; you understand the experience of a stranger, since you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Touring makes you a stranger. At home you have your routines. You know where the best coffee is, the quickest way to get from one place to the next, and whom to call if you need help. On the road, you’re forced to ask for help and rely on people for the most basic things—directions, restaurant recommendations, a place to sleep.

Often the people who invite you to stay with them are family or fellow musicians, who have experience being strangers in the land of Egypt. Our first show, in Pittsburgh, was great: old friends and new fans (an entire family, from grandma to kids, came to see us after reading about us, which I thought was pretty awesome). After the show, we went to a house of generous fellow musicians, staying up late listening to records and talking about pedals. And football—after all, it’s Pittsburgh. Apparently one person’s band had to perform during an important game, and they put a TV onstage (facing the band, not the audience!) so they could watch it while they played. (more…)

Salita Calls Out Khan to Tablet

Boxer blames angry crowd for KO last year

Salita last November.(Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

While catching a glimpse of Omri Casspi last week in East Rutherford, New Jersey, after a Nets game, I also got the chance to chat briefly with Dmitriy Salita. The Ukrainian-born Brooklynite, who fights at the junior welterweight (140 pounds) level and in his spare time studies to be an Orthodox rabbi, was last seen getting crushed by world champion Amir Khan. Khan faces Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden in May. But Salita told me he hopes to be fighting in May, too, and hopes to be fighting Khan thereafter.

“A lot of things went into that fight that affected the results,” he told me of his December bout in England, which lasted only 76 seconds before Khan achieved his sensational KO. “My people weren’t allowed to be involved, I didn’t get special security for myself. It was an incredibly violent crowd, a whole bunch of angry people just waiting for me.”

Salita added: “And my close family was there. So, when I got into the ring, and saw my close family surrounded by people with blood in their eyes, it became a different kind of fight.”

“Ideally,” he concluded, “we’ll fight again.” Khan (KHAAAAAAAN!): Take care of Malignaggi, and Salita will be ready for you. May we suggest you guys fight in Brooklyn next time?

Earlier: It’s Not Easy Being Casspi
Orthodox Boxer Crushed in Title Bout

Related: Barney Ross [Nextbook Press]

Today on Tablet

The AIPAC leaks case, the actual Pulitzer, and more


Today in Tablet Magazine, Mideast columnist Lee Smith catches up with Steve Rosen, the ousted AIPAC policy director who was the victim; while Rosen was accused of leaking sensitive U.S. information to the Israeli Embassy, Smith argues he was the victim of “the criminalization of policy disputes.” Book critic Adam Kirsch reviews the latest biographer of Jewish-immigrant-turned-publishing-tycoon Joseph Pulitzer. Steve Stern’s graphic novel The Frozen Rabbi starts back up. And The Scroll is unfrozen!

‘Ugh, God, the Jews Are Back.’

This week on ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’

Patti and millionaire bachelor Justin Levine.(Bravo TV)

Every Wednesday (except this week!), Senior Writer Allison Hoffman recaps the previous night’s episode of the glory that is Millionaire Matchmaker. For previous Matchmaker coverage, click here.

When The Scroll embarked on the project of recapping every week’s Millionaire Matchmaker, it wasn’t just because the lady herself, Patti Stanger, is a bona fide yenta who reliably dispenses wisdom in the Yiddish she learned from her grandmother in New Jersey. Since the show mostly involves rich young men in Los Angeles, it regularly features rich Jewish bachelors, from that Israeli real-estate developer who wanted a “spinner”—it’s a bedroom move, folks—to Jason Davis, the oil heir who introduced his date, and all of us, to his pet monkey (not a euphemism!). Lately we’ve had a bit of a dry run on that front, but this week, appropriately enough, brings deliverance from that desert into the land of milk and outrage. Or, as Patti groans: “Ugh, God, the Jews are back.”

And how! Ladies, his name is Justin Levine, and he’s “four-zero.” (Or “30 plus 10.”) He comes from Toronto, where his family owns lots of real estate, and where he spends part of the year shooting the movies he underwrites with their money. What kinds of movies, you ask? Well, movies like Boy Toy, and Natural Born Komics, and Wing Man. Pauly Shore appears to have directed Natural Born Komics. Levine has $10 million that his dad gave him and a condo somewhere in a neighborhood decidedly not the Hollywood Hills. But poor Justin can’t meet any appropriate women at his own Oscar party. What is he looking for? A girl with 34-23-33 measurements. “Are you fucking high?” Patti exclaims. “You want tits on a stick, basically!” “No!” Justin says, using his best “but, MO-OM” voice. “I want a nice girl who I like.”

Lucky for Justin, the other guy in the episode is way, way more repulsive. (more…)

Daybreak: China Hops Onboard

Violence in Gaza and Berlin, and more in the news

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

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’


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!


“You Gotta Make A Living”!

“Some Hebrews”!


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

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

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


• 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


• 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.

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