thescroll_header

Today on Tablet

Crowdsourcing your siddur

Email

Today in Tablet Magazine, Associated Editor Hadara Graubart looks at the Open Siddur Website, a sort of liturgical Wikipedia for people who wish to create their own, personalized prayer books. Plus, The Scroll will be doing its thing all day long.

A Jewier JDate

New match-making site aims to cut out the riff-raff

Email

Though many Jewish singles swear by JDate, the Website has become notorious for proliferating numbers of Gentile members trolling for a mate more Semitic than themselves (and who can blame them?). Which is all well and good for some. But those Jews interested solely in dating within the faith now have JSoul, a new social-networking site with a match-making angle. JSoul “was designed to address the most important needs of a wide variety of Jews—built by Jewish people for Jewish people.” “For Jewish people” isn’t italicized, but perhaps it should be. Anyway, doing both JDate and JSoul is the new playing the field.

JSoul Online Jewish Dating Pre-Launch

Daybreak: Answering the (Economic) Call

Plus, settlers cold to freeze, the Israeli mob in L.A., and more

Email

• 33% more North American Jews will have moved to Israel this year than last, a result of the economy more than anything else. [WSJ]

• Yesterday saw the first spate of arrests of settlers protesting the construction freeze, even as the Palestinians still refuse to negotiate. “So far,” the paper says, the freeze “has succeeded only in pitting the settlers against the state.” [NYT]

• Israel revoked 4500 Palestinians’ Jerusalem residencies last year—an all-time high—according to its own newly released figures. [Washington Post]

• Though the police do not believe an October shooting at a North Hollywood, Calif. synagogue was a hate crime, they are now investigating possible ties to Israeli organized crime. [L.A. Times]

• Following his country’s ban on minaret construction, the leader of a mainstream Swiss political party called for an end to separate Jewish and Muslim cemeteries. [JTA]

Sundown: The Freeze Thaws

Plus, making gelt, and bruchot for Beckham?

Email

• In contravention of its own ten-month settlement freeze, Israel approved the construction of several dozen buildings in the West Bank. [Haaretz]

• A history of chocolate Hanukkah gelt, followed by a recipe! [Forward]

• David Beckham’s Jewish maternal grandfather, who was also his “footballing inspiration,” died. No word on whether the soccer megastar will sit shiva. [The Jewish Community Online]

• Acclaimed critic and novelist Cynthia Ozick announced that her new novel, Foreign Bodies, will be published late next year. [ArtsBeat]

• Following controversial firings at three Boston-area hotels, the Jewish Labor Committee has called for a boycott of Hyatt. [JTA]

How Bibi Gets His Way

One word for it might be ‘nagging’

Email

In an online slideshow accompanying his portraits of world leaders for The New Yorker, famed photographer Platon discloses Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s subtle negotiating tactics, no doubt honed over years of talks with the Palestinians. “As I was doing this portrait,” Platon relates, [Netanyahu] leaned forward and said, ‘Platon, make me look good.’ And the bizarre thing is that once the shoot was over—we had a few chats here and there—every time he would pass me with his entourage over the next few days, he would always come, shake my hand again, have a chat, and whisper in my ear, ‘Platon, make me look good.’ So I was kind of brainwashed by Mr. Netanyahu, that when it came to the editing process, I found myself making him look good.” Did Platon succeed? You be the judge.

Portraits of Power [The New Yorker]

Bagel Wars!

The New York-Montreal deathmatch

Email

“New York bagels versus Montreal bagels” is one of those Beatles-vs.-Stones-type questions for which the answer “either one” is simply unacceptable. The New York Times’s City Room blog delves in to the debate, exposing what makes these two delicacies so different, and trying to settle, once and for all, which is better. For the tragically uninitiated, Montreal bagels are thinner (half the weight), crisper (baked in wood-burning ovens), and sweeter (boiled in water and honey) than their gigantic, doughy, and salty New York City counterparts. Both variants originated among the cities’ Jewish communities, although the Montreal bakers claim their version is truer to the Old Country antecedent. So which is better? City Room quotes partisans of both sides. (Food writer and Tablet Magazine contributing editor Mimi Sheraton reps NYC: “I thought they were horrible,” she says of Montreal’s.) A quick taste test at the Times office heavily favored the paper’s hometown. An impromptu, informal poll here at Tablet’s (Manhattan) office produced the same result.Still, you are cheating yourself if you do not at least give both a try. A bagel by any other name would taste just as sweet. But apparently a bagel by the same name can taste delightfully salty.

Montreal’s Bagels Square Off Against New York’s [City Room]

Orthodox Communities Set Against N.Y., N.J. Gay Marriage

And in New York, the vote’s today

Email

In New York, the State Senate is set to vote imminently on legalizing gay marriage. In New Jersey, gay-rights activists are seeking to bring a marriage bill to a vote before January 19th, when Republican Chris Christie (an opponent) assumes the governorship from Democratic Gov. John Corzine (a supporter). In both cases, Orthodox rabbis and their communities are prominently arrayed in opposition. As we write, Orthodox Jews are protesting the bill outside the Senate building in Albany. A rabbi among them told the New York Times, “the world belongs to the Almighty, and they have to reckon with his rules and his law.” Meanwhile, the Huffington Post yesterday reported on the large role that the Orthodox community of Lakewood, N.J. has assumed in that state’s discussion. “I really don’t believe in getting involved in government,” an activist among them said. “But when an issue is so dangerous, you have to stop it.”

New York Senate Set for Gay Marriage Vote [NYT]
Orthodox Rabbis Join New Jersey Gay Marriage Debate [Huffington Post]

Egyptian Jews Accuse Coca-Cola

But it’s all Nasser’s fault

Email

Coca-Cola is being sued by an Egyptian-Jewish family whom the Nasser government stripped of its property 40 years ago. The soda-maker has occupied the property for over a decade with full knowledge of whom it rightfully belongs to, according to the family’s lawyers. Hopefully Coca-Cola will settle this matter equitably, so that we do not have to feel guilty while enjoying a Coke, and especially so that we do not have to start drinking—shudder—Pepsi.

Adolf Lincoln?

New ‘book’ ‘says’ that the Union inspired the Nazis

Email

As the holidays approach, here’s the perfect book for the paranoid and back-handedly philo-Semitic lunatic in your life: Lincoln Über Alles, by one John Avery Emison, which hypothesizes that Nazi Germany may have gotten the idea to ethnically cleanse Jews from the North’s anti-Semitic activities during the American Civil War. (Such, anyway, is the summary in the press release that we were sent; the book’s Amazon page advertises its analysis of “how Abraham Lincoln’s tyrannical presidency paved the way for today’s bloated ‘Leviathan’ government,” and its defense of secession’s “legality.”)

The notion of Union anti-Semitism has some truth. In 1862, General Grant issued his heinous General Order No. 11, effectively expelling all Jews in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky under the pretense of shutting down the cotton black market. An outcry prompted Grant to quickly revoke it and deny responsibility; President Lincoln, meanwhile, thoroughly condemned it. The notion that Nazi lebensraum policy traces its roots here is—to use the historically rigorous word—insane.

Still, we appreciate Emison’s sensitivity to the plight of those Southern Jews, to say nothing of the Nazis’ victims. We’re left wondering only why his heart does not also bleed for, you know, the millions of slaves.

Today in Tablet

‘A good prescription for Jewish poems’

Email

Tablet Magazine poetry columnist David Kaufmann breaks down Scribe, the new collection of poems from Norman Finkelstein, calling it a “secular midrash.” Plus, we’ll have plenty of posts today on The Scroll.

Jews and Wiccans Come Together

ADL, AJC support Wiccan clergyman’s lawsuit

Email

Are there stranger bedfellows than the American Jewish Committee and a Wiccan clergyman? The AJC, as well as the Anti-Defamation League, just signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief in a federal appeals case supporting a Wiccan clergyman’s right to sue California for not hiring prison chaplains of his faith. As with so many of these things, the literal question up for appeal is a rather narrow one concerning the plaintiff’s standing to challenge California’s policy. But the ADL’s statement, which calls California’s practice “discriminatory” and “exclusionary,” makes the group’s broader stand apparent: tax money, it believes, should not be used to favor one religious group over another. For the record, though, California does pay prison rabbis.

ADL, AJC Join Brief on Wiccan Clergyman [JTA]

Daybreak: Settlement Mayor Arrested

Plus, an East Jerusalem skirmish, Rothstein arraigned, and more

Email

• The mayor of the West Bank’s Beit Arieh settlement, participating in larger protests, was arrested for disrupting security forces’ implementation of the construction freeze. [AP]
• Violence erupted among Palestinian and Israeli civilians in East Jerusalem after police-escorted residents removed furniture from a Palestinian-built house to which they had won the right. [NYT]
• After finding that the defendant had a fever, the judge overseeing 89-year-old John Demjanjuk’s trial adjourned it for the day. [Haaretz]
• The Anti-Defamation League and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights both condemned the new Swiss ban on minaret construction. [Haaretz]
• Disbarred Florida attorney Scott Rothstein pleaded ‘not guilty’ to charges related to his alleged $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme. [Bloomberg]

Sundown: Michelle Obama Selects a Menorah

Plus, the freeze is temporary, watch the Swiss, and more

Email

• On Dec. 16th, for the sixth night of Hanukkah, the White House will light a 19th-century menorah on loan from Prague’s Jewish Museum; Michelle Obama specifically requested it after seeing it on an official visit. [JTA]
• Benjamin Netanyahu clarified that the current West Bank settlement freeze is not permanent, but rather intended to create room for negotiations on a final status: “We did not mean to halt reasonable life,” he said. “The settlers in Judea and Samaria are an integral part of our nation.” [Arutz Sheva]
• Israel’s UN Ambassador lambasted the United Nations’s practice of marking its “solidarity” with the Palestinian people on the anniversary of UN approval of partition. [ynet]
• A former Israeli Ambassador to Switzerland warned that the Swiss decision to ban the construction of minarets reflects the same “fear of things foreign and different” that is also “the basic root of anti-Semitism.” [Arutz Sheva]
• Amid much protest and in a close vote, the London School of Economics elected to twin with the Islamic University of Gaza. [Jewish Chronicle]

Harry Potter and the Case of the Syrian Translator

A new law allows Israelis to import books translated in Arab world

Email

How do you say “Muggle” in Arabic? Arabic-speaking Israelis have never known. The Harry Potter series coined the term to refer to individuals not blessed with magical powers, but due to a Byzantine bit of Israeli legislation, Arabic translations of Potter—along with Shakespeare, Marques, Moliere, and others—were verboten in the Jewish state. A 1939 law passed by the British authorities in pre-state Palestine and adopted by the Israeli government shortly after the country’s birth declared it illegal to import books from hostile nations. The majority of Arabic translations of international literature are published in Lebanon and Syria, which meant that most Arabic-language literature was banned from Israel. But, finally, that’s about to change. A special cabinet committee recently expressed its support for a new bill that would allow Israeli companies to import Syrian- and Lebanese-published titles. According to the new proposal, which is slated to pass in the coming days, any Arabic book would be permitted into the country, just as long as it does not incite to violence, deny the Holocaust, or provides instructions on how to prepare explosive devices. Harry should be safe.

The Ministers’ Committee Approves: Books Translated in Syria Will Be Sold in Israel [Haaretz, in Hebrew]

Is ‘Heeb’ On Its Way Out?

Gawker says yes; editor says no

Email

Media gossip blog Gawker has put the snarky Jewish magazine Heeb on a “deathwatch” for imminent closure. A number of anonymous sources have apparently told Gawker that the magazine is on the brink of folding. Heeb “was able to live high on the hog when there was a lot of money coming in, like around 2004,” one of these anonymous tipsters told the blog. “The fact that they were wasting money went kind of unnoticed by the Jewish organizations donating to them. But the recession hit them kind of hard.” Heeb’s editorial director countered that Heeb wasn’t “shutting down,” but, Gawker noted, she initially sidestepped the question of what would happen to the flagship print magazine (rather than its website or its parties). In response to further questioning from Gawker, she replied, “We have the utmost confidence in assuring you that our Spring edition will be out no later than Rosh Hashanah,” which we have to assume was a joke.

We conducted our own inquiry, with similar results. Former Heeb staffers told us they’d heard rumors of its demise but couldn’t confirm them. We asked the magazine’s music editor, Arye Dworken, what was going on, he maintained in an email that the gossip was just lashon hara that likely came from angry freelancers or ex-interns. “We as a magazine can’t be best friends with everyone and those non-best friends love coming out of the woodwork with ‘scandalous’ details (i.e., yawn, who cares, so what, etc.) when the rumor mill goes back into production,” he wrote. But when asked about the specific allegation that the print magazine, rather than the Heeb brand as a whole, was on its last, he dodged the question and referred it to editor in chief Josh Neuman. Neuman (who earlier told a Jewish Telegraphic Agency blog that Heeb was alive and well) responded in a short email, “Long story short: denying that we’ve decided to cease print.”

The Heeb Magazine Deathwatch Starts Now [Gawker]
Heeb Not Closing, According to Publisher [JTA]

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.