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Sundown: Blogger Expected More ‘Inglourious’ Kvetching

Praise, slander, and a grand slam decade

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• A Beliefnet blogger wonders why he’s “not reading or hearing more from the Jewish community about the inglorious representation” of Jews in Tarantino’s latest film. [Beliefnet]
• The obvious answer: he’s not paying attention. Besides our own takedown, the Los Angeles Times rounds up a plethora of disturbed Jewish reactions to Inglourious Basterds, and Slate’s culture gabfest compares Tarantino to T.S. Eliot, in that “they’re both idiots when it comes to Jews.” [Slate]
• Martin Abramowitz, founder of Jewish Major Leaguers, Inc., says this has been the tribe’s best-ever decade on the diamond, and that “some combination of pride and performance is bringing Jewish baseball to a new level of attention in America.” [Jewish Ledger]
• Two Jewish schools in Argentina are being touted as role models for Jewish eduction. Their innovation? Making the schools good. [JTA]
• In Florida, however, a public school is facing its own religious problems: kids keep coming to school dressed as billboards for the ironically named Christian organization Dove World Outreach, in t-shirts that say “Islam is of the Devil.” [Gainesville Sun]

Madonna Booed in Bucharest

For anti-discrimination comments

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Madonna singing, not speechifying, in Bucharest.(Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)

So Madonna got booed in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, last night. Why? Well, because she took a moment in the middle of her “Sticky and Sweet” show to tell her fans that it made her “very sad” to learn that Roma, or Gypsies, are still discriminated against in Romania and other parts of Eastern Europe. Though the 60,000 fans apparently warmly applauded Madonna’s opening act, the Kolpakov Trio (a Russian group that includes two Roma and a Jew), they jeered and booed the pop diva’s impromptu lecture. “What business does she have telling us these things?” concertgoer Ionut Dinu asked the BBC. Madonna’s publicist, Liz Rosenberg, told the broadcaster that Madonna felt “compelled to make a brief statement” in solidarity after the Kolpakovs explained the situation. Now we can’t wait to see what else Madonna—sorry, Esther—is compelled to express next week, when the tour hits Israel.

Madonna Explains Gypsy Comments [BBC]
Gypsy Trio Criticizes Crowd for Booing Madonna [AP]

Deal Soon for Shalit?

Hamas political chief headed to Egypt for negotiations; German official to moderate

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Shalit in a family photo.(Shalit family via Getty Images)

Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas, will travel to Cairo next week to begin negotiating a deal to release kidnapped IDF solider Gilad Shalit, according to an Islamic newspaper in London. A German intelligence official is also scheduled to help moderate the negotiation among Israel, Hamas, and Egypt, according to Haaretz. Shalit has been in captivity for four years, and one of the stated objectives of last year’s Gaza War was to attempt to free him.

Report: Meshal to Fly to Cairo to Approve Shalit Deal [Haaretz]

Ang Lee Takes Woodstock

With the help of a Jewish, gay protagonist

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Taking Woodstock, Ang Lee’s adaptation of Elliot Tiber’s memoir about returning to the Catskills in the summer of ’69 to help his Jewish-immigrant parents save their motel (“his mother [Imelda Staunton, all mesmerizing rage] is a money-grasping neurotic, and his father [Henry Goodman, defeat personified] is just waiting to die,” writes The Stranger‘s critic), hits screens today. Reviews are fair to middling. Though the depictions of the counterculture and its clashes with the older folks lack the passion characteristic of Lee’s other works, “its modesty becomes it,” writes Stephen Holden in The New York Times, “given a subject that has become synonymous with overblown mythmaking.” In Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman regrets that instead of creating an Altman-esque tableau, viewers are mostly “watching Elliot, who is gay and scared, learn to give in to his feelings and defy his parents. He’s the ‘straightest’’ guy in the film (ironic!), but there’s a reason that no one at Woodstock ever chanted the slogan ‘Let the nice Jewish boy be free!’”

Concessions
[The Stranger]
What I Saw at the Countercultural Revolution [NYT]
Taking Woodstock [EW]

Catholic Sins, Jewish Redemption

‘Atlantic’ writer says Kennedy, other pols benefit from a Jewish view of atonement

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At the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library yesterday.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

“There is a brutal calculus at the heart of one’s assessment of [Ted] Kennedy,” Mark Ambinder writes on his Atlantic blog. “Did his latter years make up for his serious, harmful transgression?” Ambinder is referring, of course, to the Chappaquiddick incident, in which Kennedy caused and then took his time in reporting the accidental death of a young woman—and he argues that “how one answers that question, I think, is as much a matter of how one views redemption.” In the political arena, he continues, Kennedy fares better according to a Jewish view of redemption as “an active, continuing process, one where doing good will hasten the coming of the Messiah” rather than a Christian version, “where the expiation of one’s sins are entirely the province of God, and not necessarily intelligible or accessible in our earthly lives.” Luckily for Kennedy, he concludes, the Jewish view is in fact the dominant one in contemporary American politics, despite frequent performances of born-again Christianity among politicians: even “Southern Baptist Bill Clinton’s rehabilitation is a work in progress, but Jewish in its character: he keeps his mouth shut and does good works.”

The Jewish Redemption Of Ted Kennedy [Atlantic]

Toronto Film Fest to Honor Tel Aviv, Controversially

Canadian, Israeli directors protest

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A handful of influential Canadian filmmakers are threatening to pull their works from the upcoming Toronto Film Festival if the prestigious festival carries out its plans for a cinematic salute to Tel Aviv. This year’s festival, to open on September 10, is set to include a retrospective of Israeli films about the city, which is celebrating its 100 anniversary this year. That tribute, say some filmmakers, is politically charged, as it promotes Israel as a cultured and enlightened country and covers up the horrors of the Palestinian occupation. The filmmakers—a small group that includes popular author Naomi Klein, acclaimed director John Greyson, and prominent video artist Richard Fung—stress that they are not opposed to the numerous Israeli films shown as part of the festival’s main program, but that they consider the retrospective to be ideologically tainted.

Israeli filmmaker Udi Aloni, who is part of the group calling for the boycott, called on Israeli filmmakers to join in. “Israeli filmmakers shouldn’t feel defensive,” Aloni told Haaretz. “They should say to their Canadian colleagues, ‘we stand with you, we don’t represent [Israeli foreign minister Avigdor] Lieberman, we represent the resistance.’ You can’t have it both ways.”

Toronto Festival: Directors protest Tel Aviv Tribute [Haaretz, in Hebrew]

Today on Tablet

Second careers, that teenage feeling, and the meaning of remembering

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Marc Tracy talks to two writers who made the switch from other professions. Eryn Loeb looks back at the sexy, provocative young adult novels of Norma Klein. Liel Leibovitz examines troublesome ideas of memory and forgetting in this week’s Torah portion. And updates to The Scroll continue all day.

U.S. Shift on E. Jerusalem: Bad, or Wrong?

One blogger is worried about the change, another doesn’t buy it

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(Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images)

Haaretz reported yesterday that East Jerusalem is now exempt from the United States’ call for a settlement freeze in Israel, and the The Faster Times’s Dina Kraft worried. She was already anxious over a proposal recently submitted for approval to the Israeli government to build a huge new apartment complex in that part of the city, and a plan to raze 88 Arab houses to make way for a tourist park. She is concerned about the disparity between the “ramshackle” Arab homes and a well-appointed Jewish visitor’s center, and the possibility that Israeli obstinacy about the area is a “cynical attempt to make East Jerusalem as ‘Jewish’ as possible and foil any future attempts to divide the city as part of a future peace deal.” She interviews a researcher who worries what will happen to “the fabric of Arab-Jewish relations by inserting armed camps into Arab Jerusalem,” although he understands “the impulse to focus on a Jewish narrative in the face of Palestinian denials of a Jewish historic connection to the city.”

And then there’s this, which might assuage some of Kraft’s worries, although it’s worrisome in itself: Blogger Lara Friedman at Americans for Peace Now is skeptical of the claim that Israel’s been let off the hook when it comes to East Jerusalem expansion. The Haaretz reporter who broke the news, Barak Ravid, has been irresponsible before, she says, noting that “in this kind of high-stakes political poker, a lot of what we hear in the press is spin (and bluffing).”

The Jerusalem Puzzle: Jewish Enclaves in Arab Neighborhoods [Faster Times]Don’t Believe What You Read [JTA]
Earlier: U.S. Drops Call for E. Jerusalem Settlement Freeze

Daybreak: Obama Can’t Do Everything

Plus Tutu, Sendak, and more in the news

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• President Obama knows he should visit Israel as his support there dwindles, but right now he’s swamped with health care reform. [Ynet]
• Desmond Tutu tells Haaretz that Palestinians are paying the “penance” for the Holocaust, and compares Israel to South Africa, which only achieved “security when the human rights of all were recognized and respected.” [Haaretz]
• Ethiopian immigrant children in Israel are required to attend Jewish schools as part of their conversion process, but religious schools in the town of Petah Tikva are refusing to enroll them. [Jpost]
• Meanwhile, the nearby West Bank settlement of Samaria has offered to “absorb the students.” [Ynet]
• An exhibit of Maurice Sendak’s artwork will come to San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum on September 8. [Examiner]

Sundown: Having Your Ham, But Not Eating It

Not-so-mysterious ways, aloha ‘ShalomTV,’ and an elegant gesture

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• Two Kentuckians joined forces to end their bidding war over a 15.6-pound champion ham, paying a total of $1.3 million to charity. One of the lucky winners is a Jewish banker who says, “I’m delighted to participate in it but I’m not going to take any part of it home and cook it.” [Courier Journal]
• U2 rescheduled a New Jersey concert to accommodate a football game—and also “out of respect” for the fact that the show had been set for Yom Kippur. [NYT]
• An op-ed in the Forward makes a public stink about how Jewish groups shouldn’t have made such a public stink about President Obama’s honoring of Mary Robinson. [Forward]
• Live in Hawaii and wish you could watch shows like Modern Jewish Mom or Rabbis Roundtable? A self-professed “child of the boob-tube” has created an online petition to bring more Jewish TV to the 50th state. [Examiner]
• A colleague remembers Ted Kennedy’s tribute to Yitzhak Rabin: the senator carried dirt from the graves of his slain brothers overseas and buried it above the murdered Israeli prime minister. [TPM]

Better Living Through Cycling

Orthodox man tries to get Satmars to bike

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Baruch Herzfeld is a modern Orthodox bike repairman on a mission: to convince Satmars in Brooklyn that biking is kosher. For about a year now, members of the Orthodox sect in Williamsburg have been fighting to stop the city from establishing bike lanes in their neighborhoods on the grounds that the activity is immodest (also, bike lanes would eliminate some parking spaces). That’s bunk, says Herzfeld, whose own brothers are rabbis who allow him to pop wheelies; he’s trying to entice passing Satmars to likewise become peddlers by offering to lend them vehicles through a program he’s established called Bike Gemach—the Yiddish term for free loan society. “I’m not doing it because I want to change the world,” Herzfeld says, “I just think it would be a healthy thing for the whole city if some of these guys got on bicycles.”

Brooklyn’s Bicycle Man Uses Two Wheels to Bring Hasids and Hipsters Together
[Forward]

Related:
Hasids on Bikes [Tablet]

Say You’re Sorry

And we’ll run it on the site

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Yom Kippur is right around the corner, and we all have things to repent for. That, dear readers, includes you. Maybe you said something nasty to a friend, maybe you’ve told a little lie, maybe you stole $50 billion dollars and sent the global economy into a tailspin. Whatever it is, we want to hear about it for our new Daily Sorry feature. Starting in early September and running every day until Yom Kippur, we’ll run one reader’s message of atonement. (Or more than one, if we get lots. Or maybe not every day, if we don’t.) It’s very simple: call our hotline, leave us a short message saying what you’re sorry for (don’t worry—there’s no need to give us your contact information, or even your name), and we’ll run it on the site. And you’ll feel much, much better about yourself.

Ready to say you’re sorry? Call us at 718-360-4836, and tell us what you’re sorry for. We can’t forgive you, but we can make repenting more fun.

After 20 Years, a New ‘Shalom Sesame’

Jewish-themed ‘Sesame Street’ is back, now with Gyllenhaal and Messing

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Shalom Sesame, the Jewish-themed Sesame Street spinoff that aired on PBS stations in the late 1980s and introduced a generation of kids to Big Bird’s porcupine friend Kippi ben Kippod and Oscar the Grouch’s Israeli cousin Moishe Oofnik, is being revived. This time, it will feature the talents of Jake Gyllenhaal, Debra Messing, Ben Stiller, and Cedric the Entertainer; the original guest-starred Mary Tyler Moore, Izthak Perlman, B.B. King, and Stiller’s dad, Jerry. For those unfamiliar with this landmark in both children’s television and Jewish cultural history, here’s a superb introduction. Or, watch some clips from the Hanukkah episode: in one, an eager little olive oil jug who survived the collapse of the Second Temple meets the potter who made him on a reunion show (“I just might runneth over!” he tells the host); in another an American time-travel tourist asks a miller from Judah Macabee’s village, “You make pretty good dough on this job?” Yuk yuk yuk.


Gyllenhaal, Applegate Keep It Kosher With Grover
[E! Online]

Madoff Swindled Muslims, Too!

But with help from a Jew

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(Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Hey, guess what? Bernie Madoff didn’t just target Jews! According to a story in today’s Boston Globe, Madoff swindled Muslims, too—specifically, Sufis, adherents of a mystical form of Islam. The paper reports that Sufi groups, including the North American chapter of Sufi Order International, entrusted millions of dollars to Madoff. But how did these people find Madoff? Aye, there’s the rub: it was through a California lawyer and money manager named Richard Glantz, who practices Sufism but was, in fact, raised as a Jew. More to the point, his father, Edward, a New York accountant, was an associate of Madoff’s; he was in fact disciplined by the SEC in 1993 for raising $88 million in unregistered securities that were sent to Madoff via the accounting firm started by Ruth Madoff’s father, Saul Alpern. So, you know, never mind.

Followers of a Mystical Religion Were Taken in by Madoff Scheme [Boston Globe]

U.S. Drops Call for E. Jerusalem Settlement Freeze

Realizes Bibi can’t announce halt

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Advantage, Netanyahu. Haaretz reports today that George Mitchell, President Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, has dropped the administration’s insistence on a permanent settlement freeze in East Jerusalem, recognizing that it is unfeasible. Although Mitchell said he won’t endorse settlement building in that area, the part of the capital considered Palestinian territory, he also said he won’t continue to demand a public announcement from Netanyahu that such building will be halted (the Israeli prime minister has offered as a compromise a nine-month freeze in construction).

This news comes just after Palestinian sources said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would meet, albeit informally, with Netanyahu at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly, and P.A. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s announcement that the West Bank would become a “de facto state” by 2011, based on its progress on development and security.

U.S. Drops Demand for Israel Building Freeze in East Jerusalem [Haaretz]

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