Sundown: Poetic Justice for Protesting Pol

Drowning out hate, modest hotels, and biblical blueprints


• Stephan Kuhn, a member of Germany’s Green Party, was arrested in Dresden for blasting klezmer music outside City Hall, drowning out a neo-Nazi meeting. We’re not sure if this is a special rule for politicians, but his $210 fine went to a charity for victims of right-wing violence. [JTA]
• In other Green Party news, former U.S. presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney is in prison in Israel after her boat was seized by the government en route to bring aid to Palestinians in Gaza. [Fox News]
• A study out of Haifa University shows that children of Holocaust survivors pick up more about their parents’ pasts from subtle, chilling clues than from storytelling, as in the case of a woman whose parents taught her always to keep a pair of shoes by her bed. [JPost]
• For the first time ever, there might be four Jewish players in the Major League Baseball All-Star game this year; that is, unless, you’re a strict matrilinealist—two of them are Jewish on their fathers’ side. [Bloomberg]
• 20 hotels in Israel have decided to adopt a “modesty code” to accommodate ultra-Orthodox guests. For example, TVs will be disconnected except in special cases: “someone who claims he has a television at home and his looks prove this will be directed to a rabbi who will authorize that he be connected to the television.” [Ynet]
• If you feel the need to follow the The Boston Globe‘s instructions for building an ark, we recommend leaving out the mosquitoes this time. [BG]

News from Spain

Good for bike racers, bad for medieval souls


Every year, epic bicycle race Le Tour de France changes its route and incorporates a bordering region; this year, riders will traverse northwest Spain. Should you want to stand on the sidelines, we recommend Stage 6. It begins in Girona, which boasts one of the largest Jewish Quarters in medieval Catalonia and is overlooked by Mont Juic, or, “Hill of the Jew.” Get there the night before and you can enjoy a concert by viola de gamba master Jordi Savall in the town’s Cloister of the Cathedral.

To the southwest, in Toledo, less boastful are the town officials who allowed a new school to be built over a 13th-century Jewish cemetery, prompting international protest after excavators unearthed the remains of 103 bodies, in violation of Jewish law. According to the director of the regional government’s culture department, “Nobody knows the importance of Spain’s Jewish heritage better than we do in Toledo,” once the capital of Spanish Jewry. “But we can’t put 1,000 pupils on the street.” Yesterday, the conflict was resolved, not entirely to everyone’s satisfaction, when the bones were re-buried near their original resting place.

It may serve as some consolation to know that the Jewish cemetery atop Mont Juic was designated a cultural heritage site this past May. Those who lie there shall go undisturbed, except by the passing of 180 sweaty cyclists this Thursday.

Le Tour de France, official site
Re-Burying Jewish Souls [NYT]

Gaza Blockade Keeps the Swine Flu Away

West Bank not so lucky


Swine flu has hit the West Bank, but, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the Israeli blockade that prevents Palestinians from entering or leaving the Gaza Strip has thus far also worked as a blockade against swine flu in that area, proving that there’s always a silver lining.

Meantime, the mufti of Nablus has issued a public health alert in the guise of a religious proclamation, reminding residents that under Sharia law, “it is forbidden to hug or kiss anyone suffering from a contagious disease in order to prevent it from spreading.” Ynet readers astutely observed in the article’s comments section that “if the Muslims would choose Hashem instead of allah as their god, Psalm 91 would cover them in this” and that “if you’re infected, only hug the jews.”

Nablus Mufti: Avoid Physical Contact to Contain H1N1 Virus [Ynet]

Madoff & Friends

Inducted into new con artist hall of fame


Bernard Madoff is currently rotting in a Manhattan jail cell (projected release date: November 14, 2139). Investors who found themselves bankrupted by the scandal might be pleased, but a pair of California financiers worried that the perpetrator of “the biggest con of all time” might soon be as unfamiliar to the general public as predecessors like Bernard Cornfeld or John Law—so they decided to create a rogue’s gallery they call the Con Artist Hall of Infamy to catalog and categorize generations of fleecers for posterity (including, yes, Charles Ponzi) along with a Con Timeline and a Con Watch blog.

The 35 inductees were chosen on the basis of how much they stole (or caused shareholders to lose), how colorful they were, whether their crimes shook whole industries, and whether they were convicted in court. So far, the gallery includes only men, prompting co-founder Warren Hellman to speculate to the LA Times that women are either “too smart to get caught or they’re actually too honest.”

What Madoff, Minkow and Ponzi Now Have in Common

Related: Time is Money

Get on the Mic!

Check our rhymin’ skillz


The Jerusalem Post profiles a 30-year-old from California who’s merging hip hop with Sabbath prayer. We’ve been composing religious raps for years now (well, years in an ant’s life and yes, Touré, we know: hip hop and rap are different genres). That said, here’s a sample for all the players and the player haters. You can also hear our demo.

It’s Friday evening—ev’rything is windin’ down
Time is now—hang up those uniforms, clown

Cause as the sun sets, rises up the Sabbath Queen
Bitch is kinda mean—she’s not playin’ (uhn uhn)

Stop your work. Light up them candles.
Homies on the block: it’s time to buckle up your sandals

Get yer asses to the table.
Sing a song, go eat some challah

If yer down with what I’m saying, then it’s time for you to holla!

Hip-Hop Shabbat Brings Youth Back to Religion [JPost]

You’ve Gone Too Far, Baby

IDF rabbi raises hackles of female soldiers


Avichai Ronski, the chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, is denying reports that he said “a priori, women should not serve in the army” at a conference two weeks ago, according to Haaretz. Religious women soldiers at the event where Ronski spoke said they found his remarks insensitive and illogical, given that Ronski met his future wife when she was performing her army service as a clerk in his unit. But objections to Ronski’s supposed statement on the grounds that the army brought him to the altar raises its own prickly question—are these women serving in the interest of national defense or as a way to meet a mate?

IDF Chief Rabbi Says Women Shouldn’t Serve [Haaretz]

Today on Tablet

Leiber and Stoller’s ‘Hound Dog,’ the Dead Sea, Indian food, a Brooklyn Golem, and more


Contributing Editor Wesley Yang reviews Hound Dog, the autobiography of songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Daniella Cheslow sticks a toe in the debate surrounding the shrinking of the Dead Sea. Mimi Sheraton samples the (vegetarian, kosher) flavors of the Indian subcontinent. Marissa Brostoff checks in with an unlikely pair of twin sisters: one’s married to a Palestinian activist and the other’s a rabbi. And filmmakers Stephen and Joel Levinsohn set loose a Golem on the streets of today’s Brooklyn. These stories—along with regular updates here on The Scroll—today on Tablet.

Euros Pressure Bibi

To get with the peace program


German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined the list of international voices calling for a halt to Israeli settlement construction. She told a session of the Bundestag (the lower house of German parliament) that building in the West Bank, including “natural growth,” is a hindrance to the two-state solution. As The Jerusalem Post reports, what’s noteworthy about Merkel’s position is not only her center-right alignment but her habitual reluctance to demand too much of the Jewish state.

Earlier this week, the New York Times disclosed that French President Nicolas Sarkozy personally told Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu that his foreign minister, the far-right ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, was toxic and should be fired, comparing Lieberman to France’s best-known xenophobe Jean-Marie Le Pen. Given the iciness between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu, there’s a good chance the U.S. president has prevailed upon his European allies to do some gentle nudging and needling of their own. Merkel’s statements are exactly in line with the main criterion put forth by both the European Union and American State Department. And if anyone on the continent is in a position to deflect an anti-Arab boor, surely it’s the part-Jewish head of state who wants the burka banned and the rioting “scum” of the Parisian banlieues brought to heel.

Merkel: Settlements Ruin Efforts for 2-state Solution [JPost]

Sarkozy Comments on Israeli Minister Make Waves [NYT]

Daybreak: War Crimes

Hamas and Israel both guilty, Rome adopts Shalit, and more from the news.


• Amnesty International reports that by its standards, both Israel and Hamas are guilty of committing war crimes during the recent conflict in Gaza. [London Times]
• The city of Rome has made kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit an honorary citizen and taken up the cause of his release. [Ynet]
• The photographer who runs the HaChayim HaYehudim Jewish Photo Library has had permission to document most of the synagogues in Australia revoked by Jewish security groups, for undisclosed reasons. “I could never have imagined being blacklisted on an entire continent,” he said. [JPost]
• Bernie Madoff has been inducted into the Con Artist Hall of Infamy. [LAT]
• Michael Jackson may have a secret Saudi-Arabian Jewish widow. But probably not. [JTA]

Sundown: The Jackson Question

Faux paranoia, a subway skirmish, and a good call by God


• Everyone’s wondering, will Michael Jackson’s kids be raised by their Jewish mother? And if she used a donor egg, are they still Jews? [JTA]
• A Palestinian American comedian wrote a parodic column positing that Facebook is a Zionist conspiracy; too bad it’s so unfunny, some people might mistake it for an earnest theory. [JPost]
• A woman whose dog puked on the NYC subway either harassed or was harassed by the city’s first Hasidic police officer. [Gawker]
• In the grand tradition of leaving one’s political decisions to a higher power, Joe the Plumber has decided not to run for Congress after God gave the idea a thumbs down. [NY Mag]
• And, in another grand tradition, the Baltimore Jewish Times brags about Jewish comedians in honor of Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming movie Bruno. [BJT]

A Muslim for Scotland

Who thinks Jews should join the party


Nationalist political parties tend, for the most part, not to be the sort of organizations that embrace diversity. But one of the leading lights of the Scottish National Party, whose platform is based on local governance rather than on notions of racial purity, is Osama Saeed, the Glasgow-born founder of the Scottish Islamic Foundation.

Saeed is expected to run in the next general election for a parliamentary seat previously held by Mohammed Sarwar, Britain’s first Muslim MP. He has come in for criticism as a kind of Trojan Muslim who conceals his support for a restored Islamic caliphate behind his neatly trimmed beard and natty ties. But in an interview with London-based altmuslim, he says all he wanted was the freedom to have state-supported parochial schools—something Orthodox Jews, as it happens, also enthusiastically support, along, he noted, with people who speak Gaelic.

Muslims in Europe: The Scottish Example [altmuslim]
Related: Boneheads and Ballots

Those Were the Days

An appreciation of Norman Lear


The inimitable (and Talmud-quoting) Norman Lear gets love from the A.V. Club on the release of a new boxed set of DVDs of six Lear shows. Not all the titles are winners. One Day at a Time and The Jeffersons are singled out as second-rate, though without the latter there’d be no Diff’rent Strokes or Fresh Prince of Bel Air. And a world without those gems would be like a world without rainbows.

More frequently, Lear created universes populated by the cantankerous, opinionated likes of Archie Bunker, Maude Findlay, and James Evans. The legacy they left is “not in today’s best sitcoms—which tend to be gag-oriented and stingless, not achingly relevant—but in the sports analysts and political pundits yelling at each other all across the cable TV spectrum. The problem is that none of those bozos are as funny or endearing.”

The Norman Lear Collection [AV Club]

Holocaust Survivors Will Get Assets

Left by heirless Jews


A number of Eastern European countries have agreed for the first time that “heirless Jewish property should be used to aid needy Holocaust survivors,” Haaretz reports. Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, which had previously maintained that such property belonged to the state, joined 42 other nations in signing on to the restitution plan at the Holocaust Era Assets Conference, which ended yesterday in Prague.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, several EU countries, including Germany, still put up “serious obstacles” that block Holocaust property claimants from taking back their property.

Heirless Jewish Assets to Be Used for Aid to Survivors [Haaretz]

For Restitution Seekers, 10 European Countries That Have Obstacles

Rah Finland!

Cold hands, warm hearts


Apparently, Finland, besides being “one of the most pleasant and peaceful societies on the entire continent,” is a haven for Israel-lovers, reports Michael Freund. On a recent trip there, he saw “churches where the Israeli flag is proudly displayed side-by-side with the Finnish national colors, and where entire Christian congregations recite ‘Hatikva’ first in Hebrew and then in Finnish” and was bombarded by Hebrew-speaking Nordic Zionists, Jewish and non. Sounds like Finland is less ambivalent on the matter than even Israel itself—maybe that’s where we should be sending our youth if we really want to foster pride.

A Place Where Israel is Loved [JPost]

Eat, Pray, Live

Should kashrut be more about health?

(Farmers’ Market by Natalie Maynor; some rights reserved)

“The food we have today is a result of life in exile, a life of cold and suffering. But this is not true Judaism,” says Miriam Glazer, a rabbi who spoke at a recent study day held by The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies on the subject of “Jewish Women Maintaining a Healthy Soul,” along with her sister, cookbook author Phyllis Glazer. “Meat comes only after the flood. We today need to return to the Garden of Eden within and be vegetarians,” she continues. While the appeal of finding paradise within is obvious, and there are more than enough reasons to be vegetarian even without factoring in Original Sin, this idea flies in the face of the way a lot of Jews today live. Although Ynet described the conference as catering to “traditional” women, this designation apparently does not include the ultra-Orthodox, who, according to Miriam, “aren’t even remotely part of this world.” Truly, we all might want to reconsider a diet that includes this.

Organic is the True Kosher [Ynet]

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