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Moscow Gets a Kosher Nightclub

The Shachar Club will serve kosher food and close for Shabbat

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A man lights a candle during Hanukkah in a nightclub in Moscow on December 13, 2009. (ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

After Shabbat ends this Saturday, a new kosher nightclub is set to open its doors in the center of Moscow. The Shahar Club, JTA reports, will serve only kosher food and drink and will not be open on Shabbat.

A Russian Jewish group called Shachar, which organizes a variety of Jewish community activities for the Jewish community, is opening the new establishment in hopes of exposing Muscovites to a slice of Tel Aviv nightlife. (more…)

Brooklyn BBQ Finds Its Way to Jaffa

At Pundak De-Luxe, all the food is locally sourced—even the pork

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Pundak De-Luxe in Jaffo, Israel. (Ben Yuster)

For Tel Aviv hipsters on the road, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has become a top travel destination. But if it’s baby-back ribs with a side of coleslaw they’re after, they won’t need to travel so far anymore. Pundak De-Luxe is a new Brooklyn-style barbecue joint that opened a month ago in Jaffa. It serves artisanal smoked (non-kosher) meat of all kinds, made in traditional American ways, served with the usual sides, and clearly inspired by New York’s recent BBQ boom.

Israelis loves grilled meat, but this is not your customary al ha-esh, or “on the fire,” type barbecue. Oh no, Pundak De-Luxe believes in smoking meat (in an imported meat smoker) using the old-fashioned “Low & Slow” method. Side dishes—including coleslaw, corn-bread, corn-on-the-cob, and mac-and-cheese—are no less authentic. There’s even New York-style cheesecake for desert. (more…)

Jewish Gravestones Found In Polish Basement

Local historian discovered the headstones in a house set to be torn down

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Seven Jewish gravestones were found built into the basement ceiling of a home in the Polish town of Golina, Jewish Heritage Europe reports. The gravestones were discovered by chance when local historian Krzysztof Grochowski was photographing the disused house before it was torn down.

Virtual Shtetl, quoting a local Polish TV station, reports:

In the past, the building housed an ice-cream shop and a furniture store. Grochowski was initially intrigued by the unintelligible inscriptions. The removal of old plasterwork revealed seven Jewish headstones in the ceiling. (more…)

Tablet Celebrates National Poetry Month

We’re sharing stories about poetry and poets from our archives all month

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(Original images Shutterstock and Library of Congress)

“April is the cruellest month, breeding,” sang T.S. Eliot. “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,” launched Chaucer. Sayeth Tablet, “Yea, April is National Poetry Month.” Our archives are proudly brimming with material about poetry and poets: interviews with Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, literary criticism of new work, appreciations, commemorations, obituaries, celebrations, readings, profiles, and new original verse.

Each week this month we’ll be bringing you highlights from Tablet’s archive. Please join us in helping the American Academy of Poets carry the flame. (more…)

Jerusalem Man Changes Name to Barack Obama

Interior Ministry approves legal change paying homage to U.S. president

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Barack Obama's Israeli national ID card. (Times of Israel)

There’s a new Barack Obama in town—Jerusalem, that is. African-American Jewish convert Mark Hardie, a Jerusalem resident, legally changed his name to Barack Obama after a special committee at the Interior Ministry approved his request, the Times of Israel reports. He’s hoping to legalize the change in the United States as well, though that seems a bit less likely to work.

“I felt like it could be good for Israel to have a Jewish Barack Obama,” said Obama.

There is, however, one difference between the two men’s names. Jerusalem’s Obama decided to leave out the president’s middle name, Hussein—according to the article, “it didn’t jibe with his Jewish character.” (more…)

Tourist Steals Barbed Wire From Auschwitz

Italian man arrested at Krakow airport faces up to five years in jail

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Entrance to Auschwitz. (JACEK BEDNARCZYK/AFP/Getty Images)

An Italian tourist was arrested at Krakow’s John Paul II International Airport this weekend for attempting to smuggle a bizarre souvenir out of Poland in his suitcase: a piece of barbed wire from Auschwitz. JTA reports that border guards discovered the “rusty piece of wire,” which was about 16 inches long, and that the man faces a prison sentence ranging anywhere from three months to five years.

“During interrogation, the man said that he took the wire as a souvenir while visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, lifted it from the ground and took it with him,” Katarzyna Walczak, a spokeswoman for the Silesian-Malopolska Border Guard, said in a statement.

(more…)

Kerry Cancels Trip To Meet Abbas in Ramallah

Returns to U.S. a day early after Abbas threatens to derail negotiations

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(Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

John Kerry left Israel on Tuesday, returning to the United States a day earlier than planned and canceling his planned trip to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Washington Post reports. Kerry’s scheduling change—he arrived in Israel on Monday with the goal of resolving the dispute over the release of more Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails—is in response to Abbas’ threats to derail peace negotiations.

An official familiar with the talks had said earlier Tuesday that negotiators were discussing in broad outline a plan that would require Israel to slow settlement construction and release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. The Palestinians would in turn agree not to pursue recognition of a Palestinian state or other redress through the United Nations in order to keep alive the hope for a solution negotiated between the two sides.

(more…)

The Jewish Mother With 150 Children

For Rose Marchick, foster care is her specific brand of tikkun olam

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Marchick's with her children and husband Clint.(JNS)

Forget Cheaper by the Dozen. Rose Marchick, an Orthodox Jew in her late 30s from Olathe, Kansas, has mothered more than 150 children in the last nine years. According to JNS, she is one of the most active foster parents in the area, and hers is one of few foster homes that takes in children with severe emotional issues.

“The kids need a home, and we have one,” Marchick, who has a PhD in psychology, explained. “It’s no more complicated than that.” (more…)

Lihi Lapid Talks Pajamas, Champagne, and Sufganiyot

The wife of Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid promotes her new book in New York

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Lihi Lapid. (Facebook)

Lihi Lapid can pinpoint the exact moment she realized that her life had changed. It was a year ago, on the morning after the general elections in Israel. Her husband, Yair Lapid, a former television host, had just secured an upset victory, with his centrist Yesh Atid list becoming the second-largest party in the country. “It’s 7:07, and I need to send the kids to school,” Lihi Lapid recalled the other day, on a visit to New York. So, without thinking, she threw on a sweater over her pajamas and headed out the door—straight into an onslaught of paparazzi. That’s when she decided to change one thing about her new life: “I went and I bought a decent pajama.”

These days, Lapid, who is 46, cuts a striking figure, with long dark hair and steel blue eyes. Her husband is now Israel’s finance minister; she still writes a popular column in the the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot that mixes recipes with romantic and family-related anecdotes. She was in the U.S. to promote her newly translated book, Woman of Valor, a semi-autobiographical novel that details, among other things, the struggles she and her husband—who’s referred to in the book solely as “my man”—suffered when their young daughter was diagnosed with autism. (more…)

Graffiti Scrawled on Monastery Near Jerusalem

Monastery walls vandalized with anti-Christian and anti-American epithets

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People leave the Deir Rafat Catholic convent whose walls were sprayed with Hebrew graffiti reading 'Jesus monkey' on April 1, 2014 near the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem.(MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

“Jesus is a monkey” and other offensive epithets were found spray-painted on the walls of a Catholic monastery near Beit Shemesh, JTA reports. The graffiti included other anti-Christian and anti-American slurs, including “America is Nazi Germany” and “Price Tag—Peace Agreement.” Tires of nearby cars were slashed as well. (more…)

Shmurah Matzoh: The Bentley of Matzoh?

That’s what a new Chabad Passover commercial says

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A Bentley, the Shmurah matzoh of automobiles. (AutoWeek)

If you were confused by the title of a Passover commercial circulating the web in recent days—”Bentley ad for shmura matza“—and wondering why on earth Bentley would be advertising for a matzoh company, fear not. I too was perplexed, though a cursory viewing reveals that it’s not, in fact, a real Bentley ad. It’s a parody, brought to you in time for Passover by your local Chabad.

“If you’re seeking luxury, you should aim for the top,” the video’s intriguing British voiceover says as the camera pans over the sleek, smooth body of a British automobile. “Each piece is specifically arranged and handled in order to guarantee the quality of the product. It can’t be compared to the machine-made, assembly-line’s mass-produced cars” It’s not really about cars at all—it’s about matzoh! (more…)

Crimea Crisis Revives a Classic Soviet Jewish Joke

The return of Rabinovich is the revival of a Soviet mentality in Putin’s Russia

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The Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower. (Wikimedia)

As a barometer of slight shifts and turns in history and political climate, the Soviet Jewish joke always did a stellar job. Nowhere was it more perfect than in its sub-genre of widely circulated jokes about one Rabinovich, a stereotypical Soviet Jew with a recognizably ethnic last name. As a protagonist, Rabinovich combined the foolishness that allowed him to take the twists and turns of state ideology too literally with the wits to exploit the chasm between these misunderstandings and reality.

In one fine example, Rabinovich works in the Kremlin, where his job is to sit in one of the structure’s tall towers so that he could better see and signal the arrival of Communism. Americans try to lure him over to their side so that he will foretell the arrival of economic crises instead, but he declines, saying: “My current employment is permanent.” (more…)

Iran’s Chief Rabbi Dies at 98

Yosef Hamadani Cohen led Iran’s Jewish community since 1994

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An Iranian Jewish man wearing a Tallit, reads the Torah during morning prayer at Youssef Abad synagogue in Tehran on September 30, 2013. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Rabbi Yosef Hamadani Cohen, the Chief Rabbi of Iran, passed away this weekend at the age of 98, JTA reports. His death was announced by Siamak Moreh Sedgh, the representative of the Iranian Jews in parliament, and marked informally by Iranian Jews via their Facebook statuses.

Hamadani, who had led Iran’s Jewish community since 1994, had been ill for many years. He reportedly had close ties with Iranian political leadership, and met Iranian President Mohammah Khatami in 2000, lating hosted him at his Yusef Abad Synagogue in 2003—the first-ever synagogue visit by an Iranian president since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. (more…)

Katmandu Chabad Without Supplies For Seder

Annual 1,000-person Passover meal stymied by foreign ministry strike

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View of the Himalayas from Katmandu valley(Wikipedia)

A seder planned in Katmandu, Nepal is in jeopardy this year as shipments of supplies for the meal are stuck at port in India, the Associated Press reports.

The Nepal Seder is one of hundreds hosted around the world by Chabad, and approximately 1,000 people—many of whom are Israeli backpackers—usually gather for the event. Supplies for the Passover production are normally routed through Nepal’s Israeli embassy, but with foreign ministry employees on strike, the delivery of goods has been halted. (more…)

Was Noah a Vegetarian?

Darren Aronofsky didn’t make his protagonist a vegetarian—the Bible did

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Russell Crowe in 'Noah' (YouTube)

Movie critics tackling Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic Noah have had some fun disentangling the filmmaker’s innovations from the original scriptural story. Basically: massive earth-destroying deluge, yes; Emma Watson’s character, no. But there’s one element of the movie that reviewers have consistently gotten wrong: Noah’s vegetarianism.

Outlining the ways in which Aronofsky has embellished the story, RogerEbert.com’s Matt Zoller Seitz writes that “Noah and his family are vegetarians and view the consumption of meat as a sin against God.” In the Washington Post, Kristen Page-Kirby observes that Aronofsky takes “Peter Jackson-level liberties with the source material,” given that “some characters have been eliminated and others added, the women wear pants, and Noah … pushes an environmentally conscious agenda (he’s even a vegetarian!).” But these claims tell us much less about Noah and its director, and much more about how unfamiliar the reviewers are with the original biblical account. That’s because Aronofsky didn’t make Noah a vegetarian, the Bible did. (more…)

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