Jewish Clergy’s Newest Challenge: Single Motherhood

A new documentary follows four women on their journey to parenthood

Felicia Sol with her two children. (Courtesy of Diva Communications)

Be sure to have a hanky ready should you watch All of the Above: Single, Clergy, Mother, a frank documentary about the pursuit of solo parenthood. If you’re at all a softie, you’ll cry despite the fairly corny title cards and occasional sunset vistas, and even though it’s clear from the start that for three of the four women featured there is a happy ending. Rabbis Felicia Sol, Julie Greenberg, and Lisa Gelber all now have children. Basya Schechter, a cantor and musician, is still on a path there. (more…)

University of Michigan Votes Against Divestment

The school’s student government rejects controversial proposal 25 votes to 9

(University of Michigan)

After a lively debate Tuesday night that lasted until after midnight Wednesday, the University of Michigan’s Central Student Government, or CSG, voted to reject a controversial resolution calling on the university to divest from companies that the legislation’s proponents argue are complicit in violating Palestinian human rights. Widespread discussion about the resolution began last week after the CSG indefinitely postponed a vote on the matter, prompting a week-long campus sit-in by student supporters of the resolution.

Last night, in a CSG session with an unprecedented number of attendees and speakers, student representatives reconvened to reconsider their initial vote on the resolution, ultimately voting 25 to 9 (with five abstentions) to reject the proposal entirely.  (more…)

Tracking the Jewish Charitable World’s Finances

A new investigative report follows the money—all $26 billion of it


An important piece of investigative journalism quietly slipped onto the web this week when the Forward published Part 1 of a new series, “26 Billion Bucks: The Jewish Charity Industry Uncovered.” The series is the result of Josh Nathan-Kazis’ investigation into 3,600 Jewish charities, in which he identified and reviewed tax documents filed by these organizations, analyzing how they get their money and what they do with it. (more…)

At The Israel Museum, the Menu Mirrors the Art

The museum restaurant serves dishes inspired by artists like Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock-inspired Chicken Kadaif at the Israel Museum's Modern restaurant. (Afik Gabay)

Whether you’re there to see the Second Temple Model or to catch the latest contemporary art exhibition, you can end your visit to the Israel Museum with a meal at Modern, which was opened by food entrepreneur Zafrir Ginsberg and his wife Avital in 2011 after the museum’s renovation.

Jerusalem’s Modern is part of an international wave of trendy museum restaurants like The Modern at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art or Georges at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Now, Jerusalem’s Modern is looking to the world of art for inspiration for its menu. (more…)

Ritz Crackers Makes Kosher Bacon a Reality

The company’s new bacon-flavored cracker is kosher-certified by the OU


Ritz Crackers’ latest foray into flavored crackers has yielded a rather unusual result: Bacon-flavored crackers. But though this delightful new addition to the cracker canon may taste trayf, they are 100 percent kosher—the coveted O.U. symbol will appear on the bottom left corner of every box, JTA reports.

But, like most things involving Jews and bacon, it wasn’t quite that simple. There was some serious debate over whether or not to give this bacon impostor kosher certification. According to Moshe Elefant, COO of the Orthodox Union Kashrut Department, the decision involved lengthy discussions.

“The reality is there’s nothing close to bacon in this product. There are artificial bacon flavorings that give the ‘bacon flavor.’ Nobody’s going to think this is actual bacon,” Elefant explained. (more…)

New Chilean Art School To Push Nazi Ideology

Posters advertising the school, which opens Friday, feature swastikas

Ancúd, on the Chilean island of Chiloé. (Wikipedia)

Posters advertising Chile’s newest art school have a surprising symbol on them: a swastika. That’s not the only reason the school, which is named after a Chilean dictator and plans to open Friday in the town of Ancúd on the island of Chiloé, has sparked controversy among locals.

According to the Times of Israel, Godofredo Rodríguez Pacheco, the founder of ‘Art School, President General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte,’ has “described himself in the past as a purveyor of Hitler’s ideology,” and isn’t concerned by the Nazi association his newest enterprise has garnered. (more…)

Reading Maimonides With Sherwin B. Nuland

The surgeon and writer, who died this month, tackled life’s tough questions

Sherwin B. Nuland. (Bob Child/File/The Associated Press)

Sherwin B. Nuland, the surgeon and writer whose 1994 book, How We Die, won a National Book Award and changed the cultural conversation about end-of-life care, never shied away from life’s tough questions. When he died of prostate cancer earlier this month, an outpouring of obituaries and remembrances attempted to come to terms with the death of the man who told us so much, and in such exacting detail, about that very subject.

“Dr. Nuland wrote that his intention was to demythologize death, making it more familiar and therefore less frightening,” the New York Times wrote. (more…)

Hamas Supporters Rally at Al-Quds University

Months after Brandeis University cut ties with the school over a similar protest

Hamas rally at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. (Facebook)

Hamas supporters organized a rally at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem on Sunday, the Times of Israel reports. Members of the Islamic Bloc of Al-Quds University, a student organization associated with Hamas, wore black face masks and carried green banners and cardboard replicas of missiles like the ones recently launched from Gaza into Israel.

According to the group’s Facebook page, the rally was titled “Alerting the loyal–on the path of the great leaders” and was organized to commemorate Hamas leaders killed by Israel. (more…)

Simon Schama Discusses His New Documentary

The Story of the Jews, a five-part TV series, premieres this week on PBS

Simon Schama filming The Story of the Jews. (Thirteen)

The clear takeaway from last night’s impassioned discussion between Jonathan Safran Foer and Simon Schama at 92Y was that Judaism is the story of people shouting over each other—lovingly so.

There to discuss Schama’s new documentary, The Story of the Jews—which premieres tonight on PBS and aired in Britain last year (Schama joked that the Haaretz review of the film opened by saying that after this, “no one will be able to say for at least another decade that the BBC has an inherent bias against Israel”)—the evening quickly turned into the Simon Schama show. The event can only be described as part memoir (we heard stories from his days in cheder), part stand-up (he told every old Jewish joke in the book, nailing the punch lines), and part history lesson (that was why we were there in the first place). Foer played the straight man to Schama’s enthusiastic tales and barely got a word in edgewise—eventually, unable to interrupt Foer, Schama began interrupting himself, telling stories about stories, creating his own layered Talmud of Jewish history. (more…)

The Best Parody Yet of Seinfeld’s Web Series

Sorry, Jerry: ‘Pedestrians in Bars Eating Toffee’ is funnier than the original


Jerry Seinfeld’s web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, may have finally met its match. Pedestrians in Bars Eating Toffee is the best parody we’ve seen yet, and is—forgive me, Jerry—actually funnier than the original. (Is the original supposed to be funny? I still don’t entirely get it.) (more…)

University of Texas to Bring Back Yiddish

The Austin university last offered Yiddish language classes 10 years ago

(University of Texas at Austin)

The University of Texas at Austin will offer Yiddish language courses for the first time in 10 years, the Daily Texan reports. Yiddish had been taught at the university since the 1970s, but courses stopped being offered when the last Yiddish professor, Itzik Gottesman, left the university 10 years ago. Now Gottesman is back with on campus, and Yiddish classes for will resume in the fall semester.

“I taught Yiddish at UT in the 1990s, and the classes had wonderful registration,” Gottesman said. “A number of students have gone on to work with Yiddish as part of their research in history, linguistics and Jewish studies, and I expect there to be a great interest in Yiddish again.”

Gottesman wil also teach Jewish Studies classes in addition to the Yiddish courses, and anticipates solid enrollment levels.

When Alan Dershowitz Debated Meir Kahane

A battle for America’s Jewish youth and Israel’s soul in 1985

Alan Dershowitz and Meir Kahane (Harvard/John Prieto)

29 years ago today, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz publicly debated radical Israeli politician Rabbi Meir Kahane on Israel, theocracy, and Jewish identity. The two had attended the same yeshiva high school in New York, where they both captained the debate team, but had taken dramatically different paths. While Dershowitz became the youngest tenured professor in Harvard Law School history, Kahane made a name for himself as a right-wing Jewish ideologue, whose political party “Kach” would be banned from the Knesset for racism. (Among other policies, Kahane advocated expelling Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza who refused to leave voluntarily, and defended acts of Jewish terrorism against them.)

Despite the extremism of his views–or rather because of them–the charismatic Kahane attracted a growing base of supporters, composed largely of young people disaffected from the Jewish establishment. In 1984, after a failed attempt to ban it, his party won its first Knesset seat, and was soon projected to take more in the next election. But even as Kahane toured campuses in America to drum up support for his program–including imposing his brand of Jewish law on the Israeli populace–many in the Jewish establishment refused to engage him, not wanting to lend legitimacy to his views. (more…)

Israel’s Knesset Proposes National Aliyah Day

New annual holiday would celebrate Jewish immigration to Israel


A bill was introduced in the Israeli Knesset last week that would establish a national holiday to recognize and celebrate aliyah, or immigration to Israel, JTA reports. The 10th of Nissan, which was selected to become the annual Yom HaAliyah, marks the date of the first-ever mass immigration in Jewish history. According to the Book of Joshua, that was the date the Jews crossed the Jordan River into Israel after the exodus from Egypt, ending their 40 years in the desert. (more…)

Five Madoff Employees Found Guilty of Fraud

New York federal jury convicts Ponzi schemer’s former aides on all charges

Daniel Bonventre, former director of operations for investments, working under Bernie Madoff, arrives at Federal Court, to begin a trial being brought against him by the federal government on October 8, 2013 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

After a more than five-month trial, a New York federal jury found five of convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff’s former employees guilty of fraud and conspiracy, Reuters reports. The group of former aides included two computer programmers, two portfolio managers, and Madoff’s back-office director Daniel Bonventre, all of whom were convicted on all counts.

“These five defendants played crucial roles in constructing and maintaining the house of cards that was the Madoff investment fraud,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “The scheme these defendants helped perpetrate cost innumerable investors their life savings. Now it likely will cost the defendants their freedom.”


Germany’s New Guide for Jewish Travelers

The detailed, downloadable 57-page guidebook is a bid to encourage tourism

(Germany for the Jewish Traveler)

In an effort to encourage Jewish tourism to Germany, the German National Tourist Board has released a 57-page guidebook titled Germany for the Jewish Traveler. Published in Hebrew and English, the downloadable e-brochure goes city by city, leading the Jewish traveler through Germany’s greatest sites and highlighting the significance of each to Jewish history. Germany’s tourism office first published a simple version of the brochure in the 1980s, but this new version is extremely thorough, packed with information for your Jewish journey through Germany.

Today, nearly seven decades after the end of World War II, Germany is home to the third-largest Jewish community in Western Europe. It’s also the only European Jewish community that is growing rather than shrinking. The guide is aimed at Jews from all over the world who want to explore what it calls an “entirely different Germany.” (more…)

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