thescroll_header

Why You Should Watch ‘Funny Girl’

Rediscovering the relevance of a Streisand classic

Email
(IMDb)

I confess: during my first week interning at Tablet this summer, I had to ask about the origin of the phrase “Hello, Gorgeous” that was printed on the tote bags hanging at the front of the office.

I know; it’s shameful. But I can explain … sort of. I was born in 1995, and that makes me a member of the generation that first heard “Don’t Rain On My Parade” not from Barbra Streisand but from Rachel Berry in an episode of Glee. For some odd reason, Funny Girl, once a staple of Jewish popular culture, has stayed largely off my radar—and the same is true for my college-age Jewish peers. Last weekend, I decided that this had to change. I would not be uninformed any longer. I would watch Funny Girl. (more…)

Meet Marc Weitzmann

The author of Tablet’s ‘France’s Toxic Hate’ series discusses his background

Email
(Shutterstock)

This week marked the third installment of Marc Weitzmann’s timely five-part series, France’s Toxic Hate, which catalogs the rise of anti-Semitism in the country. Here, Weitzmann shares a bit about his own family history and his personal experiences living in France, and how they led him to write about anti-Jewish prejudice.

How far back does your family’s history in France go? 

Part of my family is originally from Ukraine—they left around 1880, en route for New York, but the boat stopped in Marseille because of the Typhus epidemic, if I remember correctly, and that’s how they ended up becoming French. (more…)

16,000 Israeli Reservists Called Up

Netanyahu vows to press on until tunnel threat eliminated

Email
Israeli soldiers rest after returning from combat in the Gaza Strip at the deployment area along the border between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on July 31, 2014. (Getty Images)

The IDF called up an additional 16,000 reservists on Wednesday night, bringing the total number of reservists marshaled since the start of Operation Protective Edge to 86,000.

They will be part of force rotations and deployed not only to swap out soldiers already deployed to Gaza, but also to the West Bank and the northern border, allowing soldiers there to join the front lines in the south.

Fighting continued in Gaza on the 24th day of the operation, as Israeli infantrymen shot and killed a Hamas gunman as he emerged from an attack tunnel. (more…)

Remembering the Sinti and Roma of Auschwitz

On August 2, 1944, Nazis liquidated the concentration camp’s Gypsy section

Email
German police guard a group of Roma who have been rounded up for deportation to Poland. Germany, 1940-1945. (US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Lydia Chagoll)

At twilight on the evening of Aug. 2, 1944, big, wood-sided trucks arrived at the Gypsy family camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The prisoners were given sausage and a piece of bread and told that they were being taken to another camp. At first, the trucks drove off in a different direction from the gas chambers and crematoria, but as they doubled back toward the killing factories, the Gypsies began to struggle and fight the guards. “Betrayal!” they screamed. “Murder!”

A Hungarian Jew who heard the clamor from a nearby barrack later said that the memory made her blood run cold. “We heard yelling, German orders, the ever, ever-present German Shepherd dogs barking,” she recalled. “And then, screaming. I never, ever forget that screaming. Terrible screams. They must have known.” (more…)

Why Europe Has Trouble Fighting Anti-Semitism

Three reasons it has difficulty facing up to anti-Jewish hate

Email
A rioters throws a projectile at French riot police officers in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, on July 20, 2014, after clashes following a demonstration denouncing Israel's military campaign in Gaza. (Getty Images)

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe. Public expressions of Jew-hatred tend to spike when Israel is at war, but this round has been exceptionally nasty. In France, pro-Palestinian demonstrations have descended into full-blown riots and pogroms, with synagogues firebombed and Jewish neighborhoods ransacked; German streets have been filled with cries of “Jews to the gas!”; and abuse on social media has simply been too rife to quantify.

European leaders have begun to understand the gravity of the crisis. The German, French, and Italian foreign ministers have issued a joint declaration condemning anti-Semitic rhetoric and attacks. Leading German tabloid Bild ran the headline “Never Again Jew Hatred!” last week, featuring denunciations from leading public figures. And the French government took the extraordinary step of attempting to ban several pro-Palestine rallies for fear of further eruptions of violence.

But across Europe’s vestigial Jewish communities, there is a sense that non-Jews just don’t get it. After all, none of this is new. Indeed, the heightened security around synagogues and Jewish schools is so commonplace that Jews have become accustomed to it. In France, public displays of anti-Semitism—and acts of violence—were on the rise long before this latest Gaza war. So, why is anti-Semitism overlooked by many Europeans until it explodes into view at moments like these? There are three key reasons. (more…)

Bel Kaufman Muses on the Benefits of Being 100

Celebrated author and Yiddish scion passes away at 103

Email
) 'The Nannies' Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin pose with Bel Kaufman (C) during Marymount Manhattan Writing Center Anniversary Party on March 12, 2003 in New York City. (Getty Images)

This past Friday, Bel Kaufman passed away at 103. She was the grande dame of the Upper East Side, a former schoolteacher, author of the 60s classic Up the Down Staircase—and the granddaughter of celebrated Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem. Kaufman was born on May 10, 1911, in Berlin, and spent her childhood in my own home city of Odessa. After the family was forced to flee during the Russian Revolution, they settled in the Bronx in 1923, when Kaufman was 12 years old. She studied education at Hunter College, graduated in 1934, then obtained a master’s degree in English from Columbia University, ultimately launching her successful literary career while serving as a substitute teacher.

Two years ago, I was in the middle of making a documentary film about my husband’s family friend, the great Russian-born Jewish violinist Nina Beilina. Bel, active to the last, kindly agreed to appear in a crucial scene with Nina and spent the afternoon with us. (more…)

Remembering Margot Adler

NPR anchor passes away at 68

Email
(YouTube)

Known and admired for her deft reporting on topics ranging from the KKK to Hurricane Sandy, NPR’s Margot Adler died earlier this week after a three-and-a-half-year bout with cancer. She started out at as the host of “Hour of the Wolf,” a show about sci-fi writers on WBAI in New York City, before joining NPR where, among other achievements, she landed the first radio interview in the country with J.K. Rowling—the brains behind Harry Potter. She was the granddaughter of Alfred Adler, the Viennese psychoanalyst who became one of Freud’s rivals.

According to the New York Times, Margot Adler was “a self-described Wiccan high priestess who adhered to the tradition for more than 40 years,” and wrote the influential Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America. Adler explained later that her attraction to neo-paganism had very much to do with its ties to feminism and the natural world. (more…)

Brooks, Stephens Get it Just Right

Getting to the bottom of what the war in Gaza is about

Email
An Israeli artillery gun fires a 155mm shell towards targets from their position near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 30, 2014. (Getty Images)

Thinking their way through the recent war in Gaza, even observers usually blessed with a keener eye seem to be succumbing to a foggy confusion over what we’re fighting for, who’s to blame, and what’s at stake. Prime examples are here and here. That’s why it was so refreshing to receive a double dose of superbly clear analysis yesterday morning in America’s two major newspapers.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, the indispensible Bret Stephens gave his column just the right title: “Palestine makes you dumb.” (more…)

Project Offers Fresh Glimpse Into Jewish Krakow

‘Snapshot’ highlights traces of the city’s past using Polaroid-style frames

Email
Graffiti reading Radość / Smutek (Joy / Sadness) framed on the corner of Plac Nowy, a trendy square known as the Jewish Square in Krakow, Poland. (Photos by the author)

On a Thursday morning earlier this month, a group of 12 people gathered in front of Krakow’s Jewish Community Centre, ready to explore the city’s Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, with a fresh gaze. We were led by Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar, the creative minds behind “Snapshot—Urban Project,” which debuted at this year’s 24th annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. Different sized cardboard Polaroid-style frames were distributed, and smaller groups were tasked with ‘framing’ details of the neighborhood that may be overlooked, interesting, or symbolic.

“The goal is to make Kazimierz a gallery for everyone,” said Czernek. “After today it’ll still be there for people who didn’t take part.” (more…)

A Bibi-Obama Transcript, and No End in Sight

Day 23 of Operation Protective Edge

Email
smoke rises from the coastal side of the Gaza strip following an Israeli air strike on July 30, 2014. (Getty Images)

Diplomacy had yet to make a dent in the fighting on Wednesday, as the death toll continued to climb in the Gaza Strip and Israel on the 23rd day of Operation Protective Edge.

On Wednesday afternoon, three soldiers were killed in a blast in a booby-trapped building near Khan Younis, bringing the number of soldiers killed in the operation to 56. 15 more were hurt by the collapse of a wall of the building after the explosion.

Estimates of Palestinians killed Wednesday were around 100 as Israel carried out a number of strikes across the Strip. One of these strikes was an alleged attack on a market in the Gaza neighborhood of Shejaiya and another incident in which 15 died after Israel reportedly shelled a UN school in the Strip. The Palestinian death toll has now climbed to over 1,100, with thousands wounded, according to officials in Gaza. (more…)

Mika Brzezinski Welcomes Viewers to ‘Morning Jew’

And a challenge for our readers

Email
(YouTube)

We all–I should hope–remember the terrific Woody Allen riff in Annie Hall about hearing anti-Semitism everywhere. He is walking along trying to persuade his friend, played by Tony Roberts (whom I think I once saw eating in a deli with Joel Grey, but never mind) that he overheard somebody say, “Jew eat”–instead of “Did you eat?” Hilarity ensures.

Well, the kosher chicken, its fat deliciously rendered as gribenes, has come home to roost at MSNBC, where this morning co-host Mika Brzezinski referred to her own show, just moments after interviewing the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., as “Morning Jew.” Check it out: (more…)

‘Palestinian’ Woman in JetBlue Altercation Actually Jewish

Says she’s also Menachem Begin’s third cousin

Email
(Shutterstock)

In the latest twist in an increasingly absurd story, the recent altercation aboard a JetBlue flight over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict turns out to have been between two Jewish women, the New York Post reports.

As originally reported, tensions on the plane rose when Lisa Rosenberg, a gynecologist from New York, discussed recent events in the Middle East on a phone call. A woman who identified herself as Palestinian approached Rosenberg and said that she was offended by her conversation, and a dispute ensued. But according to the New York Post, the woman confessed to Rosenberg last week that she is actually Jewish and from Brooklyn–and she also said that she is a third cousin of late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. (more…)

Tel Aviv Nursery Children Cope With Rockets

A teacher’s story

Email
(Shutterstock)

“Giraffe!” I shout. “Giraffe! Giraffe! Giraffe!”

It’s a code word the kids and I came up with at our morning meeting. They know now that when the teacher starts calling out “Giraffe” they must run, as quickly and calmly as possible, back to our ground level school’s kitchen, which is underground and thus the safest place for us when the sirens go off.

At three years old, it’s hard for them to balance the jumble of vocabulary and narratives that have accompanied the recent arrival of regular rocket fire over Tel Aviv. One girl says that the siren (she calls it the “woo woo woo”) is the noise made when an airplane leaves its doors open. This could be something her mother told her, or just something she decided for herself. (more…)

Sam Harris: ‘Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?’

The famed and controversial atheist weighs in on Gaza

Email
(Shutterstock)

On Sunday, Sam Harris — famous atheist, best-selling author of The End of Faith, passionate internet debater — published on his blog an essay titled “Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?” It’s the updated and revised transcript of a 15-minute spoken podcast, and it represents a new side of a man who has made his name toilet-papering every house of religion, whether Jewish or Muslim, Christian or Hindu. He has received death threats from Muslims — yet he also believes that there should be no “Jewish” state. In this essay, he explains his thinking on the current Middle East conflict, including where his sympathies lie … or don’t. He’s agreed to let Tablet republish it.

The question I’ve now received in many forms goes something like this: Why is it that you never criticize Israel? Why is it that you never criticize Judaism? Why is it that you always take the side of the Israelis over that of the Palestinians? (more…)

Day 22: Hamas Denies Ceasefire Reports

Israelis debate end goals of the campaign

Email
(Getty Images)

Funerals were held across Israel on Tuesday after 10 IDF soldiers were killed in incidents across the Gaza Strip on Monday, as the Israeli death toll climbed to 56, including 53 soldiers. The IDF fatalities included four soldiers killed in a mortar strike on the Eshkol region and five who were killed by a Hamas gunmen who emerged from an attack tunnel near the kibbutz of Nahal Oz and fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF watch tower.

Hours after the IDF fatalities, the Gaza Strip suffered some of the heaviest bombing and shelling yet of the 22-day campaign, as the Palestinian death toll climbed to over 1,100 killed and thousands wounded, according to officials in Gaza. The IDF said they struck 70 targets overnight between Monday and Thursday, including the empty home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. (more…)

Thank You!

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