Monthly Archives: April 2009

Loss in the Jewish GOP

By Marista Lane

Arlen Specter

Sen. Specter

Republican Senator Arlen Specter (Penn.) decided earlier this week to switch parties and become a Democrat. Anxious that he would not be able to win reelection as a republican, Specter announced his decision to move across the aisle on Tuesday.

His move, along with the expected victory of Al Franken in the drawn out Minnesota Senate race, gives democrats a 60 seat, filibuster-proof majority.

Specter was the only republican Jew in the Senate.

Swine Flu…Offensive?

By Marista Lane

There has been one confirmed case in Israel

There has been one confirmed case in Israel

There was an interesting story in a USA Today blog the other day. Apparently, an Israeli health official was offended by the name “Swine” flu:

As the swine flu outbreak continues spreading, an Israeli health official is making waves by saying the name should be changed to “Mexican” flu, because the reference to pigs is offensive to Jews and Muslims, who consider pigs unclean and forbid the eating of pork products.

As the Associated Press reports, scientists are unsure where the new virus originally emerged. The current strain of swine flu is believed to have originated in Mexico, where more than 100 people have died from it, but the virus was first identified in the USA. Scientists say there is nothing about the virus that makes it “Mexican” and worry that label would be stigmatizing.

Thoughts? Should the name change?

“The Coming of the Intermarried Rabbi” Jeremy Gillick at NV

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

momstaff-jeremyMoment’s Rabbi Harold S. White Fellow Jeremy Gillick (left) has an interesting–and important–piece over at New Voices.

It’s called “The Coming of the Intermarried Rabbi” and is definitely worth checking out.

One quick excerpt:

If the [rabbinical schools' harsh intermarriage] policies affect only a small number of potential rabbis, they channel strong ideological currents. Rabbinical leaders contend that the policies are not only consistent with halacha, but actually embody core notions of Jewishness. “Jewishness has not historically been understood as a matter of individual faith or choice,” explains Jonathan Boyarin, a professor of modern Jewish thought at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “but as entitlement and obligation based ultimately on descent.” With this notion of Jewish collectivity already threatened by high intermarriage rates in America, the schools see rabbis as the last remaining bulwark in the fight to keep liberal Judaism Jewish; if the levees break and the policies are washed away, they worry, Jewishness as we know it could disappear.

That’s exactly what some policy opponents want: to expand the boundaries of Jewishness with the goal of ultimately redefining what it means to be a Jew. “At stake in this debate,” explains Rabbi Shirley Idelson, dean of HUC’s New York campus, “are competing visions of our people’s future—if and how we will survive, what we will look like, and the role that rabbis and cantors will play in shaping our people’s future.”

Jimmy Kimmel Re. New York Jets and Yom Kippur

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

To continue our post from last week:

‘Nuff said.

(HT: normblog)

The White House Seder Used Maxwell House Haggaddah

By Marista Lane

White House Seder

For the now legendary White House Seder, the Obamas used the widely popular Maxwell House Haggaddah, (which we wrote about in our last issue). Roughly 20 people attended the Seder, including the Obama family, White House senior adviser David Axelrod (who helped organized the event), and other White House staffers.

New York Jets Accommodate Jews…Unlike the Red Sox!

New York JetsBy Marista Lane
According to the AP (via  NYT), the Jets have successfully changed the start of their game against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 27 from 4:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. so as not to interfere with Yom Kippur:

N.F.L. has moved the start time of the Jets’ game against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 27 to 1 p.m. from 4:15 after the team complained about having to play home games on consecutive Jewish holidays. The change was made a day after the Jets’ owner, Woody Johnson, sent a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell suggesting the switch to allow fans to arrive home before sundown on Yom Kippur.

How considerate.

Jewish Rapper Asher Roth Debuts at #1 on iTunes

Asher RothBy Marista Lane

Asher Roth is now number one on iTunes. The white Jewish rapper from Morrisville, Pennsylvania, struck it big with “I Love College,” an anthem/satirical ode to college life. It was the first hit off his debut album, Asleep in the Bread Aisle, which climbed atop iTunes rankings after it’s release on Monday.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

["I Love College"], which Roth calls ‘satire at its finest,’ has sold nearly a million copies since its release in January, and been streamed more than 36 million times on his MySpace page….

[The Guardian proclaimed] “rap is about to get its first white Jewish superstar since the Beastie Boys.”

The Inquirer also said, “A spokesman for Roth said he does not consider himself Jewish and does not practice Judaism.”