Author Archives: @bsto

May/June issue of Moment is Out!

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

May/June 2009 Issue

May/June 2009 Issue

The May/June issue of Moment is out! Some highlights:

“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)

UN Racism Conference Starts Today–Ahmadinejad Accuses Israel of Genocide

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

European diplomats walk out in protest as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacks Israel during a speech Monday at a U.N. conference in Geneva. (Michael J. Jordan)

European delegates walk out during Ahmadinejad's speech (via JTA)

Well, it’s not as if the United Nations Durban II conference against racism was ever going to avoid controversy. The primary storyline going into the conference was the contentious–if not by any means surprising–abstention by the United States and Israel (as well as Canada, Italy, Germany, Australia, and Holland). 

But news has just come out about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech earlier today that we must post first.

JTA has the scoop on the speech, which occurred a few hours ago, in which European diplomats walked out in protest:

In a speech at the U.N.-sponsored anti-racism conference in Geneva, the Iranian president first blamed the West for injustice, then went on the offensive against Israel, calling it the “racist perpetrators of genocide.”

“Under the pretext of Jewish suffering, they have helped bring to power the most oppressive, racist regime in Palestine,” Ahmadinejad said, to heavy applause from Iranians in the upper gallery and pockets of Muslims elsewhere on the floor. “They have always been silent about their crimes.”…

At the first mention of “Jewish,” representatives of the 23 European Union countries that chose to participate in the conference noisily got up from their seats and marched out the door—a move met by more clapping from Iranian and Arab delegates, while other diplomatic delegations refrained…

Ahmadinejad went on to criticize the United States for the bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for the global economic crisis.

He railed against those who use their “economic and political influence” and control of the media to back the “barbaric racism” of the “Zionist regime.” He called for the world to “put an end to abuses by the Zionists” and the “conspiracies by some powers and Zionist circles.” Continue reading

“Give Bibi A Chance” Menachem Rosensaft Op-Ed

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

Menachem Z. Rosensaft

Menachem Z. Rosensaft

In case you haven’t seen Menachem Rosensaft‘s Op-Ed in last week’s Jerusalem Post, it was republished today (with some slight changes) at Huffington Post.

It is interesting to see the long time peace supporter Rosensaft refusing to join in what he sees as premature admonition of hawkish new Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu.

Some select excerpts (but really, the piece is worth reading in its entirety):

Even before Netanyahu’s new government was sworn in, skeptics and pundits warned that he would both isolate Israel internationally and refuse to engage in good-faith negotiations with the Palestinians or Israel’s other neighbors….

Still, it was hardly a foregone conclusion that Rabin — who, as Defense Minister during the first Intifada of 1988-89 ordered Israeli soldiers to “break the bones” of Palestinian demonstrators — would shake Yasser Arafat’s hand on the White House lawn in 1993

And few could have foreseen in 2000 that Sharon would not only unilaterally disengage from Gaza but would leave the Likud together with Olmert and Livni to form the centrist, diplomacy-inclined Kadima Party….

Less than a week before taking office, Netanyahu told an economic conference in Jerusalem: “The Palestinians must understand that they have in our government a partner for peace, security, and for economic development of the Palestinian economy.” If past is prologue, he may well be true to his word. He needs to be given the opportunity to prove himself.

What do you think? Does Bibi deserve a chance?

The Japanese Have Done It Again!

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

We know some families have struggled for centuries with the age old quandary of breaking a matzah in two perfect pieces. In my family, prizes range from winning the leftover brisket to a two-dollar bill for the one who can make the cleanest break.

Alas! Behold! The answer:

Now let’s see them try it with a shmura matzah…

Michelle Obama Visits Prague Jewish Quarter

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

Michelle ObamaThe Jerusalem Post was with MO in Prague’s historic Jewish quarter yesterday. “It was a wonderful visit, but much too short,” MO said. “I’ll be back.”

The JPost has a video, which you can see here. She had a busy day:

Her visit included a stop at the Pinkas synagogue, whose walls bear the names of more than 80,000 Czech Holocaust victims…

There were a few somber moments at the [community’s] tiny cemetery, jammed with some 12,000 family gravestones crowded into a little garden near the Vltava River, and about 100,000 dead buried in several layers beneath them.

Mrs. Obama stood briefly by the oldest gravestone – that marking the resting place of poet Avigdor Kara, who died in 1439 – before moving to the grave of the legendary 16th century rabbi Yehuda Loew, the Maharal, considered one of the greatest Jewish scholars and philosophers. In keeping with local custom, she placed a prayer on a piece of paper and weighted it down with a little stone.

Her last stop was the Old New Synagogue, built around 1270 – the oldest synagogue in Europe, and one of the earliest Gothic buildings in Prague.