Author Archives: Marista

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 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.”


Former Nazi guard Demjanjuk to stay in United States

By Marista LaneJohn Demjanjuk

Judges at a circuit court of appeals in Ohio granted suspected Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk a stay of removal late Tuesday night after his attorneys claimed that removing him from the United States would be harmful to his health.

CNN says Demjanjuk, who suffers from pre-leukemia, kidney problems, spinal problems and “a couple of types of gout,” according to his attorney, was going to be deported after the German government issued an arrest warrant on March 10 for “being an accessory to 29,000 counts of murder as a guard at Sobibor from March to September 1943.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center is quoted as saying that “[Demjanjuk] wants to plead the sense of fairness that he regularly denied all of the victims at Sobibor.” Hier says the justifications for the stay of removal are “preposterous coming from a person that served the S.S. in a death camp. It is a preposterous argument and insulting to the survivors of the Holocaust.”

The United States government filed charges against Demjanjuk in 1999 for his alleged history as a concentration camp guard, and stripped him of his U.S. citizenship. Although the U.S. has been awaiting his deportation since 2005, Demjanjuk has successfully delayed the process via a series of appeals.

A Passover Peep Show

peepspassover1By Marista Lane

This year for the first time, a Passover Peep show was entered into the Washington Post’s third annual “Peeps Show.” Over 30 dioramas made with traditional bunny and chick peeps marshmallow candies (normally considered an Easter tradition) were made for the contest. Number 32 on the slideshow is “A Very Peeps Passover” by Nycole Klein and Chris Patton of Chantilly, Va. Here’s what they said of their creation:

“Who says Peeps are just for Easter?” writes Klein. “Our Peeps have sat down to a traditional Passover Seder, complete with the requisite Passover Haggadah (prayer book), Seder plate, candles, matzo and lots of wine. As an added bonus, the Afikomen is hidden somewhere in the room!”

Number 20 on the slideshow is a creation of Bernard Madoff’s final day in his office, “Bernard Peepoff: The Game is Up” by Heather Kelly and Scott Fay of Berkeley, Calif., and Michael Mavretic of Washington D.C. Most of the dioramas are pop culture references and news stories. Tthe whole slideshow can be seen here.

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“The sages probably did not intend this.”—Facebook Haggadah

facebook-haggadahBy Marista Lane

For those who can’t seem to pry themselves away from social networking long enough to enjoy a Passover Seder, there is hope! Yes We Conserve, a group on Facebook, created a satire of the Haggadah for the social networking obsessed: It’s designed to look like the homepage newsfeed on Facebook.

“Moses is Departing Egypt: A Facebook Haggadah” begins with an introduction, which cautions us that, “The sages probably did not intend this.” The story is set up in the format of the newsfeed and is told using popular Facebook features, including status updates, wall posts and gifts. The conclusion is especially awesome.

This year our ceremony still contains some time for reflection, and some ability to remain on the same topic for more than a minute or two.  But next year, may our ceremony be faster, divided into bite-sized chunks, and with each utterance no more than 140 characters.  And so we say together,


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My Rabbi is HOT!

David SapersteinBy Marista Lane

For the third year in a row, Newsweek published a list of the country’s Top 50 Influential Rabbis (or what the magazine fondly refers to as the “hot rabbis list”), those who are considered leaders in the world Jewish community. This list is compiled by three media tycoons, Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, News Corporation Executive Vice President Gary Ginsberg and JTN Productions CEO Jay Sanderson, and as they said, “intended to provoke a global conversation about the role of our religious leaders in today’s world.” Leading the list this year is Rabbi David Saperstein, who is the Director of the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC and the Co-Chair of the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty. He’s also a Friend of President Obama.

This year, the tycoons also compiled a list of America’s 25 Most Vibrant Congregations.

Did your synagogue or rabbi make the list? Is there a synagogue or rabbi you feel was overlooked?

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Happy Birthday, Tel Aviv


Early into the morning people were still partying in one of the largest celebrations Tel Aviv has ever seen. Over the weekend the city celebrated its 100th anniversary, even in the midst of war. In Yitzhak Rabin Square, thousands of people celebrated with concerts, dancing and the explosions of fireworks, instead of the blasts of bombs. Celebrations included a birthday bash on Friday, which kicked off the expected year-long festivities including concerts, art, tours, cultural events and many parties. The Tel Aviv marathon, which was retired for fifteen years, will be revved up again for the celebration with a run around the city and its historic landmarks. Events to commemorate Tel Aviv’s anniversary also took place in New York, Paris, Copenhagen and Vienna and will continue through this year.

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