A group of Jews endeavors towards total domination of the blogosphere.

Saturday, March 06, 2004  

Purim really is a magical holiday -- even the news takes on the sense of schtick:
Grandfather sues city of Montreal over bar mitzvah gone terribly bad
Family seeks $70,000 for ruined party. It all started when the janitor absconded with all the ice and offered to sell it back

Also, the piano player had a heard attack and the elevator got stuck with guests inside...all while the janitor got boozed up.
Of course, Neuman pere proved to be a man of action; when the janitor padlocked the ice, he took charge:

Neumann sent his son, Dr. Jeffrey Neumann, to round up 20 bags of ice at local dépanneurs.
Damned straight! I always threaten uppity janitors with local depanneurs.
(Thanks, Yuter)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:45 PM |

Friday, March 05, 2004  

Hilarious Passion bloopers. (via Jewschool)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:19 PM |

Ugh. More domestic violence against Orthodox Jewish women. EphShap notes that Wil Cordero recently married an Orthodox Jewess.
UPDATE: Of course, it's made OnlySimchas.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:11 PM |

Jewschool posts the first of what is intended to be a weekly J-comic called Shabot6000, by Ben Baruch, a direct descendant of the Vilna Gaon.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:05 PM |

A reminder that my AOL address will soon expire and that the e-mail address linked on the right is the best way to reach me. At least for the time being, I plan to keep my current AIM screen name.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:46 AM |

Eurotrash sends in a link to Ten Plagues Finger Puppets; order them in time for Passover!

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:15 AM |

Update to Elder I.'s post:


March 5, 2004 -- The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the city jumped during the last three months of 2003, reaching the highest point in three years.

There were 57 anti-Semitic incidents, primarily consisting of spray-painted swastikas and anti-Jewish slurs, from October to December - the highest number of anti-Semitic crimes since 2000, according to a study by Rep. Anthony Weiner to be released today.

There were 31 incidents in the same period in 2002.

posted by Pinchas | 9:54 AM |

Poll: Majority of Israelis Want Sharon to Quit

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Battered by multiple scandals, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a fresh blow on Friday when an opinion poll in Israel's biggest newspaper showed that for the first time a majority of Israelis want him to quit...

The poll in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily found that 53 percent of those surveyed believe Sharon should resign as a result of the scandals, while 43 percent wanted him to stay on.
Expect Sharon to move to the left, withdraw from some of the settlements, force the extreme right to pull out of the government and forge a new alliance with Labor.

posted by Pinchas | 9:48 AM |


11 a.m. -- Congressman Anthony Weiner releases new hate crime data showing spike in NYC anti-Semitism incidents; in front of the FBI New York headquarters

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:29 AM |

Thursday, March 04, 2004  

Criticism notwithstanding, the ADL is unrelenting in its campaign against the Passion. Check out today’s press release accusing groups of using the Passion “to further their own agendas.” The irony in that is self-evident.

Please note that the url for this press release is gibson_extremists and not passion_extremists... Is this simply the doing of a techie or is it a bit telling about the ADL's orientation towards this issue?

posted by Pinchas | 6:25 PM |

Forward: American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee Requests Dictionary Change "Antisemitism".

The current entry on antisemitism reads as follows: "1) hostility toward Jews as a religious or racial minority group, often accompanied by social, political or economic discrimination (2) opposition to Zionism (3) sympathy for the opponents of Israel.”
In correspondence with Dan Walsh, a Maryland graphics artist who has recently launched a public campaign to differentiate between antisemitism and expressions of opposition to Israel, Merriam Webster stated that the latter part of the definition is a "relic” and "will most probably disappear from the next edition of the International” dictionary. The publication house refused, however, to issue a public clarification or a correction.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:00 PM |

Allison Kaplan Sommer announces her belated blogoversary and has had a few interesting posts leading up to it, including a look into the sleazier side of the Ariel Sharon/Tannenbaum scandal, and the announcement that she's pregnant. She gives us so much.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:54 PM |, the site of the Orthodox Union, doesn't provide a calendar of relevant times for anything other than Sabbath candle-ligthing and conclusions. So, on a fast day like today's Ta'anit Esther, we're left searching for other resources; that seems like something the OU should be on top of.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:15 PM |

Rabbi Hershel Schachter on the cardinals in the Yeshiva University Beis Medrash. He doesn't address the issue directly, and this is to the fault of whatever point he's trying to make. The seeming implication is that those not believing in the validity of the Jewish faith in specific ways should be unwelcome in Jewish prayer and study halls:

When King Solomon built the Temple, he welcomed non-Jews to come to pray[29]. But only provided they came “for the sake of your name”; and only provided they subscribed to the concept of “bechiras Yisroel”, which the Temple represented. A non-Jew who does not believe in the Jewish G-d, or who does not recognize our status as “am hanivchar” is not invited to come.
The thing is, qua Vatican II, I'm not sure that a group of cardinals would be disqualified.
(Thanks, Chaim)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:46 PM |

ArtsJournal's Doug McLennan being interviewed by the New York Sun's Gary Shapiro
Last night, I went to's meet-and-greet, where I met a number of people involved in Jewish media, including Commentary's Terry Teachout and Nextbook's Blake Eskin. ArtsJournal presents a model for arts coverage that would be very useful in religion coverage, and it's only a matter of time before someone fills that gap in a similar way.

Blake Eskin
The only scoop of the night was that ArtsJournal is hoping to develop streaming content in the near future, which should be very interesting.
I had a lot of discussions with people about how religion coverage is either poor or non-existent in mainstream media, and lots of people there seemed to agree. I think the arts pages tend to be an area where religion coverage has creeped in a bit more often.
Overall, having attended some media events in the past and some bloggers' events in the past, this event was consistent with other bloggers' events in that it was more interactive, more engaging. Everyone was interested in everyone else, as readers, writers or others, in a way that people at mainstream media events don't seem to be. At those events, there's usually one or two "stars" generally somewhat cordoned off, and the mingling masses can talk to people they know or recognize. Here, bloggers from Terry Teachout up to Doug McLennan said hello to everyone and spoke to everyone.
Gary Shapiro, who writes the "Knickerbocker" column for the New York Sun, was reporting on the event and seemed fascinated by it all. He was attending a book event later, and I pointed out to him how in all likelihood there was a lot more interaction at the ArtsJournal event than there would be at the book event. This is somewhat ironic in that non-Web types are always worrying about the isolation that the Web creates, with people behind screens instead of on the phones or whatever.
The success of ArtsJournal in reaching everyone from arts journalists to museum directors to people with only a mild interest in art is something that serves as a great example for what religion Web media can do. J-blogging already has the ear of Jewish media, and is gathering the ear of the rabbinate; it's all just a matter of time, methinks.
Oh, and both Teachout and Eskin said they'd visited Protocols in the past. Cool.
UPDATE: Teachout's post on the event.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:18 PM |

WJC Tour Offers Crash Course in Judaism, my latest for the Forward. It discusses the whole YU/Cardinals scandal as well.
The interesting thing about this story, besides the content, is that only a few grafs were published in a promo box in the paper, telling readers to then go to for the rest. Of course, as a Web promoter, I'm a bit conflicted about this, because I still want the full story in the paper edition; the only reason for that being that many of the people discussed/for whom the story is relevant -- Israel Singer, YU rabbis, Yated Ne'eman types, etc. -- are vastly more likely to see this article in the paper than on the Web. Of course, perhaps this only reinforces for them how important Web content is, which would be a good thing.
On the plus side, the story gets played high on the Web, I get paid the same amount I would have if it had run normally, and this becomes the first example of their having an article leading to the Web; all good things for the Forward's approach to the Web.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:46 PM |

While the Forward quotes Rabbi Prusansky as having called him a rodef, the Jewish Week – in one of its half dozen (!?) articles on the Passion – tries to show the human side of Abe Foxman’s struggle with the Gibson film.

Questioning Foxman’s tactics now is easy Monday morning quarterbacking. I wonder why so many people hedged for so long and only now feel free to speak.

Update: I really wonder about all of those folks quoted in the Forward article, Rosen, Korn, Hoenleine... it is interesting to see them talking out now and not before...

The real issue that should be dealt with now is a matter of process: Who the hell authorized this campaign?

Did Mr. Foxman order a survey of the ADL membership and act on their approval? Did the ADL executives take orders from the board on this? How did this campaign begin, how was it approved, when was the plan designed, who was authorized to execute it and ultimately who is responsible for its outcome?

In this era of corporate responsibility and responsive governance, the Jewish people have an obligation to demand a wholesale examination of the way organizations purporting to act in their name operate. For too long Jewish organizations have resembled the private fiefdoms of their masters and not the will and desire of the masses, this must change.

posted by Pinchas | 12:31 PM |

Yuter posts more on the halachic implications of the Sunday bris situation. I imagine it's not as big a deal as it could seem to be; simple math would make it more likely that circumcisions delayed for health reasons are more likely to fall on Sunday (since Saturday's the only day you're not allowed to do one, Sunday would get two days' worth). And, again, once you're dealing with various health implications, you've got a whole lot of subjectivity weighed in.
I thought I'd add the note that the possibility of a significantly higher number of Sunday circumcisions may also say something about the parents having such children, and the various fertilization methodologies utilized, which tend to be more likely to produce premature births.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:29 PM |

An NYT story on circumcision caused something of a stir this morning. The article features some certainly quirky errors (it provides two potential pronunciations for "mohel," neither the actually correct "MOH-hel"), but the most controversial element was this passage featuring a seeming permission on the part of Rabbi Adam Mintz for postponing a bris to Sunday:

Rabbi Adam Mintz, who describes his congregation of 900 families at the Lincoln Square Synagogue on the Upper West Side as "modern Orthodox" and is president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said he doesn't think the world will end if a bris is postponed for the sake of the party. "Any mohel will tell you Sunday is the most popular day, and even among the Orthodox, people are choosing the date that's most popular," he said. "We have an in-house caterer, so 90 percent have it at the synagogue and 10 percent have it at home."
Mintz sent out this e-mail earlier today; I'd received it second-hand, but waited until I received confirmation from him that he had, indeed, written it:
I wanted to take this opportunity to apologize for the implications of my quote in the New York Times this morning. As you have probably guessed, as part of a longer interview, Alex Witchell asked me why Sunday has become a popular day for brises even among the Orthodox. I proceeded to explain to her when we allow for the delay of brises and the fact that the custom has developed, at least in certain circles in America, to be more flexible when rescheduling a delayed bris. Therefore, Sunday is often the day in which these brises take place.
I called Ms. Witchell and asked that a correction be printed in the New York Times. She explained to me that this was not "correction material" as there was no fact that was incorrect, only an impression that was created by the article.
I argued but did not convince her.
In the end, I am confident that Jews will not draw this unfortunate conclusion from the article and that both rabbonim and mohalim who advice parents on the timing of the bris will explain the misrepresentation of my quote.
May the spirit of ve-nahafoch hu transform this unfortunate episode into an important lesson for us all.
A freilechen Purim

Adam Mintz
So, basically, premature, jaundiced, or otherwise not-immediately-bris-able babies, for whom the date of the bris is a pretty subjective matter to begin with, often have their brises on Sunday. That's not a very controversial assertion by Mintz, but lacking that context it certainly would be -- and is, in the NYT. Doubtless, his e-mail won't reach all circles and there'll be those who read the article without the proper context and think poorly of him as a result; kinda sucks for him. People who don't understand the religious implications of what they're reporting need to get better prepared; these kinds of errors are extremely rare in political reporting, because there's an understanding of the implications of a partial quote (observers claim bias, not simple error, when a half-quote is used in political reporting). Of course, what's hilarious about this is that Mintz finds himself apologizing for the reporter's taking the quote out of context.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:12 AM |

Wednesday, March 03, 2004  

The famous conservative columnist Mark Steyn is taking Benyamin Cohen to task for the latter's review of The Passion. He basically objects to the premise of Cohen and Dowd that the movie could generate a violent anti-Semitic incident. I'm highly inclined to agree with Steyn. However, there's a really creepy example of stereotyping when, in characterizing Dowd's and Cohen's arguments, he writes:

But I reckon Dowd and Cohen are faking it. They don't mean that, thanks to Mel, Times marquee columnists and liberal Jewish New Yorkers will be rampaging around looking for Jews to kill, they mean all those rubes and hicks in Dogpatch who don't know any better will be doing so.
Without adopting the actual meaning of Steyn's words, I'd say Cohen is more likely to be comfortable with "all those rubes and hicks in Dogpatch" than as Steyn characterizes him, as being among "liberal Jewish New Yorkers." Cohen is from Atlanta, very committed to a sense of being outside- and at times even anti-New York, and while I suppose he's liberal in some senses, he's quite conservative in others (especially theologically). So, what does this make Mark Steyn? I'm not sure, but it doesn't look pretty. Any time you seek to counter the argument that anti-Semitism is in play with an anti-Semitic stereotype of your own, you come off as, well, stupid, for starters.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:51 PM |

World Council of Churches: "Israelis Committed to Peace and Human Rights." But oh, wait, they're only talking about a couple hundred Israelis at best who monitor the checkpoints.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:19 PM |

Tikvat Yisrael is a planned "new type of Jewish community on Manhattan's Upper West Side," featuring three different minyanim and community events held together. The organizers are:

Founder and President:Uri Cohen. Committee:Rachel Brown, Andrea Brustein, Abi Dauber, Michael Firestone, Jason Herman, Ira Hofer, Amara Levine, Eli Sacks, Steven Schwartzberg, Rachel and Joel Siegel, Stephen Wind. Special Thanks to Tamar Rosenberg.
Some of those names are familiar, some aren't; surely all will be in the future.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:49 PM |

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman, author of several books, has a blog. It's interesting that as a published author, one of his first acts as a blogger is to engage in blatant copyright infringement by copying-and-pasting an article from Commentary. Either way, let's see what comes of his blog; rabbinic blogging will continue to grow.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:30 AM |, the site for Mattisiyahu, is up. Designed by Mobius of Jewschool fame.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:17 AM |

Tuesday, March 02, 2004  

Kudos to Jim Davila for pointing to this article in the Guardian, which lists some useful Aramaic phrases for theatergoers who still haven't seen the Passion, or are heading back in for a second or third taste of gore.
My favorites?

Spreet mets'aayaa deelaak huu. [Or, if addressed to a woman, Spreet mets'aayaa deelek huu!]
Thine is the medium Sprite.
Een, Yuudaayaa naa, ellaa b-haw yawmaa laa hweeth ba-mdeetaa.
Yes, I'm Jewish, but I wasn't there that day.

posted by Sam | 4:16 PM |

Volokh on a court decision on same sex marriage as compared to prior court decisions on interracial marriage.
Not sure I buy all of it (especially the moral/practical reasons), but here's a good bit:

"What's more, though Loving did rest partly on the formal race-consciousness of bans on interracial marriage, it also stressed what was obvious to all the participants in the case: Bans on interracial marriage, like segregated restrooms or segregated schools, were part of an attempt to maintain white social and legal supremacy. Limitation of marriage to male-female couples is not an attempt to maintain the supremacy of any one sex. (Yes, I know that people have argued that it is, but I don't think that's right.) They are, to be sure, attempts to maintain the social and legal supremacy of heterosexuality over homosexuality -- but the Supreme Court has never held that sexual orientation discrimination is generally like race discrimination, nor should it (in part for the reasons given in the first half of this post)."

posted by Sam | 4:02 PM |

When I saw this product at the YU Sforim sale, I thought: "Goody! A simple way to learn the methodology of extended metaphor!" Then I realized that the "e" in "trope" in the product's title is imaginary. Damn.

posted by Sam | 3:45 PM |

Stress Of Being A "Goylfriend" Tough To Bear. (via Jewschool)

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:43 PM |

British Methodists try making an 11th commandment to recruit youngsters. New-agey types take note: apparently, those guitars will only sell your religion so long before you need to go and open up your canon.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:41 PM |

Oh, I get it...the ADL isn't just around to fight bigotry, but it's a Catholic authority, too! No, no, this has nothing to do with the crusade against The Passion -- it's a crusade against Heeb! That's right, our favority nutty anti-anti-Semites have found some new people to be against: faux-hip Jews!
Regarding the mag's nipple-ringed Mary and other filthy Passion-related images, Foxman says:

"Heeb Magazine's irresponsible attempt at parody is deeply offensive and blasphemous to both Christians and Jews," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "There is a point when parody crosses the line into tastelessness. With this issue, Heeb not only crosses that boundary but engages in highly destructive anti-Christian themes that are both insensitive and ill-timed."
Uhh...hmm...gee...ahh...I dunno, Abie. Sounds like he's a bit out of touch with that whole religious doctrine thingie. But that's not the only thing he's out of touch with -- he doesn't understand youth culture, either!
From the magazine's debut in January 2002, ADL has expressed misgivings about the magazine's attempts at irreverence, including the use of an ethnic slur as a name.
[Insert standard post-modern quote about getting past labels and claiming language for ourselves.]
Of course, it's never too late for the pot to call the kettle someone who breaks down interfaith relations:
In a letter to Heeb Editor-in-Chief Joshua Neuman, the League said the winter 2004 issue confirms those earlier concerns. "For us, it is no more acceptable to be anti-Christian than it is to be anti-Jewish," Mr. Foxman said in the letter to Heeb. "Coming at a time when a major motion picture is threatening to turn back the clock on decades of positive interfaith relations, your magazine's irresponsible attempt at parody has done a great disservice to the Jewish community."
Certainly, the magazine does set us back...but is it really at a time when the movie threatens to harm those relations more than, say, the idiotic protests against it? Bullshizzle Foxmizzle!

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:01 PM |

BloggerCon II is on the Jewish Sabbath. And this doesn't seem like the kind of thing one can attend and not worry about transgressing any laws.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:58 AM |

A petition has gone up regarding the chaplain/director of Columbia/Barnard's Hillel, Rabbi Charles Sheer.
I'm sure there's more back story here than that provided by the letter and accompanying explanation. Anyone care to share?
I'm hoping that this petition garners more support than the one supporting Dr. Alan Brill, which capped out at a measly 270 signatures. The Columbia kids had better have more moxie than my YU compatriots did - otherwise, their lack of success should make you wonder why they forked over the extra 10k a year.

posted by Sam | 12:26 AM |

Monday, March 01, 2004  

In the Hey Folks, at the End of the Day It's Just a Mel Gibson Movie" Department:

ROME, Georgia (AP) -- Tickets at one movie theater screening Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" are being deemed decidedly unholy.
The number 666, which many Christians recognize as the "mark of the beast," is appearing on movie tickets for Gibson's film at a Georgia theater, drawing complaints from some moviegoers.
Of course, there had to be one in the crowd:
Several patrons have made comments about the numbers, and one person who was uncomfortable having 666 on her ticket asked for a pass to be substituted for a ticket.
Maybe we should chalk it up to the fact that in addition to having killed Christ, the Jews also run Hollywood...

posted by Sam | 4:13 PM |

A great bit of context to understanding Alisa Solomon, co-editor of Wrestling with Zion (the subject of a fizzled book discussion), is that she wrote the Village Voice's endorsement of Dennis Kucinich.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:26 PM |

Ami Eden has an interview with Roy Moore in which the former Alabama judge declares his non-support for Bush's proposed anti-gay-marriage amendment. His reasoning is that the amendment would trample on states' rights.

"I don't think you can make a constitutional amendment for every moral problem created by courts that don?t follow the law of their states," said Moore, who is currently waging a legal appeal to get his chief justice job back. "If you do, you pretend to do what God has already done and make it subject to the courts. I think it's a problem to establish morality by constitutional amendments made by men when the morality of our country is plainly illustrated -- in Supreme Court precedent and in state-law precedent and in the common law -- as coming from an acknowledgement of God."
Moore warned that an amendment could eventually be mistaken as the source of morality and then be reinterpreted down the road by judges or legislators. For example, he said, the amendment being pushed by conservatives simply defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, leaving the door open to future officials who could argue that the measure does not prohibit incestuous unions.
Subsequent to reporting this, Eden found that the Weekly Standard had included a sentence about Moore's position on the amendment in their March 1st issue.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:41 PM |

2 p.m. -- The Coalition for Jewish Concerns - Amcha denounces Loews Theater for showing Mel Gibson's ``The Passion for the Christ''; Loews Theater, 84th Street and Broadway. took them a week to figure out that they could not just protest, but denounce the theater as well? And what's with the 84th Street Loews? Is every other theater exempt from their wrath?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:23 PM |

Gregg Easterbrook ponders the implications of our potential solitude.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 12:13 PM |


10:30 a.m. -- Ari Halberstam's family holds memorial service on the Brooklyn Bridge on 10-year anniversary of gun attack that killed him and wounded others

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:01 AM |

Passion Grosses More than $117,538,000 in Opening Days

Boy, we really showed Gibson. I bet he is really sorry he locked horns with Abe Foxman. Never again will anyone cross paths with the Jewish people. Our strength is simply daunting.

posted by Pinchas | 10:35 AM |

Against the Grain has a roundup of Christian bloggers' responses to The Passion.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:20 AM |

Funky. Get the Jastrow in Pdf (Volume 1, 2), at what looks like a pretty cool resource.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:58 AM |

Something notably missing from yesterday's New York Democratic Primary debate: Pandering to Jews! What gives, we're not worth a gratuitous reference these days? What do we look like, chopped liver? I propose a redo, with the Elders presiding. Here are some questions we'd like to see:
Andrew Kirtzman to Al Sharpton: Reverend, do you stand with the Hasidim or the Hipsters?
Dan Rather to John Kerry: Do you think you have enough Elvis to win New York's voters? By which I mean, do you have enough Jewish roots to cut it here?
And then this special dialogue:

Elisabeth Bumiller: Congressman Kucinich, how much Jewish support do you expect to have?
Kucinich: Well, I came in second in Hawaii...
Bumiller: There are no Jews in Hawaii!
Kucinich: Let me finish...
Bumiller: This is New York!
Kucinich: Well, my nine delegates...
Bumiller: [Head explodes].

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:51 AM |

Last week, NJJN Editor Andrew Silow-Carroll sent in a link to OpinionJournal's roundup of Passion reviews. ASC writes:

Wall Street Journal Online puts an oddly positive spin on its roundup of "Rassion" reviews, saying the film "drew an ambivalent response from film critics. Quite a few reviewers expressed admiration for Mr. Gibson's drive and the intensity of the production, but many felt the film's unrelenting gore overshadowed its spiritual or artistic purpose."
They excerpt 13 reviews, however, and 11 of them, including one from Chrstianity Today, are almost wholly negative, most blazingly so. Perhaps WSJ would have considered the reviews for "Gigli" to have been mixed -- if the director's fan base was conservative.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:37 AM |

Discordia is a film about the Netanyahu protests at Concordia University; I'll have a copy soon.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:27 AM |

I'm getting to this story late, but, hey, so did the Forward! End the Madness as current trend, when in fact it's actually found itself hanging on to a culture of whining and dating that is just so passe. Reading the article, all of the examples given do seem very 2002, or earlier, as the backlash against trends like separate seating at weddings has already been around for a bit.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:26 AM |

ALL PASSION! ALL THE TIME! Twelve -- that's right, twelve -- stories over at Jewsweek.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:19 AM |
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