Posted by Adam Wills
There’s no rain in the forecast, but you can expect to see rainbows this weekend—lots of them—in West Hollywood. The 41st annual L.A. Pride kicks off tonight, and a few local synagogues are holding special Pride Shabbat services.
Organized by Christopher Street West, L.A. Pride events this year include a festival in West Hollywood Park on Saturday and Sunday—featuring Jewish performers Kat Graham (“Vampire Diaries”) and Aimee Allen—as well as a parade on Sunday, June 12.
Andy Cohen, Bravo’s executive vice president of programming, will be honored as Person of the Year during the L.A. Pride parade, which is expect to draw more than 400,000 people along Santa Monica Boulevard. Pride parades commemorate the Stonewall Rebellion in New York on June 28, 1969, a pivotal moment in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights.
The parade steps off at 11 a.m. on Sunday, but be sure to arrive early for the Interfaith Pride Service, sponsored by the Los Angeles Queer Interfaith Clergy Council, on the parade route at 10 a.m.
FRIDAY, JUNE 10
GLBT PRIDE SHABBAT SERVICES
Come early for the Shabbat Picnic Dinner at Kol Ami’s Gan Shalom rooftop garden (you bring the dinner, they provide the wine and challah) and stay for services with Rabbi Denise L. Eger and Cantor Mark Saltzman. 6:30 p.m. (dinner), 8 p.m. (services). Free. Congregation Kol Ami, 1200 N. La Brea Ave., West Hollywood. (323) 606-0996. kol-ami.org.
PRIDE SHABBAT SERVICES
June marks 30 years since the first recorded cases of what would eventually become known as AIDS. It also marks a significant anniversary of wellness for BCC member Ginger Jacobs – 30 years cancer-free. Join Jacobs, Rabbi Lisa Edwards and Cantor Juval Porat for a healing and spiritual Pride Shabbat filled with music, visuals, prayer, commemoration and celebration. Services conclude with an especially proud refreshment social hour. 8 p.m. Free. Beth Chayim Chadashim, 6090 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 931-7023. bcc-la.org.
SUNDAY, JUNE 12
“IN YOUR FAITH” INTERFAITH PRIDE SERVICE
Kick off the parade in a musical, spiritual, uplifting way with the Los Angeles Queer Interfaith Clergy Council. Join clergy from Jewish, Buddhist and Christian congregations for the annual interfaith worship service on the parade route. Beth Chayim Chadashim’s Cantor Juval Porat will be singing “True Colors.” Sun. 10-10:45 a.m. Free. Corner of Santa Monica and La Cienega boulevards (north side of Santa Monica, next to CVS). Look for the “In Your Faith” banner.
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June 10, 2011 | 1:05 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Internet users in Israel spend more time on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter than anywhere else in the world, Social Times reports.
Israelis spent an average of about 11 hours a month surfing social networking sites on the Internet, becoming the top ranking country in April.
The survey performed by comScore averages all Internet subscribers in Israel and does not highlight those users who are more active on specific social networking sites. The results include a variety of sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. With that reported, we can assume that the figure is much higher than the information reported.
Other countries that follow Israel in highest number of hours are Russia, with 10.3 hours of social networking per visitor per month, next is Argentina, Philippines and Turkey with 8.4, 7.9 and 7.8 hours respectively. Consistent with comScore, April results in the TIM survey reported weekly exposure of Facebook use in Israel grew 5.1%, bringing it up to 73% (second after Google’s 89%.)
Read more at SocialTimes.com.
June 8, 2011 | 11:11 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Readers of jewishjournal.com have been getting news of the progress of circumcision ballot measures in California cities for a few weeks now, and it’s safe to say that the story is everywhere.
By way of illustration: The recent decision by Jena Troutman to abandon her efforts to ban the procedure in Santa Monica was reported here on Monday, in the New York Times on Tuesday, and on Wednesday in a UK tabloid, the Daily Mail. (The Brits’ headline: Circumcision should be banned but I don’t “have the time or energy.”)
And yesterday evening, I talked to KCRW’s Warren Olney on Which Way L.A.? about the issue. The player is embedded below—the segment on circumcision starts at about minute 18.
June 7, 2011 | 2:42 pm
Posted by Jay Firestone
Why does it seem like whenever a sex-related story breaks in the news, certain headline writers revert back to their 13-year-old perverted selves?
In this case, California’s debate on the proposed circumcision ban has prompted slew of awful, fully pun-intended headlines guaranteed to make you cringe, and maybe even laugh.
Banning circumcision: Against the cut (The Economist)
Ouch! Circumcision Ban Makes the Cut for November Ballot (San Francisco Weekly)
Cutting edge synagogue-state clash (Get Religion)
A Tip on The Circumcision Ban (YoYenta.com)
Santa Monica, CA Wants to Snip Male Circumcision in the Bud (La Figa)
Far From Foregone: Circumcision Ban To Appear On San Francisco (MoreMonmouthMusings.net)
Male Circumcision | On The Chopping Block? (Pluralist Nation)
Snip ‘Em If You Got ‘Em - Vote To Ban Circumcision In San Francisco (Unicornbooty.com)
Boyz with the Hoods Poke Circumcision Ban to San Francisco Ballot (Hollywood Today)
Only in San Francisco: helmet heads v. ant eaters (Tuscon Citizen)
Find any more? Submit them in the comments section!.
Lauren Bottner contributed to this post.
June 6, 2011 | 4:28 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
The proponent of a proposition aimed at banning circumcision in Santa Monica has abandoned her effort to put the question to voters in the beachfront city before beginning to collect any signatures.
Jena Troutman, a lactation consultant and self-described “children’s rights advocate,” said on June 6 that she has decided not to move forward with the petition because of what she called the media’s misrepresentation of her efforts as an attack on religious freedom.
“It shouldn’t have been about religion in the first place,” Troutman said in an interview. “Ninety-five percent of people aren’t doing it for religious reasons, and with everyone from The New York Times to Glenn Beck focusing on the religious issue, it’s closing Americans down to the conversation.”
Troutman was featured prominently in an article in The New York Times on May 5 about attempts to ban circumcision in two California cities. A mother of two, Troutman runs the Web site wholebabyrevolution.com, which she describes as an educational resource for parents considering circumcision.
Troutman first submitted the proposed ballot initiative aimed at prohibiting “Genital Cutting of Male Minors” to the Santa Monica City Clerk on May 19, just days after a ballot measure proposing an identical law qualified for the November 2011 ballot in San Francisco.
In San Francisco, proponents collected more than 12,000 signatures in the 180-day period allotted to them. Troutman would have had to publish the text of the proposed ballot initiative in the Santa Monica Daily Press before collecting signatures.
Troutman said she does not intend to place the ad, nor will she collect signatures to support it.
Troutman said she was specifically distancing herself from the legal language used in both cities’ ballot measures and composed by the group MGMbill.org, a San Diego-based organization led by Matthew Hess.
Hess recently gained notoriety when media outlets began reporting about a comic book he created called “Foreskin Man,” which was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups as anti-Semitic.
“While I do support the human right to bodily integrity and genital autonomy that the MGMbill.org group is working toward, I’m not part of that organization,” Troutman said.
“It’s not a bill that I’m comfortable backing anymore,” Troutman added.
Troutman said she had left a voicemail message for Hess informing him of her decision. Hess could not be reached for comment but tipped his hat to Troutman on his twitter feed (@MGMBill) on June 6. “Thanks for everything, Jena,” he tweeted. “We’ll make you proud in San Francisco.”
Troutman did say that she was concerned about the effect her withdrawal might have on the movement to stop circumcision as a whole.
“I just don’t want to do anything that’s going to hurt the effort in San Francisco, because it’s a conversation that needs to happen. ”
Lloyd Schofield, the main backer of the San Francisco ballot measure, said on June 6 that he had not been aware of Troutman’s decision to withdraw but said he understood why she might pull out.
“It’s a lot of pressure, and she’s got a family,” Schofield said. “It’s unfortunate, because I think that Jena is a deeply motivated person.”
According to Denise Anderson-Warren, an administrative analyst who has been with the Santa Monica City Clerk’s office for 17 years, although some proponents of ballot measures fail to collect the required number of signatures, Anderson-Warren said Troutman is the first one she knew of to withdraw a measure before even collecting a single signature.
Reacting to Troutman’s decision June 6, Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, said, “I’m delighted. It was a very dangerous and ill-informed initiative, one that was a clear violation of parental rights and religious freedom.”
To fight the proposed ballot measure, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles had assembled a coalition that included the Board of Rabbis, ADL, American Jewish Committee and religious leaders from all walks of Jewish life. The coalition’s first meeting took place June 6.
“It was a moment when all political and religious differences were put aside,” Catherine Schneider, Federation’s senior vice president for community engagement, said.
Schneider said that Federation was ready to speak out against any other bans. “If we see this in another city in Greater Los Angeles, we will take it very seriously,” Schneider said.
June 3, 2011 | 12:02 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
The backers of a ballot initiative in San Francisco aiming to ban circumcision in that city have consistently maintained that their efforts are not anti-Semitic.
But the “Foreskin Man” comic book, which was written and edited in 2010 by the founder of a San Diego group supporting efforts to ban circumcision in San Francisco and Santa Monica, gives further credence to the accusation that so-called intactivists are in fact motivated by anti-Semitism.
“The imagery in ‘Foreskin Man’ is functionally Anti-Semitic,” Abby Michelson Porth, associate director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), said. “The motives of the proponents of this ban are questionable given their direct connection with “Foreskin Man.”
The story told in the second issue of “Foreskin Man,” which is available on its website, centers on the story of Sarah and Jethro Glick and their newborn son. Sarah thought that she and her husband had agreed not to circumcise their son, but Jethro had other plans. He secretly invited the villain, “Monster Mohel,” to circumcise “little Glick.”
On the website foreskinman.com, Monster Mohel, a bearded man with a black hat on his head and a tallis around his neck, is described this way: “Nothing excites Monster Mohel more than cutting into the penile flesh of an eight-day-old infant boy.”
Last month, San Francisco city officials announced that the backers of an initiative to prohibit circumcision in the city had collected enough signatures to put the measure to voters in November 2011.
Lloyd Schofield is the official backer of the San Francisco initiative, which uses text from the group MGMbill.org, a San Diego-based group established by Matthew Hess. Hess is credited alongside the comic book’s illustrator and colorist on the comic’s website.
In response to a question about his motivations, Hess said that he and his supporters are, first and foremost, human rights activists.
“We do what we do because we strongly believe that no one has the right to cut off part of another person’s body without their consent,” Hess wrote in an email. “We believe that amputating part of a boy’s penis is no different in principle than amputating part of a girl’s vulva. If you ask any activist in Africa why she is trying to stop the practice of female genital mutilation, I suspect that her answers would be very similar to ours.”
Writing on May 31, before the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the comic book existence, Hess addressed those who accuse him of being motivated by anti-Semitism.
“As far as the anti-Semitism charge, I might understand such an accusation if our proposed legislation applied to everyone except Jews. That would be like saying we care about all boys except the Jewish ones,” Hess wrote.
The JCRC is leading the fight against the initiative in San Francisco and has assembled a coalition of HIV researchers, medical authorities, civic leaders, and clergy from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities to support their efforts.
The second issue of “Foreskin Man” depicts Monster Mohel as a dark-haired, wild-eyed man toting glistening scissors. Foreskin Man is a blond-haired muscle-bound superhero, complete with a cape. Check it out here.
June 2, 2011 | 11:40 am
Posted by Susan Freudenheim
This morning the New York Times announced that Jill Abramson will take over as the newspaper’s new editor from Bill Keller, who will become a writer for the paper. This makes Abramson the first woman to lead the paper in its history. We have it from reliable sources that Jill Abramson is Jewish—though she’s been quoted saying that in her childhood home, the family religion was the New York Times.
“In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion,” she said in the Times’ story. “If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.” (I, as the descendent of a long line of New York Jews, can relate to that, having grown up similarly—newspapers remain sacred trusts in my family.)
We’ll happily claim her, unless told otherwise, as she becomes one of the two most powerful women in the world—Hillary Clinton being the other. When the New York Times publishes a story, it can change the world—for better or worse.
It will be interesting to watch how the paper—and its online presence—will change in the Abramson reign. To be sure she’s been enormously influential already as managing editor, and in recent months she’s been overseeing the Times’ online operations. So, will women’s voices grow stronger? Will we have less macho reporting—should we? There’s no doubt Abramson’s as tough as the next guy, having served both as an investigative reporter and Washington Bureau Chief. And she’ll have former D.C. bureau chief Dean Baquet as her number two. A great new team, and a departure for the top ranks, that’s for sure.
The look of the Grey Lady is sure changing, and we’ll be watching how the makeover works out…
June 2, 2011 | 9:50 am
Posted by David Suissa
Who better than one of the world’s most legitimate commentators on the Middle East to discuss the crisis of Israel’s delegitimization? Author and renowned journalist Yossi Klein Halevi will weigh in on this sensitive topic this coming Monday night, June 6, at 7pm, at the Jewish Federation building at 6505 Wilshire Boulevard. There will be a dessert reception. Admission is $18.
The event is in celebration of the 10th anniversary of pro-Israel group StandwithUs, and will also feature yours truly making some opening remarks on: “Can you defend Israel without feeling like a blind and tribal partisan?”
I’ll let you guess what the answer is.
See you Monday night!